More About the Florida Kids Taken Away Because The Boy, 11, Was Playing Alone in His Yard

.

Yesterday I ran an interview with the Florida mom whose children were removed from their home for a month after a neighbor reported the family to Child Protective Services because their 11-year-old son was left outside by himself for 90 minutes.

This story is so incredible, some people almost can’t believe it—and I can see why. It is as crazy as Maryland’s Child Protective Services accusing Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of negligence for letting their kids walk home from the park in Silver Spring. Unfortunately, sometimes this kind of thing happens. But when it is sufficiently publicized, change can happen—which is why publicizing these cases is important. And in fact, as Donna St. George reported in yesterday’s Washington Post, Maryland’s CPS has just issued new guidelines, saying, Children playing outside or walking unsupervised does not meet the criteria for a CPS response absent specific information supporting the conclusion that the child has been harmed or is at substantial risk of harm if they continue to be unsupervised.”

I hope this starts a trend.

The parents from yesterday’s story—”Cindy” and “Fred”—want their anonymity preserved. They don’t want to provoke the government officials handling their case, and Cindy has very real concerns that she would lose her job if her identity was revealed. But to quell the idea that this couldn’t have really happened, here is page 1 of the county court documents ordering the children to be removed from their home. (I blacked out anything I thought might reveal their identities. The full, unredacted document has been viewed by Reason editors.)

David DeLugas, an attorney with the National Association of Parents, spoke with Cindy’s attorney and has confirmed the story she told me, in part by viewing documents relating to the case on an online clerk of courts website.

After this legal mess is safely behind her, Cindy may talk to the press—or not. Right now, the kids are back with their parents, but the family remains in limbo. At yesterday’s court appearance the judge instructed the family’s lawyer and the prosecutor to try come to a mutual arrangement and return to court at the end of the month.

These parents may ultimately choose to remain anonymous. But they are not alone. We cannot expect or demand perfect parenting as the only legally acceptable behavior, especially in cases like this one, where no children were hurt or even in danger of being hurt.

We all have days when plans go awry. Remember this story? The British Prime Minister accidentally left his 8-year-old daughter at a pub!

.

Here you go!

Here you go!

.

, , , , , , , ,

106 Responses to More About the Florida Kids Taken Away Because The Boy, 11, Was Playing Alone in His Yard

  1. George June 12, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    This all a logical consequence of (1) any busybody can call 911, with no repercussions; (2) cops attach high priority to kids in (potential) distress; (3) cops have choices limited to going away, calling an ambulance, making an arrest, or calling CPS; (4) CPS investigates all complaints and tries to assure that all kids are safe.

    No one ever wants to take responsibility for someone else’s kid.

    So what part of the system do you want to change? All steps 1-4? (My preference would be to abolish CPS.)

  2. Will June 12, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    “At yesterday’s court appearance the judge instructed the family’s lawyer and the prosecutor to try come to a mutual arrangement and return to court at the end of the month.”

    There is but one acceptable “mutual” arrangement: drop the charges, expunge the record, clarify the law.

    Hey George, that’s a pretty good list. All the steps could use improvement. But the part that *really* needs to be fixed is the law. If the law says it’s not a crime for a child to play alone in his backyard, or walk alone on the street (thanks MD, for clearing that up, though, I’m sad it needed to be cleared up in the first place), then, even if (1) happens, the rest falls apart. There needs to be a clear legal standard of what constitutes neglect and what constitutes abuse. All of this “zero tolerance”, “err on the side of caution” crap is just perpetuating a media-hyped fantasy world.

  3. Warren June 12, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Mutual agreement? Unfortunately most DA’s will not just drop the case, in these situations. They have some imaginary need to get something, if anything, out of it. If they don’t it appears like they are not doing their job, and are soft on criminals.

    This sounds like a situation where the parents are going to be bullied into pleading guilty to some lesser charge, just to make this all go away. Not right.

  4. Sukiemom June 12, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    I moved to FL from NY about 12 years ago and one of the (many) things I like about it is that there isn’t the government meddling that you see so much of in NY. So this story surprised me at first, as CPS here is generally more reactive than proactive.
    Then I remembered what happened in a neighborhood near mine. A family moved into a house in a close-knit, shady neighborhood (hard to find in FL). They proceeded to cut down some of the trees in their yard, which got their neighbors hacked off because it spoiled the ambience of the community in their opinion. Next step: CPS was called on the family for some bogus reason out of spite. That’s what could have happened here — a spiteful neighbor.

  5. Andrea June 12, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    How, at this point, does CPS not know the difference between legitimate calls and spiteful calls. A friend of mine is a divorce attorney and she says she sees from time to time, where one parent will call CPS on the other parent out of spite. At this point CPS should be able to discern the difference between child who is being abused or neglected and a child who is perfectly fine. The fact that they can’t calls in to question for me their ability to adequately investigate a legitimate child abuse/neglect situation.

  6. Puzzled June 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Warren – it’s not an imaginary reason at all. It’s promotions, raises, maybe even staying employed…

    Not that those are good reasons. We dispensed with the idea that doing your job is an excuse a long time ago, and if the only way to get promotions and raises is to directly harm others, you might want to reconsider your employment. But there are real reasons they want to get convictions.

  7. George June 12, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Andrea asks: “does CPS not know the difference between legitimate calls and spiteful calls”?

    Does TSA know the difference between a real bomb threat and a joke? Do school know the difference between a real gun and a water pistol?

    I have tried asking CPS agents this, and they claim that they have a legal obligation to investigate any complaint, no matter how frivolous it sounds.

  8. Jen June 12, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Hi All –
    Avid reader of the blog. I have two young boys (ages 2 and 5) that my husband and I are trying our hardest to raise to be sane, independent, strong individuals. Going to share a story of a cop using good judgement (vs all these scary stories where they definitely don’t) in a situation that petrified me for days.

    On Saturdays my husband takes the boys to the swimming pool for lessons and play so I can get some housework done. It’s really the highlight of their week and they have a ton of fun. My kids are like little fish and their dad is right there with them having a blast.
    About a month ago now, he dropped the boys back off at home and had to go run errands for his company (you own a small business, work follows you every day of the week!). About 30 minutes later there’s a knock at the door (which I had been, at that exact moment, trying to clean some sticky gunk off of from dirty fingers). It was a local constable, so of course I start thinking “oh no, there’s been a car accident” or something. The boys were happily playing pirate, or kings, or some other some such upstairs giggling and running around.

    Apparently, someone at the recreation center called the police and reported a totally weird story. This person (someone who the cop identified as working at a CPS-type place) was walking their dog and a small child ran up to pet the dog. The person felt this was inappropriate behavior and corrected the child. Then apparently a “man” (no identifying features of any kind) showed up and “hit the child across the face as hard as he could then dragged the child away”. The officer cross-questioned the person who immediately changed their story to “well, didn’t hit but I felt it was an inappropriate level of correction.” So, they gave our phone number and business name (large lettering on the truck) to the officer and fingered my husband as the bad guy.

    At this point in the story I just had to sit. Unbelievable. My husband? Correcting the boys in any way has always been my role – at best, if they’re out of hand, he’ll make a mild verbal correction – usually completely unnecessary because getting those Saturday morning’s with Dad is a major big deal treat for them and they’re on their best behavior at all times.

    So, while the officer was in my home, I called my husband and asked “did anything happen today with a dog while you were out?” There was no dog. There was no woman. Additionally, we have two boys, not one child. Turns out, she didn’t know who the “bad” guy was with the kid and just picked my husband out of the crowd because of his truck having our business and phone number on it.

    The officer, thank goodness, exercised excellent common sense. He apparently has kids too and believes parents have the right to discipline their kids when necessary, which in this case wasn’t even us – but if it had been he still felt the visit was out of line. I’ve debated posting this here for some time. I appreciate that we have a responsive police force, because if there truly was a child being beaten in public of course there should be a public concern for their well-being, but the flip side is -it’s too easy to misidentify people, to pick the car out at random and make a bogus report because of whatever reason. Fear of society judging our parenting changes our parenting styles significantly – especially because we only drive company trucks. e.g. I hate drive-throughs, but I use them regularly because I don’t feel comfortable leaving my sleeping/cranky/tired/happy/busy/whatever kid(s) in the car for five minutes to make a deposit at the bank.

