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People ex rel. C.S.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

July 13, 2017

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of C.S., a Child, and Concerning J.S., Respondent-Appellant.

         Weld County District Court No. 16JV35 Honorable W. Troy Hause, Judge

          Bruce T. Barker, County Attorney, Linda L. Goff, Assistant County Attorney, Greeley, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

          The Gregory Law Firm, LLC, Christopher S.P. Gregory, Fort Collins, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant

          OPINION

          FURMAN, JUDGE

         ¶ 1 The Weld County Department of Human Services (Department) filed a motion with the juvenile court to dismiss a dependency and neglect petition involving C.S. (child). J.S. (father) agreed to the dismissal, but he requested that administrative findings of child abuse made by the Department against him be expunged pursuant to sections 19-3-313.5(3)(f), C.R.S. 2016, and 19-3-505(6), C.R.S. 2016. The court granted the Department's motion to dismiss and denied father's request. The court also denied father's motion for reconsideration.

         ¶ 2 Father appeals. We conclude that the orders from which father seeks to appeal are not final and appealable. We thus dismiss his appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. The Department's Involvement

         ¶ 3 In March 2016, the Department filed a petition in dependency and neglect based on a report that the child, then four months old, had suffered injuries that were consistent with being shaken. When the injuries occurred, B.F. (mother) was at work and father, an emergency medical technician (EMT), was caring for the child. Father reported that the child had choked while being fed and had become unresponsive. Father stated that he called for emergency assistance, gave the child blows on the back, and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He denied shaking the child.

         ¶ 4 The juvenile court placed the child in mother's protective custody and ordered father to have only supervised visits with the child.

         ¶ 5 Father denied the allegations in the petition and requested a jury trial. In the meantime, mother made a no-fault admission that the child was without proper care; the court entered a deferred adjudication as to her.

         ¶ 6 The juvenile court scheduled father's five-day jury trial for July 2016.

         ¶ 7 The parties filed their lists of witnesses and exhibits in June. Father's list included several medical experts who were prepared to testify that the medical records they had reviewed were not consistent with the theory that father had shaken the child, but rather suggested that the child's injuries were the result of natural causes. He also identified coworkers and others who would testify to his love for the child, his parenting abilities, his trustworthiness, and his ability to handle stressful situations. Father filed a number of motions in limine to prohibit the introduction of some evidence, limit the use of other evidence, and place additional restrictions on the manner in which the Department could present its case.

         ¶ 8 The parties appeared before the juvenile court for a combined pretrial readiness conference as to father and dispositional hearing as to mother. The Department immediately informed the court that it had concluded that mother was "perfectly appropriate" and "adequately protective, " and accordingly, it was recommending that mother be allowed to "withdraw her plea, " and that the case be dismissed as to mother and father. The child's guardian ad litem (the GAL) concurred.

         ¶ 9 Father stated that he would agree to the case being dismissed "with a rather large caveat." He requested the court to make it clear that it was dismissing the case because the Department had stated or taken the position that it could not proceed with the evidence that it had. He contended that under section 19-3-505(6), such a result would obligate the Department to expunge the administrative findings made during the course of the case. This was ...


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