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In re A. N. O.-V.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

March 7, 2018

In the Matter of A. N. O.-V., a Child.
v.
N. J. V., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent, In the Matter of J. O.-V., aka J. C. O.-V., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
N. J. V., Appellant. In the Matter of A. N. O.-V., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
D. L. O., Appellant In the Matter of J. O.-V., aka J. C. O.-V., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
D. L. O., Appellant.

          Argued and submitted November 28, 2017

         Deschutes County Circuit Courts 15JV0103, 15JV0105, 15JV0103, 15JV0105 Petition Numbers 6500883, 6535343, 6500883, 6535343 Beth M. Bagley, Judge.

          George W. Kelly argued the cause and fled the brief for appellant D. L. O.

          Ginger Fitch fled the brief for appellant N. J. V.

          E. Nani Apo, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Mother and father separately appeal judgments establishing guardianships under ORS 419B.366 for their two children. Mother argues that the juvenile court abused its discretion when it denied her motion to continue the guardianship hearing to enable her to obtain and introduce the results of a mental health evaluation. Held: The Court of Appeals affirmed father's appeal without written discussion. As to mother's appeal, the juvenile court abused its discretion because it failed to make a record reflecting an exercise of discretion. That error was not harmless, because the court expressly considered the issues that the mental health evaluation would have addressed at the guardianship hearing.

         On mother's appeal, reversed and remanded; on father's appeal, affirmed.

         [290 Or.App. 647] DEHOOG, P. J.

         Mother and father separately appeal judgments establishing guardianships under ORS 419B.366 for their two children, A and J. Each parent raises both procedural and substantive challenges on appeal. We write only to address mother's first assignment of error, in which she contends that the juvenile court erred in denying her motion to continue the guardianship hearing to enable her to obtain and introduce the results of a mental health evaluation that she had recently completed.[1] For the reasons that follow, we agree with mother that the juvenile court abused its discretion when it denied her motion to continue the guardianship hearing without making a record of its reasons for doing so. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

         The facts relevant to mother's first assignment of error are largely procedural. In August 2013, the Department of Human Services (DHS) removed A and J from parents' care and placed them in nonrelative foster care. Based upon mother's and father's admissions, the juvenile court asserted jurisdiction in December 2015. Mother specifically admitted to the following allegation:

         "Mother has struggled with mental health and substance abuse issues and needs to address those issues in order to be safely reunified with her child [ren] and to prevent a threat of harm to the child [ren]."

         In July 2016, DHS moved to change the permanency plans for A and J, who remained in foster care, from reunification to guardianship. See ORS 4l9B.476(2)(a) (juvenile court may change plan if it determines that DHS has made reasonable efforts to make it safe for children to return home and that parents have not made sufficient progress for that to occur); ORS 4l9B.476(5)(e) (authorizing permanency plan of guardianship when neither reunification nor adoption is in best interests of children). As grounds for that change, DHS alleged, among other things, that mother had not made sufficient progress in addressing the ...


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