Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People ex rel. C.Y.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

April 5, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of C.Y. and J.O., Children, and Concerning H.Y., Respondent-Appellant.

          Arapahoe County District Court No. 16JV98 Honorable Theresa M. Slade, Judge.

          Ronald Carl, County Attorney, Marilee McWilliams, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Aurora, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee

          Alison A. Bettenberg, Sarah Yarbrough, Guardians Ad Litem Melanie Jordan, Respondent Parents' Counsel, Golden, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant

          OPINION

          FURMAN, JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 In this dependency and neglect proceeding, H.Y. (mother) appeals the juvenile court's judgment terminating her parent-child legal relationships with C.Y. and J.O. (the children). Mother contends, among other things, that the juvenile judge erred by not recusing herself from the termination proceeding because the judge had previously served as a guardian ad litem (GAL) on a different case involving mother's older child. Because we agree that under the circumstances of this case the judge abused her discretion by not recusing herself from the proceeding, we reverse the judgment and remand the case for a new termination hearing.

         I. The Judge's Prior Involvement

         ¶ 2 In early 2016, the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services (Department) initiated a dependency and neglect case and assumed temporary custody of six-year-old C.Y. after she witnessed domestic violence between mother and her boyfriend. J.O. was born later that month, so the Department filed an amended petition adding him to the case.

         ¶ 3 The court adjudicated the children dependent and neglected and adopted a treatment plan for mother. Later, the Department moved to terminate the parent-child legal relationships between mother and the children.

         ¶ 4 On the second day of the termination hearing, mother testified about her involvement in prior dependency and neglect cases, including a 2005 case in Douglas County involving an older child. A little while later, based on mother's reference to the Douglas County case, the juvenile judge alerted the parties that she had just reviewed the records in that case and realized that she had served as GAL for mother's older child in 2005. The judge then invited the parties to make a record as to whether she needed to recuse herself from this case.

         ¶ 5 Mother asked the judge to recuse herself from the case based on the appearance of impropriety created by the judge's record of her involvement in the 2005 case. The Department and GAL objected to recusal. The judge denied mother's request on the basis that (1) she had no specific memory of mother or the 2005 proceeding; (2) she had stopped serving as the GAL in the case when venue was changed to Jefferson County and, thus, was not an attorney of record during the termination portion of the prior case; and (3) there was no conflict between previously representing the older child's best interests and deciding termination in this case.

         ¶ 6 The juvenile judge's involvement in the 2005 case reared its head again during the third day of the termination hearing. In order to impeach mother, the Department asked the court to take judicial notice of the records in a 2005 Arapahoe County dependency and neglect case involving the same older child. As it turns out, the 2005 case started in Douglas County, where the judge represented the older child as GAL, but venue was changed to Jefferson County and then to Arapahoe County. The minute orders from the Arapahoe County portion of the case, including the termination hearing, identify the judge as the older child's GAL, although they also show that another attorney sometimes appeared as the GAL.

         ¶ 7 Mother renewed her request for the juvenile judge to recuse herself from the termination proceeding based on the appearance of impropriety.

         ¶ 8 After considering the matter, the juvenile judge concluded that she would not take judicial notice of the Arapahoe County court record because the minute orders erroneously identified her as the GAL when she did not have a GAL contract in Arapahoe ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.