LA County Resisting Child Death Probe

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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Los Angeles County is refusing to hand over child welfare records to California officials despite a subpoena, with its lawyer citing attorney-client privilege.

The Legislature is investigating the deaths since 2008 of more than 70 children while under the supervision of the county Department of Children and Family Services. Many of those deaths, county officials admit, involved serious case management errors.

Daniel Barer, the county’s lawyer on the case, told the Los Angeles Times officials had handed over dozens of boxes of records and let auditors interview social workers but would not share papers they consider shielded by attorney-client privilege.

“In addition to the county’s established right to protect its communications with its attorneys, the county seeks to preserve its ability to candidly evaluate its child protective services, and opportunities to improve those services,” he wrote.

Alameda, Fresno and Sacramento counties have obeyed subpoenas, but state auditors found “only stalling tactics and unyielding refusal” in Los Angeles, state records say.

“We will not relent in accomplishing our mission of performing the audit that we were directed to perform by the Legislature,” wrote Sharon Reilly, counsel for state Auditor Elaine Howle.

Assemblyman Henry Perea, who called for the audit, said the state would take the county to court to enforce the subpoena.

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