Sunday, December 9, 2012

Juvenile Law Resource Center

Lessons from the Oregon Supreme Court’s Decision in J.R.F.

By Shannon Storey, Senior Deputy, Juvenile Appellate Section, Office of Public Defense Services

Does ORS 419B.100(1)(c) authorize the juvenile court to assert jurisdiction over a child based on its assessment that jurisdiction and wardship would be in the child’s best interests?
Dept of Human Services v. J.R.F., 351 Or 570, 273 P3d 87 (2012) suggests not. In that case, the Oregon Supreme Court clarified that, as a matter of state law (ORS 419B.090)(4)), all provisions of the juvenile dependency code must be construed and applied consistent with a parent’s Fourteenth Amendment right to direct the upbringing of his or her children, which includes the presumption that a fit parent acts in his or her child’s best interest. Thus, the due process rights of the parent circumscribe the construction and application of every provision of Chapter 419B. That is, the parent’s liberty interest in the care and companionship of his or her child, and the procedural protection attended therein, must be read into every provision of Chapter 419B.