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San Diego Federal Judge Calls Out County Child Welfare Policy

The outside of the Edward J. Schwartz federal courthouse in downtown San Dieg...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: The outside of the Edward J. Schwartz federal courthouse in downtown San Diego is shown in this photo, Oct. 18, 2006.

San Diego Federal Judge Calls Out County Child Welfare Policy

GUEST:

Greg Moran, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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Child Welfare Services Case Ruling

Child Welfare Services Case Ruling

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez's ruling, finding that San Diego County social workers violated the constitutional rights of a family by interviewing children without a warrant or parental permission.

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A federal judge in San Diego has reversed a jury verdict and found a San Diego County policy at fault in an alleged child abuse investigation. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled Child Welfare Service's policy of interviewing young children without a warrant or parental consent is unconstitutional.

The case stems from a 2013 investigation into the Dees family, which police quickly closed. But county social workers went to interview one of the Dees children at school. The county allows social workers to interview children who are alleged abuse victims or their siblings without their parent's permission.

County social workers eventually dropped their investigation, but the Dees sued and accused the county of violating its constitutional rights. A jury cleared the county in February. But Judge Benitez wrote last week that the jury had made a mistake.

"The only conclusion that reasonable jurors could have reached is that the county’s policy and practice caused the violation of (the Dees') constitutional rights," he ruled.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Greg Moran joins KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday with more on the case and its potential to open the county up to further lawsuits.

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