Sunday, March 18, 2018

Published a book on defense of parents in child abuse and neglect proceedings in New York Family Court

I have finally published today the first of the books I have been working on for a long time - the beginning of the series "Defense of parents in child neglect and abuse proceedings in Family Court in New York".

Here is the cover of the book, it is available right now in both the Kindle (electronic) format, and in a paper format on

As far as I know, there are no other books available on the issue of trial advocacy on behalf of parents in child neglect and abuse cases at all, and in such cases in New York Family Courts in particular.

This subject is not taught in law schools and is not tested on bar examinations, so there is no guarantee for the parent, if the parent either hires an attorney or has an attorney assigned to him in court, that the attorney actually knows this area of law - because attorneys usually learn this law by either self-teaching or being mentored by other attorneys.

This first book of the planned series is dedicated to the subject that causes the most number of fatal mistakes made by parents at the very beginning of CPS investigation, before any court case is filed and before any attorney gets into the picture - the mistake of believing the CPS that the case is "civil" in nature, that no criminal investigation is done at the same time as the CPS investigation in every single case.

Believing CPS (and police who often comes with CPS to the parent's home), parents talk to CPS, open their homes for their searches, and sign any number of papers driven by fear that otherwise the parent will lose his child.

The book provides an overview of statutes showing that proceedings in Family Court may be constitutionally characterized as criminal in nature; and, even if courts resist that characterization, provides techniques of proving to the Family Court, in the event the parent is called to testify against himself, which CPS often do, that the parent is entitled to the 5th Amendment protection, not to testify and not to be subject to contempt of court for refusing to testify.

The book has an extensive case study, with an analysis of constitutionality of court decisions, as well as with an analysis of mistakes that have caused the drastic consequences for the parent.

While the electronic format of the book does not allow a lot of latitude in providing lists of authorities, the table of authorities is included in the paper version of the book.

Buyers of the paper version of the book are allowed to get the electronic version of the book at a deep discount.

While the electronic version may be convenient to take with you on our phone or tablet without showing what you are reading, a paper book can be conveniently used by parents, law students and attorneys working in this area of law because of the listing of all legal authorities.

Statutes in this area of law are written in a deliberately confusing, convoluted way, and attorneys with large caseloads often do not have time to do the kind of research that was presented in this book.

The book contains a section explaining how to transform texts of New York statutes into a readable format to make them more understandable.  Examples of such transformations, and what such a transformation does to improve understanding of such statutes is provided.

The book contains constitutional analysis on important issues relevant to the topic of the book, criminal aspects of "civil" child neglect and abuse proceedings in New York Family Courts, including but not limited to:

  • analysis of what makes a court proceeding civil or criminal in nature, from a constitutional standpoint;
  • analysis of several contempt and contempt-like statute that may be used against parents by Family Courts in order to put parents in jail for "non-compliance" with various court orders, a detailed analysis, based on mandatory precedents, of constitutionality of such statutes, and of constitutionality of Family Court practices in application of such statutes;
  • verification what makes a contempt proceeding civil or criminal in nature, what is the difference in mandatory constitutional procedure, and how Family Courts often confuse or misuse criminal-in-nature contempt statutes under the guise of civil proceedings;
  • constitutional issues involved in forced "evaluations";
  • constitutional issues involved in forced drug-and-alcohol testing;
  • constitutional issues involved in court orders giving social services a blanket authority to "supervise" parents and to order them to undergo any "evaluations" and tests at all, and procedures required by the Family Court Act and by the U.S. Constitution to be followed by courts to issue such orders;
  • constitutional issues involved in branding parents "sex offenders" where they were never convicted (and often were never even charged) for a sex offense, the New York State policy of such branding that comes with a requirement to separate the so-branded parent from his children;
  • constitutional issues of punishing parents for inability to pay for evaluations, or for asserting their true legal status as a non-sex offender;
  • constitutional issues of punishing parents for any type of "noncompliance" by separating them from their children, or by threats of such separations;
  • constitutional issues involved in forced speech of parents during the "civil" Family Court child abuse or neglect proceedings - in court-ordered evaluations and in forced testimony of parents, when they are called to testify against themselves at trial;
  • constitutional issues involved in presence of criminal prosecutors in Family Court proceedings and of their access to record of such proceedings and of the central state child maltreatment register;
  • constitutional issues and procedures related to three types of searches in Family Court - of the parent's home, body and mind.

