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Decisions Re Criminal Matters and Termination of Father's Parental Rights

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By FindLaw Staff on June 10, 2010 12:27 PM

In In re Marriage of Jill & Victor D., No. C062388, the Third District faced a challenge to the juvenile court's judgment terminating a father's parental rights so the minors could be adopted by their stepfather.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that the court properly held that the circumstances by which the minors' mother initially assumed sole physical custody of them was irrelevant to the determination whether the father left the minors within the meaning of the statutory scheme.  Furthermore, the court held that the father's claim that there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's finding that he left the minors for one year with the intent to abandon them during that time is rejected.     

In People v. Wilkinson, No. F057537, the Fifth District faced a challenge to the trial court's order to have petitioner committed to the California Department of Developmental Services for placement.  In reversing the commitment order, the court held that the trial court erred in accepting the attorney's waiver of petitioner's right to be present at the hearing over her objection, and this error was not harmless.     

In People v. Beckley, No. B212529, the First District faced a challenge to a conviction of two defendants for first degree murder and other crimes involving rival gang members.  In affirming the convictions, the court held that, although the prosecutions' failure to authenticate a photograph and "gang roster" downloaded from internet web sites should have barred their admission,  the error was harmless as to both defendants.   

People v. Johnson, No. A123469, the court faced a challenge to a conviction of defendant for attempted murder of his girlfriend and related charges.  In affirming the conviction, the court held that Evidence Code section 1109 is constitutional on its face.  Furthermore, the court held that the remoteness of the prior acts of domestic violence did not render application of section 1109 unconstitutional, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting that evidence.  The court went on to conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the evidence was not substantially more prejudicial than probative under section 352 and section 1109(a), that the court properly determined that admission of the evidence was "in the interest of justice" under section 1109(c), and that any hypothesized error in the admission of evidence was harmless.  Finally, the court held that the trial court's ruling under section 1101(b) was proper, and any instructional error on this point was harmless.     

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