Arizona ruling: Courts must decide returns of kids

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme Court says juvenile courts cannot delegate to state officials the decision whether it's in a child's best interests to reunite children and their parents.

The court ruled unanimously Monday in a Pima County case involving five children taken into state custody on grounds that the parents were using drugs and that the children were being neglected.

A judge ruled that state officials had legal care, custody and control of the children and didn't have to request a court hearing before returning them to their parents.

However, the justices said state law and court rules both require court proceedings to determine whether returning children to their parents is in the best interest of the children, including whether it would put them at substantial risk.

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