ICWA Guide Online | Resources by State | California | Court Rules
Cal.Rules of Court, Rule 5.534
Formerly cited as CA ST TRIAL CT Rule 1412
California Rules of Court (Refs & Annos)
Title 5. Family and Juvenile Rules (Refs & Annos)
Division 3. Juvenile Rules (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 3. General Conduct of Juvenile Court Proceedings
Rule 5.534. General provisions--all proceedings
(a) Control of proceedings (§§ 350, 680)
The court must control all proceedings with a view to quickly and effectively ascertaining the jurisdictional facts and all information relevant to the present condition and welfare of the child.
(b) Conduct of proceedings (§§ 350, 680)
Unless there is a contested issue of fact or law, the proceedings must be conducted in a nonadversarial atmosphere.
(c) Testimony of child in chambers (§ 350)
In a hearing under section 300 et seq., a child may testify in chambers and outside the presence of the child's parent or guardian if the parent or guardian is represented by counsel who is present, subject to the right of the parent or guardian to have the court reporter read back the child's testimony, and if the court determines, based on the petitioner's report or other offers of proof or other evidence, that any of the following circumstances exist:
(1) Testimony in chambers is necessary to ensure truthful testimony;
(2) The child is likely to be intimidated by a formal courtroom setting; or
(3) The child is afraid to testify in front of the parent or guardian.
(d) Burden of proof (§§ 350, 701.1)
(1) Meeting the burden of proof:
(A) In any hearing under section 300 in which the county welfare agency has the burden of proof, after completion of the agency's case, and the presentation of evidence by the child, the court may, on motion of any party or on the court's own motion, order whatever action the law requires if the court, based on all the evidence then before it, finds that the burden of proof is not met.
(B) In any hearing under section 601 or 602, after the completion of the petitioner's case, the court may, on the motion of any party, or on the court's own motion, order whatever action the law requires if the burden of proof is not met.
(2) If the motion is denied, the child in a section 300 or section 601 or section 602 hearing, or the parent or guardian in a section 300 hearing, may offer evidence.
(e) De facto parents
On a sufficient showing the court may recognize the child's present or previous custodians as de facto parents and grant standing to participate as parties in disposition hearings and any hearing thereafter at which the status of the dependent child is at issue. The de facto parent may:
(1) Be present at the hearing;
(2) Be represented by retained counsel or, at the discretion of the court, by appointed counsel; and
(3) Present evidence.
(1) On a sufficient showing, the court may permit relatives of the child to:
(A) Be present at the hearing; and
(B) Address the court.
(2) Relatives of the child have the right to submit information about the child to the court at any time. Written information about the child may be submitted to the court using Relative Information (form JV-285) or in a letter to the court.
(3) When a relative is located through the investigation required by rule 5.637, the social worker must give that relative:
(A) The written notice required by section 309 and the “Important Information for Relatives” document as distributed in California Department of Social Services All County Letter No. 09-86;
(B) A copy of Relative Information (form JV-285), with the county and address of the court, the child's name and date of birth, and the case number already entered in the appropriate caption boxes by the social worker; and
(C) A copy of Confidential Information (form JV-287).
(4) When form JV-285 or a relative's letter is received by the court, the court clerk must provide the social worker, all unrepresented parties, and all attorneys with a copy of the completed form or letter.
(5) When form JV-287 is received by the court, the court clerk must place it in a confidential portion of the case file.
(g) Right to counsel (§§ 317, 633, 634, 700)
At each hearing the court must advise an self represented child, parent, or guardian of the right to be represented by counsel and, if applicable, of the right to have counsel appointed, subject to a claim by the court or the county for reimbursement as provided by law.
(h) Appointment of counsel (§§ 317, 633, 634, 700)
(1) In cases petitioned under section 300:
(A) The court must appoint counsel for the child unless the court finds that the child would not benefit from the appointment and makes the findings required by rule 5.660(b); and
(B) The court must appoint counsel for any parent or guardian unable to afford counsel if the child is placed in out-of-home care or the recommendation of the petitioner is for out-of-home care, unless the court finds the parent or guardian has knowingly and intelligently waived the right to counsel.
(2) In cases petitioned under section 601 or section 602:
(A) The court must appoint counsel for any child who appears without counsel, unless the child knowingly and intelligently waives the right to counsel. If the court determines that the parent or guardian can afford counsel but has not retained counsel for the child, the court must appoint counsel for the child and order the parent or guardian to reimburse the county;
(B) The court may appoint counsel for a parent or guardian who desires but cannot afford counsel; and
(C) If the parent has retained counsel for the child and a conflict arises, the court must take steps to ensure that the child's interests are protected.
(i) Tribal representatives (25 U.S.C. §§ 1911, 1931-1934)
The tribe of an Indian child is entitled to intervene as a party at any stage of a dependency proceeding concerning the Indian child.
(1) The tribe may appear by counsel or by a representative of the tribe designated by the tribe to intervene on its behalf. When the tribe appears as a party by a representative of the tribe, the name of the representative and a statement of authorization for that individual or agency to appear as the tribe must be submitted to the court in the form of a tribal resolution or other document evidencing an official act of the tribe.
(2) If the tribe of the Indian child does not intervene as a party, the court may permit an individual affiliated with the tribe or, if requested by the tribe, a representative of a program operated by another tribe or Indian organization to:
(A) Be present at the hearing;
(B) Address the court;
(C) Receive notice of hearings;
(D) Examine all court documents relating to the dependency case;
(E) Submit written reports and recommendations to the court; and
(F) Perform other duties and responsibilities as requested or approved by the court.
