Published Dependency Opinion from Ky Court of Appeals

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Mother appealed trial court’s dependency adjudication arguing that as dependency was not alleged in the Petition, the trial court did not have the authority to make a finding of dependency. The mother did not raise the issue at the trial court level, so the Court of Appeals reviews under the palpable error standard, holding that a Judge has the authority to find dependency in a neglect hearing as long as the statutory requirements for dependency are met. The Court of Appeals views dependency as “a lesser-included offense of neglect.”

Mother also argues that testimony about the Petition was hearsay evidence and should not have been admitted. Social workers without personal knowledge of the events in the Petition testified as to the facts within the Petition. The Court of Appeals holds the social workers’ testimony is an exception to the hearsay rule as all of their testimony was either based on first-hand observations or information in the Cabinet’s records, which falls under the public record exception to hearsay. KRE 803(8).

Mother makes a number of additional arguments including that it was an error for the trial court to consider the neglect case of her other minor child, the court’s findings were insufficient to support removal and less restrictive alternatives than removal were available. The Court of Appeals, finding no errors, affirms the trial court’s order.

Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell

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