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Name: In re Zeth S.
Case #: S099557
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/04/2003

The Supreme Court granted review in this case to address the issue of whether, in a dependency case, the Court of Appeal may receive and consider postjudgment evidence that was never before the juvenile court and rely on such evidence outside the record on appeal to reverse the judgment. The evidence at issue in this case was a declaration from minor’s counsel which informed the court that the minor’s legal guardian, the maternal grandfather, was pressured into adoption, and that mother was the minor’s primary caretaker at the maternal grandfather’s home. The Supreme Court here reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and held that consideration of postjudgment evidence of changed circumstances in an appeal of an order terminating parental rights would violate both the generally applicable rules of appellate procedures and the express provisions of section 366.26. To the extent that anything said in In re Jonathan M., Eileen A., or Jayson T. is inconsistent, those decisions are disapproved. Further, the Court held that although a reviewing court is free to appoint separate counsel for a minor in an appeal of a termination of parental rights order, section 317 does not compel such an appointment, nor does that section purport to prescribe or regulate the duties of appointed counsel in dependency appeals.