Dept. of Human Services v. E. M.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 12-31-2014
  • Case #: A155967
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & De Muniz, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Juvenile court has the authority to postpone a hearing or make other procedural accommodations to protect the parent’s right to participate when a parent is unable to or prevented from personally appearing due to parent’s incarceration, physical condition, mental illness, or need to be in another courthouse at the same time as the parent’s scheduled hearing.

Father appealed from the judgments terminating his parental rights to his four children. Father argued that the juvenile court erred in allowing the prima facie termination of his parental rights because Father appeared through his attorney, but his attorney did not remain through the hearing. In his second assignment error, Father asserted, that the juvenile court erred in denying his implicit motion for a continuance. Finally, in his fourth assignment of error, Father argued that the proceeding was fundamentally unfair due to counsel’s decision to leave the termination hearing. The Court reviewed whether the juvenile court’s decision was within the range of legally correct discretionary choices and produces a legally correct outcome. Under ORS 419B.875(2)(c), a juvenile court has the authority to postpone a hearing or make other procedural accommodations to protect the parent’s right to participate when a parent is unable to or prevented from personally appearing due to parent’s incarceration, physical condition, mental illness, or need to be in another courthouse at the same time as the parent’s scheduled hearing. The Court concluded that the juvenile court abused its discretion in denying the father’s motion for continuance, and making other procedural accommodations to protect the father’s right to participate. Reversed and remanded.

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