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In re R.T.

Filed 7/20/17 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA In re R.T., a Person Coming Under the) Juvenile Court Law. ) ) ____________________________________) ) LOS ANGELES COUNTY ) DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND ) FAMILY SERVICES, ) ) Plaintiff and Respondent, ) ) S226416 v. ) ) 2/2 Ct.App. B256411 LISA E., ) ) Los Angeles County Defendant and Appellant. ) Super. Ct. No. DK03719 ____________________________________) The first clause of Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b)(1) (section 300(b)(1))1 authorizes a juvenile court to exercise dependency jurisdiction over a child if ―[t]he child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious physical harm or illness, as a result of the failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child . . . .‖ (Italics added.) We granted review to resolve a split of authority on 1 All statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code unless otherwise specified. SEE CONCURRING OPINION the following issue: Does section 300(b)(1) require a finding that a parent was neglectful or in some way to blame for the ―failure or inability‖ to adequately supervise or protect his or her child? Relying on the text and purpose of section 300(b)(1)‘s first clause, the Court of Appeal here concluded that it does not require such a finding. However, the Court of Appeal in In re Precious D. (2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 1251 (Precious D.), which dealt with markedly similar facts, reached a contrary conclusion. It held that dependency jurisdiction under section 300(b)(1) can only be authorized after a finding that a parent‘s inability to protect her incorrigible child is due to ―parental unfitness or neglectful conduct.‖ (Precious D., at p. 1259.) Focusing on the dependency process as a whole, the Precious D. Court of Appeal reasoned that because these proceedings may reach a point where parental rights are ultimately terminated, a finding of ―parental culpability‖ is required when dependency jurisdiction is initially imposed to comport with federal due process considerations. (Id. at p. 1261 [―parental rights would be terminated and the family unit destroyed without any finding of unfitness or neglectful conduct‖]; see In re James R. (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 129, 135, quoting In re Rocco M. (1991) 1 Cal.App.4th 814, 820 (Rocco M.) [delineating three elements to support dependency jurisdiction under § 300(b)(1)].) For reasons that follow, we agree with the Court of Appeal here that the first clause of section 300(b)(1) authorizes dependency jurisdiction without a finding that a parent is at fault or blameworthy for her failure or inability to supervise or protect her child. We disapprove In re Precious D., supra, 189 Cal.App.4th 1251, to the extent that it is inconsistent with the views expressed in this opinion. (See post, at p. 20, fn. 6.) 2 FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND The facts of the case are largely undisputed. Lisa E. (mother) gave birth to daughter R.T. in 1996. At age 14, R.T. began running away from home for days at …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court