Friday, November 30, 2007

Director not reviewing the case yet

The CPS Director just called, and said that she is not reviewing the case after all. She knew a little about the case, but denied that the CPS case had anything to do with the family court. When I told her that Sally Mitchell had told me that she provided info to the family court, the director then admitted that there was a relation.

The director said that I was mailed a form for filing a written complaint. I guess I'll do that next week, after I get Ms. Mitchell's written report.

Meeting the kids lawyer

I just had a meeting with Jim Ritchey, the kids' court-appointed lawyer, in his office. He had already met with my ex-wife and the kids in his office. He also talked to the CPS social worker Sally Mitchell on the phone a couple of times. He also had some written arguments from my ex-wife that he refused to share with me.

Mr. Ritchey started out asking me to tell my life story. I gave him the short version. I asked him about his role in the case. He said that he expected to represent the kids for a long time.

I told him that I thought that the case against me was unfounded. He said that he didn't care what I think. Furthermore, he said that he was strongly discouraging me from trying to deny the accusations against me. He said that he knows Judge Joseph very well, and he won't like it if I try to use the court time next week to consider factual evidence. Mr. Ritchey said that I am sure to lose no matter what I have to say in my defense.

Mr. Ritchey said that he was likely to make a recommendation to the court. He would probably recommend 100% custody to my ex-wife, with some narrowly-taylored supervised visitation for me. If I also see psychotherapists and get good reports, then he might recommend some unsupervised visitation a few months from now. He made it emphatically clear that he had me by the balls, and he was going to make my life miserable unless I did what he said. Actually, he is going to make my life miserable whether I do what he says or not.

I asked him whether he really thinks that he can decide what's best for us based on a couple of short interviews and about 20 pages of court papers. He arrogantly said yes. He said that he and Sally Mitchell know much better that I do what is good for my kids. He said that I've just raised two kids, while she has investigated hundreds of kids. (Altho he did admit that all of her interventions could have been for the worse, for all he knows.)

He gave me some standard psychobabble, and told me that his mind was made up that I was a bad parent. He said that I had done "a thousand terrible things". I asked him to give an example of one of those things that he personally thought was terrible. Then he said that I had refused to get a dog for the kids. He said that they had two dogs at their mom's house, and he thinks that they ought to have one at my house too. Furthermore, he said that the kids have reported that I will sometimes eat a sandwich off of a dirty plate.

At this point it was clear that trying to reason with him was futile.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

TV show pushes for anti-spanking law

I just watched the FoxNews O'Reilly Factor, and the guest was Teresa Whitehurst PhD who was pushing for a law in Mass. against parental spanking.
O'Reilly: The state has no right to tell an American parent how to raise their child. You already have laws in the Commonwealth, all right, that ff child is abused in any way -- bruises, even emotional abuse -- there is a mechanism to charge the parents with abuse. That is already on the books.

Whitehurst: I've been thru that. It doesn't work. It does not work.

O'Reilly: And this is going to work?!
Whitehurst went on to argue that she knew of cases where 5-year-old kids were hospitalized from being beaten with stick, and the authorities could not intervene because of the diameter of the stick.

I am thinking about calling Bill O'Reilly, and showing him that CPS and the court already have the power to intervene based on the flimsiest of abuse charges.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Law of child lawyers

When I asked Comm. Joseph about the appointment of the kids' lawyer, he cited this statute:
3114. Nothing in this chapter prohibits a court-appointed investigator from recommending to the court that counsel be appointed pursuant to Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 3150) to represent the minor child. In making that recommendation, the court-appointed investigator shall inform the court of the reasons why it would be in the best interest of the child to have counsel appointed.
We don't have a court-appointed investigator, as far as I know. Except that the lawyer is now yet another court-appointed investigator, who is going to offer his own opinion about the best interest of the children. Why his opinion would be any better than that of all the others, I don't know.

Judge schedules court dates

I just got out of court. Nothing of substance was decided.

On the way to court, I got my ex-wife's status statement in the mail. I think that I was supposed to get it five days in advance.

The first case was a lawyer who was trying to serve a summons to a husband in Mexico. The Mexican was refusing papers from his wife, so they managed to trick him into signing for another package that really contained the summons. The judge said that he'd accept that if the wife vouches for the signature.

The second case was a divorcing couple that was fighting over the division of their home and cars. She was there, along with lawyers for each. Her lawyer said that they had a settlement, but they got into a fight and now she needs a restraining order because he has guns. The judge started to fill out some paperwork for the restraining order, and asked them if 100 yards separation is sufficient. After another question, his lawyer revealed that they were still living together in the same house! The judge scrapped the restraining order, and scheduled a hearing in a couple of weeks.

Then my case came up. I came forward and identified myself as representing myself. My ex-wife put her new baby down, and also came forward, with no lawyer. But there there was this other guy there who identified himself as the lawyer for our kids! The judge suggested that he introduce himself to us. I never heard of a case where the parents do not have lawyers, but the kids do.

The judge ordered us each to pay the lawyer a $1000 retainer. He said that the lawyer should not have to be burdened by having to bill us. It is amazing how meticulous the judge is about making sure that lawyers get paid, and at the same time so unconcerned about whether I get to see my own kids.

