How to Win your CPS Trial

Vincent Davis:  Good morning.  This is Attorney Vincent Davis.  You’re on with Get Your Kids Back Now.  Today is July 16th, 2016, and I’m broadcasting this morning from Orange County, California.  This 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 the 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.

Earlier this week I was talking to a couple of people who were prospective clients.  And they were surprised to learn that in California we vote in and can vote out state judges.  I asked them if they haven’t ever voted before and they said that they had.  But usually on elections in all counties, every election usually there is — there are judges who are running for reelection or judges who are running for election.  In California, a judge can be — become a judge, a person can become a judge by the election process.  Also, a person can become a judge by appointment by the governor.  However, if you get an appointment by the governor, after a certain number of years, I think it is six years, you must run for reelection.  In many cases, some judges who are sitting judges don’t have opponents that run against them.  So it’s important to make sure that the people who — are electing judges who are family-friendly and not county or DCFS or CPS-friendly.

I’m going to start with a call this morning.  We have a lot of calls lined up in the queue so let me start.  The first is from area code 801, number ending in —  Good morning.  You’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.  Good morning.

Female:  Hello?

Vincent Davis:  Hello.  You’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.

Female:  Hi.  This is [0:02:35 inaudible].

Vincent Davis:  Hi.

Female:  I was calling just to let you know of — telling me and my story and ask you some questions.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  Ma’am, there is a — a lot of static — there’s a lot of static in your line.  Is there a reason for that?

Female:  Let me see.  My air just went on.  Is that better?  Can you hear me?

Vincent Davis:  No.  I can hear you clear but there’s like — when you speak there’s a lot of static in your line.

Female:  Okay, hold on.  Let me change from headphone — take it off.  Okay.  Can you hear me better now?

Vincent Davis:  You know, I can hear you better now.  But when you talk there’s still static.  But go ahead.  Tell us your story.

Female:  Okay.  It’s started back in December of last year, towards the end.  My children filled out a questionnaire at their doctor’s office, and actually stated that their stepmother had driven them drunk and had verbally and physically abused them.  Which the mandated reporter called in, and DCFS started investigating.  The case turned around basically and ended up a case on me because the social workers saw me using a walker and a cane, and questioned my ability to take care of the children because my soon-to-be ex-husband had left the home.  So, they ended up taking me to court based on that, to take the girls away from me; I have twins.  They’re 13. 

My attorney basically told me that she thought that I was just jealous of my ex for being still married and that she believed that it was me and not the other party, because there is — these kids had been gone on for about 11years in family court, with my ex taking me to court and DCFS called multiple times by mandated reporters, the other party, they thought, and it was turned around and it was false, that I was making all these false claims, that I was approaching the children, that one of them had ended up turning against me and wanting to be living with their father after her stepfather left.  And the other twin start — wanted to stay with me and ended up becoming extremely depressed with the more time with her father and stepmother, and ended up suicidal.  And so they ended up taking the children from me.

One was placed physical care with the father, the other one was placed with my parents.  But issues have continued with my one daughter, getting more and more depressed, being hospitalized twice.  And my attorney refused to help me, refused to get evidence on my behalf, refused to cross examine the witnesses on my behalf.  I just filed an appeal, which I had gotten advice from you before to do.  The appeal did go through.  I just got the appellate read that, and their response.  The response basically stated that, per my attorney, I gave up all my right to give evidence in my case because my attorney did not do it. 

So, my question — right now I’ve been doing everything for the case plan.  My ex-husband has not done any of it.  I have not seen one of my girls at all or any visits.  He’s refused to do any of the counseling, he’s refused to take my one daughter he has to the counseling or — for any visits, and he’s basically trying to say that I have been trying to alienate the kids from him, or parent alienation.  Yet he has actually cut me from my one daughter continuously.  The appellate attorney now has advised me that because they can only go based on what was given to the court, that I need to do a writ.  And I’m not sure what that is and what my next steps should be.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  Let me ask you a few questions, first of all.  Is your attorney a court-appointed attorney?

Female:  Yes.  Or was.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  And when is your next court date?

Female:  [0:07:38 inaudible] on the 22nd next week, or this week.  Thursday.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  So, the writ the appellate attorney is talking about is a special type of an emergency appeal.  And what it sounds like is that your appellate attorney is telling you she can’t — or he or she can’t help you because she’s stuck with just the record that was made by the trial attorney at the trial court level.

Now, if you — a writ — when you take a writ, and then you have a court-appointed attorney, that court-appointed attorney at the trial court level is responsible for doing that.  So you may have to ask your court- appointed attorney — is your case in Monterey Park?

