Students from the UCI Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic won disclosure of government records earlier this year, revealing how social workers failed to protect a 10-year-old Los Angeles boy from years of alleged physical abuse, eventually ending with his death and murder charges being filed against his mother and her boyfriend.
The clinic’s client, journalist Garrett Therolf, published a lengthy story about the boy, Anthony Avalos, in the Los Angeles Times on September 4 based in part on the documents obtained by UCI students.
Students Cassie Doutt, Shanxi Feng, and Emily Asgari filed a petition with the Los Angeles Superior Court’s juvenile court division in March 2019 on behalf of Therolf, a staff writer at the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, asking the court to unseal records from the LA Department of Children and Family Services detailing years of alleged abuse of young Anthony. In July, a judge ordered most of the records unsealed, and Garrett was provided the documents in late August.
The students are part of the IPAT Clinic’s Press Freedom and Transparency practice, headed by UCI Staff Attorney Susan E. Seager, providing pro bono legal services to journalists, documentary filmmakers, and others.