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Name: In re J.C.
Case #: B255676
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 01/14/2015
Summary

Removal of minor was proper where father did not take steps to curb pregnant mother’s drug use. The juvenile court sustained a petition over infant J.C. because the minor was born with methamphetamine in his system and mother had a long history of substance abuse. The petition also alleged that father failed to protect J.C. from mother’s drug abuse. The court placed the minor in foster care, and ordered reunification services for father. The court declined to place the minor with father based on father and mother’s previous history with the Department which included incidents of domestic violence, drug use, and questions about father’s mental health. On appeal, father contended that there was insufficient evidence he knew or could have done anything to stop mother’s drug use during her pregnancy, and that there was no evidence that he posed a risk of harm to J.C. The appellate court rejected the arguments and affirmed. Jurisdiction was proper because it was based on mother’s conduct, so the court did not need to consider whether it was also proper based on father’s conduct. Further, there was sufficient evidence that father knew mother was taking drugs while she was pregnant and he did nothing to protect his unborn child from her conduct. There was also substantial evidence to support the dispositional order. A letter from father’s drug treatment program reported that although he was attending and testing clean, his participation was “sluggish” and he had failed to appear for two tests. Given his longstanding substance abuse, seven months of sobriety did not mean that he was no longer at risk of relapsing. Father also had a history of domestic violence as recently as 2012, and had never received a mental health evaluation. Based on this, there was substantial evidence that J.C. would be at risk if returned to father.