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In re Nicholas E.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division

April 30, 2015

In re NICHOLAS E. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
SUSAN E. et al., Defendants and Respondents.

[As modified May 7, 2015.]

APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. DK02119 Carlos Vasquez, Judge.

Page 459

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 460

COUNSEL

Mark J. Saladino, County Counsel, Richard D. Weiss, Acting County Counsel, Dawyn R. Harrison, Assistant County Counsel, and Kim Nemoy, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Lori A. Fields, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent, Susan E.

Page 461

No appearance for Minors.

OPINION

HOFFSTADT, J.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (Department) filed a petition in juvenile dependency court alleging that four minors were at risk of physical harm and emotional damage due to their mother’s conduct. Mother moved to dismiss the petition because she and father are already litigating the custody of the kids in family court. May the juvenile court dismiss the petition on the basis of the pending family court case without giving the Department the opportunity to prove risk? We have jurisdiction to answer this question, and conclude that dismissal was improper.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Susan E. (mother) and Brian E. (father) have four children: Nicolas E. (born 2001), twins Lauren and Sarah (born 2004), and Zachary (born 2007). In 2013, the Department filed a petition asking the juvenile court to assert dependency jurisdiction over all four children on the ground that mother had engaged in conduct placing the children’s physical and emotional health at risk, as contemplated by Welfare & Institutions Code section 300, subdivisions (b) and (c).[1] More specifically, the petition alleged that mother had regularly complained (or prompted others to complain) that father physically and/or sexually abused the children, that these complaints were false, and that mother’s conduct subjected the children to repeated sexual assault examinations and law enforcement interviews, all of which had severe negative consequences on the children: All ...


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