Child Protective Services in Solano County was hit with a slew of complaints by the county grand jury Friday regarding how the agency conducts investigations.

In their report, the jurors point out several problems, including how potential offenders are notified, suspects being prematurely labeled as offenders, how appeals are handled and paperwork issues.

Those discoveries were made during a review of the policies and procedures regarding citizens whose names are placed on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI).

When CPS receives a complaint of alleged child abuse, a social worker investigates. The worker then must classify the category of abuse and determine whether to place the accused on the CACI.

It is also decided if an in-person contact with the family within 24 hours is needed or if a visit to the family within 10 days is appropriate.

A referral is then sent to another social worker who further investigates. That worker then must determine if the accusation is unfounded, inconclusive or substantiated.

If deemed unfounded, the case is closed. If found inconclusive or substantiated, the child may remain with the family, be removed or placed in the custody of the courts.

Being deemed inconclusive places the name of the accused on the CACI for at least 10 years. If the claim is substantiated, the name of the accused is put on the CACI for life.

People put on the CACI are notified by mail after their names are sent to the Department of Justice. Being placed on the CACI may prevent someone from being employed where there may be contact with children.

That list contains more than 800,000 names and is not routinely purged of erroneous or unsupported entries, the grand jury said. People can appeal being placed on the list, but that doesn't mean the name will be removed.

Because of this, the grand jury recommended the accused be notified before being put on the list, so they can respond.

The jury also suggested contacting the accused through certified mail with a return receipt to ensure that person is aware they will be placed on the CACI. It was also discovered that in some cases, the accused was not interviewed before being placed on the CACI.

Another issue the jury had was evidence that some reports of abuse may be modified, altered or changed by supervisor and management without attribution. The jury wrote that those changes should be signed and dated.

For a full version of the report, visit www.solanocourts.com.

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Child Abuse Registry violates Due Process Clause 14th Amendment

Update Monell immunity, slip op
Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, No. 05-56467

In an amended opinion, the purpose of a remand of claims against defendant-county is changed from a determination of qualified immunity to an examination of the county's liability under Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0556467oap.pdf

Filed November 5, 2008
Amended January 15, 2009
Second Amendment January 30, 2009

ORDER
The opinion, originally filed November 5, 2008, and amended January 15, 2009, slip op. 563, is amended as follows:
1. At slip op. 619, second full paragraph, lines 24 and 25, delete we remand to the district court to determine whether or not the County is entitled to qualified immunity. Add the following: we remand to the district court to determine the Countys liability under Monell.

C. Monell Liability

Unlike Detective Wilson, the County is not entitled to qualified immunity for acting in good faith reliance on state law. See Owen v. City of Independence, 445 U.S. 622, 638 (1980) (finding that there is no qualified immunity for local government). Rather, the County is subject to liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services, if a policy or custom of the County deprived the Humphries of their constitutional rights. 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). The district court did not address the Countys liability under Monell because it found no violation of the Humphries constitutional rights.

We have held that [i]n order to avoid summary judgment a plaintiff need only show that there is a question of fact regarding whether there is a city custom or policy that caused a constitutional deprivation. Wallis v. Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126, 1136 (9th Cir. 2000). CANRA itself did not create a sufficient procedure by which the Humphries could challenge their listing on the Index. Nothing in CANRA, however, prevented the LASD from creating an independent procedure that would allow the Humphries to challenge their listing on the Index. By failing to do so, it is possible that the LASD adopted a custom and policy that violated the Humphries constitutional rights. However, because this issue is not clear based on the record before us on appealand because the issue was not briefed by the partieswe remand to the district court to determine the Countys liability under Monell.

III. CONCLUSION

[21] For the reasons described above, CANRA violates the Humphries procedural due process rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983. We therefore reverse the district courts grant of summary judgment to the State and the County and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We affirm the district courts grant of summary judgment to Detectives Wilson and Ansbery and Sheriff Baca on the grounds of qualified immunity.

AFFIRMED in part; REVERSED in part and REMANDED.


============ ========= =

Humphries v. County of Los Angeles , No. 05-56467
California 's maintenance of the California 's Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), which is a database of known or suspected child abusers, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because identified individuals are not given a fair opportunity to challenge the allegations against them.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0556467p.pdf

November 5, 2008
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
HUMPHRIES V. LA COUNTY
Show full citation
http://www.altlaw.org/v1/cases/1674010

FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

CRAIG ARTHUR HUMPHRIES; WENDY DAWN ABORN HUMPHRIES, Plaintiffs-Appellan ts,
v.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES; LEROY BACA, individually and in his official capacity as Los Angeles County Sheriff; MICHAEL L. WILSON, individually and in his official capacity as a Detective and/or Deputy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; CHARLES T. ANSBERRY, individually and in his official capacity as a Detective of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; BILL LOCKYER, Attorney General, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of California, Defendants-Appellee s.

OPINION
BYBEE, Circuit Judge:

Appellants Craig and Wendy Humphries are living every parent's nightmare. Accused of abuse by a rebellious child, they were arrested, and had their other children taken away from them. When a doctor confirmed that the abuse charges could not be true, the state dismissed the criminal case against them. The Humphries then petitioned the criminal court, which found them "factually innocent" of the charges for which they had been arrested, and ordered the arrest records sealed and destroyed. Similarly, the juvenile court dismissed all counts of the dependency petition as "not true."

