Dept. of Human Services v. J. M.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 10-22-2014
  • Case #: A156238
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; DeVore, J.; and Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to show a change in plan is a "foster care placement" within the meaning of ICWA, a "significant shift in legal rights" must occur.

Mother and father appealed a permanency judgment that changed the permanency plan for their child, L, from reunification to adoption. On appeal, parents (1) contended that the juvenile court violated their due process rights by admitting into evidence out-of-court statements contained within three reports without providing parents the opportunity to cross-examine the authors of those reports; (2) challenged the court's determination that DHS made active efforts to reunify the family and that, despite those efforts, parents had not made sufficient progress to allow L to be safely returned home and; (3) Mother separately assigned error to the continued placement of L in relative foster care, contending that the change in plan from reunification to adoption is a "foster care placement" under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and that the change in plan was erroneous without qualified expert testimony that mother's custody was "likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage" to L. The Court held that the admission of the reports containing out-of-court statements did not violate parents' due process rights, after weighing the Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 US 319 (1977) factors; that the juvenile court did not err in changing the permanency plan from reunification to adoption, as neither parent made sufficient progress for L to return home; and that the change in plan was not a "foster care placement" within the meaning of ICWA, as no "significant shift in legal rights" had occurred, given that L was already in foster care. Affirmed.

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