Relieved As Counsel In Dependency Cases

Counsel in dependency cases simply cannot be relieved of their obligations to fully represent their clients, as they would be if the filing of inadequate rule 39.1B petitions were to result in this court engaging in an Anders/Wende-type review. Rather, it is incumbent upon counsel who participate in dependency cases to advocate their clients' positions fully and effectively. This does not mean that counsel should file a rule 39.1B petition in every case, or in every case in which the client has filed a notice of intent to file such a petition. To the contrary, an attorney is required to maintain only such actions or proceedings "as appear to him or her legal or just." (Bus. & Prof. Code, 6068, subd. (c); see Rules Prof. Conduct, rule 3-200.) When a rule 39.1B petition is filed, however, it is the obligation of the attorney to comply with section 366.26, rule 39.1B and case law describing the requirements for an adequate petition. Accordingly, the petition must be timely filed (rule 39.1B(k)); be accompanied by an adequate record (rule 39.1B(n)); "summarize the factual basis for the petition," provide "references to specific portions of the record, their significance to the grounds alleged, and disputed aspects of the record," and attach points and authorities (rule 39.1B(j)). While we fully recognize the constraints imposed by the short time frames set forth in the statute and rule for these petitions, the points and authorities must, at a minimum, adequately inform the court of the issues presented, point out the factual support for them in the record, and offer argument and authorities that will assist the court in resolving the contested issues.