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Appeals, Writs, and Complex Motions Practice

Nahid H. v. Superior Court

Decided in 1997 and published at 53 Cal.App.4th 1051. Mr. Sargeant was privately-retained to bring a writ petition in a juvenile dependency case. He represented an Iranian mother, who had been living in Iraq with her two minor daughters. They became political refugees after war broke out in Iraq. The mother sent the children to live in the United States to ensure their safety; she intended to join them as soon as possible. After one of the girls was molested by her adult caretaker in California, the minors were declared dependents of the juvenile court. Several years later, when the mother gained entry into the United States, her children declared they did not want to live with her and expressed their desire to remain in the foster home. Based on the children's desires, the juvenile court entered an order setting a permanency planning hearing. The mother then filed a modification petition to set aside the dependencies or, alternatively, to develop a reunification plan. In a sweeping opinion, the Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the juvenile court to vacate its order setting a permanency planning hearing, and to enter a new order directing the department of social services to develop a reunification plan designed to overcome the alienation between the children and their mother.