Would Accountability Solve the System’s Abuses?
Tuesday, February 05, 2002
By Robin Wallace
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A Tennessee federal judge in November ordered the arrest of all the employees at the Franklin County Department of Children�s Services for refusing to implement his ruling on a custody case involving a two-year-old child.
Tennessee’s child protective services office has been embroiled in scandal. Among other problems, caseworkers have been accused of falsify records and the state legislature has threatened to dismantle thestate’s foster care system unless the DCS reforms. In the case of the Franklin County arrests, the judge ruled that the child should be turned over to one of the parties in the custody case. DCS did not agree with judge’s ruling; they refused to turn the child over while they tried to stay the ruling.
And the Tennessee case may not be an isolated one. Some recent court decisions suggest that judges may be growing as frustrated with the child protective system as the families caught in it.
In May, a federal jury decided that a caseworker with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services failed to protect three foster children who were brutally abused while in state custody. The jury found the caseworker knew of the abuse and ignored it, and violated the children’s civil rights by failing to protect them. The children were awarded $3.3 million.
In Maine, a committee of the state legislature studying the state�s child protective services system came to some scathing conclusions. The report, released in November, found that the state relied too much on foster care and needed to make greater efforts to keep families together.
In April, in a class action suit filed by child-care workers and foster parents wrongfully accused of abuse, a federal judge ruled that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services needed to meet a higher standard of proof before reporting the workers as abusers to their employers.
Evidence presented in the Illinois case found that three-fourths of child care workers found to have abused or neglected a child were exonerated after appealing those finding, though sometimes not until years later. In the meantime, care workers and foster parents were being entered into a registry of abusers based on being accused and suffering the consequences of that listing long before their cases were decided once and for all.
Parents, however, don’t have the power judges do and it is still a rare case that makes it to a civil trial. That ‘s why activists are calling for reforms that will increase caseworkers accountability and impose penalties on those who act arbitrarily or vindictively.
The notion that a social worker would act purely out of vindictiveness sounds like parent propoganda, but California saw the need to pass a law specifically addressing that possibility. It allows for the prosecution of social workers who have been proven to have acted with intentional malice. Activists say it is almost impossible to prove a caseworker acted maliciously, but some accountability is better than none. Consider this Massachusetts case:
Postal worker David Luisi lost custody of his three children to his ex-wife for refusing to enroll in a program for “angry men”�because the only person he was angry at was the caseworker.
The couple separated in 1994 and Luisi was eventually awarded custody of the children after their mother gave them up, saying she couldn’t cope with the pressures of raising them. But in 1997, the mother filed a false abuse charge against Luisi. Based on that accusation, the Department of Social Services gave the children to the mother.
It took almost two years for Luisi to get a hearing, clear his name and then wait for DSS to correct their records. The children remained with the mother throughout the ordeal, during which time a doctor diagnosed Luisi’s young daughter as suffering from malnutrition and the mother’s boyfriend was charged with assaulting one of his sons.
Luisi informed DSS that he planned to seek custody of his children and pestered the social worker on the case to investigate his wife�s fitness. Concerned that the children appeared to be malnourished and neglected in their mother’s care and that her boyfriend was a danger, Luisi and his relatives complained to police, to the DSS and to the media that the children were being neglected.
In 1999, the social worker on the case sought an emergency order to terminate the Luisi�s visitation rights, claiming that his phone calls and anxiety over the fate of his children indicated he had problems with anger management. Visitation could only be resumed if he agreed to attend a program for men with anger issues that required participants to admit they were abusive. The alleged anger and abuse the social worker claimed required this treatment was not aimed at his own children. She was demanding he enroll in the program because she didn�t like the way he was treating her.
Luisi, who had been unequivocally cleared of the false abuse charge, feared that attending the program would brand him an abuser and hurt his chances of regaining custody when the case came to trial. He decided not to seek visitation with his children if it meant having to attend the classes.
But the case did not come to trial for another year. When it did come to trial in July, 2001, the judge gave full custody to the mother, ruling against the father because he had waited a full year to seek visitation. The judge also granted the mother permission to move to Niagra Falls, New York with the children. The judge said Luisi put his own selfish needs above the needs of his children. Yet it was the system that forced him to wait a year to seek visitation by demanding he enroll in a program for abusers because he was making too many phone calls to the social worker handling the case.
This need for greater accountability is the root of many problems with child services, activists maintain.
In the case of activist Nev Moore, her daughter was removed from their home, she said, as a strategy to force Moore to admit to being abused by her husband. Because she wouldn’t, the state kept her daughter. In other cases documented by activist organizations, social workers have defined abuse or neglect as parenting or family lifestyle choices they disagree with.
