Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friday, May 11, 2018

When a Child Has a Fracture, Why Are the Parents Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

In the end the parents got their children back, but it took two years of separation and harm inflicted to a child by the State of Pennsylvania. You can read the decision from the appeal that finally, after two years, returned a baby to its parents after a rogue judge had decided to take the baby away. It is a case where two loving parents were presumed guilty of something until proven innocent. It's a troubling reading, especially for those of us who have a grandchild with loving parents in Philadelphia, where this travesty occurred. It could happen again and my granddaughter could be next.

[Update, May 13: The URL for the court decision, http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/Memorandum%20%20ReversedVacated%20%2010346885234069864.pdf?cb=1, is on odd one that Firefox displays with spaces that can create problems. I changed the link above to a TinyURL shortcut that seems to help. If you still have trouble, you can also download the PDF file from JeffLindsay.com.]

Simon Black, founder of the SovereignMan service that I subscribe to, shares the story in a recent newsletter. Here is an excerpt:
It started back in 2016… on April 6th to be specific. A Philadelphia-area mother walked into a clinic because her 7-month old baby was being excessively fussy.

The doctor performed a cursory examination, concluded the baby had an ear infection, and prescribed an antibiotic.

Later that day, the mother noticed what seemed like a bone popping in the baby’s side and thought this might be the source of the discomfort.

Concerned, she went right back to the clinic to show the pediatrician.

The doctor claimed that he could not feel any popping and reassured the mother that the baby had an ear infection.

By the next day, the baby was in even worse shape. So the father took her to the hospital and insisted on an X-ray.

The parents’ instinct turned out to be correct-- the baby had a mild fracture of her ribs.

Now-- this is problem #1 in our story. Certainly the US health care industry is filled some incredibly hard-working and talented professionals.

But the system is designed the churn and burn... to push people through the clinics as quickly as possible.

The standard of care now is to prescribe some medication (usually antibiotics) and send people on their way without taking the time to conduct a comprehensive examination....

But this story isn’t about medical care. This is a story about a family being ripped apart by the ‘Justice’ system.

That’s because, after the physicians finally saw the baby’s cracked rib, they called in the local Child Protective Services.

A hearing was immediately convened, and the parents couldn’t explain the injury. Their best guess was that their older child may have accidentally injured the baby, but they didn’t know for certain.

And it was based on this uncertainty that BOTH children were taken away.

The older child was placed in the custody of his grandmother, and the baby was shipped off to a foster home.

This is where things become truly bizarre.

The local authorities conducted an investigation and found no “aggravated circumstances”. So the older child was soon returned to the parents.

But the baby remained in a foster home… in the care of complete strangers.

FOUR MONTHS LATER, there was finally an initial court hearing. The judge acknowledged that the older child had already been returned to the parents and was safe in their home.

But she refused to return the baby.

More importantly, the judge mandated that the parents should have SUPERVISED visitation, i.e. they had to go to the foster home to see their own baby under the supervision of a government employee.

Another four months later (now we’re in December 2016), another hearing was held.

Once again, the judge refused to return the baby… and even refused to transfer the baby from the foster home to the custody of the grandmother.

Bear in mind that the older child had already been returned to the parents several months prior.

So if they’d had any evidence that the parents were unfit, you’d think that BOTH of the children would have been in foster care.

But that wasn’t the case at all. That’s because the investigation showed no evidence of wrongdoing. The police weren’t involved. And no charges were being filed.

This was simply a matter of a single judge abusing her authority to separate a family, solely because she wasn’t satisfied that the parents didn’t know how the baby had sustained her injuries.

At that point the family hired a SECOND attorney who appealed the decision.

Another four months went by, and in March 2017, the judge held further hearings on the matter.

At that hearing, the attorney attempted to introduce evidence supporting the family’s claim, as well as testimony from other physicians citing a number of plausible reasons how the baby could have been injured.

But according to court records, the judge “refused to take any testimony in the case” because she thought the new attorney was “disrespectful and a little bit arrogant”.

