On July 21, 2020 the Second Circuit court ruled on a case out of New York which attempted to shut down a faith based adoption agency (New Hope Family Services) because they refused to consider same-sex couples. This is a win for faith based adoption agencies.
Last year in Pennsylvania, the state agency refused to send referrals for adoption to Catholic Charities because CC refused to consider same-sex couples. The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear this appeal out of Third Circuit and will likely do so this fall.
NEW YORK & SECOND CIRCUIT
In Second Circuit several civil rights organizations opposed the New Hope adoption agency by filing amici briefs such as the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
On reviews of the arguments, this organization claims that the regulation is First Amendment neutral and does not affect the autonomy of the church. However it claims that to allow the church relief is detrimental to the health and welfare of the LBGTQ population.
This issue is headed to the United States Supreme Court because of a Third Circuit decision out of a court in Pennsylvania.
PENNSYLVANIA AND THIRD CIRCUIT
BPNEWS reported – The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the intersection of religious liberty and same-sex marriage in foster care and adoption during its next term, which begins in October. The justices agreed in February to review a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the city of Philadelphia did not violate religious freedom by halting referrals to Catholic Social Services because the agency does not place children in the homes of same-sex couples.
In layman’s terms, Catholic Charities lost. The state was allowed to refuse placements and referrals to CC due to their exclusion policy.
Over 200 (I stopped counting) persons and organizations of interest filed briefs and participated in the appeal. Several states including Texas, Illinois, Delaware, California, Oregon, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts Washington, and Rhode Island, also participated.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) proposed a federal solution to the problem for faith-based agencies which is a priority in its legislative agenda. It has worked for adoption of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would bar government discrimination against adoption agencies and other child welfare entities that refuse to take part in serving in a way that contradicts their beliefs.
TENNESSEE LEGISLATES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.
In NASHVILLE (BP) — Tennessee state senators approved legislation Jan. 14 that would prohibit the state from forcing Christian or other faith-based adoption agencies to place children in homes that would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”Senate Bill 1304 passed the Senate by a margin of 20-6. Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville was the only Republican voting against the bill, joining the chamber’s five Democrats, according to an article in The Tennessean.
The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature, having passed the house last year by a 67-32 margin.
The bill was opposed by gay rights activist groups and those who felt the bill would have a negative impact on the state’s economy.
Dickerson, in speaking against the legislation, said passage of the bill could cause the state to suffer an adverse financial impact because of “bad public policy,” The Tennessean reported.
According to The Tennessean, eight states across the country have passed similar legislation. The paper also reported it had contacted the governor’s office and received confirmation the governor “would be signing the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.”
WHERE WILL THIS GO?
This ruling by the United States Supreme Court will be precedental. In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled on Oberfell v Hodges which found that the states could not prohibit same-sex marriage. It found that the right to marry was a fundamental liberty and the states could not prohibit marriage based on the gender of the couple.
The adoption issue raises another fundamental liberty issue and it is likely that that the LBGTQ community will claim that the right to parent is a fundamental liberty. However there is no fundamental liberty to adopt.
What is disturbing to me is that the rights of children are not represented here. We already have children removed from heterosexual families and placed in LBGTQ homes for foster to adopt. Do the children have a fundamental liberty to not be placed in this unit? What is the next extension? Will the state welfare agencies accept transgenders as fosters?
We are on a slippery slope. Our national laws regarding relations, family, and marriage are complicated and distorted. A century ago sexual deviation was criminal. It was even illegal to live with or marry your paramour if you cheated during your marriage with that person. Now it is common. As a divorce attorney I saw it all the time.
We have much to do as a nation in this area. Pray for wisdom and pray for our country.
In the Eastern District of Kentucky, the Court has denied summary judgment on substantive and procedural due process claims where the social worker threatened a Mother to put her child under an “immediate protection agreement” regarding her three year old daughter when her child had a bite mark on her back. The child reported to her grandmother that a child in her daycare had bitten her. The grandmother reported it to the daycare and the daycare called in a referral claiming that the bite mark did not appear to have come from a child. Holliday v. Leigh, et al, 2:17-cv-113, E.D.KY June 15, 2020.
