January 18, 2018
Attorney: Amy Seff
Categories: Dependency Disposition
Mother appealed from the dispositional order removing her four daughters from her custody and ordering supervised visitation. Mother had requested that the children be returned to her care with family maintenance services, or in the alternative, increased visitation. The Court of Appeal found that the evidence before the court provided absolutely no basis for a finding, much less a finding based on clear and convincing evidence, that there was a substantial risk of harm to the children if returned to their home, or that there were no reasonable means of protecting them without removal. The children may not be removed from their home because the Bureau was “curious” how the relationship between mother and father would play out or for an observation period to test the Department’s speculation.
September 7, 2017
Attorney: Jacob Olson
Categories: Dependency Permanency Planning (Section 366.26)
Mother appealed from the denial of her section 388 petition for modification and the termination of her parental rights. The Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court’s order terminating mother’s parental rights and identifying adoption with paternal grandparents in Denmark as the permanent plan for the minor. The Court agreed with mother that she had established the applicability of the beneficial-relationship exception under WIC 366.26, subd. (c)(1)(B)(i). The Court found that due to the undisputed strong bond between mother and the minor, an exceptional situation existed which overcame the Legislature’s preference for adoption. The Court stated that in light of its conclusion that the juvenile court erred in terminating mother’s parental rights, it would be appropriate to remand the entire case so the court could take into consideration any new evidence or changed circumstances so that it may consider the current best interests of the minor.
July 17, 2017
Attorney: Mark D. Johnson
Categories: Criminal Fines, Fees, and Victim Restitution
Court of Appeal reversed order for defendant to pay $250 for defense costs for representation. The defendant himself objected to the fee and Court found that the record was insufficient to support a finding of ability to pay where the defendant was sentenced to two years in prison.
July 5, 2017
Attorney: Donald Bergerson, Peggy Headley
Categories: Criminal Fourth Amendment Pleading and Proof
Court of Appeal reversed misdemeanor conviction for recent use of a controlled substance where it was barred by one year statute of limitations and reversed all fines and fees associated with that count.
February 2, 2017
Attorney: Mara Bernstein
Categories: Dependency ICWA Review Hearings
[Published Decision – 9 Cal.App.5th 339] Father appealed from the juvenile court’s findings at the six-month review hearing. The Court of Appeal agreed stating father’s out-of-state location and lack of participation did not excuse the Department’s failure to provide reasonable services. In addition, the Department failed to make the required active efforts under the ICWA to prevent the breakup of the Indian family.
Attorney: Candace Hale
Categories: Criminal Sentencing
The Court of Appeal remanded for resentencing due to the recent statutory amendment to Penal Code section 654, which now affords trial courts the discretion to choose the count on which to impose punishment (instead of having to choose the one that provided for the longest potential term of imprisonment). The court further found that appellant’s kidnapping to commit rape and forcible rape punish the same act and, therefore, stayed the execution of sentence for the former offense.