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Name: In re Priscilla A.
Case #: B276745
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/04/2017

Jurisdiction order was reversed where the minor was at risk due to her own behavior and mental health challenges, and the evidence did not support a finding that father was neglectful as to her care. Minor was sent from El Salvador to live in California with her father and stepmother when she was 11 years old. The minor had continuing difficulties and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, ADHD, and PTSD. She lied about abuse by the stepmother, and later recanted. She was involuntarily hospitalized twice. At the hospital, the minor threatened to kill herself if she had to live with her father. The juvenile court sustained a section 300(b) petition that alleged father was unable to provide appropriate care and supervision for the minor because she refused to return to his care, referring to the minor’s threats to harm herself. On appeal, father argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court’s jurisdictional order. The appellate court agreed and reversed. It was undisputed throughout the proceedings that the minor did not suffer physical harm or injury. However, the first prong of subdivision (b)(1) was met because, assuming the minor’s threats were true, she was at risk of killing herself if she was returned to her father. Even assuming that the minor was at risk, substantial evidence did not support a finding that father was unfit to parent or neglectful with respect to the minor’s care. The minor’s risk of harm was not a result of any failure or inability on father’s part. The minor’s own behavior and mental health challenges resulted in her risk of harm. Since the jurisdiction order was reversed, the disposition order removing the minor outside father’s home was also reversed.