Vincent Davis: Good morning. This is Attorney Vince Davis. It’s December 24th, 2017. You’re on with Get Your Kids Back Now and Fight CPS. This is show is dedicated to keeping families together and to fighting the tyranny of CPS and DCFS social workers. A secondary purpose of the show is to educate parents and relatives or to at least show them where to get the necessary information for their fight. The final purpose of the show is to remind people that change can be effectuated at the ballot box, at the state and federal levels. Let us unite, vote and elect those who will make the necessary changes.
Good morning everyone. I have a special guest, a very special guest with me this morning. Her name is Attorney Rachel Raymond. Good morning, Rachel.
Rachel Raymond: Good morning, Mr. Davis.
Vincent Davis: Rachel, please call me Vince.
Rachel Raymond: Okay. Good morning, Vince.
Vincent Davis: Rachel, tell our audience a little bit about yourself and about your background.
Rachel Raymond: I’ve been an attorney since 2010 and I took a job as a court-appointed attorney in Los Angeles in the Children’s Court to represent parents. I was appointed to represents parent and I did that for about a year and I became frustrated with the situated and the amount of cases that each of us were signed and I went out of my own and I’ve been representing parents ever since.
Vincent Davis: Rachel, what made you frustrated at your job as a court-appointed attorney?
Rachel Raymond: Well, first of all, the amount of cases that were assigned to us over 200 cases and that didn’t matter how much one has in a day and one spent for, you know, trying to prepare for cases. You couldn’t prepare adequately in a way that you needed to prepare to help these parents get their children back. It wasn’t possible and I would spend night after night trying to be ready to help these parents and it was just absolutely impossible. So the type that I want to do and the help that I want to provide my client, I couldn’t do it. I mean, I would not sleep nights and I still couldn’t do it. It was very frustrating.
Vincent Davis: Rachel and I currently work together on juvenile dependency cases representing parents. The reason why I ask Rachel to come on this Saturday, the day before Christmas is I wanted her to share with the audience about a case — and we won’t mention the client’s name, but about a case that we just did or that Rachel just won along with another attorney who we sometimes work with, Nicole Williams out of Orange County. You and Nicole represented a mother, who’s in the Arm Services, who was accused of some heinous child abuse. Rachel, why don’t you tell us about that case? First, tell us what the mother was accused of.
Rachel Raymond: The mother was accused of — the allegation was that the baby was shaken to the point where the injuries were so severe that the baby was airlifted from an on-base hospital to a children’s hospital that specializes in abusive head trauma. The authorities or the medical personnel couldn’t identify who the perpetuator was because the mother had dropped off her child at daycare and so the CPS got involved when they were called by the hospital staff and they started an investigation along with people, certain authorities on the military base investigated as well and the department filed an allegation against the mother and father regarding the injuries that the baby had. So, that’s kind of basically what it was, what the allegations were.
Vincent Davis: Tell us about the injuries the baby had.
Rachel Raymond: The baby had suffered subdural hematoma which means there were injuries to the brain such as the brain was bleeding and the bleeding caused swelling of the brain which caused the baby to suffer seizures and — I don’t know all the specifics. I don’t want to be claimed and be a medical person, but this kind of trauma is so severe that a lot of children don’t still make it or they suffer for the rest of lives having some sort of brain damage or something because of those types of injuries. And then the baby also suffered injuries to the spine, muscle injuries, ligament injuries. I mean, usually in other shaken, what they call them, you know, sort of an independency law or dependency court, they have shaken baby cases a lot of time, they seem to be misdiagnosed but in this case all the experts agreed that it was through the shaken baby case, the injuries pointed towards that it was pretty clear.
But our issue was basically the timeline and what the evidence that we had and the evidence that was presented by the department usually two completely different things although the department has required to present all evidence even exculpatory evidence, however a lot of time they seem to leave out the exculpatory evidence and they presented a story that was cued and pointed towards our client. So it took a lot of — it was really important to get as much discovery as we could as much, you know, as many of the hospital records, as many of the social workers’ notes and different and then also the babysitter’s — because she was certified by the base in order to provide child care we needed to get her file, her human resources file from the base as well so we could get a complete picture because you can’t never trust that the complete picture is ever presented by the department even though they’re required to present all evidence.
