The procedure to appeal your inclusion on the Child Abuse Central Index is really a 2 step process. The first step is the grievance hearing conducted by the reporting agency (County). If you are not successful in having the finding changed, the second step is to file a writ petition in the Superior Court.
This court procedure is commonly referred to as a writ of mandate or administrative mandamus. In simple terms, the procedure allows a judge to review the findings made at the CACI hearing. However, it can be much more complex than that. After filing the initial petition, the parties must meet and confer to agree upon what documents comprise the “administrative record” (i.e. those documents that encompass all of the records used at the administrative hearing).
Next, the petitioner, has to file an Opening Brief which is a legal brief setting forth all the reasons that the petitioner’s writ should be granted. If the petitioner wishes to object to any evidence received and considered at the underlying CACI Grievance Hearing, the Objections must be filed as a separate document with the Opening Brief.
Respondent’s Brief and Oral Arguments
The Respondent then files its response in a legal document called the Respondent’s Brief. The Petitioner gets one more opportunity to respond in the Reply Brief. Once all the briefs are filed, the judge holds a hearing where the parties appear and make arguments and answer any questions the judge has. The judge may issue a ruling right there during the hearing, or take the matter “under submission” and issue a written ruling a few days or weeks later.
Recap: 2 Steps
The reason I say that the CACI Grievance Process is a 2 Step Approach is that you MUST request and have a Grievance Hearing before filing a writ petition. One of the requirements of Administrative Mandamus is that the petitioner has “exhausted its administrative remedies” by participating in the grievance process. Once you have had the grievance hearing and were not successful, then you can file a writ petition in court.
Be aware however, that it is very difficult to present new evidence as part of the writ proceedings. Generally, the court will only consider the “record” of the underlying administrative hearing. Meaning the judge will only read the evidence presented at the grievance hearing and arguments as to why that evidence was or was not sufficient in changing the CACI determination. Although it’s not required to have an attorney at the CACI Grievance Hearing, this is just another reason that it is recommended, because not only will you have a better chance at a successful CACI Hearing, but having counsel will allow you to make a better record for the Administrative Mandamus proceedings.