In re Isaiah B.
In re Isaiah B
In re Isaiah B.
Filed 9/19/12 In re Isaiah B. CA2/6
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS
Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or
relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except
as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This
opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for
purposes of rule 8.1115.
THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
In re Isaiah B., a Person
Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
Juv. No. B239286
Ct. No. J-1164319)
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES,
Plaintiff and Respondent,
Defendant and Appellant.
John M. appeals from the
January 23, 2012 denial of a Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 petition
for supervised visitation and phone
contact with his 13-year-old son, Isaiah B. This is appellant's fourth petition to modify
visitation and third appeal. The trial
court, in denying the petition, found that supervised visits and/or phone
contact at this point in time would be detrimental to Isaiah's therapy and
foster care placement. We affirm. (In re Stephanie M. (1994) 7 Cal.4th
On October 23, 2006, Santa Barbara County Child Welfare
Services (CPS) detained Isaiah and filed a dependency petition for failure to
protect (§ 300, subd. (b)), serious emotional damage (§ 300, subd.
(c)), no provision for support (§ 300, subd. (g)), and sibling abuse
(§ 300, subd. (j)). CPS had
received 31 referrals, four of which were for sexual abuse by appellant. The trial court sustained the petition based
on reports that Isaiah had sexually abused a half-sister, was living with
appellant but not being provided for, and not taking his ADHD medication.
Appellant suffered from
alcohol abuse and mental health issues, was on probation for driving under the
influence, and had a lengthy criminal record. Doctor Muriel Yanez conducted a psychological evaluation and
reported that appellant suffered from mental health issues and was not fit or
competent to parent Isaiah.
The trial court ordered
services and foster care but CPS could not find suitable foster placement due
to Isaiah's history of sexually acting out, oppositional defiance disorder, and
ADHD. Isaiah was placed in emergency shelter
care and, in 2007, placed in the ChildHelp Group Home (ChildHelp) in Riverside
At the 12 month review hearing, evidence was
received that appellant had not completed parenting classes, did not understand
Isaiah's needs, and had not complied with his case plan which included anger
management or a substance abuse program. The trial court terminated reunification
services on June 5, 2008 and
ordered long term foster care with monthly supervised visits and reasonable
phone contact. Appellant, however,
abused visitation and engaged in irrational behavior that was detrimental to
Isaiah's safety and welfare. Appellant
accused CPS and ChildHelp of illegally detaining and drugging Isaiah, and filed
complaints with the Lompoc Police, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, the
Commission on Judicial Performance, the Riverside County Grand Jury, and the
California Department of Justice.
First Section 388 Petition
On July 23, 2009, appellant filed a section 388
petition to return Isaiah to his custody and close the case. The trial court denied the petition and
ordered that contact between appellant and Isaiah M. be contingent upon the
recommendation of Isaiah's therapist and that visitation be closely supervised. (§ 388.)
Appellant appealed from
the order which was affirmed in an unpublished opinion on March 16, 2010.
Appellant filed a second
petition to modify visitation which was denied March 25, 2010.
Appellant appealed but the appeal was dismissed after appellant's
attorney filed a no-issue brief.
(B224603; In re Sade C. (1996) 13 Cal.4th 952, 994.)
Failed Foster Care Placements
At the July 26, 2010 review hearing, CPS
reported that Isaiah was struggling with anger and personal boundary issues at
On January 24, 2011, at
the next review hearing, CPS reported that Isaiah had been moved to a foster
home but had regressed. The case worker
reported that appellant was making angry phone calls, saying that Isaiah's
social workers and mother had lied about him and that CPS had no legal grounds
to remove Isaiah or stop in-person visitation.
Appellant said that he had been diagnosed with a delusional disorder
which was part of CPS's plot to build a case against him.
declared a conflict because appellant suffered from mental health issues and
believed she was colluding with CPS and Isaiah's attorney. The trial court appointed new counsel and
continued the review hearing to February 14, 201, at which time it was informed
that appellant had been involved in an altercation.
On July 18, 2011, at the
next review hearing, evidence was received that Isaiah's last two placements
had not worked out and was living in a shelter foster home. The case worker reported that Isaiah "is
a hard sell to a foster parent" because of his behavioral problems and
short-lived stays at other foster homes.
Appellant continued to send Isaiah letters and leave threatening voice
mail that he was reporting the case worker to the FBI. At the July 18, 2011 hearing, Isaiah had
information that was not to be shared with his parents and spoke with the trial
court in chambers.
Third Section 388 Petition
On October 28, 2011,
appellant filed a third petition for supervised visits and reasonable phone
contact. The petition acknowledged that
appellant suffered from deep-seated psychological
problems and a drinking problem since his teens that resulted in aggressive
behavior and paranoid ideation.