Female:  Yes, it is.  I did ask my —

Vincent Davis:  You may have —

Female:  court-appointed attorney about that.  He stated that the only thing I could do is to do the appeal, which I did, and he said to ask the appellate attorney.  But the appellate attorney said I need to ask my represented attorney, which I was actually awarded.  I went back to court based on — I filed a formal complaint.  I went back to court to ask for a new attorney, and based on what I — the evidence I gave, I was appointed a new attorney.

So I have a new attorney.  But it’s another court-appointed attorney.  He is much better.  They both have looked over the evidence I did have, but they’re both saying they’re stuck because they cannot go backwards and get my evidence.

Vincent Davis:  Well, that’s actually not true.  So what you want to tell your court-appointed attorney is –you might want to do this via email so you have it writing, but tell your —

Female:  Uh-hmm.

Vincent Davis:  court-appointed attorney at the trial court level in Monterey Park that, you know, you have a lot of evidence that was never submitted, and that you want to make a motion to set aside the judgments and orders —

Female:  Uh-hmm.

Vincent Davis: that were made — that were made against you because your attorney did not submit the evidence that you had given him.  And that’s generally called an ineffective assistance of counsel argument.

In cases like these, if your attorney was ineffective, you can make a motion before the court, and if you prove to the court, the court may have to set aside those judgments and orders and start the case all over again.  It’s — you know, it’s almost unbelievable that you — you know, that your kids were asked questions or fill out a questionnaire at the doctor’s office without you being involved whatsoever and then they — and, you know, they report some — this strange behavior by their — by another stepparent and then you get in trouble, that’s unbelievable.

Female:  Right.  It was —

Vincent Davis:  What I would —

Female:  it was the way the wording was with the report, with the mandated reporter.  She stated about the whole thing that the girls thought of that themselves because of their age, being 13, that they even signed it themselves.  I had a witness with me that stated that I told them only — when they asked me, “What do I put?” I said, “Tell the truth.  Put the truth.”  I didn’t give them any information.  They did it themselves.  The doctor asked me about it.  And because she said, you know, she’s going to report it, and I said, “Okay, I understand,” they told the — when they called they said that I had said that I wanted her to make report against the father.

Vincent Davis:  Oh.  I see.  So things got twisted out of control there.

Female:  Right.  There’s a lot of out of context and twisted statements in the report.

Vincent Davis:  So please take my advice, write your new attorney that email.  So you have a lot of —

Female:  Uh-hmm.

Vincent Davis:  things going on in your case, on different levels.

Female:  Yes.

Vincent Davis:  You have your — you have your appeal going, you have your — the advice your appellate attorney which I would also cut her with.  You should talk to your new trial attorney about filing a writ.  And then the third thing that you have going on is your next court date, which is probably a six-month review date.  And there will be —

Female:  Right.

Vincent Davis:  recommendations — there will be recommendations in that report, either to leave everything they — you know, the way it is, the same, to change it to make it more restrictive towards you, or to give you your children back.  If the social worker recommends something that you don’t like, you have the right to have the trial.  And by having a trial, you have a right to call witnesses: your children, your ex-husband, your — whatever witnesses you have, yourself —

Female:  Uh-huh.

Vincent Davis:  to make everybody testify, including the service providers that you probably go up and going to, like your counselor, your therapist, your parenting instructor.  So make sure —

Female:  Uh-huh.

Vincent Davis:  you might want to do this — you might want to do this via email, make sure you write to your attorney and say, “Hey, you know, I want to know if we are going to have the trial.”

Now, something new has been happening in Monterey Park.  And I’m not sure how constitutional this is, but it’s — they’re doing something new in some of the courtrooms.  When you have a six-month review, in some courtrooms, if you plan on taking that to trial, you must be ready on that day to go to trial with your case.  And if you’re not ready on that date, you might lose your right to have the trial.

So, in your case —

Female:  Okay.  Well, I am brave.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  But are you going to be ready with your witnesses there?  So you have to find out from your —

Female:  I do have my witnesses.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  So you have to have — to find out from your trial attorney, would your witnesses —

Female:  Uh-hmm.

Vincent Davis:  need to be present on that date?  So let me explain something. 

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  In the old days, the social worker would send you the report five or 10 days before the court hearing, you show up at the court hearing and you tell the judge, “Hey, Judge, I’m not in agreement with this recommendation.  Let’s set this case for trial.”  So they would schedule a date, you know, two, three, four weeks out to have a trial.  Some courtrooms still do it that way.  But in a couple of courtrooms I’m finding out and I’ve been hearing that if they send you the report or your attorney gets the report like five or 10 days before the court hearing, when you show up for the court hearing, if you’re not in agreement, you have to go to trial that day.  So it’s imperative that if you a case in Los Angeles County that you speak to your attorney, your court-appointed attorney or your private attorney, and make sure that you’re not in one of those courtrooms that expects you to go to trial that day when you first show up for the six-month review hearing.

