Utah Supreme Court holds sua sponte dismissal of adoption petition violated due process.

In the Interests of S.W. and D.W. (B.W.D. v B.W.)

B.W.D. appealed the dismissal of her petition for custody of her sister and a spate petition for a show cause order. The Court, with Justice Lee concurring in part and in judgment, reversed and remanded. The majority held that the juvenile court deprived B.W.D. of due process when its dismissed the petition for custody without giving her the required opportunity to respond under Utah Code 78B-13-207 and further erred in dismissing for “unjustifiable conduct” under 78B-13-208 as there was no evidence in the record to support imputing the children’s mother’s conduct to B.W.D and the court failed to provide an opportunity to be heard. It held the same reasoning required reversal of the dismissal of the show cause motion. It remanded for consideration of convenient forum issues under 207 and potential decision on the merits. Justice Lee concurred in part and in judgment arguing that the Court should decide this case narrowly as there was no adversarial briefing at the appellate level and the best approach is to hold failure to allow briefing below was a violation of 207 and due process and leave all other issues open.