Dept. of Human Services v. S. C. P.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 04-23-2014
  • Case #: A154837
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the court; Duncan, J.; & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In a hearing to determine Mother's motion to set aside relinquishments, an attorney should be provided in order to ensure the procedural protections required for a fundamentally fair hearing.

Mother appeals, challenging the juvenile court's denial of her motion to set aside her relinquishments of parental rights to her two children. The juvenile court took jurisdiction over the mother two children, who were then three and five years old and both had special developmental and medical needs. Before the hearing, Mother met with her attorney, the state's attorney representing DHS, the DHS caseworker, and the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). During this meeting she signed a relinquishment of parental rights. The foster parents and Mother went through a rocky mediation concerning communication between children and mother. Mother filed a motion to set aside the relinquishments stating that she was under duress. At the hearing, her counsel entered a motion to withdraw, which the court allowed. Mother asked for a new attorney and the judge responded "not today." The proceeding continued. The Court held that, because her self-representation calls into question whether the facts and legal arguments relevant to her claim of duress were properly presented to the court, that the lack of representation violated Mother's due process rights because Mother did not have the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. Vacated and remanded.

Advanced Search