Secrets won’t protect children

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(Photo: Michael Schennum / The Republic)

The public's right to know is more than some noisy neighbor's curiosity.

When it comes to child safety, the level of openness can determine whether a child protection agency gets the scrutiny it needs to improve or simply uses secrecy to hide its mistakes.

Arizona's failed former child welfare agency was stealth-prone.

The agency that replaced it last year, the Department of Child Safety, was born amid promises to be more transparent.

Lawmakers, supported by Gov. Doug Ducey, are moving in the right direction.

But there are troubling shadows of secrecy.

For example, Ducey's office is refusing to release a whistle-blower complaint made against Greg McKay, who is now the department's director. It was made by the department's general counsel, Allister Adel, when McKay led the agency's Office of Child Welfare Investigations.

INTERVIEW: Child-safety director shakes up agency

In response to a Feb. 20 public-records request from The Arizona Republic, Ducey's office claimed attorney-client privilege, saying the memo from Adel was covered under attorney-client privilege and was not subject to disclosure, according to a statement to The Republic from Ducey's spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato.

Openness would be a better approach.

There were tensions last month when Ducey fired Charles Flanagan as the department's chief and put McKay in the job. A lengthy memo from McKay criticizing Flanagan's handling of backlogged cases preceded the change. Under Flanagan, the department's internal-investigations unit had investigated McKay and other employees.

When McKay took over, he eliminated the internal-investigations unit.

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Retired Arizona Judge Reveals Corruption in Legal System

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Justice John F. Molloy was an attorney in Arizona who went on to serve as a judge on the Arizona Superior Court bench. He is probably best known for his time serving as Chief Justice to Court of Appeals for the State of Arizona, where he authored the famous Miranda decision that was subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and overturned, resulting in what is known today as the “Miranda Rights” which law enforcement now quotes to suspected criminals upon arrest.

Judge Molloy wrote a book that was published in 2004 a few years before he died in 2008. He was apparently suffering from cancer at the time, and perhaps knew his remaining time on earth was short. The title of the book is: The Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion, published by Paragon House.

An excerpt from the book has been published and copied in many places on the Internet today, reprinted in accordance with the “fair use” provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107. It is an amazing expose on just how corrupt the American Judicial System is today, and it perhaps gives us a better understanding on how so many judges in family or juvenile courts across the United States are able to successfully remove children from the custody of their parents in medical kidnapping cases.

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“THE FRATERNITY “- THE CORRUPTION OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM EXPOSED BY A JUDGE “The once honorable profession of law now fully functions as a bottom-line business, driven by greed and the pursuit of power and wealth, even shaping the laws of the United States outside the elected Congress and state legislatures.”

Justice John F. Molloy

When I began practicing law in 1946, justice was much simpler. I joined a small Tucson practice at a salary of $250 a month, excellent compensation for a beginning lawyer. There was no paralegal staff or expensive artwork on the walls. In those days, the judicial system was straightforward and efficient. Decisions were handed down by judges who applied the law as outlined by the Constitution and state legislatures. Cases went to trial in a month or two, not years. In the courtroom, the focus was on uncovering and determining truth and fact.

I charged clients by what I was able to accomplish for them. The clock did not start ticking the minute they walked through the door.

Looking back

The legal profession has evolved dramatically during my 87 years. I am a second-generation lawyer from an Irish immigrant family that settled in Yuma. My father, who passed the Bar with a fifth-grade education, ended up arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court during his career.

The law changed dramatically during my years in the profession. For example, when I accepted my first appointment as a Pima County judge in 1957, I saw that lawyers expected me to act more as a referee than a judge. The county court I presided over resembled a gladiator arena, with dueling lawyers jockeying for points and one-upping each other with calculated and ingenuous briefs

That was just the beginning. By the time I ended my 50-year career as a trial attorney, judge and president of southern Arizona’s largest law firm, I no longer had confidence in the legal fraternity I had participated in and, yes, profited from.

I was the ultimate insider, but as I looked back, I felt I had to write a book about serious issues in the legal profession and the implications for clients and society as a whole. The Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion was 10 years in the making and has become my call to action for legal reform.

Disturbing evolution

Our Constitution intended that only elected lawmakers be permitted to create law. Yet judges create their own law in the judicial system based on their own opinions and rulings. It’s called case law, and it is churned out daily through the rulings of judges. When a judge hands down a ruling and that ruling survives appeal with the next tier of judges, it then becomes case law, or legal precedent. This now happens so consistently that we’ve become more subject to the case rulings of judges rather than to laws made by the lawmaking bodies outlined in our Constitution.

