As a result of complaints from a public school busybody and my ex-wife, CPS social worker Sally Mitchell did an investigation of my two kids in Nov. 2007. My ex-wife made a deal with Ms. Mitchell, and they got a court order for the police to seize the kids from our home, without any notice to me.
Ms. Mitchell submitted a report to the court. It was put on the public record,
but I am forbidden to quote from it. Cmr. Joseph did approve that this summary be posted:
There is a list of unverified allegations from unidentified reporting party. Sally Mitchell’s investigation consisted of three interviews of the kids at school. She could not find any single act that she regarded as abuse. She collected an assortment of kid stories about doing homework and household chores. Only one thing had any adult confirmation (but that was refuted by a letter from the school principal). The worst thing I ever did, according to her, was to reset the alarm clock for 7:00 am. Her report said that the alarm clock setting made the kids late for school, but she admitted in oral testimony that the kids had never been late for school. The only other notable bad thing, that she alleged that I did, was to run over a dog. (But the dog owner testified that it never happened.) She disapproves of the “sum total” of my parenting style, but did not say that it was actionable in court. She did not say that I need counseling or that the kids should not be with me. She did not make a child custody recommendation to the court.Cmr. Irwin H. Joseph refused to allow me to have a rebuttal witness, and ruled against me at the trial. Here is the core of his reasoning, from the Jan. 11, 2008 official transcript:
This Court is not relying on what Sally Mitchell said. ... The techniques and manners and means that Dad thinks are appropriate are now being met with resistance because of the age of the kids. And I grant you, Mr. [AngryDad], that taken singularly, if you were to come in this court and Ms. Travers were to say, "Dad resets the alarm clock," this would have been a five minute hearing that had a very different result. But that's not the only event. That's an indicative event, a representative event. But the events go on and on and on. I read reread last night the report of Dr. Johnson in this which Father said, quote, nothing bad ever really happened, almost the identical words that I heard in this hearing.In other words, no one could find any substantive wrongdoing on my part. He does not usually take petty complaints from angry moms, but CPS agreed with this complaint so it is legitimate. The CPS agent got caught lying in court, so he is not officially relying on her. But he is relying on her biggest piece of evidence against me, the alarm clock incident.
My alarm clock policy was that I would set the alarm clock for 7:00 am in order to get ready for school which starts at 8:30 am. No one could explain what was wrong with that policy. Ms. Mitchell did testify that, in her opinion, it was okay for me to tell the kids what time to go to bad, but not what time to wake up. She could not explain why. I challenged my ex-wife to explain it at the appellate court oral argument, but she could not do it.
So because of the alarm clock and similar anecdotes, I was not able to see my kids for a year. Cmr. Joseph had said that I could have some visitation under the direction of a local court psychologist named Elizabeth Lee, but she refused to take the case. So did the other two court psychologists in town, and Cmr. Joseph refused to name a replacement or order any visitation.