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State in Interest of D.G.

Decided: May 19, 1980.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF D.G., A JUVENILE


On appeal from Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Cape May County

Allcorn, Morgan and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Morgan, J.A.D.

Morgan

Petitioner, father of D.G., appeals from an order of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court denying his application for all records involved in the JINS (Juvenile in Need of Supervision) action pertaining to his daughter.

On March 27, 1979 a caseworker from the Division of Youth and Family Service (DYFS) filed a complaint pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4-53(b) and 2A:4-45(b), alleging that petitioner's 15-year-old daughter, D.G., was a juvenile in need of supervision

(JINS) "in that she has left home on different dates without the permission of her parents."

On May 11, 1979 a hearing upon this complaint was held and D.G. was adjudged a JINS and placed on probation for one year subject to the condition that DYFS place her in a temporary foster home and that she receive counseling at respondent Mental Health Services of Cape May County, Inc. (hereinafter MHS).

On May 31, 1979 petitioner, by letter, requested the release to him of all records pertaining to D.G. This request was denied by MHS, DYFS and the JINS shelter.

On June 15, 1979 petitioner filed a notice of motion returnable June 26, 1979 seeking to obtain all of D.G.'s records pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4-65(a)(3). At the June 26, 1979 hearing the judge heard argument (no sworn testimony was taken) from petitioner's counsel, MHS' counsel, MHS' director, JINS' shelter director and a DYFS caseworker. The Attorney General's office was present by a memorandum on this issue submitted prior to the June 26, 1979 hearing.

At the June 26, 1979 hearing, MHS' representative stated that extensive interviews were held with D.G., and that the interviewer believed it was not in D.G.'s best interest to have her parents see his notes of the interviews. Another of MHS' representatives stated that there was a "clear, implicit understanding between the juvenile and her therapist that the matters that they discussed . . . were privileged and this allowed her to speak in a free, unhindered way that she wouldn't have spoken in had she known there was a possibility what she was saying would be shared with her parents." In this regard MHS' representative also stated that if the possibility of returning the child to her home existed, some of what she said in the therapy sessions would have potential for harm.

The DYFS caseworker stated that DYFS encouraged D.G.'s parents to apply to respondent for counseling. They refused,

stating they wanted D.G.'s records and wanted to apply to Catholic Services for counseling. The DYFS caseworker then said that DYFS had recently checked with Catholic Services and no ...


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