The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People in Interest of J.G. on Monday, May 23, 2016.
Dependency or Neglect Proceedings—Due Process—Parental Rights.
After a jury found that the environment of M.L.’s four children was injurious to their welfare, the trial court adjudicated the children dependent or neglected pursuant to CRS § 19-3-102(1)(c). Relying on Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), the Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. It held that Troxel’s due process requirements do not necessitate that the State prove that both parents lack the availability, ability, or willingness to provide reasonable parental care before a child may be adjudicated dependent or neglected under the injurious environment provision. It further held that neither the plain language of the dependency or neglect statute nor Troxel requires the State to prove parental fault when adjudicating a child dependent or neglected under the injurious environment provision. Hence, the Court concluded that the trial court’s jury instructions were consistent with the plain language of the statute and the trial court did not err when it allowed the jury to find that the children’s environment was injurious to their welfare without first requiring the jury to make findings of parental fault. The case was remanded to the Court of Appeals to address M.L.’s remaining issues on appeal.
Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.