Vincent Davis: When you first took on this case, you and I talked about it. And to be honest with you, Rachel, I looked at this case and I thought to myself I’m not sure this is a case we can win. And when I told you that, what did you think?
Rachel Raymond: I thought I can understand why you would think that because we were presented with a picture that looks unwinnable, I mean that we were presented a picture by the department and the evidence and then the report that looked — you were correct and assuming that it looked unwinnable but I thought just wait, hold on, let me get all this evidence and let’s look at everything and talk to everybody that is willing to talk to us and let’s get a complete picture before we make a decision about whether or not this case is winnable and whether or not our client, you know, has a shot here at proving her innocence basically.
Vincent Davis: Not only did I think that the case was unwinnable but a colleague of mine who — I won’t mention his name, he called me several times and told me, another attorney, not with her office, and told me what he thought about this case and how he thought the case was definitely unwinnable and I had my concerns. But I got from you every time that I spoke to you the sense that — you never said that, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, and I got the feeling that you knew more about this case and you had a gut level feeling about this case and about this client that she was truly innocent. So, you know, you did what you do best and that is you defended this lady. Tell us about the trial. Tell us what happened.
Rachel Raymond: Let me just add a little something that I think is so important that I think a lot of people or a lot of attorneys especially in this area of law and especially if you’re court-appointed you’ll have a tendency to make a decision prior to even talking to your client and really sort of immersing yourself in their story and their — what I did was I spent a lot of time talking with our client. I went with her on the base. I went with her by the babysitter’s house. I went with her and spoke or attempted to speak to the on-base authorities and was basically, you know, had the door closed in my face basically but I’m one of those attorneys who — I want to leave no stone unturned before we can make a decision like that because, you know, this woman, you know, was — she was a young woman, yeah, she’s married to another military person and, you know, they live on base and she just needed — she deserved to be heard, she deserved to be listened to and she deserved to have somebody not make up their mind prior to investigating and looking at all the evidence because that’s my job. My job is to work for this woman and my job is to work for each person that I worked for on each case and I have to — it’s so important to listen to what my clients have to say because a lot of times you discover, you know, sort of the key or the answer to how to go forward in this case in the little details that you would almost think would be unimportant.
And so prior to starting this trial I really immersed myself in the details of this case and finding out facts and getting information and going and sitting with this woman in her home going and sitting, you know, driving around with this woman on the base going to the hospitals where the baby had been taken. The truth of the case sort of came out by doing all of that and if you can’t or you’re not willing to take the time to do that or you don’t listen then I just don’t see how you can adequately, you know, go forward and help this mom, you know, in the appropriate manner.
Vincent Davis: So what happened at the trial?
Rachel Raymond: So I have to say it’s nerve-wracking to go to trial and dependency court especially it’s nerve-wracking period but, you know, trial and dependency court because there’s so many cases that are filed, the judges and the other lawyers, they don’t like it when you slow down their day. They don’t like when you take a case to trial because, you know, you’re slowing down their calendar and you’re getting in the way of — the way that they function. And so you’re already starting sort of with this like error of annoyance by, you know, the other attorneys and the court but it’s — regardless of that I was going to — I knew that I needed to do this. I knew that the facts pointed towards my client not having hurt her child.
And so basically we had to continue the trial a few times and I know that was frustrating for my client but it was absolutely necessary in order to get all this evidence because without the evidence, you know, we wouldn’t have been successful. So, you know, I can understand that parents want to hurry up and go forward because they know they’re, you know, they’re innocent or, you know, in this case you knew her innocence but we needed to be able to show the court that that was the case, so we had to continue it a few times and it really frustrated my client, our client. When we started the case we had subpoenaed the daycare provider and she was the first person to take the stand and she immediately pled the fifth. To every single question asked she pled the fifth. So I think that was pretty tallying right off the bat.
