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Intro References

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Judge  Information

  • Judgepedia: is an encyclopedia about America's courts and judges. Its goal is to help readers discover and learn useful information about the court systems and judiciary in the United States.
    Judgepedia is a wiki, which means that anyone--including you--can improve it by registering and then editing any article by clicking on the "edit this page" link that appears on every article on Judgepedia. By adding information or fixing any mistakes you see, the quality and depth of the information steadily improves and grows over time..
  • Judicial Ethics : An Overview- Judicial ethics is part of the larger legal category of legal ethics (See LII's American Legal Ethics Library). Judicial ethics consists of the standards and norms that bear on judges and covers such matters as how to maintain independence, impartiality, and avoid impropriety.
  • Case-Winning Power without a Lawyer (pro se)

  • Reasonable Efforts (PDF File) - "With the child's health and safety as the paramount concern, the dependency court judge is required to rule whether or not a child welfare agency has made reasonable efforts toward preventing a child's removal from his home, reunifying the child and family or achieving permanency for the child when reunification is not an option. This issue of The Judges' Page seeks to address the role of the judge in making these reasonable efforts findings."
    ~ Judge J. Dean Lewis, Editor (Download PDF File)
  • The Timing of Termination of Parental Rights: A Balancing Act for Children's Best Interest- "The purpose of this research brief is to describe the perspectives and experiences of judges in making decisions around termination of parental rights and, in particular, the challenges faced when making TPR decisions. The findings can inform child welfare officials and state and federal policymakers on current judicial practices related to TPR and adoption. " (Download PDF File)
  • Judges Bench Books  are the instruction manuals on how a Judge can or should rule and/or preside over a case.
  • Video: How to Knock Down Judges- (from Jurisdictionary.com advertising included, but video has some great points)
  • Rate Your Judge (Related Reading: BAD JUDGES and What to Do About Them & Investigate a Judge (Word File for Possible Research)
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The Danger of Judge Made Law
Originally Posted: 07/09/2008 http://www.worldviewtimes.com/article.php/articleid-3737/Brannon-Howse/Brannon-Howse

By Brannon Howse

 

‚€œAt one time the question for America‚€™s judges was how to read the

Constitution; but under today‚€™s liberal, postmodern, man-centered

worldview, the question too often is whether to read the Constitution.

Brannon Howse insightfully documents the tragic consequences that

judicial tyranny, legal positivism, and the humanist worldview are

having upon our faith, family, and freedoms.‚€Ě


 

‚€” The Honorable Edwin Meese III, Former Attorney General, Reagan Administration

 

The course of action by our judiciary is no innocent drift in legal interpretation. The judges‚€™ unconstitutional moves have been calculated by a few to thrust their will upon Americans while the U.S. Congress has been asleep at the switch, seemingly unaware that the legislators‚€™ very reason for existence is being chipped away.

 

Benjamin Cardozo, appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1932, proudly proclaimed a belief in his right to usurp powers of the U.S. Congress and to violate the check-and-balance separations of the U.S. Constitution: ‚€œI take judge-made law as one of the existing realities of life.‚€Ě1

 

Cardozo not only held the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Congress in contempt; he saw little purpose for people of faith‚€”which includes most Americans‚€”who want to apply a moral law as foundation for the legal process: ‚€œIf there is any law which is back of the sovereignty of the state, and superior thereto, it is not law in such a sense as to concern the judge or lawyer, however much it concerns the statesman or the moralist.‚€Ě2

 

Justice Cardozo was not the first to sound this theme. In 1907, Charles Evans Hughes, who would later become chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, declared, ‚€œWe are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.‚€Ě3

 

Lino Graglia, professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas School of Law, explains the crisis caused when members of the judicial branch make policy:

Judicial usurpation of legislative power has become so common and so complete that the Supreme Court has become our most powerful and important instrument of government in terms of determining the nature and quality of American life.

 

The result is that the central truth of constitutional law today is that it has nothing to do with the Constitution except that the words ‚€œdue process‚€Ě or ‚€œequal protection‚€Ě are almost always used by the judges in stating their conclusions. Not to put too fine a point on it, constitutional law has become a fraud, a cover for a system of government by the majority vote of a nine-person committee of lawyers, unelected and holding office for life. The desirability of this form of government should be the central question in any realistic discussion of judicial review today.4

 

How can judges fulfill their sworn oath to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution while helping themselves to large portions of unconstitutional power and authority? How can they uphold the U.S. Constitution when they often don‚€™t even consider the Constitution when rendering decisions? Or how can federal judges claim to fulfill their sworn duty when the majority of federal judges have endeavored to replace the U.S. Constitution with a different judicial standard?

 

The separation of power among the three branches of our government‚€”executive, judicial, and legislative‚€”was designed to safeguard our nation from the very thing we now face: a runaway branch of the government. But make no mistake. The check system is still in place. It just isn‚€™t being used by Congress. Instead, our elected representatives go on allowing judges to enforce their new standard for law.

 

And exactly what is this new standard?