I hope that the book will be helpful, as a textbook and a reference in this sensitive and difficult area of law.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Children who are truly sexually abused by parents need to be interviewed properly - to be able to establish their right to protect themselves in court

Just read an article describing how Family Courts supposedly place children sexually abused by fathers into the hands of sexually abusing fathers, not believing the children.

The key phrase in the article is in the first three words of its headline:

Children's advocates may be those who actually cause this problem - a real problem, I know of several such cases myself where parents asserted that a child made disclosures of sexual child abuse by a relative, and the child nevertheless was placed by the court with that same relative, while the child's own statements, including audio-recorded statements were not believed.

Why do courts do that?  Are they that heartless?

And why it is the children's advocates who may be causing the problem, paving a road to the child's very real hell with their good intentions?

By repeatedly interviewing the child with leading questions and without videotaping their interviews, so that courts, as a result, do not know whether the child's testimony is
  • the result of coercion and manipulation of "advocates" and/or of the other parent who may have a grudge against the parent the child is accusing through testimony, or
  • whether it truly happened.

Try to watch with an open mind, this video about experiments of forensic psychologists showing how easy it is to implant false memories of abuse into children - and about cases where implanting those false memories did lead to criminal convictions, wrongful convictions, overturned convictions.

If parents, and "child advocates" really want to protect the children - they will not mess up the interviewing process and will INSIST that forensic interviewing techniques are followed:

  • that the number of interviews of the child is reduced to a minimum;
  • that all such interviews are handled by trained forensic (not clinical) psychologists knowing how not to lead the child on; and
  • that all such interviews must absolutely be videotaped.

Many police precincts have interviewing rooms with hidden videocameras, so that the person interviewed does not see the actual video camera - that is necessary to put the child at ease, while preserving the evidence properly.

Not doing it, putting the child through numerous, numerous interviews - by the mother, by the "advocates" instead of neutral professional forensic experts, does a disservice to the accused, if they are accused wrongfully.

But, if sexual abuse truly happened, and it DOES happen, the disservice is TO THE CHILD - because doing repeated non-videotaped interviews with the child allows the court to presume that suggestive techniques and leading questions were used, and that what the child says in his testimony may be the result of a long-term manipulation by "advocates", rather than what truly happens.

If you care about your child, if you believe that the child was really sexually abused, INSIST that forensic interviewing techniques are observed.

Otherwise, your child may lose his right to establish in court that sexual abuse ever happened - and even be placed further with the sexual abuser, to be abused more, while his credibility is destroyed, for now and for the future.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

On the difference between "clinical", "forensic", "experimental" and "evidence-based" in child protective proceedings

It is important for parents facing child neglect and abuse proceedings to understand some of the "expert" jargon used in such proceedings in order to take their children away.

A lot of times, social services employ "hired guns", experts who are sometimes called this:

By the way, I heartily recommend this book to parents facing child protective proceedings in court where an expert psychologist or psychiatrist (or "counsellor", or any other "mental health worker", including a "clinical social worker") is supposed to testify - it is now available on Kindle, for just $7.99 (I have no connection to the author, do not know her, never met her and am not advertising for her).  It is money well spent.

The problem with "expert" psychologists is that they are usually clinicians testifying as forensic experts, and are thus generating a stream of income for themselves.

How that is done?


A clinical psychologist is testifying in a child neglect or abuse case.

She testifies about the child's behaviors, which she calls "symptoms" of some "syndromes" and thus diagnoses the child with "conditions" and authoritatively tells the court that the "conditions" are the result of the parent's neglect or abuse.

Most often, the psychologist (psychiatrist, counsellor, clinical social worker etc.) does not testify whether the causative leap she has made from seeing behaviors to qualifying them as "symptoms" of "syndromes" or "conditions" has been proven by science in experiments.

After all, experiments on children are risky business, there is a multitude of requirements in the U.S. to experimentation involving children, so it is easier for social services not to hire a true forensic expert - the expert dealing with experimentation - because he or she might be honest and refuse to give social services what they want, testify to the legal standard of admissibility of expert evidence, in New York that means that the expert must be persuaded to the degree of "scientific certainty" that the child's demonstrated behaviors are proof that the child has a condition, and that the condition was caused by the parent.

When, instead of a forensic expert who would be honest as to the underlying science of the "conditions", "symptoms" and "syndromes" and might just as well say that he or she cannot testify to the required degree of "scientific certainty" what those behaviors demonstrated by the child mean in connection with a child protective case, or whether such behaviors are connected with a child protective case at all, social services offer the testimony of a clinician, and especially of a treating clinician of the child, many principles of expert testimony are violated.

