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Sonja C. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security, I.C.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department D

June 13, 2013

SONJA C., Appellant,
v.
ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC SECURITY, I.C., [1] Appellees.

(Not for Publication -103(G) Ariz. R.P. Juv. Ct.; Rule 28 ARCAP)

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. JD 9095 The Honorable Joan M. Sinclair, Judge.

Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General Tucson By Erika Z. Alfred, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee ADES.

Christina Phillis, Maricopa County Public Advocate Mesa By Suzanne W. Sanchez, Deputy Public Advocate Attorneys for Appellant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

MARGARET H. DOWNIE, Judge

¶1 Sonja C. ("Mother") challenges the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to daughter I.C. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[2]

¶2 The Arizona Department of Economic Security ("ADES") filed a dependency petition regarding I.C. four days after her April 2012 birth. Mother and I.C. both tested positive for methamphetamine, and Mother had an open dependency case regarding two older children. Mother's parental rights to those children were terminated in July 2012 based on chronic substance abuse and time in care. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") § 8-533(B)(3), (B)(8)(b).

¶3 In October 2012, ADES moved to terminate Mother's parental rights to I.C, alleging: (1) inability to discharge parental responsibilities due to chronic substance abuse; (2) out-of-home placement for six months or longer and substantial neglect or willful refusal to remedy the circumstances leading to the child's removal; and (3) parental rights to another child terminated within the preceding two years for the same cause. See A.R.S. § 8-533(B)(3), (B)(8)(b), (B)(10).

¶4 Mother failed to appear for a December 2012 pretrial conference. The court found no good cause for her absence and concluded she had waived her right to contest the severance motion. See A.R.S. § 8-537(C) (if parent fails to appear for pretrial conference after appropriate notice, court "may find that the parent has waived the parent's legal rights and is deemed to have admitted the allegations of the petition by the failure to appear").

¶5 A Child Protective Services ("CPS") case manager testified that ADES offered Mother substance abuse counseling, options for in-patient treatment, transportation, random drug testing, psychological consultation, and parent aide services. The case manager further testified that Mother failed to participate in services and failed to drug test during the pendency of I.C.'s dependency case. The court took judicial notice of the previous terminations of Mother's parental rights as to her two older children.

¶6 The court ruled that ADES had proven by clear and convincing evidence that Mother's parental rights to I.C. should be severed based on chronic substance abuse, time in care, and the termination of rights to another child within the preceding two years for the same cause. It also concluded termination was in I.C.'s best interests –- a finding Mother does not challenge on appeal. Mother timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § 8-235(A).

DISCUSSION

ΒΆ7 Mother contends she established good cause for failing to appear at the pretrial conference and that the court erred by ...


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