The judge then listed the remaining issues, and started setting court dates for hearing them. There will be a hearing on the child custody order next week. There will be a hearing in January to change the child support order to conform to the appellate court reversal of it. My ex-wife asked for a trial on some other financial issues in April. She said that she will be able to leave her new baby alone at home then.

I voiced my objections to the court taking my kids, and asked for visitation. The judge gave me a list of court-approved visitation supervisors. My ex-wife complained that she has had trouble finding a visitation supervisor of her choice because people don't want to have anything to do with me after they hear about my blog. The judge said that he can't do anything about that.

Afterwards, I chatted briefly with the kids' lawyer in the court hallway. He said that he knew absolutely nothing about the case, and that he just got the order appointing him counsel that that's all. Then he told me that he wanted to meet me, my ex-wife, and the kids in his office. All separately, I assume. He said that the case was very unusual. Two things made the case unusual: the extreme action taken by CPS and the court, and the lack of any physical evidence of harm. He said that the CPS case worker was likely to testify in court next week, and that I would get a copy of her report when she completes it.

I gave the lawyer a copy of the papers I had given the court and my ex-wife. He suggested that I get counseling. I am not sure what to make of him yet. He is probably looking up this blog right now, and forming an opinion of me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Deputy director passes the case up

I just called the CPS deputy director, because he had promised to call me by yesterday to tell me my rights to appeal. He now says that he is washing his hands of the case, and had turned it over to the Director of CPS. He said that she will call me this week. He implied that there would be a big pile of forms to fill out if I really wanted to appeal.

There must be something unusual about my case that it merits the attention of the CPS director. My guess is that it is unusual because CPS is reporting abuse without any example of abuse. But I don't know. I will look forward to her call.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Filed more papers

I just filed some more papers with the judge, and mailed and emailed them to my ex-wife. I stated my objections to the temporary custody change, and attached an affidavit recounting my experiences with CPS. In part, the affidavit was just a cut-and-paste from this blog. We are scheduled to appear in court this week and next. I am not sure whether the judge will consider the papers this week or not.

Emotional abuse need not be reported

I am still trying to explain the school's strange behavior, and I see no innocent explanation. The school might defend itself by arguing that teachers are mandated reporters for child abuse, and confidentiality prevents the school from telling me about the report.

But there is no duty under the law for the school to keep info from me, as far as I can tell. Furthermore, emotional abuse is not required to be reported:
Willful cruelty or unjustified punishment, which includes inflicting or permitting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or the endangerment of the child's person or health. (P.C. 11165.3). "Mental suffering" in and of itself is not required to be reported. However, it may be reported. Penal Code11166.05 states: "Any mandated reporter who has knowledge of or who reasonably suspects that mental suffering has been inflicted upon a child or that his or her emotional well-being is endangered in any other way may report the known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect to an agency specified in Section 11165.9".
I got this from "The California Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Law Issues and Answers" (pdf booklet) that a reader kindly sent me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Questioning the motives

A reader suggests that someone besides my ex-wife could be concerned about the kids, and the judge is just taking the precaution of requiring me to prove that I am a good dad because he doesn't want to take a chance that I am not.

I don't know what the motives of the judge or the CPS social worker are. I just know what they say. If the judge really had some concerns about the kids, he could have said what those concerns were in his order. He did not. I doubt that he wants me to prove that I am a good dad, because we already did that according to family court procedures. He really has no evidence that my ex-wife is any better parent than I am. If he wanted evidence, then he could just quickly schedule a fact-finding hearing. He may just be doing whatever is easiest for him.

The motives of the CPS social worker are even harder to understand. If I find out, I'll try to post an explanation.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Getting another opinion

I talked to a social worker with the family court in a neighboring county. I told her my CPS story, just as described on this blog. I did not expect her to believe me. But she said that she has heard lots of such stories. "It is more common that you might think", she said.

She said that everyone in her office was startled to learn recently that a CPS finding of abuse in her county had been reversed by state officials in the state capital.

I guess that she was trying to give me hope, but it sounds like 99.99% of the CPS findings are not reversed.

Court appoints lawyer for kids

I just got this from the family court:

James Ritchey, Esq., is hereby appointed to represent xxxxx (d.o.b. xxxxx) and xxxxx (d.o.b. xxxxx), the minor children of the parties in this matter. His mailing address and telephone number are listed below.

Law Office of James Ritchey
P. 0. Box 1499
Santa Cruz, CA 95061 1499
831 426 7797

DATED: 11/20/07
I got no other explanation. I don't know if anyone requested this. I never heard of this lawyer. I am sure that he will be sending me some bills.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Warning about bad people

One of the things that Sally Mitchell, the CPS social worker, complained about was that she said that I told my kids not to talk to her. She said that she interrogated them at school on Monday anyway.

I do believe that Sally Mitchell is a cruel, malicious, and evil woman. I've talked to her three times, and she showed no interest in truth, fairness, or the welfare of the kids. Her mind was made up, and she was just going to inflict as much pain on me and the kids as possible. I hope that more people learn how CPS operates.

I do think that it is one of my responsibilities as a parent to warn my kids that there are bad people in the world, and to try to protect them from those bad people. I am afraid that I may have understated the problem. It is not enough to just tell kids, "Don't talk to strangers".

