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Name: In re Jesusa V.
Case #: S106843
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/01/2004

The minor, Jesusa V., became a dependent of the court when her biological father, Heriberto, was convicted of raping her mother who was hospitalized because of her injuries. Jesusa was placed with mother’s husband, Paul, who was the father of Jesusa’s half-sibling, and who requested to be declared Jesusa’s presumed father. Heriberto also requested to be declared Jesusa’s presumed father and a hearing was set. Heriberto, who was incarcerated for the rape, was not transported to the paternity hearing, but his counsel was present. The trial court found Paul to be the presumed father and proceeded to find the petition true and place Jesusa with Paul. The issues on review were whether the juvenile court erred in making the declaration of fatherhood in Heriberto’s absence but in the presence of his attorney, whether it erred in hearing the dependency petition without Heriberto present, and whether it erred when it declared Paul the presumed father. The Court held that the only error was in adjudicating the dependency petition in Heriberto’s absence but found the error harmless. Penal Code section 2625 requires the production of an incarcerated parent upon request only where a petition will be adjudicated or parental rights terminated. A paternity hearing is neither of these. The presence of Heriberto’s attorney was sufficient. However, it was error not to transport Heriberto for the adjudication of the petition. Section 2625 is a statutory right to attend the proceedings. Error therefore is subject to a harmless error analysis. Here, Heriberto could not have been prejudiced by the failure to transport him to the hearing. No other result would have been possible had he been present.