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Name: In re M.P.
Case #: B306181
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/03/2020
Summary

Juvenile court erred by continuing review hearing past 60 days as allowed by Governor’s order during pandemic. In October 2019, the court ordered the dependent minors released to mother with monitored visitation by father. The court set a review hearing for six months later, May 14, 2020. As of April, 28, 2020, the minors were doing well with mother and the Department recommended that jurisdiction be terminated and the mother have primary physical custody with monitored visitation by father. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the May 14, 2020 hearing was continued for 220 days, pursuant to a Los Angeles Superior Court order which allowed continuances of all nonessential court hearings. The order exempted some matters, but not review hearings. Father, joined by mother, the minors, and the Department petitioned for relief, contending that the juvenile court erred in continuing a hearing six months beyond the time period allowed by statute as modified by emergency order. The appellate court agreed and granted the petition. Emergency Rule 6, which was issued in response to the Governor’s order, only allowed a continuance of 60 days. Therefore a writ of mandate issued vacating the juvenile court’s order continuing the section 364 review hearing. Absent a new and different order continuing the hearing for good cause and in the best interests of the minor, the juvenile court was directed to hold a hearing within 15 days of the remittitur issuance.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B306181.PDF