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J.E. v. Superior Court (People)

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, First Division

February 18, 2014

J.E., Petitioner,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT of San Diego County, Respondent; The People, Real Party in Interest.

Petition for a writ of mandate to challenge an order of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Richard R. Monroy, Judge. Petition granted. (Super. Ct. No. JCM232811).

Page 1330

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1331

COUNSEL

[168 Cal.Rptr.3d 68] Henry C. Coker, Public Defender, Randy Mize, Chief Deputy Public Defender, and Marian Gaston, Deputy Public Defender, for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent.

Bonnie M. Dumanis, District Attorney, Jesus Rodriguez, Assistant District Attorney, and Laura E. Tanney, Deputy District Attorney, for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

HALLER, J.

Page 1332

During the pendency of juvenile delinquency proceedings against J.E., J.E. filed a petition requesting that the court conduct an in camera inspection of a prosecution witness's juvenile dependency file for Brady [1] exculpatory and impeachment evidence. The petition was filed under Welfare and Institutions Code section 827, which allows a juvenile court to release information from juvenile files to persons who are otherwise not authorized to access the confidential files.[2] The juvenile court declined to examine the file, ruling the [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 69] Brady review should be conducted by the prosecutor, not the court.

In this writ of mandate petition, J.E. challenges the court's refusal to exercise its authority to review the file under section 827. The People

Page 1333

represented by the district attorney's office) agree that the court erred by declining to inspect the file.

For reasons we shall explain, we hold that when a petitioner files a section 827 petition requesting that the court review a confidential juvenile file and provides a reasonable basis to support its claim that the file contains Brady exculpatory or impeachment material, the juvenile court is required to conduct an in camera review. Accordingly, we grant ...


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