Notice & Writ Advisements—WIC 316.1
In re J.R.–filed 10/25/19, Certified for Partial Publ. 11/21/19; Third Dist.
Docket No.: C088052
Link to case: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C088052.PDF
ORDERS APPEALED FROM THE HEARING WHERE A WIC 366.26 HEARING WAS SET ARE FORFEITED WHEN THE COURT TIMELY SERVED WRIT ADVISEMENT TO THE MOST RECENT ADDRESS DESIGNATED BY THE PARENT
Minor, J.R., was detained from mother in December 2016 due to allegations mother’s severe alcohol abuse and driving while intoxicated. The petition was sustained, minor was placed with his maternal grandparents, and mother received a combine total of 13 months of family reunification services. During that time, mother continued to abuse alcohol, causing minor J.R. to frequently refuse to attend visits. In January 2017, the juvenile court ordered visits to be regular, consistent with minor’s well-being, but gave the agency discretion to determine the time, place, and manner of visits. J.R. continued to refuse to visit mother. The juvenile court terminated services in February 2018, continued the previous visitation order, and set a WIC 366.26 hearing. At the section 366.26 hearing, the court ordered legal guardianship with maternal grandparents, established a new visitation order of 4 times per year, and terminated jurisdiction. Mother appealed the termination of jurisdiction and the lack of enforcement of the January 2017 visitation order. (The discussion of the termination of jurisdiction was not certified for publication and is therefore not citable.)
Affirmed. Section 316.1 requires parents to designate a permanent mailing address for the court to be used for notice purposes until the parent notifies the court of a different address in writing. Here, the clerk mailed the writ advisement to the most recent address identified by mother on the judicial council form provided for such purpose. In fact, mother had filed a new notification of mailing address (Judicial Counsel form JV-140) in June 2017 requesting that the court mail all notices to the address at which the clerk later sent the writ advisement in February 2018. The fact that the social worker reports continued to identify mother’s address as the address previously listed on mother’s JV-140 form does not entitle mother to claim that the writ advisement was improper. The case In re A.A. (2016) 243 Cal.App.4th 1220 is distinguishable; in that case, the mother had never filed a JV-140 and the court and social worker both knew mother was homeless when the writ advisement was sent to an address where mother did not live. (SH)
WIC § 300(f); WIC § 360
In re I.I. –filed 12/3/19; Second Dist., Div. One
Docket No. B298184
THE JUVENILE COURT IS REQUIRED TO SUSTAIN A PETITION AND ASSERT JURISDICTION IF THE FACTS DESCRIBED IN SECTION 300, SUBDIVISION (F) EXIST.
Father challenged the juvenile court’s jurisdictional order and findings that his children, I.I. and M.I., were persons described by WIC 300(f), which were based solely on the court’s prior finding that he and mother caused the death of another child, Ad.R., through abuse or neglect. Father did not challenge in his appeal that the prior dependency findings were binding in the current proceeding, but argued that the juvenile court erred as there was no current risk to the children, I.I. and M.I.
Affirmed. WIC 300(f) provides: “A child who comes within any of the following descriptions is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which may adjudge that person to be a dependent child of the court: [¶]…[¶] (f) the child’s parent or guardian caused the death of another child through abuse or neglect.” The California Supreme Court, in In re Ethan C. (2012) 54 Cal.4th 610, recognized that 300(f) does not require evidence or findings that the particular circumstances of the child’s fatality demonstrate a current risk of substantial harm to surviving children in the parent’s care. Where, as here, there is uncontroverted evidence to support the allegation, the court is required to find the 300(f) allegation to be true and assert jurisdiction. At the dispositional phase, however, the court has discretion to adjudge the minor a dependent and enter dispositional orders. (See WIC 360(d) [“if the court finds that the child is a person described by Section 300, it may order and adjudge the child to be a dependent child of the court” (italics added)].) (ML)
Discovery—Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.546
In re William M.W.–filed 12/17/19; First Dist., Div. One
Docket No.: A156489
Link to case: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A156489.PDF
THE JUVENILE COURT HAS THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE ORDERS REGARDING THE TIME, PLACE, AND MANNER OF DISCOVERY INCLUDING, IF CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT, ORDERING THE PRODUCTION OF DISCOVERY TO INDIGENT PARENTS
Parents’ counsel sought discovery in advance of a contested review hearing and asked the juvenile court to order the agency to provide either paper copies of requested discovery or to deliver said discovery by electronic means. The agency argued that its policy of providing counsel the opportunity to inspect and copy (for a fee), or to take photographs of documents satisfied its obligation under the rules of court. Parents’ argued that the policy was unduly burdensome and violated due process rights of parents. The juvenile court denied parents’ motion to compel delivery of discovery documents on the basis that it had no authority to order the agency to provide discovery beyond its stated means of making documents available for inspection and copying for a fee. Parents appealed.