 

Secular humanism and its penchant for moral relativism, along with misapplied Darwinism, has now become the postmodern foundation on which America‚€™s courts and law schools are built. Constitutional and legal scholar John Eidsmoe observes: ‚€œTwentieth-century jurisprudence is based on a Darwinian worldview. Life evolves, men evolve, society evolves, and therefore laws and the constitution‚€™s meaning evolves and changes with time.‚€Ě5

 

This new legal formulation is known as ‚€œlegal positivism.‚€Ě In his book, Christianity and the Constitution, John Eidsmoe reviews the writings of the Critical Legal Studies movement, a group of radical lawyers, law professors, and law students. He summarizes legal positivism with the following points:

‚€Ę   There are no objective, God-given standards of law, or if there are, they are irrelevant to the modern legal system.

‚€Ę   Since God is not the author of law, the author of law must be man; in other words, law is law simply because the highest human authority, the state, has said it is law and is able to back it up by force.

‚€Ę   Since man and society evolve, therefore law must evolve as well.

‚€Ę   Judges, through their decisions, guide the evolution of law (Note again: judges ‚€œmake law‚€Ě).

‚€Ę   To study law, get at the original sources of law, the decisions of judges; hence most law schools today use the ‚€œcase law‚€Ě method of teaching law.6

Another, simpler definition of legal positivism is: moral relativism applied to law. Moral relativism is the belief there is no such thing as moral absolutes‚€”no standard of right or wrong for all people in all places at all times. At times, moral relativism is also called, simply, pragmatism. Moral relativism is closely tied to situational ethics, the belief that individuals are free to decide for themselves what is best for them to secure the most desirable outcome in any given situation.

 

Tracing the development of the positivistic approach to law, David Barton notes, ‚€œThis philosophy of ‚€˜positivism‚€™ was introduced in the 1870s when Harvard Law School Dean Christopher Columbus Langdell (1826‚€“1906) applied Darwin‚€™s premise of evolution to jurisprudence.‚€Ě7

 

Langdell‚€™s thought was advanced further by Dean Roscoe Pound and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Holmes argued there is no fixed moral foundation for law: ‚€œThe felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories . . . have a good deal more to do than the syllogism [legal reasoning process] in determining the rules by which men should be governed.‚€Ě8

 

Did you catch that? The ‚€œfelt necessities of the time‚€Ě and ‚€œprevalent moral and political theories‚€Ě should be the basis of the rules by which men are governed.

 

Using the ‚€œfelt necessities‚€Ě and ‚€œprevalent theories‚€Ě model, judges can allow just about anything to be legal, depending on whose feelings, morals, and political theories are chosen for reference. Guided by this dangerous thinking, we have seen countless abortions performed in America. Even the grisly partial-birth abortion procedure has passed legal muster‚€”a practice the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan called ‚€œnear infanticide.‚€Ě

 

Along with millions of babies, matters of decency have also been aborted. Current U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while serving as an attorney for the ACLU in 1977, wrote a paper, entitled ‚€œSex Bias in the U.S. Code,‚€Ě for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In it, she argued that the legal age for sexual activity should be lowered to twelve years old.9 If enough judges agree the age change ‚€œis a necessity‚€Ě based on the perverted ‚€œmoral and political theories‚€Ě of Alfred Kinsey, for instance, Americans would have to accept that it would be legal for an adult to have sex with a child of age twelve. Lest you think that too crazy to happen, bear in mind that famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey actually promoted the idea of adults having sex with children, and there are other forces pushing in similar directions. A University of Minnesota publisher produced a book that discusses the ‚€œbenefits‚€Ě of children having sex with adults, and the North American Man/Boy Love Association has promoted this idea for years. These are the kinds of philosophical foundations that are now in play with relativistic judges.

 

Footnotes:

1 Benjamin Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921), 10.

2 Benjamin Cardozo, The Growth of the Law (New Haven; Yale University Press, 1924), 49.

3 Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, December 1993.

4 Lino A. Graglia, ‚€œJudicial Review on the Basis of ‚€˜Regime Principles‚€™: A Prescription for Government by Judges,‚€Ě South Texas Law Journal, vol. 26, no. 3 (Fall 1985), 435‚€“52, at 446.

5 John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987), 391.

6 Ibid., 394.

7 David Barton, Original Intent (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders, 1996), 228.

8 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., ‚€œThe Law in Science-Science in Law,‚€Ě Collected Legal Papers (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1920), 225.

