Department of Human Services v. E.J.
This case concerns a mother’s custody of her child, where the mother was herself a ward of the court as a youth. Now, years after the end of the mother’s wardship, Department of Human Services (DHS) seeks to use records and information from her wardship as evidence in her child’s case.
Juvenile Law Center and pro bono counsel Karen U. Lindell filed an amicus brief in the Oregon Supreme Court in support of the mother. Our brief argued that preserving the privilege of child welfare records is essential to the core functions of the dependency system, including DHS’s legal obligation to provide adequate mental health care to the children in its custody. We further argued that Oregon's privilege law provides vital protection for families facing DHS involvement, a function that is crucial given the fundamental liberty interests at stake in dependency proceedings, the high potential for harm to children and parents caused by system involvement, and the disproportionate impact of the system on communities of color.
The Oregon Supreme Court dismissed DHS’s petition for review as moot, pursuant to the dismissal of the underlying case in the trial court.
Jessica Feierman, Marsha Levick
Tiffany Faith, Marissa Lariviere