Vincent Davis: To our listeners what that means?
Rachel Raymond: Well, basically when asked any questions about the case or what happened that day when the baby was injured she basically asserted her Fifth Amendment right not incriminate herself, meaning she was not going to answer any questions that would make her culpable or point towards her having caused the injury rather than our client. So she basically refused to answer any questions.
Vincent Davis: Now, she appeared in court with an attorney, correct?
Rachel Raymond: She appeared in court with an attorney, that’s correct. And in fact when we subpoenaed her, an investigator that works with us, Amy, she worked diligently to serve this woman a subpoena. And in fact she tried — she attempted to just talk to her about what happened, you know, give me the story, what happened. And even at that point she was telling my investigator that she has an attorney and she’s already by cleared and she can’t talk about it. And so then my investigator goes, “Well, okay, I understand. And that case here, here’s a subpoena.” And her mouth dropped open and her eyes practically popped up overhead and she got very nervous. And right off the bat it was clear that something wasn’t right by her reaction. And so when she came it was — we kind of knew she was going to plead the fifth because her attorney was contacting me trying to get me to agree to not force her to go to court.
And as you know, Vince, I called and spoke to you about that because I wasn’t — I mean I felt, you know, my gut was telling me, well, let’s have her come to court and, you know, basically go ahead and say she’s unwilling to answer any questions in open court but I wasn’t sure if we wanted to do that or I needed to discuss that with you and I wanted to, you know, because her attorney was trying to get me to agree to not allow — to not make her come to court, so I really wanted to discuss that with you. You and I agreed that we — she needs to come to court and go ahead and let the court know that she’s unwilling to answer any questions and that’s what happened. And I think that was the first witness and that was just — it was a great way to start that trial with her being unwilling to answer any of those questions.
Vincent Davis: When she was unwilling to answer questions and she pled the fifth, how did the trial judge react?
Rachel Raymond: I think he realized because, you know, he had shown up with her attorney and I think, you know, prior to going on the record and starting that her attorney let the court know that she would be pleading the fifth we didn’t know that she would plead the fifth to every single question or not. So basically, the county put on her case first. The county put her — and then I realized later that the county had subpoenaed her as well which I didn’t know that, so she took the stand. And then I believe the county asked a couple of questions and then it was our turn to ask questions. And my colleague, Nicole, she started asking questions and every single question she asked she read that she will plead the fifth to each — it was like a canned statement that she replied to every single question to the point where then the court basically said, you know, hold on and ask the witness, are you going to basically assert your Fifth Amendment right to every single question by every single attorney and then her attorney chimed then and said, “Yes, she will be pleading the fifth to every single question except a question that ask her name or those basic stats about her.”
So then it went to the next — but the court ask, so then we didn’t even ask our questions because the court just basically said she’s going to plead the fifth to every single question. So then the next attorney, father’s attorney, asked a couple of questions and she pled the fifth and then minor’s counsel didn’t even ask a question because she was just going to plead the fifth and then that was it. And she left, and she left for that day and that was the first — she was the first witness and that was the first day of trial and then we went on to the next witness which was the investigative social worker who took the stand and I asked that witness questions regarding the inconsistencies and the reports that were provided to the court and the notes that I had subpoenaed that were more detail that had been — the notes seemed to be more driven by facts than the report. In the notes you get just basic, in this case, basic facts that sort of layout more complete picture whereas the report was sort of skewed towards mom. So the facts that weren’t helpful towards the mother in the investigative notes were not present and the report that were turned in to the court. So I focused on those in my questions regarding that I asked the investigative social worker.
Vincent Davis: At this point in the trial, the social worker is against our client, correct?
Rachel Raymond: Yeah, I mean yes but the social worker was — the social worker seemed to be, I mean just — because what was so interesting in this case and in this county unlike LA County but in this county I was able to speak to the social worker without the attorney present. In fact when I first started this case I was used to LA County where all the social workers refused to talk to the parent’s attorney but here I went to the county counsel and said, “I requested some discovery. I want to know if you can ask your client if they can please provide that or are they in the process of getting that together.” And he said, “You can ask for yourself. Go ahead and talk to her.” I was like, “What?” I was shocked.
