Gonzalez v. Santa Clara County Department of Social ServicesAnnotate this Case
Gonzalez challenged an administrative order declaring that she should be reported to the statewide child abuse index for what was deemed excessive discipline of her 12-year old daughter. She had spanked the girl with a wooden spoon. After she successfully appealed the trial court’s denial of relief, she sought an award of approximately $60,000 in attorney fees incurred to four separate law practices. The trial court awarded $7,500, denying her claim as to all but her current counsel and finding the evidence in support of two other claims technically deficient, although no evidentiary objection had been asserted against them. It denied the third claim on the basis of objections that were only raised when the court permitted the opposing party to file a third opposition memorandum. The court of appeals remanded, stating that the rulings “may have grown out of an understandable frustration with counsel for plaintiff, whose several failings included the belated assertion of arguments and the devotion of considerably more attention to unsound technicalities than to making a bulletproof showing on the merits.” The court stated that complete denial of relief as to three of plaintiff’s four attorneys exceeded the bounds of sound discretion.