Friday, January 10, 2014

In Re G.L. (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 10, 2014)

Some dependency cases are totally easy.  This one isn't.

You've got to read the whole thing to really get a feeling for the complexity here.  On the one hand, you've got a terrible drug-addicted mother who's already lost four other children.  One the other hand, you've got someone who's really trying to be a parent, and who clearly really cares about her child.  Albeit within the emotional and other substantial constraints under which she operates.  Those two hands are part of the same person.  What to do with the child?

For what it's worth, at the appellate level, at least, I'd have done the same thing as the Court of Appeal.  I'm sure Mother's not happy that her kid's been taken away, but that makes sense to me.  I can also understand why the kid's appointed attorney is not happy that Mother's nonetheless granted reunification services, since she's often been a terrible parent -- and I'm sure the attorney thinks, perhaps correctly, that the kid would be better if Mother simply left the picture entirely.

But the trial court -- Commissioner Imhoff, down here in San Diego -- really seemed to think about this case deeply, and it wasn't (and isn't) an easy one.  He thought that taking a middle ground was appropriate.

There's a reason we give "boots on the ground" deference in cases like this one.  This is a perfect example.

Maybe the trial court was right.  Maybe it was wrong.  Odds are that even the trial court realizes that.  At least if he's being honest.

But if there's anyone in this admittedly imperfect universe who's in a position to give our best guess possible as to what's the right call, it's a dedicated trier of fact below.  That's what you've got here.  Which is why the Court of Appeal affirms.