Mom ate poppy seed dressing, state holds baby for 75 days

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2013

Some folks think that by posting so many stories of public agencies doing horrible things, I’m improperly undermining confidence in the government we must all depend on. Every time I try to taper off, however, I seem to run into a story like this. [Eugene Volokh]

{ 12 comments }

1 MattS 09.09.13 at 10:11 am

There are so many stories like this out there as well as stories about kids being abused in foster homes that I am becoming convinced that as horrible as child abuse is, that CPS agencies in general are doing more harm than good.

2 Richard 09.09.13 at 1:38 pm

MattS: Keep in mind that you only hear about it when things go extremely wrong. When things go right or minor mistakes are made there is nothing to appear in the media.
Here, I don’t understand why the low test results weren’t an issue for the judge issuing the initial order or the master conducting the later hearing. It suggests an unusual lack of education in this area for attorneys and judges who work in the juvenile dependency field.

3 David Smith 09.09.13 at 1:43 pm

Jeesus H. Keerist on flaming rubber crutches.

4 Trumwill 09.09.13 at 1:48 pm

Related: My coblogger is a family services lawyer and wrote “How to avoid getting your kids taken away if you’re a pot smoker.”

5 david7134 09.09.13 at 3:18 pm

Richard, you also only here about the tip of the iceberg. Government social services are horrible and government in our lives is beyond belief. We need a free society.

6 great unknown 09.09.13 at 4:47 pm

@Richard:
How often do masters and judges do anything but rubber-stamp CPS requests, absent a large public outcry? About as often as magistrates refuse to sign off on no-knock warrants.

7 John Burgess 09.09.13 at 7:15 pm

Did the nation take a wrong turn when it turned against tar & feathers?

8 Jason Barney 09.09.13 at 7:59 pm

Silly, sure. But, in Washington State the CPS regularly gets hit for multi-million dollar verdicts for child abuse that could have been prevented if only the “warning signs” had been heeded. Any tiny little lead that gets no follow up–and the taxpayers get hit–and it seems like juries regularly disregard proximate cause defenses because the cases are so sympathetic.

9 blhlls 09.10.13 at 11:06 am

Great unknown: Obviously different jurisdictions have different weaknesses. The fact remains in the ones I’ve worked in, the attorneys appointed to represent parents at the initial hearings know their stuff and so do the judges making the rulings. There is no “rubber stamp.” Instead there are often vigorously contested detention hearings with experienced counsel representing the parents and attorneys and judges who recognize that detention does its own harm even when it is necessary. Even when test results actually reflect a parent under the influence, the issue of whether the child can be adequately cared for is still vigorously litigated.

10 Doug 09.10.13 at 5:54 pm

almost all the CPS cases in which I was appointed either as GAL or attorney for a parent, there was the necessity of CPS intervention. often, if the parents were cooperative in rectifying the problems (not involving physical/sexual abuse) a court was never involved. Only when the parents did not cooperate or the abuse was horrific, did the court become involved. Lots of stupid or evil parents out there who allow children to be harmed.

11 Pithlord 09.10.13 at 8:18 pm

Child protection isn’t easy and it is done by human beings. They can make mistakes both by interevning when they shouldn’t and not intervening when they should. Walter is a smart man, so I can’t believe he is offering in good faith the argument that some examples of wrongful intervention in a country of 250 million implies child protection is unnecessary.

12 Jason Barney 09.10.13 at 10:05 pm

Yeah, you better be damn sure though, Pithlord, before you interfere with my child-parent relationship. Do that and get it wrong without due process and I’ll never let the issue go. We’re not talking a day or two to get things sorted out–over two months. Wrong.

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