Department of Human Services v. T.H.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 12-27-2012
  • Case #: A151698
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A judgment of the juvenile court is inadequate and not harmless error when the Department of Human Services does not state a compelling reason for the continuation of APPLA.

Father appealed the judgment ordering the continuance of the permanency plan of APPLA of his two children. Father claims that the juvenile court erred because it failed to make statutorily required findings under ORS 419B.476(5). In 2010, the juvenile court took jurisdiction over Father's two minor children made various findings including evidence of his mental health issues, unreported sexual abuse, and evidence of Father's inability to make good parenting decisions. In 2012, Father filed a pro se motion to dismiss jurisdiction, at which point the court performed a perfunctory permanency hearing. The court entered a judgment to continue a permanency plan of APPLA, using a nine page check-the-boxes and fill-in-the-blanks form. Under ORS 419B.476(5), the judgment must include a brief description of efforts the Department has made with regard to the case, document why it would not be in the best interest for the children to return home, and it must be submitted within 20 days of the hearing. The court failed to indicate its reasoning for the judgment by not checking any box on the form. The Court of Appeals held that the juvenile court failed to demonstrate the basis for their reasoning, thus the judgment is inadequate. The Court also held that the error here was plain, and did not need to be preserved. Further, the error was not harmless because the legislature's intent under ORS 419B.476(5) was for the department to state a compelling reason for the continuance of APPLA. Reversed and remanded.

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