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Name: In re Rachel M.
Case #: D042607
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/04/2003
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 3/3/04

Appellant’s parental rights were terminated following a section 366.26 proceeding, and she petitioned for a writ of error coram vobis to vacate the judgment based on new evidence. The petition claimed a new hearing was necessary to consider comments by the minor’s grandmother suggesting that her agreement to adopt the minor was the result of coercion. (A declaration from grandmother stated that she wanted guardianship, but was told that the permanent plan was adoption so if she did not agree to adoption, the social worker had 42 other families who would.) The appellate court denied the petition, holding that the petition met many of the coram vobis requirements , but it did not meet the requirement of extrinsic fraud. (That the proffered new evidence was unavailable to the petitioner because of extrinsic fraud that prevented the petitioner from having a meaningful hearing on the question.) There was nothing in the record which suggested the Department’s actions constituted fraud. Further, there was nothing to stop mother from learning that the grandmother preferred legal guardianship or raising it at the 366.26 hearing. Further, even if the case were remanded, there would be insufficient evidence of a section 366.26 (c)(1)(A) beneficial relationship exception to adoption. The family’s preference for guardianship rather than adoption was insufficient.