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Name: In re Phoenix H.
Case #: D050304
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/09/2007
Subsequent History: 10/10/07 Revw. Granted: S155556
Summary

Parent in a dependency case has no right to file a supplemental brief following the filing of a Sade C. letter.

Following termination of parental rights, mother filed a letter pursuant to In re Sade C. and asked the court to independently review the record pursuant to People v. Anders. The appellate court declined to do so. Appellant also requested leave to file a supplemental brief in pro per, and the court asked for additional briefing on that issue in light of In re Conservatorship of Ben C. (2007) 40 Cal. 4th 529, [which held the Anders/Wende protections are inapplicable in conservatorship proceedings but that the conservatee has a right to file a supplemental brief when his counsel finds no appealable issue.] Mother asserted that footnote 6 in In re Ben C. shows that the Supreme Court intends that any appellant has the right to file a supplemental brief in pro per when appellate counsel finds no arguable issue. The Agency asserted that footnote 6 should not be extended to dependency appeals because of the deleterious effects of delay on dependent children. The appellate court agreed with the Agency and dismissed mother’s appeal. Where experienced appellate counsel and Appellate Defenders, Inc. have both reviewed the case and determined that no arguable issues exist, the chances of a parent finding a missed issue are improbable. Further, this court routinely appoints separate counsel for the minors who may bring any arguable issue to the court’s attention. With those safeguards in place, there is no practical purpose in allowing a parent to file a supplemental brief in pro per as a matter of right. The court retains the discretion to allow supplemental briefing in an appropriate case. However, there was no reason to allow it in this case.