K.C. v The Superior Court of Trinity Country, C063449

Trinity County mother, K.C., failed to obtain an extraordinary writ to vacate the orders of the Trinity County Juvenile Court denying reunification services and setting the date for a Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 hearing when the CA 3rd Appellate Court denied her petition. The decision was filed March 18, 2010.

K.C. had a history of severe nicotine addiction and abuse, and the child’s father was a convicted sex offender. K.C. also continued smoking throughout her pregnancy despite being counseled not to. In fact, a previous half-sibling, born in 2003, suffered at birth from complications due to withdrawal from caffeine and nicotine had been removed from K.C.’s custody in 2005. The child born in 2009 also tested positive for nicotine. Ultimately, this child was removed from K.C.’s custody in September 2009 as K.C. was deemed a neglect risk and the father an abuse risk.

K.C. argued the court abused its discretion in denying her services, maintaining that she had made reasonable efforts to treat the conditions leading to the removal of the child–reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day and smoking only “organic tobacco.” Under Welfare and Institutions Code § 361.5, subd. (a), When a child is removed from parental custody, the juvenile court must order reunification services to assist the parents in reuniting with the child. However, under the provisions of § 361.5, subd. (b), reunification services need not be provided under several circumstances, the relevant clauses cited in this case being (10) where a parent has had reunification services terminated for failing to treat the problems leading to removal and (11) where parental rights have been permanently severed for the above reasons.

The appellate court determined that K.C.’s efforts had not been reasonable, that her nicotine addiction posed a clear danger to the child, and her failure to acknowledge the danger posed by the child’s father all made the lower court’s decision justified. The appellate court thus denied K.C.’s petition, ruling that the juvenile court had not abused its discretion.

Transcript of the court’s decision can be found here.