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Visiting the CPS office

I just got out of a three and a quarter hour meeting with CPS, at their office. I cooperated completely. It was torture. I would have preferred waterboarding.

At the start, Sally Mitchell asked me what questions or comments I might have. I said that I was baffled by her actions, as her cited complaints could not possibly constitute abuse. Either there is more that she is not telling me, or she has misinterpreted events, or overreacted to them, or something. I told her that I had asked others about the incidents, and no one I've asked thinks that anything is wrong with any of them.

She assured me that she was telling me the whole story. I begged her to give me an example of wrongdoing. She then told me of a complaint that I do not always buy what the kids want at the grocery store. In particular, there was an incident a couple of months ago when they wanted to buy clam chowder at the store, and I bought another kind of soup instead. She said that she could see no good explanation for this, as I could have just bought the soup that they wanted.

She quizzed me about the last time we were at the grocery store, and what specifically I bought that they picked out. I told her that I bought a tri-tip roast, salad greens, english muffins, pizza, berry sundae, and berry smoothie entirely at their request. They also picked out a watermeleon and some raspberries, but I forgot about them.

Then she told me about a couple of other issues that were equally idiotic. When I explained those, and begged her to explain what she could possibly find objectionable, she admitted that there was no one thing that she could put her finger on.

Nevertheless, she was sticking to her determination that I was guilty of emotional abuse. Furthermore, she said that under the law, she is supposed to report all such determinations to the state so I can be put on some sort of state dept. of justice registry of child abusers. She said that she was going to do that as soon as she completes the paperwork. Her mind was made up, and nothing would change it.

I asked if I could see the paperwork that she submits. She acted like no one had asked her that before. She said that she didn't see any reason that I could not get a copy. However, she said that it would just declare me guilty of emotional abuse, and not give any explanation. She made it sound like it was just a checkbox on a form.

She did say that I could appeal, and some higher ranking CPS official would review it. I said that I wanted to do that. She looked around, and came back with Jack Pischner. He knew nothing about the case, but she acted like I could talk to him about it for 20 minutes, and that would be my appeal.

He seemed to be trying to psychoanalyze me. He kept asking me how I feel. When I would explain something to him, he would tell me that I am using my head too much, and that I should use my heart.

I begged both of them to tell me what I could possibly do to please them. Mr. Pischner repeatedly said that what I needed to do was to admit wrongdoing, and that that was the only way to resolve the impasse and see my kids again. I was ready to concede that. Just tell me what I did wrong and I'll admit it, I kept telling them.

He insisted that there must be some wrongdoing, or there would not be a CPS file on me. He also acted as if it were unreasonable for me to expect CPS to tell me what was wrong. He urged me to take some parenting classes, get into some psychotherapy, and figure it out for myself.

He said that it was crucial to find a psychotherapist who was smarter than me. He said that he could see that I was intelligent. A lesser therapist might not successfully lay a guilt trip on me. No, he didn't really say that last sentence, but that seemed to be his reasoning.

I explained that I've been in divorce court for four years, and I've already taken every parenting class and seen every kind of psychotherapist that the court could figure out how to send me to. And yet none of them could ever explain how I had ever done anything wrong.

Ms. Mitchell acted as if she had no more responsibilities in the matter, because the court had acted to take the kids away. She admitted that she conveyed some sort of info to the court, but would not tell me exactly what. Now that the ex-wife has sole legal and physical custody of the kids, I have no more opportunities to abuse them, so her job is done.

At the end, in response to Mr. Pischner asking me how I feel again, I told him that I felt like I had just landed on Mars and was talking to a bunch of Martians, because none of this made any sense to me. He said that he could understand me feeling that way.

By an amusing coincidence, the song on the radio as I pulled into the CPS parking lot was Guns N Roses: Civil War. It starts with a clip from the movie Cool Hand Luke. The prison warden tells Paul Newman "what we have here is a failure to communicate". CPS could have just said that, and saved us all three hours and fourteen minutes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Will meet with CPS again

CPS just called again. I have an appointment to see her tomorrow morning. I will try to learn more about what is driving this investigation. She said that she has some new issues to discuss with me. I will also try to be on my good behavior.

Attended teacher meeting

I attended a parent-teacher conference at school yesterday. At 1:26 pm the school called to tell me that my ex-wife had rescheduled the meeting from 3:00 to 2:30.

When I got there, I was greeted by the principal. He said that my ex-wife had showed him the new custody order, in an attempt to block me from attending the meeting. He said that he read the order, and decided that I had a right to attend the meeting. He attended it himself to make sure that it went smoothly. He was cordial to me, but he definitely knows a lot more than he is telling me.

The third grade child had straight As in all subjects. The teacher said that she had no concerns of any kind.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Family court is radical

I just called a lawyer to ask him what to expect at the Dec. 6 hearing. He said that it is common for Comm. Joseph to take kids away for frivolous reasons, and make the parents spend months in mediation or counseling to get them back. Comm. Joseph is "conservative" that way, the lawyer said.

