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Name: In re Christian P.
Case #: B236528
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/23/2012

Respondent children and family services agency is not required to file a petition seeking access to the juvenile case file pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code, section 827. Mother appealed from a judgment declaring her two sons dependents under section 300, subdivision (b) based on her substance abuse. The Department’s report included hearsay statements by two others living in the home that mother used drugs in the presence of the minors. The statements were obtained during investigation of another concurrently filed case involving other children in the home. On appeal, mother argued that the hearsay statements should not have been admitted because the Department did not comply with section 827 in seeking access to the statements from another case. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that DCFS attorneys are permitted access to juvenile court files generally, and are not required to petition the trial court to request access. Further, the statements were sufficiently corroborated by other evidence. There was substantial evidence showing that mother’s methamphetamine use rendered her incapable of providing regular care of the children. However, reversal was required to conduct sufficient inquiry and notice to the Navajo Nation in conformance with the ICWA.