CHFS social worker Alecia Leigh went to the day care and attempt to interview the child. When the child’s mother, Maureen Holliday came to pick up her daughter, Leigh refused to let Mother have the child and insisted on a separate interview of the Mother. Mother asked to have someone present and Leigh refused. Leigh then told the Mother that she was under a Prevention Plan and Mother was limited to supervised contact only with the child.
The investigation lagged. However, the interviews that were conducted exonerated the Mother. In spite of compelling evidence that the child was not in harm’s way in Mother’s care, the plan remained in place. From October 2016 to January 2017, Mother remained under the plan and had limited contact with her daughter. Finally, the case was dismissed.
The Court denied summary judgment on substantive and procedural due process finding that the prevention plan violated Mother’s parenting rights and that it was secured under duress. Mother was not advised of her rights and was never provided a hearing on the prevention plan. The Court also denied summary judgment on the procedural due process right of Mother which requires notice and the opportunity to be heard. The Court denied the defense of qualified immunity, in part, in reliance on Schulkers v. Kammer, 367 F. Supp. 3d 626 (E.D.Ky 2019)
The Court also found that Leigh’s supervisor was liable because the plaintiff need only show that a supervisory official implicitly authorized, approved, or knowingly acquiesced in the unconstitutional conduct of the offending subordinate. Coley v. Lucas Cty., 799 F. 3d 530, 543 (6th Cir. 2015).
The Court also refused to dismiss the state claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
However, the District Court did grant summary judgment on the prayer for punitive damages in a civil rights case. The court stated that the Plaintiff must show that the Defendant was motivated by evil motive or intent, or when it involves reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rights of others. Citing Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 56 (1983).
The court stated that Sec. 1983 presupposes that damages that compensate for actual harm ordinarily suffice to deter constitutional violations, therefore punitive damages are only permitted in particularly egregious situations. The conduct must be so egregious that it cannot be remedied by compensatory damages.
The Holliday decision is good for families and shows a small step towards constitutional fairness for families while dealing with the state-run child welfare agencies.
Don’t y’all ever say your voice does not matter. I have worked with an amazing group of citizen lobbyists since 2016 who have sacrificed their time and money to traipse to DC and their state capitols for reform of the child welfare / family court dysfunction in this country.
We started in 2016 and every year we would go to DC sometimes two three and four times just to hold signs on the street or walk the halls of the legislative offices. We would tell legislative aids and service employees and policy makers and congressmen and senators about the destruction of families and the perversion of federal funding. We carried personal stories and courtroom horrors. We left flyers and I even made a three hundred page book of stories told by families across this country.
In Feb 2018 the Family First Preservation and Services Act passed but was not implemented. So we kept at it. In December 2018, ACF Jerry Milner issued a letter to enhance funding for parent representation. In 2019 we supported and followed the Family First Support Act and it was signed by Pres Trump In December 2019.
In June 2020 President Trump signed an executive order demanding that HIS federal agency HHS get the best practices guidelines completed to accomplished the goals of The Family First Act and more. He demanded that states report to the agency data that will allow new metrics in the federal funding requirements. He supports family preservation, kinship care, and more support services for families. The entire order is covered in a previous blog.
The states must do their part. I prepared a state level Family First Act for Tennessee but no legislator would carry it because it was too overwhelming for them to process and made such dramatic changes to the child welfare system that they knew the governor’s state agencies would push back. The bureaucratic slugs 🐌 would not want to change their practices.
Now, more than ever, your citizen voice matters. Contact your legislators in DC and let them know that this is not enough. We need to ban Adoption and Safe Families Act bonus dollars that the states receive for stranger adoptions which favor rehoming children over maintaining connections to their family of origin.
In January 2020, I discovered S. 3236, the “Unborn Child Support Act.” This bill was sponsored by a bevy of Republicans, Cramer (ND), Daines (MT), Hyde-Smith (MS), Cotton (AR), Inhofe (OK), and Blackburn (TN). In reading the language of the bill, I can’t help but think that this is auxiliary legislation for pro-life conservatives to codify the definition of life.
