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Name: In re G.B.
Case #: A140107
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/09/2014

Juvenile court properly denied hearing on 388 petition where minor had been severely abused and there was insufficient evidence that services would be likely to prevent reabuse or would be in the minors’ best interest. The minors were originally made dependents due to serious physical abuse of the infant minor. Reunification services were denied due to the seriousness of the abuse. Prior to a section 366.26 hearing, mother filed a 388 petition requesting reunification services because a psych evaluation concluded that mother was beginning to understand the effects of domestic violence, did not have a psychological disorder and was amenable to treatment, and that she had separated from the abusive father. The 388 petition was denied without a hearing. Six weeks later, a second 388 petition was filed, again requesting reunification services. Mother alleged she had come to the realization that father had abused the baby, that she was involved in counseling and parenting classes, and that the minors were closely bonded to her and would suffer trauma if they were separated from her. The court ordered a hearing to determine if a sufficient prima facie showing warranted a full hearing. After this hearing, the court determined that a full hearing was not warranted, because mother had made only minimal steps towards changed circumstances, that the minors were doing well in their placement, and that there had been no showing that reunification services would be in the minors’ best interests. Parental rights were terminated. On appeal, mother argued that the denial of a hearing on the first 388 petition was error. The appellate court rejected that argument, finding that the juvenile court would have been unable to make the necessary findings that services were likely to prevent reabuse or were in the children’s best interests. Mother at that point still denied abusing the minor or any role she played in allowing or ignoring father’s abuse. The psych evaluation concluded she was still a “work in progress” and continued to deny any role in the serious injuries. Further, any error made by the juvenile court in denying mother a hearing on the second 388 petition was harmless. Mother could not show that she was prejudiced given all the evidence the juvenile court heard at the contemporaneous 366.26 hearing. The absence of evidence to show that terminating parental rights would be detrimental to the children showed that there would likewise be an absence of evidence to show that offering reunification services to mother would benefit them. The appellate court also held that the juvenile court properly concluded that mother failed to establish that her beneficial relationship with the minors outweighed the benefits of a permanent home.