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Name: In re Carmen M.
Case #: B189792
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 07/18/2006

A juvenile court may order drug testing of the minor if reasonably related to protecting the dependent child’s safety and well-being. The minor was made a ward of the court under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 due to physical abuse by her mother. The minor, who was placed in a group home, had emotional and substance abuse issues, and was placed in a recovery program which included random drug testing. The minor was doing well in the group home program. Three months later, at a progress hearing, minor’s counsel objected to a recommendation to continue drug testing. The court ordered the testing over her objections after cutting short the hearing. In a petition for writ of mandate, the minor contended that the juvenile court lacked the statutory authority to order her to submit to drug testing, and that even if authorized, the drug testing order violated her constitutional right to privacy. In addition, she argued that the juvenile court violated her right to due process by curtailing her counsel’s attempt to make a complete record of her objections to the drug testing order. The appellate court denied the writ of mandate. The juvenile court has the broad discretion under section 362 to order drug testing if it is reasonably related to protecting a dependent child’s safety or well-being. The court’s determination will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion. Further, the drug testing order did not violate the minor’s right to privacy. Although the minor enjoyed a right to privacy, it differed significantly from the rights enjoyed by adults. Just as a parent would have had the right to authorize a test in order to protect the child’s health and well-being, the state has that right where the child has been removed from parental custody and is a dependent child of the court. Here, the order was narrowly tailored to allow testing only when the staff of the group home believed the minor to be under the influence of drugs. The juvenile court’s legitimate interest in protecting the minor outweighed the limited intrusion on the minor’s right to privacy. Further, the juvenile court’s limitation on counsel’s argument did not violate the minor’s due process rights. The juvenile court has the discretion to exercise reasonable control over its own proceedings, including the extent of oral argument it will allow.