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Dept. of Human Services v. K. M. P.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-18-2012
Case #: A150404
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A150404.pdf

Juvenile Law: A juvenile court may have abused its discretion in terminating parental rights when the parent has missed a hearing due to an excusable mistake and has shown a good faith effort to appear.

Mother appealed the denial of a motion to set aside a judgment terminating her parental rights. Mother's parental rights were terminated during a pre-trial conference because she failed to appear and the State moved for a default judgment, and then presented a prima facie case where the lower court terminated her parental rights. Mother argued that she had failed to appear because she had mistakenly written the wrong hearing time, and only discovered the mistake the day of the conference. The Court of Appeals held that this was a case of excusable neglect because (1) Mother's interests were profound, (2) she attempted to rectify her mistake once discovered, (3) there was no evidence that the parties suffered any detrimental reliance, and (4) Mother was actively preparing with her attorney. The Court concluded that Mother had presented enough evidence to show she had made a good faith, albeit careless, mistake and the lower court had abused its discretion. Reversed and remanded.