As most parents who have lost children to Child Protective Services know, lawyers as a general rule have no clue as to what to do or how to handle the case. Most of them are not trained, have not been trained and have no desire to be trained on how to get children back who have been snatched by Child Protective Services. They don’t know how to fight the case because they are totally lost in the quagmire. They don’t understand it is not a criminal case, yet the parent is accused of a felony. Now that charge is never sent to criminal court, it is in family court. Which is full of corruption, greed, collusion and abuse on the part of the court, and child protective services. It is all about the money.
That being said, this manual is a step by step manual to teach your attorney and you how to proceed with the case. In my experience with Jackson County Ga Public Defender’s office, they have no clue and when something is brought to their attention like the panel is open and they are allowed to be there in fact are supposed to be there. The public defender is being paid by your tax money. They are paid to repesent you and to fight your case to the fullest- not to just give it lip service or to hang you out to dry when it suits them because they don’t know what they are doing. It is time for them to work and to step up to the plate.
I am not a lawyer, I don’t pretend to be, however, I am smart enough to know that if I don’t know how to do something to go find it. I did. This manual and many more like it. Each parent should add this to the other information I have given you. Your Attorney works for you. He can’t just bail because he doesn’t know something. It is time for them to earn those tax dollars.
When you go before the panel you have the right to have your attorney present, if he is to busy or to lazy to go with you and to field the questions that are going to be thrown at you, then he needs to not get paid. He doesn’t have the right to tell you to get another attorney. He needs to do his job. They use that as a cop out.
The manual which was sponsored and supported by The Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children and The Georgia Public Defender Standard Council States:
“The purpose of these standards is to provide attorneys representing parents with a general guide to appropiate and zealous advocacy on behalf of clients in juvenile court deprivation and termination of parental rights cases.
Performance Standard 1:
The primary and most fundamental obligation of a family defender is to provide zealous and effective representation for his or her client at all stages of the juvenile court proceedings. The parent attorney’s duty is to promote and protect the parents expressed interest.
Deprivation and termination of parental rights cases should not be taken on without the adequate experience and knowledge necessary to represent the client zealously.
2.1 Before practing in juvenile court, parent attorney should be proficient in applicable substantive and procedural Georgia juvenile law and federal laws relating to child abuse and neglect and should have appropriate experience, skills and training necessary to represent parents.
a. at a minimum parent attorney should observe at least ten hours of juvenile court including every stage of a deprivation/TPR proceeding. Parent attorney should obtain a minimum of six hours per year of training in relevant areas of practice.
b. It is highly recommended that parent attorney either work with a mentor before taking a case or have a mentor available to consult on a case.
2.2 Parent Attorney should be knowledgeable about and seek ongoing training in the following areas
a. DFCS policies and procedures
b.Federal Regulations relating to DFCS and foster care;
c. Services available to children and parents through the juvenile court and community
d. Child development
e. Adoption process/benefits available
f.Substance abuse, addiction recovery stages
g.Causes and available treatment for child abuse and neglect
h. Effective communication skills to communicate with child witnesses
j.State and Federal government benefits
k Immigration laws relating to child welfare and child custody
l.Interstate Compact on Placement of Children
m. Medical and Dental Care
2.5 Before agreeing to act as parent attorney or accepting appointment by a court, parent attorney has an obligation to make sure he/she has available sufficient time, resources, knowledge and experience to offer effective representation to a client in a particular matter. If it later appears that parent attorney is unable to offer effective representation in the case, he/she should move to withdraw.
2.7 If parent attorney is an Assistant Public Defender and parent attorney’s caseload becomes so large that he/she is unable to satisfactorily meet these performance standards, he/she shall inform the Circuit Public Defender’ for parent attorney’s judicial circuit and the court or courts before whom parent attorney’s cases are pending. If the Circuit Public Defender determines that the caseloads for the entire office are so large that parent attorney is unable to satisfactorily meet these performance standards, the Circuit Public Defender shall inform the court or courts before whom cases are pending and the Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council.”
Which brings me to my next point. That being the Review Hearings also known as Panels.
Panels are made up of volunteers from the community and are approved by the Judge. They get to rake the parent over the coals. At this panel is the Caseworker, the supervisor, the foster parent, the guardian et litem and the COSA person. They all get their turn at the parent. According this manual the parent attorney is supposed to attend. It is considered a review hearing.
It states: Georgia Standards for Parent Attorney at Review Hearings.
Performance Standard 12
Parent Attorney’s Duty at Review Hearing
“Review hearings are court proceedings that take place after disposition in which the court reviews the status of the case. In many counties, this hearing is delegated to citizen review panels which do a full review of the case and make recommendations to the judge. The judge will then review the same case on paper and with the panel’s recommendations and will issue an order incorporating those recommendations, if appropriate.12.1 For Citizen review panels parent attorney should:
a. Request notice of the panel hearing
b. Prepare for and participate in the meeting when warranted;
c. If necessary, provide information in writing to the panel;
d. Discuss the proceeding with the client before and after the review;
e. Have client collect information on progress made on case plan and goals achieved to present to DFCS prior to the review, and to the panel at the review
f. Review the report of the panel and request judicial review or in-court review if needed
g. Confirm that the citizen review panel does not make any additional caseplan goals with a court hearing
12.2 For Judicial Review the Attorney should:
a. Request notice of the court date
b.Attend each review
c.Talk to service providers or others who may help client
d.Explore whether child can now be returned home or ensure that the current placement is still appropriate and the lest restrictive
e. Modify or increase the visitation schedule, as needed
f. Ensure the agency is making reasonable efforts by providing services to eliminate the need for placement of the child
g. Explore whether any additional court orders need to be mde to move the case toward successful completion
i. Determine whether the current custody order has expired
j.Explore the current permanency plan for the child and ensure that it is appropriate
k modify deadlines and timelines as needed
l Make a record of caseworkers changes.
12.3 Parent Attorney should request a review when court intervention is necessary to resolve a dispute in such matters as visitation, placement or services
12.4 Parent Attorney should request a review when any event occurs that may significantly affect the need for continued placement
12.5 Parent attorney should move the court to return the children or extend visitation in the least restrictive alternative if the client is meeting t he requirements of the case plan
12.6 Parent Attorney should move the court to require DFCS to provide services if they are not being provided. “
This is just a short list in the manual. Jackson County Public Defender’s office has not done any of these. They refuse to go to the panel with Samantha on May 19th – she was told they couldn’t go. According to their own manual they are supposed to go. They are supposed to work that panel just like they would if they were in front of the judge. They are to get her information- ie job searches, etc.
This is just another piece of the travesty and collusion that is going on in that county. If they are not experienced then they need to be educated, if they are not willing to do it then they need to assign her to someone who is. They are not truthful with their client. She is entitled to have him with her at that panel. She is entitled to an attorney who will fight for her. She is entitled to her public defender because she is indigent. She is entitled to the best defense she can get – she should not be given shoddy representation just because she is poor.
Each of you parents go to this site and print this manual. It will save your life and maybe those of your children who have been stolen.