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Name: In re John M.
Case #: B241501
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 01/15/2013

Jurisdiction was appropriate where blind autistic child was left in mother’s car while she evaded police, and there was no indication that the situation was unlikely to reoccur. Mother was arrested when she refused to leave maternal grandmother’s home despite grandmother’s restraining order against her. When officers arrived, they found the 11-year-old blind, autistic minor alone and asleep in the back of mother’s SUV, not wearing clothes, dirty, and disheveled. Mother and minor were homeless and living in the car. The Department filed a petition and the minor was released to his father. The petition was sustained, and mother appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed, finding substantial evidence that mother’s conduct placed the minor at substantial risk of harm. Her subsequent comments and conduct offered no indication that it was a unique situation and unlikely to reoccur. Further, there was additional evidence that mother failed to bathe the minor regularly, and was living in her car despite offers of financial support, medical appointments, and temporary housing offered by father. The minor’s school also reported that mother did not ensure that he attended regularly, which given the minor’s special needs, put him at greater risk. Also, the removal order was supported by substantial evidence because mother had previously violated court orders. The juvenile court could reasonably conclude that the minor could not be safely placed in mother’s custody in the hope that she would comply with court orders or Department supervision.