Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 40

Nos.

09-1454 & 09-1478

In The
Supreme Court of the United States
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "
BOB CAMRETA,
Petitioner,
v.
SARAH GREENE, personally and as next
friend for S.G., a minor and K.G., a minor,
Respondents.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
JAMES ALFORD, Deschutes Sheriff,
Deschutes County, Oregon,
Petitioner,
v.
SARAH GREENE, et al.,
Respondents.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
On Writ of Certiorari To The United States
Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF NIVEEN ISMAIL
IN SUPPORT OF AN AFFIRMANCE OF
THE OPINION BELOW
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
NIVEEN ISMAIL
119 Promontory Dr W
Newport Beach, CA 92660
951-452-1734
niveeni@yahoo.com
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii
INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
ARGUMENT
I. The Ninth Circuit Correctly Decided That
The Instant Case Was A Seizure Under The
Fourth Amendment And Petitioners Have Not
Challenged That Ruling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
II. The Ninth Circuit Correctly Decided That
The Reasonableness Standard Was Inapplicable
Here Because The Interrogation Was Part Of A
Criminal Investigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
III. The Seizure Of S.G. Was Not Reasonable
Under Terry Or Any Other Fourth Amendment
Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
IV. Only A Brief Interview Is Appropriate Under
Terry And Brevity Is Essential When Dealing With
Children Due To The Inherent Unreliability Of
Children’s Statements And The Ability Of The
Interviewer To Contaminate The Results Thereby
Increasing The Risk Of Error In Dependent Child
Proceedings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
V. There Are No Special Needs In Child Neglect
And Abuse Investigations That Outweigh The
Private Interests At Stake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
VI. Real Life Horror Stories Of CPS Involvement
Cautions Against Granting CPS Any Additional
Power To Create Probable Cause . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

i
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES

Page
US Supreme Court Cases
Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969) . . . . . . . 9
DeShaney v. Winnebago County, 489 U.S. 189 . . . 35
Eaton v. Price, 364 U.S. 263 (1960) . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Ferguson v. City of Charleston, 532 U.S. 67 (2001) 20
New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 . . . . . . . . . 5, 6, 14
Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S.186 21
Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982) . 1, 2, 17-18
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1, 16-19 (1968). 5, 7, 9, 12-14
United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 US 873 . . 9, 13
United States v. Drayton, 536 U.S. 194, 201 (2002). 9

Federal Cases
Doe v. Heck, 327 F.3d 492, 509 (7th Cir.2003) . . . . 20
Doe v. State of La., 2 F. 3d 1412 (1993) . . . . . . . . . 30
Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194 (2003) . . 20
Jones v. Hunt, 410 F.3d 1221, 1228
(10th Cir. 2005) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6, 10, 12, 14
Morris v. Dearborne, 181 F. 3d 657 (1999) . . . . 28-29
Snell v. Tunnell, 920 F.2d 673, 698 (1990) . . . . . . 12
Wallis v. Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 1999). . 32
Walsh v. Erie County Dept. of Job and Family Serv.,
240 F. Supp. 2d 731, (ND Ohio 2003) . . . . . . . . 34

ii
California Supreme Court Cases
In re Lucero L. (2000) 22 Cal. 4th 1277 . . . . . . .14, 15

California Cases
Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick vs. County of Orange
(No. G039045), 2010 Cal. App. Unpub
(Cal.App. 4 Dist. Jun 14, 2010) . . . . 16, 19, 26-28
In re Claudia E. (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 627, 637. 27

Other Authorities
Lee & Thue, 13 U.C. Davis J. Juv. L. & Pol'y
“Unpacking the Package Theory: Why California's
Statutory Scheme for Terminating Parental
Rights in Dependent Child Proceedings Violates
the Due Process Rights of Parents as Defined by
the United States Supreme Court in
Santosky v. Kramer.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Should We Believe the People Who Believe the
Children? The Need for a New Sexual Abuse
Tender Years Hearsay Exception Statute
(Winter 1995) 32 Harv. J. on Legis. [207] . . . . . 14
The Administration on Children, Youth and Families
(ACYF): Child Maltreatment 2009, available at:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm09/c
m09.pdf#page=31 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Child Welfare League of America, available at:
http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/financinghistory.ht
m..................................... 3

iii
Child Maltreatment in Foster Care: A Study of
Retrospective, available at:
http://www.cfrc.illinois.edu/publications/safety/chi
ld_maltreatment_and_juvenile_delinquency.pdf 4
Foster care too often fails to keep kids safe, available
at:
http://extras.denverpost.com/news/foster0521a.ht
m..................................... 4
A Critical Look At The Foster Care System: How
Widespread a Problem? available at:
http://www.liftingtheveil.org/foster04.htm . . . . 4
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform: False
Allegations: What the Data Really Show,
available at:
http://www.nccpr.org/reports/OTHER3.pdf . . . 19
Assessing the Costs of False Allegations of Child
Abuse: A Prescriptive, available at:
http://www.ipt-
forensics.com/journal/volume9/j9_3_2.htm . . . . 32

iv
INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE1
Amicus curiae, Niveen Ismail, is a private
concerned citizen and a resident of Orange County,
California, who has personal first hand experience
with Child Protective Services (CPS) and the juvenile
court system. Proceeding in pro per, she petitioned
this Court in May 2009 for review. Docket No. 08-
10723. The main question presented was whether
California’s dependency laws terminating parental
rights under a preponderance of the evidence
conflicted with this Court’s holdings in Santosky v.
Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982). This Court requested a
response on August 27, 2009, and denied cert on
November 2, 2009.
This amicus curiae also has a civil rights
lawsuit asserting claims for intentional torts and
violations of state and federal civil rights against the
social services agency pending in the Central District
Court of California. No claims of Fourth Amendment
constitutional rights violations were made against
the social services agency in the aforementioned
case, therefore this amicus curiae does not have a
financial or other interest in the outcome of this case
except the preservation of the constitutional rights of
the citizens of this great nation as envisioned by its
founders, and most especially the rights of families to
be free from unreasonable governmental interference
in their affairs.
1 This brief is filed with the consent of all the parties. Letters of

consent are on file with the Clerk of this Court. No counsel for
any party has authored this brief in whole or in part, and no
person or entity other than the amicus curiae has made any
monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of this
brief.