So I spent time speaking with the social worker just like one human to another sort of laying out these facts and just saying, “I’m not seeing what you’re seeing or at least I’m not seeing what you’re presenting to the court.” And she didn’t really argue against that with me. I mean, she seemed to speak pretty openly to me and it was a different experience and I think that was a helpful experience and I think that should always be the experience because, you know, I mean social workers have the ability to talk to the parents, our client freely without us being present, however, most of the time were unable to talk to the social worker without their attorney being present. I mean, right off the bat that’s obviously problematic and skewed against our client, skewed against the parents, you know. So it was a big experience in that way.
Vincent Davis: At this point in time was the minor’s attorney against our client?
Rachel Raymond: Yes, and that’s not surprising in dependency court. I quite often find that the minor’s attorney almost seems to be at least, you know, as — always an agreement with the department. At times they seem to even go a step further, however, it’s always interesting that, I mean in this case their client is a baby, so obviously the baby can’t talk with their attorney. They don’t even go and visit the baby or their client. They haven’t spent any time with their client yet they’ve made their mind about what happen in this case. And this minor’s counsel had made up her mind that it was, you know, mother that had caused these injuries and the entire trial would not sway from that regardless of what the facts were, regardless of what was being presented. All she did was asked questions to different witnesses that we had on the stand trying to prove a certain, you know, proved that our client had caused these injuries. It wasn’t like a fact-finding questioning. It was trying to prove her what she had made up her mind about already and I just — it was so tallying. It wasn’t surprising but it was frustrating. And I know even father’s counsel was frustrated at that because it was almost as if the minor’s counsel was arguing the hardest against our client.
Vincent Davis: Were there any other witnesses that testified?
Rachel Raymond: Yes, and I think that this is an important, you know, a lot of times in dependency cases when we set a case for trial, the court automatically put the dependency investigator social worker on call to be present and this dependency investigator they investigate the allegations but they are not the first social worker on the scene. They are not the social worker that interviewed the parents, interviewed the other parties involved. It is the ER, the emergency response social worker that is the one that first investigate and first decides whether or not to file a case. So obviously they’re absolutely vital to have presence at the trial yet they’re sort of left out and unless you specifically asked for that emergency response social worker you’re not going to have them, so you have somebody who come into the case long after the case has been filed, you know, who wasn’t the one who first interviewed the parents, who wasn’t the one who first interviewed the babysitter.
And in this case getting case getting those notes and seeing and realizing that the first social worker that interviewed the babysitter was the ER social worker and we needed that social worker present because in that social worker’s notes was exculpatory evidence like on the first page of the subpoenaed documents literally there was vital information to point towards our client’s innocent that never would have been brought to light if we hadn’t have gotten those documents and hadn’t subpoenaed this social worker to court.
Vincent Davis: Did the county presenting any expert medical evidence?
Rachel Raymond: Well, the county attached portions of the medical records to the detention report and that’s the first report that’s filed by the department when they decided to file a case against a parent. They were selective and they weren’t complete, believe me, because it was almost, you know, when I subpoenaed the medical records it was almost 20,000 pages and what was attached to the detention report was like maybe 15 pages. I know that the county put the doctor who saw the baby the second day after the injury on call. We hired our own expert who we provided the massive — the entire medical record, the medical record, the entire medical record for the child, the entire medical record for the mother so that our expert could get a complete picture of the baby, the baby’s history, the mother, the mother’s history so that they can make and informed decision about what could have possibly happened here.
And so we had our expert on and our expert took the — it appeared by phone and we, you know, inquired as to what his findings were when he reviewed the records. And he agreed — it’s an interesting case because both our doctor and the county’s doctor, both of them agreed that this was an abusive trauma that this child had suffered. And at first even our expert said, “I don’t know if you want me to take the stand because this doesn’t look like an accident injury at all. I mean, I don’t see that.” And I said — and it was interesting because my co-counsel said, “I don’t know. I mean, maybe we have to rethink this. Maybe Vince was right. Maybe that other attorney that talked to Vince was right. Maybe we need to talk about accepting the deal or something here.” And I said, “Just wait a minute because yes, he’s got all the medical records but he doesn’t have all the facts.”