Distributed by www.ChristianWorldviewNetwork.com

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 American Legal System Is Corrupt Beyond Recognition, Judge Tells Harvard
Law SchoolMassachusetts News
By Geraldine Hawkins
March 7,
2003
The American legal system has been corrupted almost beyond recognition,
Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, told the
Federalist Society of Harvard Law School on February 28.
She said that the question of what is morally right is routinely sacrificed
to what is politically expedient. The change has come because legal philosophy
has descended to nihilism.
"The integrity of law, its religious roots, its transcendent quality are
disappearing. I saw the movie 'Chicago' with Richard Gere the other day.
That's the way the public thinks about lawyers," she told the students.
"The first 100 years of American lawyers were trained on Blackstone, who
wrote that: 'The law of nature ‚€¶ dictated by God himself ‚€¶ is binding ‚€¶ in all
counties and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to
this; and such of them as are valid derive all force and all their authority ‚€¶
from this original.' The Framers created a government of limited power with
this understanding of the rule of law - that it was dependent on transcendent
religious obligation," said Jones.
She said that the business about all of the Founding Fathers being deists
is "just wrong," or "way overblown." She says they believed in "faith and
reason," and this did not lead to intolerance.
"This is not a prescription for intolerance or narrow sectarianism, " she
continued, "for unalienable rights were given by God to all our fellow
citizens. Having lost sight of the moral and religious foundations of the rule
of law, we are vulnerable to the destruction of our freedom, our equality
before the law and our self-respect. It is my fervent hope that this new
century will experience a revival of the original understanding of the rule of
law and its roots.
"The answer is a recovery of moral principle, the sine qua non of an
orderly society. Post 9/11, many events have been clarified. It is hard to
remain a moral relativist when your own people are being killed."
According to the judge, the first contemporary threat to the rule of law
comes from within the legal system itself.
Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in
America and one of the first writers to observe the United States from
the outside looking-in, "described lawyers as a natural aristocracy in
America," Jones told the students. "The intellectual basis of their profession
and the study of law based on venerable precedents bred in them habits of
order and a taste for formalities and predictability. " As Tocqueville saw it,
"These qualities enabled attorneys to stand apart from the passions of the
majority. Lawyers were respected by the citizens and able to guide them and
moderate the public's whims. Lawyers were essential to tempering the potential
tyranny of the majority.
"Some lawyers may still perceive our profession in this flattering light,
but to judge from polls and the tenor of lawyer jokes, I doubt the public
shares Tocqueville' s view anymore, and it is hard for us to do so.
"The legal aristocracy have shed their professional independence for the
temptations and materialism associated with becoming businessmen. Because law
has become a self-avowed business, pressure mounts to give clients the advice
they want to hear, to pander to the clients' goal through deft manipulation of
the law. ‚€¶ While the business mentality produces certain benefits, like
occasional competition to charge clients lower fees, other adverse effects
include advertising and shameless self-promotion. The legal system has also
been wounded by lawyers who themselves no longer respect the rule of law,"

