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In re E. R.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

January 24, 2019

In the Matter of E. R., a Child.
v.
C. L. R. Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,

          Submitted December 20, 2018

          Clackamas County Circuit Court 18JU02888 Heather Karabeika, Judge.

          Shannon Storey, Chief Defender, Juvenile Appellate Section, and Holly Telerant, Deputy Public Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services, fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Jona J. Maukonen, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

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

         Case Summary: In this juvenile dependency case, mother appeals a judgment asserting dependency jurisdiction over child on the basis that mother's mental health impairs her parenting ability following an episode in which mother decompensated. Mother contends that the record does not include evidence sufficient to establish that, at the time of the dependency hearing, her mental health put child at risk of serious loss or injury that was reasonably likely to be realized. Held: The juvenile court erred. The Department of Human Services did not prove that, at the time of the dependency hearing, mother's mental health presented a threat of serious loss or injury to child that was reasonably likely to be realized. Nothing in the record supported a finding that mother will suffer a comparable episode of decompensation in the future or that mother's mental health put child at risk of serious loss or injury.

         Reversed.

          [295 Or.App. 750] HADLOCK, P. J.

         Mother appeals a juvenile court judgment asserting dependency jurisdiction over her 12-year-old, E, on the basis that mother's mental health problems impair her parenting ability. Mother contends that the record in the juvenile court proceeding does not include evidence sufficient to establish that, at the time of the dependency hearing, her mental health challenges put E at risk of serious harm or loss that was reasonably likely to be realized. For the reasons set out below, we agree that the record in this case is not sufficient to justify the juvenile court's exercise of dependency jurisdiction. Accordingly, we reverse.

         Mother has not requested de novo review and this is not an exceptional case in which such review would be appropriate. Accordingly, in reviewing the juvenile court's judgment, we "view the evidence, as supplemented and buttressed by permissible derivative inferences, in the light most favorable to the trial court's disposition and assess whether, when so viewed, the record was legally sufficient to permit that outcome." Dept. of Human Services v. N. P., 257 Or.App. 633, 639, 307 P.3d 444 (2013). We are bound by the juvenile court's explicit and necessarily implied findings of historical fact as long as any evidence in the record supports them. Id. at 639-40. We describe the facts consistently with those standards.

         Mother has longstanding mental health issues. By her own report, she has been a patient at Western Psychological and Counseling Services since she was nine years old. Her treatment provider since November 2016 is psychiatric nurse practitioner Rosanski, who manages mother's medications. Those medications are for several diagnosed conditions, including bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit disorder. At the dependency hearing, mother, testified about her PTSD, which she said was caused by having been violently victimized. Mother acknowledged that she has "a long list" of additional diagnoses, but she was not able to identify what all of them are. Nor did mother recall the names of all of her medications.

          [295 Or.App. 751] On the evening of April 2, 2018, mother had what she later described as a "mental breakdown." Mother mistakenly thought that somebody had intruded or was attempting to intrude into the apartment where she and E lived. She thought she heard a drill and believed that "somebody was trying to get in the house." Mother, describing herself as having been "very paranoid," "went in attack mode," and started throwing things at the imagined intruder, to protect herself and E. Mother took E to a neighbor's apartment, stayed there for about 15 minutes, then went to another neighbor's apartment for a similar length of time before returning home. At that point, E was tired, upset, and crying.

         Mother called 9-1-1 a few times and, because she did not believe that police were responding quickly enough, falsely stated that she had slit her own throat. Mother also called father, with whom she was in frequent contact although they had separated a few years earlier. Father described mother as "kind of freaking out" that night and "talking erratically." Mother asked father to come get her and E so he could move them into his home. In a second phone call, mother said that father needed to come get E, but she did not explain why. However, given how mother was speaking and how frustrated she seemed, "it seemed like a major emergency" to father. E then called father, who testified that she "was crying, and she was scared."

         Police officers and personnel from the Department of Human Services (DHS) responded to mother's 9-1-1 calls. Officers took mother to a hospital, where she received treatment for a few days. She then checked herself in to another facility "because [she] still wasn't okay." Mother stayed there for two or ...


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