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In re K. L. J.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

January 3, 2019

In the Matter of K. L. J., Jr., a Child.
v.
K. J., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,

          Argued and submitted October 5, 2018

          Marion County Circuit Court 16JU10623 Heidi O. Strauch, Judge pro tempore.

          Valerie Colas, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs was Shannon Storey, Chief Defender, Juvenile Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Colm Moore, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Hadlock, Presiding Judge, and DeHoog, Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Father appeals a permanency judgment, assigning error to the juvenile court's order that father undergo a psychological evaluation. The court originally took jurisdiction over child on the basis that father has significant medical issues that interfere with his ability to parent, and it later added as an additional jurisdictional basis that father lacks sufficient and stable housing for child. Father argues that a psychological evaluation bears no rational relationship to the jurisdictional bases and therefore is beyond the court's authority to order. The state responds that the rational-relationship standard is a minimal threshold of justification and that the evaluation is rationally related to both jurisdictional bases. Held: On this record, there is no rational relationship between a psychological evaluation of father and either jurisdictional basis.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [295 Or.App. 545] AOYAGI, J.

         This is a dependency case involving a young boy, K. The juvenile court originally asserted jurisdiction over K based on several admissions by mother (including drug use) and an admission by father that father has significant medical issues that interfere with his ability to parent. The court later added as an additional jurisdictional basis that father lacks sufficient and stable housing for the child. In a permanency judgment, the court ordered father to undergo a psychological evaluation. Father appeals that judgment, arguing that the evaluation bears no rational relationship to the jurisdictional bases. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

         We review the juvenile court's legal conclusions for errors of law and its findings for any evidence. Dept. of Human Services v. B. W., 249 Or.App. 123, 125, 275 P.3d 989 (2012).

         K was born in 2015. In March 2017, the juvenile court asserted jurisdiction over K based on admissions by mother and father. Because mother is not a party to this appeal, we limit our discussion to the jurisdictional bases pertaining to father. The original basis for jurisdiction was that father has "significant medical issues that interfere with his ability to parent and needs assistance from the court and state to ensure the welfare of the child." In March 2018, the court added as an additional basis for jurisdiction that "father currently lacks sufficient and stable housing for the child."[1]

         On April 24, 2018-more than a year after DHS first asserted jurisdiction over K-the juvenile court held a permanency hearing at which Stan, a DHS caseworker, [295 Or.App. 546] testified about the "barriers" to K returning home to father at that point. Stan's written report also was admitted into evidence.

         Stan began her testimony about father by saying that there had been "some concerns about [father's] medical needs in the beginning" but that DHS had "kind of got past that when his doctor signed a release stating that he's only being seen for diabetes, hypertension, and chronic back pain." Father had recently provided the release letter at DHS's request. Still, Stan testified, there were "some concerns back to the medical stuff" because, "at least six months" before the hearing, father had told Stan that he needed a double hip replacement and a kidney transplant, which did not appear to be true. Father also had posted on Facebook that he had renal cancer, which did not appear to be true. When Stan spoke with father about the Facebook post, father told her that "he can post what he wants and he doesn't care" and that "he's going to continue to post what he wants; it's freedom of speech." Asked whether father mis-presenting the need for a hip replacement was a barrier to reunification, Stan answered that it was ...


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