The judge concluded the hearing by punishing the family even more-- she suspended the grandmother’s right to visit the baby, denied the parents request for unsupervised visitation, and authorized the city to start the process to put the baby up for adoption.

More hearings took place over the next several months, until, in October 2017, the judge “involuntarily terminated Parents’ rights.”

In other words, the judge stripped the baby away and shipped her off like cattle to another home. Permanently. The parents were no longer the parents.

Now, it took a looong time. But last week the appeal was finally settled, with a different judge in a higher court.

And the appeals court sided with the parents.

More importantly, the appeals court issued a scathing condemnation of the other judge’s behavior, calling it “abuse of discretion” among other choice phrases.

It took more than TWO YEARS for this family to be reunited… not to mention a ton of money in attorney fees and an incalculable amount of stress.
Increasingly, in the United States, the citizens in the "land of the free" find that they are relatively free until one judge, one police officer, or one petty official from a host of bureaucracies and agencies decides to simply take those rights away. Whether it is confiscating your home or car or bank account under the abusive procedure of civil asset forfeiture without a trial, or attempting to take away a child permanently because the parents didn't know when and how a rib was fractured, Americans are increasingly at the mercy of despots.

For Mother's Day, may I suggest that we ponder what we can do to resist the loss of fundamental rights and to better protect the rights of mothers and parents in general. I don't currerntly know who the best organizations are fighting for our rights in this area, but one good group may be ParentalRights.org. I would appreciate your input on key allies we should consider to resist the erosion of parental rights.

15 comments:

Mary B said...

Jeff,
Your link to the PA Judicial web site doesn’t bring up any records. The web site you quote doesn’t list any names or sources and uses the story to sell the writers agenda and the dissemination of his product.. The story is upsetting, to say the least, but in an age of hyperbole and exaggeration and fierce one-sided bias, and articles crafted to encourage outrage and sales based on that sentiment, (rather than crafted to disseminate accurate and fair information) in the press and in the media, the lack of documentation makes the story unverifiable and therefore suspect. It would help your credibility and your espoused cause greatly if you had verifiable, documentable sources for this story.
Without those, it will be believed by people who enjoy and find satisfaction in the experience of outrage, but it will be likely viewed with justifiable skepticism by many of the people who are in actually in a position to effect change in the system..
I am not saying that this could not have happened. I am simply saying that without documentation or the possibility of verification of all that is claimed in this story, it lacks effective power to create substantive change.

Mary Bliss said...

Perhaps you can rectify that?

Anonymous said...

First, what Mary B. said. Second (as you might already know, Jeff), I think Simon Black is a hack, and his May 10 Sovereign Man post illustrates why. Toward the end he writes this:

This is pretty despicable… and worth any rational person questioning how free you really are, when all that’s required for the state to take your children away from you is a judge with an ax to grind.

This is just childishly stupid. We all know that (1) we need some kind of justice system, and (2) no justice system is perfect. Every human institution has its rogue individuals. Any human institution that invests people with authority implies the possibility of people abusing that authority. This fact by itself does not render us unfree --- no more than the individual failings of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young or anyone else that the LDS Church has invested with authority renders the LDS Church untrue.

Any mature understanding of the word "free" has to take into account the fact that (as I believe Kant said) out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made. The Founding Fathers certainly understood this. But then again, unlike Simon Black, they were not in the outrage-mongering business.

Also, I see no evidence whatsoever to support either of these claims:

--- Increasingly, in the United States, the citizens in the "land of the free" find that they are relatively free until one judge, one police officer, or one petty official from a host of bureaucracies and agencies decides to simply take those rights away.

--- Americans are increasingly at the mercy of despots.

How do you know this sort of thing is increasing? Just off the top of my head I can think of an awful lot of black people who lived under Jim Crow who would disagree with the use of the word "increasingly" here. I'd say that the only reason this particular example looms so large for you is that it's your ox that is (potentially) being gored.