This legislation amends 42 U.S.C. 654 requiring the states to amend Section 454 of their state plan requirements. In laymen’s language, the State must have a plan to collect Federal tax payer funds under Title IV D of the Social Security Act for the purposes of child support enforcement. The current plan has certain requirements like seeking child support against a parent within ten days of a child being placed in state’s custody; and requirement of a state collection system in which wage garnishments and tax refund captures are collected and distributed. The States also received incentive payments to dollars collected, dollars ordered (the child support obligation), and collections on arrearages.
Does this plan work? Well as a practicing attorney I say ‘no’. I have seen too many due process violations, falsely imputed income, miscalculations, and failures to respond to modification requests. Just like any government run bureaucracy, no, it does not work well at all.
But back to S. 3236. It says the term “unborn child” means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” This bill is intended to establish and enforce child support obligations of the biological father of an unborn child which will start with the first month in which the child was conceived, as determined by a physician. Payments may be retroactively collected and awarded, including the case where paternity is established subsequent to the birth of the child. Any measure to establish the paternity of a child (born or unborn) shall not be required without the consent of the mother, and no procedure for determining paternity shall occur if it should pose a risk of harm to the child. The effective date is two years after enactment.
So this bill brings a few new questions to my mind: (1) does this mean that the father (who has traditionally had some parental rights from the date of birth of the child) now have legal standing regarding decisions related to the welfare of the unborn child. For instance, if the Father disagrees with a decision for an abortion, can he object and force the Mother to carry to full term and give birth. Now, the Father has no rights in the child’s or mother’s health decision prior to the birth of the child. (2) child support includes a consideration for the costs of food, clothing, and housing for the child. Is this unborn child support obligation something less that the full amount required by an obligor supporting a born child. (3) under current law, a mother who receives federal funds such a ADC payments must report the identity of the father so that the state can go after them to collect support/reimbursement. This law says that paternity testing cannot be done before or after birth without the consent of the Mother. What is a Father WANTS a paternity test? Now the Mother can refuse…..?
Congress.gov shows that this bill is still in Senate Finance Committee and was last read January 28, 2020. This site is not the most accurate up to date information (as I have been informed by Senators and Congressmen) but it’s the best public source we have.
June 27, 2020 – Call to Congressional members and Senators on Trump Executive Order for child welfare reform.
Good morning/afternoon – my name is ____________ and I am calling as a concerned citizen from your district on the recent Trump Executive order on child welfare reform. Who am I talking to? _________ I would like to speak to the person in the office that covers foster care / child welfare / or family issues, is that possible? ___________ (if yes, transfer to that person; if no/ give message to the person answering the phone/ if there is no such person / give message to the personal answering the phone).
Trump’s executive order signed on JUNE 24, 2020 on child welfare reform states that “The best foster care system is one that is not needed in the first place.” And this order seeks to demand more data from the states on the use of federal funds under Title IV E. We want to say that this is not enough. Positive results and family stability must be tied directly to federal funding and the perverse financial incentives must end immediately. The Adoption bonus money under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 must be banned as a crime against humanity. It provides for bonus checks to be issued to the states when they adopt out children into the homes of strangers instead of keeping the child in their family of origin. This subverts the stated mission of both parties that focus on prevention strategies that keep children safe while strengthening families so that children do not enter foster care unnecessarily. The Family Forward Project is over 14,000 members and we are dedicated to child welfare reform.
On Wednesday June 24 2020 President Trump signed an executive order on child welfare. Again the emphasis is on families.
With all of the major national issues swarming and demanding his attention, ie, pandemic, riots, etc., I am wondering g how this important, but under the radar issue finally made it to his desk. I want to believe that the 1,000 postcards and 300 letters we sent from Family Forward Project may have helped. I want to believe that our multiple trips to DC as grassroots lobbyists and citizens helped. I want to believe that Senator Grassley who has been a warrior for child welfare carried this to his desk. Something or someone helped moved this to his attention. Don’t ever believe that your voice does not matter.
This order puts a demand on the states to produce the stats to show that they are complying with the changes made in 2018 under the Family First Preservatives and Services Act. The states were supposed to implement it by October 2018 then it was pushed back a year then another year. This order is a kick in the pants to those who won’t comply.
Next step is to ban the adoption bonus money under Adoption and Safe Families Act and then to tie federal funding under Title IVE to results that restore family integrity in this country.
