Communication with County Counsel Regarding a Writ Petition or Appeal
0300-507.10 | Revision Date: 7/1/2014

Overview

This policy guide provides instruction and information on writ petitions and appeals that are received by CSWs from the County Counsel.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 08/09/10 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan. The title of this policy guide has been changed from Cases where a Writ Petition or Appeal has been filed: Communication with County Counsel.

POLICY

Writ Petitions and Appeals

Case-carrying CSWs are to appropriately communicate with County Counsel who are handling a case on appeal or for which a writ petition has been filed. The County Counsel typically has one (1) to two (2) days to prepare the writ petition for the Court of Appeal.

The County Counsel can petition for a writ with the Court of Appeal after consultation with DCFS. A writ petition can be filed for the following two (2) reasons:

  • DCFS believes a child is at risk of severe physical harm and/or death as a result of an adverse court order.
  • There is a non-emergency situation where adequate relief is not available by way of appeal.

The County Counsel notifies the Juvenile Court Services (JCS) Liaison in-person, by email, or by telephone when he/she has filed a writ petition. The JCS Liaison then notifies the case-carrying CSW and/or SCSW of this filing.

All written and verbal communication with the County Counsel for which legal advice is given is confidential. This includes legal advice regarding cases and other DCFS issues such as contracts, policy, and liabilities. County Counsel communications must never be included in a court report.

Refer to Adverse Court Orders for procedures on how to petition for a writ. Also refer to this policy for guidance when the JCS Liaison and/or Regional staff and the County Counsel disagree on whether there is sufficient ground for legal relief from an adverse order or decision.

Notice of Appeal

Any party in a dependency matter can file an appeal. An appeal is filed once the County Counsel receives a notice regarding a Notice of Appeal. For appeals that involve the termination of parental rights (TPR), the County Counsel appellate staff sends a WIC Section 366.26 letter with the notice regarding Notice of Appeal to the Juvenile Court Services (JCS) Liaison. The JCS Liaison forwards the notice to the case-carrying CSW and SCSW. A copy of the letter and notice is also sent to a DCFS Adoption and Permanency Resources Division (APRD) secretary.

The Notice of Receipt of Appellant's Opening Brief of Petition for Extraordinary Writ notifies DCFS that an appellant's opening brief or writ petition has been filed by another party and that the matter is being appealed. This notice is sent to the JCS Liaison by the County Counsel appellate staff within five (5) business days of his/her receipt of it. This notice also advises the CSW of the identity of the County Counsel appellate attorney.

PROCEDURE

Responding to a Notice of Receipt of Appellant's Opening Brief

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon receipt of the Notice of Appellant's Opening Brief, provide the County Counsel appellate attorney with your name, telephone, and office location.
  2. Update the appellate attorney on the status of the case, and inquire about the status of the appeal.
  3. Request a legal analysis of any new court report and of any ramifications in relationship to the appeal prior to its submission to court by the appellate attorney.
  4. Immediately notify the appellate attorney whenever there is a change in the recommendation or circumstances about the case. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Birth or death of a child
    • Marriage, divorce, or incarceration of a parent/legal guardian
    • Relinquishment of a child
    • When a child runs away
    • Whereabouts of a parent/legal guardian that become unknown
    • When a child is removed from the custody of a parent/legal guardian
    • When a prospective adoptive placement falls through while an appeal for the termination of parental rights (TPR) is pending
  5. Document all contacts with both the appellate and trial attorneys in Case Notes.
    • At the beginning of each entry, label these conversations, "Confidential Attorney-Client Communication."

Responding to a Writ Petition Filed by the County Counsel

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Before submitting the writ petition to the court, request a legal analysis from the trial attorney of the court report from the hearing for which the appeal has been filed and of the ramifications relating to the pending writ.
  2. Immediately notify the appellate attorney whenever there is a change in the recommendation or circumstances about the case. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Birth or death of a child
    • Marriage, divorce, or incarceration of a parent/legal guardian
    • Relinquishment of a child
    • When a child runs away
    • Whereabouts of a parent/legal guardian that become unknown
    • When a child is removed from the custody of a parent/legal guardian
    • When a prospective adoptive placement falls through while an appeal for the termination of parental rights (TPR) is pending
  3. Document all contacts with both the appellate and trial attorneys in Case Notes.
    • At the beginning of each entry, label these conversations, "Confidential Attorney-Client Communication."

Receiving and Transferring a Case for which an Appeal or Writ Petition has been Filed

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon receiving an appeal or a writ petition that has been filed by the County Counsel, inform both the appeal attorney and the trial attorney, if he/she remains on the case, in writing that you are the new CSW.
    1. When an appeal has been filed, adhere to all applicable procedures outlined in Responding to a Notice of Receipt of Appellant's Opening Brief.
    2. When a writ petition has been filed, adhere to all applicable procedures outlined in Responding to a Writ Petition Filed by the County Counsel.
  2. To transfer a case for which an appeal or a writ petition has been filed:
    1. Clearly indicate in the "Alerts, Special Orders, Including Visits" box of the DCFS 4366, Children Services Case Transfer Sheet, that an appeal or writ petition has been filed on the case.
    2. Include the name and telephone number of the County Counsel handling the case.
APPROVALS
None
HELPFUL LINKS

Forms

CWS/CMS

DCFS 4366, Children Services Case Transfer Sheet

LA Kids

DCFS 4366, Children Services Case Transfer Sheet

REFERENCED POLICY GUIDES

0300-507.05, Adverse Court Orders

STATUTES AND OTHER MANDATES

California Rules of Court (CRC) Rule 8.452 – Provides information and procedures for a writ procedure to review an order setting a hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 366.26.

Evidence Code (EVID) Section 954 – States, in part, that a client has the privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing, confidential communication between a client and a lawyer under specific listed circumstances.