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Name: In re Vanessa M.
Case #: A109479
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 04/25/2006

Father failed to appear for several court dates during the jurisdictional hearing regarding the minors. The juvenile court imposed an “evidence sanction” barring father’s testimony, though he appeared and was prepared to testify on the date when the sanction was imposed. The court continued the hearing and found the minor to be a dependent child of the court, and removed her from father’s custody. On appeal, father contended that the court’s order barring his testimony violated his right to due process. The appellate court agreed and reversed. A parent’s failure to attend a hearing without good cause may be treated as a waiver of the right to be present for that hearing. Here, father was present for the hearing in which he wished to testify. Punishing parents who fail to appear by depriving of them their right to procedural due process is error.