(j) Appointment of educational representative (§§ 319, 361, 366, 366.27, 726; Gov. Code, § 7579.5)
If the court limits the right of a parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the child, the court must immediately proceed under rule 5.650(b) to appoint an educational representative for the child.
(k) Advisement of hearing rights (§§ 301, 311, 341, 630, 702.5, 827)
(1) The court must advise the child, parent, and guardian in section 300 cases, and the child in section 601 or section 602 cases, of the following rights:
(A) Any right to assert the privilege against self-incrimination;
(B) The right to confront and cross-examine the persons who prepared reports or documents submitted to the court by the petitioner and the witnesses called to testify at the hearing;
(C) The right to use the process of the court to bring in witnesses; and
(D) The right to present evidence to the court.
(2) The child, parent, guardian, and their attorneys have:
(A) The right to receive probation officer or social worker reports; and
(B) The right to inspect the documents used by the preparer of the report.
(3) Unless prohibited by court order, the child, parent, guardian, and their attorneys also have the right to receive all documents filed with the court.
At each hearing under section 300 et seq., the court must determine whether notice has been given as required by law and must make an appropriate finding noted in the minutes.
(m) Address of parent or guardian--notice (§ 316.1)
At the first appearance by a parent or guardian in proceedings under section 300 et seq., the court must order each parent or guardian to provide a mailing address.
(1) The court must advise that the mailing address provided will be used by the court, the clerk, and the social services agency for the purposes of notice of hearings and the mailing of all documents related to the proceedings.
(2) The court must advise that until and unless the parent or guardian, or the attorney of record for the parent or guardian, submits written notification of a change of mailing address, the address provided will be used, and notice requirements will be satisfied by appropriate service at that address.
(3) Notification of Mailing Address (form JV-140) is the preferred method of informing the court and the social services agency of the mailing address of the parent or guardian and change of mailing address.
(A) The form must be delivered to the parent or guardian, or both, with the petition.
(B) The form must be available in the courtroom, in the office of the clerk, and in the offices of the social services agency.
(C) The form must be printed and made available in both English and Spanish.
(n) Caregiver notice and right to be heard (§§ 290.1-297, 366.21)
For cases filed under section 300 et seq.:
(1) For any child who has been removed from the home, the court must ensure that notice of statutory review hearings, permanency hearings, and section 366.26 hearings has been provided to the current caregiver of the child, including foster parents, preadoptive parents, relative caregivers, and nonrelative extended family members. Notice of dispositional hearings also must be provided to these individuals when the dispositional hearing is serving as a permanency hearing under section 361.5(f).
(2) The current caregiver has the right to be heard in each proceeding listed in paragraph (1), including the right to submit information about the child to the court before the hearing. Written information about the child may be submitted to the court using the Caregiver Information Form (form JV-290) or in the form of a letter to the court.
(3) At least 10 calendar days before each hearing listed in paragraph (1), the social worker must provide to the current caregiver:
(A) A summary of his or her recommendations for disposition, and any recommendations for change in custody or status;
(B) Caregiver Information Form (form JV-290); and
(C) Instruction Sheet for Caregiver Information Form (form JV-290-INFO).
(4) If the caregiver chooses to provide written information to the court using form JV-290 or by letter, the caregiver must follow the procedures set forth below. The court may waive any element of this process for good cause.
(A) If filing in person, the caregiver must bring the original document and 8 copies to the court clerk's office for filing no later than five calendar days before the hearing.
(B) If filing by mail, the caregiver must mail the original document and 8 copies to the court clerk's office for filing no later than seven calendar days before the hearing.
(5) When form JV-290 or a caregiver letter is received by mail the court clerk must immediately file it.
(6) When form JV-290 or a caregiver letter is filed, the court clerk must provide the social worker, all unrepresented parties and all attorneys with a copy of the completed form or letter immediately upon receipt. The clerk also must complete, file, and distribute Proof of Service--Juvenile (form JV-510). The clerk may use any technology designed to speed the distribution process, including drop boxes in the courthouse, e-mail or fax to distribute the JV-290 form or letter and proof of service form.
(o) Periodic reports
The court may require the petitioner or any other agency to submit reports concerning a child subject to the jurisdiction of the court.
(p) Presence of child (§ 349)
(1) A child who is the subject of a juvenile court hearing is entitled to be present at the hearing. If the child is present at the hearing, the court must allow the child, if the child so desires, to address the court and participate in the hearing.
(2) If the child is 10 years of age or older and he or she is not present at the hearing, the court must determine whether the child was properly notified of his or her right to attend the hearing and ask why the child is not present at the hearing and whether the child was given an opportunity to attend. If the court finds that the child was not properly notified or that the child wished to be present and was not given an opportunity to be present, the court must continue the hearing to allow the child to attend unless the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child not to continue the hearing. Any such continuance must be only for that period of time necessary to provide notice and secure the presence of the child. The court may issue any and all orders reasonably necessary to ensure that the child has an opportunity to attend.
(Formerly Rule 1412, adopted, eff. Jan. 1, 1991. As amended, eff. Jan. 1, 1994; July 1, 1995; Jan. 1, 1997; Jan. 1, 2000; July 1, 2002; Jan. 1, 2005. Renumbered Rule 5.534 and amended, eff. Jan. 1, 2007. As amended, eff. Oct. 1, 2007; Jan. 1, 2008; Jan. 1, 2010; Jan. 1, 2011.)
Current with amendments received through July 1, 2011.
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