Thursday, April 02, 2015

In Re R.T. (Cal. Ct. App. - April 2, 2015)

Look for the California Supreme Court to grant review in this one.

"A “rebellious” and “incorrigible” teen repeatedly runs away from home, placing herself and her infant daughter at “substantial risk [of] . . . serious physical harm.” (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subd. (b)(1).)  Can the juvenile court assert dependency jurisdiction over the teen on the ground that her mother, who tried everything she could, was still unable “to adequately supervise or protect” the teen? (Ibid.) In re Precious D. (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1251 (Precious D.) said “no,” reasoning that the first clause of section 300, subdivision (b)(1), requires proof of parental culpability. We respectfully disagree, and hold that the language, structure, and purpose of the dependency statutes counsel against Precious D’s conclusion that this provision turns on a finding of parental blameworthiness. When a child thereby faces a substantial risk of serious physical harm, a parent’s inability to supervise or protect a child is enough by itself to invoke the juvenile court’s dependency jurisdiction."

Regardless of whether today's opinion is right or wrong, the split -- and its importance -- seems to legitimately call for a settled rule.