No, that is certainly not conservative. It is radical. It is the most extreme action that a family court judge can take. It is cruel. It is like a fireman pouring gasoline on a fire. I don't know what motivates Comm. Joseph, but he sure isn't helping.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The ex-wife's hearsay

Here is my ex-wife's declaration in support of her application for sole legal and physical custody of our two kids:
I was contacted by Child Protective Services (CPS) last Thursday afternoon regarding my ex-husband's (George) treatment of Mary and Jenny. Someone other than myself had reported him to CPS. Sally Mitchell, a worker at CPS opened case number 271265. phone 454-5058, cell 566-7074. I was told that on Thursday, Ms. Mitchell ...

At this point, I am asking for emergency temporary full custody of the children because George's emotional and physical abusive treatment of the children has escalated, and they are unsafe in his house. ... This behavior is occurring in the face of CPS investigation, where he knows that he is being watched. The children can not sustain their own emotional and physical welfare throughout the week-end.

What events transpired to lead up to this point:

The children told Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Rosse what has been going on at George's home most recently. Ms. Mitchell asked me questions regarding what the children were saying. The children listed off ...

Ms. Mitchell, along with some police officers, arrived at George's home on Friday morning to speak with him about these incidences. From what I gathered about this visit, she tried to make him aware ...

On Wednesday, Ms. Mitchell again went to visit the children at their school, along with Mr. Rosse. The children again told them ... Ms. Mitchell called me to inform me of this visit and what the children reported to her. She told me that she found him to be emotionally abusing the children, and that she was recommending counseling for George and the girls to attend together so that he can work on understanding the wishes of the children.

At this point, Ms. Mitchell had already called George. ...

Jenny has informed me that the two of them have a secret written code which they have memorized so that they can write to each other without George understanding. ... Both children have cell phones, which George does not know they have, and have repeatedly called me ...

I spoke with George on Thursday night about his behavior with the children, but was unable to have any kind of meaningful discussion in which I could be sure that Friday would not be a repeat of Thursday. ...
I omitted the parts that were pure hearsay. Usually, American courts are supposed to ignore hearsay. Witnesses are supposed to testify about their first-hand observations, experiences, and maybe opinions, but they are never supposed to offer someone else's statement for its factual content.

Normally, the court does not want to hear Julie's account of what Sally Mitchell said. It is inadmissible as evidence. If Ms. Mitchell's testimony is relevant, then she should give it directly.

If Comm. Joseph had been doing his job properly, he would have rejected the application because it consists almost entirely of hearsay, conclusory statements, and opinions. Unfortunately, it appears that I will have to spend a lot of time and effort rebutting the false and misleading hearsay.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Recapping the judge's actions

I am still trying to figure out why acting judge Irwin Joseph would sign an order taking my kids from me. Let me review his role in the case.

Julie filed for divorce from me four years ago, and we signed a marital settlement agreement splitting custody of our two kids 50-50. Within months, Julie was sleeping with her boyfriend (that she later married) and finishing up her license to be a California lawyer. Then Julie hired a new lawyer and filed a motion for sole legal custody of the kids. She managed to get primary custody temporarily based on an assortment of bogus domestic violence and child neglect allegations.

We had a full custody trial, her allegations were all refuted, and the judge ordered us back to equally shared custody. But before the order went into effect, the judge had an accident and Commissioner Irwin Joseph took over the local family court. He delayed the order for six months while he sent us out for computer-generated Rorschach Inkblot tests and other nonsense. He never gave any explanation for it.

Comm. Joseph never showed any interest in the kids at all. His biggest concern seemed to be making sure that Julie's ex-lawyer got paid. Miss Gray had run up bills of $54,000, mostly for legal work supporting the phony accusations that were refuted at trial. Comm. Joseph even ordered me to pay one $6,500 bill twice, and to pay a $10k bill when I could prove that Miss Gray falsified the supporting declaration.

I am trying to make sure that I always use the judge's name with his proper title, which I think is "Commissioner". The one time that Comm. Joseph scolded me in court was when I submitted a brief referring to the lawyer Miss Gray as just "Gray". He seemed to think that I was trying to show disrespect, and told me that I should always include her title, such as Miss Gray or Ms. Gray.

We still have some pending financial matters in Comm. Joseph's court. An appellate court has ruled that his child support orders violate the law, and he has to revise those. Julie also has some other monetary demands that she has yet to detail.

So Comm. Joseph has had us in his court for over two years, and has a file with about seven reports from court shrinks and other supposed experts. None of them said that I had any psychological disorders or anything like that. I would have thought that Comm. Joseph would at least let me give my side of the story, or wait for the CPS report. I can only assume that Comm. Joseph just rubber-stamps any such emergency ex-parte request from a mom for custody.

Just before going over to the court to tell Comm. Joseph that notice could not be given to me, Julie sent me this email:
I cancelled [our child’s] parent teacher conference for obvious reasons. I’m going to reschedule it for next week. I’ll let you know the date and time. I told the school that I would email you about canceling the conference.
I was puzzled by her mention of "obvious reasons" (and by the school calling to ask why we didn't show up for the conference). The reasons are obvious now, and she sure didn't tell Comm. Joseph that I could have just come to court instead of to the school meeting.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sheriff seized my kids

Two officers from the county Sheriff just showed up with an order from Comm. Irwin H. Joseph, and seized by kids. The order says that I can appear in his court in three weeks and tell him why I want my kids back. I am dumbfounded.

