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Whitmore v. Wilhelm

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 28, 2014

MARLON WHITMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
TIMOTHY WILHELM, an individual; CHRIS PETERS, an individual; JESUS AVINA, an individual; THOMAS BOHANON, an individual; MICHAEL CLARK, an individual; JOSEPH HORSMAN, an individual; CHARLES BLOUNT, an individual; and DOES 1-25, inclusive, Defendants.

STEVEN C. MITCHELL, ESQ., SBN 124644, ROBERT W. HENKELS, ESQ., SBN 255410, GEARY, SHEA, O'DONNELL, GRATTAN & MITCHELL, P.C., Santa Rosa, California, Attorneys for Defendants JOSEPH HORSMAN and CHARLES BLOUNT

CAROLINE L. FOWLER, City Attorney, SBN 110313, ROBERT L. JACKSON, Assistant City Attorney, SBN 101770, Santa Rosa, California, Attorneys for Defendants TIMOTHY WILHELM, CHRIS PETERS, JESUS AVINA, THOMAS BOHANAN and MICHAEL CLARK

JOHN L. BURRIS, ESQ., SBN 69888, BENJAMIN NISENBAUM, ESQ., SBN 222173, LAW OFFICES OF JOHN L. BURRIS, Oakland, California,

STIPULATION AND ORDER FOR DISCLOSURE OF JUVENILE CASE FILE OF MARLON WHITMORE

PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

TO THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT AND TO THE JUVENILE COURT FOR THE COUNTY OF SONOMA:

Plaintiff MARLON WHITMORE and defendants TIMOTHY WILLHELM, CHRIS PETERS, JESUS AVINA, THOMAS BOHANON, MICHAEL CLARK, JOSEPH HORSMAN and CHARLES BLOUNT, (hereinafter "Defendants") by and for their counsel of record in the above referenced case, hereby submit the instant Stipulation and Order for Disclosure of the Juvenile Case File of Marlon Whitmore and stipulate as follows:

1. Plaintiff MARLON WHITMORE filed his Second Amended Complaint, Whitmore v. Wilhelm, et. al., Case No. 4:13 CV-01408, against Defendants on or about September 19, 2013 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The Second Amended Complaint is predicated on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of civil rights arising from plaintiff's arrest and detention. Accordingly, federal law governs the scope of discovery law, and state law is not binding. See, Kerr v. United States District Court for the N. Dist. Of Cal., 511 F.2d 192, 655-56 (9th Cir. 1976).

Summary of State Law re Juvenile Records

2. In California, juvenile records are not reviewable absent a court order. See, Welfare & Institutions Code § 827(a)(1)(P). The inspection of such records is appropriate where the matters contained therein are directly relevant to matters at issue in a separate, civil matter. See, Navajo Express v. Superior Court (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 981 (Disclosure of juvenile file showing prior violent behavior appropriate where former juvenile offender placed documents in issue and alleged that defendant was responsible for causing brain damages, which manifested itself in the form of violent behavior.).

3. Juvenile records may also be sealed upon a petition. See, Welfare § Institution Code § 781(a). In such a case, the person who is the subject of the records may petition the court to inspection of the records by persons named in the petition. Id. The court may also allow the inspection of sealed records, for good cause shown, in specific civil actions. See, Id. at subdv. (b); Cal. Penal Code § 851.7(f). Also, where records are sealed under § 781.5, and where the minor has filed an action against the peace officers, law enforcement agency, or probation officer responsible for an arrest, may be unsealed, upon a showing of good cause, and submitted into evidence. Welfare § Institution Code § 781(k). In such a case, the "records shall be confidential and shall be available for inspection only by the court, jury, parties, counsel for the parties, and any other person authorized by the court." Id.

4. In federal court, parties are entitled to obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claims or defense. FRCP, Rule 26(b)(1). In matters where the court has federal question jurisdiction, the federal common law of privilege controls, not state-law. See, Garrett v. City and County of San Francisco (9th Cir. 1987) 818 F.2d 1515, 1519, fn. 6. Upon good cause shown, a court may issue an order compelling discovery. FRCP, Rule 26(b)(1).

Summary of Facts

5. Here, plaintiff MARLON WHITMORE'S complaint arises out of his detention and arrest in the early morning of March 30, 2011. Plaintiff alleges that defendants, all officers with either the Santa Rosa Police Department or the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, used excessive force in arresting plaintiff and that he did not resist arrest. Defendants contend that their use of force was reasonable under the circumstances and given plaintiff's combative resistance.

6. Plaintiff was seventeen (17) at the time of the incident forming the basis of his complaint and thus a minor. Since the incident, he has obtained majority.

7. Plaintiff was prosecuted by the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office in this court for the events forming the basis of his complaint and was ultimately convicted of violation of California Penal Code § 243(c), battery against a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and Penal Code § 148(a), resisting arrest. After a petition filed by plaintiff, Judge Hardcastle of the Sonoma County Superior Court issued an order sealing plaintiff's juvenile records.

Request for Inspection

8. The documents contained in MARLON WHITMORE's juvenile case file are directly relevant to the matters at issue in his federal complaint against Defendants. Defendants contend that disclosure of those documents is imperative to their right to a fair trial on those same matters.

9. Accordingly, the parties respectfully request that this Court issue an Order directing the Sonoma County Superior Court to disclose plaintiff MARLON WHITMORE's entire juvenile case file, including records from either the County of Sonoma and the Santa Rosa Police Department. The parties agree and stipulate that all documents disclosed pursuant to this Stipulation and Order shall be deemed "Confidential" as that term is defined in Section 5 of the Stipulated Protective Order agreed to by the parties and on file herein. The Stipulated Protective Order, and the explicit terms and requirements stated therein, shall thus govern the maintenance, handling, and use of all documents disclosed by the Juvenile Court to the parties of this action.

ORDER OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

After review of the above Stipulation and Order entered into by all parties, and good cause appearing, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows: The Juvenile Court of the Count of Sonoma is hereby directed to allow the parties to this Stipulation and Order to inspect and copy all documents maintained within, or related to, the juvenile file of MARLON WHITMORE, sealed or unsealed. All copies of said file, or portions thereof, shall be maintained by the parties as "Confidential" pursuant to, and in strict compliance with, the Stipulated Protective Order agreed to by the parties in this action and approved by this Court.

PURSUANT TO STIPULATION, IT IS SO ORDERED.


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