This case-law system is a constitutional nightmare because it continuously modifies constitutional intent. For lawyers, however, it creates endless business opportunities. That’s because case law is technically complicated and requires a lawyer’s expertise to guide and move you through the system. The judicial system may begin with enacted laws, but the variations that result from a judge’s application of case law all too often change the ultimate meaning.

Lawyer domination

When a lawyer puts on a robe and takes the bench, he or she is called a judge. But in reality, when judges look down from the bench they are lawyers looking upon fellow members of their fraternity. In any other area of the free-enterprise system, this would be seen as a conflict of interest.

When a lawyer takes an oath as a judge, it merely enhances the ruling class of lawyers and judges. First of all, in Maricopa and Pima counties, judges are not elected but nominated by committees of lawyers, along with concerned citizens. How can they be expected not to be beholden to those who elevated them to the bench?

When they leave the bench, many return to large and successful law firms that leverage their names and relationships.

Business of law

The concept of “time” has been converted into enormous revenue for lawyers. The profession has adopted elaborate systems where clients are billed for a lawyer’s time in six-minute increments. The paralegal profession is another brainchild of the fraternity, created as an additional tracking and revenue center. High powered firms have departmentalized their services into separate profit centers for probate and trusts, trial, commercial, and so forth.

The once-honorable profession of law now fully functions as a bottom-line business, driven by greed and the pursuit of power and wealth, even shaping the laws of the United States outside the elected Congress and state legislatures.

Bureaucratic design

Today the skill and gamesmanship of lawyers, not the truth, often determine the outcome of a case. And we lawyers love it. All the tools are there to obscure and confound. The system’s process of discovery and the exclusionary rule often work to keep vital information off-limits to jurors and make cases so convoluted and complex that only lawyers and judges understand them.

The net effect has been to increase our need for lawyers, create more work for them, clog the courts and ensure that most cases never go to trial and are, instead, plea-bargained and compromised. All the while the clock is ticking, and the monster is being fed.

The sullying of American law has resulted in a fountain of money for law professionals while the common people, who are increasingly affected by lawyer-driven changes and an expensive, self-serving bureaucracy, are left confused and ill-served. Today, it is estimated that 70 percent of low-to-middle-income citizens can no longer afford the cost of justice in America. What would our Founding Fathers think?

This devolution of lawmaking by the judiciary has been subtle, taking place incrementally over decades. But today, it’s engrained in our legal system, and few even question it. But the result is clear. Individuals can no longer participate in the legal system.

It has become too complex and too expensive, all the while feeding our dependency on lawyers. By complicating the law, lawyers have achieved the ultimate job security. Gone are the days when American courts functioned to serve justice simply and swiftly. It is estimated that 95 million legal actions now pass through the courts annually, and the time and expense for a plaintiff or defendant in our legal system can be absolutely overwhelming.

Surely it’s time to question what has happened to our justice system and to wonder if it is possible to return to a system that truly does protect us from wrongs.

A lawyer from Tuscon, Arizona, John Fitzgerald Molloy (b. 1917) was elected to the Superior Court bench where he served for seven years as both a juvenile court and trial bench judge. He subsequently was elected to the Court of Appeals where he authored over 300 appellate opinions, including the final Miranda decision for the Arizona Supreme Court. During that period, he also served as president of the Arizona Judge’s Association. After 12 years, Molloy returned to private practice to become president of the largest law firm in southern Arizona. His book has received widespread praise for its candor and disquieting truths.

Copyright 2004, Paragon House

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Mandatory Video Taping of All CPS Workers

qQxhAfhxVBWoQRD-580x326-noPad[1]I live in Phoenix Arizona. What has happened to my two daughters makes me beyond terror-stricken! My daughters, age 12 and 10 were snatched from their hospital beds by CPS under false allegations, (just 18 days after our family had dismissed their GI doctor for neglect.) Unjustly removed from their feeding tubes they have now lost over 25% and 17% of their body weight! Still stuck in the system 6 months later and suffering, many continue to speculate what happened. But one thing we know for sure is that the Hospital and CPS workers who removed them, could have had a camera or a body cam to record the incident -- a camera that could have prevented the incident or given us clear information about what happened.

I won't accept that my daughters are suffering in vain. That is why I am asking for the Maricopa County CPS/ DCSFS division be the first to require that all workers and visitation supervisors who come in any contact with the public, children and their families be required to wear body cameras at all times. I am asking that part of the 60 million dollars that was received from Obama, for that division, be used to fund this project. Within 6 months I am asking that every county with a CPS/ DCSFS division in Arizona be fitted and operational with such devices.