Female:  Oh.  Okay.  And we have or do you receive the report?

Vincent Davis:  Okay, so you need to call your attorney or email your attorney, “Hey, I –” tell the attorney, you know, if this is true, “I don’t agree with the social worker’s recommendation.  Do we have to have my witnesses there on the next court date ready to have a trial?”  And of course, you know —

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  this — the attorney should respond to you.  And if he says yes, you and your attorney need to make sure that your witnesses are there that day.  A lot of people —

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  are losing their six — a lot of people are losing their six-month review hearings because they’re not ready to go to trial on the day the judge expects them to go to the trial.  Okay?

Female:  Uh-hmm.

Vincent Davis:  And I don’t — and I don’t want that to happen to you at this next six-month review hearing because that’s going to be very, very important.  Ma’am I want to thank you for calling this morning and joining us.  I’m going to have to take another call.

Female:  Okay.  Thank you.

Vincent Davis:  Thank you.

Female:  Okay.  Bye.

Vincent Davis:  So for all the listeners out there, I want to make sure that everyone understood what I just said, and make sure you talk to your — or email your attorney, your court-appointed attorney or your private attorney, that when you show up for the six-month review that, you know, you’re not going to be expected by the judge to go to court or go to trial on that date.

Right now we’re going to take another call from another county in California.  It’s area code 909, ending in 54. 

Good morning.  You’re on with —

Female:  Hello?

Vincent Davis:  Attorney Vincent Davis.

Female:  Good morning —

Vincent Davis:  Did you have a —

Female:  Mr. Davis.

Vincent Davis:  Good morning.  Did you — did you have a story to share or a question to ask?

Female:  I believe a story to share, and a question to ask.  But a group question.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, go ahead with the story.

Female:  Okay.  So, like after it was about seven months ago, my husband at that time and I went to a marriage therapist.  And certain things came out in regards to sexual abuse.  And it had to be reported.  And [0:17:05 inaudible] reported it.  Came home.  Of course CPS and the police officers were knocking down the door.  At that time the sexual abuse was of my knowledge.  I told him that he couldn’t come back because of the situation.  And my intention was obviously to protect my children.

So, I ended up spending quite a bit of money, sending him to an inpatient therapy recommended by the therapist.  So, he was gone for approximately 42 days.  During those 42 days, CPS came to my home, out of the instruction of one of my colleagues, their friend, that was an attorney.  They told me, “You know what?  Tell CPS everything so they don’t take the kids.”  And of course, you know, no parents are like, “Oh, yeah,” you know.  We don’t want — tell them everything.

So, I went ahead and did that.  And there’s a couple of things that I learned about that situation and about strategy and about being transparent, and about not understanding the rules of the system or the tools that I have to really protect my family from the system.  But there’s a lot of opportunity and personal growth in this situation, and it’s not entirely out of your control, which I later learned.

So, there’s 30 days that CPS had to open my case.  So within that 30 days I was interviewed approximately three times.  And all of the therapists where my husband was at cooperated with CPS as well.  And, you know, this is just like their heyday like, “Oh, yeah, it hit you,” interview everybody with total cooperation.  So there is nothing hidden.  No.  So it’s like, “Wow, where do we go from here?”  Because everything is out, right?  So, you no longer have this fear of, “Oh, no, what about if they figured this out or what about they figured that out?”  It is really dealing with the fact.  And what they can do with their facts is take my children away.

My husband came back from the 42-day inpatient therapy [0:20:11 inaudible], went to the court in Monterey and received a writ — received her removal, a warrant for removal.  And at that same time, to protect my children, even in the long run, I was already thinking, “What can I do?  Where do I take accountability for my decision of being in this relationship?’

So I filed something in family law court, knowing that dependency courts rob everything, including family law.  I took that chance to show them that I was serious, ‘them’ being CPS.  So I filed a petition for sole physical and legal custody of my children.  And my husband and I agreed that if [0:21:11 inaudible] came back off of that plane, he would sign a stipulation agreeing to those terms.  Because I am the non-offending parent, but I also have to show that as a parent I’m doing everything that I can do to protect the children.

So that same day that he signed the stipulation, CPS received the order for the warrant of removal.  I received a phone call from the emergency response worker, and she said, “Oh, hi,” in a kind of — in sweetest tone of voice, “We’re going to have to remove your children.”  And I thought it felt odd the living conditions were so unfixed.  Why would you give me 48 hours of leeway time before you came to take the children?  I just thought the whole procedure was so odd.  Because you know what — 

Vincent Davis:  Uh-hmm.

