pageok
pageok
pageok
Man Buys Lemonade for His 7-Year Old Son During Baseball Game, State Moves Son to Foster Care:
Here's a remarkable story. "Hard lemonade, hard price: Dad's oversight at Tigers game lands son in foster care." Via Discourse.net.
EKGlen (mail):
Orin, dude, this was on The View yesterday.

I don't know what's scarier: that I watched The View yesterday, or that you are posting about something a day after it was on The View.
4.30.2008 6:14pm
Dave N (mail):
It would be nice if, on occassion, CPS showed a little common sense. Yes, by all means protect the children--but save me from officious bureaucrats.
4.30.2008 6:18pm
Dave N (mail):
It would be nice if, on occassion, CPS showed a little common sense. Yes, by all means protect the children--but save me from officious bureaucrats.
4.30.2008 6:18pm
OrinKerr:
EKGlen,

But it has not appeared yet on The Corner, so I would think you would be very pleased to see it here.
4.30.2008 6:18pm
tarheel:
Good use of resources. Lock up the dad taking his kid to a ballgame, but for god's sake ignore the guys swilling 6 or 8 beers and driving home after the game.

Had a friend who bought her son what she thought was a smoothie or slushie from a southwestern chain restaurant. After he turned up his nose at it, she realized it had booze in it. She did manage to keep her kids though.
4.30.2008 6:25pm
Oren:
Could we amend the title to read: "Man Buys Lemonade for His 7-Year Old Son During Baseball Game, State Moves Son to Foster Care For All of 2 Days"?

Yes, I wish CPS could show a bit more common sense and not get into this ridiculous situation but it seems like they sorted this one out fairly quickly. Mistakes happen, the important thing is correct them quickly -- something that appears to have gone right.
4.30.2008 6:26pm
Eph:
I thought you weren't going to blog about FLDS?
4.30.2008 6:29pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Parents can't give their kids beer in Michigan? I had my first sip when I was four.
4.30.2008 6:30pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Disturbingly, Michigan CPS workers seized the 7-year-old merely because he drank lemonade that his father purchased for him without knowing that it contained a small amount of alcohol. (As Ted Frank notes, when CPS seized the child, he had no alcohol in his system).

They put him in foster care for two days and refused to release him to his aunts. Then they released him to his mother on the condition that his father, an archaeology professor, move out of the house until a full court hearing could be held. After that later hearing, the father, found not guilty of child abuse, was finally allowed to move back into his own house.

As a news story quoted in Point of Law noted, if the professor "and his wife weren't upper-middle-class academics with access to the University of Michigan Law School clinic professors, it could have been much worse. 'Don Duquette, a U-M law professor who directs the university's Child Advocacy Law Clinic, represented Ratte and his wife. He notes sardonically that the most remarkable thing about the couple's case may be the relative speed with which they were reunited with Leo.'"

CPS workers have an incentive to seize children, since the federal government gives states incentives for seizing and adopting out children, and CPS workers are more likely to be fired for failing to prevent child abuse than for wrongly seizing children, even if the seizure itself causes the child devastating psychological harm. (The problem is even worse in England, as I have noted at Openmarket.org. There, children who have admittedly never been abused are seized because of speculation that they MIGHT be abused in the future. One woman was suspected of future abuse merely because she was a rape victim who had temporarily suffered from eating disorders in response to the trauma her rape).

Temporary seizures of infants based on erroneous accusations later found to be false can become permanent, when courts rule that the infant has become attached to her foster family and thus should not be returned even if the alleged abuse that led to the seizure did not actually occur. (That happened recently in Arlington County, Virginia, to Mary Hey, who lost her daughter permanently to foster parents after an anonymous, false allegation that she was starving her newborn daughter).

In England, as in the United States, local governments receive cash incentives from the national government for adopting out children. In England, this has led to the seizure of thousands of children from their natural parents by social workers hoping to receive bonuses.

The Daily Mail, one of England's principal newspapers had a frightening story on June 8, 2007 about this. You have to read it to believe it.

The idea behind the incentives was to give social workers an incentive to do their best to ensure that children already in orphanages or foster care will be adopted.

But children already in foster care tend to be older, less desireable, and harder to find adoptive parents for. For a social worker that wants to receive an adoption bonus, it's much easier to snatch cute, well-adjusted babies and toddlers who already have loving parents, than to do the hard work of adopting out an older child who has no parents and may have behavioral problems or disabilities that make him less adoptable.

So social workers in England have been seizing cute babies and toddlers from loving families based on trivial or unproven allegations (or in some cases, no allegation of wrongdoing at all), and then giving them to adoptive parents to reap the cash incentives.

One child was seized after a social worker told the child's mother that she feared the mother might yell at her child in the future. Another was seized because of an injury to her half-brother years earlier, which the child's parents insisted was accidental, but which social workers, without any proof whatsoever, suspected resulted from baby-shaking.

Stephen Baskerville of Howard University argues that children are being seized by social workers for similar reasons in the United States, where federal law also provides incentive grants to state and local governments that succeed in adopting out the most children.

According to the August 26, 2007 edition of the London Telegraph, Hexham Children's Services in Northumberland County planned to seize the newborn of 22-year-old Fran Lyon, who suffered eating disorders after being raped at age 16. The government claims that it is therefore possible that she will subject her yet-to-be-born child to "emotional abuse." (She is a gainfully employed charity worker who recovered from her emotional problems sufficiently to earn a degree in neuroscience).

In Britain, as in the United States, local governments receive financial incentives to adopt out children. These incentives are provided by national governments to encourage local governments to find homes for children already in foster care or orphanages.

But it hasn't worked out as planned. It is much easier for local governments to get members of the public to adopt newborns (seized from parents) than it is to get them to adopt older children who have already spent years in foster care and who may have behavioral problems as a result. So local governments have an incentive to seize children from loving homes in order to reap adoption bonuses.

And that is exactly what is happening in Britain, as I have previously written, where many newborns have been seized from perfectly normal families by child welfare officials. For example, the London Daily Mail reported that one newborn was seized because officials thought her mother might yell at the child if she was permitted to keep her.

In America, at least, child protective services tends to wait until well after birth to seize children from their parents, in response to some allegation of "abuse." Sometimes that "abuse" is not really abuse, since child welfare officials often view conduct such as spanking, home schooling, allowing children to play outside unsupervised, and non-threatening yelling as "abuse," even if such conduct violates no criminal laws. However, if the seizure is obviously baseless, American parents can sue the child welfare officials involved under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for infringing their parental rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Government social workers have an incentive to overreact to erroneous allegations of child abuse, and take children away from loving parents, because they reasonably fear that they will be fired if a child on their caseload dies, even if the death was unforeseeable. (The problem is even worse in England, fueled by adoption bonuses). Children seized and placed into foster care often experience devastating psychological harm.

Washington, D.C.'s Child and Family Services agency (where 6 case workers were recently fired after a child died) seized the twin baby daughters of Greg and Juliana Caplan after one was taken to the hospital for bleeding behind the eye. According to the Examiner, "doctors said the bleeding was not caused by shaking" or other abuse, but the Caplans still had to go to court and wait two weeks to get their daughters back. Their reputations are tainted by their being listed on the city's child protection register, even though a judge ruled there were no "reasonable grounds" to believe that their daughter was abused.

Even if social workers snatch a child in violation of the Constitution, the child is placed in foster care, and the child is then psychologically destroyed by abuse during foster care, the social workers are typically qualified immunity. A classic example of that is Doe v. Lebbos, 348 F.3d 820 (9th Cir. 2003), a case where a little girl was seized from a loving father and left so traumatized by her time in foster care that she developed severe behavioral disorders. The social workers got no penalty at all. In dissent, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld described the tragedy that befell the child:

"After being bounced around in the agency and foster parent bureaucracy for over a year, Lacey was quite a different little girl. She was 'diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, hearing voices, and suicidal ideation.' She was put on anti-psychotic medication. She had taken to smearing feces and to other abnormal and highly disruptive behavior. Though Lacey had somehow held her personality together through her mother's death, her father's lack of financial success, and the move back to California, what the county did to her to "protect' her apparently destroyed her. Something in this experience, perhaps being ripped away from her father for whom she consistently expressed love during the whole miserable period, perhaps having strangers strip her and search her heretofore private parts, perhaps being put with caretakers instead of her father, amounted to a trauma that was too much for her."

The Washington Examiner had a must-read editorial on April 18, 2008 called "Baby Snatching by Arlington County."

It shows that if County social workers seize your baby, based on false allegations of neglect, and put your baby in foster care long enough, you might never get your child back, even if you prove yourself innocent, because the courts will say it's in "the best interests of the child" that your baby stay with the foster parents he's gotten used to living with. (Taking that logic to its ultimate conclusion, a kidnapper who kidnapped a newborn from a hospital and then escaped prosecution on a technicality could keep the child, because the child would have bonded with the kidnapper by the time the kidnapper was apprehended).

That's the gist of a recent Arlington, Virginia circuit court decision described in the Examiner. County social workers took a baby away from her parents based largely on false, anonymous allegations that she was being starved, even though she was at her proper weight at the time they seized her from her parents. And although those allegations were later ruled false by a CPS hearing officer, the judge permanently removed her from her parents anyway, claiming she had bonded with her new foster parents and thus might be traumatized if she were returned. (He also cited evidence that her natural parents were not model parents, but that is not the test for terminating parental rights under the Supreme Court's decision in Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982). If it were, millions of healthy children could be removed from their families by social workers). Parents Nancy Hey and Christopher Slitor spent a staggering $350,000 in legal bills in their losing fight for their child.