Requiring CPS workers/ visitation supervisors to wear cameras would come with many benefits. The cameras would cost a few hundreds dollars each and would:

-Provide greater transparency and a constant third party witness
-Enhance motivation to act lawfully and truthfully
-Reduce the number of lawsuits and increase dismissed lawsuits with digital evidence
-Increase citizen's trust of his/her CPS division thanks to recorded actions
- In addition to clarify allegations against the accused party(s) the initial tape must entail a verbal reading of the initial complaint even if redacted.

-Lawyers should also be able to subpoena these immediately with the client receiving them within 24 hours for the initial tape, and 3 business days thereafter, with a fee of no more than $2.

"Police departments nationwide are using or testing on-body cameras and they're reportedly reducing police misconduct. When the Rialto Police Department in California adopted cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent. Other municipalities that have employed these cameras have seen a sharp drop in complaints and misconduct." -Require Ferguson and St. Louis County and City police officers to wear body cameras (Petittion)

Arizona foster-care numbers rose over decade, as national numbers fell

Advocates hold photos of foster children during an April 2013 rally af the Arizona State Courts bulding in Phoenix. WASHINGTON – Arizona saw the number of kids in its foster care system rise significantly from 2002-2012, a time when most other states were posting sharp drops in their foster care rolls, according to new federal data.

The report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families said Arizona was one of 11 states with an increase in foster children and one of only two – along with Texas – with significant increases.

Arizona had the second-largest increase in the nation over the decade, adding 7,296 children to Texas’ 8,294. There were 15,751 foster kids in Arizona at the end of March, according to the latest numbers from the state.

Advocates said the numbers are more evidence of a state foster care system in crisis, one that has been “overworked and overwhelmed” as budgets have been cut.

“There was a perfect storm of things – the recession hit, the budget cuts had to be made and so more kids were coming in to care,” said Russ Funk, director of marketing and family recruitment at Aid to Adoption of Special Kids.

State officials said there is no one reason for the increase, but expressed confidence that recent improvements will have an effect.

After reports in late 2013 that more than 6,000 foster-care cases had not been investigated, Gov. Jan Brewer created a Child Advocate Response Examination (CARE) Team of lawmakers, advocates and state officials to oversee those cases and monitor Child Protective Services.

And the Legislature this spring voted to give oversight of the state’s foster care system to a new Department of Child Safety.

Jennifer Bowser, a spokeswoman for the new department, said she has seen improvements made “all over the place” to the state’s child care system since the agency’s creation.

Bowser said the state is revamping its training process for caseworkers, has reviewed legislation for additional staffing and is making significant progress on backlogged cases.

The 15,751 children in out-of-home care this March represented an increase of 714 children from the previous year, according to the state.

While the state is attempting to improve the child protective services system and provide more preventive services, families are still faced with challenges that put them in difficult situations – situations that can lead to their children being placed in foster care.

“There are a variety of different reasons that children become neglected or put at risk of being neglected when their parents are struggling,” Funk said.

Beth Rosenberg, director of child welfare and juvenile justice at Children’s Action Alliance, said the increases are occurring because of a system that has been “overworked and overwhelmed.”

“We were bringing more kids in to the system than the kids were leaving the system,” she said.

Funk said a prime factor for the surge of children in the Arizona foster care system was budget cuts during the recession that led to reductions in preventive services, such as parenting skill workshops and addiction rehab support.

And while the system was gaining kids, Funk said, there are “fewer caseworkers handling more cases with less services in place to help return those children” to their families.

Bowser agreed that socioeconomic challenges and substance-abuse issues could make it more likely that a child is removed from his or her home.

“If we can provide more prevention services – early intervention services – the hope is to not have the children need to be removed,” she said.

Dramatic Increase In The Number Of Children In Arizona CPS/DCS Custody

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With the recent stories of children allegedly being medically kidnapped in Arizona, as well as reports that there are not enough foster homes to house all the children in DCS custody, some parents have asked if this is truly an increasing trend or if there are simply more of these stories being reported. The trends they are seeing are concerning.

An average of 32 children enter the foster care system in Arizona every single day. Kris Jacober, the executive director of the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, told KTAR, “There’s more kids in foster care than there has ever been before.”

She is correct. According to the latest DCS Semi-Annual Child Welfare Report, there has been close to a 50 percent increase in the number of Arizona children in out-of-home care over just the last four years, from 10,514 in the period from April 2010 to September 2010 up to 15,751 in the period from October 2013 to March 2014. “New removals” have increased at just about the same rate, from 4,010 in 2010 to 5,701 in the 6 month period ending in March 2014.

