In the Matter of G. V. L., a Child. STATE OF OREGON, J. V. D., and C. L. Y L., Respondents,
G. V. L., Appellant.
and submitted July 12, 2017.
Washington County Circuit Court 16JU04638; Ricardo J.
Christa Obold Eshleman argued the cause and fled the brief
Reniche-Smith waived appearance for respondent State of
appearance for respondent C. L. Y. L.
appearance for respondent J. V. D.
DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Hadlock,
Summary: In this juvenile dependency case, child challenges
the juvenile court's order declining to take dependency
jurisdiction over him and dismissing his petition. The
juvenile court declined to take jurisdiction based on its
determination that the harm alleged was speculative. On
appeal, child argues that the juvenile court erred because he
was within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a matter
of law. Held: The risk of harm was not speculative,
and the juvenile court erred when it declined to take
jurisdiction over child under ORS 419B.100(1)(c) and
dismissed his petition.
Or.App. 54] EGAN, C. J.
juvenile dependency case, child challenges the juvenile
court's order declining to take dependency jurisdiction
over him and dismissing his petition. On appeal, child argues that
the juvenile court erred because he was within the
jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a matter of law. As
explained below, we agree with child and reverse and remand.
case involves a child from Guatemala who left his home and
traveled alone to the United States when he was 17 years old.
He then filed a juvenile court dependency petition on his own
behalf. At the jurisdictional hearing, child was the only
party to present evidence; no other party offered evidence
controverting child's evidence. Nonetheless, the juvenile
court was not required to believe child's evidence.
See State v. Johnson, 335 Or. 511, 523, 73 P.3d 282
(2003) (a trial court is generally entitled to find
"that a party's evidence is not sufficiently
understand the juvenile court's ruling, however, the
court did not disbelieve or otherwise reject
child's evidence of his circumstances in Guatemala as
insufficiently persuasive. Rather, the court ruled as a
matter of law that the historical facts as established by
child's evidence do not provide a basis for dependency
jurisdiction. Given that understanding of the court's
ruling, we describe the facts consistently with child's
evidence and the court's few express factual findings,
which relate solely to events that occurred after child
arrived in the United States.
child's life in Guatemala, father regularly physically
abused mother, child's siblings, and child. Over a year
before child left Guatemala, he and mother left the home they
shared with father. In a proceeding with local authorities,
mother stated that she had left father because [291 Or.App.
55] he kicked and punched her. Father then began living with
another woman and her children and thereafter provided little
or no care or support to child. Child's family attempted
multiple times to have the local township authorities remedy
father's lack of support for and abuse of the family
members, but the authorities were unable to help the family.
September 2015, when child was 17 years old, father saw child
and child's sister on a road. During that encounter,
father beat child severely and threatened to kill him once he
turned 18. Child's sister witnessed the beating. After
the attack, the local authorities met with the family members
to address the family problems. At the proceeding, father
admitted that he hit child and told the authorities
repeatedly that he is not afraid of the applicable laws or
other requirements. The authorities then asked child to
forgive father. Soon after, child was chased by several men.
He was later told by a child of the woman with whom father
lived that the men had been sent by father to harm child. It
was after these incidents that child, encouraged by mother,
left his home with the intention to live with his brother in
was detained by United States federal immigration officials,
in November 2015, after he entered the United States alone
with no lawful immigration status. He was placed into removal
proceedings and held in Texas until he was released into the
custody of his brother in Oregon. In June 2016, when he was
still 17 years old, child filed a juvenile dependency
petition on his own behalf in an Oregon juvenile
petition alleged that he was within the jurisdiction of the
juvenile court under ORS 419B.100(1)(a), (c), and (e).
Specifically, child's petition alleged that he was within