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Letters: Dependency court insight

July 13, 2012

Re "Punishing parents, unfairly," Editorial, July 10

Thank you for speaking out against the unjust decision by the California Supreme Court in the case of William C., a father who had his children taken from him after his 18-month-old child, whom he was driving to the hospital, was killed in a car accident. The child was sitting on a relative's lap because a car seat was not readily available.

The Times supported the opening of L.A.'s dependency courts to the public. I strongly disagreed with the presiding judge's decision to take this radical step. Your decision to bring this case to light, however, is the kind of exposure that is sorely needed in Los Angeles' very troubled dependency system.

I urge you to continue to bring the dependency court to the public through such in-depth articles, and by creating a forum for those with knowledge of the system to discuss its strengths and weaknesses.

Anne E. Fragasso

Encinitas

Your editorial is misleading. A juvenile court cannot remove a child from the parents' custody unless it also makes a determination "by clear and convincing evidence that such action is necessary to protect the child from serious harm."

In this case, a child's death was just one of several circumstances that had caused the juvenile court to order removal. As the Supreme Court's opinion reveals, the two other children were dirty and unsupervised while living in an unsanitary household with up to 20 people. One boy showed signs of delayed development and had several rotten teeth. The parents had a history of domestic violence, among other problems.

Still, the parents were granted monitored visits and family reunification services with the goal of resuming full parental control.

The silver lining of the child's death will hopefully be that it saves her young brothers from further neglect.

Lawrence Daniels

Manhattan Beach

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