    And so, we ask ourselves, what kind of world are we living in where it’s expected that we hover over our kids? That they’re never allowed to be independent? That we can’t trust our neighbors and the people around us to trust us as the parents on what’s okay?

    My heart goes out to these people because we all could so easily find ourselves in exactly this same situation. Best of luck to them! Sorry for the lengthy post.

    Jen

  9. Havva June 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Lenore, seems like there was meant to be more than one page here.

    Anyhow what get me about the system is how very disparate the reactions to different forms of neglect can be. And I’m not talking about the discretionary elements of the system which are necessary. But the base set up.

    There is no other way of handling what falls under “neglect” than this system that was designed for truly felonious problems, but which the public demands involvement for “it might be risky” and “that wasn’t a cool thing to do to your kid.” I don’t really want a system for petty parenting offense established, since it would be brutal to poor parents. But consider the merits of what we are doing now statistically.

    Some 35 children per year die of car related heat stroke, in the hot months, most having been forgotten entirely, or having climbed in on their own when their parents thought they were napping.

    At last estimate something like 150 kids per year get abducted by strangers. Ignoring for a second that some are snatched from their homes, and some snatched right in front of parents

    Meanwhile our leading cause of death, about 9,000 children per year are killed in car crashes. This I will get into the details on because no one is suggestion you don’t drive. According to http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=seat-belt-use#sthash.NnmBhQdw.dpuf “Although only five percent of people injured in accidents were not wearing seatbelts, 42 percent of those killed were not wearing one.” Seat belt use in all demographics is about 85% and tends to be higher with kids, based on the injured and that I’d say 5-10% at any given moment are unbuckled, lets say 8%. So based on all that about 3,780 kids die unbuckled. Looking at the differential death rate I’d say about 454 of them would have died anyhow had they been buckled up. So kids who would have lived had they only been properly buckled in is about 3,326.

    Do the punishments fit the risk though? Not at all.

    For leaving a kid unattended in a car for a few minutes on a cool day a parent can be ticketed and charged with child endangerment.

    For letting a kid walk to the park, or making him (unnecessarily) cool his heals in the rain for lack of a key, CPS becomes involved in their life. And because they are involved, and were designed for serious crimes, CPS can use their discretion to take the kids if things aren’t remedied to their satisfaction.

    And for risking them becoming one of the over 3,000 kids who died for lack of a seat belt, you get a measly traffic ticket and a fine. No education required in most cases unless you get the fine reduced. And in most cases you can pay the tickets through the mail. In most states even if the cops see your kid bouncing around unbuckled they can’t even pull you over unless there is another infraction!

    So tell me, even if society deems it appropriate to interfere in the benign neglect of parenting that was common and considered harmless a generation ago. Why on earth is life more disrupted, the penalties higher, and the intervention greater for leaving a competent or safe child unattended for a bit, than it is for engaging in an unnecessary practice that routinely kills large numbers of children?

  10. Anna June 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    Exciting news about Maryland CPS and the Meitiv case – I hadn’t heard that. I feared the authorities would say something like “So the law didn’t apply outdoors, so we’re just going to rewrite it to make it do so.”

    Since it seems this case is real too, I just can’t get over how egregious it was to take the kids away for a month. For a 4-year-old to be taken from his parents so long, and probably to fear he would never get them back, is a major trauma. That’s the kind of thing that might well do a kid serious permanent psychological harm, even barring the possibility (or likelihood) of outright abuse or neglect while in foster care. CPS should have to prove a VERY high threshold of danger to do such a thing. But I guess they just can’t acknowledge that any harm they do themselves counts, because they’re the good guys.

  11. Puzzled June 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    Havva – I think you nailed the real problem. We have a society that actively demands the police step in and solve all our problems. These are just the inevitable results.

    The police are good at doing certain sorts of things – things involving arresting people, investigating crimes, things like that. But now we want them to deal with people putting their legs on an extra seat on the subway – then we wonder why government is so damn expensive after watching people get arrested for how they sit on the subway.

    But what’s the root cause of this demand for the police to solve all our problems (that remain after we bubble-wrap everything, of course?) I’d suggest it’s a very basic thing – we’ve lost all ability to disagree. I don’t mean we can’t shout at each other – we do that perfectly well. But we approach all of our opinions like religion. We don’t debate a political issue with the hope of convincing one another, or even moving one another. We do it as an exercise in faith. We lost the ability to say to someone “hey, can you please move your leg?” If someone retains that ability, most people lost the ability to respond with “oh, sorry.” Instead, the request is met as if it were a demand to change religions, making people unlikely to make such a request in the future. Hence, the need for the super-parent (the government) to solve our fights over our toys for us.

    This is why, I think, we don’t discuss politics at the dinner table. We don’t remember how to discuss politics politely and enjoy it, and we know it will result in fighting and shouting.

    This is only getting worse as a helicoptered generation hits college and is shocked at the presence of people who disagree – or even those who agree but not quite enough – and demands that the institution do something about it. See, for instance, the parade of mattresses at Northwestern demanding that the university do something about a feminist professor who wondered if it was helpful to expand title IX as we have. Those cases, by the way, bear a striking similarity to the CPS cases – the idea that “if it’s reported, we must investigate, even if the accusations, if true, don’t add up to an actual offense.”

  12. Lihtox June 12, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    @George: What should we do about the real cases of child neglect and abuse? It does happen.

    And I can understand where CPS’s paranoia comes from: they wouldn’t want to give some parents the benefit of the doubt, only to discover months later that they were wrong, and the parents were really monsters. There may even be lawsuits involved in such circumstances. It’s the same paranoia that helicopter parents feel: what if what if?

    I don’t think there’s a simple solution. I think it helps having watchdogs like Lenore here, public pressure from parents like us, legal support for parents caught up in overzealous CPS prosecutions. And changing society’s attitudes towards child safety is key.

  13. E June 12, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    @Puzzled: “most people lost the ability to respond with “oh, sorry.”

    I SO AGREE with this.

    I see this so often and that’s exactly what I say…can’t we just say “oh sorry” or “I didn’t realize it” and move on. It’s like every aspect of life has become a turf war.

  14. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    Speaking personally, I never doubted that the story happened. I just believe there are probably relevant parts of the story that were left out. For example, what state was the child in when the police arrived… was he self-confident and strong, or was he distraught at having been left alone for so long? Is there a history here we’ve not been told about? Was there trouble in the parents’ marriage (this can cause otherwise attentive parents to become temporarily but seriously distracted from the kids.)

  15. Dr. Marcie June 12, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    At the heart of it, there is a lack of respect for small beings. There is a obsession with controlling their every moment which borders on mania. Thank you, Lenore, for your work.

  16. Aimee June 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    I hate that this family is going through this hassle and stress, but if there can be some positive change (like that statement from Maryland that basically says children simply EXISTING IN PUBLIC isn’t CPS-worthy).

    I just linked over to your older story about the PM’s daughter getting left behind at the pub. My husband is from a family of 10 kids, and he said that several times one of the younger ones would dawdle and got left at home. It got to the point that his parents would roll-call when they got in the van to go someplace. ALL the tales of the siblings getting left “Home Alone” are a source of very funny stories at family get-togethers….. some of the kids relished the quiet time and read a book or (gasp!) got to watch whatever they wanted on TV, others would be found on the porch crying….. but NO HARM came to any of them 😉

  17. Dianne Kostelny June 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    Those who live in Florida need to know what part of the state this took place

  18. Fabio June 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    To be perfectly honest, this “proof” makes me question the story. I understand that the parents wish to protect their privacy, but with everything redacted, there is really nothing to you can discern from this document. It could be from any child abuse/neglect custody case in Florida, so long as both of the parents involved also live in Florida. I imagine that somewhere in this legal documentation, there is a narrative explaining the events that led to the children being taken into custody. If the parents have been honest in their account of events, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just post a heavily redacted page of that narrative so the documentation can be absolutely connected with the story being told here. It makes me wonder if there is more to this story. Perhaps the children weren’t just taken into custody because the older one was outside playing basketball. An investigation might’ve turned up more that the parents aren’t so willing to share. Why bother posting proof if it’s essentially just a template? I guess most people will just look at this and thing, “Looks like an official legal document to me. Must be legit!” But if you take the time to read it, it’s basically a generic page of documentation that could be about any number of cases.