Of course, Simon Black has a direct financial interest in feeding the kind of paranoia that incites his customers. But what's your excuse, Jeff?

-- OK

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mary about not trusting your source of news, Jeff, but this is a real case. It's been covered by the American Bar Association. Here's the Superior Court decision.

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/j-a01011-18o.pdf

The fact that it was covered by the ABA means that it is an uncommon situation. If it was common, it wouldn't make it into the ABA Journal. The risk of something like this happening to a family (especially a white family like yours) is probably about the same as being hit multiple times by lightning or being run over in the street by a tank.

Jeff Lindsay said...

The PDF filename has spaces in it when displayed in Firefox that caused trouble with the link. The proper URL for the court decision is http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/Memorandum%20%20ReversedVacated%20%2010346885234069864.pdf?cb=1. A shortcut that might work better is https://tinyurl.com/pa-injustice. If you still have trouble, you can also download the PDF file from JeffLindsay.com. The record is there. Sorry for the link trouble, but it is there and if you still can't access it, let me know and I'll email the file to you. It deserves to be read.

Read the case and explain how Simon Black's telling of the story is misleading in any way. Tell me that the judge who took away the couple's child acted reasonably in a non-despotic manner. Explain that to me. If you think fundamental rights were not capriciously violated in light of the record, not your wishful ideas, then please explain why. Is the harsh criticism of that judge by the Pennsylvania Superior Court unwarranted?

"Simon Black is a hack." I don't consider that to be a substantial response to an issue that has been raised with genuine substance. Sounds a bit ad hominem to me. Name calling can resolve the problem for many people, once they conclude that the story reported comes from someone they don't like ("a hack"!). But I am surprised that you would also want to dismiss the story because the author provides bis services as part of making a living. Have you stopped to think how many of the sources you listen to, whether politicians, newscasters, professors, celebrities, NGO executives, are vocal and visible as part of their employment?

In this case, though, Black is sharing a story with people who have already signed up for his information, and his comments on freedom and society seem much more of a public service rather than the services he actually promotes related to value stocks, overseas investing, financial planning, and international opportunities. He's genuinely concerned about freedom in the US and I believe is sharing this story in good faith, as am I. Has he grossly misunderstood the facts? Is he lying? Was the Superior Court judge wrong? If I am wrong to be concerned, especially since I have a granddaughter in the same city where this took place, please explain to me why everything is awesome in Philadelphia, a city I do really like.

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK writes, “The only reason this particular example looms so large for you is that it’s your ox that is (potentially) being gored.” Really? I find that to be a rather insensitive and unfounded comment. I also find your confidence in your mind-reading skills once again to be excessive.

Jeff Lindsay said...


"The fact that it was covered by the ABA means that it is an uncommon situation." I should add that the fact that Simon Black reported on it, or the fact that anyone reported it at all, means that this case is uncommon. Every newsworthy story is newsworthy because it's news. But you're telling me that what makes it news also makes it a reason not to be concerned?

What percent of children taken away illegally by the State reaches the proper threshold for being concerned? Or how many similar cases need to occur before we can say that maybe there's a problem to addressed? I fear your threshold for concern might well past the point of no return.

Jpv said...

Mary, you're incorrect. Disgusted at those who apparently would be okay if one of their children were taken away for over a year without due process. That's Jeff's point, the fact that the system allows this to happen without recourse means it's broken.

Bakedizzle said...

A couple thoughts. First of all, apparently this is not the first time this judge has violated due process. There are at least 4 other instances in her 2 years on the bench, with over 70 appeals still pending that could turn up more errors.

https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/2018/04/02/philadelphia-family-court-judge-has-a-history-of-violating-parents-rights/?slreturn=20180413085221

However, that seems to mean what we have here is a bad judge. And there is an investigation into her:
https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/2018/05/09/judicial-conduct-board-investigating-phila-family-court-judge-younge/

So I'm in total agreement that peoples' rights were violated. I would need to see more evidence that lots of judges are doing this sort of thing, and that nothing is being done about it, before I'd say that the system as a whole is broken. This particular judge needs to be disciplined, and ideally the affected families should be compensated in some way (though I don't know how you compensate someone for that sort of trauma), but it may be a stretch to say that there's a systemic problem based on this one judge.

