Saturday, August 09, 2008

County hires same bad lawyers for kids

The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Despite documented problems in the handling of dependency court cases, state and local court officials have chosen the current lawyers to receive a new two-year contract to continue representing impoverished Santa Clara County parents and some children in foster care. ...

One critical problem has been the poor quality of lawyering for parents. Juvenile Defenders, like similar firms around the state, has often failed to prepare cases properly, has not hired investigators, experts, or social workers. Critics also say the firm has continually failed to protect the parents' right to appeal adverse rulings.

Last month, Michael Kresser, the director of a state agency that coordinates the appeals for indigent clients, wrote to court officials, urging them to reject the current lawyers, contending there was "little chance of improved representation if the same management team was left in place." The poor representation, he said, causes children to be "needlessly removed" from their homes.
The newspaper has run a series of stories exposing lousy lawyering and unfair court procedures in the local courts seizing kids. I had hoped that maybe some useful reforms would come from the exposure. Instead, they are just paying more money to the same lawyers.

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