Appellant claimed he was on the road to recovery and had been sober
since May 2011. Two letters from Isaiah
were attached to the petition in which Isaiah acknowledged that he had not
written appellant and had received an IPOD Touch from appellant. Isaiah thanked appellant for the gift and
wrote that he wanted a PSPgo video game player for Christmas.
The trial court believed
the requests for gifts were inappropriate and denied the section 388 petition
without prejudice. The trial court
wanted input from Isaiah's counselor and said that it would like to see
appellant's "actual involvement in counseling. I know that the sober living home is a good
thing, it's great to see, but that's not enough."
At the next review
hearing on January 9, 2012, CPS reported that Isaiah was in a new foster home
and displaying manipulative and obnoxious behaviors to alienate his foster
parents and teachers. Isaiah was
receiving letters from appellant but did not want to write back or have contact
Fourth Section 388 Petition
Appellant filed a fourth
petition for supervised visits and phone contact which was opposed by CPS and
Isaiah. The evidence showed that Isaiah
was adjusting to his foster home placement and loved appellant but did not want
to visit appellant or respond to his letters.
Isaiah's therapist reported that Isaiah was testing his new foster
parent and that therapeutic behavior services were being provided. Isaiah, however, was having problems in
school and in danger of being expelled from an after-school program. The foster parents worked and lacked the
financial means to pay for private day care, which would require that Isaiah be
removed and placed in another foster home.
The trial court denied
the section 388 petition because Isaiah was having great difficulty
transitioning to foster care and on the ground that visitation would be
detrimental to Isaiah. "It's not
been demonstrated to me that it's in his best interest. . . . I do want [Isaiah] to see the therapist,
discuss it in therapy, and if and when it's determined there should be a
therapeutic visit, I will be happy to look at that."
Best Interests of the Child
We review the denial of
a section 388 petition for abuse of discretion.
(In re Stephanie M., supra,
7 Cal.4th at p. 318.) Section 388
authorizes a juvenile court to modify a prior order if a parent shows a change
of circumstances exists and the proposed change is in the best interests of the
child. (Id., at p. 317.) "It is not
enough for a parent to show just a genuine change of circumstances under
the statute. The parent must show that
undoing of the prior order would be in the best interests of the child.
[Citation.]" (In re Kimberly F.
(1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 519, 529.)
Although appellant is
starting to address his alcohol abuse and mental health issues, there is no
evidence that reinstating visitation or phone contact is in Isaiah's best
interests at this time. Over the last
five years, appellant displayed lack of insight about Isaiah's needs,
threatened Isaiah's social workers, and engaged in confrontational behavior
that was highly detrimental to Isaiah's welfare. Isaiah received letters from appellant but
decided not to write back and told his case worker and foster parents that he
wants no contact with appellant.
The evidence shows that
Isaiah has a history of engaging in manipulative behavior which has sabotaged
his foster care placement and schooling.
Isaiah's therapist reports that Isaiah controls people and gets his needs
and wants by engaging in negative behaviors.
Those problems are being addressed by the therapist at a critical time
in Isaiah's life. The foster parents are
frustrated but want to help and are willing to give Isaiah another year before
they "throw in the towel."
Appellant argues that
visitation is a fundamental right but a parent has no right to insist on
visitation orders that are detrimental to the child's therapy and foster
care. (See e.g., § 362.1, subd.
(a)(1)(B) [visitation order may not jeopardize child's safety; Los Angeles
County Dept. of Children & Family Services v. Superior Court (2006) 145
Cal.App.4th 692, 699.) With so much in
the balance, the trial court reasonably concluded that reinstating visitation
and/or phone contact is not in Isaiah's best interests. In the words of the trial court, appellant
"thinks that he has his act together at this point, but he's been absent
for a long period of time, and it just doesn't happen overnight."
We concur. The focus
here is what is best for Isaiah.
Substantial evidence supports the finding that modification of the
no-visitation/no-phone-contact order at this point in time could jeopardize
Isaiah's badly needed therapy and foster care.
(In re Stephanie M., supra,
7 Cal.4th at p. 317; In re Angel B. (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 454,
The judgment (January
23, 2012 order denying section 388 petition) is affirmed.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED.
Arthur A. Garcia, Judge
Superior Court County of Santa Barbara
Maureen L. Keaney, under
appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant.
Dennis A. Marshall,
County Counsel, County of santa Barbara, Maria Salido Novatt, Sr. Deputy, for
 All statutory references are to the Welfare
and Institutions Code.
 Appellant has a lengthy criminal history that
includes arrests for obstructing a peace officer, fighting, false
identification to a peace officer, grand theft, battery of a spouse, illegal
possession of tear gas, corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, driving while
intoxicated, evading a peace officer, making criminal threats, and disorderedly
conduct while intoxicated