In re E.H.

Sally H. (Mother) appealed a judgment terminating her parental rights to her child, E.H. Mother's sole claim on appeal was that the juvenile court erred in terminating her parental rights because the court failed to ensure that the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) fully complied with the inquiry and notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and related law. Among other alleged errors, Mother contended the Agency failed to fulfill its duty to inquire of E.H.'s maternal great-grandmother, Sally Y.H., in order to obtain identifying information pertaining to Sally Y.H.'s father, and failed to provide notice of such information to an Indian tribe named the Tohono O'odham Nation. Mother further contended the failure to provide notice of Sally Y.H.'s father's identifying information to the Tohono O'odham Nation was prejudicial because he was likely the source of E.H.'s possible American Indian heritage. The Court of Appeal agreed with Mother that, considering Sally Y.H.'s statement to the Agency that her paternal family had Tohono O'odham Nation heritage, the Agency had a duty to attempt to obtain Sally Y.H.'s father's identifying information and to provide notice of any such information obtained to the Tohono O'odham Nation. If Bruno Y. was Sally Y.H.'s father, and E.H.'s great-great-grandfather, the Agency failed to properly describe his ancestral relationship to E.H. on the notice provided to the Tohono O'odham Nation. Finally, given that Sally Y.H. told the Agency that her paternal family had heritage from the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Court could not conclude the Agency's errors were harmless. Accordingly, the trial court judgment was reversed for the limited purpose of having the Agency provide the Tohono O'odham Nation with proper notice of the proceedings in this case. View "In re E.H." on Justia Law