2019.07.23 Case Law Summary

People in the Interest of R.J., 2019COA109 (July 18, 2019)

Both parents denied the allegations in the petition and requested an adjudicatory jury trial. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a special verdict finding the children dependent and neglected. A magistrate later entered dispositional orders as to both father and mother. Neither parent filed a petition for judicial review of the magistrate’s dispositional order.

On appeal, father asked the court to decide whether the court of appeals has jurisdiction to review an adjudicatory order when a magistrate later enters the dispositional order, but no one seeks district court review of that order. The court of appeals concluded that it does have jurisdiction over the appeal despite the lack of judicial review of the magistrate’s dispositional order.

The court then affirmed the adjudication.

This case answers a question that has been popping up all over the state in cases where the district court enters the adjudicatory order and the magistrate enters the dispositional order. So, as trial counsel, breathe easy: in cases where your client wants to file an appeal from an adjudicatory order where a magistrate has entered a satisfactory treatment plan, you can simply fill out the appellate transmittal form – no need to worry about filing a petition for review in 7 days.

The opinion, however, leaves the question open as to what happens when a dispute remains regarding the elements of the treatment plan. If your client wants to dispute the treatment plan, then trial counsel will likely still need to file a petition for judicial review within 7 days of entry of the dispo order.

Congratulations to ORPC appellate attorneys Deb Dodd and Patrick Henson for their work on this case!