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Name: In re Malinda S.
Case #: S012792
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 09/06/1990

A juvenile court may rely on “social studies” prepared by a social worker in making jurisdictional determinations under Welf. & Inst. Code section 300.

The California Supreme Court granted review to determine whether in a proceeding under Welf.& Inst. Code section 300, the reports of the social worker are competent evidence to support a finding of jurisdiction, even though they contain hearsay and multiple hearsay statements. The Court held that social studies are both admissible and competent evidence on which to base a finding of jurisdiction, and affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal. The Legislature intended social studies to constitute competent evidence. A social study is directly relevant to the issues to be determined at the adjudication hearing. As long as a parent is given an opportunity to examine persons whose hearsay statements are contained in the report and is permitted an opportunity to rebut that evidence, there is no due process violation. Due process does not require that the county call all the witnesses mentioned in the social study.