I expected to at least have some opportunity to rebut whatever allegations are raised against me, but Joseph accepted this explanation from my ex-wife:
Notice cannot or should not be given for the following reasons (if you check any box in parts 3a-3d, you must explain in detail underpart 3e):

a. [X] Notice of this ex parte application would frustrate the purpose of the orders sought herein (explain below).

b. [X] The applicant would suffer immediate and irreparable harm before the adverse party could be heard in opposition (explain below).

e. [X] Other (explain or describe in detail): I did not give Respondent notice because I am afraid for the safety of my children if Respondent knew of the orders being sought.

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Date: 11/16/07
I will be posting more on this.

Regulations on conducting interviews

Hawa has very kindly sent me some of the applicable California Codes, including this from the Penal Code:
11174.3. (a) Whenever a representative of a government agency investigating suspected child abuse or neglect or the State Department of Social Services deems it necessary, a suspected victim of child abuse or neglect may be interviewed during school hours, on school premises, concerning a report of suspected child abuse or neglect that occurred within the child's home or out-of-home care facility. The child shall be afforded the option of being interviewed in private or selecting any adult who is a member of the staff of the school, including any certificated or classified employee or volunteer aide, to be present at the interview. A representative of the agency investigating suspected child abuse or neglect or the State Department of Social Services shall inform the child of that right prior to the interview.
The purpose of the staff person's presence at the interview is to lend support to the child and enable him or her to be as comfortable as possible. However, the member of the staff so elected shall not participate in the interview. The member of the staff so present shall not discuss the facts or circumstances of the case with the child. The member of the staff so present, including, but not limited to, a volunteer aide, is subject to the confidentiality requirements of this article, a violation of which is punishable as specified in Section 11167.5. A representative of the school shall inform a member of the staff so selected by a child of the requirements of this section prior to the interview. A staff member selected by a child may decline the request to be present at the interview. If the staff person selected agrees to be present, the interview shall be held at a time during school hours when it does not involve an expense to the school. Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not affect the admissibility of evidence in a criminal or civil proceeding.
As I read this, the purpose to having a school staff person present in the CPS interview is to trick the poor child into thinking that she has a friendly advocate present to help protect her. Note that the staff person gets an explanation of the purpose, but not the child. The staff person is just supposed to make the child susceptible to CPS interrogation tactics, but cannot actually speak up or help the child. Amazing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wondering about the complainer

I still don't know who initiated the CPS complaint, or what that complaint said.

A reader claims that it is most likely that the school psychologist filed the complaint with CPS. He says that it is extremely unusual for a school psychologist to be so actively involved in a CPS investigation, and yet to never have even contacted the parent. Normally school psychologists do everything they can to get the parents involved.

I don't know, but that would explain a number of things. It would explain why the school has been so secretive and hostile. It would explain why the CPS social worker was so strangely evasive when I asked the simplest question about the school psychologist. It would explain why CPS took such a frivolous complaint so seriously -- similar complaints from a bitter ex-wife might have been ignored.

Regardless of who filed the complaint, I really object to the way that the school has promoted the investigation, and actively tried to turn the kids against me. And of course my ex-wife is using the opportunity to make a case against me. But most of all, I object to CPS deciding against me without even telling me what the accusations are. CPS cannot even point out any wrongdoing.

Another police visit

A cop from the county sheriff's office just showed up at the door.

He said that CPS called him and asked him to check on the kids. Apparently the school had notified CPS that they were absent today.

I happened to be in the backyard, and the kids answered the door and went to get me. By the time I got there, the cop said he was satisfied. He explained that it was not a police investigation, and he had no questions for me. CPS is sometimes too busy to make house calls themselves, he said. He was just complying with the CPS request.

I started to explain the situation anyway, but he said that he was one of the cops who came to my house on Friday. He acted like he already knew more than he wanted to know.

At this point, it is hard to know what will satisfy the CPS social worker. She asked me to talk to the kids, and listen to them. I am trying to do that. However, several things do not add up. I am trying to get to the bottom of this. It would be a whole lot easier if CPS would explain the complaint to me. As it is, I can cut back on activities to spend more time with the kids, but I don't know what else I can do to please CPS.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CPS accuses me

I got a call from CPS today.
Me: Hello.

CPS: Hello, is this George?

Me: Yes, it is.

CPS: This is Sally Mitchell.

Me: This is who?

CPS: Hi George, this is Sally Mitchell, social worker, CPS. I am calling for a number of reasons. One is that I wanted to let you know that I spoke with your girls today, at the school. I had wanted to talk with them and see if they were talking with you and they talked with you about what they had told me. And I was hoping that you and they would had a discussion about the things that concern them. I wanted to see if that had happened and if you had listened to them. And the indications that I had from them was that you didn't really listen to them. And I wanted to see what you had to say about that.

Me: Indications? What did they say?

CPS: They said that you talked to them, and told them not to talk to me. And that ... Basically, they didn't feel that you had really listened to them, on the changes to accommodate some of their wishes, such as food and those sorts of things. Did you have an opportunity to listen to them, or to listen what frustrates them about how you treat them?

