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E.T. v. George, District Court Re Motion to Dismiss, Jan 2010

E.T. v. George, District Court Re Motion to Dismiss, Jan 2010

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Published by Rick Thoma
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
2:09-cv-01950 FCD DAD
Filed: January 2010
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
2:09-cv-01950 FCD DAD
Filed: January 2010

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Published by: Rick Thoma on Aug 02, 2012
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08/03/2012

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12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTEASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA----oo0oo----E.T., K.R., C.B., and G.S., bytheir next friend, FrankDougherty, on their behalf andon behalf of all those similarlysituated,2:09-cv-01950 FCD DADPlaintiffs,v.MEMORANDUM AND ORDERRONALD M. GEORGE, Chair of theJudicial Council of California,in his official capacity;WILLIAM C. VICKREY,Administrative Director of theAdministrative Office of theCourts of the Judicial Council,in his official capacity; andJAMES M. MIZE, Presiding Judgeof the Superior Court of theCounty of Sacramento, in hisofficial capacity,Defendants. _______________________________/----oo0oo----This matter is before the court on defendants Ronald M.George, William C. Vickrey, and James M. Mize’s (collectively“defendants”) motion to abstain and to dismiss the complaint.
Case 2:09-cv-01950-FCD-DAD Document 39 Filed 01/07/2010 Page 1 of 51
 
123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282Plaintiffs E.T., K.R., C.B., and G.S., by their next friend,Frank Dougherty, (collectively “plaintiffs”) oppose the motions.On November 6, 2009, the court heard oral argument on defendants’arguments relating to justiciability. For the reasons set forthbelow, defendants’ motion to dismiss is GRANTED.
BACKGROUND
This case arises out of plaintiffs’ allegations that thecaseloads in dependency courts in Sacramento County are soexcessive that they violate federal and state constitutional andstatutory provisions. Specifically, plaintiffs contend that theoverburdened dependency court system frustrates both the abilityof the courts to adjudicate and provide children with ameaningful opportunity to be heard and the effective, adequate,and competent assistance of counsel. (Compl., filed July 16,2009.)
 A.Dependency Court Proceedings
Dependency proceedings are conducted to protect the safetyand well-being of an abused or neglected child whose parents orguardians cannot or will not do so or who themselves pose athreat to the child. (Compl. 28.) They commence with aninitial hearing, which is held to determine whether a child fallswithin one of ten jurisdictional bases of the juvenile court.Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 300, 305, 306, 311, 325 & 332.Dependency courts ultimately conduct an evidentiary hearingregarding the proper disposition of the child. Id. §§ 319, 352,355 & 358. In most cases, at the disposition hearing, dependencycourts “determine what services the child and the family need tobe reunited and free of court supervision.” Bridget A. v.
Case 2:09-cv-01950-FCD-DAD Document 39 Filed 01/07/2010 Page 2 of 51
 
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728
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The Honorable Ronald M. George is the Chief Justice ofthe California Supreme Court.3Superior Court, 148 Cal. App. 4th 285, 302-03 (2d Dist. 2007).However, the courts have a variety of options, from reuniting thefamily and child to removing the child from parental custody andplacing the child in foster care. See generally id. (outliningcourt options at disposition hearings). After a child is placedunder court supervision, subsequent court proceedings and reviewsare required every six months. Id.; see Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code§§ 364, 366.21, 366.22.California Welfare & Institutions Code § 317 requires thatcounsel be appointed for children in almost all dependency cases.(Compl. ¶ 34.) Specifically, § 317(c) provides that “[i]f achild is not represented by counsel, the court shall appointcounsel for the child unless the court finds that the child wouldnot benefit from the appointment of counsel.” This finding mustbe made on the record. Id. Pursuant to a Standing Order of theSuperior Court of the County of Sacramento, third party, court-appointed attorneys are automatically appointed to represent eachchild who is the subject of dependency proceedings in the county;these attorneys are also appointed as the child’s guardian adlitem. (Compl. 50.)
B.Functions and Funding within the Dependency Court Syste
The Judicial Council of California is the body responsiblefor overseeing the statewide administration of justice in theCalifornia courts. (Compl. 9.) As Chair of the JudicialCouncil, the Honorable Ronald M. George,
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defendant, isresponsible for the allocation of the judicial branch budget,
Case 2:09-cv-01950-FCD-DAD Document 39 Filed 01/07/2010 Page 3 of 51

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