And when I presented the social worker’s notes to this doctor, he said, “Now, wait a minute. This changes things as to, you know, pointing towards who could have possibly inflicted these injuries or at least it could point towards a timeline as to our client not really fitting into that timeline. So, you know, you have to take all this — it’s like a puzzle and you get all this — it’s different bits of discovery and evidence and you have to put together to get a complete picture. You can’t keep all the pieces separate because everything place into each other.
Vincent Davis: Rachel?
Rachel Raymond: Yes.
Vincent Davis: Rachel, you just mentioned something that — you just mentioned something that’s very, very important and I want our listeners to understand this so that if they ever have this problem that they can help their attorney or their court-appointed attorney in developing the defense. You said that the expert reviewed the medical records and things weren’t looking good for us until you provided the social worker’s reports to the experts that contained additional facts, not medical evidence but additional facts that changed the, I guess, picture in terms of what our medical expert had to say, is that correct?
Rachel Raymond: Yeah, that’s correct. Yes, it is. It didn’t change his medical opinion as to what occurred, how the injury occurred but it changed — it gave him more of an accurate storyline because, you know, the facts that weren’t in the medical record but, you know, were sort of — outside of the medical record but vital, you know, created almost a timeline as to how or who or when these injuries could have possibly occurred so that the facts that when you have, you know, the mother telling when she was interviewed by the first social worker, the emergency response social worker, she gave him a story of the facts from her perspective. And then that ER social worker spoke to the babysitter that same day and she presented the story. And what’s interesting to point out is that those stories lined up from the very beginning such that the babysitter and the mother are both saying when mother dropped off the baby the baby appeared normal.
Now, that’s just one little sentence, one little line that maybe somebody could skip through really quick and not notice but in this case it was vital because how can a baby appear normal and then six hours later be flown to, you know, be medevaced to a hospital because the baby is seizing and the baby is basically on, you know, looking like he’s not going to make it. So clearly that fact, that one sentence was vital in this case and that we would not have had that evidence had we not subpoenaed those records. So you always — I always request the social worker’s logs, delivered service logs or in LA County a lot of times they call them the Title 20. You want them from first context. You want those notes no matter what and that you always request those and I always request those.
Vincent Davis: So for our listeners if you were involved in the case of abuse and you’re being charged with abuse, what Rachel was talking about you have to make sure that you speak to your attorney about the importance of getting those delivered services logs in Title 20 through informal discovery. There’s something in the law that requires the social workers to provide you that information but only if you ask for it and in this case Rachel was painstakingly gathering information and she asked for it. So Rachel, tell our listeners what happened at the trial with our doctor’s testimony.
Rachel Raymond: So our doctor — so we were asking, we basically asked our doctor questions and we took what the baby sitter had stated the different symptoms that the babysitter reported and we went through those with the doctor and we talked about, you know, when a baby or a child suffers subdural hematoma that this kind of injury how long does it take to present symptoms — present these symptoms such that you can sort of try to pinpoint a timeline as to when this possibly could have occurred. And it was interesting because as we’re asking questions and we’re going through the babysitter’s statement as to, okay, you know, the baby couldn’t keep his head up, okay, then — or the baby, she attempted to see the baby, the baby drink a bottle and then the baby projectile vomited and you think, okay, that’s just another symptom.
But when we asked the doctor that question he said that’s usually an indicator of the brain flowing to a point where, okay, now it’s serious, that sort of a catalyst or a marker as to the brain having swelled to a certain degree where the seizing might start or, you know, you can’t get around that. And so what came out on the stand was that we asked him about the projectile vomit and he said that would be within — that should occur within two to four hours of the injury because, you know, and then he brought up an issue about the severity and the fact that that is a sign of the severity of the injury and the more severe, the short of a timeline. So this is literally coming out as we’re asking him questions on the stand and then father’s counsel took over and started asking more questions and then I believe minor’s counsel asked a few questions but what was interesting is then the judge had some questions and the judge started asking our expert questions and our expert is a well-known expert in this area and he’s a pediatric orthopedist.