The judge quoted Kenneth Starr as saying, "It is decidedly unchristian to
win at any cost," and added that most lawyers agree with him.
However, "An increasingly visible and vocal number apparently believe that
the strategic use of anger and incivility will achieve their aims. Others seem
uninhibited about making misstatements to the court or their opponents or
destroying or falsifying evidence," she claimed. "When lawyers cannot be
trusted to observe the fair processes essential to maintaining the rule of
law, how can we expect the public to respect the process?"
Lawsuits Do Not Bring 'Social Justice'
Another pernicious development within the legal system is the misuse of
lawsuits, according to her.
"We see lawsuits wielded as weapons of revenge," she says. "Lawsuits are
brought that ultimately line the pockets of lawyers rather than their clients.
‚€¶ The lawsuit is not the best way to achieve social justice, and to think it
is, is a seriously flawed hypothesis. There are better ways to achieve social
goals than by going into court."
Jones said that employment litigation is a particularly fertile field for
this kind of abuse.
"Seldom are employment discrimination suits in our court supported by
direct evidence of race or sex-based animosity. Instead, the courts are asked
to revisit petty interoffice disputes and to infer invidious motives from
trivial comments or work-performance criticism. Recrimination, second-guessing
and suspicion plague the workplace when tenuous discrimination suits are filed
‚€¶ creating an atmosphere in which many corporate defendants are forced into
costly settlements because they simply cannot afford to vindicate their
positions.
"While the historical purpose of the common law was to compensate for
individual injuries, this new litigation instead purports to achieve
redistributive social justice. Scratch the surface of the attorneys'
self-serving press releases, however, and one finds how enormously profitable
social redistribution is for those lawyers who call themselves 'agents of
change.'"
Jones wonders, "What social goal is achieved by transferring millions of
dollars to the lawyers, while their clients obtain coupons or token
rebates."
The judge quoted George Washington who asked in his Farewell Address,
"Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of
religious obligation desert the oaths ‚€¶ in courts of justice?"
Similarly, asked Jones, how can a system founded on law survive if the
administrators of the law daily display their contempt for it?
"Lawyers' private morality has definite public consequences, " she said.
"Their misbehavior feeds on itself, encouraging disrespect and debasement of
the rule of law as the public become encouraged to press their own advantage
in a system they perceive as manipulatable. "
The second threat to the rule of law comes from government, which is
encumbered with agencies that have made the law so complicated that it is
difficult to decipher and often contradicts itself.
"Agencies have an inherent tendency to expand their mandate," says Jones.
"At the same time, their decision-making often becomes parochial and
short-sighted. They may be captured by the entities that are ostensibly being
regulated, or they may pursue agency self-interest at the expense of the
public welfare. Citizens left at the mercy of selective and unpredictable
agency action have little recourse."
Jones recommends three books by Philip Howard: The
Death of Common Sense, The Collapse of the Common Good and The Lost Art of Drawing the Line, which further
delineate this problem.
The third and most comprehensive threat to the rule of law arises from
contemporary legal philosophy.
"Throughout my professional life, American legal education has been ruled
by theories like positivism, the residue of legal realism, critical legal
studies, post-modernism and other philosophical fashions," said Jones. "Each
of these theories has a lot to say about the 'is' of law, but none of them
addresses the 'ought,' the moral foundation or direction of law."
Jones quoted Roger C. Cramton, a law professor at Cornell University, who
wrote in the 1970s that "the ordinary religion of the law school classroom" is
"a moral relativism tending toward nihilism, a pragmatism tending toward an
amoral instrumentalism, a realism tending toward cynicism, an individualism
tending toward atomism, and a faith in reason and democratic processes tending
toward mere credulity and idolatry."
No 'Great Awakening' In Law School Classrooms
The judge said ruefully, "There has been no Great Awakening in the law
school classroom since those words were written." She maintained that now it
is even worse because faith and democratic processes are breaking down.
"The problem with legal philosophy today is that it reflects all too well
the broader post-Enlightenment problem of philosophy," Jones said. She quoted
Ernest Fortin, who wrote in Crisis magazine: "The whole of modern thought ‚€¶
has been a series of heroic attempts to reconstruct a world of human meaning
and value on the basis of ‚€¶ our purely mechanistic understanding of the
universe."
Jones said that all of these threats to the rule of law have a common
thread running through them, and she quoted Professor Harold Berman to
identify it: "The traditional Western beliefs in the structural integrity of
law, its ongoingness, its religious roots, its transcendent qualities, are
disappearing not only from the minds of law teachers and law students but also
from the consciousness of the vast majority of citizens, the people as a
whole; and more than that, they are disappearing from the law itself. The law
itself is becoming more fragmented, more subjective, geared more to expediency
and less to morality. ‚€¶ The historical soil of the Western legal tradition is
being washed away ‚€¶ and the tradition itself is threatened with collapse."
Judge Jones concluded with another thought from George Washington: "Of all
the dispositions and habits which lead to prosperity, religion and morality
are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of
patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness
- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens."
Upon taking questions from students, Judge Jones recommended Michael
Novak's book, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common
Sense.
"Natural law is not a prescriptive way to solve problems," Jones said. "It
is a way to look at life starting with the Ten Commandments. "
Natural law provides "a framework for government that permits human
freedom," Jones said. "If you take that away, what are you left with? Bodily
senses? The will of the majority? The communist view? What is it - 'from each
according to his ability, to each according to his need?' I don't even
remember it, thank the Lord," she said to the amusement of the students.
"I am an unabashed patriot - I think the United States is the healthiest
society in the world at this point in time," Jones said, although she did
concede that there were other ways to accommodate the rule of law, such as
constitutional monarchy.
"Our legal system is way out of kilter," she said. "The tort litigating
system is wreaking havoc. Look at any trials that have been conducted on TV.
These lawyers are willing to say anything."
Potential Nominee to Supreme Court
Judge Edith Jones has been mentioned as a potential nominee to the Supreme
Court in the Bush administration, but does not relish the idea.
"Have you looked at what people have to go through who are nominated for
federal appointments? They have to answer questions like, 'Did you pay your
nanny taxes?' 'Is your yard man illegal?'
"In those circumstances, who is going to go out to be a federal judge?
People who have accomplished nothing. In other words, federal employees."
Judge Edith H. Jones has a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from the
University of Texas School of Law. She was appointed to the Fifth Circuit by
President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Her office is in the U.S. Courthouse in
Houston.
The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 when a group of law students
from Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago and Yale organized a
symposium on federalism at Yale Law School. These students were unhappy with
the academic climate on their campuses for some of the reasons outlined by
Judge Jones. The Federalist Society was created to be a forum for a wider
range of legal viewpoints than they were hearing in the course of their
studies.
From the four schools mentioned above, the Society has grown to include
over 150 law school chapters. The Harvard chapter, with over 250 members, is
one of the nation's largest and most active. They seek to contribute to
civilized dialogue at the Law School by providing a libertarian and
conservative voice on campus and by sponsoring speeches and debates on a wide
range of legal and policy issues.
The Federalist Society consists of libertarians and conservatives
interested in the current state of the legal profession. It is founded on
three principles: 1) the state exists to preserve freedom, 2) the separation
of governmental powers is central to our Constitution and 3) it is
emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to state what the law is,
not what it should be.

 

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Other Information

  • http://www.martindale.com  This link provides information about attorneys such as their peer review ratings, their areas of practice, etc.  Just because an attorney doesn't have a Martindale-Hubble rating, doesn't mean that they are not a good attorney, but this is what the website has to say about why the ratings are important, "The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings help in-house counsel and other sophisticated buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. Lawyer Ratings serve as an objective indicator that a lawyer has the highest ethical standards and professional ability and are used by buyers of legal services to justify their hiring decisions." 
I was actually able to find an attorney that had "Civil Rights Section 1983" under their areas of practice.  A 1983 lawsuit is part of the Title 42, and is often accompanied by a 1985 lawsuit for violation of Civil Rights.  When you get to this website, just click on the tab at the top left that says "FIND LAWYERS AND FIRMS" and select the information that pertains to you (I chose my state and "Civil Rights").
Please keep in mind that an attorney with a Martindale-Hubble rating may have a more expensive fee, so you'll need to find out their fees before you hire them. 
This next link explains the Martindale-Hubble peer ratings (V, AV, BV, CV):  http://www.martindale.com/xp/legal/About_Martindale/Products_and_Services/Peer_Review_Ratings/ratings.xml

Hope this helps someone.

