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Name: Renee J. v. Orange County
Case #: G029791
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/22/2002
Subsequent History: Rev. denied 6/12/02

In Renee J. I (In re Renee J. (2001) 26 Cal.4th 735) the mother was denied reunification services under subdivision (b)(10) of Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.5. At issue in that Supreme Court case was whether the language about reasonable efforts in subpart (B) applied to subpart (A) of that subdivision. The Court held that the no-reasonable-effort clause was applicable only to subpart (B) and reversed the Court of Appeal’s opinion granting the mother reunification services. After Renee J. I was decided, the Legislature restructured the clauses of Welfare and Institution Code section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1)(A) and (B) by creating a new subparagraph (b)(11) which provided that the no-reasonable-effort finding applied to circumstances described in both former subsections A and B. The Legislature indicated that the amendment was a clarification of existing law and the amendment was signed into law as an urgency measure on October 10, 2001. Unaware of the Legislature’s action, on October 10 the trial court on remand in the Renee J. I, in obedience to the Supreme Court holding, terminated reunification services for mother and set a Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 hearing for January 7, 2002. When the mother learned of the Legislature’s amendment she petitioned the trial court for reconsideration. The trial court set a hearing date of November 6, 2001 and, at that hearing, took the matter under submission. The mother, concerned about the impending section 366.26 hearing, without waiting for the trial court’s decision, filed a writ petitioning the Court of Appeal for relief, conceding as she did so that if the trial court ruled in her favor, the writ petition would be moot. Subsequently, the trial court concluded that the amendment to section 361.5 was not retroactive and did not affect the Supreme Court’s decision in the Renee J. I. Here, in Renee J. II, the Court of Appeal holds that the Legislature’s amendment to Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.5 was a clarification of existing law at the time the original orders in Renee J. I were made. It ordered the trial court to vacate its orders terminating reunification services and setting the section 326.26 hearing, to hold the review hearing originally scheduled for October 10 and to consider whether it should continue the 18-month hearing pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 352 and offer additional reunification services to the mother.