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Name: Melissa R. v. Superior Court
Case #: A135044
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/10/2012

A parent cannot be denied services based on prior failure to reunify with a sibling who was removed in a different state than California. Following removal of the minor, mother was denied reunification services under section 361.5, subdivision (b)(10) because a half-brother of the minor had been previously removed from mother’s custody, and mother subsequently failed to reunify with him. In a writ proceeding, mother argued that the section did not apply, because the sibling had been removed in Wisconsin, and therefore not “pursuant to section 361” as the statute expressly requires. The appellate court agreed and granted writ relief. The plain language of the statute indicates that the Legislature intended courts to consider only prior failed reunifications under California’s Welfare and Institutions Code, section 361. It did not intend for courts to accept orders from other states because those states might have lower standards of proof than California. Therefore the trial court erred when it relied on the prior Wisconsin proceedings to deny services to mother.