I personally am worried about this court decision, even though I and my family have never been accused of child neglect or abuse, because my wife, at the suggestion of our pediatrician, called Arlington County social workers because our baby is extremely difficult to feed, and they then visited our house earlier this year. (Our baby Sarah is 70th percentile in height and skull size, but only 10th percentile in weight). I thought nothing of this visit at the time, since our baby is lively and healthy and has never been neglected or abused, and my wife is a good mother (who conscientiously cared for many children as a nanny, and helped raise her own nephew).

Although the circuit court decision is apparently justified by the so-called "best interest of the child," its long run effect is to harm children by discouraging even fit, non-abusive parents from seeking advice or information from doctors or social workers when their children have behaviors or injuries that might sometimes be associated with parental abuse or neglect. Good parents will now worry about talking to doctors (who are required by state laws to report any possibility of abuse or neglect to social workers) or social workers lest it lead to unwarranted (and unreversible) seizures of a child by social workers.

Parents already have to worry that if they take their child to the doctor, and reasonably disagree with the doctor's preferred treatment, overzealous social workers will temporarily seize their child. That's what happened to Corissa Mueller, who took her baby daughter Taige to the doctor because the baby had a high temperature, and then had social workers temporarily seize the child after she rejected the doctor's preferred treatment (a spinal tap) in favor of a reasonable alternative she felt posed fewer health risks. (The Center for Individual Rights, my former law firm, is representing Mueller in a constitutional lawsuit against Idaho state social worker April Auker for her role in the seizure in Mueller v. Idaho. A federal judge in Idaho refused to dismiss the lawsuit, citing a 1999 ruling in favor of parental rights by the federal appeals court in that region, the Ninth Circuit.) Since conditions in foster care are often bad, even temporary seizures of a child can cause devastating emotional and psychological harm.

The Arlington County court ruling, now on appeal, radically increases the risk to parents of taking an injured, ill, or behaviorally-disordered child to a doctor, by allowing an erroneous temporary seizure of a child based on suspicions of abuse to become permanent merely because of the passage of time, even if the child turns out never to have been neglected or abused.
4.30.2008 6:32pm
tarheel:
Oren: Two days seems like a helluva long time to contemplate the possibility of losing your kids for the dumbest of reasons. And you might ask the kids how two days in foster care felt for them.

Of course people make mistakes but this one could have been avoided at any numbers of places along the way by the application of some common sense.
4.30.2008 6:32pm
EKGlen (mail):

But it has not appeared yet on The Corner, so I would think you would be very pleased to see it here.

So are you saying that following in the footsteps of The View is a step up from the NRO? Or a step down?

I just kidding here, by the way.
4.30.2008 6:35pm
Terrivus:
[Deleted by OK on civility grounds. C'mon folks, be nice.]
4.30.2008 6:41pm
Oren:
tarheel, yes, I agree that common sense is indeed preferable. Nevertheless, mistakes are inevitable and having them corrected within 48 hours sounds pretty good to me.

He notes sardonically that the most remarkable thing about the couple's case may be the relative speed with which they were reunited with Leo
Oh, I get it. Because the system worked properly this time, it's a sign of how the system doesn't work most of the time.
4.30.2008 6:41pm
titus32:
Hans -- have you ever heard the phrase, "Brevity is the soul of wit"?

Agreed. I do find it impressive that someone would draft a comment that long (assuming it's coherent), but do people actually read comments that long?
4.30.2008 6:46pm
DangerMouse:
I personally am worried about this court decision, even though I and my family have never been accused of child neglect or abuse, because my wife, at the suggestion of our pediatrician, called Arlington County social workers because our baby is extremely difficult to feed...

Move the hell out of Arlington. You're already on their radar screen. It's only a matter of time before they destroy you.
4.30.2008 6:48pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Oren, I'm a social worker, and it's certainly true that the most remarkable thing about the couple's case is the speed of the child's return. That one element of the system worked properly this time isn't a sign of how the system doesn't work most of the time. But no one suggested that it was. You didn't "get it."

The police officer who signed a probable cause statement to get the child into shelter care was abrogating her responsibility. She should not have signed the affidavit if she didn't think the child should be removed.
4.30.2008 6:49pm
Philistine (mail):

tarheel, yes, I agree that common sense is indeed preferable. Nevertheless, mistakes are inevitable and having them corrected within 48 hours sounds pretty good to me.



According to the article, the son was only allowed to come home when the father agreed to move out of the house into a hotel. Where he remained for three more days.

Five days to be corrected is starting to look not so good to me.


Oh, I get it. Because the system worked properly this time, it's a sign of how the system doesn't work most of the time.



Well no. The sign that the system doesn't work most of the time is the fact that the expert made the comment that a relatively speedy correction of the mistake is the exception.
4.30.2008 6:51pm
Oren:
Oren, I'm a social worker, and it's certainly true that the most remarkable thing about the couple's case is the speed of the child's return. That one element of the system worked properly this time isn't a sign of how the system doesn't work most of the time. But no one suggested that it was. You didn't "get it."
Then why start talking about the failure of the system in a thread devoted to a success story?

The police officer who signed a probable cause statement to get the child into shelter care was abrogating her responsibility. She should not have signed the affidavit if she didn't think the child should be removed.
Sorry, not her call. If the affidavit was true and complete, she should have signed it. The truth, no more, no less.

The sign that the system doesn't work most of the time is the fact that the expert made the comment that a relatively speedy correction of the mistake is the exception.
The expert could make that same statement independent of this incident. It is absolute irrelevant.
4.30.2008 6:57pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Okay it's been a while since I've had a Mike's Hard Lemonade but doesn't it have some sort of warning that it contains alcohol printed on the bottle?
4.30.2008 7:00pm
Lou Wainwright (mail):
I honestly can not imagine how I would have responded to this situation at the time the kid was seized (although I suspect I would have used violence, unwise though that would have been). After getting my son back, however, I would have been willing to devote the rest of my life to a dual effort of both improving the system and wrathful vengeance. What a horrible travesty.

My father told me once that it is important to work hard and be ambitious so that you can MAKE MONEY! Yeah, personal satisfaction is nice, but having money is the best protection you can have from the government. Stories like this one make me want to work my ass off.
4.30.2008 7:00pm
Philistine (mail):

Then why start talking about the failure of the system in a thread devoted to a success story?


You consider this case a success story?
4.30.2008 7:00pm
Dan Weber (www):
Hans did indeed write all that, but it was from his blog alrady.
4.30.2008 7:02pm
DangerMouse:
having money is the best protection you can have from the government. Stories like this one make me want to work my ass off.

That's not entirely true. The best protection is to not become a target at all. Once you step into a courtroom or a regulatory proceeding, you've automatically lost, even if you "win," because you've had to spend resources and time to defend yourself from the government. Having lots of money can make you a big, big target. Remember Bonfire of the Vanities. Prosecutors love to score the "big fish."
4.30.2008 7:04pm
Dan Weber (www):
Okay it's been a while since I've had a Mike's Hard Lemonade but doesn't it have some sort of warning that it contains alcohol printed on the bottle?

It does say so in a few places. If you weren't expecting it, you probably wouldn't look for it. An adult drinking it would probably notice both the words on the label and the taste. A seven-year-old could easily miss that.

I took my 7 year old to a game at Comerica Park. And he likes lemonade. Fortunately I'd recognize Mike's.
4.30.2008 7:08pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
This being Michigan, yes, it is a success story. Sort of like rescuing a non-swimmer who is pushed into a pool proves that lifesaving training works. It is the pushing...see. The pushing...? Get it?
4.30.2008 7:08pm
Anderson (mail):
but do people actually read comments that long?

Sometimes, just as people do sometimes send their money to the pleasant Nigerian fellow who somehow found their e-mail address.

but it was from his blog already.

The polite way of referring us to one's previously-scribed treatise on one's blog is called a "hyperlink," or more generally "link."

I for one would encourage Mr. Bader to explore this exciting new technology.
4.30.2008 7:09pm
Anonymouseducator:
It doesn't make much difference, but it's a little deceiving to call it "lemonade with a small amount of alcohol" instead of "hard lemonade."
4.30.2008 7:12pm
GV:

but do people actually read comments that long?

I was wondering the same thing. Did anyone read all of that?
4.30.2008 7:16pm
cboldt (mail):
All face saving for the security guard who noticed the child holding the bottle, and decided to "escalate" the observation by escorting the father and son from their seats. After that, it's all "normal government protocol." Not mistakes happen ... mistakes are the rule.
.
Does this pinhead of a security guard have a name? Of course he does ... I mean to ask, what is the pinhead's name?
4.30.2008 7:20pm
Ben P (mail):

I was wondering the same thing. Did anyone read all of that?


I believe the appropriate response is TL;DR

and it does seem that every post Mr. Bader makes is simply a copypaste from his blog. This one is only unique in that he neglected to actually plug his blog with a link this time.
4.30.2008 7:23pm
Bruce F. Webster (mail) (www):
Regardless of how fast or slow this was resolved, it was simply a profoundly stupid move and gross overreaction on the part of the police and CPS. Given all the various 'extreme' brands of soft and energy drinks, it's pretty easy to see how a dad might think that "Mike's Hard Lemonade" is simply a hyped-up lemonade catering to that market.

And since this was purchased at a sporting event, there's a good chance that the bottles themselves were sufficiently distant from the counter so that the dad wouldn't see the tiny "PREMIUM MALT BEVERAGE" subtitle when ordering it (cf. http://www.reason.com/UserFiles/hard_lemonade.jpg -- no alcohol warnings on the front of the bottle, just that tiny subtitle).

