Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS, 380+ Lawyers and 1 Judge

While I was extremely frustrated at the sham courtroom follies directed by Her Honor, I was more disgusted by the attorneys who failed to raise the single most salient issue on behalf of their clients: CPS's failure to make Reasonable Efforts* to prevent the removal of the 416 children or to reunify the families. I don't know all the facts of this case, but even I came up with several alternatives to the traumatic removal without breaking a sweat.

I mean, just how bad of an attorney do you have to be when 380 of you combined can't defeat a single (or at most ten) attorney(s) representing the opposing party, CPS. You'd think just ONE of those learned counsel could have been a good enough attorney to get a kid home. Come on, guys, at least you could justify your arrogance and get it right!

What about that two day limit on the hearing? Can any of those 380 attorneys spell O-B-J-E-C-T-I-O-N (this mass hearing violates due process, and is not consistent with the state and Federal mandates governing shelter hearings)? Or C-O-N-T-I-N-U-A-N-C-E (My client has not seen the allegations and therefore has not been able to prepare a defense). I have seen a proper shelter hearing for one family last three days. Two days? I did the math. . .liberally allotting 20 hours for the two day hearing, divided by 416 (now 437 but who's counting? Certainly not CPS) kids, means each kid was alloted 2.8846 minutes to present his case. Naturally, that must be divided further to include equal time each parent of the child and CPS. I'll be generous, each kid got 60 seconds to convince the court it was safe for him or her to go home. Yes, I know, in law and in theory, the home is presumed safe, but come on. . . the evidence presented by CPS wasn't that convincing.

I understand they got a 3 1/2 hour training course on how to represent their clients. I've seen those courses, they are put on by -- ta da--CPS! Nothing like having your adversary teach you how to represent your clients to stack the deck. But then, CPS probably trained Her Honor, too, which explains the gross violations of law and rights in that kangaroo courtroom.

This is a very esoteric area of law. Not quite civil, not criminal, but a bastardization in which the grey areas far exceed the established black and white areas. Mostly because the child's and parent's attorneys don't make the right arguments, or preserve the appropriate issues for appeals. Believe it or not, the parents attorney's routinely advise their clients, "Do what the caseworker says, kiss her ass, don't piss her off, don't fight this and you'll get your kids back." But when you ask for that guarentee in writing, you won't get it. Statistically 50% of children are never returned. In this case, I think CPS is not giving any of these kids back unless the parents renounce their religion. Think on THAT for a minute. The pregnant mothers were reportedly told by CPS today that their babies would be snatched at birth. I expected that.

Readers, I have created an eight hour CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION course on this subject which has been accredited in five states. Nobody can teach what these lawyers need to know in less than eight hours. . .I had to dumb it down to keep it within eight hours. Fourteen hours would be best.

Dear parent and child attorney. . .I'll offer this comprehensive 8 hour CLE class to any 35 of you at $100 off the $250 attendance fee for the full day seminar if you email me with the names and contact information of who will attend and you provide the location. I have the multimedia equipment, I just need a screen and a big enough room. I'll even cover my own expenses. This presentation will include Texas specific law for use in your cases.

This was a shocking denial of due process considering the shelter hearing is a post deprivation hearing, intended to insure the child and parents are not being deprived of their fundamental human right to family association without just cause. The state bears the burden of proof at this hearing that the child is at realistic identifiable risk of serious harm. If they don't have sufficient evidence to support a finding that the child is in danger in the home, AND if no services can be put into place in the home to insure the child's safety, only then can the court keep the child in foster care. If there is to be an error, the law mandates that it should be to keep the child in the home.

I think I'll be contacting the U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families for the Texas region demanding an investigation into the Reasonable Efforts findings on these cases: specifically whether the court record contains evidence to support a reasonable efforts finding, and see if I can do something about their Federal Funding under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.

As for the attorneys. . .stay tuned. I will be discussing what the attorneys should be doing, and aren't.

* I have a much better pdf copy of this document. To request it, email your request to ME

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Leave the emotions, propaganda and rhetoric at the door. This blogger is only interested in intelligent, logical, well-thought out, factually based comments which are on-topic, indicating the writer has an open mind and a mature ability to reason.