United States District Court, N.D. California
JANE DOE No. 59, Plaintiff,,
SANTA ROSA CITY SCHOOLS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER COMPELLING DISCLOSURE OF JUVENILE RECORD RE:
NO. DKT. 54
William H. Orrick United States District Judge
unopposed motion, plaintiff has moved to compel production of
the complete juvenile case file of defendant C.E. in Sonoma
County. Mot. ¶ 3. Defendants Santa Rosa City Schools and
C.E. do not object. Mot. ¶¶ 6, 8. Functionally, the
parties want me to reverse a decision of the Superior Court
of California, Sonoma County, which considered an earlier
petition by plaintiff pursuant to California Welfare and
Institutions Code section 827 to release the same juvenile
case file. That court, after an in camera review, allowed
disclosure only of a redacted Sebastopol Police Department
report and not the full case file as requested by plaintiff.
Mot. ¶¶ 10-13; Order on Welfare & Institution
Code Section 827 Petition After Judicial Review (Mot. Ex. E,
Dkt. No. 54-5). I have somewhat different considerations than
did my colleague in state court and must apply federal common
law on privilege rather than state law. In weighing the needs
of this case versus the state interest in confidentiality of
the juvenile court records, I conclude that the records
should be disclosed.
Welfare and Institutions Code section 827 limits the
inspection and release of juvenile court records.
“Generally, a juvenile court has broad and exclusive
authority to determine whether and to what extent to grant
access to confidential juvenile records pursuant to section
827. Review of a juvenile court's decision to release
juvenile records under section 827 is for abuse of
discretion.” In re Elijah S., 125 Cal.App.4th
1532, 1541 (2005)(citations omitted). However, federal common
law on privilege, not state law, controls cases that are in
federal court with federal question
jurisdiction. Gonzalez v. Spencer, 336 F.3d
832, 835 (9th Cir. 2003), abrogated in part by Filarsky
v. Delia, 566 U.S. 377 (2012); see also Horn v.
Hornbeak, 2010 WL 1027508 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 18,
2010)(“Federal courts are not bound by state law and
may authorize these disclosures.”); Maldonado v.
Sec'y of Calif. Dep't of Corr. & Rehab.,
2007 WL 4249811, at *5 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 30,
2007)(“California statute [§ 827] could not
purport to bind the federal courts.”).
said, “even in cases where federal law applies,
constitutional and prudential considerations suggest that
courts should carefully assess any attempt to compel
disclosure of confidential juvenile court [files].” 23
Charles Alan Wright & Kenneth W. Graham, Jr., Federal
Practice and Procedure § 5428, at 817 (1980);
see also Fox v. Cty. of Tulare, 2013 WL 12086297, at
*3 (E.D. Cal. July 24, 2013) (“comity requires that
this law be respected if at all possible”);
Maldonado, 2007 WL 4249811, at *5 (“[T]he
privilege advanced by the state statute was a strong one, and
that unless the state law was inconsistent with federal law
on the subject, comity required that the state law be
respected if at all possible given the needs of this
case.”). Accordingly, I must “weigh the needs
of the case versus the state interest in keeping the juvenile
information confidential.” Maldonado, 2007 WL
4249811, at *5.
am reluctant to decide this matter differently than my
colleague in state court, consideration of the federal
privilege factors compels me to do so. First, the information
sought by plaintiff is “significantly relevant to the
issues in the case.” Id. The juvenile criminal
proceeding pertained to a sexual assault by C.E. Plaintiff
here accuses C.E. of a sexual assault and alleges that her
school district had knowledge of the prior assault. Compl.
¶¶ 10-12 (Dkt. No. 1). Moreover, during his
deposition, C.E. referred to statements he made as part of
the criminal case that are not included in the redacted
police report. Mot. ¶ 13. The information is
the court considers the following factors in determining the
scope of protection to be accorded in the privacy context:
(1) the probable encroachment of the individual's privacy
right if the contested action is allowed to proceed, and the
magnitude of that encroachment; (2) whether the encroachment
of the privacy right would impact an area that has
traditionally been off limits for most regulation [i.e., an
area where privacy concerns have traditionally been
respected]; (3) whether the desired information is available
from other sources with less encroachment of the privacy
right; (4) the extent to which the exercise of the
individual's privacy rights impinge on the rights of
others; and (5) whether the interests of society at large
encourage a need for the proposed encroachment.
Maldonado, 2007 WL 4249811, at *5. Here, defendants,
C.E. included, do not object to release of the juvenile case
file. Moreover, there is a protective order in place covering
any disclosure that should protect the legitimate interest of
those affected. Mot. ¶ 16; Protective Order (Dkt. No.
27). Given C.E.'s asserted lack of memory during his
deposition about relevant matters, the information sought
does not appear to be available from other sources. And
although a juvenile case file is traditionally off limits,
here it appears material to a lawsuit raising important
concerns to society.
weighing all of these factors, in light of the significant
relevance of the record to this case, the protective order in
place and the lack of objection by the defendants, I GRANT
plaintiffs motion to compel disclosure of the entire juvenile
 Plaintiff brings one claim under Title
IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and one cause of
action for negligence. Compl. (Dkt. No. 1).
 Plaintiff relies on Keith H. v.
Long Beach Unified Sch. Dist., 228 F.R.D. 652 (C.D. Cal.
2005) as authority for me to compel production, but this case
is different. I am not asked to rule on a minor's
objections based on privacy rights; here, the juvenile court
judge considered plaintiff's petition and ordered only
the release of the redacted police ...