Justice requires, in unusual circumstances that cast doubt on juvenile court’s findings, that an evidentiary hearing be granted on a section 388 petition. The minor was removed from Mother when he tested positive for amphetamines at birth. Father was incarcerated throughout the proceedings. Father was determined to be the biological father and reunification services were ordered for him. Father’s counsel and social workers had significant difficulties in communicating with Father due to the COVID-related policies of the prison facility, which denied phone calls and was not regularly delivering mail. Services were terminated at the twelve-month review and a section 366.26 hearing was set, but Father was not provided with written notice of the writ requirement. Prior to the section 366.26 hearing, Father filed a section 388 petition asserting that the had continuously sought to participate in the matter, but no reunification services were provided to him. The juvenile court summarily denied the petition, finding that Father had not shown changed circumstances or new evidence. The court then terminated parental rights at the section 366.26 hearing. The Court of Appeal reversed the orders. In light of the juvenile court’s failure to provide Father with the required writ advisements, there is good cause to consider the merits of his appeal. This case presents unusual circumstances in that Father was incarcerated during the COVID pandemic and was represented by multiple attorneys who had difficulties in contacting him. The juvenile court had evidence he was not receiving phone calls and mail. Because Father’s section 388 petition stated evidence that casts doubt on the juvenile court’s finding that reasonable services were provided, justice requires that he be granted an evidentiary hearing on his section 388 petition.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A166037.PDF