Social workers involved in horrific child torture case fired

Family and friends attend a memorial service for Gabriel Fernandez, 8. The boy's mother and her boyfriend have been charged with murder and torture. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / June 12, 2013)

Family and friends attend a memorial service for Gabriel Fernandez, 8. The boy's mother and her boyfriend have been charged with murder and torture. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / June 12, 2013)

Two social workers and two supervisors in the county's troubled Department of Children and Family Services have been fired over the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy after the agency received several complaints of abuse, officials said.

Paramedics were summoned to the home of Gabriel Fernandez on the evening of May 22 and found the boy barely breathing with numerous injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns. He died in the hospital two days later. His mother and her boyfriend were arrested and charged with murder and torture.

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Social workers say releasing full details of child-abuse deaths would harm families

dcf64[1]FRANKFORT — Child-protection workers told a Franklin Circuit Court judge Tuesday they feared people would not report child abuse and children would be psychologically scarred if uncensored social-worker case files were released to the public.

Angela Taylor, a 19-year social work veteran, testified Tuesday about documents regarding the August 2009 death of Gaige Pyles, a 7-month-old Kenton County boy whose father was convicted in his death. Gaige had several half-siblings who may not know all of the details of his death, Taylor said.

"I am worried about them reading about this case in the news," Taylor said.

Taylor was one of a half dozen state social workers who testified Tuesday during a multi-day hearing about what information can be redacted from the state's files on children who were killed or nearly killed as a result of abuse and neglect.

The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Courier-Journal of Louisville have been in a three-year legal fight with the state over what can be released when a child has been killed or critically injured as a result of abuse and neglect.

Judge Phillip Shepherd has previously ruled that child-protection records are closed, with the sole exception of child deaths and near deaths. In those cases, Shepherd ruled that the public has an overriding interest in knowing how the state performed its job of protecting vulnerable children.

He said information removed from the files should be limited to names of child victims who are hurt but don't die, the names of private citizens who report suspected abuse, the names of minor siblings of victims and the names of minor perpetrators.

However, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services redacted far more information from the 140 case files sought by the newspapers, including the names of every adult interviewed by the cabinet, all people who reported abuse, the names of parents who had been charged or convicted of abuse, and addresses of their own offices.

Lawyers for the media on Tuesday questioned why the cabinet had removed critical information from Gaige's file when some of the information that was redacted has been publicly released elsewhere.

DCFS Workers To Be Fired Over Death Of Palmdale Boy

LOS ANGELES ( — The Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) has taken the first steps to fire four employees in connection with the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy, a county official said Tuesday.

County CEO Bill Fujioka announced the move on Twitter “based on an internal investigation” into the death of Gabriel Fernandez on May 24.

The recommendation was made by DCFS director Philip Browning to discharge the four employees, Fujioka said. The two social workers and two supervisors are on paid leave pending a hearing in August.

KNX 1070′s Claudia Peschiutta reports three other employees will be reprimanded as a result of the investigation.

In a memo dated July 30 (PDF) addressed to DCFS staff, Browning called the decisions “difficult” and acknowledged that the “action may cause stress and concern” among staffers.

“We finally got to a conclusion which really indicated that staff really performed far below our expectations in this case,” Browning told KCAL9′s Jeff Nguyen.

The four employees facing termination are union members who will have a chance to challenge the discharge notices in two weeks, in an internal hearing.

“This is the first step in a process in a long-term investigation,” L.A. County spokesman David Summers said.

Tammi Stephano of the National Safe Child Coalition has organized a number of protests against DCFS.

“We’re not going to go away,” Stephano said. “If somebody doesn’t make sure and enforce that the right thing is done, they’re going to create a problem bigger than they possible expect right now.”

Authorities were tipped off to the abuse on May 22 after the Los Angeles County Fire Department was called out to the 200 block of East Avenue Q-10 on a report of a boy who was not breathing.

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New family court guidelines won’t improve a rotten system for children!

custodyscales[1]Excitable coverage was given last week to new draft guidelines issued by Sir James Munby, the judge in charge of our family courts, which it was claimed would be a groundbreaking move towards lifting the blanket of secrecy that has allowed our “child protection” system to become such a national scandal. The welcome given to Lord Justice Munby’s draft guidelines to answer “the charge that we have a system of secret and unaccountable justice” – entitled “Transparency in the Family Courts (and Court of Protection)” – came from two opposing directions. On one side, two newspapers proclaimed it as a victory for their own campaigns to open up our family courts to greater public scrutiny. On the other was one of the chief cheerleaders for the system, Sir Martin Narey, now Michael Gove’s chief adviser on childcare, who wrote an article for The Times, “Family courts don’t take enough children into care”. The new “transparency”, he argued, would enable the public to see how desperately needed is the vital work our courts and social workers are doing.