  19. Abigail June 12, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    If my kids are neglected because they are playing in the front yard, then wouldn’t they also be neglected in the house if I go into the backyard to hang clothes on the line. Are they neglected if they are playing in the backyard with me in the house? What about when I take a shower and can’t hear everything they are doing? Will someone please tell me what to do!!!! Those times when I manage to get into the bathroom alone, are my children in danger? Will I be arrested for attempting a private poo?

    Why is property in the public view not property to use as the homeowner sees fit? Or are we all waiting for the stories about how kids are in enclosed/fenced backyards and neighbors with adjoining back yards hear them outside and call the cops.

    I’m having a Game of Thrones moment, except it isn’t winter coming…it’s meddling 911/CPS callers. I think both scenarios result in zombies.

  20. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    “Will I be arrested for attempting a private poo?”

    Depends. Do you lock your kids out of the house, then leave, with the kids having no idea where you are or when you’ll be back, in order to get it?

  21. Janet C June 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    “But to quell the idea that this couldn’t have really happened, here is page 1 of the county court documents ordering the children to be removed from their home. (I blacked out anything I thought might reveal their identities. The full, unredacted document has been viewed by Reason editors.)”

    Per the above quote, Lenore and editors from Reason have read the complete and non-redacted order. I seriously doubt that Lenore is posting this here and on Reason without it being the truth. If one refuses to believe this happened, fine, but why are you reading and commenting here? I don’t personally know Ms. Skenzay, but her reporting has always seemed reasonable and with integrity.

  22. Greg June 12, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    What some may not be realizing is the literal “Fear” that this couple may be undergoing. Anytime a person has the “State” coming after you with THAT full weight against YOU, the individual, a feeling of hopelessness will result. All one has to do is realize ALL the cases where innocent people have spent literally Decades in prison. They certainly KNEW they were innocent YET, the weight of the state came down upon them. Will it be ANY different in a case such as this.

    In the past I never ever would have imagined the State could make such glaring mistakes. What we have to understand is we have an adversary (interestingly this is the definition of Satan in Hebrew), system and such a system is devoid of finding truth but is only concerned with “winning the case”. Everyone Wants to win. Until there is REAL JUSTICE these types of situations will continue to occur. That “winning” attitude results in a travesty of justice in way too many cases. Truth and ONLY truth should be the standard and the goal.

  23. Gary June 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    “Does TSA know the difference between a real bomb threat and a joke? Do school know the difference between a real gun and a water pistol?”

    Those clowns couldn’t find their peckers if they were given a map and a week’s worth of MRE’s.

    Even more so considering the scathing report that just came out showing they missed 96% of the fake explosives and banned weapons smuggled through as part of a DHS test.

    BAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDD analogy lol.

  24. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    “What we have to understand is we have an adversary (interestingly this is the definition of Satan in Hebrew), system and such a system is devoid of finding truth but is only concerned with ‘winning the case”’

    We have an adversarial system because an adversarial system is the best way of finding the truth. The state presents its evidence. The state’s attorney is motivated to present the best possible evidence to show that the truth is, the defendant is guilty of the crime(s) charged. The defense attorney is motivated to present the best possible evidence to show that the defendant is not guilty of the crime(s) charged.

    Which half are you objecting to… the state trying to prove the defendant is guilty, or the defense trying to prove that the defendant is not guilty?

  25. Donald June 12, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Cindy

    Thank you for sharing this story. We hear many anti-bullying campaigns in schools and the workplace. However it seems the government is almost powerless to stop it own bullying!

    The government has lost control of the government! Bureaucracy has grown so thick that it has become a system of complying with rules so much so that common sense does not apply. In fact common sense has taken a back seat so far away that when the ever growing rules and regulations overstep, the bureaucracy doesn’t even know that its done so! Its oblivious to its own destruction. Even when bureaucrats understand that they’re overstepping and bullying, they’re powerless to stop themselves otherwise they themselves are at risk of losing their jobs!

    Although your real name is being withheld, I’m sure that even sharing this much is scary. Kudos for sharing this anyway! Your bravery will help turn this bullying around!

    These are my pages about bureaucracy

    http://www.onmysoapboxx.com/
    http://www.onmysoapboxx.com/robot

  26. Puzzled June 12, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    James – finally we’ve found something we can agree on. I share a strong appreciation for the adversarial justice system. That’s why it bothers me that our system is now premised on such a high percentage of cases being pled out. One of my admissions essays is a defense of the adversarial system.

  27. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    “BAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDD analogy lol.”

    You, um, need to get your sarcasm meter adjusted, Gary. Yours is giving you bad readings.

  28. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    “That’s why it bothers me that our system is now premised on such a high percentage of cases being pled out.”

    I don’t see why. Most civil cases settle out of court, too. The lawyer on one side looks at the evidence, and assesses their likelihood of prevailing, and makes an offer. The lawyer on the other side looks at the evidence, and assesses their likelihood of prevailing, and makes a counteroffer. If they’re too far apart, it goes to trial. If they’re not too far apart, what’s the problem?

    Now, mandatory minimums DO move too much power to the prosecution with regard to plea-bargaining, but that’s not due to plea-bargaining itself.

  29. Donald June 12, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    Bureaucracy has grown so mechanical that it’s destructive. Here is another example of how it oversteps.

    True story but the names are changed

    John had an argument with his wife Mary. Instead of sleeping on the couch, he started working in the garage, had a few, and slept in his truck. The neighbors thought he has hurt or sick and called the police. He was immediately arrested for DUI even though he didn’t drive and the engine was stone cold. The police dropped the charges and he was cleared of DUI. However that’s not the end.

    The Department of Motor Vehicles refuse to drop the DUI off his driving record. Therefore the added cost of insurance will sum up to about $10,000 over the years!

  30. Puzzled June 12, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    James – the issue is not any particular plea bargain, but, as I said, the system being premised on them. That is, knowingly arresting hundreds of times more people than can be brought to trial, knowing that you will pressure them into accepting bargains by threatening additional charges and, as you say, using mandatory minimums to negate hope of using exculpatory factors.

    When I said my problem was with the system being premised on getting them, I meant to indict the system as a whole (which couldn’t function if many more went to trial) not the plea bargains themselves. We’d have to do things like have less absurd laws if we couldn’t rely on cases not going to trial.

  31. BL June 12, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    @Puzzled: “most people lost the ability to respond with “oh, sorry.”

    Because with everything and anything these days turned into a legal matter, that’s an admission of criminal wrongdoing.

  32. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    “John had an argument with his wife Mary. Instead of sleeping on the couch, he started working in the garage, had a few, and slept in his truck. The neighbors thought he has hurt or sick and called the police. He was immediately arrested for DUI even though he didn’t drive and the engine was stone cold. The police dropped the charges and he was cleared of DUI. However that’s not the end.

    The Department of Motor Vehicles refuse to drop the DUI off his driving record. Therefore the added cost of insurance will sum up to about $10,000 over the years!”

    Either John needs to do a better job telling the story, or he needs a lawyer. If he was not convicted of DUI, why is there a record of one with the DMV? If he was convicted of DUI, why is he complaining that the DMV has a record of it?

  33. Puzzled June 12, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    >Because with everything and anything these days turned into a legal matter, that’s an admission of criminal >wrongdoing.

    Chicken/egg. I claim that government and the legal system grew that way because we invited them in – because we were afraid to solve our own problems. It’s possible it happened the other way, but this seems more likely to me.

  34. Gary June 12, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    “You, um, need to get your sarcasm meter adjusted, Gary. Yours is giving you bad readings.”

    Except there was nothing sarcastic in his comment, maybe your comprehension bearings are worn.

  35. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

    ““You, um, need to get your sarcasm meter adjusted, Gary. Yours is giving you bad readings.”

    Except there was nothing sarcastic in his comment, maybe your comprehension bearings are worn.

    Apparently, you need a complete replacement.

  36. Donald June 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    @James

    You’re right. John needs a lawyer.

    However the point that I’m trying to make is, Why is this even an issue? Why does the DMV believe that they can over-ride a police decision? (to drop the charge) How is it that DMV doesn’t even realize that they’re over-stepping?

