Thursday, March 24, 2016
Drug Dealer Released From Prison Might Regain Child Custody, Under Ruling
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has reversed an order denying custody of a boy to his father who had just been released from prison for drug dealing and had a history of drug use.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services had instituted dependency proceedings prior to the release of the father, identified in the opinion only as “Jose.” The child, Isaiah, was then residing with his mother.
Yesterday’s opinion by Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild of Div. One, reverses the jurisdictional and dispositional orders of Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Debra Loznik. She wrote:
“The only evidence that the court and respondent relied on to support jurisdiction was Father’s past drug related history. But a parent’s past conduct does not establish a risk to the child unless there is reason to believe that the endangering conduct will continue into the future….Here, there was no such evidence. Indeed, the record demonstrates, and the court found, that rather than returning to past patterns of behavior, Father ‘made progress.’ While incarcerated, he completed anger management and parenting classes, and, since his release, had tested negative for drugs, was working full time, living in a child-appropriate, safe environment, in a stable relationship and consistently visited Isaiah and his brothers. As a result, there was no basis to assert jurisdiction over Isaiah based upon Father’s conduct.”
Rothschild went on to say, in the unpublished opinion:
“Here, the court denied placement with Father, the noncustodial parent, based upon the identical, insufficient grounds upon which it based its jurisdictional finding: Father’s criminal history and presumed drug use. Neither criminal history nor presumed drug use, based upon prior drug convictions, provides the clear and convincing evidence the court needed to find that Isaiah’s placement with Father would be detrimental.”
The opinion orders that a new dispositional hearing be conducted. In light of the trial court having a fresh look at the issues, Rothschild did not consider the father’s contention that he should not have been ordered to enter a drug abuse program and should be permitted to have unmonitored visits with his son.
Copyright 2016, Metropolitan News Company