Female:  there are circumstances, you know, where children are in just huge detriment.  Even in the hands of foster care they’re in danger.  And to give that leeway for 48 hours is telling me something.  It was like, Hey, there’s wiggle room.”

So, I found — you know, I called family members, which, I don’t get along with my family at all.  You know, they have family of origin as used to of controlling you, telling you me what to do.  Everything you’re doing is not right.  You know, they live in this realm of good and bad.  So basically everything that they don’t agree with that’s not within their belief or value system obviously is bad.  And everything that is is good.  So it’s very subjective.

So, that’s what I put myself and children through.  And I was basically held hostage at my brother’s house, because they really had no intention of caring for the kids.  And while I was there, they really put this in my head, that if I didn’t decide to completely sever all ties with their father, the father that they love, the father that didn’t do anything to them, to take him away and basically, you know, do whatever I can to put him in prison.  So I was having many dilemmas with myself.  There was a lot conflict going on between my brother, between the social workers because, you know, my family would call in the social workers and telling them, you know, I’m an unfit mom, you know, even though it’s like I have a high education.

You know, I quit my corporate job to stay home with my children and start my own business.  And all these things they just didn’t care about.  They didn’t care that I could make enough money and not live this kind of robot lifestyle that we’re all accustomed to, of total routine, because we’re so in fear of money, and security.  And it’s just so sad to me that people live this way.  But of course, you know, they don’t agree with that.  They want to live — I always say that there’s the Kardashians, right?  Because they live in, you know, Southern California, they want to be celebrities.  And it’s just so delusional, and I’m sitting here doing something so real every day, that I have to be in complete awareness of my emotions, of what’s going on inside of me, to have that clarity of mind to make the best decisions for my family still.  And so I had all of these things against me.  My family, all of these, I’m like, “Oh, they’re threatening to put them in foster care if I didn’t do what they said.”  So I was under extreme duress.

Lo and behold, my jurisdictional and disposition hearing date come up.  By this time I already hired private counsel because I was not being represented in my best interest by the point — court-appointed attorney.  You know, once you realize that you are not being represented, that you’re just another cog in the system, you have to completely eliminate that.  You got to cut that out.  Because you only have a certain amount of time.  This isn’t a typical, you know, court case.  This isn’t a typical, you know, court system.  This is a whole another beast.  You can’t — you know, you can only — you want to win your appeal.  You have to be represented in the trial court arena fairly.  So you have grounds to appeal.  So you have someone that even can do that for you.

So, luckily, my court-appointed attorney can do that.  But I don’t really afford going to have to go in that direction.  Well, there are so many different rules and so many different parts of the system that you have to know what they are, not to say it’s a game, per se, but as in a game, right, you don’t go playing monopoly without knowing the rules because you’re going to lose.  And that’s how you have to look at the situation.

Vincent Davis:  I think you’re right about that.

Female:  You have to look at the situation.   And you have to look at yourself, number one.  You have to see where you’re at, what you can do, where the wiggle room is.  And so basically going to that hearing.  My attorney is actually quite wonderful.  She noticed that they didn’t give us all the evidence.  He’s like, “Hey, look at this real quick.  So look at the report from the DI.”  He’s the dependency investigator.  Here is supposedly — you know, after your detention hearing and everything they basically are supposed to gather nonbiased information.  This rarely happens.  At least in my case and from the people that I’ve spoken to in my parenting classes.

It’s important that you just don’t depend on somebody else to take care of you.  You have to learn to listen.  This is your life.  You know, you can only pay somebody money to be invested in your case.  But the person that should be the most invested is you as a parent.  And so even before, you know, I have this detention hearing and all of these, I already took those steps and did my classes, but they wouldn’t recognize me.  Show the court like, “Hey, I’m not here to fool you.  I’m not here to minimize the situation.  I’m not here to pass the responsibility and accountability of the allegations in the petition.”  But after seeing time, it’s like you have this fear, this emotional fear that something is going to be taken away from you that’s so precious.

But from all these parents I’m hearing, it’s like they’re not showing that to the court.  You know, by doing these classes and doing the things that they’re recommending before your hearing [0:30:04 inaudible] saying, “I –” you know, “it’s true.”  It’s you saying, “I’m taking accountability because I’m a good parent and I love my children.”  And I love them so much that I hired private counsel.  It’s hard as it is.  It’s harder to come up with the money.  There’s always a way.