    Anybody with any intelligence can see that the DMV has no business to over-rule a police decision. However this is the point. How come the ever growing rules and red tape outrank logic? Why have we allowed society to become so mechanical that people are afraid to make a decision that is counter to the rules? (the bureaucrats)

  37. James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    “However the point that I’m trying to make is, Why is this even an issue? Why does the DMV believe that they can over-ride a police decision? (to drop the charge) How is it that DMV doesn’t even realize that they’re over-stepping?”

    DMV should have a record of convictions for DUI… most states have mandatory license suspension for DUI convictions. So, IF John was convicted of DUI, then the DMV should have that record, even if the criminal record of that conviction was reduced or expunged. This is, in part, because most DUI diversion programs don’t actually remove the conviction until after some period for good behavior. Also, many states bump DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony if the driver has previous DUI convictions.

    That’s why I think John is telling the story wrong… I think either he was convicted and later petitioned to have the conviction expunged, or he entered a pre-trial diversion program that allows him to keep a DUI off his criminal record, usually in exchange for taking a class, paying a fine, and staying free of major violations for some period of time, which has a similar effect as a conviction and expungement.

    If John was charged with DUI (actually charged, not just arrested), then the police do not get to drop the charges… it’s out of their hands.

    “Anybody with any intelligence can see that the DMV has no business to over-rule a police decision.”
    This is incorrect on many levels.

  38. sexhysteria June 13, 2015 at 12:35 am #

    As recommended in the book “Elusive Innocence,” parents should never agree to attend so-called parenting classes, since that is considered an admission of guilt and may be used as an excuse for further legal action in the future.

  39. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    “parents should never agree to attend so-called parenting classes, since that is considered an admission of guilt and may be used as an excuse for further legal action in the future.”

    This is bad advice.

  40. Warren June 13, 2015 at 1:54 am #

    James,

    Bad advice. Why?

    Let me take a stab at it, that you feel people should not refuse searches without warrants, people should talk to the authorities without legal representation, as well?

    Why are you so afraid of the state?

  41. Donald June 13, 2015 at 2:11 am #

    @James

    Ok I’ll give you that. He probably told the wrong story.

    Now we have a different argument. Why convict someone of DUI when his engine is stone cold? I thought DUI stands for Driving…… and not sleeping in a car because he fought with his wife.

    It’s still an example of zero tolerance and a lack of logic. I still stand by the question, “Why is this even an issue?”

  42. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 2:14 am #

    “Bad advice. Why?”

    Well, first off, because if you’ve been ordered to take a parenting class by a judge, and you refuse, you probably get jail time, and jail time looks worse than sitting in a parenting class does.

    Second, if a judge is going to decide if you get your kids, or someone else gets your kids, you want to be seen as doing whatever it takes, not defiant.

    Third, in some cases, parenting classes are mandatory for your lawsuit to go forward (for example, my jurisdiction requires parenting classes for anyone who files for divorce if they have kids.) If you don’t want to forfeit your filing fee and start over, you sign up for the class.

    “Let me take a stab at it”
    Sure, it should be amusingly comical.

    “that you feel people should not refuse searches without warrants”
    Like almost any legal question, the answer to this is “it depends”. For example, on whether or not a warrant is even required for the search. It takes about 3 weeks in Criminal Procedure class (usually, but not alway, taken in the first year of law school) to cover all the exceptions to the warrant requirement. After that, it’s usually matter of whether or not you want to push the officer into detaining you further or not. A Terry Stop must end promptly once the officer determines there’s no probable cause. Having a search turn up nothing accomplishes that goal. There’s also sometimes a question of whether or not an officer has a lawful reason to, say, arrest you, give you a ticket, or let you off with a warning. Being belligerent makes that last one more likely to evaporate. Of course, you should consult with a licensed professional in your jurisdiction, if you think you need one.

    “people should talk to the authorities without legal representation, as well?”
    This also depends on how good you are at it, whether or not there’s anything you need to keep from law enforcement, and whether there’s anything that may seem incriminating even though you haven’t done anything wrong. This also often comes down to how much of your time you want to invest. If you get pulled over for anything but DUI, and when the cop walks up to the window you hand over your license, registration, proof of insurance and card that says “I want my lawyer present for questioning”, you’re going downtown and your car is going to the impound yard.

    “Why are you so afraid of the state?”
    Why are you so bad at reading people?

  43. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    “Now we have a different argument. Why convict someone of DUI when his engine is stone cold? I thought DUI stands for Driving…… and not sleeping in a car because he fought with his wife.”

    Why convict? probably because of a credibility problem. “I wasn’t driving, I was drinking and got behind the wheel but never moved the car” sounds less likely than “I was drinking and driving, made it home, and then passed out behind the wheel” The engine being stone cold just means he’s been sleeping for a while when the cop showed up.
    Also, some states don’t actually require the car to be moved to get a DUI… being behind the wheel with the keys in hand is enough.

    Requires too much information I don’t have to answer anywhere near accurately. It’s just a bad idea to drink a lot and then get behind the wheel of a car.

  44. Warren June 13, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    Well James you have shown your true colours.

    First you either cannot read, or you just cannot understand what you read. Which is it? You said it was bad advice to agree to parenting classes, and then give reasons why ignoring court ordered classes would be bad. Not the same. Please do not ever go into court to defend someone, because I don’t like their chances considering your serious lack of attention to detail.

    As for your answers to searches and questioning, just shows you are afraid of the state.

  45. Donald June 13, 2015 at 3:54 am #

    A 14 year takes a nude selfie and sends his girlfriend a nude SMS is guilty of distributing child pornography and placed on the sex offenders list for life. Zero tolerance means that the law see’s that he is no different from a child rapists.

    A person fights with his wife, goes out into the garage to allow the tension in the house to cool down, has a few beers and would rather sleep in his truck than on the couch. Zero tolerance means this guy is just as guilty as a person caught red handed while driving and swerving all over the road drunk.

    Er… a… no. The police drop the charges. They are smarter than that. They know these two are not the same thing. However the DMV think the police are wrong for doing that and refuse to drop it off his record. Therefore he has to pay $10,000 extra in car insurance.

    I’m trying to give another example of bureaucracy overstepping as they did with Cindy

  46. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 5:12 am #

    “First you either cannot read, or you just cannot understand what you read. Which is it? You said it was bad advice to agree to parenting classes, and then give reasons why ignoring court ordered classes would be bad.”

    (snicker)
    I said it was bad advice to REFUSE parenting classes, then gave reasons why ignoring court ordered classes would be bad.

    Lecture me some more about how I either cannot read, or cannot understand what I read.

    Ooh, then tell me again how ignorant I am of the law, again.

    Please?

  47. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    “A 14 year takes a nude selfie and sends his girlfriend a nude SMS is guilty of distributing child pornography”

    Not necessarily. To be child pornography, it first has to be pornography, and nudity and pornography are not the same thing. Something can involve nudity, and not be pornographic, and something can be pornographic without involving nudity.

  48. Buffy June 13, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    @James Pollock, as far as I can tell you’ve never commented on this site before, at least under this name, and now you can’t stop. Maybe it’s time you come clean about your relationship with this case and these people, since you seem to have everything invested in proving that they’re horrible parents, proving that you are the most knowledgeable and right about every topic related to them, and proving that the rest of us are morons.

  49. lollipoplover June 13, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    “Well, first off, because if you’ve been ordered to take a parenting class by a judge, and you refuse, you probably get jail time, and jail time looks worse than sitting in a parenting class does.”

    My sister went through a divorce and was forced to take parenting classes by domestic relations. Her controlling ex-husband stalked her for years and made a point out of reporting her every parenting mistake. He also found ways to not pay child support for his 3 kids by failing to report his income and forced her to work 3 jobs to provide for her kids. He continues to sporadically pay (she’s called 4 times this year) yet THAT isn’t enforced and is probably most damaging to children.

    Her ex called the police when she had her 17 year-old son babysit the 7 year-old while she worked a 12 hour night shift to pay her mortgage. The police said this is not illegal yet he pursued charges with domestic relations and they ordered her to take a parenting class (which she had to miss work for and pay for!)
    These court mandated parenting courses are not being used for what they are intended. Jail time for not taking them?? Seriously?
    Why can’t there be child support parenting classes for assholes who want to punish children and force them into poverty?