As I said, just idiotic. ..bruce..
4.30.2008 7:27pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Only some of the text of my long comment above came from the blog post Dan Weber referenced above.

If I knew how, I would have shrunk that portion and included a hyperlink.

But I don't know how to put a hyperlink in a blog comment. How did Dan Weber manage to do it?

Whenever I try to create one (using control-K or alt-K), it doesn't work (and when I cut and paste one in from a word processor, the hyperlink turns into plain text.)

Sorry my post above was so long. I didn't realize it was quite that long until after I posted it.

I was just trying to show that CPS seizures of children from fit, nonabusive parents is commonplace in the United States (and even more common in England), and that even proving yourself innocent of the thing that led to the seizure doesn't always get your your kid back.
4.30.2008 7:30pm
Scote (mail):
There is something wrong with this story.

The hospital found the kid had a blood alcohol level of zero. There is no way he could have ingested a full 12oz bottle of 5% alcohol and had zero blood alcohol.
4.30.2008 7:32pm
Ben P (mail):

There is something wrong with this story.

The hospital found the kid had a blood alcohol level of zero. There is no way he could have ingested a full 12oz bottle of 5% alcohol and had zero blood alcohol.


My suspicion is that the bottle was not empty, but that the officers "recollection" after the fact was that the bottle was empty.

Given most small children's reaction to the taste of alcohol , I find it somewhat hard to believe that a 7 year old would enjoy even something as tame as mikes. It still has a noticible alcoholic taste.
4.30.2008 7:37pm
SFC B (mail) (www):
Did anyone read all of that?
I started to, but after the first pagedown resulted in another page full of comment I moved on with my life.

Dr. Ratte might want to spend 10 minutes in the alcohol section of his local 7-11. The blurring of "what is alcoholic" has taken an even fuzzier turn with the introduction of various alcoholic "energy" drinks.

I'm also curious what happened to the vendor in this situation. Here in Arizona a vendor at Chase Field was recently fined $5,000 after a minor was served alcohol.
4.30.2008 7:38pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I read Hans Bader's complete comment.
4.30.2008 7:46pm
Anderson (mail):
But I don't know how to put a hyperlink in a blog comment.

Well, at the VC it's very easy: highlight the text you want to activate the link, then click that little "link" box above the comments box, then (having previously copied the HTTP address w/ your mouse, or after going to another window to do same) paste the address in the popup box that you get after clicking the "link" box.

Where that's not available, memorize &use the following HTML codes: [a rel="nofollow" href="http://boringasslongcomment.blogspot.com"] [/a], with the linking text in between, and with the square brackets replaced by pointed brackets (which the VC's careful comment-moderating software won't allow me to type -- they're the greater-than and less-than signs. Be sure the points point away from the HTML codes.

Happy linking!
4.30.2008 7:48pm
Anderson (mail):
Hm, I see that the selfsame software also botched my example.

Just look here.
4.30.2008 7:49pm
titus32:
I read Hans Bader's complete comment.

Well, then I'm glad his efforts were not wasted.
4.30.2008 7:57pm
Anonymous parent:
Within a week after noting that my state has one of the hightest proportions of children in CPS supervision, and one of the lowest rates of child abuse prosecutions, and suggesting that this suggesting they were being shall-we-say overzealous in opening files on easy cases, I found my family the subject of CPS supervision -- that's why I'm anonymous here.

Two and a half years after an earlier suspicion was upheld ("Parent spanks child" and "child has a black eye" added up to "parent gave child a black eye" according to the mandated reporter, who is legally immune for the reporting) I've yet to have my "Fair hearing", and my lawyer is discouraging me from going forward with it. Apparently it will still be before a member of CPS, not an objective judge, so Lou Wainwright's suggestion of "improving the system and wrathful vengeance" is an awful lot easier said than done, at least within the law. (In my state, defendants who die while an appeal is pending are posthumously considered to be not guilty, but that apparently does not apply at this kind of hearing. My co-defendant [co-subject-of-suspicion?] who would also have been a witness in my favor has died in the intervening years, leaving said children about the only incentive I have to continue working within the law.)
4.30.2008 7:57pm
Steven Horwitz (mail) (www):
For those who have no problem with giving the state the power to yank 400plus kids out of a compound in Texas, you might consider that giving them such power (even if there are justifiable problems with a small percentage of those 400 kids) is exactly what enables things like this story to happen.

Once the state has the power to break up families, there's absolutely no reason to believe it will only act in the cases we'd like to see and that it will deploy "common sense." Bureaucracies and state power are what they are, and common sense is not in the neighborhood.

The question is which type of error we wish to avoid more: some amount of undetected/unresponded to child abuse or children needlessly taken from their parents? I'd risk the former to avoid the latter.
4.30.2008 8:17pm
Dan Weber (www):
I did read the giant comment, because the situation he described kept getting worse and worse. It repeated itself sometimes (use of preview really would've helped), but I couldn't stop myself from reading CPS horror stories.
4.30.2008 8:21pm
zippypinhead:
1. Professor, Kerr, between your post on why you weren't wading into the toxic FLDS swamp and this edit:
[Deleted by OK on civility grounds. C'mon folks, be nice.]
I'm going to join your fan club. Heck if you start your own blog, you could even charge a (modest) membership fee and I'd pony up, just because of the sanity premium.

2. OK, we all agree, it's clear that some petty bureaucrats grossly overreacted here. Thank goodness for the U.Mich. legal clinic! And the other anecdotes folks have posted are similar.

But I have to confess that on balance if I obtained Benevolent Dictator status and went about concertedly cutting all governmental bloat, one of the last things I'd zero out in the budget would be CPS. The state NEEDS to have the power to remove children from abusive situations when appropriate. Over the years I've heard of more than a few instances where vulnerable children were literally saved from horrid, life-threatening situations because of the child protective system. One of which I became directly involved in as a reporter, by virtue of my volunteer youth organization work - the required youth protection training I went through was not only pretty good, it materially helped me respond appropriately when I found out [a small part] of the poor kid's problems (the child is now out of the abusive father's clutches and doing much better in the custody of another relative).

The almost-impossible trick is striking the proper balance of appropriate vigilance versus real-world common sense. Especially in an exigent circumstances situation where fast interim action may be necessary to prevent a tragedy. For example, Hans Bader mentions D.C.'s CFS. Yeah, a really crappy agency, like most of the D.C. local government. But their well-deserved reputation is to skew towards unjustifiable INaction, even when kids were already identified as being at risk. And there have been a number of tragic consequences as a result.

A contest: Free membership on Professor Kerr's forthcoming Sanity Blog for anyone who can recommend a solution that strikes the proper balance... ;~)
4.30.2008 8:31pm
pete (mail) (www):

Over the years I've heard of more than a few instances where vulnerable children were literally saved from horrid, life-threatening situations because of the child protective system.


And I have known of some cases where the state did not move fast enough and the children ended up dead.

In this case CPS screwed up and the child should not have been taken away. It was obvious that no real harm had come to the child and the parent had a very believable story. In lots of other cases CPS has screwed up and children were taken away when they should not have been. But we still need CPS since there are really bad parents who either abuse their children or allow other people to abuse their children.

In a lot of the cases CPS has to investigate it is extremely difficult to determine what happened either because there were no other witnesses and the witnesses that did see what happen are either unable or unwilling to talk about it honestly because talking about it honestly will get people they care about or need taken away from them. And they have to somehow figure out which cases are real abuse and which ones are borderline and which ones are not abusive often with only having circumstantial evidence to work with. I do not envy their job.
4.30.2008 9:05pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Then why start talking about the failure of the system in a thread devoted to a success story?
How is taking a child from his parents based on a ludicrous non-issue a "success story"?

"Success" would have been if they had said, "This is retarded. It wouldn't be actionable even if the father had given the kid the drink knowing it was alcoholic. Anybody who thinks this is abuse isn't qualified to be working at any job more complex than elevator operator in an automatic elevator."

Taking someone's child for days based on a ridiculous premise is not "success." Sheesh. What would failure look like to you?
4.30.2008 9:13pm
Seamus (mail):
but do people actually read comments that long?

I was wondering the same thing. Did anyone read all of that?


I did, because I realize how lucky I was not to have a similar horror story with my first child. She was born in the District of Columbia and brought home to Arlington County. Her mother tried nursing her, but she wasn't very good about latching on, and wasn't getting enough nourishment. She tended to suck furiously but ineffectively for a few minutes, then fall off the breast and shriek for hours at a time. By the fifth day, her mother and I were so tired that we fell asleep one night and slept a full night's sleep--as did the baby. That was a mistake, because the baby should have been waken so she could get at least some food.

We called La Leche League, who were not much help, until the recommended a lactation consultant. We visited the consultant, who patiently advised us some things to do, which included expressing breast milk and feeding it to the child from the kind of spoon generally used to give liquid medicine to infants. (The reason for not recommending a bottle was concern that, since she was having such trouble feeding from the breast, she might find the bottle so easy that she would never go back to the breast.)

My daughter had been losing weight most of this time, and the lactation consultant told us that she was just a day or two away from having to go into the hospital for intravenous feeding. Fortunately, she turned the corner by Day 10, figured out how to nurse, and continued doing so for many more months, finally weaning herself by the time she was three. (She's now 5'11" tall, and has no trouble taking in enough nourishment now. In fact, she eats like an earth mover. She weighs more than I did at her age, but since her weight is all muscle, she still looks thin.)