And my — you know, like, “Oh, this is never going to happen.  I’m so tired” and all these.  I’m like, “Guess what?  Because of all these, your children are suffering because they’re away from you.”  So you have to fight for them.  And the first fight is with yourself, psychologically.  Get over that fear of CPS taking your children.  So you learn to listen.  So every opportunity that you have is well taken.  So every time I had an interview with that attorney, my attentiveness, my focus was on that conversation.  It wasn’t about being afraid.  It wasn’t about asking someone else to do it for me.  Even though I had that, even though I had — I still have an incredible thing behind me.  You’re not alone.  And it’s important to realize that.  So you can manage your case, you can manage yourself to the best of your ability.  In case in situations that when CPS comes knocking at your door, it’s an opportunity.  What are you going to do?  How are you going to show them?  And you never let one of those slip because you never know what will happen.

So let me just fast forward it because I know there’s other people that want to discuss their cases.

Vincent Davis:  Well, thank you.

Female:  Yeah, you’re welcome.  I could just go on and on but —  You’re welcome.

Vincent Davis:  Well, I appreciate you calling in and sharing with us.  It didn’t seem like you, you know, really got to finish your story.  But I welcome you to call back in the show anytime, especially next week, and we can continue and talk more and answer some questions.  And maybe — you know, it sounds like you have educated yourself, and that is assisting you and your attorney in your case.  And I’d like you to call back next week and talk some more about that because that’s so important, that parents themselves, even if they hire a private attorney, you know, they have to be educated so that they can help their attorney.

Female:  Exactly.

Vincent Davis:  Thank you again for calling in, and I hope —

Female:  Thank you.

Vincent Davis:  to hear from you next week.

Female:  Oh.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, we’re going to — Oops, I cut her off by accident.  Anyway, we’re going to take another call right now from area code 424, ending in 60.

Female:  Good morning, Mr. Davis.

Vincent Davis:  Good morning.  Did you have a story to share or a question to ask?

Female:  Yes, I have a story to share.

Vincent Davis:  Okay.  Go ahead.

Female:  My involvement with CPS started in May.  I placed a call while I was at work to the police department to deescalate a situation at my house.  And I guess by the time I got home I was — so that I needed to leave work and come home.  And by the time I got home I was told by the police department that they had to break a window in my house because they heard a baby crying and they saw a front open, and they had to remove my child.

So when I got down they told me to meet them at the station.  So when I got down to the station there was a CPS worker at the station who said she needed to assess my infant daughter, and she said that the baby was in perfect condition, she met her development milestones, she had clothing and that was well-fitted, she had no rashes, no bruises, no marks on her.  They were basically just trying to figure out, you know, what happened and why the police had to break my window and enter my house and take her into custody.  But she would be releasing the baby back to my care.  And then I just needed to show up to court the following week.

So, the baby was released to my care.  I had a court date in the middle of May.  I showed up and I had a public defender assigned to my case.  And she let me know that we would have to appear before the judge and basically I would have to — it was like the arraignment.  And I basically, you know, stated what happened, and the judge, he decided to leave the baby in my care.  And I was told, you know, that I should cooperate with CPS and do counseling and domestic violent classes.  And I stated to the public defender, “If I’m not guilty of anything and I was at work and I had to come home because I made a call to deescalate a situation with the father, why would I have to take any type of classes?”  And so she said, you know, it was totally up to me but just to with a particular social worker.

So I was working with that particular social worker.  But about a month later another social worker shows up to my door with four sheriffs.  And she stated that because I had not talked to her, which is a totally different social worker that I was told to work with, that I — because I wasn’t answering her phone calls that she was there with the sheriff to take my baby into custody.  And I stated that at my court date the judge, he put the baby in my care and my custody, so I didn’t understand why she was coming to the house to take my baby away.  And basically the sheriff was saying it too, you know, if I don’t let them in my house and search for the baby that they would arrest me, and that the social worker’s paperwork stated that my baby needed to be turned over into shelter care.  So, of course, I went in and I told them that I would be calling my attorney because my — the petition that I had and the minute order that I had stated something different and that the baby should remain in my care.

So, upon my return I showed that to the sheriff deputies and they basically — you know, I guess since it’s a legal battle they said that it would have to be handled in court because her paperwork stated something different than my paperwork.  So I had made several calls to the court-appointed attorney to try to figure it out, but none of my phone calls were returned.  I left several messages trying to figure out why the social worker was coming to take my baby, even though I had — just had a court date and I was told that the baby would remain in my care.  And all those questions still went unanswered.  I have still not heard from my public defender, so I decided to hire a private counsel.

Now, I had a court date at the beginning of this week, and everything just turned upside down. When I got to court I was told that that same social worker had now filled out paperwork for a removal order to remove my daughter from my care, and the social workers in court were also asking for an address of the location where my daughter was because they needed to take her into custody right away.  And I had questions about that because my court-appointed attorney let me know nothing about this; I was totally in the dark.  No paperwork was filed.  I feel like I didn’t have any due process in this case.  I was just basically told that I have to give up my rights and I have to give up my baby the same day.