Notwithstanding the findings of two California courts that the Humphries were "factully innocent" and the charges "not true," the Humphries were identified as "substantiated" child abusers and placed on California 's Child Abuse Central Index ("the CACI"), a database of known or suspected child abus- ers. As the Humphries quickly learned, California offers no procedure to remove their listing on the database as suspected child abusers, and thus no opportunity to clear their names. More importantly, California makes the CACI database avail- able to a broad array of government agencies, employers, and law enforcement entities and even requires some public and private groups to consult the database before making hiring, licensing, and custody decisions.

This case presents the question of whether California 's maintenance of the CACI violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because identified individuals are not given a fair opportunity to challenge the allegations against them. We hold that it does.

I. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

A. The Statutory Scheme

1. The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act

a. Inclusion in the CACI

b. Consequences of Inclusion in the CACI

c. Removal From the CACI

B. The Humphries' Nightmare

1. The Humphries' Arrest and Inclusion in the CACI


2. Judicial Proceedings Exonerating the Humphries

a. The Criminal Case

b. The Juvenile Court Case

3. The Humphries Seek Removal from the CACI
4. Procedural History

II. ANALYSIS

A. Procedural Due Process

1. Deprivation of a Protected Liberty Interest

a. Stigma

b. Plus


2. Adequacy of the Procedural Safeguards

a. Private Interest

b. Governmental Interest

c. Risk of Erroneous Deprivation

1. Persuading the investigator.

2. Reaching an independent agency conclusion.

3. Seeking court review.

d. Balancing

B. Qualified Immunity

C. Monell Liability

Unlike Detective Wilson, the County is not entitled to qual- ified immunity for acting in good faith reliance on state law. See Owen v. City of Independence , 445 U.S. 622, 638 (1980) (finding that there is no qualified immunity for local govern- ment). Rather, the County is subject to liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services , if a "policy or custom" of the County deprived the Humphries of their constitutional rights. 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). The district court did not address the County's liability under Monell because it found no violation of the Humphries' constitutional rights.

We have held that "[i]n order to avoid summary judgment a plaintiff need only show that there is a question of fact regarding whether there is a city custom or policy that caused a constitutional deprivation. " Wallis v. Spencer , 202 F.3d 1126, 1136 (9th Cir. 2000). CANRA itself did not create a sufficient procedure by which the Humphries could challenge their listing on the Index. Nothing in CANRA, however, pre- vented the LASD from creating an independent procedure that would allow the Humphries to challenge their listing on the Index. By failing to do so, LASD's custom and policy vio- lated the Humphries' constitutional rights. Therefore, we deny the County summary judgment on this issue.

III. CONCLUSION

[21] For the reasons described above, CANRA violates the Humphries' procedural due process rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983. We therefore reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to the County and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We affirm the dis- trict court's grant of summary judgment to Detectives Wilson and Ansbery and Sheriff Baca on the grounds of qualified immunity.

AFFIRMED in part; REVERSED in part and REMANDED.


Parents cleared of false allegations remain on state's child abuser list
 

California's child abuse reporting act is unconstitutional because the wrongly accused have no recourse to get off the list. More than a year after that ruling, the state has yet to fix the problem.

February 23, 2010|By David G. Savage

Reporting from Washington Craig and Wendy Humphries of Valencia have been "living every parent's nightmare," as a judge put it, since Craig's rebellious teenager falsely accused them of abuse nine years ago. They were arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and had their other young children taken away from them.

It continues today. Even though the state courts agreed that the girl's original complaint was "not true" and that the couple were "factually innocent," the Humphrieses are still listed as child abusers on the state's Child Abuse Central Index.

A federal appeals court ruled that Los Angeles County should pay damages to the couple, but the U.S. Supreme Court intervened Monday and said it would hear the county's claim that it is the state that is at fault.

California's Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act requires various state and local officers, including the police, to submit reports of child abuse even if they are "inconclusive." The list includes 800,000 names. When the Humphrieses first tried to be removed from the index, they were told to contact the deputy who filed the original report. But he said the complaint was "substantiated" at the time he filed it, and therefore, could not remove their names. Wendy Humphries, a special education teacher, worried that being on the list could prevent her state credentials from being renewed.

"We're still trying to get them out of the index, but it hasn't happened yet," said Esther Boynton, a Beverly Hills lawyer who has filed suits to challenge the law.

The Humphrieses had sued in federal court, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated. They won in 2008 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the system is unconstitutional because it does not give innocent people a procedure to have their names removed.

More than a year later, state officials say they are still pondering the matter. "We're still in the process of determining what is needed to comply with the 9th Circuit's decision," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the California Department of Justice.

"There is no effective way for the Humphries to challenge this listing, and no way for them to be removed from the listing," the appeals court said. Because L.A. County played a role in their ordeal, the appeals court said it too could be forced to pay damages.

Timothy Coates, an L.A. lawyer who represented the county in its appeal, argued that the county did not devise the state index and is not free to change it.

"We agree that once people get on the list, it is very difficult to get off it. The question is: Who is responsible for that? We don't have the ability to change the law," he said. It was that issue that the court agreed to hear Monday.

 

In the meantime, the state remains obligated under the 9th Circuit ruling to devise a procedure to allow innocent people to have their names removed.

david.savage@latimes.com

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