Sunday, 7 November 2010

SBS: Protection of children


In re R.P. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
R.P., Defendant and Appellant.
No. C064072.

Court of Appeals of California, Third District, Sacramento.

Filed October 29, 2010.

R.P., the mother of four-year-old Pe.P., three-year-old twins C.P. and Pa.P., and two-year-old R.P., appeals from an order of the Sacramento County Juvenile Court terminating her parental rights to Pe.P., C.P., and R.P.; terminating dependency and establishing a legal guardianship for Pa.P.; and ordering visitation between mother and Pa.P. In January 2010, H.P., the father of the children, timely appealed from the judgment. We appointed counsel for father on appeal. Counsel filed a brief pursuant to In re Phoenix H. (2009) 47 Cal.4th 835, and father did not seek to show cause to file a supplemental brief. On June 18, 2910, this court ordered father's appeal dismissed.
Mother's sole appellate contention is that the visitation order impermissibly gives the legal guardian discretion as to whether any visitation would occur. We shall affirm the judgment.
Pa.P. was born in August 2007. In January 2008, father shook Pa.P. with the intent to quiet her down but not to kill her. The next morning, mother was unable to rouse Pa.P. for her morning feeding. Father brought Pa.P. to a hospital.
Pa.P. suffered a brain injury that "has resulted in permanent bran [sic] damage. In turn, she is significantly developmentally delayed in all areas of development. Medically, [Pa.P.] has been diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome and subsequently has been diagnosed with seizure disorder, left peritoneal shunt placement, gastrointestinal feeding tube placement and dependency, quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and reflux. [Pa.P.] is medicated in order to control seizures, reflux, constipation, eye complications, nasal inflammation, and respiratory distress. [Pa.P.'s] respiratory status is significantly compromised. She gets frequent pneumonias due to both aspiration and viral illness. [She] receives ten daily medications that are administered two to six times a day."
Two days after Pa.P. was hospitalized, her twin C.P. was examined and found to have bruises all over her body, a possible bite mark on her thigh, and multiple fractures of both knees in various stages of healing.
In April 2008, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (department) filed amended petitions alleging that Pa.P. and her siblings were at risk of serious physical harm from father (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subd. (a); further statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code unless otherwise indicated), that mother had failed to protect the children (§ 300, subd. (b)), that mother knew or reasonably should have known that father was abusing the twins (§ 300, subd. (e)), and that the siblings were being abused (§ 300, subd. (j)).
At a July 2008 jurisdiction hearing, the juvenile court sustained the petitions in their entirety. At the ensuing contested disposition hearing, the court adjudged the children dependants and ordered them removed from parental custody. Reunification services were denied for father, who was facing a lengthy state prison sentence stemming from his abuse of Pa.P. Services were ordered for mother, in that the children would benefit from her receipt of services.
In September 2008, mother gave birth to R.P. Because mother's progress in therapy had been inadequate, and because she was corresponding with and visiting father in custody, the department obtained a protective custody warrant for the newborn. The department filed a section 300 petition alleging that R.P. was at substantial risk of physical harm while in mother's care, in light of her failures to protect his siblings from father and, subsequently, to benefit from services provided in the siblings' dependency case. The juvenile court ordered R.P. detained. In December 2008, the department filed a first amended petition.

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