Reversed and remanded. While no rule of court, statute, or constitutional provision requires that an agency deliver discovery in paper copies or by electronic delivery, the juvenile court erred when it determined it had no authority to makes orders regarding production of documents. Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.546 requires child welfare agencies to disclose police reports and all favorable evidence to the child, parent or guardian, or their counsel, and also requires agencies to disclose information in eight additional categories “upon timely request.” Discovery must be made in a timely manner, and the juvenile court has the authority to “issue a discovery order specifying the time, place, and manner of making the discovery and inspection and may prescribe terms and conditions.” (Rule 5.546(i).) Under rules of statutory construction, disclose does not mean deliver, and because indigent parents are provided effective court-appointed counsel by statute, their rights to due process are not violated by the agency’s discovery inspection policy. Rather, appointed counsel may make discovery requests on parents’ behalf, including arguing for discovery to be provided based on the needs of the defense, similar to criminal law. In addition, parents in dependency are not afforded more rights and protections than adults in criminal proceedings and in criminal law, defendants are also given the right to inspect and copy discovery documents. Parents’ equal protection argument also fails as the agency’s discovery policy does not deprive parents of meaningful access to the courts. Lastly, although parents have no constitutional or due process right to discovery in the manner they choose, the juvenile court has the authority to make orders regarding the production of discovery, including requiring an agency to provide documents free of charge if a parent’s meaningful access to the judicial process is impaired by the discovery requirements. (SH)
NEW NON-DEPENDENCY CASELAW
Admissibility of Inculpatory Statements by a Minor—WIC § 625.6(a); Cal. Const., art. 1, § 28, subd. (f)(2) [“Truth-in-Evidence” provision]; U.S. Const. 5th & 14th Amends.
In re Anthony L.—filed 12/16/19; First Dist., Div. Four
Docket No. A154220
Link to Case: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A154220.PDF
WIC §625.6 DOES NOT AUTHORIZE A COURT TO EXERCISE ITS DISCRETION TO EXCLUDE STATEMENTS IF THOSE STATEMENTS ARE ADMISSIBLE UNDER FEDERAL LAW.
The minor was one of several assailants caught on video assaulting an older male. The minor’s teacher identified him as one of the perpetrators, leading the police to go to his home. A meeting was set up by his mother, who led them to minor’s bedroom where he was sleeping. A police officer advised minor of his Miranda Rights that he had the right to remain silent, anything he said could be used against him in court, he had a right to an attorney, and an attorney would be provided free of charge before questioning if he could not afford one. The officer did not ask minor the common final question in the Miranda warning – “Having those rights in mind, do you now wish to speak with me?”—because he did not think minor was in custody. Minor gave some inculpatory responses while refusing to answer other questions. A juvenile wardship petition was filed against minor who moved to exclude his statements to the police. The juvenile court denied the motion, finding that the interrogation, while custodial, did not violate Miranda and the statements obtained were not involuntarily made. The juvenile court also found there was no violation of WIC 625.6. The court declared minor a ward and placed him on probation. Minor appealed.
Affirmed (limited reversal as to vague probation term). The juvenile court’s finding that the interview was custodial was assumed correct on appeal. (I) WIC 625.6(a) provides that “[p]rior to a custodial interrogation, and before the waiver of any Miranda rights, a youth 15 years of age or younger shall consult with legal counsel in person, by telephone, or by video conference. The consultation may not be waived.” Section 625.6(b) directs that “[t]he court shall, in adjudicating the admissibility of statements of a youth 15 years of age or younger made during or after a custodial interrogation, consider the effect of failure to comply with subdivision (a).” The “Truth-in-Evidence” provision of the Cal. Const., art. 1, § 28(f)(2) provides that relevant evidence may be excluded if the statute was enacted by two-thirds of each house of the Legislature. Otherwise, relevant evidence may only be excluded if required by the U.S. Constitution. Here, section 625.6 did not pass each chamber of the Legislature by two-thirds margin, and therefore WIC 625.6 does not authorize a court to exercise its discretion to exclude statements if they are admissible under federal law. (II) Minor’s statements were not obtained in violation of his 5th Amendment rights. The inquiry as to whether an accused knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights is evaluated by the totality of the circumstances of the interrogation. Where the subject is a child, the inquiry additionally includes the evaluation of the minor’s “age, experience, education, background, and intelligence, and…whether he has the capacity to understand the warnings given him, the nature of his Fifth Amendment rights, and the consequences of waiving those rights.” (People v. Lessie (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1152, 1169.) Here, minor did not expressly waive his Miranda rights, but nothing in the record showed that minor did not understand his rights, and a child may waive Miranda implicitly by willingly answering questions after acknowledging that he understands those rights. (Ibid.) (III) Minor’s statements were not a product of coercion obtained in violation of his 14th Amendment rights. The test for whether a confession is voluntary is whether the defendant’s “will was overborne at the time he confessed,” and the confession is evaluated according to the totality of the circumstances. (People v. McWhorter (2009) 47 Cal.4th 318, 346-347.) Here, nothing in the record showed minor’s will was overborne. Therefore, the juvenile court properly admitted minor’s statements. (ML)