All About the CACI Hearing Appeal:
Hi, I’m CACI lawyer Tate Lounsbery. Now if you have just recently lost a Child Abuse Central Index grievance hearing, a CACI hearing, then you must be wondering: how do you appeal this? What are your options now going forward? Are you just stuck with your name on the CACI list for the rest of your life, or can you appeal the decision that the CPS agency made to the keep your name on that list? Do you have a way now of appealing that decision to get your name off the list? The answer is yes, you do.
How do I appeal the CPS decision after I lost my Child Abuse Central Index Grievance Hearing?
You do have an option, and your one and only option is to appeal it by way of something called a petition for a writ of administrative mandamus, or mandate, a writ of mandate it’s also called. You’ve got to file that writ. That is the only option left for you.
How much time do I have to file the CACI hearing appeal (aka, the writ of mandate)?
Now the important part about it is that there’s a deadline. You only have 90 days from the date CPS made its final decision. You have 90 days from that date to file your petition for writ of mandate in the superior court, so three months. Three months is all you’ve got.
Now there may be an exception for good cause. Frankly, I really shouldn’t have brought that up. I hate to say it because the chances that you are going to fall within that exception are very, very close to zero, so don’t even think about an exception.
Just think in your head, I’ve got three months, 90 days, not from the date that you received the letter indicating that you lost the hearing, but from the date that the final decision was signed by the director of the department of the agency in your county.
What is a petition for a writ of mandate after a CACI hearing?
What is a writ of mandate? A writ of mandate is a document that you’ll be filing, filling out, saying, “Judge, I just had this hearing with this county, with the CPS agency, and I lost. I want you to review everything that happened in my case. Please overturn the agency’s decision.” That’s what your petition is. That’s what you’re asking the judge to do.
Now, what is a petition not? It is not a new trial. It is not a new grievance hearing. What that means is you don’t have an opportunity to present new evidence. You’re not going to have more witnesses come and testify or different witnesses, or the same witnesses. There will be no witnesses testifying in court on your petition. It’s just basically the judge’s opportunity to look at the documents, look at a transcript of your hearing, look at all of the documentary evidence, any photographs, any evidence that you had or that the county had, to look it all over and make a new determination as to whether or not you should be on the list—a determination as to whether or not the county made an error or made the right call, the right decision. That’s what a writ is.
What are the legal grounds or legal bases for a CACI hearing appeal (or writ of administrative mandate0?
In terms of a basis for a writ, there are a very limited number of legal bases for someone to file a writ of mandate after a CACI hearing. There are essentially three different legal bases for it. Number one is did you have a fair trial. Was there a fair hearing? Number two, did the agency, CPS, act outside of its scope of authority? The third one is did the agency abuse its discretion in any way, in a way that prejudiced you, that harmed you. We could delve into that more fully. Those have more fuller explanations behind each of those three bases, but that’s the gist of it.
How do I know if I have legal grounds to file a CACI hearing appeal (or petition for writ of mandate after my own Child Abuse Central Index grievance hearing)?
Now, you should be wondering now, does my case fall within one of those three exceptions? The answer is going to be yes. I’ve never seen a CACI case after a hearing where there was not a basis for filing a writ of mandate. In your case, it’s like 99.9% chance that yes, you are going to have a legal reason, a legal basis, for filing a petition for a writ of mandate in your case.
Part of the reason why is because this area of law is so young; it’s so new. These hearings like you had have only been around since 2008. There’s a lot of wiggle room, and the area of law needs to be tightened up. Maybe that doesn’t make much sense the way I’m putting it, but yes, you are going to have a reason to file your writ.
Now that’s true pretty much in any scenario. If you represented yourself in your CACI grievance hearing, you’re going to have reasons to file a writ. If you hired a lawyer and a lawyer represented you, whether your lawyer did a good job or that you think your lawyer did a good job, or whether you think your lawyer did a bad job, either way you’re going to have a basis for a writ. Yes, you’re going to want to file your petition for administrative writ of mandamus.
