The Humphries were unable to get their names removed from the CACI. This was problematic not only emotionally, but because it could adversely affect Wendy's teacher credentials, her further education, and both Humphries' volunteer service.
The Humphries filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in U.S. District Court (C.D. Calif.) against the County of Los Angeles, Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, Detectives Wilson and Ansberry (collectively, the "County“) and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (the "State“), alleging, among other things, that the initial and continued CACI listing violated their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the County and State on that claim, and the Humphries appealed.
Under California law, all reports of child abuse made to law enforcement or a child welfare agency must be investigated and a finding made on whether the allegations are “substantiated,” “inconclusive,” or “unfounded.” Both “substantiated” and “inconclusive” reports are included in the CACI. Following its investigation of the Humphries' case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACS) deemed the report against the Humphries “substantiated.”
The California DOJ instructed the Humphries that the only way to get their names removed from the CACI was to contact the investigator who had investigated the report against them. However, when the Humphries contacted the LACS, they were told that the investigator was no longer employed there and that the report would not be changed.
The Court of Appeals stated that in order to show that the County and State violated their procedural due process rights, the Humphries needed to show both that they had been deprived of a “liberty interest” and that the procedures accompanying that deprivation were not constitutionally sufficient.
The Court of Appeals held that they had in fact been deprived of a liberty interest under the “stigma-plus” test, as they suffered the stigma of being labeled child abusers on the CACI “plus” the loss of other tangible rights by the California system.
The Court of Appeals then held that this interest was deprived without Constitutionally-sufficient process, as the individual was effectively left at the mercy of the submitting agency to change its report. In so deciding, the Court balanced the interest affected, the State’s interest, and the probability that the State would erroneously keep an individual’s name on the CACI.
Despite the Constitutional violations, the Court held that Detective Ansberry and Sheriff Baca were entitled to summary judgment because neither personally participated in the Humphries’ CACI inclusion. In addition, it held that those two officers plus Detective Wilson were entitled to qualified immunity because the CACI was not so obviously unconstitutional that they could be expected to refuse to comply with it. Finally, stating that there is no qualified immunity for a governmental entity, the Court held that Los Angeles County could be liable under Section 1983, so it reversed the judgment in favor of the County and remanded the issue to the District Court.
Judge(s): Jay S. Bybee
Related Categories: Civil Procedure , Constitutional Law , Government / Politics
|Amicus Lawyer(s)||Amicus Law Firm(s)|
|Carolyn Kubitschek||Lansner Kubitschek Schaffer|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Esther G. Boynton|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|Mark D. Rutter||Carpenter Rothans & Dumont|
|Lillie Hsu||Greines Martin Stein & Richland LLP|
|Martin Stein||Greines Martin Stein & Richland LLP|
|Alison Turner||Greines Martin Stein & Richland LLP|
|Edmund G. Brown||Office of the Attorney General|
|David S. Chaney||Office of the Attorney General|
|Paul C. Epstein||Office of the Attorney General|
|Marsha S. Miller||Office of the Attorney General|
|James T. Schiavenza||Office of the Attorney General|