Me: Can you tell me what you did? Did you put them out of school to do this? What did you do?

CPS: I talked to them in the office ...

Me: Together or separately?

CPS: Together. I told them that if they didn't want to talk to me that was fine, and that they didn't have to talk to me. If they decided they didn't want to, that was perfectly fine. They said that they wanted to talk to me, they said "we want to talk to you", and so I talked to them.

Me: Together or separately?

CPS: Together.

Me: Was anyone else present?

CPS: There was one other person present. The kids can have someone present.

Me: Who was that?

CPS: That was the school psychologist.

Me: You said that the kids can have someone present.

CPS: Yes. When the kids are interviewed, they can have someone from the staff present.

Me: Was this at their request?

CPS: It was with their permission.

Me: Why do you say, "the kids can have someone present"? It is not something that they requested?

CPS: We ask them if they want someone present if there is someone available there that is part of their relationship there, to be present.

Me: Did you ask them if they want someone present?

CPS: Our protocol is to ask them if they want someone present.

Me: Did they request someone else to be present?

CPS: You know, I think we need to get back to the main issue here, and that is ...

Me: Wait, wait, wait. Are you refusing to answer the question?

CPS: What?

Me: Are you refusing to answer the question?

CPS: I am not refusing to answer the question. If the kids want someone there, they can have someone there. If that is okay with them, then that person can be there.

Me: Did they request someone else to be there?

CPS: They did not specifically say, "Yes I want someone to be there".

Me: Then how did that person get to be there?

CPS: That person can be there. If they are fine with that person there, then that is permissible.

Me: Did that person request to be there?

CPS: I think we need to get back ... I think that you are avoiding the issue here.

Me: I am not avoiding any issue. I want to know. Do you not want to tell me?

CPS: I want to get back to the issue of your treatment of your children.

Me: First of all, what is the name of that person?

CPS: Will Rosse.

Me: Will Rosse?

CPS: Uh-huh.

Me: Did you ask for Will Rosse to be there?

CPS: People on the staff can be included in an interview. Let's get back ...

Me: Are you refusing to answer the question?

CPS: I am not refusing to answer the question, however, at this time, I think it would be best to get back to your ...

Me: You are refusing. If you are not refusing, then tell me the answer.

CPS: Okay, I am going to hang up now. I want to talk to you at some point about your parenting of your children. If you are ready to talk about that, I want to talk about that.

Me: When you are ready to tell me exactly, you know, what you are doing to my children, I'd appreciate it if you would tell me.

CPS: We will talk later. (pause) In the meantime, you need to think seriously about having you and your kids in counseling so that your kids can communicate to you what concerns them about your parenting of them. That's what you need to do at this point. That is what CPS is recommending at this point to you. Because your treatment of your children is abusive. It is emotionally abusive.

Me: How so?

CPS: How so? As I said the other day, it is the sum total of your treatment of children that is abusive. Each individual thing is -- that I mentioned the other day and other things the children have told me, taken in of itself, might not be a major issue, but it is the sum total, George, that is very difficult for your children. (pause) I am concerned about your children. I know you find that hard to believe because you think that I am just a bureaucrat, but I am concerned about your children and I want the children to feel comfortable with you. I want your relationship with them to be a really positive one. For their sake and for your sake. But it is not headed that way. It is not going that way. I would still like to meet with you. Is there a time that we could get together? Do you want to think about that?

Me: Are you willing to answer my questions?

CPS: Repeat the question.

Me: I've asked you a number of times here ...

CPS: Okay, I'll let you deal with that, how you want to deal with that. But I am saying to you I think that the kids need to be in counseling. You need to get in counseling with them. You need to hear what they are saying to you. You need to make some changes in your parenting style.

Me: I need to what?

CPS: You need to make some changes in your parenting style.

Me: Okay, I've heard your opinion.

CPS: What was that?

Me: I've heard your opinion.

CPS: Okay. All right. And the kids did want someone in with them.

Me: What?

CPS: The kids did want someone in with them.

Me: The kids did want someone in with them?

CPS: Yes.

Me: Did they ask for Will Rosse to be in with them?

CPS: No.

Me: Well who did they want in with them?

CPS: A staff person, and they were fine with him being in with us.

Me: Anything else?

CPS: That's it.

Me: Okay, bye.

CPS: Bye.
I don't know why she couldn't just tell me how the school psychologist happened to be invited to the interrogation. She contradicted herself on whether the kids wanted him there. My guess is that she scheduled the meeting in advance with him. Or maybe the school requested it. But whatever it was, I don't know why she wouldn't just tell me, unless she was trying to cover up some breach of protocol.

More importantly, I still don't who filed the complaint, or what the complaint was about. Mitchell is now accusing me of abuse, and trying to force me and my kids into therapy. But I don't know what the abuse is, or why she might think that there would be any need for therapy.

Mitchell cannot point to one single thing that I have done wrong. All I could get out of her were some vague concerns about me not listening to kids about food, and not making changes to accommodate their wishes. My kids are eight and ten years old. My guess is that you could coax a food complaint out of just about any ten-year-old.

I called to school to try to find out why it is cooperating with this nonsense, and the only answer I got was that any school would do whatever CPS asked. For all I know, a teacher could have filed the complaint, and the school is refusing to tell me.

