Dept. of Human Services v. B. M. C.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 07-08-2015
  • Case #: A158106
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Nakamoto, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In a dependency proceeding, where DHS is dismissed as a party through a guardianship judgment, DHS may not move to set aside that agreement because they lack standing to do so.

After the Department of Human Services (DHS) removed a child, O, from the custody of O’s parents, guardianship was granted to the maternal grandparents. After the court made this order, DHS found that the grandparents were violating the terms of a prior agreement not to allow contact between O and the mother. DHS moved to set aside the guardianship judgment under ORS 419B.923(1)(c) and, without approval from the court, removed the child from the grandparents' care. Rather than requiring DHS to file a new dependency petition, the court allowed a hearing to take place and granted the motion to set aside the guardianship. Subsequently, the court granted a permanency judgment. On appeal, both the mother and maternal grandparents argued that DHS lacked standing to set aside the guardianship on DHS motion and therefore the permanency judgment subsequently entered was invalid. The Court held DHS lacked standing to move the court to set aside the guardianship judgment; specifically, the Court held DHS did not have a due process challenge to the judgment dismissing it as a party because due process protections flow from the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects persons, not the State, from unfair proceedings. Because DHS was not a party, neither the motion to set aside the guardianship judgment nor the subsequent permanency judgment could not be granted. Order vacated and remanded with instructions to deny motion for lack of standing; permanency judgment vacated.

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