People in the Interest of L.B-H-P.
2021 COA 5. No. 20CA0897. Juvenile Law—Dependency and Neglect—Termination of Parent-Child Legal Relationship—Magistrates—Petition for Review—Timeliness—Excusable Neglect.
January 21, 2021
A magistrate terminated the parent-child legal relationship between mother and the child. Mother sought juvenile court review of the termination order, but the juvenile court denied her request because it was untimely.
On appeal, mother contended that the juvenile court abused its discretion by denying her petition for review of the magistrate’s termination order. A juvenile court has jurisdiction to consider a late-filed petition for review in dependency and neglect cases when the delay results from excusable neglect. Here, mother’s counsel’s reasons for the late filing were that (1) she mistakenly believed the filing deadline was 14 days rather than seven, because that timeframe applies to other proceedings under the Children’s Code; and (2) she had to attend three medical appointments related to her high-risk pregnancy and represent another client in a termination hearing lasting a day and a half. A counsel’s failure to act because of carelessness, negligence, or other work obligations is not excusable neglect, and the existence of different deadlines is not an unusual circumstance that would cause a reasonably careful person to neglect a duty. Further, counsel’s need for medical care was not so physically or mentally disabling as to render her unable to file for the requested relief or seek an extension of time. Accordingly, the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion.
The judgment was affirmed.