So even when we appeared in front of the judge and stated all this to the judge, he basically didn’t want to hear it until the trial date.  And I told them that, you know, I breastfeed my infant daughter.  I don’t understand why this is going on.  When the social worker came out and did an assessment of my baby, she said she was in perfectly good condition, she met development milestones, nothing was wrong with her, the house fine.  The only thing that was wrong was the window that was broken by the police to enter.

And so basically I have a trial next week but I have a lot of unanswered questions.  And so I went and I got copies of all these, the minutes orders, from the case proceedings, and I noticed that the minute order was changed.  My minute order that I received versus the one that the social worker had was different.  And I noticed that they went in on a separate date and stated that it was a clerical error and to not go off the minute order I received on my court date, but to go off of a minute order that they received on a private court date that I guess the social worker had with the judge.  So now I’m waiting to present all this evidence on my court date of next week.

Vincent Davis:  You know, one of the things — and listening to your story, I think a huge mistake has been made.  But I think for your court date coming up, what you and your private attorney are going to have to do is you’re going to order a transcript of the first hearing that you went to.  Because if the judge said the child is released to you, you know, that’s not a clerical error.  And I’m sure —

Female:  Right.

Vincent Davis:  I’m not sure the judge can change the mind.  Because when you show up Wednesday and you said, “Well, Judge –” you told me the child was released to you, the judge may say, you know, “I didn’t say that.”  And you won’t know until you get the transcript.

Now, unfortunately, to get a transcript usually takes like about two weeks, and all of this is happening pretty fast.  So what you and your private attorney should do is you should make sure that the court reporter who was there on the first day is going to be there on Wednesday; sometimes they change.  And if it is the same court reporter, she can bring in her notes and we can do a read back for the judge to show the judge that, you know, it wasn’t a clerical error.  “This is what, Your Honor — this is what you decided after reviewing evidence.  This is what the social worker wanted.”  But all of a sudden because the father appeared in the case, they’re now trying to change it, and I’m not sure why and I’m not sure you know why.  But that’s what should be done, and, you know, contact your private attorney via email today and remind him that, you know, this transcript has to be ordered or the notes from the hearing, with the court reporter — they have to be present on Wednesday so you can all have a read back.  Okay?

Female:  Okay.  Thank you very much.

Vincent Davis:  Well, thank —   Thank you for calling and I appreciate it.

Okay, right now we’re going to take another call from area code 562, ending in 87.

Good morning.  You’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.

Female:  Good morning, Vincent.  How are you?

Vincent Davis:  I’m doing fine.  Did you have a story to share or a question to ask?

Female:  I still have a case open in children’s court, so it’s a story to share.  But I would like to get some input on whether what occurred was legal or in the due process of what children’s court does.

Vincent Davis:  Certainly.

Female:  Okay.  On July 23rd of last year my children were removed from my husband and I.  We were homeless when we first arrived in L.A. County.  We have received housing assistance from the county and were transitioning — the county gives you assistance for a hotel and then they give you assistance to get an apartment.  Our first day in our hotel, we got a knock at the door and it was the social worker with the [0:43:36 inaudible] police.

We had interacted with the social worker months prior.  She had evaluated the children and said everything was fine.  The case was open on us because we were homeless.  I now know that homelessness isn’t even a crime in L.A. County, so it’s a little strange.  But during the time the investigation was open, my husband and I did have an argument and the police were called but there was no physical altercation, no one was hurt.  Nothing of the sort and my children were sleeping.

A month after that incident the social worker came and took the children from us.  And in the removal order she presented to me when the children were removed, there were statements against just me, the mother.  And all five statements she put on there, to this day none of them are true.  We never saw a courtroom.  We were never told that removal for our children was even an option.  In fact, we were told our children were very well cared for and it’s even reported in the petition.  And we — the children were taken on July 23rd.  We had a court date July 28th.  And then a following date at the 5th division on September 18th.  Before we went into the courtroom, my husband and I’s court-appointed attorneys had to sign away our rights before we went into the courtroom.  And we were told upon doing so that our children would be returned to us.  But after we signed the paperwork and went to court they did not return our children.  And it is now July and our children had still not been returned.  And I read your book, How to Fight Child Protection Services and Win, and I’m a little alarmed because —

All right.  All of the following trial dates and what’s supposed to occur on those trial dates, we were never encouraged to speak, we are never permitted to provide any evidence, no arguments, nothing of the sort.  We were literally going to each court date.  There was a recommendation to keep the children in foster care and that was that.  They gave us another court date for progress for all the services they ordered for us and that was it.  We’ve never been able to submit evidence or have character witnesses or anything of the sort.  My children were very well loved and cared for, and my family is no longer homeless.  We are housed, and we had a brand new baby.  While the department decided not to involve themselves with our newborn baby, they have still refused to return our two young children.

