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In re E.F.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 14, 2013

In the Matter of E.F., a Child.
v.
C. F., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,

Argued and submitted on January 22, 2013.

Klamath County Circuit Court Nos. 1100621JV2, 1100621JV3 Petition Number 1100621M Roxanne B. Osborne, Judge.

Christa Obold-Eshleman argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant.

Inge D. Wells, Senior Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General.

Before Schuman, Presiding Judge, and Wollheim, Judge, and Duncan, Judge.

WOLLHEIM, J.

Father appeals a judgment of the juvenile court taking jurisdiction over his children. He argues that Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to prove that the history of domestic violence between father and mother created a current threat of serious loss or injury to the children. Because we conclude that there is legally sufficient evidence in the record to support the court's judgment taking jurisdiction, we affirm.

The parties have not requested de novo review, and we decline to review the record de novo. See ORS 19.415(3)(b) (providing for discretionary de novo review of certain equitable actions); ORAP 5.40(8)(c) (the court will exercise discretion to try the cause anew on the record only in exceptional cases). Accordingly, "we view the evidence, as supplemented and buttressed by permissible derivative inferences, in the light most favorable to the trial court's disposition and assess whether, when so viewed, the record was legally sufficient to permit that outcome." Dept. of Human Services v. N. P., 257 Or.App. 633, __, __P.3d (2013) (slip op at 7).

Mother and father began their relationship in 2009. They have two children together, E and B.[1] In December 2011, DHS filed its initial petition. Then, in February 2012, DHS filed an amended petition, followed by a second amended petition in April 2012. In May 2012, DHS filed its final amended petition, asserting that the children were under the jurisdiction of the court because they were residing under threat of harm. All the time, E was two years old and B was one year old. That petition alleged that mother and father had engaged in incidents of domestic violence, some of which occurred in the presence of the children, placing the children under a threat of harm for physical abuse and mental injury, and that mother did not believe that father presents a safety risk to the children and failed to protect them.

The juvenile court held a hearing on May 3, 2012, to determine whether the court had jurisdiction. Mother admitted the allegations; father did not. The court then heard testimony from a number of witnesses concerning past acts of domestic abuse by father. Father did not deny the incidents of domestic violence, but testified that it had been at least a year and a half since the last physical altercation between the parents. Father said that their faith in God and their church, as well as an improvement in finances, had changed their relationship.

On May 9, 2012, the court entered a "Jurisdiction and Disposition Judgment" stating that jurisdiction was established on May 3, 2012. The findings and conclusions in the judgment relate to mother only. The May 9, 2012, judgment states, "This case shall next be reviewed on May 21, 2012 @ 1:30pm for Action Agreement for mother and continued Jurisdictional hearing on [father]." Neither mother nor father appealed the May 9, 2012, judgment.

The hearing to determine jurisdiction as to father reconvened on May 21, 2012. The juvenile court's oral decision as to jurisdiction over father stated:

"[D]omestic violence is something that can--people can learn to give in to the other party over and over again in order to avoid a confrontation once there's--it's escalated to that point it affects the relationship negatively always in the future until there's been an adjustment so that that person never has to be afraid again. There's always the threat there to control the other person."

On July 11, 2012, the court entered a "Jurisdiction & Disposition Judgment" with regard to father, finding the children within the jurisdiction of the court. Father ...


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