If the lactation consultant, or the people we talked to at La Leche League, had been jerks, I now see that they could have placed just one call to the Arlington County authorities that could have broken up our family for good. So reading the story of Nancy Hey and Christopher Slitor gave me a real sense of "There but for the grace of God go I."
4.30.2008 9:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
In Michigan, the CPS--now called Family Independence Agency--has a history of leaving kids in obviously dangerous situations, while cooking the books about having taken kids from decent homes. One had to do with a documented mineral deficiency which caused brittle bones. Abuse, naturally, and all the doctors' notes in the world didn't get through. Eventually, the father tried to get compensation for his daughter's psychological counseling. Nope. They are still estranged, which is not odd, considering she went into late adolescence being told he beat her.
Even when the kid in question is dead and the perps in jail, they keep the details quiet due to "privacy", which is defined as being until the moron who screwed up retires with a full pension.
4.30.2008 10:18pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Then why start talking about the failure of the system in a thread devoted to a success story?

The fact that one corrective part of the story worked (too late) does not make it a success story.
4.30.2008 10:19pm
Freddy Hill:

Nevertheless, mistakes are inevitable and having them corrected within 48 hours sounds pretty good to me.

Oren, just out of curiosity, do you have any children?
4.30.2008 10:30pm
Seamus (mail):
In Michigan, the CPS--now called Family Independence Agency

George Orwell, please call your office.
4.30.2008 10:34pm
RainerK:
Family Independence Agency

When the State gives itself Orwellian sounding names - watch out.

Having no children I'm watching this ongoing ever-changing child abuse hysteria with bewilderment.
We now mostly acknowledge that the ritual abuse cases of the 1980s were a travesty of justice. I suspect 20 years from now we will not understand how a bottle of hard lemonade in the hands of a child could trigger such overbearing reaction.
But I am afraid that by then we will have moved on to yet another issue with the same zeal and the same unsatisfactory results. It seems that the Anglo culture is particularly susceptible to these severe overreactions. What might be the probably complex reason for this?
4.30.2008 10:58pm
Oren:
Taking someone's child for days based on a ridiculous premise is not "success." Sheesh. What would failure look like to you?


Success in the sense that the system was able to recover quickly from an initial error and right the situation within a few days. Since there are limited resources and mistakes will be made, I consider it more important to correct errors in a timely fashion than to attempt to get everything right the first time.
4.30.2008 10:59pm
NI:

In this case CPS screwed up and the child should not have been taken away. It was obvious that no real harm had come to the child and the parent had a very believable story. In lots of other cases CPS has screwed up and children were taken away when they should not have been. But we still need CPS since there are really bad parents who either abuse their children or allow other people to abuse their children.


Maybe the solution is to raise the standard for what CPS has to prove before they can take a child. Have clear guidelines in place about what is and is not abuse, what is and is not of a magnitude to justify removal. From what I can tell, the real problem here is that there are ambiguous standards that can be made to fit just about anything, and since it's mostly discretionary, over zealous social workers err on the side of breaking up families. After all, it's not their children who are being seized, and they've got immunity from suits, so why should they care? So at least put some definite standards in place.
4.30.2008 11:27pm
Philistine (mail):

Since there are limited resources and mistakes will be made, I consider it more important to correct errors in a timely fashion than to attempt to get everything right the first time.


I don't know... I consider it pretty important to at least [i]attempt[/i] to get everything right the first time.
4.30.2008 11:29pm
Oren:
Philistine, of course it's better not to err in the first place. In real life, however, I very much prefer systems that are robust to failures over ones that spend all their effort attempting to prevent those failures. This is a truism in the engineering community anyway - better to failsafe than to try to get everything right.

Maybe the solution is to raise the standard for what CPS has to prove before they can take a child. Have clear guidelines in place about what is and is not abuse, what is and is not of a magnitude to justify removal.
I don't think you can write unambiguous terms that are not either wildly over/under inclusive. I would prefer a system that gives wide latitude to social workers combined with a prompt and fair initial status hearing in front of a neutral party. Social workers with large reversal rates should be looked into and dealt with appropriately - that way, the system can learn from feedback.

In many cases, the evidence of abuse (especially rape) cannot be secured without first taking the child into protective custody for tests and is wildly ambiguous at any rate. I fear that a standard as strong as yours would leave many children in abusive situations.
4.30.2008 11:38pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
I just wanted Hans to know that I too read his entire comment and found it to be a valuable contribution to the discussion.
4.30.2008 11:42pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren.
Problem with your last statement is that the foster care system is full of abuses. It's not guaranteed that the kid is going to a better place--this side of the Jordan, I mean--when he fosters or steps.
4.30.2008 11:45pm
Oren:
If that's true, then we should invest in fixing the foster system.
4.30.2008 11:53pm
NI:

I don't think you can write unambiguous terms that are not either wildly over/under inclusive. I would prefer a system that gives wide latitude to social workers combined with a prompt and fair initial status hearing in front of a neutral party. Social workers with large reversal rates should be looked into and dealt with appropriately - that way, the system can learn from feedback.

In many cases, the evidence of abuse (especially rape) cannot be secured without first taking the child into protective custody for tests and is wildly ambiguous at any rate. I fear that a standard as strong as yours would leave many children in abusive situations.


If that's the case then the state should not be permitted to intervene in families, for precisely the same set of reasons the state should not be permitted to convict guilty criminals if it has to violate the Bill of Rights in order to do so.

Look, I understand we're talking about which evil is worse, and reasonable minds can differ. I don't like the idea of leaving kids with rapists either. But I really do not trust government bureaucrats with near unlimited power, especially over something as important as family life. As it stands now, disagreeing with a social worker about what's best for a child can lose you your child. There is almost no such thing as a parental decision not subject to second guessing by social workers, and in a dispute between a parent and a social worker, judges almost inevitably side with social workers.

When I was practicing family law I represented a woman whose children were taken away. Social services took the position that they didn't even have to give a reason for taking them away. To this day I'm not sure she knows why she lost her children.
4.30.2008 11:57pm
Oren:
If that's the case then the state should not be permitted to intervene in families, for precisely the same set of reasons the state should not be permitted to convict guilty criminals if it has to violate the Bill of Rights in order to do so.
But even in those cases, the suspect goes to jail first and only later does the suppression hearing happen and he walks. That was the motivation for ensuring that the spot judgments of social workers are subject to prompt and fair review by a neutral party.

But I really do not trust government bureaucrats with near unlimited power, especially over something as important as family life.
The key for me is neutral review, not the extent of the power.

When I was practicing family law I represented a woman whose children were taken away. Social services took the position that they didn't even have to give a reason for taking them away. To this day I'm not sure she knows why she lost her children.
There has to be more to that story -- what did they say at the custody hearing: "We think that removal of the children is in the best interest of the children but we won't say why"? You can plead ignorance but I just don't buy it.
5.1.2008 12:06am
NI:

But even in those cases, the suspect goes to jail first and only later does the suppression hearing happen and he walks. That was the motivation for ensuring that the spot judgments of social workers are subject to prompt and fair review by a neutral party.


But the harm to an adult going to jail for the few days or weeks until the suppression hearing is far, far less than the harm to a child who is yanked from the home. Even when removing the child is justified it is still a terribly traumatic event. As has already been pointed out, many foster homes are horrific, and in some cases going from the frying pan into the fire. Don't be doing that unless you are absolutely, positively certain you're doing the right thing. Even if the child is returned the following day, the emotional damage has already been done.


There has to be more to that story -- what did they say at the custody hearing: "We think that removal of the children is in the best interest of the children but we won't say why"? You can plead ignorance but I just don't buy it.


What they said was they had evidence of abuse but if they revealed the source of their information or the specific details, the mother would know who had called them and she would retaliate against them. They presented a "john doe" affidavit from the person who made the call saying that she (or he) was fearful of retaliation if the identity was revealed. The judge decided to review everything in camera and said he was satisfied the child needed to be removed from the home. Since I never got to cross examine anyone, I have no idea if the allegations were meritorious or not.
5.1.2008 12:28am
Eph:
It seems that a common thread in the horror stories about CPS abuses is that it takes a long time before parents even have a chance to appear before a judge a counter the "evidence" that was the basis for taking their children away. A criminal defendant, at least, is in front of a judge within a day. Parents whose child is taken away - based on false and anonymous accusations, a misunderstanding, medical misdiagnoses, or similar concern have to wait a long time before they can appear before a judge empowered to return their children.
5.1.2008 12:32am
NI:

The judge decided to review everything in camera and said he was satisfied the child needed to be removed from the home.


Errata: "Child" should be "children" -- there were three of them. That's what happens when I try typing past my bedtime.
5.1.2008 12:37am
Vinnie (mail):

A contest: Free membership on Professor Kerr's forthcoming Sanity Blog for anyone who can recommend a solution that strikes the proper balance... ;~)


Innocent until PROVEN guilty.

Postulate: Forcibly removing a child from its parents causes irreparable harm to both child and parents.

Canard: Its better the devil that you know than the angel that you don't.

It is better to leave an abused child subject to one more month of non-life threatening abuse than to forcibly remove a non abused child from its parents for any length of time.
That may be a cold calculation but it works.

immediate removal only under a clear and present danger of great bodily harm. The kid is going to get spanked and yelled at again doesn't cut it.
No incentives to take children.
No immunity. CPS will supply council but social worker must pay for council if case is lost.

Ok there is a start.
5.1.2008 12:54am
ReaderY:
Given that the hospital alcohol test was inconsistent with the officers said, it is possible the officers trumped up the evidence once they realized their stupidity.

