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Dept. of Human Services v. M. R.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-25-2012
Case #: A149109
Brewer, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A149109.pdf

Civil Procedure: The denial of a motion to unseal records by the trial court is not an error when the records were never sealed to begin with.

Dept. of Human Services (DHS) appealed during a 2006 juvenile proceeding where the trial court's judgment declared Mother's foster care records privileged information. In 2011, DHS wanted to introduce the prior record in a dependency case involving Mother as a parent. The trial court refused to reconsider the 2006 order and that Mother's record was protected by privilege. DHS filed motions, one seeking clarification of the 2006 judgment, and the other to unseal the record. The trial court denied both motions. The Court of Appeals held that records can only be unsealed if they were sealed in the first place, and that privilege information is not tantamount to sealed records. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying DHS' motion to unseal records. Affirmed.