The Department of Social and Health Services et al., Petitioners,
Paul Parvin et al., Respondents
Oral Argument November 4, 2013.
Appeal from King County Superior Court. Docket No: 10-7-02697-3. Date filed: 04/09/2012. Judge signing: Honorable Ronald Kessler.
Robert W. Ferguson, Attorney General, and Trisha McArdle, Assistant, for petitioners.
Suzanne L. Elliott, for respondents.
AUTHOR: Michael S. Spearman, C.J. Stephen J. Dwyer, J. concurs. Mary Kay Becker, J. (dissenting).
[181 Wn.App. 665] ¶ 1 In termination of parental rights cases, indigent parents represented by appointed counsel must petition the government for public funding for expert witnesses and other services necessary in the course of their defense. In King County Superior Court, parents may move the court ex parte for such funding, as well as for orders to seal the moving documents. The Department of Social and Health Services (the State) asserts that this ex [181 Wn.App. 666] parte motion practice improperly denies the other parties notice and opportunity to be heard on the motions. The State contends that this practice violates GR 15, which generally governs the sealing of court records. The State also contends that this practice violates the right of the public to open court proceedings and improperly applies a criminal court rule, CrR 3.1(f), to civil cases.
¶ 2 We conclude that the notice requirements of GR 15(c)(1) do not adequately safeguard the due process guarantees of indigent parents involved in termination proceedings seeking public funding for expert and other services. Accordingly, we hold that motions for such services, including motions to seal the moving papers, are exempt from the notice requirements of the rule. We further hold that the trial court's orders to seal records in this case meet the standard set forth in Dreiling v. Jain, 151 Wn.2d 900, 93 P.3d 861 (2004), which adopts the well-established analytical approach announced in Seattle Times, Co. v. Ishikawa, 97 Wn.2d 30, 640 P.2d 716 (1982). Lastly, we hold that the trial court was within its discretion to adopt the CrR 3.1(f) ex parte motion procedure as the proper method for the parents to seek public funding for expert services and orders to seal because no other statute or enforceable court rule prescribed the mode of proceeding. We affirm the ruling of the trial court.
¶ 3 Paul Parvin and Leslie Bramlett are the parents of M.H.P. At the time of trial, four-year-old M.H.P. had already been found dependent and removed from his parents,
based on their mental illnesses, substance abuse, history of violence, and resulting neglect of the child. The State filed a petition for termination of Parvin and ...