For those of you who are not on the national parents' attorneys listserv that is sponsored by the ABA, it is fantastic resource. They recently sent out a document that contains summaries of 6 different cases from around the country that impact parental defense. I'm posting those summaries below for your convenience.
We appreciate the wonderful work you all do!
Parental Defense Alliance of Utah
In re J.P., 223 Cal. Rptr. 3d 426 (Ct. App. 2017).
DEPENDENCY, LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Juvenile court was required to appoint counsel for mother of dependent child in group home placement before hearing on petition for modification requesting reappointment of counsel, family reunification services, and extended and liberalized visits with child. Failure to ensure mother was represented deprived her of opportunities to challenge court’s orders and findings and created fundamental unfairness. Changed circumstances and benefit to child’s well-being strongly favored mother’s request, and counsel could have highlighted benefits to child.
In re Elijah C., 2017 WL 3431653 (Conn.).
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
Mother adequately briefed appellate claim challenging trial court’s finding she was unable to benefit from reunification services, because child welfare agency failed to provide services previously determined reasonable given mother’s cognitive deficits. However, evidence supported trial court’s determination she was unable to benefit from reunification efforts. While Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cannot be used as defense to termination of parental rights, ADA applies to reunification services and programs required to meet parents’ specialized needs.
In re A.D.L., 402 P.3d 1280 (Nev. 2017).
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, FAILURE TO ADMIT
Trial court violated mother’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by terminating her parental rights because she refused to admit, as part of court-ordered case plan, that she intentionally, rather than accidentally, caused hot iron injury to child. Parent cannot be forced to admit to criminal act under threat of loss of parental rights.
In re Gabriella D., 2017 WL 4324959 (Tenn.).
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, BEST INTERESTS
Foster parents filed petition to terminate mother’s parental rights to three children and adopt them. Supreme court upheld juvenile court’s finding that although mother’s neglect resulted in one child’s severe abuse through malnourishment, mother cooperated with child welfare agency, completed all required tasks, reconnected with children, and children wished to remain with her. Terminating mother’s parental rights was therefore not in best interests of children.
In re E.R.W., 2017 WL 3879019 (Tex. Ct. App.).
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, REPRESENTATION
As issue of first impression, state statute governing mandatory appointment of attorney ad litem for parent provides nonindigent parent with statutory right to representation by counsel in termination of parental rights proceeding. Nonindigent parent may challenge trial court’s termination of parental rights based on ineffective assistance of parent’s retained counsel.
In re P.F., 2017 WL 3668103 (Utah Ct. App.).
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT
Child who was eligible for enrollment with Cherokee Nation but did not meet definition of “Indian child” at that time was properly placed with non-Indian foster family. When initial placement with foster family complies with Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), juvenile court can rely on child’s bond with foster family and potential trauma to child to find good cause necessary to deviate from ICWA’s placement preferences.