Besides having half again as many children living in foster care as were there four years ago, Arizona has the greatest increase in the nation of child removals from their home. While most of the nation has seen fewer CPS cases, only 11 out of 50 states have shown an increase in the past decade. Arizona leads the pack, by a large margin, according to a Data Brief by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services. Arizona’s own data confirms that increase.

Arizona leads the nation in the number of children taken by the state

Arizona leads the nation in the number of children taken by the state

The number of very young children in foster care has skyrocketed.

Despite a federal law that ties Title IV-E funding to a requirement that CPS/DCS seek to place a child with a relative first, many parents allege that this is not being done. They may be correct. According to the Child Welfare Report, only 42.7 percent of children removed from their homes in Arizona are placed with family members.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children whose parents’ rights have been terminated, who have been adopted out of foster care — again, it is a 50 percent increase over the past four years, from 991 over 6 months in 2010 to 1,518 in the 2014 period. Over half of those placements are finalized within one year of the child being taken from their parents’ custody. This could indicate that any parents who may be falsely accused are not given adequate time for a defense.

All of these numbers might be good if it meant that the government was getting better at protecting kids from abusive parents. But it is far from clear that this is the case. While the numbers have remained fairly steady for removals for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse over the four years between 2009 and 2013, it is neglect cases that make up the staggering increase in DCS cases, according to data from the DCS Oversight Committee.

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Also, the same report show that the number of children entering the DCS system has sharply increased, but the number of children exiting the system has remained steady.

Since the majority of the children removed from their homes are neglect cases, and since the greatest increase in DCS removals are based upon that charge, it is helpful to understand how neglect is defined by the Arizona DCS. According to the state code in Arizona, “neglect exists when parents, guardians or custodians place children at unreasonable risk of harm.”

“Neglect occurs when children are not given necessary care for illness or injury. Neglect also includes leaving young children unsupervised or alone, locked in or out of the house, or without adequate clothing, food, or shelter. Allowing children to live in a very dirty house which could be a health hazard may also be considered neglect.”

Further clarification states that neglect includes “a denial or deprivation of necessary medical treatment or surgical care or nourishment with the intent to cause or allow the death of an infant who is protected under A.R.S. § 36-2281.”

Herein lies the rub. Recently there have been a string of cases that have been taken up by Arizona’s DCF which have been termed “neglect.” Most of these allege medical neglect of the child(ren), when what is actually happening is that the parents challenge, debate, or disagree with a treatment plan or diagnosis by a doctor, or simply ask for a second opinion.

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When parents in Arizona try to enlist the help of their elected representatives, or file a redress of grievances when they say they are falsely accused, they report that they get nowhere. Health Impact News recently reported why, and it is a reason that should alarm everyone who believes in representative government. Maria Hoffman is an unelected employee under contract to the Arizona Legislature who is the Director of the Arizona Legislative Office of Family Advocacy. She reports that she is the “the only person at the legislature who handles CPS constituent issues directly and with the Attorney General’s Office.” All complaints are routed through her. When concerned citizens ask questions or talk to the media, she has threatened them with contempt and jail time, citing an ambiguous federal law that removes the person’s first amendment freedom of speech.

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The Inquisitr has reported on several of these stories in Arizona, and elsewhere, including the two Deigel sisters and Christopher Brown, who were taken by DCF based on accusations from doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Isaiah Rider in Chicago, Jaxon in Missouri, and Justina Pelletier in Boston are other cases that have made headlines recently. There are hundreds more whose stories have not been reported, often out of fear, and sometimes because of an unconstitutional gag order that has been placed upon the parents.

Arizona CPS Christopher Reign

Christopher Brown

The question is: How many of Arizona’s DCS/CPS cases are truly abuse cases, and how many of them are for alleged crimes by the parents, when the parents were simply doing what parents do, and fighting for answers and the best possible care for their children? When did disagreeing with the doctor become a crime punishable by having one’s child kidnapped?

Arizona has solid parental rights laws, laws that overzealous or corrupt social workers, judges, and doctors need to be reminded of, laws that are not being followed in many cases.

“The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health car and mental health of their children is a fundamental right.”

For the parents whose children were taken away because they questioned or disagreed with a doctor’s treatment plan, the law may as well not exist. There has been a huge increase in the number of children taken from their homes in recent years, more in Arizona than in any other place in the country. Parents and concerned citizens want to know why.