United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs' motion to
inspect juvenile records pursuant to Missouri Revised Statute
§ 210.150. Defendants have responded in opposition,
and the issues are fully briefed.
amended complaint, plaintiff Ralph Torres alleges that in
2014 or 2015 he “faced investigation by the Division of
Child Protective Services for alleged sexual misconduct
involving his two minor children.” Amd.
Complaint ¶85 [Doc. # 14]. The juvenile records
sought by the plaintiffs pertain to a forensic interview of
one of Torres' children, identified as S.T., that was
conducted by the Missouri Department of Social Services
(DSS). Torres alleges that although the sexual misconduct
allegations were unsubstantiated, he was unlawfully arrested
by St. Louis County police officer defendant Laura Clements.
In her deposition, Clements testified that she believed that
she had probable cause for the arrest after viewing the
recording of the S.T. interview. According to DSS, the
recording of the interview is in the possession of The Child
Center, Inc. in Wentzville, Missouri.
argue that the requested records are pertinent to the 42
U.S.C. § 1983 claims asserted in this action. Plaintiffs
further argue that a statutory exception to Missouri's
confidentiality rules, covering reporting of the abuse of
juveniles, allows for the disclosure of these records.
Defendants argue that plaintiffs have not overcome the strong
interest in protecting the confidentiality of records in
child abuse cases.
210.150 provides that “[t]he children's division
shall ensure the confidentiality of all reports and
records” made in response to reports of child abuse or
neglect and maintained by any division office or affiliated
institution. Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 210.150,
210.109.2. Subsection 2 of the statute identifies categories
of persons authorized to have access to investigative
Any alleged perpetrator named in the report, but the names of
reporters shall not be furnished to persons in this category.
Prior to the release of any identifying information, the
division shall determine if the release of such identifying
information may place a person's life or safety in
danger. If the division makes the determination that a
person's life or safety may be in danger, the identifying
information shall not be released. However, the investigation
reports will not be released to any alleged perpetrator with
pending criminal charges arising out of the facts and
circumstances named in the investigation records until an
indictment is returned or an information filed [.]
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 210.150.2(5).
the statute authorizes plaintiff Torres to have access to the
records at issue. The defendants do not contend that
providing the records (1) would endanger a person or (2) that
any criminal charges are pending against Torres. §
210.150.2(5). Moreover, “there is no apparent basis
under federal law to allow defendant[s] to withhold”
the records. Jiang v. Porter, No. 4:15-CV-1008
(CEJ), 2016 WL 3015163, at *4 (E.D. Mo. May 26, 2016) (citing
Farley v. Farley, 952 F.Supp. 1232, 1242 (M.D. Tenn.
1997) (“[T]he statutory and administrative scheme under
Tennessee law ensuring only limited disclosure of child abuse
files must yield to a supervening interest in their
production and use in federal civil rights actions.”));
c.f. State ex rel. Dep't of Soc. Servs. v.
Tucker, 413 S.W.3d 646 (Mo. 2013) (denying a request for
the identity of reporting individuals because no exception to
the rule of confidentiality provided by section 210.510
applied); Young v. Pitts, 335 S.W.3d 47,
55-56 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011) (holding that a parent was entitled
to any investigative records under a section 210.510
exception); Pitts v. Williams, 315 S.W.3d 755, 765
(Mo.Ct.App. 2010) (holding that “[p]ursuant to section
210.510.2(5), the investigative records contemplated by that
statute are accessible by an alleged perpetrator, subject to
redaction as contemplated by the statute and subject to the
Children's Division's determination that the release
of the records will not endanger a person's life or
safety, unless the alleged perpetrator has been charged with
Court must recognize the countervailing interests of the
privacy and protection of the reporters. See State v.
Davison, 884 S.W.2d 701, 703 (Mo.Ct.App. 1994) (the
state has a “compelling interest in protecting its
child abuse information.”) Further, Mo. Rev. Stat.
§ 510.035 provides guidelines for disclosure of any
visual or aural recordings of a minor alleged to be a victim
of an abuse offense. Specifically, the statute provides that
any court order for copying or distribution of such
(1) Be limited solely to the use of the recordings or
photographs for the purposes of a pending court proceeding or
in preparation for a pending court proceeding;
(2) Prohibit further copying, reproduction, or distribution
of the recordings or photographs; and
(3) Require, upon the final disposition of the case, the
return of all copies to the health care provider, child
assessment center or multidisciplinary team member that
originally had possession of the recordings or photographs,
or provide an affidavit to the health care provider, child
assessment center or multidisciplinary team member that
originally had possession of the recordings or photographs
certifying that all copies have been destroyed.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 510.035.3.
protections set forth in the statute will assist in balancing
the considerable privacy issues arising from these ...