J.J.W. v. State of Utah, Division of Child and Family Services

33 P. 3d 59 (2001)

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J.J.W. v. State of Utah, Division of Child and Family Services

Utah Court of Appeals
33 P. 3d 59 (2001)

Facts

The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) (defendant) filed a delinquency petition against J.J.W. (plaintiff), based on allegations that he sexually abused his sister. J.J.W. confessed that the allegations were true. DCFS deemed the allegations to have been substantiated and, following its policy, placed J.J.W.’s name on its abuser registry. The juvenile court found that J.J.W. was delinquent and ordered counseling and community service. When J.J.W. turned 18, he filed a petition for the expungement of his juvenile record. In 1996, the juvenile court granted J.J.W.’s petition, ordering the juvenile court and the city police department to expunge their records pertaining to J.J.W.’s delinquency. DCFS was not notified of the proceedings, and the court did not order DCFS to expunge its records. In 1998, a law was enacted that required DCFS to notify those whose names appeared on its abuser registry that they had a right to challenge substantiated findings of abuse. In certain circumstances, a successful challenge could lead to the removal of one’s name from the registry. J.J.W. became aware that his name appeared in the registry when he received the notification from DCFS. J.J.W. petitioned the Department of Human Services (DHS), which oversaw DCFS, for a hearing, and DHS heard the matter. At the hearing, J.J.W. argued that the 1996 order applied to DCFS records. DHS did not address J.J.W.’s argument and instead instructed DCFS to perform a risk assessment to determine whether J.J.W. should remain in the registry. J.J.W. filed a petition for review in juvenile court, arguing that DCFS was subject to and in violation of the 1996 order. DCFS moved to dismiss the petition, and J.J.W. filed a motion for summary judgment. The court treated J.J.W.’s petition as a petition to find that the 1996 order applied to DCFS and to its substantiation of allegations against J.J.W. The court denied DCFS’s motion and granted summary judgment to J.J.W., ordering that its 1996 order applied to DCFS’s substantiation of the abuse allegations. DCFS appealed. One of its arguments was that, under the Utah Administrative Procedures Act, the juvenile court did not have jurisdiction to order DCFS to expunge its records.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Davis, J.)

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