Other Related Sites of Possible Interest

  • Great Legal Reference Source www.findlaw. com  It's free and all you have to do is register. There is a lot of information to be found there. This is for those who are serious about searching the legal system.
  • In the News

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Rate Your Judge

At RateTheCourts.com, visitors may anonymously complete judicial evaluation surveys for over 27,000 of the nation's judges and judicial nominees. Survey criteria is based, in part, upon the American Bar Association's Black Letter Guidelines for the Evaluation of Judicial Performance (February 2005). Survey responses and comments are tabulated and displayed instantly.

To vote for the worst judges of 2009, find and select the judge you are looking for by using the Search features below. Once you have selected the judge, you will be taken to the page for the judge where you may cast your vote. You are allowed only one vote per session.  Go There Now.

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Legal Immunity for CPS Workers Who Lie?
Original Link: http://www.childlaw.us/2009/08/legal-immunity-for-cps-workers.html#more

The critics and plaintiffs’ attorneys are out there. They see the with frustration in their assertion that there are child protection workers who are as dysfunctional and flawed as some of the abusive and neglectful parents they investigate. They feel mistreated, ambushed, without recourse to a neutral oversight authority, and fume that the courts will believe the word of child protection workers over their clients. And yet, when there is a credible allegation that a child protection worker has knowingly made misleading or false statements which resulted in the wrongful removal of a child, their criticism and anger seem justified. Such misrepresentations may involve highly contested issues of material fact that more properly should be examined by an agency supervisor or in court on the merits. The supervisor or court, inadvertently giving credence to the worker’s misrepresentation, may thereby be swayed in favor of the worker’s recommendations.

Guest Feature Article by Daniel Pollack, MSW, JD
Legal Aspects of Immunity for Government Social Workers

It is an accepted principle that a parent has a constitutionally protected interest in the custody and care of his or her child. This interest does have exceptions, especially when the child may be in immediate or apparent danger. This is when child protection services gets involved. Crucial to every child protection investigation is to establish the facts and circumstances of the case. When these are presented to the court at a dependency hearing, the evidence may become proof.

The best professional judgment of child protection workers may, in hindsight, be wrong. For this and other reasons, child protection workers usually have some level of immunity from prosecution. [1] When individual government officials are sued for monetary damages they generally are granted either absolute or qualified immunity. The United States Supreme Court has stated that qualified immunity is the norm, absolute immunity is the exception. [2]

Should that immunity disappear when, in their official capacities as child protection workers, they make knowingly inaccurate or false statements which result in the wrongful removal of a child? California law provides for public employee immunity from liability for an injury caused by the employee instituting or prosecuting any judicial or administrative proceeding within the scope of their employment, even if he or she acts maliciously and without probable cause. [3] However, a public employee has no such immunity if he or she acted with malice in committing perjury, fabricating evidence, failing to disclose exculpatory evidence or obtaining evidence by duress.

Generally, whether an employee is acting within the scope of his or her employment is ordinarily a question of fact to be determined in light of the evidence of the particular case. Some courts hold that immunity for child protective workers exists as long as they act responsibly in the performance of their duties. The immunity applies even where a complaint alleges caseworker misconduct or intentional wrongdoing. [4] Others hold that the worker must be involved in a function critical to the judicial process itself. In either case, the more outrageous the employee's alleged tortuous conduct, the less likely it could be described as foreseeable, and the less likely the social service agency could be required to assume responsibility for the act as a general risk of doing business.

Recent Cases

In Doe v. Lebbos, [5] the Ninth Circuit held that a social worker was entitled to absolute immunity for allegedly failing to investigate adequately the allegations of abuse and neglect against a father and in allegedly fabricating evidence in a child dependency petition because those actions had the "requisite connection to the judicial process' to be protected by absolute immunity (at 826)." In Van Emrik v. Chemung County Dep't of Soc. Servs., [6] the court found that child protective caseworkers were entitled to qualified immunity in connection with the removal of a child from the custody of her parents during a child abuse investigation. In the Sixth Circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit the type of immunity depends on the particular task the worker is doing. In Gray v. Poole, [7] the court held that qualified immunity covers social workers acting as investigators, while social workers testifying as witnesses are protected by absolute immunity. In Rippy ex rel. Rippy v. Hattaway, [8] the court ruled that absolute immunity protects social workers who initiate proceedings on behalf of a child. In Austin v. Borel, [9] the court ruled that child protection workers were not entitled to absolute immunity when they filed an "allegedly false verified complaint seeking the removal of two children" from the family home (at 1363).

Ethical Considerations

There is, of course, a difference between misrepresentation of a piece of physical or verbal evidence and the actual creation of false evidence. Misrepresentation involves the willful giving of a misleading representation of the facts. Creation of false evidence involves the act of improperly causing a ‘fact’ to exist. More often, critics and attorneys accuse workers of a willingness to misrepresent, selectively quote, and misconstrue information to support their claims and therefore to present an entirely misleading case. Rather than sticking to agency protocols and training the workers sensationalize their documentation and findings in a misleading fashion.

