- Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
- Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
- Date Filed: 08-17-2016
- Case #: A161023
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Shorr, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Egan, J.
L. P. L. O. petitioned the juvenile court to take dependency jurisdiction over him when he was 17 years old. Petitioner turned 18 years old after a judgment by the juvenile court dismissed the petition, but before Petitioner filed for appeal. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the juvenile court could not decline to take jurisdiction over him because, based on the court’s findings, he was within the court’s dependency jurisdiction as a matter of law. The State argued that the appeal was moot due to Petitioner’s age, and the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), ORS 109.701 to 109.834. The Court held that the juvenile court’s exclusive jurisdiction attaches as soon as any case involving a person under 18 years old is initiated and continues until the case is disposed of as provided by statute, even if at the later hearing, the jurisdictional allegations are not proved such that the court cannot take jurisdiction over the child (emphasis added). In determining whether it has jurisdiction, the court’s objective is to “determine whether the child needs the court’s protection, not to determine the nature or extent of that protection.” ORS 419B.328. “The key inquiry is whether, under the totality of the circumstances, there is a reasonable likelihood of harm to the welfare of the child.” The Court held that the juvenile court’s express findings placed Petitioner within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court because they demonstrate that Petitioner’s condition or circumstances were such as to endanger his welfare, ORS 419B.100(1)(c), and the evidence in the record, and reasonable inferences from that evidence, compelled the conclusion that Petitioner’s welfare was endangered as a matter of law. Motion to dismiss denied; reversed and remanded.