  50. Beth June 13, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    “Children playing outside or walking unsupervised does not meet the criteria for a CPS response absent specific information supporting the conclusion that the child has been harmed or is at substantial risk of harm if they continue to be unsupervised.”

    Well, I’m not sure this will help the Meitivs or anyone in that neighborhood. Remember, the kids were near Hell’s Accountants, which was probably substantially risky.

    (yes, sarcasm)

  51. Donna June 13, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    “That’s why it bothers me that our system is now premised on such a high percentage of cases being pled out.”

    The system is premised on a high percentage of cases being pleaded out because a high percentage of cases need to be pleaded out. Prisons are simply not full of innocent people. 90% of my clients are guilty as charged and very clearly so. Trials for them are a complete waste of everyone’s time, money and energy, and would result in more innocent people going to prison due to the lack of resources (human and financial) available for their defense.

    Further, if every case went to trial, juries would stop listening and more innocent people would go to prison. Jury trials would essentially be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the state. If trials are mandated in every prosecution, and the vast majority of people prosecuted are very clearly guilty, why would a jury bother to pay attention at a trial when the odds are extremely small that they are sitting on a trial that matters (ie one where there is an actual question as to guilt)?

    Both of these things are true whether you have 1,000,000 cases or just 100. Even if your assumption that there would be fewer laws if every case had to go to trial were true, it would not change either of the above realities.

    “We’d have to do things like have less absurd laws if we couldn’t rely on cases not going to trial.”

    No we wouldn’t. We’d simply see an adjusting of what we think of as a reasonable period to get to trial. The right to a speedy trial has pretty much been defined as “a trial without an unreasonable delay on the part of the state.” Basically, if the case is moving forward at the pace usually seen in the jurisdiction without any delays on the part of the state, it is fine, even if getting to trial takes years. If there are more cases, the usual pace would simply be much slower.

    Further, the vast majority of enforced laws are not actually absurd. There may be laws that I am personally opposed to (drugs, prostitution, stat rape, drinking ages), but I do understand that I am in the extreme minority on most of them. Getting rid of them requires a change in morality, not a change in the court system.

    If you want to fix the criminal justice system focus on the things that actually need fixing. The number one reason that innocent people plea guilty – bond. If being offered probation or credit for time served, a client in jail will almost always plea guilty, completely regardless of guilt. These people also make very poor probationers – due to poverty, mental illness, lack of support, drug addiction – and spend most of those probated sentences in and out of confinement.

  52. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    “as far as I can tell you’ve never commented on this site before, at least under this name”
    Look back a little further.

    “now you can’t stop”
    I respond to messages directed at me, yes.

    “Maybe it’s time you come clean about your relationship with this case and these people”
    Darn, you got me. Well, I’m about 3000 miles away, know none of the people involved, and know only what has been reported here about it.

    “since you seem to have everything invested in proving that they’re horrible parents”
    They’re parents who needed a little help.

    “and proving that the rest of us are morons.”
    The person calling other people “moron”? Not me.

  53. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    “My sister went through a divorce and was forced to take parenting classes by domestic relations. Her controlling ex-husband stalked her for years and made a point out of reporting her every parenting mistake. He also found ways to not pay child support for his 3 kids by failing to report his income and forced her to work 3 jobs to provide for her kids. He continues to sporadically pay (she’s called 4 times this year) yet THAT isn’t enforced and is probably most damaging to children.”

    I’m familiar. I went through a bitter custody fight, where my ex-wife tried year after year to have custody of our daughter re-assigned to her. She actually paid the child support for a year, then went to court and pleaded povery, got the amount slashed, and then never paid that.

    “These court mandated parenting courses are not being used for what they are intended.”
    I’m sorry to hear that. In my jurisdiction, everybody who has a divorce case gets parenting classes, if they have kids, the classes can largely be summarized as “how not to involve your kids in your divorce”. You can bring the kids, and they have peer-counseling.

    “Jail time for not taking them?? Seriously?”
    Yeah… if you’ve been ordered to take them, and you refuse, you can get a contempt of court citation. Your performance (or lack thereof) in class can also be used in custody determination.

    “Why can’t there be child support parenting classes for assholes who want to punish children and force them into poverty?”
    That’s kind of what we have, although, of course, people who are divorcing are undergoing strong emotions, and that can make them do stupid things. And some people are just not very nice to begin with.

  54. Kephre June 13, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    These stories are all examples of why anonymous phone calls to police or cps should be banned nationwide. Where is the right to face your accuser when the accuser is anonymous?

  55. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    “These stories are all examples of why anonymous phone calls to police or cps should be banned nationwide. Where is the right to face your accuser when the accuser is anonymous?”

    In this case, the “accuser” is the police officer on the scene, and, if they proceed to trial, they’ll have the opportunity to interview him before the trial, and either call him as a witness or cross-examine him. They can also ask, in discovery, who the complainant was (although apparently they have a good idea who it probably is.)

    The person who called in is not really very important to the case, because the cop rolled up and found the kid locked outside. Had the cop rolled up and found mom or dad home, or the kid inside, you wouldn’t have much of a case, if there was one at all (unless there are relevant undisclosed facts).

  56. En Passant June 13, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    James Pollock June 12, 2015 at 11:11 pm:

    “DMV should have a record of convictions for DUI… most states have mandatory license suspension for DUI convictions.”

    You have missed the obvious. Some states mandate driver license suspensions upon mere arrest for DUI. California is one such state, which procedure I note here as an example.

    Police routinely confiscate your driver license upon arrest for DUI. Arrest includes noncustodial arrest, such as issuance of a notice to appear in court to answer for DUI.

    Once DMV has on file a record of arrest (these are routinely sent to DMV by police agencies, along with your confiscated driver license), your driver license is suspended pending administrative review by DMV. DMV issues a temporary license good for a period of days. After that, you have no driving privilege until the suspension period is up, or until you successfully apply for reissuance and pay the mandated fees. Period. Paragraph.

    DMV does not notify you of anything unless the administrative review decision is not to suspend.

    I’ve never heard of a case where DMV administrative review did not result in suspension.

    If you are not convicted of the DUI at trial, there is no automatic restoration of driving privilege. In fact, you have only 10 days to apply for reissuance and pay a $125 fee. DMV does not send you a notice of this procedure. You are expected to know it.

    If you do not follow the procedure, you are at the mercy of DMV bureaucrats until the suspension period is up. DMV bureaucrats are not known for competence, knowledge of DMV procedures or law (and certainly not knowledge of any procedure or law which favors you), or willingness to provide information. You can hire a lawyer, and he can take it into DMV administrative law courts, with judges who are little more than glorified DMV bureaucrats themselves, not regular county or state criminal courts judges.

    You have no idea how ruthless, labyrinthine, and weighted against the ordinary citizen these procedures are. It’s like playing the childhood game “Simon says” with a psychotic.

  57. En Passant June 13, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 11:50 am:

    In this case, the “accuser” is the police officer on the scene, and, if they proceed to trial, they’ll have the opportunity to interview him before the trial, and either call him as a witness or cross-examine him. They can also ask, in discovery, who the complainant was (although apparently they have a good idea who it probably is.)

    Have you ever been defense counsel at trial in a case involving a confidential informant?

  58. Donna June 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    “Have you ever been defense counsel at trial in a case involving a confidential informant?”

    Yes. Why? Confidential informants and anonymous tipsters are two totally different things. A confidential informant is KNOWN to the police, having usually been “hired” by them. An anonymous tipster is anonymous even to the police. If, in fact, anonymous at all, the caller was nothing other than an anonymous tipster. Anonymous tipsters do nothing other than point the police in a direction to investigate; the police officer actually has to have probable cause to arrest based on his own investigation independent of the tip.

    Say you do get the caller on the stand, what would confrontation accomplish? Even if you prove her to be a completely evil person who acted solely out of hatred for this family, does that change the fact that the boy was actually locked out of the house for an hour and a half? Would the fact that the caller enjoys this mother’s suffering change the cop or prosecutor’s minds as to whether locking a child outside the house for an hour and a half is neglect? Ulterior motive only matters if you are trying to prove the caller is lying, not when you admit they are telling the truth.

  59. En Passant June 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Donna June 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm:

    Yes. Why? Confidential informants and anonymous tipsters are two totally different things.

    You are correct. “Anonymous tipster” is the term. My bad. I blame morning caffeine deprivation.