1
In addition to her own experiences with CPS
and the juvenile court system in California, this
amicus curiae has participated in several forums,
discussion groups and activist groups related to
dependency proceedings and family rights advocacy
nationwide, and has read hundreds of dependency
cases, published as well as unpublished, and a large
number of opinions by Circuit Courts of Appeal and
District Courts, relating to civil rights violations
stemming from child neglect and abuse allegations,
as well as numerous opinions by this Court
regarding the First and Fourteenth Amendment
rights.

This amicus curiae brief is submitted in


support of an affirmance of the opinion below. This
brief is necessary because it presents a realistic
viewpoint of dependency proceedings and
interactions with social services and law enforcement
officers during these proceedings. This brief is also
necessary to highlight a major error in the Children’s
Advocacy Institute’s (CAI) amicus curiae brief, which
states that: “At this stage, this Court must find by a
now-heightened burden of “clear and convincing
evidence” that the parents are “unfit” and
termination is appropriate. Santosky v. Kramer, 45
U.S. 745 (1982).” Id. at 18. However, as explained
earlier, California does not adhere to Santosky,
supra, and it is the state courts, not this Court, that
determine whether parental rights will be
permanently extinguished or not.
The CAI, which is based in San Diego,
California, monitors “California and federal
standards affecting children” Id. at 1, but

2
nevertheless misstates the law as it applies to
California.
Petitioners and amici curiae in support of
Petitioners, paint a pure and noble viewpoint of the
government’s interest in the protection of the
children, and an abysmal picture of the role of
parents in the protection of their children. Poverty is
never discussed as a possible reason for the majority
of these detentions, which could in fact be resolved
with adequate services, but never are. Defensive
social work and federal adoption bonuses create an
incentive to place children into adoption instead of
reuniting families.2 In fact, in 2009, the national rate
of victimization was 0.93 per 100 children, of which
78.3% were the result of general neglect or child
endangerment, while 17.8% were due to physical
abuse and only 9.5% were due to sexual abuse.3
Further, none of the amici point out to the
Court that the incident of child abuse is actually
2 Federal and State grants generally reimburse CPS for foster
care and for adoptions but provide little financial incentives for
aiding and reunifying families or placing children with
relatives. Further, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)
contains several provisions focusing on moving children more
expeditiously to permanency. Those provisions include new
timelines for moving children to permanency; modification of
the "reasonable efforts" standards required of state programs to
specify that the child's safety and health is "paramount" to
other concerns when deciding the placement of a child; and the
creation of adoption incentive bonuses to states that increased
the number of adoption from the foster care system; see, e.g.,
http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/financinghistory.htm.
3 The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF):

Child Maltreatment 2009, available at:


http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm09/cm09.pdf#page=
31.
3
greater in foster and institutional care than in the
general population. The estimated rate of
victimization in foster care ranged from 4.4 to 2.7 per
100 children.4 This is to be expected, because social
workers have a tendency to protect and defend foster
families, and as a result there may be a tendency to
relax the supervision of these families. Further, it
stands to reason that the lack of a biological
relationship between foster children and their foster
families, including other foster children in the home,
would tend to increase the likelihood of sexual abuse
in foster and group homes.
This amicus curiae brief also seeks to dispel
the myths behind Child Protective Services,
otherwise known to many parents as Child Parent
Separators, (CPS) and the adequacy of the juvenile
courts in protecting the due process rights of parents,
and therefore emphasizes the heightened need for
greater protections against Fourth Amendment
rights violations, while the parent and his/her child
still have these rights which were intended to protect
against the unnecessary invasion of privacy and the
4 Child Maltreatment in Foster Care: A Study of Retrospective,
http://www.cfrc.illinois.edu/publications/safety/child_maltreatm
ent_and_juvenile_delinquency.pdf at page 7;
see also Foster care too often fails to keep kids safe, available at:
http://extras.denverpost.com/news/foster0521a.htm; see also A
Critical Look At The Foster Care System: How Widespread a
Problem? (12.5% of Arizona’s foster care population have been
sexually abused while in state care; a 1992 study in Maryland
showed that sexual abuse in foster care was four times higher
than the general population; the ACLU's Children's Rights
Project similarly estimates that a child in the care of the state
is ten times more likely to be abused than one in the care of his
parents) available at http://www.liftingtheveil.org/foster04.htm.

4
equally unnecessary destruction of families once a
dependency petition is sustained and the family
becomes vulnerable to inadequate due process
protections, as demonstrated by this case, where a
Fourth Amendment Rights Violation permits social
worker, Camreta, to commit an even more egregious
Fourteenth Amendment rights violation by
submitting false and perjured statements to the
court in order to illegally detain the children.
The last section of this brief shows a sampling
of cases where over-exuberance in identifying child
abuse can lead to egregious constitutional rights
violations and the unnecessary tragic destruction of
families.

--------------------u--------------------

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
The facts of this case support the lower court’s
findings that a Fourth Amendment violation
occurred, whether this result is reached by standard
probable cause, exigent circumstances or warrant
requirements, or whether it is reached by the more
relaxed Terry v. Ohio standard that the stop and
inquiry must be "reasonably related in scope to the
justification for their initiation." 392 U.S. 1 (1968), at
29.
T.L.O.5 is inapplicable in the instant case
because although the seizure occurred on school
grounds, the nature of the seizure was unrelated to
the special needs to maintain law and order on
5 New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325.

5
school grounds, nor the special relationship between
students and school officials.6
There is no need to create new exceptions to
accommodate the needs of government employees
investigating child abuse and neglect allegations,
because there is no “social worker” exception to the
traditional and sacred safeguards of the Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution,
which has adequately balanced the needs of both the
government and private individuals for more than
two hundred years. And whenever this Court has
relaxed the traditional concept of probable cause and
warrant requirement to accommodate exceptional
needs, there has generally been sharp division in the
Court with strong dissents. There are also risks of
public disenfranchisement with the judiciary when
constitutional rights are compromised and standards
are rewritten without a public referendum in support
thereof.

Because this case revolves primarily on child


interviews prior to a determination of probable
cause, a closer look at the nature and reliability of
these interviews is warranted. Child interviews are
particularly vulnerable to manipulation and by their
very nature require special handling and adequate
training. Further, children often provide inconsistent
responses, and are more apt to provide the kind of
reply that they feel is expected of them. Prolonged
interrogations tend to aggravate these
6 See also Jones v. Hunt, 410 F.3d 1221, 1228 (10th Cir. 2005)

(holding the T.L.O. standard inapplicable to the seizure of a


student that did "not involve efforts by school administrators to
preserve order on school property").

