BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 179
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   June 15, 2010

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                  Mike Feuer, Chair
                     SB 179 (Runner) - As Amended:  May 20, 2010

           SENATE VOTE  :   32-2
           
          SUBJECT  :   JUVENILE LAW: REFEREE

           KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD IN-COURT SERVICE OF AN ORDER FOR TERMINATION  
          OF PARENTAL RIGHTS BE PERMITTED UPON A MINOR, PARENT, OR  
          GUARDIAN WHO IS PRESENT IN COURT AT THE TIME THE ORDER IS TO BE  
          MADE BY A REFEREE IN JUVENILE COURT?
           
          FISCAL EFFECT  :   As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS
          
          This non-controversial bill, sponsored by the Los Angeles County  
          Board of Supervisors, seeks a simple modification to rules for  
          service of an order for termination of parental rights in cases  
          heard by a referee in juvenile court.  Specifically, this bill  
          would permit the court clerk to serve in court the referee's  
          findings and order, as well as a written explanation of the  
          right to seek review of the order, upon a minor, parent, or  
          guardian who is present in court at the time the findings and  
          order are made.  According to supporters, the ability to serve  
          the order in court at the time the order is made will help  
          streamline the appeals process in cases heard by a referee.  The  
          author has recently taken amendments that have successfully  
          removed previous opposition to the bill, which was primarily  
          based on a proposal to shorten the length of time to appeal a  
          parental termination order.  The bill as recently amended no  
          longer decreases the appeal period for parental termination  
          orders, but will still lead to more timely initiation of the  
          appeals process in certain cases heard by a referee if the  
          parent or guardian is served with the order and findings before  
          they leave court.  There is currently no known opposition to the  
          bill.

           SUMMARY  :  Modifies service of process rules for an order for  
          termination of parental rights (TPR) by a referee in juvenile  
          court.  Specifically,  this bill  :    








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          1)Permits service of the referee's findings and order, as well  
            as a written explanation of the right to seek review of the  
            order, to be made in court on a minor, parent, or guardian who  
            is present in court at the time the findings and order are  
            made.

          2)Requires the service of the referee's findings and order by  
            mail to the last known address of the parent or guardian, or  
            to the address designated by those persons, if they are not  
            present in court at the time the findings and order are made,  
            and requires the mailing to include the written explanation of  
            the right to seek review of the order.

          3)Requires service of the referee's findings and order by mail  
            to the parent's or guardian's counsel if the parent or  
            guardian does not have a last known address designated.



           EXISTING LAW  :  

          1)Requires a referee, hearing a case assigned to him or her by  
            the presiding judge of the juvenile court, to furnish a  
            written copy of the referee's findings and order to the  
            presiding judge and, if the minor is 14 years of age or older  
            or makes that request, to furnish a written copy to the minor  
            and serve a copy upon the minor's attorney.  (Welfare &  
            Institutions Code Section 248.)  

          2)Requires the referee to furnish the minor and the parent,  
            guardian, or adult relative, along with the referee's findings  
            and the order, a written explanation of the right of those  
            persons to seek review of the order by the juvenile court.   
            (Welfare & Institutions Code Section 248.)

          3)Requires that service of the referee's findings and order  
            pursuant to these provisions be made by mail to the last known  
            address of the minor, parent, guardian, or adult relative, or  
            to the address designated by such persons appearing at the  
            hearing before the referee.  (Welfare & Institutions Code  
            Section 248.)

          4)Provides that a notice of appeal must be filed within 60 days  
            after the rendition of the judgment or the making of the order  








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            being appealed, except that in matters heard by a referee not  
            acting as a temporary judge, a notice of appeal must be filed  
            within 60 days after the referee's order becomes final.   
            (California Rule of Court 8.400(d).)

           COMMENTS  :  This bill, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board  
          of Supervisors, would permit service of a parental termination  
          order, the referee's findings, and a written explanation of the  
          right to seek review of the order, to be made in juvenile court  
          on a minor, parent, or guardian who is present in juvenile court  
          at the time the findings and order are made by the referee.

           Author's statement:   According to the author, "Although birth  
          parents or legal guardians are frequently present in court at  
          the time the TPR order is issued, current law requires the order  
          to be mailed to their last known address.  Allowing the court  
          clerk the option of personally serving the parents or guardians  
          while they are present in court will initiate the appeals  
          process in a much more timely way.  This modification is  
          necessary to streamline the TPR appeal process."