    But I had no idea that you are James Pollock.

    Say you do get the caller on the stand, what would confrontation accomplish? … Ulterior motive only matters if you are trying to prove the caller is lying, not when you admit they are telling the truth.

    True, but not the only reason to know what was actually said in the call. Presuming you’ve got either police tapes of the phone call, or the caller on the stand (either of which can be difficult if not impossible when police don’t wish to comply with law), you can establish some facts.

    Those facts may (depending on what the anonymous tipster actually said to police) provide basis for a judge to rule that the cop had no legal authority (for example) to enter the back yard where the child was playing.

    Those are all very long shots these days, as courts have become little more than rubber stamps for the ambitiously expanding police state. But I can recall times and places in my own lifetime where a case like this would have been laughed out of court by the judge in pretrial proceedings, long before reaching any question of specious accusations of child neglect.

    And even today on rare occasions there still are judges who aren’t total Stasi bootlickers.

  60. Brooks June 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    It would be interesting to compile a list of things parents have been arrested for that were not crimes. I know there have been many. They should all file civil rights cases.

  61. Francis June 13, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    The link between (if you’ll forgive me) the infantilization of children and parents is very interesting to me. It seems like we’ve all but abandoned the idea that people can make smart decisions without some kind of overwhelming societal rules set on top of them.

    Children can’t be trusted to stay safe in their front yard for an hour and a half.
    Parents can’t be trusted to make any kind of good decision about what their child can and can’t handle.

  62. Emily Morris June 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    Yesterday local social media was abuzz with attempting to locate the parents of a found toddler. The family had just moved in, family took a nap, were not yet aware toddler could fit through the dog door. A neighbor took the kid in and notified the police after initial location attempts failer, who set up the “found kid” notice and said parents also notified the police. All ended well. And no charges filed. Happily, comments on the news story were all “happy ending, a bit embarrassing for the family, fix that dog door”.

  63. Donald June 13, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse. There has always been that rule/policy and I agree with it and it should continue to be so. I feel this way even though the law has grown so complex that no one can possibly know all the rules. This is why intent and surrounding circumstance should also be included. However in this day and age of zero tolerance, intent and surrounding circumstance are disregarded.

    Thank you James for helping me prove this point. “You have no idea how ruthless, labyrinthine, and weighted against the ordinary citizen these procedures are. It’s like playing the childhood game “Simon says” with a psychotic.” My theory is that some bureaucrats have a fetish thrill and get drunk on the power. (let’s hope they don’t drive)

    ‘He was drunk and inside a car and therefore he deserves a DUI’. The fact that he chose to sleep in his car instead of the couch has nothing to do with it. (his wife banned him from the bedroom) He broke the law. Few people would believe he deserves to pay $10,000 in additional insurance costs because of ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’. Most would agree that intent and surrounding circumstance should be considered.

    I brought up the ‘sexting and child porn’ because that is another example on how zero tolerance has gone out of control like a runaway freight train! I couldn’t find the story of the 14 year old. However this explains what I’m on about. http://www.freerangekids.com/sext-or-kiddie-porn-who-decides/

    Another example of how zero tolerance has forbidden intent to have any weight is this story. http://www.freerangekids.com/high-school-student-expelled-for-unloaded-gun-forgotten-in-trunk/

    James you’re right. He probably miss-told his story. The police probably didn’t ‘drop’ the charges. However, he wasn’t treated the same as a drunk driver as the police are smart enough to see the difference. However the DMV is not that smart.

    In bureaucracy, no one is in charge. Phillip Howard (founder of Common Good) has said this often. http://commongood.org/

  64. Donna June 13, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    I am not James Pollock. I was just curious as to why you asked the question about confidential informants since they are not anonymous.

    “True, but not the only reason to know what was actually said in the call. Presuming you’ve got either police tapes of the phone call, or the caller on the stand (either of which can be difficult if not impossible when police don’t wish to comply with law), you can establish some facts.”

    Huh? The police don’t record 911 calls, the 911 call center does. At least in every state I’ve ever worked. The police or DA have absolutely no control over them nor are they remotely difficult to get. The DA may not bother to get it, but the defense attorney can subpoena it from dispatch himself (or in small towns, just call and ask for it). Unless the caller specifically asks to be anonymous – as opposed to just not being asked for a name – it comes with a call log identifying the number that the call was from too. 911 calls are not as mysterious and black helicopter as some of you insist on making them.

  65. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

    ” Yes. Why? Confidential informants and anonymous tipsters are two totally different things.

    You are correct. “Anonymous tipster” is the term. My bad. I blame morning caffeine deprivation.

    But I had no idea that you are James Pollock.”

    She’s not, but she did a pretty good job answering the question for you, didn’t she?

    Way better than I could have. (I am not a defense lawyer. I am an IT manager.)

  66. En Passant June 14, 2015 at 1:35 am #

    Donna June 13, 2015 at 9:09 pm:

    Huh? The police don’t record 911 calls,

    Not all calls to police are to 911. Not every burg is connected a regional 911 call center yet.

    You are likely entirely right in this case that 911 was called. But from the linked story we don’t know what number was called, nor what the anonymous tipster actually said.

    But police do get obviously looney 911 calls that create no exigency for anybody who is sane and not looking for an excuse to harass someone. That’s one reason why knowing what was said can matter.

  67. Donna June 14, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    “Not every burg is connected a regional 911 call center yet.”

    As is true in my area. It is irrelevant. 911 operations are separate from police operations. The police have no control. In fact, only a portion of 911 calls have anything to do with the police at all.

    “But police do get obviously looney 911 calls that create no exigency for anybody who is sane and not looking for an excuse to harass someone. That’s one reason why knowing what was said can matter.”

    Yes they do. However, the police are not basing their actions on anything said on the call as far as we’ve been told. Everything the officer said was a violation of the law was readily observable by the officer himself.

    Further, hearsay is not admissible at trial. If the prosecution is relying on anything said by the 911 caller, they HAVE to produce the person or the tape or the information is inadmissible. The officer can’t just testify as to what he was told.

  68. Meg June 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Lenore, My question is how often do these horrific cases of overreach happen?

    I know you often urge readers to drop kids off at the park, or let them play alone. Frankly, these stories are starting to scare me a lot more than any other potential danger!

    I know I’m not alone either. I have several friends who used to let their kids play at a neighborhood park, but now they don’t because they’ve read these stories and are aware that they have disapproving neighbors.

    Just curious, Lenore, how to reconcile your posts urging readers to give their kids more independence, with these posts about people doing just that and finding their lives turned upside down.

  69. James Pollock June 14, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    “Yes they do. However, the police are not basing their actions on anything said on the call as far as we’ve been told. Everything the officer said was a violation of the law was readily observable by the officer himself.”

    I believe he’s claiming that, if the boy was in the backyard, as his parents told him, that the officer may not have had any (lawful) reason to enter the property and observe anything.

    I don’t know anybody who has a basketball set in the backyard… it’s either attached to the garage over the driveway, on a pole in the driveway, or on a pole facing the street. In any of those cases, the officer can observe that the child is alone, from a place where the officer is allowed to be, and the officer can talk to the child enough to A) obtain permission to enter the property, and B) ascertain who the child is and where the child’s parents are. But if the child is in the back yard, the officer would need a legally justifiable reason to go around the house and enter the back yard… and an anonymous tip of a child in danger might not provide that justification. Sounds like a fairly desperate defense to me, but… IF you wanted to put this defense into play, THEN you’d want to know the identity of the tipster, and it would be the defense, not the prosecution, that was interested in the contents of the original tip.

    Perhaps we should all focus on the positive… perhaps this experience will cause the parents try to do a better job of preparing their children for self-sufficiency in the future.

  70. Mark Roulo June 14, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    “Lenore, My question is how often do these horrific cases of overreach happen?”

    I’m not Lenore, but I think the answer is, “Not often.”

    Which is why when they do it is news.

    The stories are rarely/never “once again the police picked up an unaccompanied child and removed him/her from his/her parent’s custody. This is the thirty fourth time this year …”

    And as I pointed out in a comment to an earlier post (a comment that Lenore promoted to a post a day or so later), all the times that this *DOESN’T* happen aren’t news.

