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In re D.L.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division

May 3, 2018

In re D.L., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
ANGELINA A., Defendant and Appellant.

          APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. DK22283, Marguerite D. Downing, Judge. Reversed in part and affirmed in part.

          Roni Keller, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel, R. Keith Davis, Assistant County Counsel, Jeanette Cauble, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          CHANEY, Acting P. J.

         In February 2017, a loaded gun was found in an unlocked closet in a bedroom where two-year-old D.L. slept. In May 2017, the juvenile court determined that the parents' indifference to the risks posed by leaving a loaded gun in the child's reach presented an ongoing risk of danger to the child. The court declared the child a dependent of the court and placed her in the home of her mother, with her father having monitored visitation.

         We conclude the juvenile court's jurisdictional finding as to mother regarding ongoing risk was not supported by substantial evidence. We affirm the court's order in all other respects.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 9, 2017, Eli L. (father) was arrested for carrying a loaded firearm in public. On February 21, 2017, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) received an anonymous referral indicating police had found a loaded rifle, bulletproof vest, gun parts, and ammunition in an unlocked bedroom closet in a home where two-year-old D.L. resided. The items were confiscated and removed from the home, but DCFS later verified that the gun and ammunition had been present. A detective familiar with father's criminal case told DCFS that father was affiliated with a criminal street gang.

         A social worker interviewed Angelina A. (mother), who stated that she never saw guns, gun parts, ammunition, or a bulletproof vest in the home, and had never seen father with any guns in his possession. Mother advised the social worker that she was no longer in contact with father, and he was not welcome in her home.

         DCFS filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition on behalf of D.L.[1] The juvenile court conducted a detention hearing and ordered the child released to mother and temporarily detained from father.

         Mother was subsequently interviewed by a social worker, who asked if she was concerned about father leaving a loaded gun in reach of the child. Mother stated that she did not think father would put her child in danger. Mother also showed the social worker the closet in which the gun had been found, which was closed only by a curtain that did not reach the floor. Mother stated that she would not keep the child from father. The social worker observed D.L. climbing on top of a sofa and kitchen table during the visit.

         A social worker interviewed father in jail. Father stated that the gun had been in a bag on top of a stack of blankets on the floor of a closet in the bedroom where D.L. slept. Father believed the gun was loaded, but it was there for only a week, and the child could not reach it, although he acknowledged she was a climber. Father stated that mother did not know about the gun. He felt he needed it for protection after he had been shot in 2010, but stated that in the future he would either not have a gun or lock it in a safe so the child could not access it.

         The juvenile court conducted a jurisdictional and dispositional hearing, where mother, father, and minor's counsel asked that the court dismiss the petition. The court noted that the risk of harm to the child was continuing because father was no longer in custody, and mother had a “lackadaisical” view and did not appear to be proactive in protecting the child, as she continued to allow father to babysit. Although the court noted that some of DCFS's concerns were speculative, it sustained the petition, declared D.L. a dependent of the court, and (1) removed her from ...


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