I am outraged by what CPS and the school have done. I am still trying to get to the bottom of this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Found the objectionable picture

I just talked to my ex-wife about the CPS investigation. She denied making the complaint, and denied having any idea about who did. She said that she only found out about it last Thursday after the kids were interrogated at school. She said that the social worker called her on the phone, and asked about some stories the kids told about me. My ex-wife said that she confirmed that she had heard some of the stories.

My ex-wife was able to direct me to the objectionable web page. I had made a web page over a year ago, and I include a link to these Pretty Pictures. The ranking of the pictures is based on voting by whoever visits the site. It does indeed have some nice pictures, and I thought that my kids might like them.

The site has a companion site for Funny Pictures. Each time you visit the site, it shows a different pair of pictures, and lets you vote on which is funnier. Here is the top vote-getter:
(The text says "UNIQUE - just because you are unique does not mean that you are useful".)

Here are a couple of school-related ones that I think are funny:

Maybe the social worker, Sally Mitchell, will send me a letter that I can submit to the site!

However, the pictures on the site change all the time, and currently some of them are not appropriate for kids. I just deleted the link.

It is difficult to prevent kids from finding sites like this one. If you just Google funniest images, then you get the site as the top link. It is also the top site for the same search on Yahoo. If I am at fault here, then so is every other parent who lets his kid use Google or Yahoo.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The useless welfare pamphlet

Sally Mitchell, the "senior social worker" who confronted me with a two-car armed police escort on Friday, gave me a pamphlet, and I have now found it online. It is the California "Pub 13" Pamphlet offered in 13 languages on this page:
This pamphlet describes your rights and explains what you can do if you have a complaint. The information is for persons applying for, receiving, or who have received aid or services.
It is also offered here, and also here:
In addition to the IHSS Fair Hearing and Assessment Package (above), if you are taking your case before an adminsistrative law judge you may also read About State Hearings (PDF file)
The brochure is a little confusing to read online because it is intended to be printed on both sides of a sheet of paper, and folded into fourths. It starts:
If you are applying for, receiving, or have received public assistance in California, you have specific rights. This brochure describes your rights and explains what you can do if you have a complaint. The information is for persons applying for, receiving, or who have received aid or services in any of the following assistance programs: ...
I really don't see what any of this has to do with me. I am not applying for public assistance, nor have I received any. My ex-wife and kids haven't either, as far as I know.

If all this sounds incredible, I might not have believed it myself, if I did not see it first-hand. I am posting this so that others can see how the system works. I am trying to give the social worker and policewomen the benefit of the doubt, and I am assuming that they are doing their jobs as they have been instructed.

But I really cannot see any innocent explanation for what Sally Mitchell has done. She took my kids out of school and interrogated them without my knowledge or permission. She confronted me unannounced and with armed police at my home. I had no clue that this was coming. She refuses to say who made the complaint. And she does not even have an allegation that anyone did anything illegal or improper, or that the kids have been harmed in any way.

I don't know what kind of investigation she is going to be doing. She showed no interest in learning any facts. When I asked her questions about her concerns, she was vague and evasive. She never told me what the original complaint was, or what the purpose of her investigation is. It is hard to imagine that she has any legitimate purpose. If she did, then I would have expected her to have called for an appointment, to have collected a more factual complaint, and to have made some assessment as to whether anything improper is even being alleged.

I do believe that there are evil people in the world. Some evil people masquerade as do-gooders, and go about trying to poison other people's relationships. I will be posting more on this subject.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Visit from CPS social worker

I just got a visit from Sally Mitchell, a senior social worker with the local Family and Children's Services, which seems to be a county welfare agency. I guess that it is the new name for what used to be call Children's Protective Services, or CPS. She showed up with her car at my house, accompanied by two police cars.

I spoke to her for about 45 minutes in the driveway. She said that someone had made a complaint that I may not be taking the best care of my kids' emotional needs. She refused to say who made the complaint. She said that she interviewed the kids at school yesterday, and got much of her info from the kids.

She had a long list of petty complaints. She said that I expect the kids to help with the cooking and the dishes. She said that I asked them to do some homework before going trick-or-treating on Halloween. She said that on a camping trip three months ago, the kids were tired after going on a long hike. She said that on one occasion, a child left the dinner table and that I had eaten her abandoned food. She said that I once drove (harmlessly) past a sleeping dog in the road, with the kids in the car.

She spent most her time on a complaint about setting the alarm clock to wake up the kids for school. She said that the kids complain that sometimes they set the alarm clock, and I change the setting. I asked her if there was something wrong with that. She wouldn't say that there was anything wrong with it, but insisted that it was "unusual". She said that she has been doing social work and interviewing parents for 41 years, and she thinks that most parents of kids that age wake the kids up directly when it is time to get up for school, and do not use an alarm clock in the kids bedroom.

She said that I have a web site with a link to a lewd picture. I couldn't figure out what she was talking about, or what it would have to do with the kids. At first I thought that she was claiming that I had posted a lewd picture of one of the kids, but that was not it. It was a lewd picture of an adult, she explained, and I don't know whom or where.

