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In re J.H.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 18, 2013

In the Matter of J.H., a Child.
v.
G. L. H., Respondent. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Appellant, and J. H., a Child, Appellant,

Argued and submitted on October 17, 2013.

Washington County Circuit Court, No. J120042 Eric Butterfield, Judge. Petition Number 01J120042M

Michael Casper, Deputy Solicitor General, argued the cause for appellant Department of Human Services. On the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, and Shannon T. Reel, Assistant Attorney General.

Megan L. Jacquot filed the brief for appellant J. H.

Shannon Storey, Senior Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief was Peter Gartlan, Chief Defender, Office of Public Defense Services.

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

SCHUMAN, P. J.

In this juvenile dependency case, the Department of Human Services (DHS) appeals from a permanency judgment of the juvenile court dismissing the state's wardship over mother's six-year-old child, J. The child also appeals from the juvenile court's judgment and joins in DHS's contention that the juvenile court erred in dismissing the wardship. DHS and the child have requested that we review this case de novo. We decline to exercise our discretion to review de novo, but we conclude that the juvenile court's findings are not supported by legally sufficient evidence, Dept. of Human Services v. N. P., 257 Or.App. 633, 639, 307 P.3d 444 (2013), and, for that reason, that the juvenile court erred in dismissing jurisdiction. We therefore reverse the juvenile court's judgment.

DHS has been involved with the family since 2011, when intensive home services were provided to mother on a voluntary basis. The child was taken into protective custody on March 5, 2012, after multiple calls to DHS expressing concerns of neglect.

The state filed a petition for jurisdiction on March 6, 2012. At a status hearing on May 4, 2012, mother admitted to the juvenile court's jurisdiction based on allegations that (1) mother's mental health problems and borderline intellectual functioning interfere with her ability to competently care for J and J's siblings; (2) mother's use of methamphetamine impairs her ability to provide minimally adequate care for J and J's siblings; and (3) mother's impulsive and angry behavior places J and J's siblings at risk of harm in her care.

J was placed in foster care with another sibling, and the juvenile court took jurisdiction over J and established a permanency plan of reunification, with a concurrent plan of adoption.[1] At a permanency hearing on March 1, 2013, the juvenile court found that DHS had made reasonable efforts and that mother had not made sufficient progress toward meeting expectations. The court continued the case plan of reunification and ordered mother to participate in services. The court also ordered DHS to "staff case w/ A.G. within 45 days, " which the parties understand to be a shorthand instruction to move the case forward to termination of parental rights. The court attached findings to the judgment supporting the determinations that DHS had made reasonable efforts and that mother had not made sufficient progress.[2] The court set a permanency hearing for May 28, 2013.

At that hearing, neither mother, child, nor DHS presented any testimony. Mother did not challenge the juvenile court's continued jurisdiction or seek to dismiss the wardship. The court received into evidence DHS caseworker Judy Cooper's report outlining DHS's efforts to achieve the primary plan of return to parent. The report noted that mother had had "spotty" participation in drug and anger management treatment, had received counseling services, and was on medication for depression. The report stated that, although there was no evidence that mother was continuing to use methamphetamine regularly, she continued to exhibit poor judgment as to safety issues, had failed to visit the child regularly, and had overdosed on antidepressant medication in a suicide attempt on February 26, 2013. Cooper's report also referred to two psychological evaluations of mother. Both evaluations had concluded that mother had significant limitations that would impair her ability to parent. The report noted that, in a psychological evaluation performed on October 9, 2012, Dr. Deitch had concluded that mother

"is not considered to be a viable placement resource for her sons at this time, and she will require close oversight and supervision by another responsible adult, should a decision be made to return the children to her care. Her prognosis for being able to become a consistently safe and responsible long-term independent residential parenting resource for her sons is considered to be highly guarded."

Cooper's report concluded with a recommendation that the child continue as a ward of the court and remain in the custody of DHS for care, placement, and supervision. DHS requested that the court find that DHS had made reasonable efforts that were in the best interests of the child and ...


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