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Name: In re N.M.
Case #: D058672
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/07/2011

Where father negotiated a settlement by way of an amended petition, he forfeited the right to challenge sufficiency of the petition and the evidence on appeal. The 11-year-old minor was detained following an incident where she was nearly hit by her father’s recklessly driven vehicle, and when she reported that her father physically abused her. The minor recanted her statement, and then said that the recantation was untrue. She said she was afraid of her father and wanted to stay in foster care. Father refused to sign a safety plan because he felt it would be an admission of guilt. A settlement was reached wherein the petition was amended to remove the physical abuse allegations but father agreed to address any physical abuse issues in therapy. The court found jurisdiction and removed the minor. On appeal, father contended that the petition was insufficient. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that father could not negotiate a settlement and then challenge the agreed upon language for the first time on appeal. Father forfeited his right to challenge the sufficiency of the amended petition on appeal because he did not challenge it below. Further, the challenge was moot because the jurisdictional findings were supported by adequate evidence. Father also challenged the sufficiency of evidence to support the petition. The court found that issue was also forfeited by way of the negotiated settlement. Further, even if the issue was not forfeited, there was sufficient evidence to sustain the petition.