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Rinaker v. Superior Court
California Court of Appeal
62 Cal. App. 4th 155 (1998)
The government charged minors Christopher G. and Huy D. (the minors) with vandalism for allegedly throwing rocks at Arsenio Torres’s car. Torres also obtained a temporary restraining order against the minors and filed a civil-harassment lawsuit against the minors that was resolved through mediation led by a volunteer mediator, Kristen Rinaker (plaintiff). The minors then filed a motion to compel Rinaker to potentially testify in their juvenile-delinquency proceedings. According to the minors, Torres admitted during the mediation that he never saw the people who threw rocks at his car. If Torres testified differently in the juvenile-delinquency proceedings, then the minors intended to call Rinaker to impeach Torres’s testimony. Rinaker opposed the motion, arguing that statements made during the mediation were privileged under California Evidence Code Section 1119 and protected from disclosure under California’s constitutional right to privacy. Rinaker further argued that by agreeing to participate in a confidential mediation, the minors had waived any right to compel Rinaker’s testimony. The minors narrowly argued that their constitutional right to confront witnesses outweighed the confidentiality of mediation proceedings. The juvenile court in the Superior Court of San Joaquin County (defendant) ruled that Rinaker could be called as an impeachment witness. Rinaker petitioned the California Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate directing the juvenile court to set aside the order.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Scotland, J.)
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