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§2.05 Who Can Attend Hearings

The following persons may attend dependency hearings [WIC §349; CRC 5.530(b), (d)]:

  • The child;
  • Any known sibling and his or her caregiver and attorney if the sibling is a juvenile dependent or the subject of a dependency proceeding;
  • Parents, de facto parents [see Part 2, §5.05], Indian custodians, or guardians, or if none can be found or none reside within the state, any adult relatives residing within the county, or if none, any adult relatives residing nearest to the court;
  • Counsel for the child, parent, de facto parent, guardian, adult relative, Indian custodian, or Indian tribe;
  • Any CASA volunteer and CAPTA guardian ad litem;
  • The social worker, although you do not have the authority to assign a particular social worker to a case [In re Ashley M. (2003) 114 CA4th 1, 10];
  • County counsel or, the district attorney if the district attorney has been appointed to represent the petitioner;
  • The court clerk;
  • The court reporter;
  • A bailiff, at the court’s discretion;
  • A representative of the Indian child’s tribe [see CRC 5.480];
  • An interpreter as required; and
  • Any other person entitled to notice under WIC §§290.1 and 290.2.

The child is entitled to be present at the hearing, and, if present, entitled to participate and address the court. If the child is age 10 or older and not present, you must determine whether the child was properly notified of the right to attend and ask why the child is not present and whether the child was given an opportunity to attend. If you find that the child was not properly notified or that the child wished to be present and was not given an opportunity to be present, you must continue the hearing to allow the child to attend unless you find that it is in the child’s best interest not to continue the hearing. Any such continuance must be only for that period of time necessary to provide notice and secure the child’s presence. You may issue any and all orders reasonably necessary to ensure that the child has an opportunity to attend. [WIC §349(d); CRC 5.534(p).]

Parents who are registered domestic partners have the same right to attend and participate as other parents. [See FC §297.5(a), (d), (j); see also S.Y. v S.B. (2011) 201 CA4th 1023, 1032, 1035 (former same-sex partner found to be presumed parent).] A person under 18 may petition for permission to establish a domestic partnership. [FC §297.1(a).]

The public is usually excluded unless a parent or guardian requests that other persons be present, with the consent of the child. You may also admit other persons that you deem to have a direct and legitimate interest in the case. [See WIC §§345, 346; CRC 5.530(a), (e)(1), 5.534(e)(1), (f); see also form JV-287 (confidential information).]

Incarcerated or Institutionalized Parent. 

An incarcerated or institutionalized parent has a right to notice and the right to attend a disposition or .26 hearing. [See PC §2625(b), (d).] You have discretion to order a prisoner's attendance at other proceedings. [PC §2625(e); CRC 5.530(f); see In re Jesusa V. (2004) 32 C4th 588, 599–600.]

Notice must be sent to an incarcerated person of a detention hearing, a jurisdictional or dispositional hearing, or a specific review hearing or permanency planning hearing. [CRC 5.530(f)(1).]  Depending on the type of hearing, the notice must inform the prisoner of the right to be present, or for some hearings, the right to request telephonic appearance. [CRC 5.530(f)(1)(A)–(B).] No hearing that requires the parent’s physical presence may be held unless the parent has signed a knowing waiver, or a representative of the institution submits a declaration stating the parent’s intent to not attend. [CRC 5.530(f)(4).]

An Order for Prisoner’s Appearance at Hearing Affecting Prisoner’s Parental Rights (form JV-450) and a copy of Prisoner’s Statement Regarding Appearance at Hearing Affecting Parental Rights (form JV-451) must be attached to the notice and served at least 15 days before the hearing. [CRC 5.530(f)(5); see PC §2625.] You may also permit an incarcerated parent to appear by videoconference. [CRC 5.530(f)(6), 5.531.]


   
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© 2006 by Judicial Council of California
updated as of January 1, 2012