So this judge was asking questions not about the subdural hematoma but about the injuries in the spine and about whether or not a person would — or the baby would feel pain when these injuries occurred and would it be obvious that this child was in pain. And the judge elicited that there’s no way around the baby not being in pain when these injuries occurred. And it was interesting — and I know when I asked her the first day of trial I was thinking, what is he getting at, what is he getting at, you know? And I was trying to sort of grab my head around that and I called and spoke to the expert about that and I was asking what do you think he’s getting at there. And he said, you know, he’s basically wanting to us if wouldn’t it be clear that this child was in pain. There’s no way this mother could have dropped off this baby without — and the baby appeared normal with the injuries that this baby had incurred.
So on the second day of trial when the county called the doctor that saw the baby the second day after the injury, the judge asked the doctor the same questions. And that doctor didn’t really know how to answer them. It was interesting and it was vital because in the judge’s ruling he went through in detail why he was asking those questions and how he found our expert to be more credible because he’s a pediatric orthopedist. That’s his specialty bones basically. And that was his questions regarding the injuries that the child suffered in the spine and the torn ligaments and the spaces between the spice and how that baby would have been exhibiting signs of pain. I mean, the baby would have been crying, you know, et cetera, et cetera.
Vincent Davis: So what happened on the second day?
Rachel Raymond: In between the first and the second day I received an email from the county saying that they’re going to be recalling the babysitter and I’m going, what’s going on with that? Did they get some sort of deal or something? Now, the babysitter is going to talk or, you know, what’s going on? I was a bit nervous. And so, Amy, my investigator, she — in the email the county said that he had spoken to the DA and he was kind of vague but he was talking about immunity for the babysitter. So my investigator called up the DA and said, you know, “Did you promise immunity for this babysitter? What’s going on? And the DA was like, “I don’t even have standing to even offer that let alone, you know, promise anything. I mean, that’s not correct.”
So obviously it was important to follow up and make some inquiries between the first and the second day when I received that email so I could get a picture what is this guy planning to do, you know, if suddenly this babysitter going to start telling a story that is going to make our client look bad, you know, what is going on? So we show up and there’s the babysitter again on the second day of trial and the judge, you know, the county brings up that he had spoken to the DA about immunity and then the judge looked to me and asked me do I have anything to say. And I said, “My investigator spoke to the DA and to my understanding the DA doesn’t have any standing to even offer that.
So I’m not sure how immunity can even be an issue. And then the judge decided that he’s not in a position to give this person immunity because she’s, you know, he can’t basically make it so that she can say whatever she wants to say up there on the stand and even say things that would be clear that it would point to maybe, you know, she caused this injury yet he’s already offered her immunity. So he did not agree to offer her immunity and once again she — well, she didn’t even get up there. Basically, the judge asked her attorney, “Is she going to plead the fifth?” And the attorney said, “Yes, she will be pleading the fifth.” And he said, “Well, there’s no point in her taking the stand again,” and he excused her.
And then the county called the doctor that had seen the baby right after the injuries occurred and she took the stand. And then the county asked her, you know, several questions basically trying to take what our expert said and, you know, and do it to a certain degree. And this doctor couldn’t really undo it. I mean, they were almost — it was pretty incredible because this doctor wouldn’t — I don’t know how to say other than this doctor couldn’t really disagree with our expert. So he asked questions and then it was our turn to ask questions and we asked her several questions and I wanted to really point towards the severity of the injury so that the timeline is that really rather short one. And then also I asked this doctor about somebody when this type of injury occurred and even if the story that the babysitter decided to tell leaving out when the baby was dropped off, the baby appeared normal. She left that out after her first interview. That statement never appeared again.