6
vulnerabilities and distort the truth. Social workers
are particularly apt to distort the facts of the
interview in the absence of corroborative evidence in
their over zealousness to find abuse or neglect and to
“protect” the child. Numerous cases, including this
case on hand, show how the allegations made by
social workers can differ considerably from those
made by children and their parents. Allowing
unfettered access to children by social workers
without the presence of a neutral party or without
videotaping the interview, would in fact contribute to
a plethora of constitutional rights violations,
unnecessary and traumatizing detentions and
examinations, and possibly even erroneous
termination of parental rights. If anything, an
abundance of caution should be taken when allowing
interviews to be conducted between a social worker
and a child than one might ordinarily require of any
other police interview or stop.
A multi-step balancing approach is
unwarranted, for the following reasons: 1) there are
no special needs here that have not been previously
addressed or that differ from regular police
enforcement activities, whether in apprehending
criminals or in protecting society from harm; 2) Terry
and other precedent case law suffice as controlling
authority in deciding the reasonableness of child
interviews under the Fourth Amendment when a
warrant has not been secured and probable cause
has not been established; 3) exigency provides both
social workers and police officers the right to seize a
child without a warrant when probable cause exists
that the child is at risk of imminent or irreparable
harm; 4) although the child is an alleged victim and

7
not an alleged suspect, she has an interest in
maintaining her familial relationship which will be
threatened when her Fourth Amendment rights are
violated and she becomes the subject of intrusive
physical examinations and unnecessary and
traumatizing detention which can easily be secured
when her interview is taken out of context or
manipulated, and therefore she is not just a witness
but rather she is a central figure in the investigation
whose rights are heavily implicated no less than if
she were the alleged perpetrator; and 5) creating
new exceptions and new multi-step analyses will
only invite confusion, increase costly litigation, and
will threaten to undermine our rights and liberties
secured only after centuries of struggle and sacrifice.
Finally, a plethora of real life cases
demonstrate that there is a high risk of irreparable
harm to families when CPS acts out of over-
exuberance in seizing and detaining children without
probable cause, and that once a child is seized, the
balance of power shifts dramatically to CPS and its
agents, including their evaluators and “therapists”,
who are apt to embellish, exaggerate, distort the
facts, create probable cause where none exists, and
ignore obvious signs that negate their findings,
thereby increasing the risk of an erroneous
termination of parental rights, or at minimum the
unnecessary prolonging of the children’s detention.
--------------------u--------------------

8
ARGUMENT
I. The Ninth Circuit Correctly Decided
That The Instant Case Was A Seizure
Under The Fourth Amendment And
Petitioners Have Not Challenged That
Ruling
Petitioners have not challenged the lower
court’s determination that in the instant case a
seizure under the Fourth Amendment occurred. See
Pet. App. 18, 62. Nor is this question before the
Court, therefore the Court should respectfully refrain
from addressing whether the instant case was a
seizure under the Fourth Amendment and move to
resolve the question posed by Petitioners’ briefs:
whether the seizure was in fact reasonable or not.
Even if the question was posed to the Court,
the answer turns to whether S.G. felt she was free to
decline to answer any questions and to leave the
room when she so desired. While not all official
questioning, whether by the police or other public
authority figures, would rise to the level of a
“seizure” under the Fourth Amendment, so long as “a
reasonable person would feel free to terminate the
encounter” United States v. Drayton, 536 U.S. 194,
201 (2002), such was not the case here.7
7 The Fourth Amendment "applies to all seizures of the person,
including seizures that involve only a brief detention short of
traditional arrest. Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969);
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16-19 (1968). `[W]henever a police
officer accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk
away, he has "seized" that person,' id., at 16, and the Fourth
Amendment requires that the seizure be `reasonable.'" United
States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 878 (1975).

9
In the instant case, it would appear that, at no
point in time, was the minor informed that she had
the option to end the interview or refuse to answer
the questions that were posed to her. While not all
children might react in the same manner as S.G., her
behavior is not unusual for a nine-year old girl who
feels compelled to obey the rules - after all the school
counselor had acquiesced to the interview and there
was no reasonable way that S.G. would have known
that she had the right to just walk away from the
interview and exit the room.8
Further, it is perfectly logical that a young girl
trapped in a room possibly with a closed door, and
left in the presence of two male authority figures
unfamiliar to her, one of them in a police outfit and
fully armed and possibly blocking the exit, and the
other fully determined to get the answers he seeks
even if it takes several hours, would feel intimidated
and fearful to express her discomfort, and might be
coerced into providing answers to questions that she
feels the interviewer is expecting in order to secure
her freedom without creating a scene.
In conclusion, the facts of this case, including
the intimidating nature of the interview in the
presence of an armed deputy, the absence of a
familiar school official, the minor’s age and her
behavioral characteristics, including her inability or
unwillingness to express her discomfort and her
ensuing submission to coercive or repetitive
questioning in the hopes of terminating the interview
through acquiescence, all support the inference that
8See also Jones v. Hunt, 410 F. 3d 1221 (2005) [holding that the
encounter between a social worker, a deputy sheriff and the
minor which lasted for about two hours was a seizure].

10
the minor did not reasonably believe she had the
choice to end the interview or otherwise walk away
from it, and ipso facto the child for the purposes of
the Fourth Amendment was in fact seized.

II. The Ninth Circuit Correctly Decided


That The Reasonableness Standard Was
Inapplicable Here Because The
Interrogation Was Part Of A Criminal
Investigation
The fact that S.G. was not a suspect, but an
alleged victim, does not abrogate the findings of the
lower court that the questioning was part of a
criminal investigation against S.G.’s father.
The lower court’s findings were based on the
unique facts of this case and the unnecessary
inclusion of a police officer in the interrogation
process. Social workers frequently conduct
interviews of children and parents without police
presence. In fact, the only rare circumstances when a
social worker may ask for police assistance is when a
social worker is contemplating forced entry into a
home or expects hostility or confrontation with the
parent or guardian of the child. This interview
occurred at a public school. Public school officials
generally do not oppose intervention by social
workers, and the child was only nine years old,
therefore there was no practical need for the
presence of a police officer or deputy. It may in fact
be inferred that the deputy was present as part of a
larger scheme of intimidating the young child into
providing the answers that were sought. Further, the
Ninth Circuit also concluded that the interview could
not have been founded on the basis of exigency,
11
because the social worker released S.G. and allowed
her to return to her mother and father despite his
allegations that S.G. confirmed the sexual
molestation.
The lower court did not rule that all child
interviews on public property are unconstitutional
absent exigency, probable cause or a warrant, but
rather the analysis was fact specific based on a
determination that the seizure was part of a criminal
investigation for the purposes of collecting evidence
to prosecute the father rather than to protect the
child from further abuse.