Vincent Davis:  That’s a — that’s a — very unusual.  Because in my opinion, my humble opinion, if you’re not a risk to a newborn, you’re not a risk to those other two children.

Female:  And that is what every single person has said.  That’s just common sense, that’s just logic.  You know what I mean?  We were good parents to begin with and that’s well documented.  We’ve interacted with so many social workers and so many outside sources, and, you know, everybody knows that we are good parents and we love our kids above all things, even being homeless.  Our children were never — they never went without.  We love our children to death.  We provide for them, you know, every way we could despite the circumstances.  They never went without and they were always incredibly happy.  Money isn’t what makes kids happy.  Kids need love, you know. 

So, it’s — you know, now we have the means, and, yeah, we have our newborn, and they [0:47:18 inaudible].  That’s the reason why won’t give us our children back.  They keep them in foster care.  My son is two.  My daughter is one.  My son is in his fourth foster home.  In his last foster home, she had to be reported to the ombudsman because she was taking inappropriate photos of my son, and he’s two.  And my daughter, my one-year-old daughter is with a family who are — the foster home told me she was a prospective adoptive parent and it’s like I don’t know what the hell the department is doing or if they’re promising my children to other people.  I’ve had problems with foster parents before who, they were under the impression my — father and I were — I don’t know what the social worker tells the foster parents, but they seemed pretty confident they were going to keep our children, and the father and I were like, “You guys are out of your mind.  We are in reunification.  Our children are coming home.”

But other people have had other expectations, and now, you know, my daughter is on her — I think she’s on her third foster parent.  But my son is on his fourth, and they’ve been separated.  It’s like they’re trying to make them forget they have family or each other and they’re doing incredible damage to my children in their most important, you know, developmental stages of their life.  And like you said, I have a newborn in my care.  There’s no issue or problem here.  Well, for what reason can I not have my children back? 

Our last court date we had incredible progress.  The judge wouldn’t hear any of it because it was a nonappearance hearing.  But 60 days prior, he had told us, even though it’s a nonappearance he’d like to have our children returned home at that court date.  We showed up at that court date and he didn’t even want to look at us.  He had his robe off and was ready to go to lunch before we even left the courtroom, and didn’t say anything about returning the children home and now we have another court date for September 15th.  At that point, that’s 12 months.  With no — with no danger to the kids and with a newborn in my care, why are they pushing returning my two other children so much?

Vincent Davis:  It sounds like for some reason they may be retaliating against you.  But this is what — and I’m talking about the social worker — this is what I am —

Female:  Yeah.

Vincent Davis:  what I would suggest you do immediately.  You file — you and your attorney file a 388 on your behalf, and that your husband or your — the father of the children file a 388 so that you can get a hearing within — I think it’s two or three weeks.  If you don’t get —

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis: that hearing — if you don’t get that hearing, what I would do is I would file a writ to the Court of Appeals and ask them to review your case because it doesn’t make sense that if you have a newborn and you have a home, where housing isn’t a problem any longer, they should be returning your kids.  They don’t have to wait till the next date in September. 

The other thing is —

Female:  That’s why —

Vincent Davis:  in — in California, I don’t believe that homelessness is a reason — a legal reason to take away children.  Because there are so many services that can be provided with shelters and everything that can make, you know, the children safe.  They don’t have to be homeless.  So I don’t think that’s a reason to take your children away.

So you should —

Female:  And when to take —- we were no — technically speaking we were no longer homeless.  We have applied for assistance and we’re sheltered.  We were in a hotel to transition into an apartment.  And she came and took them the day that we checked into the hotel.  And that returned us to homelessness when they take your children the next day or pretty much inside the court date which was five days later.  We were informed that all of our benefits were ceased because the children were removed.  And as far as Section 8 goes in getting housing, without the children in our care, priority for housing and eligibility for housing pretty much dropped us to the bottom.  Now we’re just two adults on the street.  And we were homeless for nine additional months while they fostered our children in Palmdale, Long Beach.