And she said — I asked her, did you find it concerning that this doctor — I mean that this babysitter had this baby at her home for six hours and she’s saying that this baby was gasping for air, couldn’t hold his head up, was listless and lethargic, she waited six hours to call mother, six hours. There’s a problem with that because this babysitter who was certified by the base is required to report any kind of illness to the parent within an hour. And the reason we know that is because we subpoenaed the requirements to become certified on a military base so we knew the rules. So there’s another — like something that you might not think of but that was vital is to show that, you know. That’s another one of those pieces of the puzzle when you put it all together it presents some more on the picture of what’s going on.
And so, yes, that doctor said that is really concerning. And she said not only as a doctor but as a parent that is concerning that this person would wait six hours while this baby can’t, you know, supposedly can’t breathe, can’t hold his head up, you know, et cetera. So it’s so important to get the doctor’s opinion regarding the babysitter’s reaction to these symptoms and it was important to get the doctor’s opinion as to mother’s reaction when she picked up the baby and within seven minutes she called 911 because the baby — something was really wrong with this baby.
Vincent Davis: So it’s very important this whole timeline that came out from you looking at different parts of the record and information gathering and you had to fit it all together like a puzzle.
Rachel Raymond: Yes, correct.
Vincent Davis: Tell us next what happened at the end of the trial.
Rachel Raymond: So we all asked our questions of the county’s doctor, the doctor that had seen the baby on the second day. And then the court asked questions as well and once again the court revisited the same questions he had asked our expert about the spinal injuries and pain and whether the baby would be exhibiting a reaction to pain. And she couldn’t really — she couldn’t answer it. She didn’t know how to answer it because, you know, although she had this label as a child abuse expert it wasn’t specific to that type of injuries, so you’ve got the general label as a child abuse expert yet she couldn’t respond to these questions about that injury that, you know, usually that’s a part — an injury that appears when there’s this kind of abusive head trauma that’s one of the injuries because when there’s acceleration/deceleration injury that comes with shaking there’s spinal injury but she couldn’t answer those questions.
And so when the judge — so we all rested after we set our closing arguments and it was interesting that, you know, the county did their closing, we did our closing, the father’s counsel did their closing and then the minor’s counsel basically tried to explain a way why the babysitter’s story was inconsistent that maybe she was just nervous, you know. And I just thought, don’t you have your — I mean I couldn’t help this but I’m thinking don’t you have your client’s best interest in mind? It isn’t about the conclusion that you want. Isn’t it about the facts and whatever conclusion is drawn from those facts? But it was clear. She had made up her mind long before any evidence was presented and was going to try to argue that evidence in a manner that supported her conclusion regardless of what the truth was.
And so she was the last person that said her closing and so I was nervous and I was thinking, oh God, he’s just going to do like most of these judges doing rubberstamp at department. And he started off, you know, talking about sort of generally, okay, we have a mother and father, could they have caused these injuries? And then we have a babysitter, you know, could she have caused these injuries? And he said, you know, what was really tallying is when I spoke to — when I asked those questions to the pediatric orthopedist, our expert. He said there was — it was clear that there was no way that this baby could have sustained those injuries and not exhibited pain and crying. And he said, “I find him to be more credible. That’s his specialty. He’s been doing it for God knows 20 something years and I trust that what he said is more accurate and the “child abuse expert” could not even adequately answer the questions that the court had asked regarding those spinal injuries.”
And then he also stated that, “I don’t agree with minor’s counsel that these inconsistencies can’t be, you know, just a result of her being nervous about what had happened.” I mean, he said, “It’s so interesting and I want to point out that the mother’s depiction of events when she dropped off the baby and the babysitter’s depiction of events were the same, they’re collaborated. The mother said the baby was normal when she dropped her off and the babysitter said the baby was normal when she dropped her off. It’s just the county that did not provide that piece of the puzzle. They left it out but it was their own words we used in the trial to prove that. It was in their words. It was in their notes. It was in their evidence and they had that from day one. They had that from the first entry that yet it was left out at the report offered to the court. And so he pointed that out. Yes.
