I just watched a video entitled The Time is Now, presented by West Virginia Court Improvement Project. These court improvement projects are funded with Social Security funds under federal grants associated with the administration of child welfare cases. The video was created to educate parents involved in child welfare cases.
It does much more than educate parents. It provides the reason why the courts aren't getting it right, as I discussed in my prior blog post. According to the Honorable Gary Johnson, Circuit Court Judge, there are three priorities which a judge must consider when arriving at decisions for a child abuse and neglect case. The "first and most important "consideration is the safety of the child. Second is "that everyone is treated fairly, including [the parents]."
This explains everything. The acceptance of hearsay upon hearsay statements as evidence. Playing fast and loose with the rights of the children and parents. The utter refusal and failure of the courts to properly use the checks and balances mandated by congress to insure that families are not interfered with unnecessarily or abusively.
If the safety of the child is the "first and most important" consideration, as his Honor states, then it is perfectly legal and acceptable for the state agency to lie, cheat and steal in order to win the case. It is absolutely legal and permissible for the court to simply check the "contrary to the welfare" box and the "reasonable efforts" box without insuring there is reliable evidence in the record to support those critical findings. There are no constitutional violations when the court refuses to hear exculpatory evidence or consider evidence that has not been subject to cross examination and adversarial testing as described in this article involving Massachusetts.
These cases are not like other cases, dear reader. You don't get to present your evidence, or cross examine witnesses against you. You don't get to have the child examined for improper interview techniques used by the agency in their rush to save children, You don't get to have your own experts evaluate or examine the child and you don't get to put the child witness on the stand to find out if the caseworker tainted the interview. You don't get access to your child's medical records or school records to prove there was no history of abuse or neglect.
You are expected to admit you abuse or neglected your child and submit to the tender mercies of these professionals who, being infallible and all-knowing, know your child better than you do, even if they only spent fifteen minutes with him and you spent seven years with him. This video admits advises the parents "how working cooperatively throughout the process can achieve the best possible outcome for your children." It may not be the outcome you think is best, but you must trust the professionals who are indisputably working in the best interests of your children.
"Working cooperatively" means not demanding contested hearings, or adversarial testing of testimony or evidence. It means not demanding the state provide any evidence to support its claims. It means not attempting to disprove the allegations against you. It means not complaining that your child is suffering irreparable harm due to being removed, and don't you dare attempt to discover whether your child being abused in foster care and expose that abuse.
After the state has taken all necessary steps to insure the safety of the child, THEN, as His Honor tells us, the judge is charged with protecting the fairness of the process and the constitutional and civil rights of the children and parents.
If you do anything that is guaranteed by the Constitution, your child will be held hostage for your cooperation. No visits, no ability to contest the state's plans to put him on chemical restraints aka mind altering drugs to control his behavior in the foster home, no rights to control who and what he is exposed to that might not be consistent with your values, no say in anything. Retaliation will reign in the form of negative reports to the court, escalating allegations of abuse at your hands, allegations that your violent or mentally unstable. Ultimately, parental rights will be terminated.
At least that is case in the multitude of courts in the country where other judges like his disHonor thinks his judicial priority is the safety of the child over and above his judicial duty to enforce the rights of the parents and children. Often the rights of the kiddies are identical to the rights of the parents.
Silly me. I thought it was the other way around. I thought the judge was supposed to protect the rights of the litigants first. My bad.