A good quote in this published case. We must thank the Law Offices of Robert Powell for this remand.
Has your social worker ever lied and fabricated evidence? Well we all know the truth.
Let justice prevail.
"Furthermore, as prosecutors and others investigating criminal matters have no absolute immunity for their investigatory conduct, a fortiori, social workers conducting investigations have no such immunity. "
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
LORI BELTRAN; ROBERT BELTRAN; ü COBY BELTRAN, by and through his
Guardian Ad Litem Lori Beltran,
v.SANTA CLARA COUNTY;
MELISSA No. 05-16976
SemUApRloEZy,e ein odfiv tihdeu aClloyu nantyd oafs Saannta ý CV-03D-0.C3.7 6N7o-.RMWCinldairvai;d JuEaNllNyI FaEnRd H aUsB aBnS, employee
OPINION of the County of Santa Clara;
EMILY TJHIN, individually and as an employee of the County of Santa Clara,Defendants-Appellees. þ
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Ronald M. Whyte, District Judge, Presiding
Argued and SubmittedDecember 12, 2007—
Filed January 24, 2008
Before: Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Stephen Reinhardt, Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Michael Daly Hawkins, Kim McLane Wardlaw, William A. Fletcher, Ronald M. Gould, Richard A. Paez, Marsha S. Berzon, Richard R. Clifton and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges.
Per Curiam Opinion1201
Robert R. Powell and Dennis R. Ingols, The Law Offices of Robert R. Powell, San Jose, California, for the plaintiffs appellants.
Melissa R. Kiniyalocts, Deputy County Counsel, and Ann Miller-Ravel, County Counsel, Santa Clara County, San Jose, California, for the defendants-appellees.
OPINIONPER CURIAM:1. Melissa Suarez, a social worker for Santa Clara County’schild protective services, investigated whether Lori Beltranwas abusing her son, Coby. After this investigation, Suarez’ssupervisor Emily Tjhin filed a child dependency petition,which Tjhin signed under penalty of perjury. This petitionincluded a three-page statement of facts describing the findingsof Suarez’s investigation. Suarez also filed a separatecustody petition, which she signed under penalty of perjury.The custody petition attached and incorporated by referencethe three-page statement of facts from the dependency petition.BELTRAN v. SANTA CLARA 1203
The dependency petition was denied, Coby was returned tohis parents, and the Beltrans sued Suarez and Tjhin under 42U.S.C. § 1983, charging constitutional violations in removing Coby from the Beltrans’ custody and attempting to place him under the supervision of the state. Specifically, the Beltrans claimed that Suarez and Tjhin fabricated much of the informationin the three-page statement of facts. Relying on Doev. Lebbos, 348 F.3d 820, 825-26 (9th Cir. 2003), the district court held that Suarez and Tjhin had absolute immunity for their actions connected to signing and filing the dependency and custody petitions—including the alleged fabrication of evidence and false statements. It therefore dismissed plaintiffs’claims that were based on the allegedly false petition statements. The district court eventually granted summary judgment to the defendants on the remainder of plaintiffs’claims, but those issues are not before us, as plaintiffs appeal only the dismissal of claims based on absolute immunity.
 2. Parties to section 1983 suits are generally entitled only to immunities that existed at common law. Imbler v.Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 417-18 (1976). We have therefore“granted state actors absolute immunity only for those functions that were critical to the judicial process itself,” such as“ ‘initiating a prosecution.’ ” Miller v. Gammie, 335 F.3d 889,896 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (quoting Imbler, 424 U.S. at431). It follows that social workers have absolute immunity when they make “discretionary, quasi-prosecutorial decisionsto institute court dependency proceedings to take custody away from parents.” Id. at 898. But they are not entitled to absolute immunity from claims that they fabricated evidence during an investigation or made false statements in a dependency petition affidavit that they signed under penalty of perjury, because such actions aren’t similar to discretionary decisions about whether to prosecute. A prosecutor doesn’t have absolute immunity if he fabricates evidence during a preliminary investigation, before he could properly claim to be acting as an advocate, see Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509U.S. 259, 275 (1993), or makes false statements in a sworn1204 BELTRAN v. SANTA CLARA affidavit in support of an application for an arrest warrant, see Kalina v. Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 129-30 (1997). Furthermore,as prosecutors and others investigating criminal matters have no absolute immunity for their investigatory conduct, afortiori, social workers conducting investigations have no such immunity. See id. at 126.
 The district court’s error is perfectly understandable, as it relied on our incorrect ruling in Doe v. Lebbos, which we overrule today. We reverse the district court’s ruling that defendants are entitled to absolute immunity and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. REVERSED AND REMANDED.BELTRAN v. SANTA CLARA 1205
Thomas M. Dutkiewicz, President Civil Rights Advocate For Families Connecticut DCF Watch P.O. Box 9775 Forestville, CT 06011-9775860-833-4127 Admin@connecticutdcfwatch.comwww.connecticutDCFwatch.com
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