Therolf v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
Petitioner, a journalist, petitioned to obtain the juvenile case file of a deceased child, whose adoptive mother was convicted of her torture and murder. Although the Madera County Department of Social Services/Child Welfare Services (“department”) filed an objection to the disclosure of the juvenile case file, the juvenile court denied Petitioner’s petition finding release of the file would be detrimental to another child directly or indirectly connected to the deceased child.
The Fifth Appellate District granted the petition for writ of mandate and directed the juvenile court to vacate its orders, hold a hearing on Petitioner’s petition after ordering the department to produce the deceased child’s juvenile case file in accordance with In re Elijah S. (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 1532, 1538–1539, 1556 (“Elijah S.”), review the responsive documents in camera, and reconsider the petition applying the appropriate standards.
The court wrote that it agreed the juvenile court erred when it did not allow Petitioner time to file a reply to the department’s objection and failed to hold a hearing on his petition. However, the court rejected the department’s contention that the deceased child was not within the juvenile court’s jurisdiction when she died and concur with the decision Elijah S. The court also rejected Petitioner’s contention that, contrary to its’ decision in Pack v. Kings County Human Services Agency (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 821, 831–834 (“Pack”), the juvenile court was required to make specific factual findings when making a detriment finding. But the court found the juvenile court’s failure to comply with the other procedures set forth in Pack also was prejudicial.