All Lord Justice Munby is proposing, however, is that all judgments in these cases should be published, unless a judge finds “compelling reasons” otherwise. Just how confusing his proposals are can be seen from comparing section 21, where he says that “public authorities and expert witnesses should be named” in all published judgments, with section 24, which says “no person other than advocates or solicitors instructing them may be identified by name or location”. So, no naming of those “expert witnesses” or local authorities.

Far more important than this seemingly glaring contradiction, however, is that all Lord Justice Munby is saying is that the outside world should be allowed to see more judgments – still entirely at the discretion of the judge. To anyone familiar with the peculiar workings of these courts, this will leave 95 per cent of what is so shocking about what goes on in them as secret as ever. Still completely hidden will be the way all the normal rules of British justice can be suspended: as in allowing judges to accept damning hearsay evidence, however absurd, without it being put to any proper test; as in how parents whose children have been taken from them are too often not allowed to challenge untruths or the tendentious opinions of “hired gun” psychologists, who may not even be qualified; as in how too many parents find themselves facing the cruellest ordeal of their lives being treated by judges and all present like criminals, without being given any proper opportunity to plead their case.

Almost nothing of the ruthlessly enforced blanket of secrecy that has allowed our family courts to become so corrupted will be affected in any way by Lord Justice Munby’s proposals. Even the judgments he wants to see published cannot be properly understood by an outsider unaware of all that has gone on in the courtroom, and how what may well be a shockingly one-sided and selective judgment was arrived at. In words I have quoted before from a disillusioned family court barrister, who spent 10 years defending in vain the right of hundreds of families to stay together, the system is so rigged against the families that it is like “seeing lambs led to the slaughter”.

One of the more unfortunate consequences of the secrecy that hides the workings of this system from public view is that it makes it so easy for its defenders, such as Sir Martin Narey, formerly head of Barnardo’s, one of the largest beneficiaries of our lucrative fostering and adoption industry, to claim, as he did again last week, that only in “a very small minority” of cases are “children wrongly taken away by the authorities”. On the contrary, all the evidence suggests to those who follow these matters closely, such as John Hemming MP, of Justice for Families, or Ian Josephs, who advises thousands of families through his Forced Adoption website, is that, since the number of children being yearly taken into state care in England and Wales has soared to nearly 30,000, those being removed from their families for no good reason now run into many thousands.

A version of this column originally appeared in

A version of this column originally appeared in

Researching How to File an Appeal

16575401-appeal-appellate-court-reverse-or-affirm-outcome-from-lawsuit[1]That quote "Nothing Worth Having is Ever Easy" really should not apply to bringing to light injustices that happen to everyday people.

Search Terms - opening an appeal in the us court of appeals first circuit examples

Captioning Cases Guidelines NJ but check your state to see if they even have one. Also, good notes on who to include and not include as you move along.


Your Court's Forms & Instructions are here the example is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Their Rules are here and they coordinate with the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Here, this one has examples of forms to help you, and must be done with the Federal Rules of Procedure updates here ;

1.  Paper Certificate of Service

2.  Notice of Appearance

3.  Notice of Appeal   page 60 starts with examples of the Formates to use in a variety of appeals; it also better defines what should be in each Motion or Notice.

4. Motion and Declaration for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis outline 

Affidavit to accompany and support #4  It is important to read each fully, this shows that the 1st Circuit wants you to fill this out supported by a Motion to the same as found in #4.

5. Docketing Statement The docketing statement must be received by the court of appeals clerk's office within fourteen days after the case is docketed to be deemed timely filed.

7. You can do a Motion to Change the Name of your Case, when it is needed. Here the case name changed several times and one would think it should be changed back to the original filing, instead of the name assigned by the Supreme Ct. to a Def. not involved in the case.

What Not To Do? This article has some good points  Do it right or don’t do it all. Doing it wrong is worse than not doing it at all. Sometimes even when the trial court gets it wrong there may be nothing to appeal. But procedural errors help make it more appeal-able.

Examples of Opening Brief's

A US Attorney's Brief against a Water Company  good for form and headers

Past Attorney for NH Ayotte Brief - privacy regulating 1st amendment etc. good case ref. think she lost

Interesting Communications Brief - electronic breeches or not

Rules of Federal Courts - helpful on set up

Just Not Sure what this is, an example of why it's helpful to check your sources

Brief on Taping Officers Acting in their Official Duties

Brief Cross Appeal 

Brief with all the inline with's

Do you need a transcript? This must be filled out and filed. There may be none in your case but you need to identify that.

Motion to file Forma Pauperis, meaning you can't afford the fees;  this is just what goes with that Motion, it is an Affidavit meaning you swear the contents are true.

The Brief is done after the Court Accepts your Appeal and this is your check list which the above should mirror.

Continuously updating ... until submitted

Sometimes winning, is not only bringing people to justice; it is making them face the injustices they have done unto another. And making others aware that they are not the only ones wronged.

Denise-Marie McIntosh

A version of this column originally appeared in