Other examples?

Anonymous said...

Gee, Jeff, straw-man much? I never said no one's rights were violated, nor that Simon Black reported the case inaccurately, though I absolutely stand by my claim that he's a hack. Any hack can convey a self-servingly inaccurate picture of anything at all, simply by, yes, accurately portraying a cherry-picked set of facts, and this is what Black does. He does this in order to push a paranoid worldview conducive to his business agenda.

Different agendas are involved, but essentially the same game gets played all the time with law enforcement (A bunch of racists gunning down black people!), free speech on college campuses (Conservatives have been banned from campus!), etc. I'm sick of it.

In any event, to look at a case like this one and draw from it the conclusions that you (and Black) do is simply ludicrous. I'm referring to statements like this:

What percent of children taken away illegally by the State reaches the proper threshold for being concerned? Or how many similar cases need to occur before we can say that maybe there's a problem to addressed? I fear your threshold for concern might well past the point of no return.

I would say that even one child "taken away illegally by the State" is cause for concern. But of course there's a huge difference between "cause for concern" re the occasional case of judicial malfeasance and hyperbolically ventilating about a general loss of freedom. And of course there very much is a problem to be addressed in this case --- but as you might have noticed, the problem is being addressed. When it comes to the case of this country's child-welfare system, we are nowhere even close to "the point of no return."

-- OK

Jeff Lindsay said...

Sounds like the judicial excesses in this particular case was not a once-in-a-lifetime fluke but for those under this judge's jurisdiction, something of a systemic problem.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Some related reading discussing a number of other cases pointing to a common problem in the growing bureaucracies that seem to think they know better than parents how to raise their kids: "The Tyranny of the Nanny State, Where the Government Knows What’s Best for You". For details on one of the cases mentioned, see "Florida Officials Drop Prosecution of Mom Arrested, Handcuffed, Searched & Jailed for Allowing Her 7-Year-Old Son to Visit Playground Alone."

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the New World Order by the Liberal Regressive Socialist Communist Globalists Uniparty.


Sadly too many Christians support this oppressive garbage of Communism, even the Mormon church.

What happened to this family is exactly what the liberal socialist communists have done to the Western world. Brought on by an oppressive and totalitarian ideaology fueled by greed and power and corruption, funded by the likes of George Soros, Zuckerberg, Koch brothers, etc etc etc and protected by the corrupt politicians who are owned by the evil people like Soros.



Anonymous said...

C'mon, Jeff, you're too smart for this kind of stuff. You know as well as I do that the game being played by the Rutherford Institute is bogus.

It's all well and good to shine a spotlight on cases of government abuse. That's necessary and salutory. It's why we have a First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech.

But it's quite another thing to engage in patent methodological fraud and use these cases as "anecdata" to argue that the U.S. is one step away from becoming a tyranny. It's just agitprop (agitation propaganda) used to whip up support for this or that political cause.

I repeat: You're too smart for this!

As for Anon 7:59: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Though it is refreshing to see a nutball conspiracy theorist placing the Koch brothers on the same side as George Soros.

-- OK

Phil said...

We need to have a better, more efficient and effective way to remove unfit judges from their positions. This woman (Lyris Younge) is not fit to be a judge and should promptly be removed from office, just based on this one horrible example alone, let alone other offenses that she has been guilty of. Too often, these types of judges are extremely difficult to be removed, unlike elected politicians. Of course, we don't want to have the opposite extreme of making it too easy to remove them, due to the danger of those who might want them removed for frivolous reasons, but it seems to me that it's simply too difficult to get the bad ones out before more damage is done. They should also be penalized and/or sued for cases where their violation of due process (etc) caused great harm to others, as in this case.