By now, after reading about Anthony’s story, you’re probably wondering how this situation was allowed to escalate to the level it has today.
Simply put, a plethora of procedural errors took place in the trial court in the original adoption proceedings. The 3rd District Court of Appeals recognized these errors and swiftly reversed the trial court’s decision to terminate Anthony’s parental rights.
Frighteningly, although being heard by a different judge, the subsequent guardianship proceedings are following suit.
It took me a few days of reviewing the transcript to put all the pieces to this puzzle together to get the full picture and as a citizen; I am disturbed by what the Court has allowed to transpire.
Four days after the Appellate decision, and before the 60-day recording period that the Appellate Court demands (“remitterer”), the failed adoptive parent filed a new case in a new court (Placer County’s Probate Court) for legal guardianship under California Family Code §3041. Her position is that since Hailey has been with her since birth, she was better off with her.
A “remitterer” in the context of appellate procedure, is when an appellate court sends a case back to the trial court so that the case can be retried, or so that trial court can enter an order that conforms to the findings of the appellate court. The later, I believe was probably the motivating factor in the guardianship filing. The failed adoptive parent and counsel knew that the trial court in the adoption would have entered an order that conformed to the findings of the appellate court (granting custody to Anthony). So they figured different court plus different judge would equal different outcome.
By filing the guardianship petition so quickly after the Appellate decision, the now prospective guardian virtually ensured the Probate Court would not have the remitterer back from the Appellate Court, thus guaranteeing the Court would not be able to “officially” recognize the Appellate Court’s historic decision.
Note: I also get the impression from the transcripts, the petitioner and counsel did not realize Anthony had representation. While petitioner’s counsel attempted to mislead the Court by making false statements regarding the Appellate decision, Anthony’s counsel presented documentation on the decision to the Court and quickly corrected her statements. In sum, I believe the petitioner and her counsel thought the guardianship proceeding would be a “slam dunk”.
In a nutshell, it happened…but it didn’t happen. Petitioner’s counsel acknowledged the Appellate Court trial (via her false statements), opposing counsel absolutely recognized it in his response and the Probate judge acknowledged it as well per transcript records.
All parties agreed that the guardianship petition had been filed prematurely by the prospective guardian. At that point, the Probate judge should have dismissed the guardianship petition.
But what took place next would turn out to be a true miscarriage of justice. Instead of dismissing the petition, the judge continued the guardianship bid until after the Appellate decision is properly recorded.
Just like a bad episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Petitioner’s counsel seems to be calling in lifelines to aid her and her client left and right.
Stay tuned as I continue to follow the progress of this case.