First, a treating clinician is not a neutral expert, so the principle of neutrality is not there.

Second, the treating clinician most often is in the business of treating people, and not in the business of experimentation and science.

The big difference between the two is that the pay of a forensic expert does not depend on the outcome of the experiment, and the pay of a clinician significantly differs based on the outcome of treatment.

Note that practically all mental health treating "professionals" always tell their clients that their is no "cure", but the "condition" may be "controlled" with ongoing "counselling" or "therapy" - which creates a stream of income for the "treating" mental health "professional".

So, when the treating clinician testifies in court, she has a purpose in mind - to secure for herself a stream of income as a result of the court's decision.

And she does that.

Usually, courts listen to mental health experts nearly practically as to gods, unless their neutrality and underlying lack of science is challenged on cross-examination.  That rarely happens, since usually only poor parents are targeted with child protective proceedings, and in those cases, such parents are represented by assigned counsel who usually do not put up much of a fight so that not to irk the judge and to get assigned again in the future (which secures their own stream of income, at $75 an hour, including travel time and time waiting in the courthouse).

Yet, just how many people get wrongfully convicted in criminal court through the use of junk science has recently been divulged in a huge report by federal authorities.

The report, among other things, points out that, despite the numerous experts testifying in courts all over the country, there is just one - ONE - university in this entire country teaching a PhD level course in forensic science - in the Houston, TX.

So, people who claim under oath that they can testify "to the degree of scientific certainty", usually were not trained as scientists, were most likely not trained in, specifically, forensic science, were not trained in the way of collecting evidence from vulnerable and impressionable populations in such a way as not to lead the children and not to taint their responses by the way questions are asked or by the way tests are chosen, offered to the children and interpreted.

They were only trained in how to treat people, and, for purposes of treatment, as a matter of "ethical duty" of a mental health professional, they are taught to "assume as true" anything that the child tells them.

Moreover, clinicians are also mandatory reporters of child neglect and abuse in all states of this country, and are trained to spot and make reports on mere unproven and unverified suspicion of child neglect and abuse, which in itself breeds the culture of thought that verification is unnecessary of whether there is a causal connection between the "symptoms", the suspected "conditions" that the "symptoms", according to a clinician, mean, and the parent.

On the witness stand, knowledge that the testimony can bring in the future an unlimited source of income through court-mandated "counseling" or other "mental health services" to be provided to the child, the parent, or both, plus lack of training and knowledge of how to actually conduct forensic interviews and interpret their results, plus the mentality of a mandatory reporter reporting on unverified suspicions of child neglect or abuse breed a class of "junk science experts" - with degrees and treating licenses, of course - whose testimony will mean nothing from the point of view of science, but may nevertheless heavily influence the case.

Once in a while courts refuse to adhere to junk science and reverse adjudications or convictions based on the most egregiously incompetent or fraudulent expert testimony.

That happened in New Jersey in the case of a young kindergarten teacher Kelly Michaels who was convicted and sent to prison for 49 years (5 of them she actually spent in prison before her conviction was reversed on appeal) based on bogus charges hyped up by a psychologist whose brainwashing of parents as to how to "collect symptoms" led to irreversibly tainted questioning of 3 to 5 year-olds:

"In the 1987 trial of Margaret Kelly Michaels, the New Jersey prosecutors had employed Eileen Treacy, a much-traveled New York abuse expert who had at her command a list of some thirty-two behavioral indicators of child abuse.
Prosecution expert Eileen Treacy explained. A child’s emphatic denial that anything had happened was in fact proof that the child had been victimized, she informed the jury. Citing the theory of the child abuse accommodation syndrome, she described its various phases. If children gave a succession of “no” answers when asked if they had been abused, that was, Treacy explained, “proof of the suppression stage.”

Rabinowitz, Dorothy. No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times (Wall Street Journal Book) (pp. 11, 14). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

So, if a child says "no, I was not abused", in answer to successive questioning by social workers, police and "experts", that actually means "yes, I was abused", according to a bogus "syndrome" invented by a "much-traveled" "expert" Eileen Treacy - who now, as far as I know, moved to live in Delaware County, New York and even eagerly supported the election of the local family court judge Gary Rosa, so I am wondering whether she is deriving benefits from her support by being appointed as a court-appointed "expert witness" in Delaware County, too.

In fact, the truly forensic, experimental psychologists have long pointed out at such a factor as young children's suggestibility, that a young child, obviously as the nature's adaptation mechanism allowing the young to survive, keenly picks up what adults who have power over him want from him - and delivers.

