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Name: In re J.A. et al.
Case #: E072398
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/06/2019

Mother’s appeal properly dismissed where it was filed sixteen months after the minors were removed from her and the case exited to family court. Following a dependency proceeding in 2017, the juvenile court sustained a petition, removed the minor twins from mother, and granted the formerly noncustodial father sole legal and physical custody. The court granted mother supervised visitation and phone calls. The court then dismissed dependency jurisdiction, and exited the matter to family court. At no point in the hearing did the court advise mother that she had the right to appeal the orders. Mother hired an attorney to represent her in family court. Nine months after the dismissal of dependency jurisdiction, her attorney obtained the juvenile court record. Mother’s attorney subsequently filed a section 388 petition in the juvenile court asking the court to return custody to mother or permit a hearing on the merits. The juvenile court denied the 388 petition. Over six months later, in March of 2019, mother’s attorney filed a notice of appeal from the November 2017 order removing the minors from her. The appellate court issued an order dismissing the appeal as mother had far exceeded the 60-day deadline to challenge the November, 2017 judgment. Mother’s attorney moved to vacate the dismissal, arguing that based on the opinion in In re A.O. (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 145, the juvenile court’s failure to to advise mother of her appellate rights constituted good cause to excuse the lateness of the appeal. The appellate court reinstated the appeal, but in this opinion dismissed it. A.O. is readily distinguishable from this case in that the dependencies were still open when the court permitted the parents to bring their belated challenges to previous orders. In A.O., although mother had missed the deadline for the order from which she appealed, she filed a notice of appeal from the next hearing, the six-month review hearing. Here, mother did not file her notice of appeal until a year-and-a-half after her case was terminated and transferred to family court. Her attorney’s inexperience in dependency law does not explain the lengthy delay. The minors have been in a stable placement for two years. Mother’s recourse, if any, is in family court.