In the Matter of J. R. C., a Child.
H. F. E., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent, and J. R. C., Respondent,
and submitted August 15, 2017
County Circuit Court 02239J; Petition Number 02239J02; R.
Curtis Conover, Judge.
E. Telerant, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for
appellant. With her on the brief was Shannon Storey, Chief
Defender, Juvenile Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense
D. Wells, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for
respondent Department of Human Services. On the brief were
Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman,
Solicitor General, and Jordan R. Silk, Assistant Attorney
T. Smith fled the brief for respondent J. R. C.
Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Garrett, Judge, and Powers,
Or. 610] Case Summary: Mother appeals a juvenile court
judgment continuing child's placement with the Oregon
Youth Authority (OYA) and denying mother's request to
place child in her custody. On appeal, she argues that the
juvenile court plainly erred when it failed to make findings
in the judgment that are required by ORS 419B.449(3). She
also argues that the juvenile court plainly erred by
continuing child's placement with OYA based on the
unsworn testimony of the parties' attorneys and mother.
Held: The juvenile court did not commit plain error
by failing to include findings in the judgment because it is
not obvious that the hearing was of the sort that required
findings under ORS 419B.449(3). Further, even if the
court's consideration of unsworn testimony was plain
error, the Court of Appeals declined to exercise its
discretion to correct that error.
Or. 611] ORTEGA, P. J.
appeals a juvenile court judgment entered in child's
juvenile dependency case that continued child's placement
with the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) and denied mother's
request to place child in her custody In her first
assignment of error, she asserts that the juvenile court
plainly erred because it failed to make findings in the
judgment that are required by ORS 419B.449(3). In her second
and third assignments, she claims that the court's
decision to deny her motion to return child to her care and
continuing his placement with the OYA was error because that
decision was not supported by sufficient evidence. Child
agrees with mother's assignments of error, although he
argues that mother's second and third assignments should
be considered under plain error review because mother failed
to preserve those arguments. Specifically, he argues that the
court plainly erred because the only information in the
record that supported placement with OYA was the unsworn
testimony of mother and the parties' attorneys.
mother's first assignment, the Department of Human
Services (DHS) asserts that any error is not
"plain" because it is not obvious that the hearing
that precipitated the order was a review hearing under ORS
419B.449. As to mother's second and third assignments,
DHS asserts that continuing child's placement with OYA
was supported by sufficient information and neither mother
nor child objected to the court's consideration of
conclude that the lack of findings in the court's order
is not plain error because, as DHS argues, it is not
"obvious" that the hearing was of the sort that
required findings under ORS 419B.449. To be "plain"
the error must (1) be an error of law; (2) be obvious,
meaning that the legal point is not reasonably in dispute;
and (3) appear on the record. ORAP 5.45(1); State v.
Vanornum, 354 Or. 614, 629, 317 P.3d 889 (2013). Here,
the record shows that the [288 Or. 612] hearing was held, in
large part, to address issues in child's concurrent
juvenile delinquency case. In addition, there is nothing in
the record that makes it obvious that the relevant hearing
was triggered by a request of any party under ORS 419B.449 or
the court's receipt of a report under ORS 419B.440. In
those circumstances, we conclude that mother has failed to
demonstrate that any error was "plain."
reject mother's second and third assignments of error.
The juvenile court had information from which it could have
rejected mother's request to place child with her and
therefore continue child's placement with OYA. Further,
in the unique circumstances of this case, even if we assume
without deciding that the juvenile court's consideration
of unsworn testimony was plain error, we would decline to
exercise our discretion to correct such an error because
doing so would undermine the purposes of
preservation-specifically, had the error been called to the
court's attention, it could easily have avoided or
corrected the error. See State v. Inman, 275 Or.App.
920, 935, 366 P.3d 721 (2015), rev den,359 Or. 525
(2016) ("[T]he ease with which any error could have been
avoided or corrected should be a significant factor in an
appellate court's decision whether to ...