To what extent are such allegations true? Do workers consciously or unconsciously misrepresent evidence, and selectively engage in systematic distortion? How often do they may make deliberate efforts to mislead, deceive, or confuse their own supervisor or the court in order to promote their own personal or ideological objectives? How frequently are workers omitting or concealing material facts? Under the guise of vigilance, are there child protection workers whose adherence to rules and procedures is purposely excessive?

From a social work, legal, or judicial perspective, making a knowing misrepresentation in a child protection case is a serious ethical breach. The NASW Code of Ethics, 4.01(c), notes that: “Social workers should base practice on recognized knowledge, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to social work and social work ethics.” At 4.04 the Code goes on to state: “Social workers should not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, or deception.” Dishonesty, shading the truth, or a lack of candor cannot be tolerated in child protection services, a field of endeavor built upon trust and respect for the law. Whether or not child protection workers deserve immunity from prosecution when they misrepresent or fabricate evidence is a question each states’ courts are dealing with. Similarly, each court must decide whether such misconduct warrants setting aside the decision to remove the child from his or her home. In the final analysis, the question might soon find itself before the U.S. Supreme Court.

A worker’s misrepresentation or fabrication of evidence is particularly pernicious because it puts the whole field of child protection in a negative light. Whether or not immunity is granted, there is simply no excuse for this kind of willful and egregious conduct.

Endnotes

[1] See, e.g., Abdouch v. Burger, 426 F.3d 982 (8th Cir. 2005) and Babcock v. Tyler (884 F.2d 497 (9th Cir. 1989) (absolute immunity shields social workers to the extent that their role is functionally equivalent to that of a prosecutor); but see Burton v. Richmond, 276 F.3d 973 (2002) (when a state department of human services affirmatively places children in an abusive foster care setting, the state may be liable for damages); Gray v. Poole, 275 F.3d 1113, (D.C. Cir. 2002) (qualified immunity covers social service workers acting as investigators, but when testifying as witnesses they are protected by absolute immunity). Qualified immunity is often afforded if the social work is involved in a “discretionary function” unless his or her conduct is clearly a violation of a statute or constitutional principle (Snell v. Tunnell, 698 F. Supp. 1542 (W.D. Okla. 1988).

[2] Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982) (absolute immunity is appropriate in limited circumstances -- judicial, prosecutorial, and legislative functions-- whereas executive officials usually receive qualified immunity).

[3] Cal. Gov't Code ß 821.6

[4] Cunningham v. Wenatchee, 214 F. Supp. 2d 1103 (E.D. Wash. 2002).

[5] 348 F.3d 820 (9th Cir. 2003).

[6] 911 F.2d 863, (2d Cir. 1990).

[7] 275 F.3d 1113 (D.C. Cir 2002).

[8] 270 F.3d 416 (6th Cir. 2001).

[9] 830 F.2d 1356, 1363 (5th Cir. 1987).

 

This article originally appeared in the APSAC Advisor: Do child protection workers deserve immunity when they misrepresent or fabricate evidence?, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Advisor, 21(2), 18-19.

Daniel Pollack, MSW, JD is full professor at Yeshiva University School of Social Work in New York City and is a frequent expert witness and contributer to this blog.

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Development of Legal Assistance Site
Thoughts ~ Getting Started ~ Filing Cases ~ Case Examples ~ Website Development

Thoughts from the Group

  • "We ARE NOT attorneys so there are "NO" holds or worry about LOSING our bar cards which is SO IMPORTANT to attorneys. "WE" can "quote" the law as good as any attorney and "WE" are "NOT" practicing law without a license but are FOLLOWING guidelines the laws that has been set down for us to use." CH
  • "TO ME" if a judge attempts to control what evidence can be presented -- the judge is attempting to cover up the crimes being committed by the legal system. This is why we have to be able to represent ourselves in court. I strongly believe we can beat the legal system at their own game. CH
  • Please don't be afraid to speak out and offer suggestions, we're building and growing in knowledge of the law. We've been through nightmares, the heart aches, the tears, sleepless nights and becoming stronger with the very broad shoulder of the group to lean on.  We're digging into State and Federal Law and hoping to make things really HOT for the corrupt legal system. If you have knowledge concerning law--writing legal briefs and such. Please don't be afraid, just jump in and get your feet wet as the rest of us are doing and you are very welcome. CH
  • I say we are not lawyers, attorneys and they may try to say "we're practicing law without a license." sorry Charlie, I know how to read, how to do research and we are following the law and doing what the law says. Have you ever notice that doctors and lawyers always say they're "practicing?" CH
  • Every case is different and is decided on 1) the law and 2) case law.  What's important is finding other cases where the issues are close or identical and the judge ruled in favor of the client.  This is research.  A great resource are paralegals.  These are professional research people and do most of the research for attorneys.  Good ones even write briefs.  If interested I'll tell you what I know about possibly securing one for a fraction of the cost of an attorney if you want to represent yourself.  Once you have a good brief, the chance of attracting an attorney just for court time are good.  JH

Getting Started on Your Brief

Simply put, you need the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of your case

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Filing Civil Suits

The next thing I'm going to suggest is learning how to file civil suits and somehow manage to get the cases before juries. I believe there would be enough cases that could be filed to gridlock the legal system. Possibly the attorneys listed on the Glennsacks.com website might be interested in assisting in filing civil suits. I know all of this takes money. One thing I've thought about is getting behind one case and go from there.

