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Name: In re S.N.
Case #: C081228
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/17/2016

Juvenile court’s error in failing to properly advise mother of her right to a contested hearing was harmless error where evidence to support jurisdiction was overwhelming. Mother appealed from the juvenile court’s orders taking jurisdiction of the minor and giving custody to father at disposition. Mother contended that the juvenile court violated her due process rights when it failed to obtain a waiver of her right to a contested hearing at the time she submitted on the issue of jurisdiction. The appellate court agreed that the juvenile court did not properly advise mother at the jurisdictional hearing before accepting the parties’ submission. However, the failure to obtain a personal waiver from mother was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence supporting the finding of jurisdiction was overwhelming. Mother admitted to being drunk at the time she had a car accident with the minors. The minor told the social worker that mother had told her not to tell anyone that she needed an ambulance, or the police would be called. Mother also left the minor at the scene of the accident. Further, mother had a history of substance abuse. Under the circumstances, the outcome of the jurisdictional hearing would have been the same regardless of the error.