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Name: In re V.L. et al
Case #: B304209
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/01/2020
Summary

Substantial evidence supported removal of the minors under the standard articulated in Conservatorship of O.B., and failure to state reasons for removal was harmless error. Father appealed from the disposition orders removing the two minors from his custody. On appeal, he argued that the record was insufficient to support removal of the minors by clear and convincing evidence. He also argued that the juvenile court’s failure to state the reasons for its decision to remove the minors requires reversal. The appellate court rejected the arguments and affirmed the orders. The court held that the standard articulated in Conservatorship of O.B. (2020) 9 Cal 5th 989 applies to dependency cases. That holding established that when a statute requires a fact to be found by clear and convincing evidence, and when there is a substantial evidence challenge, the reviewing court must determine whether the record contains substantial evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could find the existence of that fact to be highly probable. Here, that standard was met. Mother and father had three violent altercations in the presence of the minors. This evidence showed an ongoing cycle of domestic violence. Father’s denial of the domestic violence and his accusations that mother had fabricated the incidents showed that he was less likely to change his behavior in the future. When the evidence was viewed in the light favorable to the Department, a reasonable trier of fact could have found it highly probable that the minors would be exposed to future domestic violence and there was no means to protect them absent removal from father’s custody. Father’s argument that the minors were old enough to report domestic violence was unavailing, as was father’s argument that he had separated from mother. There was substantial evidence that mother and father still had contact, exposing the minors to a risk of harm. Further, the court’s failure to state reasons for the removal of the minors was harmless error. The last incident of domestic violence involving father was so dangerous and troubling that it was not reasonably probable the juvenile court would have reached a different conclusion if it had stated the reasons it relied on.