III. The Seizure Of S.G. Was Not Reasonable


Under Terry Or Any Other Fourth
Amendment Test
Even had the Ninth Circuit analyzed this case
under Terry, it is inconceivable that the court would
have reached a different decision. In a similar case,
Jones v. Hunt, 410 F. 3d 1221 (2005), involving an
interview at school between a police officer, a social
worker and sixteen year old Jones, the Tenth Circuit
Court of Appeals concluded that the two or so hours
of detention of Jones at her school in order to
threaten and intimidate her into going home to her
abusive father, was unreasonable even if analyzed
under Terry.9
9 “It is ultimately unnecessary for us to decide what Fourth
Amendment test is most appropriate in this case "because the
conduct alleged in [this] case would violate the most minimal
standard of which we can conceive." Snell v. Tunnell, 920 F.2d
673, 698 (10th Cir.1990). Even applying the Terry standard —
that a seizure must be "justified at its inception" and
"reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which

12
Terry held that the stop and inquiry must be
"reasonably related in scope to the justification for
their initiation." 392 U. S., at 29. In Terry, this Court
concluded that law enforcement officers should not
be compelled to abandon their investigation when
they have reasonable suspicion that a crime is about
to be committed. Further, the Court reasoned that a
quick frisk of the outer clothing is not unreasonable
because a police officer should not have to take a
bullet as an answer to a question when he
reasonably suspects that a crime has been or is about
to be committed.
An analogous reasonable seizure in this case
would involve a brief conversation or questioning by
the social worker in a less confined environment
such as the school playground or in the hallway and
preferably in the presence of a school officer.
Such was not the case here. This interrogation
lasted for two hours! Even one hour as alleged by
Petitioners is still much too long.10 It is difficult to
understand why such an interview would have lasted
this long unless the questions were in fact repetitive
with the intent of eliciting a certain response. Under
the circumstances of this case, there was a violation
of S.G.’s Fourth Amendment rights and the opinion
of the Ninth Circuit should be affirmed even if the

justified the interference in the first place" — Haberman


violated Jones' Fourth Amendment rights. Terry, 392 U.S. at
20, 88 S.Ct. 1868.” Id.
10 See also United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 US 873 (1975)

(“The officer may question the driver and passengers about


their citizenship and immigration status, and he may ask them
to explain suspicious circumstances, but any further detention
or search must be based on consent or probable cause.”).

13
Court arrives at the same conclusion in a different
way.
Finally, New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 is
inapplicable here because as both the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in this case, and the Tenth Circuit
Court of Appeals determined, the case does not
“involve efforts by school administrators to preserve
order on school property, and therefore, it does not
implicate the policy concerns addressed in T.L.O.
and therefore does not merit application of the T.L.O.
standard.” Jones, supra, at 1228.

IV. Only A Brief Interview Is Appropriate


Under Terry And Brevity Is Essential
When Dealing With Children Due To The
Inherent Unreliability Of Children’s
Statements And The Ability Of The
Interviewer To Contaminate The Results
Thereby Increasing The Risk Of Error In
Dependent Child Proceedings
In In re Lucero L. (2000) 22 Cal. 4th 1277,
three-year old Lucero made spontaneous and
consistent allegations of sexual abuse and there was
plenty of corroborating evidence that her older
sisters had been similarly sexually abused by
Lucero’s father. Despite that, there was much
contention as to the reliability and admissibility of
Lucero’s hearsay statements.11
11 See also Should We Believe the People Who Believe the
Children? The Need for a New Sexual Abuse Tender Years
Hearsay Exception Statute (Winter 1995) 32 Harv. J. on Legis.
[207] 238-239. As one author has observed, the various indicia
of reliability of a child's out-of-court statements are by their

14
For example, a psychologist opined that
“children younger than four had difficulty expressing
their experiences verbally. Information had to be
elicited with specific questions, but this led to doubt
whether the child was responding to the statement
inherent in the question or actually describing a
personal experience.” Id.
After viewing a videotaped interview of
Lucero, the psychologist concluded that the minor
was not able to differentiate between truth and
falsity, did not comprehend the concept of good and
bad touching, and possessed insufficient verbal skills
to express her experiences. The videotape showed
contamination (that is, the description of an
experience the child then owned) regarding pain and
names of body parts.
Based on Lucero, and similar cases, it can be
concluded that: 1) child interviews should be
conducted by neutral professionals trained in
handling these types of interviews and the questions
posed must be age-appropriate, direct and not
suggestive12; 2) the most reliable statements are
spontaneous and consistent and do not entail
prolonged questioning; and 3) child interviews need
to be videotaped in order to allow the defense a fair
opportunity to challenge the reliability of the child’s
statements and to preserve the evidence and prevent

very nature sufficiently ambiguous as to be 'easily


manipulable.' (Lucero, supra, at p. 242.)
12 “Suggestive questions [such as “he touched you here, didn't
he?”] asked every day for 11 months would yield an affirmative
answer if the questioner appeared to want one, but would be
likely to yield a negative response in another setting.” In re
Lucero L, supra.

15
the all-too-frequent manipulation by social workers
and county appointed evaluators of its substance and
content as this instant case and many other cases
indicate.13
In fact, the story that Camreta presents is in
stark contrast to the one presented by S.G. Had S.G.
been too young to testify and rebut the allegations
made by the social worker, the outcome of this case
might have been entirely and tragically different.
The last section of this brief summarizes a few
horrendous examples where over-exuberance in
identifying child abuse have led to horrific
consequences for the children and families
concerned.
Hence there is a heightened likelihood that
subsequent to an interview with a young child which
is not videotaped, and which is conducted in the
absence of a neutral party, the child will be detained,
because generally only a mere preponderance of the
evidence is required to sustain a dependency petition
and assume jurisdiction, and there will be no
witnesses to rebut the allegations of the social
worker or to testify on the reliability of the child
interview.
Once the child is in the custody of CPS the
balance of power shifts dramatically to the State,
13 See, e.g., Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick vs. County of Orange
(No. G039045), 2010 Cal. App. Unpub LEXIS 4436, 2010 WL
2354383 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. Jun 14, 2010) (In awarding the
mother $4.9 million, the jury found that the social workers had
lied about Fogarty abusing her children and that the Orange
County Social Services Agency employed policies that condone
perjury and are indifferent to the needs to properly train,
supervise and select their employees.).

