Dept. of Human Services v. N. L. B.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 08-19-2020
  • Case #: A173092
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kamins, J. for the Court; James, J.; & Lagesen, P.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

"ORS 419B.100(1)(c) grants a juvenile court jurisdiction over a child '[w]hose condition or circumstances are such as to endanger the welfare of the person or of others[.]' Whether the “conditions or circumstances” warrant jurisdiction requires us to consider if, under the totality of the circumstances, there is a reasonable likelihood of harm to the welfare of the child." In re N.S., 258 Or App 624, 633-34 (2013).

In 2018, the juvenile court "took jurisdiction" over children E and J following significant injuries to E likely caused by abuse. In 2019, Father was indicted on criminal charges related to child abuse, and DHS again petitioned the court; the court granted the second petition. On appeal, Father and Mother argued that jurisdiction should not continue because of newly-established safety rules within their home. DHS contended that Father’s indictment “meaningfully enhanced” the need for jurisdiction. Courts take jurisdiction when “condition[s] or circumstances… endanger… [child] welfare.” ORS 419B.100(1)(c). DHS must show a “current threat of serious loss or injury” to the child. Dept. of Human Services v. E. M., 264 Or App 76, 81 (2014). Jurisdiction can continue only if the threat continues and injury in future is reasonably likely. See Dept. of Human Services v. T. L., 279 Or App 673, 687 (2016). The Court found that threat remained and future injury was likely because (1) abuse was recent, (2) Mother and Father accepted no responsibility, and (3) safety protocols were likely motivated by desire to end jurisdiction. However, Father’s indictment was immaterial to child safety. The Court therefore held that the trial court erred with regard to the 2019 petition, but taking jurisdiction in 2018 was and continued to be justified. Reversed in part and remanded.           

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