    I’ve got a child who has been walking the ~1½ miles from our house to our local downtown since he was 10-ish. A typical trip might be: walk to downtown, have lunch at his favorite sit-down restaurant, go to the library, hit a book store and then walk home. He has never been hassled (and the folks who run the restaurant like to see him). But this isn’t news 🙂

    So my take is that this sort of overreach is rare … just like school shootings and stranger abductions are rare. Not that they never happen, but that they happen infrequently enough that the cost of avoiding them outweighs the gain.

  71. JKP June 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    I agree that this overreach is rare.

    The difference is that no matter how rare abductions are, there’s not much people can do to prevent all bad things from ever happening. Even keeping kids supervised 24/7 will not stop all abductions (some kids are abducted from their own beds while the family is sleeping).

    Whereas government overreach can be changed. People can be outraged when it happens even once and push for legislative changes so it never happens again. Plus, you want to stem the tide of government overreaching more and more.

  72. FRM June 14, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    You know, I think my daughter summed all of this up the best… I was explaining to her why it drives me crazy that I can’t let her sit in the car by herself, or the teachers at school freak out by the thought of her walking home. I told her about CPS and the potential for police involvement if I were to let her wait in the car for me. Her response? “That’s not fair! That’s just punishing the kids!” Why does no one responsible for making these laws get this!?

  73. anonymous mom June 15, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    I think a huge part of the issue is that so many Americans are just totally unaware of the realities of our criminal justice and child protection systems. They think it’s some 1950s sitcom where you call the police and they’ll come solve your problem and give you a gentle warning to not do it again. They don’t realize that American police are in the business of making arrests, not solving problems. If people see a problem that needs to be solved, calling the police is NOT the way to address it. They don’t realize that, I don’t think.

    And, many people have a completely distorted view of our child protection system. Anybody with even the most basic knowledge about our foster care system knows that absent the most dire circumstances, children are going to have worse outcomes being removed from their homes and placed into foster care than they would left with their parents. The idea that a child whose parent makes choice we don’t like is better off in foster care shows that the people making these calls and claims know nothing about child welfare.

    I do think that in some ways CPS and police overreach are going to help the problem. These stories are making more people more aware of the reality of these systems. The police and CPS are not there to mediate disputes between neighbors, to give parenting tips to a neighbor you think is making a less-than-ideal choice, or to solve problems. They are there to remove children and make arrests. If we were more willing to mediate disputes, gently give advice, and solve problems ourselves, as neighbors and friends, rather than immediately calling the authorities, we’d be moving a long way toward a better society.

  74. Donna June 15, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    “I believe he’s claiming that, if the boy was in the backyard, as his parents told him, that the officer may not have had any (lawful) reason to enter the property and observe anything.”

    Since it formed the basis for the emergency removal of the children and is the basis of the criminal charges against the mother, a report of a child home alone in the backyard is going to be considered sufficient exigent circumstances to enter the property. That is also an undisputed fact in this case. The parents are not arguing that the child was not home alone in the backyard; just that it is not neglect.

    But, again, 911 calls are easy to get. They are not some state secret. I believe they are available to any citizen through an open records request. And if the police are relying on anything other than the fact that a call came in reporting a child alone in the backyard (ie. that he was alone for an hour, that he appeared to be scared, that he was desperately banging on the door, that he was eating the cat’s food because he was starving) then they would have to produce the caller. If they couldn’t produce the caller, that information is inadmissible.

    “But if the child is in the back yard, the officer would need a legally justifiable reason to go around the house and enter the back yard”

    That would depend on the design of the yard. My backyard is fully visible from the road (corner lot). Without a wooden fence most backyards are at least in part. Further, police officers are allowed to enter your property. Believing otherwise is simply ridiculous. They can knock on your door. They can look in windows. Walk into an open (unfenced) back yard to try to see if someone is around if they have some reason to believe that someone is actually home (as they would in this case since that is the whole reason they are there). They can yell across a chain-link fence to someone inside the fence.

    “Sounds like a fairly desperate defense to me,”

    Motions to suppress, which is what he is talking about, are never desperate. They are what preserve our civil liberties. If defense attorneys never filed motions to suppress, the 4th amendment would be meaningless. I just don’t see a motion to suppress in this case.

  75. anonymous mom June 15, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    @Donna, I was hoping you wouldn’t mind following up to this: “Further, the vast majority of enforced laws are not actually absurd. There may be laws that I am personally opposed to (drugs, prostitution, stat rape, drinking ages), but I do understand that I am in the extreme minority on most of them. Getting rid of them requires a change in morality, not a change in the court system.”

    I don’t think you are necessarily wrong that these laws are not absurd. But, we have, from what I understand, seen a dramatic increase in the number of people being charged with crimes and serving sentences for crimes, over what we’ve seen in the past. I think what people are trying to understand is the explosion of our prison (and supervision) system, compared both to the past in this country and to other countries. I’d be interested to know what you think explains the increase in the number of people arrested, incarcerated, and/or under state supervision.

  76. BL June 15, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    “I don’t know anybody who has a basketball set in the backyard”

    I do. I even had one myself as a kid.

    Probably not in the latest-and-greatest cul-de-sac suburbs, but in older neighborhoods the garage itself can be in the rear of the property.

  77. Stephan June 15, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    I could see this happening to me, but I’ll fight it. I’ve been leaving my 10-year-old home alone for increasing periods of time (the most was 90 minutes), and finally, after months of his pleading (and frankly, no other options) allowed him to walk himself home from school on his recent 1/2 days. The walk is about a mile total. One bock of the walk has no sidewalk. He gets home, he calls me to let me know he’s arrived. He’s alone about 3 hours before his stepmother gets home. He’s VERY proud of himself. He’s not the most responsible kid, but he’s capable. He knows who to go to if he needs help, and a phone to call for help if he should need it.

  78. Joel June 15, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    Have the child who was taken, state to the court that the goons who kidnapped him had better be out of office in 7 years, because at that time he will start a crusade, to have all involved fired, disbarred and jailed.

  79. James Pollock June 15, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    “Have the child who was taken, state to the court that the goons who kidnapped him had better be out of office in 7 years, because at that time he will start a crusade, to have all involved fired, disbarred and jailed.”

    Coaching your child to say something in court is not a way to get what you want.

    As for the “goons” who “kidnapped” him, are you suggesting that leaving an 11-year-old and a 4-year-old home alone overnight is a more reasonable alternative? Because if you are, it kind of undercuts your credibility.

  80. Brenda Solis June 15, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    I am just sick from reading this story of this family. I mean seriously? I would walk through the desert and go to the store alone at that age. There is surely some recourse for these parents to end the Nightmare. Is there a petition to sign for support them to the court? I hope they sue the Police dept. CPS. And the neighbor. If that neighbor was so concerned why didn’t he or she just go sit with the child. Or inbite him to her house? I am angry!!!

  81. Warren June 15, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    James,
    First stop acting like a lawyer and giving legal advice. You work for the Geek Squad at Best Buy, and are not an attorney.

    Next, there was no overnight in this story, so take you crap and go back to the store.

  82. James Pollock June 16, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Oh, Warren. keeping your stupidly wrong streak going however you can..

    “Next, there was no overnight in this story, so take you crap and go back to the store.”

    The parents were arrested, and held overnight. How do I know? Because Ms. Skenazy told us so.

    ” they were arrested for negligence. They were put in handcuffs, strip searched, fingerprinted and held overnight in jail.”

    So, yet again, you’re just embarrassingly wrong. Well, it would be embarrassing to a normal person. You don’t seem phased by it. Good for you!

  83. James Pollock June 16, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    (Although, it IS entertaining watching you flail around, trying to find a way to be personally insulting. (Hey! Maybe I’m sensitive about my weight… try that next time.))

    Let it go, man. Let it go.

  84. Tom Jones June 16, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    I was raised in the projects of a large city . My parents left the three of us alone many times. It was after WW2 and no agengncy or police ever removed children from there home. Today agencies have too much power and neibors kept to themselves. I life in Fl now and never met so many nice people. They will go out of there way to help u and never create problems. The problem is people like this B ( lives every where in this country. They need the mental help not parents.

  85. Warren June 16, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    James,

    No moron, you made it sound as if at the time the cops abducted these kids, they did so to prevent them from being on their own overnight. Nice try. Wow it is becoming more and more evident why they told you to take parenting classes. Should have made you take personality classes as well.