           Effect upon the appeals process in cases heard by a juvenile  
          referee.   This bill will only have an effect upon the appeals  
          process in cases heard by a referee who is not sitting as a  
          temporary judge.  This is because when the case is heard by a  
          judge, there is no requirement that the order be served in order  
          for the appeal period to begin running.  Instead, in cases heard  
          by a judge, the 60-day appeal period begins to run as soon as  
          the judge rules from the bench, even if the judge does not sign  
          the written order until later.  (In re Ryan R. (2004) 122  
          Cal.App.4th 595, 600.)   

          This bill seeks earlier initiation of the appeals process, in  
          cases heard by a referee, without changing the length of the  
          appeal period itself.  It would accomplish this by facilitating  
          in-court service of the order and findings, when feasible, to  
          eliminate counting of 10 days that are otherwise allowed for  
          service by mail before the 60-day statutory appeal period is  
          deemed to start running.

          Under existing law, the appeal period in cases heard by a  
          referee is 60 days long and begins to run when the referee's  
          order becomes final, which is 10 days after the order is served  
          by the clerk unless an application for rehearing is filed within  
          that 10 day period.  (Rule of Court 8.400 (d)(2); In re Miguel  








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          E. (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 521, 538.)  Existing law provides that  
          service of the order and findings must be made by mail to the  
          last known address and service is deemed complete at the time of  
          mailing.  (Rule of Court 5.538(b)(3).)  Therefore, when the case  
          is heard by a referee, the appeal period is effectively 70 days  
          from the date the clerk mails the order, assuming that a  
          rehearing is not requested within 10 days.  

          This bill would alternatively permit service of the referee's  
          order and findings in court upon a minor, parent, or guardian  
          who is present in juvenile court at the time the findings and  
          order are made.  If the parent or guardian is immediately served  
          with the order and findings while still in court, then the  
          period for filing a notice of appeal would be effectively less  
          than 70 days because mailing would no longer be necessary.   
          Instead, under these circumstances the effective appeals period  
          in these referee cases would be precisely 60 days long, as  
          provided by existing Rule 8.400(d).

          Under existing law, if an application for rehearing is made and  
          later denied, the 60-day appeal period begins to run from the  
          date the referee's order was served, or 30 days after the order  
          denying the rehearing request, whichever is later.  (Rule  
          8.400(d)(3).)  If, pursuant to this bill, the order is served in  
          court rather than mailed, then calculation of the date that the  
          appeal period begins to run must be adjusted accordingly, i.e.  
          to no longer allow 10 days for service by mail.

           Ability of the court to serve the order while the parent or  
          guardian is present.   Although in-court service of the order  
          would help achieve the author's objective of "initiating the  
          appeals process in a more timely way," on a practical level it  
          is not known to what degree court clerks are currently able to  
          execute in-court service before the parent or guardian leaves  
          the courtroom.  This ability could vary greatly between  
          counties, depending on the court's workload and number of cases  
          it must hear each day.  To successfully serve the order in  
          court, the clerk must have enough time to prepare the order, get  
          the judge's signature, and print the order out or copy it before  
          the parent leaves the courtroom.  The ability of the court to  
          immediately serve a parent or guardian at the time the order is  
          made should improve over time with advancements in court  
          technology.
           
          Recent amendments have removed opposition to the bill.   The  








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          author has recently taken amendments that have successfully  
          removed previous opposition to the bill.  The bill as recently  
          amended does not decrease the length of the appeal period for  
          parental termination orders, but will still lead to more timely  
          initiation of the appeals process in certain cases heard by a  
          referee if in-court service of the order is made.  There is  
          currently no known opposition to the bill.

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :  The Los Angeles County Board of  
          Supervisors, sponsor of the bill, believes that this bill will  
          increase efficiency in serving notice of process, writing:

               When a parent or guardian is present in court at the  
               time the findings and order are made, it is more  
               efficient and provides a greater likelihood of  
               actual notice to permit the court to immediately  
               provide a copy of the order, along with written  
               information about the right to seek review.  Since  
               many cases involve transient parents, the court  
               would be assured the parent is aware of the order  
               and the opportunity to seek review.



           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (sponsor)
          Children's Law Center of Los Angeles
          California State Association of Counties (CSAC)
           
            Opposition 
           
          None on file

           Analysis Prepared by  :   Anthony Lew / JUD. / (916) 319-2334