California Court of Appeals Finds No Good Cause to Deviate from Placement Preferences in Alexandria P. Case

Opinion here. The Court of Appeals upholds that the order placing Alexandria P. with her family in Utah.

Information page with previous posts and holdings here.

We have twice remanded the matter because the lower court used an incorrect standard in assessing good cause. The dependency court has now correctly applied the law governing good cause, considering the bond Alexandria has developed over time with the P.s, as well as a number of other factors related to her best interests. Those other factors include Alexandria’s relationship with her extended family and half-siblings; the capacity of her extended family to maintain and develop her sense of self-identity, including her cultural identity and connection to the Choctaw tribal culture; and the P.s’ relative reluctance or resistance to foster Alexandria’s relationship with her extended family or encourage exploration of and exposure to her Choctaw cultural identity.

And

The P.s also do not—and in our view cannot—provide an adequate response to an issue raised most effectively by minor’s appellate counsel. Even though they appear before the court by virtue of their status as de facto parents, the P.s’ efforts to show good cause are motivated by their own interests. Minor’s counsel, not the P.s, has a legal and ethical obligation to represent Alexandria’s interests.(In re Josiah Z. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 664, 675-677.) The P.s lack the right to assert Alexandria’s interests because Alexandria has her own counsel, who represents her interests and also acts as her guardian ad litem.
***

We recognize that the P.s are claiming that Alexandria’s best interests are served by a finding of good cause, but their argument is undermined by the fact that minor’s counsel argued just the opposite. We are unaware of any published case where a court has upheld a departure from the ICWA’s placement preferences contrary to the position of the minor. In other words, in every published case upholding a good cause finding,
counsel for the minor either advocated for the finding, was aligned with the party advocating for a finding of good cause, or was silent.

This entry was posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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