16
and parents no longer possess any rights to attend
the child’s medical, mental health, or physical
exams, nor the right to talk to their child in private,
nor the right to select the examining doctor or
therapist for the child, nor the right to retain an
attorney for the child, nor for that matter the right to
a jury trial. And, as the Santosky14 Court correctly
concluded, the hearings will be fundamentally
controlled by the State:
“[T]he primary witnesses at the hearing
will be the agency's own professional
caseworkers, whom the State has
empowered both to investigate the family
situation and to testify against the
parents. Indeed, because the child is
already in agency custody, the State even
has the power to shape the historical
events that form the basis for
termination.”
Id. at 764.
Additionally, prior cases have shown that over
time children can be easily manipulated15 into
believing they have been abused, and the longer they
are detained in the custody of CPS while the parents
struggle to prove their innocence or fitness, the
greater the likelihood that the bond between parent
and child will weaken creating yet another argument
to forever sever the relationship in the “best interest
of the child”.
14 Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982).
15 See, e.g., the case of Alicia Wade described in the last section

of this brief.

17
Furthermore, the child is assigned an attorney
who usually sides with CPS and often works against
the parent, and to make matters worse, CPS can
amend new allegations even innocuous or subjective
ones like inadequate parenting skills, or bad
judgment, that are not related to the initial reasons
for the child’s detention, and then use these
allegations to recommend terminating the rights of
parents, which as mentioned previously, can be
terminated under a mere preponderance of the
evidence in California.16
A plethora of cases show that juvenile courts,
which are over crowded and which operate on the
principles of expediency and erring on the side of the
child, very often do not adequately protect the due
process rights of parents. In fact, it is estimated that
more than 98% of all petitions are granted and that
the courts view themselves as “pro-child”, which
translates to “pro-CPS”.17
16See, e.g., Konrad S. Lee and Matthew I. Thue, Unpacking the
Package Theory: Why California’s Statutory Scheme for
Terminating Parental Rights in Dependent Child Proceedings
Violates the Due Process Rights of Parents as Defined by the
United States Supreme Court in Santosky v. Kramer, 13 U.C.
Davis J. Juv. L. & Pol'y, 143 (2009); and numerous unpub cases.
17 San Diego Grand Jury Report 1991-92, Families in Crisis:

“Application of the standard of proof used in Juvenile Court


dependency proceedings needs to be re-examined. The standard
of proof at detention and jurisdiction hearings is "a
preponderance of the evidence." While reasonable minds could
disagree on this standard, the Jury was most disturbed by the
quality of the evidence before the court. As a practical matter,
evidence contrary to DSS' position is either excluded or ignored.
DSS may weave its case with hearsay evidence and the
speculation of "so- called" experts. More than 98% of all
petitions are granted. (As the number of complaints indicates,
18
In conclusion, what may start out as a valid
government interest in collecting evidence to
establish probable cause to protect the child, can in
fact easily result in the violation of several
constitutional rights of the child and her family,
including the likelihood that the parent-child
relationship might be forever extinguished even
when the allegations are later found to be untrue.
Hence, because of the large number of false
allegations of child abuse and neglect,18 the inherent
lack of reliability of child interviews, and the lack of
fundamental fairness and equity in dependency
proceedings which can easily lead to erroneous
determinations,19 and the grave fundamental private
interests at stake, it is imperative to uphold the full

this figure is not the result of DSS exercising strict discretion in


the filing of petitions.) The higher evidentiary standard of "clear
and convincing" evidence is used only at the Disposition
Hearing, which occurs only after the child has been separated
from the family, for what is usually months. At this point in the
proceedings, the "facts" are all but beyond dispute.”
18 See, e.g., National Coalition for Child Protection Reform:

False Allegations: What the Data Really Show, available at:


http://www.nccpr.org/reports/OTHER3.pdf.
19It should be noted that appeals in dependency proceedings
are generally ineffective at protecting the rights of parents
because the trial court must consider the intervening events
while the case is being appealed and must make decisions
based on the “best interest of the child” and not the
constitutional rights of the parents. Further, courts of appeal
are wary of prolonging the uncertainty of the child’s
permanency and are therefore less likely to reverse. Finally,
habeas petitions have no cognizable meaning in these
proceedings, Fogarty, supra.

19
protections of potentially the only viable
constitutional barrier, the Fourth Amendment,
against unjustified government intrusion and
upheaval of the family unit, in order to balance the
private and government interests at stake and
minimize the risk of error.

V. There Are No Special Needs In Child


Neglect And Abuse Investigations That
Outweigh The Private Interests At Stake
There are no special needs in child neglect and
abuse investigations, and there is no “social worker”
exception to the Fourth Amendment. See Dubbs v.
Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194 (2003) at 1205.20
Carving out such an exception would involve
rewriting the Constitution and compromising the
protections this nation has held in high esteem since
their inception.
The need to protect children from abuse is a
valid public interest but does not differ from the need
to protect society from crime, which can vary in its
degree of heinousness, including mass murders,
torture, rape and armed robbery, but nevertheless
does not warrant compromising constitutional
protections on the basis of the gravity of the alleged
conduct. Rather, this Court has consistently held the
20 See also Ferguson v. City of Charleston, 532 U.S. 67, 76 n. 9,

121 S.Ct. 1281, 149 L.Ed.2d 205 (2001) ("we have routinely
treated urine screens taken by state agents as searches within
the meaning of the Fourth Amendment even though the results
were not reported to the police."); Doe v. Heck, 327 F.3d 492,
509 (7th Cir.2003) ("the strictures of the Fourth Amendment
apply to child welfare workers, as well as all other
governmental employees").

