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Name: In re Rashad D.
Case #: B307061
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 04/19/2021
Summary

Mother’s appeal of juvenile court’s erroneous jurisdictional findings became moot at the subsequent termination of jurisdiction because mother did not subsequently appeal the court’s custody modification order or the order terminating jurisdiction. Mother successfully reunified with Rashad in 2019 and was awarded sole physical and legal custody. In March 2020, the Department filed a new dependency petition alleging that mother had a history of illicit drug use which rendered her incapable of providing regular care and supervision of Rashad. Mother denied any current drug use and tested negative five times. The Department initially recommended the court sustain the petition, but two months later requested the court dismiss the petition for lack of evidence. The court declared Rashad a dependent and ordered family maintenance services for mother. Mother appealed, challenging the erroneous jurisdictional findings. Three months later, the court terminated jurisdiction and awarded sole physical custody to mother and joint legal custody to mother and father with monitored visits for father. Mother did not appeal the orders terminating jurisdiction and issuing custody orders. Mother argued that the appeal was not moot because the new custody orders were different than the original orders, and the issue was one of broad public interest. The appellate court rejected the argument and dismissed the appeal for mootness. Generally, an order terminating juvenile court jurisdiction renders an appeal from an earlier order moot. However, this mootness is not automatic, but must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Here, for the court to provide effective relief, a parent must appeal not only from the jurisdiction finding and disposition order but also from the orders terminating jurisdiction and modifying the parent’s prior custody status. Without the second appeal, the court cannot correct the continuing adverse consequences of the allegedly erroneous jurisdiction finding.