Going to have to do some studying on this--I believe there are ways of stopping them from doing anything until the case is settled by filing a mechanical lien. Maybe someone in the group knows something about this and how to make it work. I know we're going up against a bunch of slick entrenched crooks that's taken over the legal system so we've got to learn how to beat them at their own game.

How many of the group has a BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY? This book should be in every home. You can find it in most large bookstores about $75.00 if I remember right. Also, start a file on cases like the legal system uses. Have you noticed how they will refer to other cases instead of using the merits of the case before them? Well, we can do the same.

All of these people are public employees and have supervisors so complaints should be filed with the supervisors and higher ups.

I hope I can find this attorney in New York that had a lot of information on his website (about 80 or so pages). He almost lays out a guideline we would be able to follow. 

 I'm going to make a suggestion that everyone might need to start doing. MAKE BACK UP DISKS AND COPY RECORDS, DATA, DOCUMENTS AND ETC. I've lost more material than you can shake a stick at so I'm a really great one to be giving this advise.

Additional Information: Law Suit Flow Chart (PDF File)

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Building Cases

We've got to build a library of cases we can use. You have to remember I'm not a foster parent and in general the info I talk about is from being a parent. We need to figure out how to combine  criminal "penal" codes with Admin Codes if this is possible. I found the CA CHILD ABUSE ACT. If a person didn't know it exists, they'd never find it. It makes *good* reading..

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Hi Charles,
Your brainstorm may be very a very valuable asset.May I offer some alternative suggestions for your consideration:
  • Create another group site ie *fosterparentallegationbriefs*  for example. I mention this since working on briefs would mean a lot of correspondence and another group would keep this specific information in one place. (Please note there is a limitation on the amount of words you can post on the web and all the wording of a brief might not be displayed

  • Email by attachment the actual briefs that members want to become involved in. If you have a word program and if you save it as an *rtf* (Rich Text Format) file, this can be read with most popular word programs.

  • Create a link on the NFPCAR site, ie *Legal* Tab. (This page is the WebPage. Currently it is just one page, but as more develops, will add more pages)

     I can set up a link, plus I can set up a section within the site as Password protected. This way the Public can not see the briefs, just those that are actually involved. (Link is http://rScrapZ.com/NFPCAR/Lawyer/ )
     

  • However, for starters, it would be very beneficial if you could send me a template or fill in the blank file for starting your brief.

So think about it and let me know, Plus thanks for your wonderful contributions you have made to this group.
God Bless, GranPa Chuck

 

Just thought I would share this information on this blog from Fight CPS, before you go to this site:

Lawyers who take CPS defense cases

I’m getting a lot of requests for referrals to lawyers who take CPS cases. If you know of any lawyers who do CPS defense, please tell us about them here. If you are a lawyer, please sign in by using the comment link below this post.

Please give us contact information… website links are very welcome. We need to know what state CPS defense attorneys are in, so at least tell us that much.

I’d like to make this page a permanent resource for people looking for lawyers who do CPS defense. Your referrals can help.

To those who don’t have competent attorneys, who can’t find a referral here, I have a suggestion: Go to your county courthouse or to federal court (if you intend to file a lawsuit there) and look through the cases, which should be listed in some kind of computer database. You can ask the county clerk for help locating cases. Look for cases that have the Department of Social Services (or whatever they call it there) as a defendant. Then find out who the attorneys for the CPS victims are. In this way you’ll probably find lawyers who are willing to take on CPS cases.

If there’s nobody available in your county, try nearby counties. Sometimes getting an attorney from another county is the best thing you can do - they are less tied into local politics and not worried about staying friends with local CPS workers and judges.


P.S. - This is NOT the post to make attorney requests on. This post should have comments with attorney referrals only. If you need an attorney, please do not tell us about it in the comments to this post as I will have to delete those comments. This post should create a page with lots of attorney names for referrals only.

Go to Site Now

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Oyez.org
U.S. Supreme Court Media

The Oyez Project is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality 'tour' of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices.

Link to Site: http://www.oyez.org

  • Here is an example of a search using the terms child abuse VS CPS

http://www.oyez.org/search/apachesolr_search/child abuse VS CPS

Simple click on the above link and you will be taken to this page and you will see all the cases containing these words. Great site if you want to learn more about the decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court. You may want to take the Tour so you can learn more about this site.

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In the News

Judge told to appear in court Case: Whether 17-year-old should be sent back to father

By DAVE STEPHENS
Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND - Two judges are embroiled in a legal battle that could force one judge to appear before the other in court next week, as part of a case filed by a formerly homeless man seeking custody of his son.

Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch has ordered County Probate Judge Peter Nemeth, who handles juvenile cases, to appear in court Thursday to explain why a 17-year-old boy hasn't been released from a foster home and returned to his father.

Gotsch made the order after a writ of habeas corpus petition was filed by Walter Jennings, who is seeking the custody of his son. Also ordered to appear are Linda Cioch, director of the county's Division of Child Services, and foster parent Christine Jacobs.

According to court and child services documents, Jennings lost custody of his two sons in June 2007 after they were found to be homeless and living out of his car. Since that time, Jennings has established a residence and found work, but his youngest son has not been returned to his custody.

