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Name: In re Gina S.
Case #: A109750
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/28/2005

Appellant’s daughter became a dependent of the court in 1992 based on allegations that the minor sustained serious emotional damage due to appellant’s behavior. The dependency case was later dismissed after an agreement that the minor would remain with her caretakers and appellant would cooperate. A second petition was filed in 2003 based on allegations that appellant was no longer cooperating, which prevented the caretakers from seeking medical care for the minor. The minor became a dependent of the court again, and later reunification services were terminated. Appellant then filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 827 petition requesting that confidential documents from the proceedings be released to her so that she could pursue an invasion of privacy claim. The court ordered appellant to return any documents she received from the clerk, and further disclosures were prohibited. The appellate court reversed the order in part. The juvenile court has the exclusive authority to determine the extent to which confidential documents are released. Section 827 allows the parent to inspect, not copy, any case documents. Appellant copied the documents without authorization, and therefore it was not error for the court to order the files returned. However, appellant had requested access to a limited category of documents in order to pursue her invasion of privacy claim, and none of the documents implicated the minor’s privacy rights. These documents should have been released to the extent they were relevant and necessary to appellant’s claim.