“If we had an accountability statue put in place these social workers would be a little more reluctant to go after these � frivolous cases that are blocking up our court system,” said attorney Janet Frederick Wilson.
Foster care, family preservation and civil liberties: When you want to trample on the Fourth Amendment, who ya gonna call?
Say you work for a county sheriff’s department and you suspect that a couple is growing marijuana in their home. But you don’t have enough evidence to get a search warrant. As Karl Malden used to say in those American Express commercials: What will do you – what will you do?
The dilemma arose in Sarasota County, Florida. And Sheriff’s deputies there came up with what they thought was the perfect answer: Pretend they were from the one government agency to which that pesky Fourth Amendment never seems to apply. Pretend to be from the agency that can enter any home based on no more than an anonymous telephone tip. Pretend to be from an agency so powerful that, even if technically, people have the right to refuse, they’d be too terrified to invoke it.
Yes, that’s right. The deputies pretended to be from child protective services, in this case, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and they pretended to be looking not for pot, but for child abuse.
According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, the deputies told the couple they were investigating an anonymous tip about a child living in unfit conditions – and, they said, the couple had no right to refuse them entry.
It was all a lie, but once inside they found enough evidence to get a warrant, ultimately they found marijuana plants and drug paraphernalia. A circuit judge has ruled that illegal – and thrown out the tainted evidence. Because, after all, adults have Fourth Amendment rights.
But not children. Laws and court decisions vary from state to state, but as a practical matter, even if, technically, a parent can refuse entry to a child protective services worker, as a practical matter she’ll just run to court, claim that the refusal itself puts the child in imminent danger and get the court not only to let her in, but also to take away the children. (Indeed, she may not even need to go to court – she could simply exercise her “emergency” power to declare the child endangered, call the cops to let her in, and then leave with the child.) FULL STORY
No matter what stage your “case” is in, the Number One (#1) thing YOU MUST DO- Document, Document, Document. This costs nothing and is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do in your defense. Keep detailed records of who said what, when. ESPECIALLY document face-to-face and conversations on the phone. Record or video tape if you have it. CPS workers “make mistakes”, LIE, and TWIST your words.
See Washington State Extended Families for a nice essay on how to do Documentation.
If there is a lawyer in your area who HATES CPS and knows how to put up a DEFENSE, hire him now and help him defend you. If you have to sell the car, mortgage the house, clean out your retirement fund, borrow from relatives- pay his retainer.
NOTE- If you ARE a LAWYER who wants to learn HOW, see-
If you get a court-appointed attorney, you may or may not receive a “vigorous defense”. About the standard pay they receive is $500 total, so the pay is no motivation to them. You might get a young, idealistic one fresh from law school, and he may be pretty aggressive. Some older ones who are not calloused may also really go to bat for you and the children and provide Competent Counsel. In all cases, Help him defend you
Also see Make Your Court-Appointed Attorney Work For YOU at fightcps.com
NEW! August 8, 2008 How I Found Attorney Who “Hates” CPS
If there is NO such lawyer (there’s not very many), or you are penniless,
~you are going to have to learn how to DO IT YOURSELF in pro per or pro se ~
Be aware that some “courts” may be so “unencumbered by the Constitution” that a lawyer “may” risk his Bar License by providing a “vigorous defense”. (See What Happens in the FOG)
There are also stories about CPS KIDNAPPING THE LAWYER’S CHILDREN AND ASSASSINATING HIS CHARACTER TOO. We have heard of CPS doing the same thing to JUDGES, Doctors, Police officers, other CPS people (Whistle-Blowers), and even State Representatives who challenge CPS’ lies and fascist activities.
That’s why just filing your papers with the court clerk may be the only way to GET THE TRUTH ON THE RECORD. That is why the “Sui Juris” method was developed.
If you don’t get anything ON THE RECORD, you will likely have
NO appealable issues in the future. See this and ESPECIALLY THIS
What Happens in the FOG- Beginning with an anonymous hotline “tip” of suspected abuse, a parent enters a gray area of American jurisprudence. And it is not “murky” to his benefit.
Child Abuse, when alleged, is not a criminal matter. It is blithely characterized as a “Civil” matter, much the same as a lawsuit to collect on a breach of contract. Thus, the Constitutional protections afforded in a criminal case are not necessarily extended to those accused of Child Abuse. Full Article
~ INNOCENCE IS NO DEFENSE ~
Don’t kid yourself.
This is not the Happy, Fair Courts
To fully understand what Family Courts REALLY ARE- see Volksgerichtshof
Never forget to ask the “judge” if you are in a CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF DUE PROCESS
They cannot answer you honestly, because YOU ARE NOT
~By the way~
When the Nazi’s picked up the Jews
and sent them to Concentration Camps, they called it
Schutzhaft, literally translated “Protective Custody”
Write your own version of history in a Sworn Affidavit
and FILE IT with the Court, the CPS, the DA, and whoever else that has ANYTHING to do with your case.
