Tuesday, December 18, 2018

In re Cody R. (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 17, 2018)

Nothing published from the Ninth Circuit or California Court of Appeal today.  Some judges may be wrapping presents.  Others may be celebrating the Tenth of Tevet.  Others may just be working away on draft opinions.  Another cold(ish) and lazy(ish) day in December.

Does that make you think:  "Hey, maybe I should be an appellate judge?!  I like days off too."  Well, perhaps.  But then you have to deal with facts like these, from an opinion yesterday out of San Diego:

"Shortly before Christmas 2016, the children's former court-appointed special advocate (CASA) visited the family, which by then included another son and an infant daughter. The CASA observed that three-year-old Cody, who had been a "chunky" baby, was severely underweight, weak and lethargic. His extremities were purple. The CASA, a former paramedic, said Cody appeared to be near death and advised the parents to take him to the emergency room.

Cody was barely responsive when he arrived at the hospital several hours later. He was significantly malnourished. At three-and-a-half, Cody weighed 21.6 pounds, which was less than he had weighed at his last doctor appointment shortly after his second birthday. Bruises and abrasions on Cody's face, back, and legs were concerning for nonaccidental trauma.

During his hospitalization, Cody gained almost five pounds in less than five days. There was no other cause of failure to thrive other than malnutrition and neglect. Cody was severely neurologically delayed due to psychosocial and nutritional deprivation. Physicians characterized the parents' treatment of Cody as "essentially starvation" and advised the social worker that Cody would be at risk of death if returned home.

In foster care, Cody displayed extreme food seeking behaviors, which was "textbook behavior" for children who had been food deprived. . . . The Agency detained Cody's siblings in protective custody in March 2017, when Shauna and C.R. were arrested on charges of felony child cruelty and held without bail. Cody's baby sister was placed with him in foster care. The older siblings were very guarded when first removed from their parents. They later disclosed the parents said the entire family would go to jail if they talked about what had happened in the home.

The eldest sibling, C.R., Jr., said the parents did not feed Cody and would make him watch while the others ate. The parents locked the kitchen cabinets to prevent Cody from eating at night. C.R., Jr. explained that he and his siblings left food on the ground for Cody but the mice would eat it. Cody was so hungry he ate his feces from his diaper. He was not allowed to play with toys. He was not allowed out of the bedroom and had to stay in bed all day. C.R., Jr. said the parents made him stay home with Cody to avoid having Cody be seen in public. The three oldest children reported that the parents hit all the children, leaving marks and bruises, and encouraged them to hit each other and Cody."

Not exactly It's a Wonderful Life.  More like exactly the opposite.