See a book on that here:

And see the footage where a TRUE forensic expert testifies about how false memories of nonexistent injuries are implanted into children by repeated leading and suggestive questioning.

"Civil" child abuse and neglect proceedings go hand-in-hand with parallel criminal investigations and prosecutions.

It is important to understand the difference between a "clinical" expert and a "forensic" expert.

By the way, social workers nowadays are camouflaging their result-oriented prosecutions with the pretense of neutrality.

Social workers even established a "National Organization of Forensic Social Work" - which is supposedly a neutral scientific organization, that is what "forensic" must stand for - forensic science, neutral science.

But, in their usual way, this "forensic" organization shot themselves in the foot right on their webpage by, at the same time, on the same page, proclaiming that they are a "forensic" organization meant to "advance the field of forensic social work", and that "social work is not, nor should it be a neutral profession".

There goes the neutrality of "forensic social work".

Of course, theoretically, a prosecutor or investigator must be neutral as a matter of due process, but that is theory, in real life we cannot expect a party in litigation, such as a social worker who is prosecuting the case or testifying as a witness for the prosecution, to be impartial.  They will get fired if they are impartial, and would not bring, through their testimony, approval of the ever growing budgets and grants for their departments and "services".

And here is another point about the "neutrality" of social work - an excerpt from social workers' "code of ethics":

So, the code of ethics of social workers actually requires them to be advocates, and "to protect the vulnerable" (the most vulnerable, of course, being their own budgets).

An advocate and a forensic expert are incompatible concepts.

Even if such "experts" would be testifying about "evidence-based" "methods", "models" or "test batteries", as described aplenty, for example, in the 2015-2019 Plan of services by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, you know that the "evidence" that such "models" are based on may be contrived or fabricated.

So, whenever you see a social worker, a treating physician, or a clinical mental health provider testifying - that is NOT a neutral expert, and their "evidence-based" testimony is NOT the equivalent of testimony of a neutral expert explaining science to the fact-finder, it is the testimony of an advocate which should be vigorously challenged and excluded from court proceedings as improper influences on the judge.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Will President Trump's administration remove the perverse financial incentives for removal of children from families

For nearly 2 decades so far, I have been doing research about child neglect and abuse proceedings in the State of New York, and in the United States.

Many people may not know, but the atrocities of social services who:

  1. fabricate child neglect cases;
  2. remove children from homes based on those fabrications, using intimidation or coerced consent by parents who are told, falsely, that it will "look better for the judge" if they voluntarily allow the removal;
  3. if children under 1 year old are involved, put termination of parental rights and adoption out of foster care on a fast track;
  4. intimidate parents of all foster children, after the removal, that because of the removal, even without adjudication of child abuse or neglect, social services will put out the children for adoption within 15 months or putting them into foster care - so that frantic parents would agree to anything at all, including a settlement against their interests in Family Court, with attached intrusive "services" from social services - in order to keep the children
all of that has only ONE reason - federal money.

There are federal laws that require - by unconstitutionally

"commandeering" states on issues of exclusive state control under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (health and safety of their residents) - that the States "must" put children in foster care up for adoption within 15 months of removal from home -

even if the court did not say at that time that parents did anything wrong, that the States "must" create certain investigative "teams" involving courts, social services and criminal investigators, and thus practically requiring that child protective cases MUST be fixed in an ex parte manner behind closed doors.

See a petition about federal government commandeering the regulatory power of the states currently litigated in the U.S. Supreme Court, where the U.S. Supreme Court currently asked the U.S. Attorney General's input on the subject

- and I hope that the new U.S. Attorney General, following President Trump's de-regulation policy and policy of conservation of federal funds where expenditures of federal money are not required by law, will take the side of New Jersey, that New Jersey has a right to decide which laws it has or does not have regarding the health and safety of their residents.

To see a very approximate picture of what federal money does in the situation of "child protective" cases that rip children out of their families for money, readers can review the "annual implementation plan" for 2015-2017, of New York State Office of Children and Family Services, NYS OCFS, and just skim the number of "trainers", "trainers of trainers", "consortiums", "councils", "associations" and other non-profit corporations feeding off of this federal money - grants provided by the federal government to fund the industry that helps rip children out of families, marinate, neglect and abuse them in foster care and then put them up for adoption within 15 months (applications are done 3 months earlier), without regard whether the court decided whether parents did something wrong or not.

The "plan" also describes the 3-level system of "cooperation" (ex parte communications) between the courts and social services in child protective cases, but both the court system, and the NYS OCFS refused to answer Freedom of Information requests about lists of members of such "teams", claiming that, while describing in meticulous detail, but for names, the system of the 3-tier "cooperation" between the courts and one party in litigation (which is NOT reflected in the Family Court Act governing such proceedings), the courts and NYS OCFS do not know who is participating in those teams.  Right.

"Co-incindentally", the New York State Office of Family and Children Services operates not only as an agency removing children from parents, but also as a "federal agency" passing through federal grants for distribution within the State of New York and financing that removal. 

Of course, federal grants do not cover the entire operation of social services, and all the crowd of "providers" who want a piece of the pie, to capitalize on splitting families.

For that reason, cases are fabricated and parents are coerced to accept unnecessary "services" - like mental health and alcohol and drug evaluations, pee-in-a-cup random "drug tests", even if drugs are not involved in allegations in the CPS case, visitation of children in foster care "supervised" by "parent aides" contracted by social services, but with parents having to sign approval of those contracts - in order for social services to get funds not only out of federal grants, but also out of County taxpayers, to inflate the County budget.

Recently, a series of scandals regarding such inflation of County budget erupted in Delaware County, New York, where high-ranking County officials started to resign one after another, where New York State Comptroller's office found that the County allowed its Department of Social Services to use County-assigned vehicles as their own and where the County, for years, put out multi-million public contracts to their pet non-profits, family and friends of County public officials without bidding.

My own follow-up FOIL requests with Delaware County, NY, revealed the following:

1) that the County does not have contracts that were bid out at all, at least they told me they don't know what I am talking about when I asked to provide copies of contracts that were handed out without public bidding for several years back;

2) that the County's monthly cell phone bill covers 321 pages - which means that, in a poor County of hardly 40,000 people, where there are more deer than people in the County, the County workers use not only taxpayer-owned cars as their own, but also the cell phones;

3) that the County Treasurer Beverly Shields and her subordinates are thieves (we knew that before, but the County officially confirmed it by answering the FOIL request they way they did), because, when the County tried to stone-wall my FOIL request about the cell phone bill, and when I asked the County to provide an inventory of its printing and scanning equipment, also by a separate FOIL request, the County stonewalled both FOIL requests by now claiming that the county DOES NOT HAVE AN INVENTORY of equipment it is buying with taxpayer money, while collecting taxes from County homeowners at the threat of foreclosure on their homes and casting them out of their homes.

The County blocked my inquiry into the inventory of equipment it is buying and selling (possibly, to relatives, at prices for scrap - as they did with perfectly good cars, which the NYS Comptroller caught) - but, I turned the case over to the New York State Comptroller, and now, reportedly, the FBI is investigating the use of funds in Delaware County and its Social Services department for pet non-profits of DSS officials.

Of course, the "courageous" local press only started to write about it after the FBI was full-speed on it, and only to the extent of writing about the already-shuttered pet non-profit, but not even trying to write about the wooly mammoth in the room - the Delaware Opportunities, Inc., employing hundreds of employees (it recently stonewalled my FOIL request for the list of employees that could reveal a lot of interesting connections).  Well, if the FBI is doing a good faith investigation, it has to cover Delaware Opportunities, too, so we will see what will happen.

I wrote about Delaware Opportunities, Inc., about its conflicts of interests, and about its role in improper removal of children into foster care, and adoption out of foster care.

Yet, all this sea of corruption can be stopped if the Trump administration blocks federal funds for foster care and child protective cases - as being entirely the concern of the states under the 10th Amendment.

That it will happen is very likely, since the Trump administration already announced that it is considering to cut federal grants handed out under the unconstitutional commandeering Violence against Women Act (currently $480,000,000 a year). 

While The Violence Against Women Act, its criminal part, was already struck as unconstitutional, it continues to exist as a basis of handing out money for "programs", "counselors", psychologists and the like.

Do I support violence against women?  Of course, not.

Do I support help to victims of such violence? Yes, I do.

But, it is a state court and state healthcare issue, not a federal grant issue.

Same as, child protective cases must be handled by state courts, under the state law and regulations, without in-pouring of a flood of federal money that "demands" that children be taken out of families and put up for adoption, in exchange for money given to Social Services Departments in federal grants, and that the states "must" make laws expediting adoption out of foster care, especially of the most sought-after children, newborns to 1 year olds, who do not remember their biological parents yet.

As soon as this flood of federal money stops, CPS will no longer have the incentive to do what they are doing now -  including ripping newborn babies off the breasts of their breast-feeding mothers, to prevent bonding between child and mother and to start the 15-month toll for purposes of adoption out of foster care as soon as possible.

I wonder whether that will happen - and I hope it will.  Soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New York State Office of Family and Children's Services: no confidentiality agreements are sought from "trainees" before disclosing to them parents' confidential information and no procedures exist preventing re-disclosure

On November 4, 2016, I have filed a Freedom of Information Request with the New York State Office of Family and Children's Services (NYS OCFS), after that office denied me access to a "training video" because it contained a confidential "identifiable" information from a certain family.

In that FOIL request, I asked for copies of confidentiality agreements from those to whom that information WAS shown and for consent of the family to have their information shown to a 242 "trainees".

Within 10 days, I received a reply from NYS OCFS.

Here it is, in its full glory.

I will remind my readers what I was asking for in that FOIL:

So, since NYS OCFS claims it has NO RECORDS "responsive" to my FOIL request, that means that NYS OCFS admits that:

1) The 242 "trainees", including judges, CPS workers and attorneys and private attorneys who were shown a video on November 18, 2014 that NYS OCFS did not allow me to see because it allegedly contained "identifiable private" information about a family or a child were shown that same video without being required to sign a confidentiality agreements;

2) NYS OCFS released confidential information to whoever created that video without a contract for creating that video - so, that video may very well have been an investigative video from a real CPS/police case, shown to the whole wide world without consent of either the parents, or the parents' attorneys, and possibly shown to the parents' opponents in litigation, neighbors, competitors in business or judges who never had, and never supposed to have access to that case;

3) NYS OCFS did not follow the very law that it used to deny me access to the video and did not issue a prior written approval for the use of private information contained in the video for research and training;

4) that NYS OCFS did not seek consent of the family whose information was, on the one hand, confidential for release through FOIL, but not confidential to be shown to 242 people who had no legal grounds to see that video, and had no restrictions on redistribution of its contents; and, as the most important information, that

5) NYS OCFS does not have any policies, rules or procedures tracking the once-disclosed confidential information and seeing how that information was further re-disclosed.

In other words, NYS OCFS admitted that, with all claims of "confidentiality" - for FOIL purposes, it treats information in the Child Abuse Register as disclosable to the "chosen" individuals at a whim, with no care or concern about how it will further be re-disclosed or used.

This is a class lawsuit waiting to happen, and NYS OCFS knows it.

Any parents who have been in the cross-hairs of CPS in New York before November 18, 2014 have a reason to file that lawsuit now, seeking disclosure whether their confidential information was subject to unlimited dissemination to unauthorized individuals, and challenging the lack of procedures in NYS OCFS tracking re-disclosure of such information.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A new FOIL request was filed with NYS Office of Children and Family Services verifying how secure the data in Child Abuse Register is from unwarranted disclosure

Yesterday, I received an answer from New York State Office of Children and Family Services to my administrative appeal of partial denial of my previous FOIL request.

Among other things, the response of NYS OCFS Appellate Officer said the following:

The list of the "training team members" was provided to me in the earlier FOIL disclosure by NYS OCFS, and I publish it here, the list of members starts at Page 3.

New York State Office of Children and Family Services claimed that I am not entitled to access to the video that was used in the training of 242 "training team members" that NYS OCFS also calls "county court-child welfare collaboration" teams.

Note that the "collaboration" is taking place out of court, and is not reported to parties in the specific child protective court cases.

Both ex parte communications and basing judicial decisions on evidence that is obtained outside of court proceedings is illegal in New York.  A judge may not participate in a CPS investigation, and thus any "collaboration" with CPS for judges (and their law clerks) are also illegal.

Yet, among the 242 "trainee members" of Office of Court Administration (OCA)/OCFS "collaborative teams" were multiple judges and law clerks from Family Courts from across New York State, I noted judges and law clerks from Erie, Suffolk, Westchester, Monroe, Oneida, Onondaga Counties, and CPS workers and attorneys from those counties, too.

They were "collaborating".  Ex parte. 

NYS OCFS denied me access to the "training video" at that "training/collaborating session" because allegedly it contained "sufficient detail with respect to one family/child to enable identification and disclosure of the identity of family/child".

SSL 372, the basis of the denial, prohibits access to identifiable information about the child not only to members of the public seeking such information in a FOIL request (I actually did not seek identifiable information about any children, just a video that was shown to 242 people by OCFS), but to anybody who is not authorized to have access to that information from a particular case, and only in some cases, outlined by that statute, such access is allowed, but with additional safeguards.