How long does the court process for the writ of mandate take?
How long does it take? From the beginning when you file your petition, to the end, it could take anywhere from six months to a year. I’ve seen them take a year and I’ve seen them take shorter than that. I would give you I would say six to 12 months is probably a good range.
It will depend on how long the hearing was. It will depend on how easy or how difficult it will be for us to get a copy of the transcript of your hearing and all the evidence. It will depend on whether or not we have to file an interim motion with the superior court. A lot of factors at play. Whether or not you had an attorney, that could either speed up or delay things.
Anticipate this going on for six to 12 months after the date that you file. If you just got your decision yesterday, for example, you now have three months to file your petition. Let’s say you do that on the second to last day, so three months from today. Then expect another six to 12 months later is when your final decision on the petition would come down and your case would be done.
How much will it cost to file the petition for writ of administrative mandate?
What about cost? How much is this going to cost you? I would say probably between 6 and $10,000. Again, I know that’s a broad range, so maybe $8,000. That’s probably a good estimate. That goes for attorney fees. It goes for court costs. There are filing fees that are pretty hefty, pretty hefty filing fees, about $450 for the filing fee for the petition itself. There may be other costs such as process service fees. If you’re at the beginning of this three-month period that you have to file your petition, maybe you want to start saving that money.
What does CACI writ attorney do in the process of seeking a writ of mandamus?
What do I do? My job when somebody hires me to review, to file a petition for a writ of an administrative mandamus is to get all of the records and review it, talk with the client about what they the client felt went right or what went wrong, and discover what our strategy is going to be. That’s the big part of it. Once we know what our strategy’s going to be, we’ve reviewed everything, then that’s when I start working on the petition.
We start with the petition first. We file our petition and then comes the review and comes the strategy. The initial filing documents, the petition, it’s not short but it’s not long either. It’s pretty brief on the facts. The legal strategy comes after the initial filing of the petition.
With that, though, I do want to caution you. You don’t want to wait until the three months are about over to hire a lawyer and file your petition, because it can take some time to get that initial petition filed, in fact, it can take a month or two to do that. I just want to caution you. Don’t wait the three months and then a week before your deadline you call me or call some other lawyer and try to file it. That’s really not a good idea at all.
Will it cost me more to hire an attorney in San Diego when my case is in some other county?
What other things might you be asking? You might also ask, I’m in San Diego, maybe you’re up in San Francisco or somewhere else, will it end up costing you more to hire me to represent you? The answer’s probably yes. Most of my clients who are up in Northern California end up spending about $500 more. That’s just essentially costs for mileage for me driving up there, for a rental car. I might need a couple of nights in a hotel room, cheap hotel room. It will be about $500 more. Is that worth it to you? My clients say yes. If it’s not worth it to you … only you can answer that question really.
How do I begin the process of hiring to represent me in the petition for writ of administrative mandamus after CACI hearing?
What else? How do you get started? If you want to get started, the first thing to do is to give me a call and we can talk about your case and make sure, confirm that you are within those 99.9% of people who have a legal basis for filing a petition. We could talk about whether or not you personally have a reason to file your petition. I’m sure you will. Then we can talk by phone.
It’s very rare when I actually meet one of my clients in person, live, face to face, because it’s just not necessary. A lot of my clients are throughout California and for a petition of writ of mandate it’s really just not necessary. Most of our communication will happen by email and by phone.
In fact, you don’t even have to go to court. When we do have a court appearance, it doesn’t require your attendance there in court. That’s nice, because you can continue going to work or school or whatever it is you do.
I think that’s all the questions that you might have. If you do have any other questions, go ahead and give me a call and I’d be happy to answer your questions for you. Again, this is Tate Lounsbery, CACI hearing appeal lawyer, and I hope to talk to you soon.