They knew we were homeless, without transportation, and fostered them at like opposite ends of the earth, it was — it was absolutely insane, but we have never missed a single visit with our children this entire year that they’ve been in foster care.  They — we’ve never missed a visit until social workers stopped our visits for no reason or whatever.  They deemed the reason to not let see our children, but we saw them regardless, and still, regardless of the progress, being homeless and now being housed without assistance from the department — by the way, they did not help with this.  They knew we were homeless in every court date.  Our social workers knew we were homeless.  And they were court orders offered housing assistance but housing assistance by the department means a stack of referrals for housing that has two to three-year waitlist or numbers that are out of service.  That’s the extent of their housing assistance.  Once you receive housing —

Vincent Davis:  Let me ask you something. 

Female:  Oh, go ahead.  Sorry.

Vincent Davis:  When they came out to take your children after you had been in contact with them the month before, did they have a warrant?

Female:  No.  When you say a warrant, I don’t believe so.  The only paper that was presented to me when she came to take them was an expedited removal order.  And I don’t know — parents probably don’t like the details of seizure because it’s so traumatic, but it’s pretty insane the task they use to take your children from you.  Aside from arriving with [0:53:04 inaudible] police which is going to intimate anybody, I was refusing to give her my children because I knew she had no reason to be there.  I hadn’t even been in contact with this social worker for weeks.  An emergency shelter —

Vincent Davis:  Okay, but —

Female:  had followed up —  Yeah, I’m sorry.  No, but there was no — it was just an expedited removal order.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, so this is the important thing.  If she had an order to take your children, she could.  But what they usually don’t give you is the declaration that was used to get that order.  I find it hard to believe that if you had contact with the social worker a month before, and the social worker left the children with you, that a judge would agree that the children should be removed from you, unless the social worker may have exaggerated or may not have been truthful in her application to get that removal order.  Do you have that declaration?

Female:  I do not have that declaration.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, so this is what I want you to do.  On Monday morning I want you to go out to the clerk’s office in Monterey Park, second floor, and ask for a copy of that removal order with the supporting declaration.  It has to be in the legal file.

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  Would you do that for me and would you call me at my office on Monday?

Female:  Absolutely.  And does it cost anything to request your own documents at Monterey Park?

Vincent Davis:  It does not.

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  All right?

Female:  Sure do.  Well, order with declaration.  Okay.  I will do that.

Vincent Davis:  Thank you for calling, and call me on Monday at my office.

Female:  Okay, I will.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, we’re running out of time this morning.  I’m going to try to take one more call.  Let’s see.  It’s area code 626, ending in 56.

Female:  Hi.

Vincent Davis:  Good morning.  You’re on with Attorney —  Hello.  You’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.

Female:  —-

Vincent Davis:  Did you have a story to tell or a question to ask?

Female:  I kind of have a story.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, go ahead because we’re — we only have about four more minutes in the show.

Female:  So, okay.  In 2014, my daughter had a seizure in my arm, and was rushed to the emergency room.  And when she was there they found bleeding in her head, and they decided that it was — well —-

Vincent Davis:  Ma’am, I’m having — I’m having technical difficulties hearing you.

Female:  Sorry.  I’m — like [0:56:26 inaudible] the TV really off.  —-

Vincent Davis:  Ma’am?  Ma’am, I’m —

Female:  Sorry.

Vincent Davis:  trouble hearing you.

Female:  It’s a little —-

Vincent Davis:  Ma’am, would you do me a favour?  Would you — would you — because we’re having technical difficulties and we’re running out of time this morning.  Would you mind —

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  calling back next Saturday?

Female:  Okay.

Vincent Davis:  Thank you very much.

Female:  Thanks.

Vincent Davis:  Okay, we’re having some technical difficulties with the sound therein with her children in the background.  Perhaps she can call us next Saturday when she’s in a better situation, and she can share her story with us or ask some questions.

I want to let all our listeners know that you can call in during the show at 646-668-8791.  So if you’re listening and wherever you are in California or the United States, if you want to call in and ask questions or tell your story related to CPS cases, we would be glad to hear those stories.  I want to share with you one case that I did this week.  I was in Los Angeles County in Monterey Park in the juvenile dependency court, otherwise known as the DCFS court or CPS court, where they do these juvenile dependency cases.  And I was appearing on a case where there was going to be a trial with respect to my client getting back his rights fully restored.  He currently has unmonitored day visits.

We were up — we had received what’s called a 730 evaluation.  And hopefully during the show coming up, I want to go in-depth and may — I — about what a 730 evaluation is and what it’s used for or the different uses it has in juvenile dependency court.  And I may try to get a guest, perhaps another expert attorney or perhaps a court-appointed 730 evaluator, him or herself come on and perhaps we can interview them about 730 evaluations.  Because they are tools that can be used for you or that they are — or they can be tools that are used against you.  Next week hopefully we can talk about that.  Remember next week you can call in at 646 — 646-668-8791.  I want to thank everybody for listening, and please next week call in and listen to our show.  Until then, have a good day.

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