In Re Welfare of X.T.: The Court of Appeals reverses a dependency fact-finding hearing because of the hearsay testimony of the social worker.
By Christina A. Meserve and Charles E. Szurszewski, family lawyers
A dependency fact-finding hearing was held on May 4, 2012, regarding X. T., who was one year old. The sole witness at the hearing was the DSHS social worker assigned to X. T.’s case. The social worker testified as to facts regarding the father’s lengthy criminal history, as well as reports from physicians regarding suspected abuse. The trial court entered a finding of dependency, which was reversed on appeal.
The Court of Appeals noted that the trial court had relied upon hearsay testimony from the social worker. While hearsay testimony is admissible to show how the social worker arrived at her opinion, her use of written reports of absent witnesses was not substantive evidence. Because the juvenile court had considered the hearsay in the social worker’s testimony as the truth of the matters asserted therein, the dependency fact-finding had to be reversed.
Christina A. Meserve and Charles E. Szurszewski practice family law in Olympia, Washington with the law firm of Connolly Tacon & Meserve.
In Re Guardianship of K.B.F.: Details the legal requirements for a juvenile court to convert a dependency into a guardianship.