People in the Interest of A.N.B., 2019 COA 46

In this appeal of a juvenile court order terminating the parent-child legal relationship, a division of the Court of Appeals holds that the report of a parent-child interactional conducted by an expert retained by the respondent mother is not protected by the attorney-client privilege. The juvenile court ordered disclosure of the report to the GAL pursuant to the GAL’s request and admitted the expert’s testimony after the mother decided not to call the expert as a witness.

In its decision, the division rejects the mother’s argument that the creation of the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel and assignment of the responsibility to approve experts to this office changed the Supreme Court’s analysis in D.A.S. v. People, 863 P.2d 291, 295 (Colo. 1993). The division upholds the disclosure and testimony, noting that much of the testimony concerned the expert’s observations of the children, the clinical interview the expert conducted with mother was integral to the interactional, and the expert advised that the evaluation and interview would not be considered confidential. Under these circumstances, the mother did not have an expectation of privacy in the evaluation. As the juvenile court did not order disclosure pursuant to § 19-3-607(2), the fact that the report was not court-ordered under this statute but instead approved by the ORPC did not alter the analysis.

The division also rejects mother’s arguments regarding reasonable efforts and reasonable compliance with her treatment plan, as well as parents’ arguments that the juvenile court did not afford them reasonable time to comply with their treatment plans.

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