20
Fourth Amendment to implicitly and adequate
balance the interests at stake, by allowing search
and seizure that is reasonable both at its inception
and in scope, and in some cases, such as those that
involve an entry onto private property, must be
supported by a warrant or court order.21
With regards to the private interests
concerned, children, like their parents, have a vested
interest in their familial relationship and in the right
to be free from unreasonable and unnecessarily
abusive and intrusive interrogations, seizures, or
body searches. Further, both private and public
parties have an interest in the integrity and
reliability of child interviews, because the public as
well has an interest in minimizing the risks of
unnecessary searches and seizure, prolonged
detentions and the unnecessary extinguishment of
family relationships.
With respect to the governmental interest in
conducting lengthy interviews, there is nothing to
support the theory that children respond better
21 The warrant procedure is designed to guarantee that a
decision to search private property is justified by a reasonable
governmental interest. But reasonableness is still the ultimate
standard. If a valid public interest justifies the intrusion
contemplated, then there is probable cause to issue a suitably
restricted search warrant. Cf. Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v.
Walling, 327 U.S. 186. Such an approach neither endangers
time-honored doctrines applicable to criminal investigations
nor makes a nullity of the probable cause requirement in this
area. It merely gives full recognition to the competing public
and private interests here at stake and, in so doing, best fulfills
the historic purpose behind the constitutional right to be free
from unreasonable government invasions of privacy. See Eaton
v. Price, 364 U.S. 263 (1960), at 273-274.

21
under repetitive questioning or where accuracy can
be better achieved by lengthy or coercive
interrogative techniques. To the contrary, the
interviewer can relatively quickly determine if a
child has any knowledge of terminology that is not
reflective of her age, or quickly assess the child’s
changes in demeanor when asked short directed,
non-suggestive questions about any alleged abuse.
There are other ways of eliciting reliable responses
or reactions without the need for prolonged
interrogations, which tend to distort the evidence
and undermine its credibility.
Hence applying the reasonableness standard
to child interviews on public property, one would
conclude that only a brief non-coercive interview
with a minor and only when there exists a
reasonable suspicion that the minor has been abused
or neglected, is reasonable under the Fourth
Amendment.
The reasonableness of the brevity of the
interview and its substance would turn to the facts of
the case.
Any additional need to examine the children
or subject them to lengthy interrogation would
necessitate probable cause, exigency or a warrant.
Petitioners and amici curiae for Petitioners
claim that frequently probable cause in child neglect
and abuse investigations can only be established as a
result of interviewing the alleged child victim. That
argument is not supported by any data or real life
examples.
In fact, a large number of substantiated child
sexual abuse cases were initiated based on a
spontaneous utterance by the child herself to a friend

22
or parent or school official. Further, in most child
abuse cases there are visible signs of abuse such as a
redness, swelling, bruising, etc., and/or physiological
and emotional ones, including complaints about
pains in private parts, discharge, fear, anxiety,
depression, aggression, a sudden lack of
attentiveness and deterioration of performance, and
other warning signs, including sexually acting out in
public, that frequently do not go unnoticed unless the
child is being isolated from the public and is not
attending school.
Furthermore, under certain circumstances it
is appropriate to interview the parents, and their
reactions to these interviews could also either help
establish or dispel probable cause. For example,
there may be a simple explanation for an allegation
made by a neighbor or a story taken out of context
whether improvidently or maliciously, which could
easily be clarified by a parent, thereby eliminating
the only cause for the reasonable suspicion. Finally,
many parents acquiesce to allowing the social worker
to interview or at least observe their children in the
hopes of circumventing the threat of seizure of their
children with or without a warrant.
The need for social workers and public officials
working on criminal investigations to expend more
time and effort in developing their investigatory
skills and in discovering new and creative yet
constitutional methods to achieve the goals of society
would be stymied were this Court to provide them
with an easy way out to establish probable cause and
in the process compromise the constitutional
safeguards for private individuals against excessive
and unwarranted government intrusion.

23
Significantly, a new rule or categorical
exception for investigating child abuse and neglect
allegations would propagate into further new
exceptions, new litigation and confusion. It would
also tend to encourage public officials to push the
limits in the belief that they will be able to prevail in
creating new exceptions in response to new or
unforeseen conditions, or to changes in public
policies and public needs.

VI. Real Life Horror Stories Of CPS


Involvement Cautions Against Granting
CPS Any Additional Power To Create
Probable Cause
Alicia Wade
Alicia Wade was an eight-year-old girl living
in San Diego County, California, who was raped by a
stranger entering her bedroom through a window.
There had been multiple other similar rape cases in
the neighborhood by child sex offender Albert
Raymond Carder who was later convicted of them.22
Despite this, and the many similarities between
those cases and Alicia's, San Diego CPS and County
Counsel Elizabeth Jane Via, who as Deputy DA had
prosecuted Carder, decided to pursue Alicia's father,
James Wade.
CPS proceeded to put Alicia through over a
year of psychotherapy designed to force her to
incriminate her father. After more than a year of
continuing to insist the stranger she described in
detail raped her, the questionable psychological
22 San Diego Union-Tribune Article on Wade Case.

24
techniques used by the therapy eventually led her to
incriminate her father in late June 1990. In
December 1990, James Wade was then arrested and
charged with the rape of his own daughter.
In the meantime, CPS had removed Alicia
from her mother’s custody, stating that since the
mother did not believe the allegations against
husband James Wade, she must be unfit as a
mother. CPS would not allow Alicia to be placed with
anybody who knew her, and instead placed her into
foster care with a family who later wanted to adopt
her. CPS later raced to finalize the adoption before
the results of a DNA test could become available.
The test turned out to indicate that James Wade was
not among the 5% of the population whose DNA
matched the semen stains on his daughter's
underwear.
It took two and a half years for the Wades to
be reunited with their daughter. The funds required
to defend against the false prosecution financially
ruined the Wade family and their parents. The
County Counsel prosecutor in the case, Elizabeth
Jane Via, knew about the serial child rapist Albert
Raymond Carder as she had prosecuted him earlier
for child rape cases in the area before charging
James Wade with rape. Elizabeth Jane Via claimed
in a juvenile court hearing "I was the DA on that
case. There are no similarities to this, it's a waste of
time to even consider it." More accurate DNA testing
done in December 1992 confirmed that the semen
stains on Alicia's underwear had a 100% match with
the DNA of Albert Raymond Carder.
This case led to a series of lawsuits and huge
awards and loss of faith in the system. A San Diego

25
Grand Jury issued a scathing report against CPS in
1991-92.23 None of what transpired in the Wade case
serves the private or public interests at stake. When
CPS makes all the decisions, as they frequently do,
society suffers as a whole. Without strict judicial
oversight and a higher standard of proof these very
same tragedies will continue to occur.

Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick
In November of 1999, Deanna Fogarty-
Hardwick brought her daughter K. to the therapist
who had been engaged to help the girls “adjust[] to
their father’s recent remarriage.” They reported to
the therapist that Fogarty-Hardwick’s former
husband had sexually abused K.
As a result of which, the Orange County Social
Services Agency (OCSSA) filed a petition. At the
detention hearing, the court ordered the children
remain in the custody of Fogarty-Hardwick, with her
former husband allowed monitored visitation.
At a monitored visit, one of the social workers
“spoke with both girls, telling them they were
required to visit with their father, and “if they didn’t
visit with their father, the judge was going to put
them in a home.”” Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick, at 4.
At a hearing on an amended petition, the
social worker “made false allegations against
23 In its scathing report against CPS, the San Diego Grand Jury
found that in juvenile and family courts, "the burden of proof,
contrary to every other area of our judicial system, is on the
alleged perpetrator to prove his innocence. [As a result,] a
parent making a false allegation of abuse or molest[ation]
during a custody dispute is very likely to achieve the desired
result." A subsequent jury largely concurred with these
findings.
26
Fogarty-Hardwick, including assertions that she had
caused her daughters to skip a mandatory visit with
their father, and that she had told the children that
their father was trying to take them away from her.”
Id. at 4.
“A therapist for the county also found that
both parents had inflicted some degree of emotional
abuse on the children, by virtue of their difficult
relationship, but that the father was more able to
differentiate between his own needs and those of his
children, and was thus better at shielding the
children from his emotional issues.
The therapist concluded that while Fogarty-
Hardwick’s visits with the children should remain
monitored, her former husband should be allowed
unrestricted contact.” Id. at 6.
The end result of all this was the removal of
the children from the custody of Fogarty. It then took
five years of supervised visitations and struggle in
family court before Fogarty was able to regain
custody of her daughters. In a civil lawsuit, the jury
awarded her $4.9 million not including attorney fees.
Again this case demonstrates the malevolence
and arbitrariness of social workers in protecting the
best interests of children. This is by no means a
unique case, and shows how the power of the agency
increases once a dependency is sustained even when
the parent still retains custody of the child, which is
not always possible as in the case of Alicia Wade.
Just as importantly in an unpublished opinion
by the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment in
Fogarty’s favor, the Court explained that habeas
petitions “would not be cognizable in an ordinary
appeal.” Id. at 16. (See also In re Claudia E. (2008)

27
163 Cal.App.4th 627, 637 [characterizing the habeas
corpus remedy as “a time-consuming process that is
inimical to the expedient processing of cases and one
which most likely will be impractical in the crowded
dependency system.”].) Based on that, it is clear that
once a petition is sustained, parents are severely
handicapped in protecting their rights and their
children’s rights even when constitutional violations
occur, because dependency proceedings operate
under a general rule of expediency, a mere
preponderance of the evidence standard, few
evidentiary rules, and as a general rule do not
permit a collateral attack on the integrity or state of
mind of the social workers nor on the
constitutionality of their actions, and habeas
petitions have no cognizable meaning in these
proceedings.24
It follows then that the Fourth Amendment
may be the last viable safeguard against
unconstitutional behavior by the social services
agents and its protections are thus paramount.

Morris v. Dearborne
This is yet another case of indifference by CPS
and inadequate training which strongly cautions
against permitting such agencies carte blanche
access to interview children in order to establish
probable cause for their removal. This case like many
others also shows how CPS refuses to admit guilt
24“We conclude that such a requirement [i.e. a collateral attack
on the integrity of the social workers] would be inconsistent
with the special nature of dependency proceedings and would
interfere with the interests intended to be served in those
proceedings.” Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick, supra, at 16.

28
and will maliciously continue to detain children even
when it becomes clear that the allegations are
unfounded, making the initial protections of the
Fourth Amendment even more paramount.
In Morris v. Dearborne, 181 F. 3d 657 (1999), a
four year old was detained by CPS as a result of
allegations of sexual abuse by a seriously misguided
or ill-intentioned teacher, Defendant Dearborne, who
conducted sessions with the child during which she
allegedly “implicated the parents, using compound
predicates and correctly spelled anatomical terms for
genitalia.” Id.
Despite the fact that CPS noted that the child
could neither read nor write and only referred to
male genitalia as “dangy” and the female’s as “yah”,
and that during one of the sessions, it was observed
that the child was not looking at the keyboard while
she typed, and that the output would change when
Dearborne was not looking at the screen, they still
continued to detain this child for months exposing
her to explicit sexual language and behavior.
In the end, CPS with the further efforts of
Dearborne, detained this young child for almost three
years!
The child’s father was denied any contact with
his daughter for 36 months, and the mother was only
allowed supervised visits. CPS eventually allowed
the child to return home and dismissed the case
without prejudice. CPS continued to maintain that
the parents abused the child and kept the family
under supervision. The father lost his job as juvenile
detention officer because of the accusations and the
mother claims the charges of abuse ruined their
marriage. And even though the child was returned

29
they continued to keep the family under close
supervision!

Doe v. State of La.


This case speaks volumes about the honesty
and reliability of social workers investigating child
abuse allegations and their abusive and awesome
power in controlling the course of the proceedings
and exposing children to unnecessary and malicious,
removals and extremely intrusive examinations
without probable cause based on a mere suspicion of
sexual abuse.
In this alleged sexual abuse saga, the social
worker and the agency engage in a series of
fabrications and unnecessary removals and intrusive
investigations of two young children all stemming
from a pediatrician’s report that the young girl had a
vaginal irritation.
After interviewing the daughter outside of the
mother's presence and having the daughter play with
anatomically correct dolls, the social worker
informed the mother that the daughter had been
sexually abused. The Sheriff's office then interviewed
the daughter outside of the mother's presence. “The
interview was videotaped. Immediately after the
interview the mother was informed that the
videotape provided conclusive evidence of sexual
abuse. Subsequently, the mother asked to view the
tape, but was informed that no tape existed. When
she said that she knew a tape existed, the mother
was simply told that she could not see it and was
ordered to say nothing about it.” Doe v. State of La., 2
F. 3d 1412 (1993).