And he dismissed the case. He dismissed the case. It was like I could — I mean I couldn’t believe it because it’s so often regardless of what the fact say it’s like the court puts their fingers in their ears and starts going la, la, la, la; they don’t want to hear it. It’s just going to be another rubberstamp. And it wasn’t; he listened. And he heard the fact and he heard what we had to present and he made the correct ruling for one. He made the correct ruling. It was amazing moment and my client even before the judge could finish speaking was weeping with joy and grabbing me and hugging me and the judge was still talking but I couldn’t help it, I’m tearing up and my investigator who was sitting in the back of the courtroom she’s weeping. I mean, you know, everybody was so happy that, oh my God, there is still such thing as justice out there because it’s a rarity, we see that in dependency court, you know, and it was a really, really amazing moment.
Vincent Davis: How long had the child been out of the parents’ custody?
Rachel Raymond: Since June, June 21st mother dropped the child at the babysitter and from that point, yeah.
Vincent Davis: So almost six months had gone by since the parents had had their baby.
Rachel Raymond: That’s correct. And they can also see the baby in a monitored setting and it’s right before Christmas and it was a really difficult time and I know that the parents, you know, I mean our first trial date was set for October but I had to tell the client we don’t have all the evidence yet, we need to wait, we need to wait, because the client knows what happened and knows that when she dropped her baby off her baby was fine. But we have to be able to present that to the court and we needed more evidence and I needed to ask her to wait and she didn’t really want to wait, but she trusted me reluctantly but she didn’t want to wait. And in the end obviously she was very happy with that but it’s really important, you know, I know it’s probably hard for a parent to have the — I mean I can’t even imagine, I’m a mother and to wait and be a part for my child for a longer period of time because we don’t, you know, the attorney is asking for it and we don’t have all the evidence can be very frustrating but it was vital, vital, vital, absolutely vital and I’m so happy in the end and so was my client that she waited for obvious reason.
Vincent Davis: So Rachel, tell our listeners, give me a moral of this story. You won with Nicole, our co-counsel and with Amy, our investigator, you won a huge case where parents were accused of physically abusing a child through, you know, something called the shaken baby syndrome, the listeners can Google that, and you won. What’s the moral of the story?
Rachel Raymond: The moral of the story is I think is that we, the parties involved, the attorneys and the social workers and the medical personnel, they need to listen and they need to take the time to get all the facts so we can get an accurate picture that each case is an individual case and this is not a machine, you know, where you get one case after the other and you rubberstamp and you take deals and you keep going. Now, you got to look at each case as it comes forward and listen and deal with the facts of that case and what occurred in that case appropriately. You can’t, you know, fall into this pattern or this habit or just trading all these cases the same and just rubberstamping, moving through the machine so that everybody can go home early or whatever. You got to look at each case and listen and be present and immerse yourself in the facts of each case. Take the time to immerse yourself in the fact and listen.
Vincent Davis: Very good. And so we’re running out of time. I want to thank you being on the show with me this morning. We weren’t able to take listener’s calls and there’s probably 15 people in the queue right now waiting to come on and I want to apologize to them and ask them to call in next week with their stories and their questions. I thought it was important for everyone to hear from you how [00:58:20 tape damage] juvenile dependency court and you win the trial by doing a lot of work, a lot of preparation, a lot of discovery. There’s just no way around it.
So Rachel, thank you and congratulations to you and our co-counsel, Nicole Williams who won this case for client and for our office, it’s a huge victory and I really appreciate that. And for that appreciation I have a new case for you. It’s case in Los Angeles County. It’s a shaken baby syndrome case. So we’ll talk about that more on Tuesday. Thank you very much for listening and I want to tell the listeners that next Saturday we’re going to be talking more about trials and we’re going to be talking about more [00:59:10 tape damage] CPS and DCFS.
And by the way, Rachel, I’ve already talked to our client on the case that you just won and we are going to be bringing the lawsuit against the county. So I’ll be talking to everyone next week. We’ll see you on the radio. Bye-bye.
Rachel Raymond: Great. Thank you so much.