If the officers claimed they were required to do what they did by procedures, this would be evidence of municipal liability.
5.1.2008 12:54am
ReaderY:
One has to judge the character of witnesses from behavior -- and this was not behavior consistent with carrying out a position of trust with judgement.
5.1.2008 12:57am
Oren:
Eph, yes, the failure to offer prompt hearings on the status of children taken into custody is quite objectionable. Similarly, the sad state of foster care is (apparently, speaking from what I'm told) also objectionable.

Neither of these two things are at all logically related to whether the state should have the power to revoke guardianship of children to protect their best interest. Of course, the state should do so carefully, with proper hearings and good review (etc ...) but you guys appear to be arguing that the system's failings somehow indicate that the system is not needed. I just don't buy that.

NI, about that anecdote, do you really believe the judge is of such poor character that he took away a woman's children for trivial reasons and without establishing the credibility of the testimony presented to him?
5.1.2008 1:03am
Vinnie (mail):
NI,
doesn't that constitution thingy say that your clients have a right to face their accusers in open court?
5.1.2008 1:10am
Oren:
Vinnie, that's in criminal trials. Custody hearings are civil affairs and not subject to the same rules.
5.1.2008 1:14am
whit:
"Vinnie, that's in criminal trials. Custody hearings are civil affairs and not subject to the same rules"

and domestic violence law has (imo) eroded your right to confront your accuser even in a criminal trial, as the recent 911 case and others have done. prosecutors and their "victimless prosecution".
5.1.2008 1:20am
Oren:
whit, the only SCOTUS exception that I'm aware of was the case allowing a sexually abused child to testify via CCTV.

Can you cite any example where a defendant has been refused the right to confront an adult witness in a criminal trial?
5.1.2008 1:29am
Joe Bingham (mail):
Forced removal from parents is harmful to the child even if it's for under 24 hours and the foster care provided is ideal.

Here in Florida, our standard for removal is probable cause to believe the child's at imminent risk of harm. There was pretty clearly was not such probable cause here.

In a large part the fault is the judge's, most likely. They engage in CYA practices as much as anyone.

The system has to find a balance between the risk of harm from non-removal and the certain harm that comes from removal. Striking a balance between those harms will result in some kids dying or being hurt because they weren't removed. Unfortunately, the state has every political incentive to over-remove, rather than strike the proper balance, because kids who die make the news, and kids who are left unharmed by non-removal don't. It's a lot like the perverse incentives faced by other regulatory agencies.
5.1.2008 1:38am
Vinnie (mail):
Vinnie, that's in criminal trials. Custody hearings are civil affairs and not subject to the same rules.


Revive debtors prisons and sue criminals. Streamline the system.
IANAL but please explain to me short of debtors prisons how I can be relieved of life and liberty by civil action. If my children fall under property we have bigger problems.
5.1.2008 1:39am
Joe Bingham (mail):
Like you, I'm glad this egregious error was corrected in two days. However, that result is very exceptional. In general, over-removal is a significant problem in part because it is so difficult to return the children--usually the conditions that must be met for reunification involve meeting standards far beyond the standards necessary to prevent removal.
5.1.2008 1:43am
whit:
sure...Davis v. Washington



adult witness...

her 911 statements admitted and he didn't have the right to confront her.
5.1.2008 1:43am
Joe Bingham (mail):
That general unwillingness to return children even when allegations turn out to be unfounded should be taken into account as an additional risk of removal, thus making workers even more reluctant to remove children.
5.1.2008 1:44am
whit:
brief summary...

"Michelle McCottry called 911 in February 2001, and said that someone had just beaten her up. For about four minutes, responding to questions, McCottry described the alleged crime and identified Adrian Davis, who had allegedly left the scene before the call. When police arrived, they noted fresh injuries on her forearm and face.

At trial, McCottry was not called to testify. The 911 tape was played and the prosecutor told the jury that though she hadn't testified, she "had left you something better. She left you her testimony on the day that this happened." It was the only evidence introduced that Davis and not someone else had beaten her up. "

and the SCOTUS said that was ok.
5.1.2008 1:46am
Oren:
whit, she wasn't a witness!
5.1.2008 1:49am
Oren:
That general unwillingness to return children even when allegations turn out to be unfounded should be taken into account as an additional risk of removal, thus making workers even more reluctant to remove children.
Yes, that is a problem, but again, you guys seems to jump from the argument that the system has issues to the conclusion that the system is not needed. It just doesn't follow.
5.1.2008 1:51am
Oren:
Unfortunately, the state has every political incentive to over-remove, rather than strike the proper balance, because kids who die make the news, and kids who are left unharmed by non-removal don't. It's a lot like the perverse incentives faced by other regulatory agencies.
Yes, that perversity of incentives may skew the CPS towards non-optimal policies.

Still, I'd rather not pressure social workers into hesitating to act any more than I like to see them CYA by seizing first and asking questions later.

Perhaps what we need are higher salaries for social workers?
5.1.2008 1:55am
whit:
"whit, she wasn't a witness"

oren, you are kidding me right. she was the only witness to the ASSAULT ON HERSELF. she was the victim, and the ONLY person who could testify that the guy actually assaulted her. and the defendant didn't have the right to confront her. they introduced her 911 "testimony" and he had no right to confront.

are you kidding me? i read the twisted language of the decision, but imo it comes down to this. she made allegations he hit her, but did not make those allegations in court, and he did not have the right to confront her.

comments?
5.1.2008 2:02am
theobromophile (www):
I read Hans Bader's complete comment.

Did you also read all of John Galt's speech?

---

I cannot help but wonder what sanctions the vendor faced - or did not face. After all, when a parent with a small kid asks for a lemonade, and you do not stop to clarify whether it is a Mike's hard lemonade or lemon, sugar, and water, then you have problems.

When I was sixteen or seventeen, I babysat my two-year-old sister. I left her in the living room that adjoined the kitchen, in a chair, to watch TV while I made dinner. Standard operating procedure. Ten minutes later, I heard the scream - not the scream of a kid who wants attention or has a dirty diaper, but that "something is WRONG" scream. She had fallen out of the chair and cut her head open on the fireplace, which I did not realise until I picked her up, cradled her, got her to stop crying, and realised that my shirt and arm were covered in her blood. That was hard enough, but I cannot imagine what would have happened if the DSS had taken her away from my family, or ordered me out of the house, for not watching her every second. (Personally, I figured she was safer in the living room, in an armchair, than by the stove in the kitchen, but that's just me.) She did need stitches, but recovered quickly (thank God).

Has it ever occurred to these people that you simply cannot - realistically, for your own sanity, and for the sanity of your children - watch your children every second of the day?
5.1.2008 2:11am
Oren:
whit, I don't know what to say. The 911 call was not testimony, in the sense that it wasn't done for evidentiary purposes. The defense never questioned the veracity of what she said on the 911 call nor provided any other theory on who beat her up (objective evidence shows she was beat up).

Sorry, but this seems like (yet another) attempt by a victim of domestic abuse to cover for the abuser. I cannot understand the psychology of it but I've seen it over and over.

What do you propose the state do in cases of obvious physical abuse where the victim refuses to acknowledge what happened (or doesn't think it's a problem)?

[Aside: At the very minimum, even if we aren't going to intervene in their domestic battery, I would hope that we don't leave children in households where they learn that violence is a normal part of a relationship (and that the victim should take it quietly for the sake of god-knows-why-they-keep-quiet). Please answer the above question before we get to this one, if you would be so kind.]
5.1.2008 4:20am
David M. Nieporent (www):
whit, I don't know what to say. The 911 call was not testimony, in the sense that it wasn't done for evidentiary purposes. The defense never questioned the veracity of what she said on the 911 call
Of course it did, but without being able to confront her, how was it supposed to do so effectively?
nor provided any other theory on who beat her up (objective evidence shows she was beat up).
I think that turns the presumption of innocence on its head.
What do you propose the state do in cases of obvious physical abuse where the victim refuses to acknowledge what happened (or doesn't think it's a problem)?
Nothing.
5.1.2008 7:27am
NI:

NI, about that anecdote, do you really believe the judge is of such poor character that he took away a woman's children for trivial reasons and without establishing the credibility of the testimony presented to him?


Oren, I don't know what you do for a living but I suspect you don't get to court much. The definition of "judge" is "politically connected former lawyer". Some of them try harder than others, and some of them get it right harder than others, but the fact that somebody wears a robe does not necessarily make him or her trustworthy. That's especially true in family law jurisprudence, which these days is out in the gamma quadrant.


Yes, that is a problem, but again, you guys seems to jump from the argument that the system has issues to the conclusion that the system is not needed. It just doesn't follow.


Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen anyone write that child protective services should be abolished altogether, or that they don't sometimes do good things. What I've said is that standards need to be tightened so it's harder to yank a child from a home without any real hard evidence. The amount of damage social workers can do is phenomenal and it needs to have checks and balances. Plus, candidly, the definition of "abuse" has become "anything a social worker would do differently".
5.1.2008 9:06am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren. Yes, "invest" in better foster systems. Other than paying foster parents more, what do you suggest? And, prior to Rapture in the foster system, what do we do in the meantime?