30
At a later time, the social worker and a
Detective interviewed the son, but refused to
videotape the interview or allow an independent
child psychologist to be present. The social worker
stated that the interview was inconclusive, but
“insisted that the son undergo a proctoscopic
examination, despite his parents' objections. The
examination failed to produce evidence of sexual
abuse. Subsequently, based on information provided
by [the social worker], the District Attorney
commenced a civil child-in-need-of-care proceeding.”
Id.
The social worker then commenced an
unjustified investigation of abuse of the daughter
and son by the grandparents, which was abandoned
when father’s counsel intervened. In addition, CPS
threatened the mother that the children would be
placed in a foster home in another city if she did not
give evidence that the children were sexually abused
by the father.
Eventually at a hearing about four months
after the investigation began, father’s counsel
requested that the videotape of the child interview be
produced, but was told it did not exist. Under threat
of a court order, the tape was finally produced. “The
tape contained no proof that [the father] sexually
abused his daughter. . . No evidence of physical
abuse was presented at the hearing; two
psychologists . . . opined that no abuse had occurred.
The treating physician testified that there had been
no abuse. In addition, [the social worker] admitted
that the son had never made a statement to her to
establish that either child had been sexually abused.
Furthermore, although [the social worker] had

31
represented during the investigation that the
culdoscopic examination of the daughter was
inconclusive, the judge stated that the result of the
exam was negative, and not inconclusive. The judge
dismissed the charges against Doe immediately after
the hearing.” Id.

The aforementioned disastrous cases25 share a


few common elements: 1) lack of probable cause at
the inception; 2) overzealousness by CPS and their
agents to identify abuse, even when the evidence
points to the contrary; 3) a liberal attitude towards
the fabrication of evidence and the exclusion of
exculpatory evidence without any fear of
consequences, and/or a severe lack of training in
assessing abuse and the need for intrusive
examinations; 4) overall inadequate due process
protections; and 5) a complete disregard for the
rights of parents and their children to maintain their
family relationship without unnecessary government
intrusion.
The message of these horrific stories is clear:
*** The balance of power cannot be shifted any
farther towards the government. 26 ***
25 See also Wallis v. Spencer, 202 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 1999)
[This is a case that demonstrates how abiding by the warrant
requirement would have prevented the tragic and warrantless
removal of the children, because the initial suspicion was based
on allegations by someone hospitalized in a psychiatric institute
claiming ritual sacrifices. No reasonable magistrate or judge
would have issued a warrant based on that information alone.].
26 See also Assessing the Costs of False Allegations of Child

Abuse: A Prescriptive, available at:


http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume9/j9_3_2.htm.

32
CONCLUSION
Social workers are notorious for twisting and
fabricating the facts. When a result is negative, they
label it “inconclusive”. When a child expresses
normal anxiety from his separation, they label it an
“attachment disorder”. When a child is bossy or
exhibits a strong personality, they label it
“dysfunctional”. When a child does not maintain
good eye contact, they label it “autism”. When they
have nothing specific, they label it “unspecified
childhood disorder”, and the list goes on.
These generally frivolous allegations are then
presented in the social worker’s reports and
admitted into evidence and even when contested at
trial it is still considered reliable “evidence” which
the courts of appeal frequently rely on in affirming
the judgment below even in the face of conflicting
testimony and evidence.
Such is the nature of dependency proceedings
and it all starts with the initial justification for the
removal of the child. If constitutional barriers are
lowered, more children will undergo unnecessary
intrusive exams and detentions where they may
actually for the first time be molested while in group
homes or in foster care and, at the same time, the
social workers will gain the upper hand in shaping
the outcome of the dependency proceedings.
The answer lies not in compromising
constitutional protections but rather in forcing these
agencies to improve their selection, training,
supervision and discipline of their employees; in
urging the state to enact legislation that better
protect the due process rights of parents in
dependency proceedings; in creating and appointing
33
independent private organizations that monitor the
activities of these agencies; and in ensuring that
those who intentionally and wantonly trample the
rights of families, are held accountable to those
families for damages.
With adequate training there is no reason why
a social worker could not dispel or establish probable
cause with a few direct questions in the presence of a
school official or on tape. There are no data that
support the theory that intensive or lengthy child
interviews have produced correct results or were
necessary to establish probable cause, and as a
general rule most parents acquiesce to allowing their
children to be interviewed in their presence in order
to circumvent their forced removal under threats by
the social worker.27
Petitioners and amici curiae in support of
them are basing their arguments on pure conjecture
that probable cause often cannot be ascertained
without interviewing a child, and that this lack of
access creates a direct barrier to identifying child
abuse. They have not supported their arguments
with any specific data or cases.
27 See, e.g., Walsh v. Erie County Dept. of Job and Family Serv.,

240 F. Supp. 2d 731, (ND Ohio 2003) [After resisting a


warrantless entry into their homes, the Walshes, under coercive
threats, agreed to allow CPS to observe the children on the
porch. Dissatisfied, the police told the parents that: "If you
make us go through the hassle of getting a warrant, rest
assured we will cite you for anything we find in the home." Id.
at 742. The police also allegedly warned that if the parents did
not allow the caseworkers into the home, Mr. Walsh could be
arrested for obstruction of official business. Walsh finally
agreed under duress to allow their home to be searched.].

34
Further, relaxing the Fourth Amendment in
public schools does nothing to protect children who
attend private schools or who are home schooled.
CPS needs to develop better training methods for
detecting child abuse. Their record shows an
uncanny ability to ignore serious warning signs, such
as in the case of poor Joshua DeShaney28 but to
religiously and vehemently pursue innocent families.
They have been labeled as arbitrary and
inconsistent, returning children to abusive parents
and literally stealing children from loving parents.
Their modus operandi is misguided at best and
discriminatory rather than objective and reasonable.
Until CPS cleans up their act, this Court
should not give them additional leeway to abuse
more innocent families.
For the foregoing reasons, this Court should
affirm the opinion of the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeal even if the Court arrives at the same results
using a “balancing” test, permitting brief and
reasonable interviews with a child at public schools
when there is a reasonable suspicion that the child
might have been abused or neglected.

Dated: Jan. 10, 2011 Respectfully submitted,

Niveen Ismail
28 See, e.g., DeShaney v. Winnebago County, 489 U.S. 189 (1989)

(Despite multiple warning signs, and despite the social workers


having access to visit the home of Joshua and to interview him,
CPS was still unable to identify probable cause and left the
child to be severely beaten by his father to the point of suffering
permanent brain damage.).

35