Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Details of Temporary Custody Hearing in Orlando paper or And Yet Something Else Not to Do to Your Child

The "Yet Something Else Not to Do to Your Child" in the article linked below is shoot him. Yes, you read that right, a father is alleged to have shot his own son.

Ocoee father shooting son: Judge says mother of teen shot can't protect her children -

The horrendous circumstances depicted in the headline caught my attention. I think you knew already that parents should NOT shoot their children. That's not why I posted the article.

I have often thought that child protective services (CPS) agencies (the Department of Children and Families, DCF, formerly DSS, in Massachusetts) overreach in bringing "failure to protect" cases. I went to read the details in the article thinking I would find myself objecting with statements such as, "What more did they expect her to do? How could she have predicted that?" But the article convinced me, as the Florida DCF lawyer convinced the Orange County (FL) judge, that this was probably a reasonable failure to protect case.

That's not why I posted the article.

Two things really caught my attention:

1. The reporter seems to have been in the courtroom. She published details about the allegations and comments about what the attorneys said.

In Massachusetts, child protection cases are closed to the public. We might get a snippet in the news about the police bringing DCF into a case when they find children in a "house of horrors" or when parents are arrested. But we don't get to see inside the CPS system -- the public doesn't know how it is decided whether children are released to their parents or placed.

2. The article said that the children were upset when told they wouldn't be going home and it has comments about what the parents' attorneys said. Nothing was said though about what the children's attorney said.

In Mass children's counsel are supposed to follow their clients' expressed wishes or, if the child is too young or otherwise incompetent for reasons other than just minority, use substituted judgment to determine what the children would want if they were competent.

Hmm, on third thought, did the children need to be taken away from the mother?

1 comment: said...

It is unusual for reporters to be in court for these things, but it seems to have started happening with Rifka's case -- her family in Ohio is Muslim, she converted and ended up here in Orlando. Perhaps it was because secrecy surrounding DCF's activities fueled a lot of suspicion and publicity in recent years. Florida doesn't appoint attorneys to represent children; DCF attorneys are doing better at it, but until recently were expected to be Mafia-style mouthpieces for the agency and child safety be damned. Meanwhile, the compassionate conservatives in Tallahassee capped compensation for attorneys appointed to represent parents at 800 bucks per case for the first year, 200 more if it drags into another year. And that is the short version of how dependency court here stays stupid.