You are SWEARING to the truthfulness of your statements. The CPS witches aren’t swearing to ANYTHING (what is SACRED to them that they COULD swear on? The Humanist Manifesto II?)
You had better be telling the truth with no “embellishments” and citing FACTS you can back up with evidence or witnesses’ sworn statements. Say NOTHING self-incriminating. If you have something to hide, you aren’t going to lie your way out of it.
Grammar Quick Help Class 101 How your papers LOOK matters!
The importance of your Sworn Affidavit cannot be over- emphasized!
THE ONLY WAY you have appealable “issues” in the future
is to get your facts ON THE RECORD in court.
SHUT UP— SHUT UP— SHUT UP!
Quit talking with the CPS monsters. You are waiving your FIFTH AMENDMENT CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT and Miranda Rights every time you answer a question.
“The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime.” — Miller v. U.S. Source: 230 F 2d 486, 489
Personal and phone conversations are where “mistakes” (inventions and fabrications) happen when THEY write their report about the conversations. Words you say float up into the rafters and come back twisted against you. If you feel you have to talk with them, record it or videotape it. And don’t forget to DOCUMENT it.
CPS is NOT your friend!
Women especially fall into this trap. Especially in cases where a child is ALLEGEDLY abused or molested by a family member.
DO NOT pour your heart out to a CPS worker or CPS contractor Mental Illness clinician.
Do that, and you will join the ranks of “co-perpetrator” lamenting “I was so, so foolish. I was an IDIOT. I thought they were there to HELP me. I thought the CPS worker CARED. I thought I had PROFESSIONAL CONFIDENTIALITY with the psych shithead.”
CPS will use every word you say to make your child a Legal Orphan, because THAT’S what they are being PAID for.
Ignore or forget this at your and your children’s EXTREME PERIL.
August 21, 2008 NEW CASELAW
Case Name: U.S. v. Craighead, District: 9 Cir , Case #: 07-1-135
Opinion Date: 8/21/2008 , DAR #: 13245
Interrogations occurring inside the home are custodial, requiring Miranda advisements under the Fifth Amendment, if the circumstances turn it into one of a “police-dominated” atmosphere.
Speaking personally, if there was no cop there, I would darn sure turn it into a “police dominated atmosphere”, by calling 911 and report that my home was being trespassed under the Color of Law with no Warrant.
If they DO have a warrant, SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP.
BE POLITE! The highest crime you can commit is “Contempt of Social Worker”. We have reports of POLICEMEN telling people that the Constitutional Rights and Miranda Rights are only for TV, and what they are doing is “The Real World”.
See The Oath of Office
EVERY OATH of OFFICE in the USA includes “support the Constitution”
Since many of them seem like childish morons, SOCIOPATHIC, and plainly nasty with no discernable social “skills”, this can be a difficult task.
“I would love to answer your question, but I cannot do that without violating my Fifth Amendment Rights and my Miranda Rights”
“I would love to let you in my house to look around without a Search Warrant. But I cannot do that without violating my Fourth Amendment Rights”
“There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you.” –William Hazlitt
We believe the court-ordered psych exam is a violation of your 5th Amendment rights. Don’t entertain the folly that psychiatrists are your friend. No, you do not enjoy professional “confidentiality” with them. They are the foremost tool of character assassination.
Insist on LETTERS to and from the agencies. They can’t alter their words printed on paper that have been mailed to you. Nor can they alter your words either. KEEP COPIES of your letters to them.
#7 Get your records- FOIA/Privacy Act/ Open Records. Anything they FORCE you to sign, sign it “Under Duress”. You can also Rescind your previous signatures.
San Diego Courts Examiner
Freedom of Information Act & Public Records Requests
November 14, 7:58 PM
Clean up your house and your life.
Obviously, if your house is a mess or your life is a mess, your CPS worker is going to use every bit of it against you. There is (so far as we know) absolutely NO LAW about “dirty house”, but they make a big deal out of it.
Shacking up with a boyfriend is the path to hell. Boyfriends have NO “natural affection” for your children, and they are the #1 baby rapists and child abusers and killers, at the TOP of any statistical data.
So this is something YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT. Clean up. Quit smoking. Whatever you are doing that you KNOW is wrong, the choice is between your laziness, habits, lifestyle choices, CATS, and YOUR KIDS.
You choose. If you can’t, then don’t complain about what happens.
Also see AFRA Dress Codes. How you dress and conduct yourself in interviews, at court, or with the Mental Illness Clinicians- matters