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Dept. of Human Services v. G.J.R.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-09-2013
Case #: A151035
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Sercombe, J.; and Hadlock, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A151035.pdf

Juvenile Law: A juvenile court has jurisdiction in a case on an additional allegation if there is sufficient evidence, from which a reasonable fact-finder could conclude by a preponderance of the evidence, either that a current risk of harm to the child exists from the additional allegation standing alone, or that the additional allegation contributes to or enhances the risk associated with the already established bases of jurisdiction.

Father appealed a judgment by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that an allegation in an amended dependency petition that father’s prior convictions for public indecency and his failure to complete court-ordered sex offender treatment created a risk of harm to his daughter, Z. Father contended that DHS failed to prove that his prior convictions for public indecency, his status as a sex offender, and his failure to complete court-ordered treatment exposed Z to a current risk of harm. DHS contended that the court must look at whether the allegations in the petition as a whole allege that Z’s welfare would be endangered. A preponderance of the evidence must support the conclusion that, under the totality of the circumstances, there is a reasonable likelihood of harm to the welfare of the child. There must be a nexus between the nature of the prior offense and a current risk to the child, in addition to evidence that the party’s failure to engage in treatment endangered the child’s welfare at the time of the jurisdictional hearing. The Court of Appeals held that there was no evidence that Father’s prior convictions and failure to complete sex offender treatment contributed to or enhanced a current risk of harm to Z, and therefore the trial court erred by asserting jurisdiction on the basis of the additional allegation. Reversed.