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In re R.T.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division

April 2, 2015

In re R.T., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
LISA E., Defendant and Appellant.

[REVIEW GRANTED BY CAL. SUPREME COURT]

APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. DK03719 Marguerite D. Downing, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Nancy Rabin Brucker, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Mark J. Saladino, County Counsel, Dawyn R. Harrison, Assistant County Counsel, and Stephen D. Watson, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

No appearance for Minor.

OPINION

HOFFSTADT, J.

A “rebellious” and “incorrigible” teen repeatedly runs away from home, placing herself and her infant daughter at “substantial risk [of]... serious physical harm.” (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subd. (b)(1).)[1] Can the juvenile court assert dependency jurisdiction over the teen on the ground that her mother, who tried everything she could, was still unable “to adequately supervise or protect” the teen? (Ibid.) In re Precious D. (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1251 [117 Cal.Rptr.3d 527] (Precious D.) said “no, ” reasoning that the first clause of section 300, subdivision (b)(1), requires proof of parental culpability. We respectfully disagree, and hold that the language, structure, and purpose of the dependency statutes counsel against Precious D’s conclusion that this provision turns on a finding of parental blameworthiness. When a child thereby faces a substantial risk of serious physical harm, a parent’s inability to supervise or protect a child is enough by itself to invoke the juvenile court’s dependency jurisdiction.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Lisa E. (mother) gave birth to R.T. in 1996. When R.T. was 14, she began running away from home for days at a time, not attending school, falsely

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reporting that her mother abused her, and at least on one occasion throwing furniture. At least one of her absences necessitated a visit to the hospital. R.T. also began having children-one when she was 15 (who became a dependent of the court) and another a few years later. Mother made efforts to supervise and safeguard R.T.: She went looking for R.T. whenever she left home; she arranged for R.T. to live with mother’s parents because R.T.’s grandfather used to work with troubled juveniles and because R.T.’s false reports were made when R.T. and mother were alone; she called the police for help; and she asked the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (Department) for assistance, although she declined to voluntarily submit R.T. to the Department’s jurisdiction. Notwithstanding these efforts, R.T. remained “rebellious, ” “incorrigible, ” and “out of control.”

The Department filed a petition to declare then-17-year-old R.T. a dependent of the juvenile court on the ground that she faced “a substantial risk [of]... serious physical harm or illness, as a result of the failure or inability of [mother] to adequately supervise or protect” her. (§ 300, subd. (b)(1).) The juvenile court asserted jurisdiction over R.T., denying mother’s motion to dismiss the petition. The court reasoned that “the mother can’t control [R.T.], so she has given her off to grandparents and they can’t control her either.” The court then issued a ...


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