That's it. Those are all the complaints. She stopped short of accusing me of doing anything wrong, but suggested that maybe my expectations for the kids might be too high. She admitted that none of the complaints, by itself, was any cause for concern.

I told her that I would consider what she told me, and that I would speak to the kids about it. She asked that I speak to them without threat of "repercussions". I asked what she meant by that, and she asked me to speak to them with "kindness". I agreed to do that.

In the end, she gave me her business card and a pamphlet on my rights to apply for welfare benefits. She asked me to sign a form saying that I speak English, and I did. She asked me to call her next week to make an appointment to discuss things further, but would not tell me what the point of that discussion would be. She said that a case number was going to be assigned to the matter, but would not say whether there would be any more investigation.

I am not sure what to make of this yet. I would have thought that our county police and social workers would have better things to do with their time. I really don't see what good is going to come out of this exercise.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Oregon court wants to make circumcision decision

Oregon family court news:
SALEM -- A man who converted to Judaism told the Oregon Supreme Court on Tuesday that he has the right as the custodial parent to circumcise his 12-year-old son against the wishes of his Russian Orthodox ex-wife.

"It's the classic kind of decision a custodial parent would make," said James Boldt, an attorney and former southern Oregon man who argued his own case.

But a lawyer for Lia Boldt argued that she should get a court hearing to try and prove that circumcising a 12-year-old boy poses serious health risks. Their son is afraid to tell his father he doesn't want to go through with it, the mother's attorney said. ...

But as the Supreme Court justices questioned the lawyers, they focused largely on family law and the fallout of divorce.

Over and over again, the justices asked about the limits of a custodial parent's general right to make a wide variety of day-to-day decisions, from where a child goes to school to what neighborhood the family lives in.

Justice Michael Gillette asked whether a noncustodial parent who objected to a child playing football was entitled to a court hearing.

"More people get hurt playing football than having a circumcision," Gillette said.
More and more family courts are sticking their noses into private decisions like this, and no good is coming out of it. This is just not something that the courts are equipped to decide. It is for parents, not judges.

Update: A reader sent me the legal brief from Doctors Opposing Circumcision. They say that circumcision is unethical, and that there ought to be a law against male circumcision, just as Oregon has a law against female circumcision.

I am not expressing an opinion about the merits of circumcision here. My quarrel is with the argument that the parents' divorce somehow empowers the court to use the doctrine of parens patriae to make some decision that would ordinarily be the exclusive province of the parents.

If it is really so bad to give a 12-year-old boy a non-therapeutic circumcision, then Oregon should pass a law against it. Or the physicians should adopt an ethics rule against. It would be bad whether the parents are divorced or not. But if the law leaves the decision to the parents, then judges should not get involved.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Judge gets fired for reviewing evidence

Glenn Sacks reports:
Virginia judge James Michael Shull, who smoked out a woman who sought to extend a restraining order based on false charges of domestic violence, was just removed from the bench ...
The other complaint against the judge was that he once decided a family court issue by tossing a coin. The VA supreme court didn't say that there was anything wrong with tossing a coin or ruling in an arbitrary way, but it said that it was bad for the dignity of the process to tell the litigants that he was tossing a coin. It would have been better to toss the coin secretly, and to never reveal his process, according to the reasoning.

The judge's main offense was that he asked to see a thigh wound on a woman who was asking for a domestic violence restraining order. It turned out that the wound was self-inflicted. The judge should be commended for examining evidence and rejecting a phony claim, not fired.

The VA supreme court said that the judge should have been more sensitive because the woman had a "clear history of mental instability", and wore pants to court. I guess the trick to getting a restraining order in Virginia now is to just act like a crazy woman and refuse to show your evidence.

Suspect has kids shipped to Russia

Here is the story of Hans Reiser, a computer genius who is now in jail under suspicion about the disappearance of his Russian wife. No body has been found, and the evidence against him is very weak. There are other plausible explanations for her disappearance. But the article does not even mention this:
Of everything that the Oakland Police did, sending the kids to Russia is by far and away the most bizzare and perhaps even illegal (on the part of the Oakland Police) action in this case. In spite of the fact that the children were born to two (at the time) American citizens... Hans and Nina... and that they were also born in the USA, Russia is claiming that they are Russian citizens and refusing to grant a "passport" for either child or an "exit visa".

On this particular issue, I think Hans has a reasonable chance of a successful lawsuit against the Alameda County prosecutor's office, particularly if he is acquitted. By California State law and U.S. Federal guidelines on the subject, those children should not have been allowed to leave the state of California, much less been granted a U.S. Passport to leave.
Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. What possible justification could have been given for deporting a couple of American kids against the wishes of the only parent available?

Ordeal not over for NC man

From Overlawyered reports:
Dwayne Dail spent 18 years in a North Carolina prison on false charges of rape. When he got out based on new DNA findings, his ex-girlfriend promptly sued him for child support. (Mandy Locke, "Dail, expecting $360,000, sued by ex-girlfriend", Raleigh News & Observer, Oct. 24; "Wrongly Convicted Man Sued for Child Support", WRAL, Oct. 23; "Prosecutor: Wrongful Conviction Is 'Nightmare'", WRAL, Aug. 29; "Dwayne Dail responds to lawsuit", Goldsboro News-Argus, Oct. 28).