    Does your Geek Squad have those cute little VW Bugs like the ones up here?

  86. James Pollock June 16, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    “No moron, you made it sound as if at the time the cops abducted these kids”
    No, moron (note that you’re punctuating this incorrectly), I pointed out that the children were not abducted at all, by cops, by CPS, or by anyone else.

    ” they did so to prevent them from being on their own overnight.”
    Once more, for the slow, or, in Warren’s case, the very, VERY slow: Both parents got themselves arrested and spent the night in lockup. This presents two alternatives: Either send them home to fend for themselves, overnight, or arrange for someone else to care for them. The law enforcement officials chose the second option. This is not an “abduction”, and pretending it is just makes you look foolish.

    “Wow it is becoming more and more evident why they told you to take parenting classes.”
    Because, as has been helpfully pointed out for you, EVERYBODY IN THE JURISDICTION takes a parenting class if they file for a divorce, and have kids. It’s a good class, it does good things, and I approve of it. People who are divorcing tend to badly underestimate the effect it will have on their kids, AND people who are divorcing tend to suffer from increased selfishness… focusing on what THEY’RE going to get in the divorce.

    “Should have made you take personality classes as well.”
    Just out of curiosity, what would that be like?

    “Does your Geek Squad have those cute little VW Bugs like the ones up here?”
    I don’t know, probably? I can go check if you really want to know. Does your trailer park have a car up on blocks in front of every “house”?

  87. Warren June 16, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    James,
    No my trailer park does not have a car up on blocks. Mind you I do have a couple of friends with vehicles up on stands, including one in my garage. One friend has, if memory serves, three up on stands at the moment. So what’s your point? That one with the three up on stands could probably buy you ten times over or more.

    You really are an ignorant fool. Your initial overnight comment implied that the responding officers took the kids instead of LEAVING them home alone overnight. Nothing about returning them afterwards, but leaving them there. At the time of removal, the cops did not know if the parents were going to be charged with anything, let alone arrested and held overnight. Nice try Jackass, but you just keep stumbling over your own crap.

    As for the parenting classes, I still believe you were ordered, and not everyone. As stated in your link, not all jurisdictions have mandated classes. Given your personality, limited intellect, I can understand why they would want you evaluated. Maybe should again.

  88. Donna June 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    “I’d be interested to know what you think explains the increase in the number of people arrested, incarcerated, and/or under state supervision.”

    Well much of that is a result of the War on Drugs, which has been a complete and utter failure. However, cops enforcing perfectly sane laws in absurd ways like this case certainly plays a part. There is nothing wrong with having a child neglect/endangerment law. There are some truly crappy or clueless parents out there and their children do need protection. Applying it to a case like this is absurd.

    As a middle-aged person, I have personally seen a seismic shift in society’s mentality towards punishing people to being way over-punitive. We (society) love it. We relish it. We want people to pay for being different than us. We are filled with intolerance for others. We are hostile to anyone who we think may be getting something that we aren’t. We want to be separated into them versus us in various compositions. My replacement in A. Samoa was lamenting the end of his contract and his return to the mainland by calling the US a “cauldron of angst, intolerance and overtly expressed hatred” and I don’t think he is overstating. Just look at our politics and the amount of hatred spewed there. I used to be a huge politics junkie, but it has just all become so mean-spirited and hate-filled.

    This results in a desire (relish really) to see people punished for what used to be accidents, minor errors in judgment, imperfections and differences. The amount of cases I see that is just stupid crap is astounding. It all fits within the definition of perfectly rational laws, but is just an absurd use of them.

  89. Geri June 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    This is appalling. We need to stop this abuse of our families. I need help because my grandson is being adopted out through foster care in CA. We had an unlicensed social worker who never notified even one family member.

  90. James Pollock June 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    “You really are an ignorant fool.”
    These words, I do not think they mean what you think they do.

    “Your initial overnight comment implied that the responding officers took the kids instead of LEAVING them home alone overnight.”
    No, it asked if leaving the kids home alone overnight seemed more reasonable than having CPS take them. Since you don’t think CPS should have taken them, you apparently DO think they should have been left to fend for themselves overnight.

    “Nothing about returning them afterwards, but leaving them there.”
    Huh? English words, but sense order they make do not this in.

    “At the time of removal, the cops did not know if the parents were going to be charged with anything”
    At the time of removal, both parents were arrested and in jail. Try to keep up.

    “As for the parenting classes, I still believe you were ordered, and not everyone.”
    All I can do is point out, again, that EVERYBODY in my jurisdiction (county) takes the classes, if they file for divorce and have kids. Your capability for denying reality is prodigious, but isn’t serving you well.

    “As stated in your link, not all jurisdictions have mandated classes.”
    Mine does. Would you care to back up any of your BS with a wager? You know, putting your money where your mouth is?

  91. Warren June 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    James,
    Have seen enough of you to know exactly what you are. Your tap dance around your own failings and lack of knowledge is hilarious. You say one thing and when called on it you flail like a fish out of water.

    Those parenting classes were completely lost on you. Maybe one day you will learn.

  92. James Pollock June 16, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    “Have seen enough of you to know exactly what you are.”
    Then how come literally EVERYTHING you’ve concluded about me has been wrong?

    “Your tap dance around your own failings and lack of knowledge is hilarious.”
    Coming from you, this is priceless.

  93. Warren June 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    James, only wrong by your words. No way to actually verify you are being honest. I trust my gut more than I would ever trust you.

  94. James Pollock June 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Tell you what, Warren. I AM willing to put money where my mouth is.

    We can start small, so you can afford it.

    I’ll bet you $100 of actual cash that you can’t disprove any of the statements I’ve made about myself, against your $100 that you can.

    Just say “I accept the bet”, and have at it.

    I’ll just go ahead and assume that anything else you say is an admission that you’re full of talk, but it’s not worth anything.

  95. Warren June 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    James,
    Just more proof, thanks. The “wanna bet” tactic is always the last ditch effort of a bull sh—–. You really need some help, Little Man. Thanks for being so predictable, and the laughs.

  96. James Pollock June 17, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    You’re full of talk, and it’s not worth anything.

  97. Warren June 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    James,

    I have a weekly Nascar pool, will occasionally hit the slots with my bride, and the very rare friendly family poker game. Other than that I found gambling to be boring and a waste of time.

    Even more so when it comes to placing bets such as the one you want to make. When gambling gets personal, and morons like you lose, it turns bad in a hurry.

    Besides, people like you almost always never honour their wager, since honour is not in their make up.

  98. James Pollock June 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    You already made your point. You’re full of talk, and it’s not worth anything.

  99. Warren June 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    James,
    You really need new material. Then again you really need a new personality. You’re a joke. I have dealt with morons like you and you are all the same. Predictable and full of undeserved confidence. I hope your kids take after mom.

  100. James Pollock June 17, 2015 at 10:53 pm #

    You already made your point. You’re full of talk, and it’s not worth anything.

  101. James Pollock June 17, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    As I see it, Warren, you have three choices:

    1) Put up
    2) Shut up
    3) continue to act like a spineless coward.

    (Of course, I already know it’s going to be #3)

  102. Warren June 18, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    James,
    Put up or shut up, has a very different meaning where I live. And it has nothing to do with betting. So please try to choose your words with more care.
    Listen up. We know you have self-esteem issues. Passing the bar, but not making it as an attorney, divorce, parenting classes, and the constant attempts to prove yourself to strangers, on the Internet. It must be very depressing. Please, for your kids, get some help.

  103. James Pollock June 18, 2015 at 3:08 am #

    Yep. #3. NOW who’s predictable?

    More talk from the big talker.

  104. James June 18, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    James,
    Thanks for proving me right. I haven’t been challenged like that in over 20 years. It was a loudmouth drunk, who wanted to fight, double or nothing, for the 40 bucks he lost at 9 ball. A thirty something moron with the mind of a 19 yr old. He was as big a joke as you. You’re funny!

  105. Warren June 18, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    Sorry dang auto fill. Above is from me.

  106. Lynne June 21, 2015 at 2:12 am #

    We allowed a 12-year old to fight in WWII – Calvin Graham. On the German side, the youngest were 8. Today we quite literally don’t allow preteens to cross the street without felony charges for the parents. Kids capabilities haven’t changed since then. How have we changed so much?