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Name: In re E.E. et al.
Case #: E073284
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/21/2020

The evidence supported the juvenile court’s jurisdictional and dispositional findings and orders. The Department received a referral that mother’s newborn, E., had tested positive for amphetamine and marijuana at birth, and that mother had tested positive for methamphetamine at a prenatal visit before the birth. Mother and father also had three other children, ages 2, 6, and 10. The Department was unable to contact the family, but spoke to the two oldest children at school. The children said they felt safe and their basic needs were being met. They knew what drugs and alcohol were and denied their parents used either. When social workers spoke to the parents, they denied substance abuse. Mother was refusing to drug test, but the Department informed her they couldn’t close the case without a clean test. Mother finally agreed to test, but then changed her mind. The Department filed a petition alleging unresolved concerns about mother’s drug use, and father’s refusal to cooperate. Mother claimed she had signed a guardianship agreement giving the children to a family friend. The Department requested removal of the minors because of the parents’ unwillingness to cooperate with the Department, and parents’ denial of amphetamine use. Father waived his right to contest jurisdiction, but objected to removal of the minors, arguing that he could care for them on family maintenance while mother was out of the home. Mother had moved to Los Angeles at this time. The court sustained jurisdiction, and removed the minors. On appeal, mother challenged the sufficiency of evidence supporting the court’s jurisdiction and disposition finding and orders except for its exercise of jurisdiction over E. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. The record shows that in addition to using drugs while pregnant, mother was evasive and resisted investigation by and help from the Department. The record supports a conclusion that mother was resistant to treatment and monitoring. Further there was sufficient evidence that the minors would not be safe in father’s custody while mother remained out of the home. Father denied he had a drug problem, denied mother had a drug problem, attempted to give the minors to a family friend, missed tests, and made no progress in services. The juvenile court could reasonably infer that father would not cooperate with the Department, would not protect the minors from mother’s drug problem, and possibly had a problem of his own. These inferences support a conclusion that the children could not be safely returned to his custody. The court also rejected the Department’s argument that the appeal should be dismissed under the disentitlement doctrine because of the parents’ refusal to cooperate with the Department.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: