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Ruling Against CPS
Always Fight Back!!

Texas Judge Orders CPS to Read Constitution After Misleading Court Filing
12 Sep 2016

HOUSTON, Texas — A Texas father fought back after Child Protective Services unlawfully removed his daughter and filed legal pleadings that were not supported by the evidence. The agency also went to court without giving the father notice of the removal hearing. A judge has ordered the agency to pay the father’s legal expenses and ordered CPS personnel to read the Constitution.

As reported by Breitbart Texas on September 2nd, Harris County District Court Judge John Schmude, a family court judge, sanctioned Child Protective Services and ordered the agency to pay $27,500 in attorneys fees. He also ordered CPS personnel to read the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the Texas Constitution.

Judge Schmude ordered agency personnel to read not only the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, but the Texas Family Code chapter on “Procedures In Suit By Governmental Entity To Protect Health And Safety Of Child.” He ordered them to re-read the oath that TDFPS (Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or “CPS”) workers take when they go to work for the agency.

Dennis M. Slate was the lawyer who asked for the sanctions. Slate told Breitbart Texas that after he got involved in the case, “I clearly saw the irregularities of the illegal removal of the child from my client’s home, without a court order. I immediately filed a sanctions motion to prevent CPS from being able to dismiss their case to avoid being held accountable for their gross violations of the Constitution.”

The Houston area family lawyer added, “After hearing evidence about the actions of TDFPS during a lengthy hearing, Associate Judge Paula Vlahakos and Judge Schmude agreed with me that the agency needed to be held accountable. This Order demonstrates how TDFPS, the attorneys and the Court must all first, understand their respective roles and second, have the courage to vigilantly exercise their duties in order to protect children and to safeguard the Constitutional rights of parents.”

In this case, In the Interest of J.M.M., Judge Schmude found that the allegations and contentions in the pleading filed by the agency had no factual support and sanctioned the agency under procedural and other legal rules governing court proceedings. In his Order, he noted that CPS and law enforcement and juvenile probation officers “may take possession of a child without a court order under certain well-defined circumstances.”

Texas law provides that a child may be removed without a court order only if, based on the totality of the circumstances, there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is in imminent danger of physical or sexual abuse. Moreover, the agency must show that it is contrary to the welfare of the child to remain in their home, and consistent with the circumstances and ensuring that the child is safe, that reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal from their home. The law presumes that the child’s being with the parent(s) or legal guardian is in the best interest of the child.

After a child is removed without a court order, Texas law mandates that CPS show that: (1) there is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child if the child is returned home, or there is evidence of sexual abuse and the child is at substantial risk of future sexual abuse; (2) it is contrary to the child’s welfare to remain in the home; and (3) reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate need for removal.” All of these things must be shown by the agency in order to meet their burden of proof under Texas family laws.

As set out in Judge Schmude’s Order, at the time the agency filed a motion to modify conservatorship and for termination of parental rights, by CPS’s own admission, “there was no imminent danger to the child on the evening [that the child was removed].” In fact, CPS personnel told the father “that the basis for the removal was that they had made a mistake.” The Court also found in its sanction Order that CPS admitted that the child had not been injured and the pleading filed by the agency “contains no information indicating any imminent danger” to the child on the night she was removed.

The Court’s Order on page 11 details the facts in support of the findings that “TDFPS knowingly misled the Court with statements in the caseworker’s sworn affidavit and with sworn testimony at the [ex parte hearing] required by [the] Texas Family Code.”

Page 12 of the Court’s Order details the actions taken by the agency that “exceed simple bad judgment or negligence, and each, taken individually, demonstrates the conscious doing of a wrong for dishonest purposes,” the Court writes.

The actions by CPS detailed included: filing a groundless lawsuit, consciously failing to inform the Court that the child had been returned to the father, and not telling the Court that the caseworker had no concern about the child being with her father.

The judge also found that the agency was wrong in “[w]aiting until after business hours on a Friday night to remove [the girl] without a court order when sufficient time existed [to go to court] to obtain one.”

Texas State Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) told Breitbart Texas, “Parental rights are one of the most fundamental rights in a society, and, those rights must be protected and respected by the State. When a judge determines those rights were not respected, I think it is entirely appropriate for the Court to order those responsible to read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

This is the second time that board certified family lawyer Dennis M. Slate, has been successful in getting large monetary sanctions against the agency for a parent. The last time a state district judge in Houston awarded monetary sanctions against CPS of this size was in 2011 when Judge Michael Schneider of the 315th District (juvenile) Court ordered the agency to pay $32,000 in attorneys fees to a Houston area family.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, that case also involved the agency filing a “groundless cause of action.” Judge Schneider ordered the caseworker and her supervisor to write a report showing that they understood the law that governs the removal of children from their families and homes.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.
Mrs. V
Grandmother/Caregiver of 8 -6 at home, 2 boys: Nicolaas15 & Gabe 5; 4 girls: Lisbeth 15, Natalie 14, Lizzie 10 & Ashleigh 8 - 2 girls away from home 22 & 17 (2 adult sons and 1 adult daughter, all single parents)
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Child protective services here are awful. For years they came to our apartment met with me and my 'sober' mom and they never found any reason to take me from her. I knew kids that had great loving parents and something would happen to make them accuse them of abuse or neglect and take their kids. Something is bad when they can't see that I needed taken of course once mom died they had no choice. But it is a joke here.
Mr Slate, please allow me to buy you a drink. Big Grin
Dad of 3 boys - Michael (19), Andrew (15), Daniel (13) and mentor to 1 boy - Jonathan (13)
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Usually that is because they don't want to take kids that taxpayers have to support long term. They will hang onto any shred of a chance the home can be maintained.

On the other hand, if they remove a child from a more affluent home, they get good child support payments. As the court orders the parent to pay. That money goes to the agency to pay for their services. So that case they'll act on.

They also like cases where a relative will keep the child free of charge. They still get paid by their agency, but don't spend anything on the child.

They avoid cases that look like they will be residential care. This is usually school age up. Because foster parents are wary of kids that are getting 6-7 years.

To take care of a resident child is minimum $5,000.00 a month. That doesn't include clothing, misc items or school fees. More difficult kids or teens cost between $10,000-$20,000 a month. Even if a worker would like to take a child, they have to convince an official there's no alternative at all to spending $100,000 a year to maintain them.

Also, they're fine removing children with "a return home" plan. Those are cases where they believe with support can put it back on track. They don't cost much and they get money from groups, trying to keep kids out of foster care. Imo.this group could be served in their home. But. If that happens, the agency doesn't get paid back.

I consulted for public child abuse, foster care and child protection agencies for close to fifteen years. People need to know their rights. Workers try to throw their weight around, and bluff parents, who fear losing their child.

When in truth, what Chris points out is closer to the real machine. They don't really want to take and keep kids, unless they see a path to funds attached. It's true they do remove cases that are at in danger of death or bodily harm. If they can get evidence, they will act on those.

But, those type of cases are much fewer than what's coming through the door daily. A majority are disposed of like I described. Be cautious, but be firm if they show up. If you've done nothing wrong, make them prove it and work the case. Abuse is a crime, you have a right to be a lawyer. To often people get involved in "service plans." They voluntarily sign agreements to avoid prosecution or removal of their child. In reality, they may not have any evidence. The parent is providing everything they collect through the "plan." If you're right, stick to your guns. If you're wrong ask for help. Ask private agencies to be a part of your service plan. For instance, you can request a faith based counseling service, because of your religious beliefs. They have to honor that. Those kinds of organizations do not have the self-interest that public agencies like CPS.

There are workers out there working tirelessly to help, but they only have so much impact on the policy and budget analysts that make the agency tick.
Just like any large organization there are those who do it just for the paycheck. However there are some like my Dad who is a case worker, he does everything in his power to be there for the families on his case docket. From the vagueness I hear about it since it is all confidential, he is one of those who does the, "This is my card, call me." kinda of person. He cares and I watch as it drains him emotionally dealing with all the sadness out there. He even got me out of the system before I was old enough to know anything other then him as my dad.
A majority of the the workers in the trench, work hard for long hours. They see the needs first hand. They submit requests. It's the red tape and cumbersome bureaucracy that is difficult to deal with for them. I've met some who took a lot of heat fighting for their cases, at their own risk of sanctions.

Most of the time their attention is spread over too many cases. This is administrative as well, assigning too many cases. I understand the emotional stress of waiting in a hospital all day, with an injured child, trying to find the best situation to place him. Or sit through Christmas dinner with eight children in mind. Children no one has seen before, who lived in the woods, who couldn't read or write and had never seen a toy. Where can you put them to be together. The fact that you can't discuss any of it makes it that much harder.

Fortunately, there's training that teaches you to cope with that, just like doctors and nurses do. So these workers are usually loving, strong parents, despite what they see all day. It's wonderful, that a fine individual in this line of work, was able to cherish you in his own home. He is a credit to his profession. I'm sure you admire and respect him very much. Pay it forwardHeart
Mrs. V
Grandmother/Caregiver of 8 -6 at home, 2 boys: Nicolaas15 & Gabe 5; 4 girls: Lisbeth 15, Natalie 14, Lizzie 10 & Ashleigh 8 - 2 girls away from home 22 & 17 (2 adult sons and 1 adult daughter, all single parents)
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No one would ever want CPS to come knocking on their door. If they do keep in mind their social workers are over worked and under paid. The last thing they want to do is open another case or even worse take you to court. The additional paper work is emense. Just preparing the paper work for court takes several hours and than their is additional time spent meeting with their supervisors, lawyers, serving court papers and than sitting around in court when you eventually get there. The social workers job is two fold when they visit you. First they have to investigate the complain and determine whether or not it is true. The second is to assess the risk to the child and any siblings. Even if the former is true they are still not obligated to open the case. What the worker wants you to do above else is to be truthful and cooperate. If you do and their are not any major protection concerns they may close the case immediately or follow up with just a couple of more visits. Take my word for it. The worker will be happy if they never have to see you again!
It is funny that you mention red tape. My Dad was a supervisor for one of the social services agencies. My case worker came into his office one day with me in tow. While they discussed what needed to be discussed I climbed into his lap. Two weeks later the case worker contacts Dad and says "You remember that little boy I brought to your office? He is up for adoption. Mom and Dad were excited but the people my dad worked for tried to stop him. They tried some legal jargon stuff but my parents had a good lawyer themselves. Dad told me he was the reason that the company policy now states that if you are working for that group you can not adopt kids in your own system.
Seen that one before too. I knew a worker, who had to go to another state to adopt a child. And, this state tried to interfere with that, through interstate adoption agreements. Once, she was successful, they did nothing to support her. I was the only one of sixty people to so much as give her a greeting card.

They didn't like it that she and her husband wanted to give an older, troubled child a home. They were afraid he would be involved in a legal incident and reflect badly on the agency. They wanted her to play it safe with a baby.

I always thought the world of those two, for taking all that pressure to do what they thought was right. I'm glad your parents were successful. But, you see what happened. They made a rule against it later.
Mrs. V
Grandmother/Caregiver of 8 -6 at home, 2 boys: Nicolaas15 & Gabe 5; 4 girls: Lisbeth 15, Natalie 14, Lizzie 10 & Ashleigh 8 - 2 girls away from home 22 & 17 (2 adult sons and 1 adult daughter, all single parents)
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From what I understand it was just within the agency. For example he worked for a Catholic Social service, I think he could have adopted from a Lutheran Social service, or another state agency. In fact they adopted my little brother, no blood relation but he is my little brother. Funny thing also they were trying to stop him from adopting me, but they had no trouble asking if they wanted to foster my half-sister.

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