Intersting case in Arlington County. Mucho CYA, screwing of pooches, no evidence of harm or mistreatment, and the kid is now with a politically influential couple. The judge in the case says that returning the kid would be too traumatic.
The politically influential couple apparently figured this would be cheaper than in vitro. And, of course, CPS was only too glad to oblige.
5.1.2008 9:17am
Zubon (mail) (www):
In Michigan, the CPS--now called Family Independence Agency

This is false. It is called the Department of Human Services (since 2003 or 2004). The old FIA web site re-directs to DHS. I don't recall if CPS was rolled into FIA when it was called FIA, but FIA was the official name for the welfare office. "Family Independence" may be a bit aspirational or euphemistic in terms of welfare payments, but it is not an Orwellian term of "baby-snatchers."
5.1.2008 9:45am
ParatrooperJJ (mail):
Does that state not allow parents to serve their kids alcohol?
5.1.2008 10:03am
Slocum (mail):
"Success in the sense that the system was able to recover quickly from an initial error and right the situation within a few days."

But only because the parents were professors at the University of Michigan and were defended by a law professor there. Without the family's status and resources, the outcome likely would have been very different (the CPS had recommended that the boy be kept in foster care for week while during the investigation). How would this have played out if this was a working-class family?

I think, too, you underestimate the trauma to the boy and family -- being hauled away by the police, sent to the hospital in an ambulance, tested and then sent to stay with strangers with no way of knowing how long. And then both he and his sister were interviewed, and I have been assured by social workers that, in addition to questions about alcohol, these interviews almost certainly involved questions about inappropriate sexual contact.
5.1.2008 10:03am
Aultimer:

theobromophile (www):
She did need stitches, but recovered quickly (thank God).



Today, your whole family would be separated (from one another, and from the two-year old) at the hospital to screen for domestic violence.

There's nothing like the feeling when it dawns on your that the triage nurse is deciding whether your hurt, crying child is going to be taken away from you, when all you want is to get him/her medical attention.

I sincerely can't imagine how I'd handle having a kid removed for even a short time over a "crime" that's legal across the border in Ohio (and probably Windsor).
5.1.2008 10:26am
Aultimer:

ParatrooperJJ

Does that state not allow parents to serve their kids alcohol?

Nope.
5.1.2008 10:31am
Clyde:
ReaderY, The blood alcohol test wasn't necessarily inconsistent with the officer's statement. The article noted that dad purchased the lemonade on the way to their seats and that dad was confronted in the ninth inning. We don't know how many times father and son left their seats, but it's certainly possible that the drink was purchased early in the game. Assuming a two-and-a-half hour game, plus ninety more minutes before the test was administered, it's possible that there'd be no more alcohol in the bloodstream by that time. Now, the officer claimed the boy said he felt nauseated. I'd probably feel a little nauseated, too, if I were 7 and witnessing my father being questioned by the police.
5.1.2008 10:37am
iowan (mail):
I did in fact pick up Mikes at a c-store when on a road trip with my boss. Getting back into the car my boss made some subtle comment about me not being to concerned about authoity figures. After the 1st drink I knew what he was talking about. I didnt drink the rest, but I still dont know if the boss believes me.

On the case, Govt workers make decissions based on how much trouble they will get into. Always siding on the side of strict to the letter reading of any printed rule. The obscure infintisimil possibility someone might be innocent is overridden by the FACT they followed the rules, hence no marks in their file.
5.1.2008 10:59am
iowan (mail):
Ooops got that wrong ment to say obscure infintisimil possibility someone might be GUILTY is overridden by the FACT they followed the rules
5.1.2008 11:03am
David M. Nieporent (www):
"Success in the sense that the system was able to recover quickly from an initial error and right the situation within a few days."
Suppose I step on my brakes as I approach an intersection, but they fail to slow my car so I hurdle through the intersection and crash into a tree. But the airbag deploys, and I walk away unharmed from my smashed car.

The airbags certainly worked successfully; no question about that. And I'm grateful and happy about that. But I certainly wouldn't describe this as the car working successfully.
5.1.2008 11:28am
David M. Nieporent (www):
And by "hurdle" I mean "hurtle."
5.1.2008 11:34am
whit:
"whit, I don't know what to say. The 911 call was not testimony, in the sense that it wasn't done for evidentiary purposes."

that's not the point. the point is it was a witness saying "johnny beat me up". she is thus accusing the defendant of X.

i'm all for admitting it IF she testifies to corroborate it . in court. and then the defense gets the chance to CROSS EXAMINE a witness who is accusing the defendant. that's how the constitution is supposed to work.

the point is that this decision means that an accuser can claim anything he/she wants on a 911 call without having to worry about being cross examined as a witness. that's ridiculous! i am all for allowing 911 evidence to support PC, but unless it's a dying declaration, etc. the defendant should have the opportunity to cross examine witnesses. that seperates us from the less just systems.

"The defense never questioned the veracity of what she said on the 911 call nor provided any other theory on who beat her up (objective evidence shows she was beat up). "

i'm not denying that physical evidence SUPPORTS (it does not SHOW. there are plenty of other ways to get bruises, etc. i have had 2 DV cases where victims inflicted their own injuries. in one case they were convicted of it, in the other there was not enough evidence ... regardless) but the prosecutor needs to show the DEFENDANT committed the injuries. burden is on the prosecution, oren. and since SHE is the witness who claims HE did it, then he should have the right to cross examine.

"Sorry, but this seems like (yet another) attempt by a victim of domestic abuse to cover for the abuser. I cannot understand the psychology of it but I've seen it over and over. "

i *can* understand the psychology of it, because i have seen it over and over and even went to grad school for psychology, and have counseled and interviewed many victims.

however.

that's not the point. the point is that the defendant has the right to confront his accuser. that's a basic constitutional right that has been largely thrown out, mostly through DV law. i know the meme here is that "drug cases make bad case law" and even 'eviscerate' the 4th amendment, but this is a perfect example of how DV cases are much worse. in the case of the exclusionary rule, let's be honest - it protects pretty much only the guilty. in the case of THIS decision, it hurts the innocent, since many innocent people are falsely accused of crimes. the burden is on the prosecution to prove a case, and the defense shoudl have the right to cross examine witnesses against them. that's basic.

"What do you propose the state do in cases of obvious physical abuse where the victim refuses to acknowledge what happened (or doesn't think it's a problem)? "

unfortunately, if the state cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, then the defendant goes free. it's called the constitution. and just because there is "obvious" physical abuse (in your eyes) does not mean the defendant DID it, nor is it his job to provide alternative theories when the frigging ONLY WITNESS AGAINST HIM refuses to testify. this is a backdoor way to get testimony into evidence WITHOUT giving the defendant opp. to cross examine.

like i said, i am all for 911 statements to be admitted as elements of probable case/reasonable suspicion, BUT if a witness/victim claims X on the 911 call and same person refuses to be cross examined on the stand as to X, that's pretty much an automatic not guilty unless there are corroborating witnesses as to what X witness/victim claimed.

"[Aside: At the very minimum, even if we aren't going to intervene in their domestic battery,"


strawman. of COURSE we should intervene.

of course if a person calls 911 and claims they just got beaten up that the cops should respond and make an arrest if they have probable cause, provide the victim shelter if requested, etc. exigency exceptions are also groovy, etc. in many DV cases to allow warrantless entry into the home to protect a person requesting help, etc. etc. etc.

but this is not about intervention to interrupt crimes in progress or having occurred. this is about the TRIAL portion wherein the person accused of a crime has the right to confront his accuser. intervention is one thing. convicting a person of a crime when the victim/witness refuses to be cross examined is another thing entirely.

" I would hope that we don't leave children in households where they learn that violence is a normal part of a relationship (and that the victim should take it quietly for the sake of god-knows-why-they-keep-quiet)."

again, total strawman. and fwiw, the children can be protected via a court order. that's CIVIL. it does not have the same rules of evidence as a CRIMINAL trial.

total strawman, oren. i expect more from you. i am talking about criminal trials and the right to confront your accusers, NOT the intervention phase. and this has zero to do with protection orders.

" Please answer the above question before we get to this one, if you would be so kind.]"

i did . we are talking a criminal trial. the court decision doesn't address the appropriateness of civil protection orders in the case mentioned. it's a strawman.
5.1.2008 11:53am
NI:

On the case, Govt workers make decissions based on how much trouble they will get into. Always siding on the side of strict to the letter reading of any printed rule. The obscure infintisimil possibility someone might be innocent is overridden by the FACT they followed the rules, hence no marks in their file


I'm sure that's true, and the solution is for them to get into at least as much trouble for putting a stupid interpretation on the rules. There must be a Michigan legislator who could hold hearings and publicly humiliate all involved. I'd like to hear what the moronic social worker involved has to say for herself when asked why she recommended the child remain in foster care for another week even after it had been established that this was an accident.
5.1.2008 11:56am
Dan Weber (www):
Given that the hospital alcohol test was inconsistent with the officers said, it is possible the officers trumped up the evidence once they realized their stupidity.
He wasn't confronted by a police officer. It was a security guard.
5.1.2008 12:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
NI. So would I. Won't happen. "Privacy".
5.1.2008 12:13pm
NI:

NI. So would I. Won't happen. "Privacy".


The practical reason it won't happen is because it's unlikely anyone in the Michigan legislature (which, after all, is the body that authorized this nonsense in the first place) will run with it.

But if a Michigan legislator could be found who was willing to do so, privacy would be a nonstarter. First, the family would waive it. Second, the questioning might go something like this:

"Q. Madam Social Worker, why did you recommend the child remain in foster care for another week after it had been determined that nothing happened?

"A. Mr. Chairman, I can't answer that question because of privacy considerations.

"Q. Fine. We'll just cut your budget by 50% since you obviously have way too much time on your hands if you can pursue crap like this."

