Dep’t of Human Services v. A.J.G.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 05-13-2020
  • Case #: A170407
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Powers, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Shorr, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

"[I]n order to justify continued jurisdiction, the department has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that conditions or circumstances related to father's conduct or condition give rise to a current threat of serious loss or injury to the child." In re T.P., 255 Or App 51, 56 (2013).

In this dependency case, the Juvenile Court took jurisdiction over Father’s child on four grounds: (1) domestic violence in the presence of the child, (2) Mother’s unwillingness to protect the child, (3) Father’s drug use, and (4) Father’s failure to pursue mental health treatment. Father appealed and argued that DHS presented insufficient evidence. Courts take jurisdiction if the facts create a “reasonable likelihood” of “serious injury” to a child at the time of the jurisdiction trial. Dep’t of Human Services v. N.P., 257 Or App 633, 639 (2013). Reviewing courts assume all facts determined by the court are true if “supported by any evidence.” N.P., 257 Or App at 639. The Court found that evidence was sufficient for the first two grounds because the child recollected to a DHS caseworker, outside of his parents’ presence, that he saw Father choke and strike Mother. Expert testimony demonstrated that the child’s mental development could likely be harmed by witnessing domestic violence, especially given the child’s young age and diminished capacity. The State conceded that insufficient evidence was presented for the third ground. Because no evidence showed current harm to the child from Father avoiding mental health treatment, the Court found insufficient evidence for the fourth ground. Therefore, the Court held that evidence was insufficient for grounds three and four. Reversed in part and remanded; otherwise affirmed.    

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