James Masters, Nemeth's law partner and attorney, said Gotsch has no jurisdiction in the case and cannot make Nemeth appear in court.

On Friday, Masters filed a motion to quash the writ of habeas corpus, and he said he is confident Gotsch will rescind the writ once he reads the motion to quash.

“Nobody is going to appear (Thursday),” Masters said. “My motion to dismiss has been filed. My motion to quash has been filed. Judge Nemeth is not going to waste his time appearing before a judge who has no jurisdiction.”

Gotsch declined to comment on the case.

But the writ of habeas corpus does included language that would make it possible for an arrest warrant to be issued for Nemeth, forcing him to attend the proceeding.

‘I can hold my own'

According to Tim Lahrman, who calls himself a family rights advocate who is helping Jennings with his legal filings, the case began two years ago when the Jennings family moved to South Bend.

Lahrman said Walter Jennings, along with two teenage sons, moved from Michigan seeking work. With little money, the family went to South Bend's Center for the Homeless seeking shelter.

Lahrman said the Division of Child Services was contacted because Jennings had no job and home. The two boys were designated as “children in need of services” and placed in a group home.

By February 2009, according to probate court transcripts, Jennings said he had been living in a home for four months and employed for six months but that his youngest son had not been returned to his custody. Jennings' other son returned to his care when he turned 18.

Jennings argued then that his son should be released from state care, but Nemeth denied that request and set a status hearing for May.

At that hearing, Walter Jennings and his son both asked to be reunited.

According to court documents, Walter Jennings' son, who turned 17 in June, told Nemeth that he was a straight-A student who had secured a summer job and who hopes to attend Ball State University to study architecture someday. The Tribune is not printing the teen's name because he is juvenile.

“I think I am getting a little too old for foster care, since I'll get out when I'm 18 anyway,” the teen told Nemeth in May. “And I don't see any need for any of this … and, I believe, I can hold my own if you want me to say I can take care of myself.”

But Nemeth denied the boy and his father's request, in part because social workers said Walter Jennings refused to sign a “safety plan,” which required in-home visits by social workers and an agreement to attend family counseling.

Masters said that refusal was enough cause for Nemeth to deny the teen's release.

“(Jennings) admits in his (court) response that he never signed that safety plan … he doesn't think it's necessary … consequently the child hasn't been released from foster care and placed with him,” Masters said.

But even though Jennings' son remains in foster care, the teen is hoping to have a say in his future.

On Friday, the teen filed his own motion, asking that he be allowed to attend next week's writ of habeas corpus hearing to speak on his own behalf.

“I wish to waive my right and privilege of confidentiality and privacy in this matter, and I do so that the courtroom may be open for the world to see what a scam the State of Indiana is running,” the boy wrote. “In sum, I don't mind being the poster boy for what is so wrong about my experiences with these state actors.”

Link: http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090626/News01/906269819/1130

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  • Another Champion of Justice - Thank you, Barbara Hollingsworth!
Posted: 06 Jun 2008 10:51 AM CDT
This week I received email with links to a series of news articles written by Barbara Hollingsworth about CPS injustice. She’s looking for cases in and around Washington DC, to profile them in future news articles.

Here are her article links:
Victims claim CPS officials guilty of ‚€˜ruthless behavior - examples of CPS injustice from around the USA.
Is it child protection or legal kidnapping? - how CPS works, and how innocent parents can be accused of wrongdoing.
Bureaucrats running down the clock against parents - this is about ASFA, the Orwellian law passed in 1996 that allows CPS to terminate parental rights after keeping a child in foster care for only 15 months. This has encouraged the CPS tactic of delaying reunifications until the time limit is reached so they can adopt out children even if the parents are adequate and have done everything required. This law also gives states bonus money for each child adopted out.
 
ASFA = “The Adoptions and Safe Families Act” - ostensibly written to keep children from having to live in long term foster care, by encouraging adoptions. In practice it has encouraged states to rip apart young families to get the babies because they are most easily adopted out. Older “hard to adopt” children are featured on meat-market type websites where people can look through to see if they want any featured children. The states get thousands of dollars for each adoption, from the federal treasury. “Child collectors”… aka Adopters… get thousands of dollars in adoption subsidy payments. Social workers get jobs since they are the front-line in taking children from their families. It is a win-win situation for everyone except parents and children who are used, abused, and traumatized for life by this pathetic rush for money by greedy systemites.

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Please do your homework.

  • Look things up for you to use in your case.
  • Do your legal research.
  • Understand what a law means - use a law dictionary.
  • Write your term paper. Education is the key to success! Do your own work.

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If you check sites like , http://overlawyered.com/ , http://caught.net/ , ? or blog?, (appellate Court info) or google "court reform", "legal system reform", "judicial accountability", or similar terms and you'll find info and discussions regarding the type issues that have been raised.
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http://exposecorruptcourts.blogspot.com/ vs exposecorruptcourts.com

howappealing.com ---not

Search:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/

American.htm-written 2003

Fred.htm-written 1939

TO ADD

 

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Disclaimer: This is for informational purposes only. We are not lawyers or affilated with any lawyers shown. It the the responsiblity of the user to check the accuracy and validity of this information.
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