That won't happen either. But what a beautiful fantasy.
5.1.2008 12:24pm
Dan Weber (www):
We now mostly acknowledge that the ritual abuse cases of the 1980s were a travesty of justice. ... It seems that the Anglo culture is particularly susceptible to these severe overreactions. What might be the probably complex reason for this?

We have so little risk in our lives these days that we think we can eliminate it completely.

200 years ago, no one was surprised if someone died suddenly. It was considered a law of nature: life is risky, it always has been, it always will be.

We live in such an incredibly safe society now that lots of folks think that becoming totally safe is within our grasp. And people are prepared to throw away their freedoms to get that last little infinitesimal bit of safety. Both political parties have exploited this to the hilt (although the true believers on each side don't see their own party's appeals to fear).

To offer some more specific theories, upper-middle-class families tend to only have 1 or 2 kids, and they pour tremendous amounts of effort into protecting them and living their lives through them. This just exacerbates the above.

As I've said in a few of these threads, "WON'T SOMEBODY THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN" isn't an ironic statement at all to some folks.
5.1.2008 12:30pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
As a news story quoted in Point of Law noted, if the professor "and his wife weren't upper-middle-class academics with access to the University of Michigan Law School clinic professors, it could have been much worse.

It suddenly struck me: if the parents weren't upper-middle-class academics they would have learned from TV commercials that Mike's Hard Lemonade contains alcohol, and this whole situation would have never arisen.
5.1.2008 1:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tony. Yeah. They might have figured out that the only time they watch television is when they would otherwise be staring at the wall, and that staring at a wall is a waste of time. And dumped their cable.
As my wife and I did. You can buy an awful lot of cheap port with the price of cable.
I think the breaking point was when I was trying to watch television while eating breakfast. I couldn't eat, needing one hand to continuously hit the remote controller looking for something, anything, that didn't make me feel dumber for watching it for longer than two seconds.

So, if this is true about the good prof and his wife, they are intellectual snobs who are keeping their kid from being socialized by outside ideas. Paging Dilan. Paging Dilan.
5.1.2008 1:04pm
iowan (mail):
When I was a wee fry back in the 50's child abuse was much less pervasive. The community did a good job of keeping things in line. I know of one case that my dad and a couple of neighbors spoke toa man that was prone to getting drunk and slapping around the wife and kids. Just in the last few years mo explained the it was explained that the man quit drinking, leave town, or his wife would collect is life insurance. problem solved. Vigilant justice works ok on a personal basis. Of course today no one knows their own neighbors and muli-tgenerational families no longer are neighbors
5.1.2008 1:10pm
lurker-999 (mail):
From the original FREEP article:

By that Monday, April 7, when Ratte and his wife returned for a meeting with Latricia Jones, the CPS caseworker assigned to their case, no one in the family had been able to talk to Leo for a day and a half.


"Latricia Jones"??? ... All in favor of Affirmative Action, please raise your hand.
5.1.2008 1:13pm
iowan (mail):
Later as a young parent, a local pervert moved back into town and started to hang out at the school when the kids were walking home, Several of us dads just spread the rumor all over town that if anything happened to any child this guy was going to pee sitting down regardless of evidence. Never saw him again
5.1.2008 1:14pm
NI:

We live in such an incredibly safe society now that lots of folks think that becoming totally safe is within our grasp. And people are prepared to throw away their freedoms to get that last little infinitesimal bit of safety. Both political parties have exploited this to the hilt (although the true believers on each side don't see their own party's appeals to fear).


I think that's dead-on accurate. And I wouldn't mind so much if people wanted to sacrifice their own freedoms to make themselves safety; it's when they want to sacrifice my freedoms that I get a little annoyed.
5.1.2008 1:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Iowan. Iowa, huh? I was on my way through some years ago, and talked to a local in a small town.
His view was that in a small town, everybody knows where the perv is {buried]. In a big town, he has a support group.
My acquaintance preferred small towns, being a parent and all.
5.1.2008 1:34pm
Oren:
The airbags certainly worked successfully; no question about that. And I'm grateful and happy about that. But I certainly wouldn't describe this as the car working successfully.
But that's precisely my point! The car did work correctly, all things considered, because it responded properly to the failure of one component.

but the prosecutor needs to show the DEFENDANT committed the injuries. burden is on the prosecution, oren. and since SHE is the witness who claims HE did it, then he should have the right to cross examine.
Circumstantial evidence is still evidence. I don't think any reasonable jury could possibly doubt who inflicted those injuries, even without the 911 call.

that's pretty much an automatic not guilty unless there are corroborating witnesses as to what X witness/victim claimed.
In the instant case, there are corroborating witnesses - the police that observed a beat up victim.
5.1.2008 1:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren. The car did work correctly, although most sales pitches wouldn't be promoting inadequate brakes as a feature "because the air bag will save you" and you don't need to spend all that money on state-of-the-art brakes.
More correctly, the car didn't fuck up as badly as it might have.
5.1.2008 2:14pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Has it ever occurred to these people that you simply cannot - realistically, for your own sanity, and for the sanity of your children - watch your children every second of the day?

It would help if the requirement for the job was being a grandparent, instead of being fresh out of school and closer to being a child than to being a parent.

Stuff happens.
5.1.2008 2:30pm
Oren:
Richard, I'd rather the sales pitch say "In case of brake failure, the air bag will save you" than "The brakes are so good you don't need a second line of defense".
5.1.2008 2:33pm
Fub:
Oren wrote at 5.1.2008 12:40pm:
But that's precisely my point! The car did work correctly, all things considered, because it responded properly to the failure of one component.
Let's see if I follow your analogy correctly here.

The car brakes fail, car hits tree, airbags save driver. Car responded properly to component failure, so car worked properly. So far, so good.

Now, since car is smashed, driver needs to fix car. He'll definitely want to fix the brakes so they won't fail in the future.

So, lets look at the lemonade / CPS case. Stupid (or just plain jerk) security guard calls CPS. First error.

Stupid (or just plain jerk) CPS worker decides to take kid from family. Second error.

Family finally gets kid back by using the courts. System finally responds properly.

Now the system needs to be fixed. How do we fix the security guard? How do we fix the social worker?

I can think of some ways that would be morally appropriate, but they're not legal.

Chances are that the security guard as well as the social worker will not get a reprimand, and probably will get a commendation for being oh, so hypervigilant, and "thinking of the children".

Result: the system will fail even more often in the future.
5.1.2008 2:56pm
bar (mail):
Family finally gets kid back by using the courts. System finally responds properly.


Get real! The family is now 'in the system' and being tracked. Just wait till they go to the ER with a T-ball injury.
5.1.2008 3:03pm
cboldt (mail):
Airbag deployment isn't a second line of defense for brake failure. Brakes systems are redundant of their own right. Air bags are supposed to be an occupant protective measure, to be effective even when NO part of the vehicle fails to perform as designed.
.
When an airbag deploys at an impact at the low end of its design parameter, and the deployment results in death (even though the vehicle impact would not), is the deployment a success?
.
Anyway, the scenarios are so varied that the airbag/brake parallel isn't all that parallel. I think the argument here, on the child protective issue, is slightly disconnected. Some people (I'm in this camp) focus on the initial security guard and systematic chain-reaction and find it abominable. Others focus on the "correction," and see goodness. Others have proffered some improvements to the system, generally shifting of burdens and presumptions, and adding accountability. I think all agree the system could easily be improved. I also think bureaucratic inertia, pride, and defensiveness preclude effective systematic changes.
5.1.2008 3:06pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
cboldt.
You left out small people with power and no accountability.
5.1.2008 3:23pm
whit:
"Circumstantial evidence is still evidence"

that's great. but there's this pesky little thing called the constitution.

if person X says "he did Y to me", then the defendant has the constitutional right, in a court of law, to confront his accuser.

that's part of the fact finding process. innocent people are accused all the frigging time by liars, and by people who are mistaken.

that's one of the reasons why we have the right to confront our accusers.

throwing away constitutional rights, "for a good cause" is still throwing away constitutional rights.

that sux.

cops work all the time with circumstantial evidence (fine), hearsay (even if inadmissable in court, still totally fine to use to develop probable cause or reasonable suspicion), and all sorts of facts and circumstances that may or may not meet the rules of evidence for COURT. again, that's fine.

nobody denies that there was PC to arrest defendant. or that there was probably valid cause to issue a protective order.

but not to convict. not when the sole witness that can say whether or not he committed the assault refuses to testify. so, the prosecution uses the (imo unconstitutional) backdoor of her 911 statements to be used against him. how does the defendant cross examine a cassette tape of statements?

there are some darn good exceptions for admitting hearsay and out of court statements. but when the victim is available to testify and chooses not to, the defendants right to cross examine MUST take precedence.

i am kind of amazed that you don't think the right to confront one's accuser isn't like... kind of important.
5.1.2008 4:08pm
Fub:
Hans Bader wrote at 4.30.2008 5:32pm:
The Washington Examiner had a must-read editorial on April 18, 2008 called "Baby Snatching by Arlington County."
I believe this is the court's decision in that case. Unfortunately the page consists of scanned images of the document.

It seems to contain a lot of bafflegab, factual characterizations and contradictions that defy reason and common sense when read closely.

If every parent in the country were held to the standards that court is holding Ms. Hey and Mr. Slitor to, CPS would have custody of every child in the country.
5.1.2008 6:49pm
Oren:
I think the right to confront witnesses in court is of critical importance, it's just that in the instant case:

(1) The 911 call was admitted into evidence not as an accusation of a crime but as factual evidence -- someone said some words to someone else. Those are facts, not testimony.

