COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: IN RE DOLLY D.
This is to advise CSWs of a recent decision made by the Court of Appeals which may impact court appearances for preparers of PRC reports.
In re Malinda S. (l990) provided that "in dependency proceedings, as in other civil proceedings, parties have a due process right to cross-examine and confront witnesses." The PRC report/social study is admissible as evidence if, on request of the parent or guardian, the social worker is made available to be cross-examined on the contents of the report.
The court had determined the jurisdictional issue based on the social worker's report and on father's failure to appear in court on that date. By so doing, the Court of Appeals held, In re Dolly D., that the court had denied the father his right to confront and cross-examine the social worker who prepared the PRC. The Court of Appeals held that the personal appearance by a party at a civil proceeding is not essential, since appearance by his/her attorney is sufficient and equally effective.
This decision may cause an increase in the number of times social workers who prepare PRC reports are ordered in to be cross-examined at the jurisdictional hearing since their attendance at that hearing will not be dependent on the appearance of other parties in the matter as long as those parties have legal representation.
BOCS CONTACT: Lynn Schiffmacher (213) 351-5741
Bruce Rubenstein, Deputy Director
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