For example, SSL 372(4-b) allows release of personal identifiable information about the child to a "good faith researcher" - whatever that is - but with a specific approval from OCFS.

If a "training company" producing such a video even qualifies as a "good faith researcher", still there should be a document from OCFS granting approval of their access to confidential information that OCFS acknowledges the video contained - by denying me my FOIL request on that ground.

Moreover, if a CPS or a court attorney or a judge, or a private attorney, have access to a court case, they only have access to a CPS case assigned to that judge, or where that particular CPS agency is a party and where the particular private attorney represents a party.

That is not the case where 242 people, including judges, law clerks, CPS workers and attorneys, private attorneys from across the State of New York, from the Canadian border to New York City, watch the video with identifiable confidential information from ONE case and from ONE location.

Even the judge from the particular Family court which handled that particular case is not allowed to watch that video if that video was not submitted in court, that would be becoming privy to extrajudicial evidence, which is judicial misconduct.

Moreover, a judge may not be present and condone dissemination of private information from the case the judge handles to 241 other people who have no authority under existing laws - SSL 327, SSL 415 and 422, among them - to have access to such confidential information.

I also noted that NYS OCFS, in their effort to duck and further stall my FOIL request, shot themselves in the foot by stating to me that, even though they showed to 242 people video admittedly containing confidential information about a "family/child", do not have lists of members of such "collaborative teams" - in other words, OCFS shows confidential information to people without verifying whether they even belong to any identifiable "groups" that may even begin to claim authority to access that information.

And such recklessness with confidential information by NYS OCFS is a grave concern.

With that in mind, I filed a new FOIL request with NYS OCFS:

Meanwhile, litigants whose CPS cases were handled by New York State Family Courts before November 18, 2014 should be aware that their information may have been used, without their knowledge or consent, to create and then show a video to 242 people that I know of, and could be disseminated further, without any tracking or safeguards.

Litigants are also welcome to review the list of 242 attendees that I published, and see whether "their" judge, law clerk, CPS worker, or CPS attorney were at that not so little "get together", with a potential of fixing cases behind people's backs.

People who had findings of child neglect after this November 18, 2014 meeting by the attendee judges have a legitimate claim that their cases were fixed at the get-together.

I will certainly publish the answer of NYS OCFS to this FOIL request.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Do CPS laws and their application raise mortality rates of mothers and newborns?

All around the country, "mandatory reporters" are reporting child neglect and maltreatment (in New York, for example, there are 47 CATEGORIES of professionals who are made mandatory reporters and are criminally prosecutable if they do not report their SUSPICIONS - without any verification of facts - of child neglect or maltreatment).

While the legal definition of a "child" is a "child born alive", many states, influenced to do so by federal grants, introduced and are vigorously applying laws reporting and prosecuting pregnant women for suspicions of using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy - in a sort of "fetal neglect" prosecutions.

A test case was filed last year in a federal court in Wisconsin with a constitutional challenge to an arrest, detention and order of involuntary drug treatment of a pregnant mother who disclosed at a prenatal visit that she did, but no longer does, abuse prescription drugs.

The constitutional challenge survived a motion to dismiss, even though the part of the lawsuit charging individuals for arresting the mother was dismissed on "qualified immunity" grounds, because, since the lawsuit is the first constitutional challenge of its kind, the actors sued allegedly did not have notice that their actions towards the mother are unconstitutional.

The challenge to this statute

is to both facial and as-applied constitutionality.

Note that the fetus of "any gestational age" is under protection of social services in the state of Wisconsin (and many other states) now, indicating that a woman can be arrested, kept in custody and ordered into an involuntary treatment simply because she had unprotected sex yesterday, the woman's right to control over her body and the right to abort that fetus guaranteed to women in the U.S. by the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade be damned.

Such interest in protection of fetuses is greatly enhanced by federal grants provided to states if they introduce such legislation - as Wisconsin did.

It is common knowledge how important it is for a woman to go to prenatal visits, as early as possible in the pregnancy.

Pregnancy to some women can be a life-threatening event.  Pregnancy may be counter-indicated to women with some medical conditions such as cancer, heart problems, kidney problems, and can severely worsen the mother's medical condition, if not cause the mother's death - along with the unborn child.

A woman can terminate a pregnancy at will in the first trimester, on medical indications during the 2nd trimester and if her life is in danger until late in pregnancy.

Yet, if the woman wants to keep the child, she needs to be able to go to a prenatal visit without a fear of being arrested for her report to the doctor of what drugs she was taking in the past or is taking at the time of the pregnancy.

The recent "double-birth" of a child in Texas - who was first taken out of her mother's womb at 23 weeks to undergo a surgery to remove a tumor that was detected during a routine ultrasound at 16 weeks, put back into the womb, grew to term and was born for the second time - is a miracle of modern medical technology, but that miracle was made possible because the mother went to prenatal visits that helped detect that the unborn child is in need of that surgery.

At the time I was an attorney representing

  • mothers who were hunted by social services before birth,
  • pregnant mothers whose already-born children were taken away, and social services created conditions for visitation of those children that could cause speedy unattended labor in a mother (remote location, no car, the pregnant mother was supposed to bring heavy bags of stuff - snacks, toys, other items - to satisfy social services that she is a good mother for the children she is visiting), and
  • pregnant mothers to whom social services made a declaration that they will snatch the baby as soon as it is born
I saw that social services do not really give a damn as to welfare of that newborn child - otherwise they would not cause the pregnant mother to carry heavy things to remote locations, risking to die, together with the baby, in a premature labor in the middle of a remote field.

Otherwise they will not deprive the child of the mother's breastfeeding.

Yet, federal laws "require", as a condition for the States to receive grants, to speed up snatching of newborns, children of the age most desirable by adoptive parents - and to get that money, safety and wellbeing of mothers and newborn babies is disregarded.

As a blogger, I also received reports from around the country that pregnant mothers targeted by social services forgo not only prenatal visits (as mothers in Wisconsin and other states with similar legislation, I am sure, may be doing now - fearing an arrest if they say, of if the doctor detects anything that makes the doctor suspect that the mother drank alcohol or did drugs at ANY time during her pregnancy). 

Since during prenatal visits the mother can also be given some help with food - in New York, it is WIC (Women, Infants, Children) food assistance for pregnant mothers - not going to such visits may cause the mother to unnecessarily starve herself and the baby she is carrying. If the mother is doing that for fear of being put in jail, such a law is not protecting the unborn children, it is jeopardizing them.

But, as people are reporting to this blog, mothers are forgoing not only prenatal doctor's visits, but also hospital births, too, trying to instead choose a home birth, give birth to the child secretly, in the hope of preventing social services from snatching it.

And that is an extremely dangerous situation.  Labor is unpredictable.  It was the highest cause of mortality of women for centuries before the advent of hospital births - and for a reason.

The mother can have eclampsia, the mother can bleed to death, the labor may not progress fast enough, the baby can be strangled by the cord, the baby can have an incorrect position preventing safe delivery - a number of different things can go wrong, even in a young and very healthy woman.

The following mortality statistics in labor was officially reported.

6 to 9 women per 1000 died in labor, and
100 babies died before reaching 1 year of age

After 1900, infant mortality sharply dropped, with introduction of better sewage, better nutrition and better prenatal care and care during delivery - hospital delivery.

Yet, as recently as in September of 2016, a trend of rising maternal mortality in birth was reported, and moreover, it was reported that maternal mortality in black mothers is 3 to 4 times higher than in mothers of other races.

Under these circumstances, it is criminal to introduce laws that drive pregnant women from doctor's offices and from hospital births to hide themselves and to hide their babies from being seized by social services.

Laws reporting "fetal neglect" and laws allowing prosecution of mothers for taking drugs before birth, are jeopardizing the LIVES of both mothers and babies.

As to infant mortality at birth, we already have an infant mortality rate that is 4 TIMES HIGHER than in the neighboring Canada, 28 infant deaths from birth complications per 100,000 births, as compared to 6.9 infant deaths in Canada per 100,000 births in 2016, up from 23 infant deaths per 100,000 births in 2013.

Compare it with rates of infant mortality reported in the U.S. in 1995, around the same as in Canada now.

What happened since then?

Adoption out of foster care act happened in 1997, giving CPS money incentive to grab children at birth, and intimidating mothers into not going to prenatal visits or hospital births, in order to prevent snatching children by CPS for purposes of adopting them out to the waiting richer adoptive parents.

With such an alarming trend, we as taxpayers need to dedicate funds to encourage pregnant women to obtain prenatal and natal care, and to improve quality of that care - and repeal laws that help intimidate women against going to prenatal visits, and scare pregnant mothers into giving birth in secrecy, out of hospital, with no help, for fear that their babies will be snatched at birth in order to be adopted, in exchange for federal grant money.

THAT is a crime.