(2) The 911 testimony was extraneous to the conviction, since there was strong objective evidence that she was struck and strong circumstantial evidence that Davis was the striker. The exclusion was therefore harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you read some of the citations, they are rich with references to founding-era cases in which similar testimony was admitted.
5.1.2008 7:07pm
whit:
"(1) The 911 call was admitted into evidence not as an accusation of a crime but as factual evidence -- someone said some words to someone else. Those are facts, not testimony. "

the words were an accusation. the witness said that the person hit her. people who are accused of something by another have (or should have under our constitution) the right to confront that witness.

they were not admitted merely as somebody said SOMETHING to somebody else. the evidence admitted was not "a woman called 911". the evidence was WHAT SHE SAID to 911, specifically accusations against the defendant.

that's the critical issue.

you are correct. they are not testimony. she should be forced to GIVE testimony to back up her accusations, and be subject to cross, or what she said should not be allowed to be used against the defendant.
"2) The 911 testimony was extraneous to the conviction, since there was strong objective evidence that she was struck and strong circumstantial evidence that Davis was the striker. The exclusion was therefore harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. "

that is utter rubbish. really. if they were extraneous, then "do over" without that evidence. if they get a conviction, groovy. but the precedent of the case is that yet another "DV constitution exception" is invented to get around constitutional protections of fundamental rights.

i have no idea if they would have gotten a conviction without the testimony, but it;s wholly irrelevant since my argument (and the crux of the case) is that said statements WERE deemed admissible without her having to say them in court.

something doesn't pass the smell test for me. if they didn't need her statements admitted then why was the case appealed all the way to the scotus?

and regardless, it sets a terrible precedent for future cases. yet again, witness testimony admitted against defendants and they are given no right to confront the accuser.

"If you read some of the citations, they are rich with references to founding-era cases in which similar testimony was admitted."

i'll try to do that. i have not read them. i read the case. it was appalling enough, but i will see if i can find any "penumbras and emanations" to make me feel better about it :)
5.1.2008 8:13pm
Stacy (mail):
"It seems to contain a lot of bafflegab, factual characterizations and contradictions that defy reason and common sense when read closely. "

Yes and no. The reasons cited as to why Hey and Slitor aren't competent parents are unconvincing, i.e. if they'd been raising Sabrina themselves all this time, none of that stuff would justify any sort of CPS supervision, removal or otherwise. But considering she's spent her entire life with the foster family, it is indeed hard to justify moving her back.

The part that was really wrong was removing Sabrina from Hey's home in the first place. Once that was done - and the case dragged out for two years - the rest sadly makes sense. But it shouldn't have been done.
5.1.2008 10:59pm
TJIT (mail):
I could not decide if Oren was a clever troll or if he honestly believed everything he spews out as justification for really stupid government behavior.

Then I read the link below and it became clear that Oren is a symptom of and a believer in the elevation of process above all else.

A plague of process
American society has made process as important as outcome, and it is sucking the energy out of us. It is increasingly true that it is not what you did that matters, but how you did it.
Bold emphasis is mine.

Folks like Oren are the scorpion in the bed of the Republic. They will justify any action, no matter how stupid or even evil, as long as the proper paperwork is filled out.

I am grateful to him for providing a clear example of just how ugly and pernicious this problem is.
5.1.2008 11:06pm
Oren:
"penumbras and emanations" to make me feel better about it
No no! These are bona-fide founding-era cases that shed light on what the original intent of the framers are!

TJIT, I believe in creating better processes because, ultimately, those are the only thing that are protecting our liberty. If we are going to be a nation ruled by law, instead of ruled by men, then we all have to play by the rules. You might deride "playing by the rules" as slavish adherence to process, but no serious student of law or politics has ever proposed an alternative method of preserving our core freedoms.

Government are, of course, flawed and the procedures by which it governs are likewise not perfect. Sometimes (in this case, for instance), stupid and pernicious things do happen. CPS workers get crazy in the head and seize a child for no good reason, a cop crosses the line (in good faith, perhap) and searches a motorist without PC, a school principal denies children of faith an equal opportunity to express their views. These errors (and many others) are inevitable, and unless we are just going to let them slide there has got to be a method of redress.

I have no problem with entertaining any notion for how to improve CPS in a way that balances the risk of improper action (e.g. the instant case) with the duty of the state to protect minors from abuse at the hands of their guardians. But to spout off that I somehow think that the initial mistake in this case was 'justified' is contrary to what I've said and contrary to common sense.
5.1.2008 11:46pm
jaed (mail):
Get real! The family is now 'in the system' and being tracked. Just wait till they go to the ER with a T-ball injury.

This is a point that I don't think anyone else has made, and it's a good one. It's not over just because the child was returned. Once you've come to the attention of CPS your family is not safe. It's possible nothing else will happen and this family's children will reach majority without incident... but I wouldn't bet the safety of children on it.
5.2.2008 1:26am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
But people who have not come to the attention of CPS before are also not safe, as they might come to CPS' attention at some point in the future.
5.2.2008 1:39am
Oren:
David, dear lord! I have no idea!
5.2.2008 3:28am
Fub:
Oren wrote at 5.1.2008 10:46pm:
Government are, of course, flawed and the procedures by which it governs are likewise not perfect. Sometimes (in this case, for instance), stupid and pernicious things do happen. ... These errors (and many others) are inevitable, and unless we are just going to let them slide there has got to be a method of redress.

I have no problem with entertaining any notion for how to improve CPS in a way that balances the risk of improper action (e.g. the instant case) with the duty of the state to protect minors from abuse at the hands of their guardians. ...
Here's a thought experiment: removal of sovereign immunity for government actors, or criminal prosecution by a special prosecutor of any and all state actors who participate in any violation of any citizens' rights, or any "error" in enforcement of any law.

The standard handwringing argument is "if government workers are liable for their own official actions, nobody will be a government worker". I think that's rubbish. Ordinary citizens are legally liable to government for every minor error they make, and some pay dearly for unintentional blunders much less intentional wrongdoing. Yet ordinary citizens aren't fleeing the country in droves.

Fear of actual consequences would make government actors think twice before deciding to behave like Junkers martinets just because they can. Government actors' "errors" are no more inevitable than criminal behavior by ordinary citizens. They can be minimized by bringing swift and sure criminal prosecution in the same way.

Why shouldn't the government actors in this lemonade kidnapping see the same striped sunshine that any other kidnapper would see?
5.2.2008 1:29pm
Hans Bader (mail) (www):
Social workers at CPS agencies have an incentive to remove children who are not really abused, since there are federal financial incentives for seizing and adopting out children.

The problem is even worse in England, as I explained here and here.

For example, the London Telegraph reported on August 26, 2007, that Hexham Children's Services in Northumberland County plans to seize the newborn of 22-year-old Fran Lyon, who suffered eating disorders after being raped at age 16. The government claims that it is therefore possible that she will subject her yet-to-be-born child to "emotional abuse." (She is a gainfully employed charity worker who recovered from her emotional problems sufficiently to earn a degree in neuroscience).

In Britain, as in the United States, local governments receive financial incentives to adopt out children. These incentives are provided by national governments to encourage local governments to find homes for children already in foster care or orphanages.

But it hasn't worked out as planned. It is much easier for local governments to get members of the public to adopt newborns (seized from parents) than it is to get them to adopt older children who have already spent years in foster care and who may have behavioral problems as a result.

And that is exactly what is happening in Britain, as I have previously written, where many newborns have been seized from perfectly normal families by child welfare officials. For example, the London Daily Mail reported on June 8, 2007 that one newborn was seized because officials thought her mother might yell at the child if she was permitted to keep her.

In America, at least, child protective services tends to wait until well after birth to seize children from their parents, in response to some allegation of "abuse." Sometimes that "abuse" is not really abuse, since child welfare officials often view conduct such as spanking, home schooling, allowing children to play outside unsupervised, and non-threatening yelling as "abuse," even if such conduct violates no criminal laws.

Even in America, though, seizures of newborns sometimes takes place -- and there are cases where such infants are never returned to their parents even when the allegation of abuse that prompted the seizure is proven false.

In Arlington County, Virginia, Nancy Hey proved herself innocent of a false, anonymous charge that she was starving her child (who was actually at her proper weight when CPS workers snatched her), but the judge later refused to return the child to them, permanently cutting off their parental rights based heavily on his conclusion that the child — seized as a newborn — had developed a bond with her foster parents as a result of being snatched. (That ruling is on appeal). The Washington Examiner covered this seizure on April 18, 2008.

As I've noted at Point of Law, government officials view parents as guilty until proven innocent of child abuse, and justify seizures of children accordingly, even though even a temporary seizure of a child can cause the child devastating psychological harm.
5.2.2008 2:24pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
For the record, I read all of Hans' long post, found it interesting, enlightening and not a little frightening....

In the "there but for the grace of God..." department: When I was a kid back in the 40s and 50s, we didn't have much in the way of CPS (DSS as it's known in MA). I seem to have grown up more or less OK, but my mother wass an alcoholic - eventually died of it - and my parents divorced. Living with my mother, I several times had to call the ambulance and get her off to the hospital - mostly the drying-out kind - and a few times, called the cops to get rid of men she had met in the "hospital" and who were attempting rape. The police were well aware of the situation, but fortunately, nobody considered it necessary to throw me into an orphanage or foster home, probably because the DSS bureaucracy we have today didn't exist to any extent. Eventually, at about age 14 or so, I moved out and lived with my father (and no, I didn't consult with the court before I did it). I won't say the experience hasn't left scars, but when I think of what could have happened, I guess that I appreciate the neglect, benign or otherwise.
5.3.2008 11:25pm