Original petition for a writ of mandamus seeking an order directing the juvenile division of the district court to dismiss the underlying neglect petition sustained against petitioner.
David M. Schieck, Special Public Defender, and Abira Grigsby, Deputy Special Public Defender, Clark County, for Petitioner.
Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, and Jennifer I. Kuhlman, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Real Party in Interest State of Nevada.
Gordon Silver and Paola M. Armeni and Puneet K. Garg, Las Vegas, for Real Party in Interest R.L.
BEFORE PARRAGUIRRE, DOUGLAS and CHERRY, JJ.
Petitioner Jennifer L. seeks a writ of mandamus compelling the juvenile division of the district court to dismiss a neglect petition and finding of neglect entered against her. We take this opportunity to consider whether a parent may be held responsible for neglecting a child when a legal guardianship is in place over the child. We conclude that even while a child is under an NRS Chapter 159 guardianship, the child's parents have a statutory duty to continue to care for the child, and parental responsibility for neglect may coincide with the guardianship.
Jennifer is civilly committed and resides in Wisconsin under a doctor's care. She has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. A court order requires that Jennifer take her prescribed medication and see a caseworker.
Real party in interest R.L. is Jennifer's daughter. R.L. was residing in Nevada with her father, David L., and his wife, Evelyn, at the time of David's death in 2009. Evelyn cared for R.L. for a short time after David's death and was appointed R.L.'s guardian in December 2009. However, in May 2010, Evelyn terminated her guardianship and Evelyn's neighbor, Marjorie F., became R.L.'s legal guardian. Thereafter, Marjorie moved to California and left R.L. under the care of Brenda D. Although school documents identified Brenda as R.L.'s guardian, Brenda's guardianship was never legitimately established pursuant to NRS Chapter 159.
While R.L. was residing with Brenda, she accused Brenda of battering her, encouraging her to sell marijuana, threatening to kill her if she called Child Protective Services, and spending her social security checks without providing for her basic needs. After R.L. resided with Brenda for three years, the Department of Family Services (DFS) removed R.L. The allegations against Brenda were unsubstantiated, but Brenda no longer wanted R.L. living in her home.
Subsequently, the State filed an abuse and neglect petition naming R.L. as a minor in need of protection pursuant to NRS Chapter 432B and asking the court to declare R.L. a ward of the court. The petition identified Jennifer and Marjorie as R.L.'s mother and legal guardian, respectively, and alleged that Jennifer's mental health issues adversely affected her ability to care for ...