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Name: In re Phoenix H.
Case #: S155556
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/21/2009
Subsequent History: 2/10/10 Modified & Affirmed
Summary

Appellate court is not required to allow the filing of a pro per supplemental brief in case where appellate counsel has concluded there are no arguable issues, but has discretion to allow the filing of such a brief where good cause has been shown. In an appeal from termination of parental rights, mother filed a brief raising no arguable issues, but requested that the court provide mother with an opportunity to file her own supplemental brief within 30 days. The appellate court denied the request and dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court granted review to determine whether the court is required to permit parents to file a supplemental brief. The Court held that if appointed counsel has determined that there is no arguable basis for challenging the judgment, the appellate court is not required to permit the parent to file a supplemental brief that has no arguable merit. The state’s interest in expediting juvenile proceedings in cases involving the termination of parental rights in order to promptly achieve a permanent placement for the child requires a different result that for conservatorship proceedings at issue in In re Ben C. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 529. However, the Court of Appeal still has the discretion to permit the parent to personally file a supplemental brief but must do so only upon a showing of good cause that an arguable issue does, in fact, exist.