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Court of Appeal, Second District, California.

IN RE: E.G., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. C.G., Defendant and Appellant.


Decided: October 28, 2011

Jennifer Mack, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant. Andrea Sheridan Ordin, County Counsel, James M. Owens, Assistant County Counsel, and William D. Thetford, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


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In this dependency case, C.G. (mother) appeals from only one of three jurisdictional findings of the court declaring her child, E.G., who had been detained at birth, to be a dependent under Welfare & Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b) (hereafter section 300(b)).  The trial court found father, who is not a party to this appeal, had a history of using, and currently uses, marijuana, which rendered him incapable of caring for E.G., and mother failed to protect E.G. from father's drug use.   The court also found mother had a history of illicit drug use, including cocaine and marijuana during her pregnancy with E.G., which rendered mother incapable of caring for E.G. The court amended the petition to add findings that mother had a history of violent and erratic behavior, which placed the child at risk.

Mother was herself a dependent of the court when she gave birth to E.G. at age 17.   Her whereabouts had been unknown to the Department of Children and Family Services, until a representative of a San Gabriel Valley hospital notified the Department that mother had given birth to E.G. The hospital placed a hold on E.G. due to mother's history of aggressive behavior, such as throwing and breaking objects in the home, including two televisions, leaving broken glass all over the floor as mother acted out in rage.   Mother's behavior was so out of control that her social worker had to call in an emergency psychiatric response team.   The police had frequently responded to the home where mother had lived with her mother.   Mother had been violent toward her legal guardians, who could not control her, and she had been hospitalized in a mental health institution.   The hold on the release of E.G. was also due to mother's substance abuse and refusal to take medication to treat her ADHD.

A Department social worker went to the hospital and saw mother screaming, crying, and refusing to give up her son to a hospital nurse, social worker, or law enforcement officer.   Finally, after more than three hours, mother agreed to give up her son.   About an hour later, she was calm enough to be able to talk to the Department social worker.   Mother said she had been living with her mother during the time the Department had been looking for her, and she admitted it was a bad situation for her to live with her mother.   She blamed her mother for causing her to react the way she did by breaking things in the home.   She admitted using marijuana until her fifth month of pregnancy;  she said that was when she found out she was pregnant, and she immediately stopped.   Medical records indicated that at 20 weeks and five days of pregnancy, mother had reported to a doctor that she used marijuana, Motrin, Tylenol and Vicodin for rib pain since the beginning of her pregnancy.   Another medical record reported a positive screen for marijuana and cocaine.

After summarizing these facts in the detention report, the Department “strongly recommended that a petition be filed on behalf of the child [E.G.] due to minor's mother['s] erratic, hostile and volatile behaviors.   In addition, minor['s] mother, [C.G.,] has [a] substance abuse history and her untreated mental health issues [raise] concern as to her ability to care for her child.”

Mother does not challenge the assertion of dependency jurisdiction over E.G. on the basis of her use of illicit drugs and failure to protect E.G. from his father's use of illicit drugs.   Mother does not challenge the disposition order removing E.G. from her custody and placing him under the supervision of the Department.   Her only challenge on this appeal is to the finding that mother had a history of violent and erratic behavior.   Mother does not contend there was no substantial evidence to support that finding.   Her sole argument is that the trial court violated her due process rights by amending the petition to add a count under section 300(b), based on her violent and erratic behavior.   She contends she was denied notice and an opportunity to defend against the charge.   We find mother forfeited this challenge by failing to object in the trial court;  and, even if it were not forfeited, we would not be required to consider it since mother acknowledges there are other grounds for dependency jurisdiction.

1. Mother Forfeited Her Claim.

At the adjudication hearing, after hearing evidence and arguments of counsel, the court sustained the two counts alleged under section 300(b) concerning mother's (count b–1) and father's (count b–2) illicit drug use (count b–1was amended to strike the reference to mother's current use of illicit drugs) and amended the petition to conform to proof by adding a third count, b–3, to the effect that mother's history of violent and erratic behavior placed E.G. at risk.   Mother's counsel interrupted the court as the court read aloud the amendment, saying, “I don't have a b–3.”   The court responded, “I'm adding it.   Mother has a history of violent and erratic behavior which places the child at risk.”   The court continued, making other jurisdictional findings.   Mother's counsel did not object or ask to be heard concerning the amendment adding a count b–3.   Mother has forfeited her right to claim error on appeal.  (In re Daniel C.H. (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 814, 836 [parent waived right to appeal amendments to dependency petition added by the court and not alleged by Department on due process grounds where parent did not contest the amendments at trial].)

2. The Amendment Did Not Prejudice Mother.

Mother does not challenge the trial court's finding that it has jurisdiction over E.G. because of her substance abuse, nor does she challenge the disposition order placing her son in foster care.   She only challenges the court's finding of jurisdiction based on facts the court added to the petition to conform to proof at the jurisdiction and disposition hearing.  “When a dependency petition alleges multiple grounds for its assertion that a minor comes within the dependency court's jurisdiction, a reviewing court can affirm the juvenile court's finding of jurisdiction over the minor if any one of the statutory bases for jurisdiction that are enumerated in the petition is supported by substantial evidence.   In such a case, the reviewing court need not consider whether any or all of the other alleged statutory grounds for jurisdiction are supported by the evidence.”  (In re Alexis E. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 438, 451).

Mother does not argue there is no substantial evidence to support jurisdiction under section 300(b) because of her substance abuse.   Therefore, we need not consider whether there is substantial evidence to support the findings that mother's history of violent and erratic behavior placed E.G. at risk.   This principle of appellate review, that we uphold a judgment that is correct for any reason, regardless of the correctness of the judicial reasoning under review, applies even where there is a constitutional challenge to the judgment.  (Randi R. v. Superior Court (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 67, 72;  In re Jonathan B. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 873, 875–876 [where one basis for jurisdiction is supported by substantial evidence, appellate court need not consider sufficiency of evidence or constitutionality of other basis];  In re Daniel C. H., supra, 220 Cal.App.3d at p. 837 [appellate court refused to consider due process challenge to amendments to dependency petition added by court, reasoning in part that the allegations of the original petition were sufficient to sustain jurisdictional and dispositional orders, without court's additional findings].)


We affirm the jurisdictional findings of the court.