In February 2018, the same day FFPSA (Family First Preservation and Services Act) passed, the National Counsel of State Courts hosted a forum for a new vision in child welfare including the reduction in the need to foster care.
In December 2018 Children’s Bureau Jerry Milner issued a permissive guideline for states to use Title IVE funds to improve the quality of parent representation.
In July 2019 Children’s Bureau Jerry Milner issued a statement for a new vision for child welfare which was published by the ABA journal.
In December 2019 President Trump signed the Family First Support Act to provide additional funds for family preservation programs.
Tennessee held a forum on child welfare and yet parents are not included in the discussion. This is a reflection of the problem. No one wants to hear from the grassroots participants who suffer from the incompetence of child welfare agencies.
And yet the states continue to drag their feet in initiating effective legislation, hearings, and oversight to implement this dramatic paradigm shift in child welfare.
The TEETH in this change will be in funding. If we can cut funding to the W.H.O. for withholding information and working against our interest we can do the same here. The battle cry must be END the FUNDING.
HERE is the full executive order. 👇
Executive Order on Strengthening the Child Welfare System for America’s Children
June 24, 2020
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. Every child deserves a family. Our States and communities have both a legal obligation, and the privilege, to care for our Nation’s most vulnerable children.
The best foster care system is one that is not needed in the first place. My Administration has been focused on prevention strategies that keep children safe while strengthening families so that children do not enter foster care unnecessarily. Last year, and for only the second time since 2011, the number of children in the foster care system declined, and for the third year in a row, the number of children entering foster care has declined.
But challenges remain. Too many young people who are in our foster care system wait years before finding the permanency of family. More than 400,000 children are currently in foster care. Of those, more than 124,000 children are waiting for adoption, with nearly 6 out of 10 (58.4 percent) having already become legally eligible for adoption.
More than 50 percent of the children waiting for adoption have been in foster care — without the security and constancy of a permanent family — for 2 years or more. The need for stability and timely permanency is particularly acute for children 9 years and older, children in sibling groups, and those with intellectual or physical disabilities.
Even worse, too many young men and women age out of foster care having never found a permanent, stable family. In recent years, approximately 20,000 young people have aged out of foster care each year in the United States. Research has shown that young people who age out of the foster care system are likely to experience significant, and significantly increased, life challenges — 40 percent of such young people studied experienced homelessness; 50 percent were unemployed at age 24; 25 percent experienced post-traumatic stress disorder; and 71 percent became pregnant by age 21. These are unacceptable outcomes.
Several factors have contributed to the number of children who wait in foster care for extended periods. First, State and local child welfare agencies often do not have robust partnerships with private community organizations, including faith-based organizations. Second, those who step up to be resource families for children in foster care — including kin, guardians, foster parents, and adoptive parents — may lack adequate support. Third, too often the processes and systems meant to help children and families in crisis have instead created bureaucratic barriers that make it more difficult for these children and families to get the help they need.
It is the goal of the United States to promote a child welfare system that reduces the need to place children into foster care; achieves safe permanency for those children who must come into foster care, and does so more quickly and more effectively; places appropriate focus on children who are waiting for adoption, especially those who are 9 years and older, are in sibling groups, or have disabilities; and decreases the proportion of young adults who age out of the foster care system.
Children from all backgrounds have the potential to become successful and thriving adults. Yet without a committed, loving family that can provide encouragement, stability, and a lifelong connection, some children may never receive the support needed to realize that potential.
This order will help to empower families who answer the call to open their hearts and homes to children who need them. My Administration is committed to helping give as many children as possible the stability and support that family provides by dramatically improving our child welfare system.
Sec. 2. Encouraging Robust Partnerships Between State Agencies and Public, Private, Faith-based, and Community Organizations. (a) In order to facilitate close partnerships between State agencies and nongovernmental organizations, including public, private, faith-based, and community groups, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”) shall provide increased public access to accurate, up-to-date information relevant to strengthening the child welfare system, including by:
(i) Publishing data to aid in the recruitment of community support. Within 1 year of the date of this order and each year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a report that provides information about typical patterns of entry, recent available counts of children in foster care, and counts of children waiting for adoption. To the extent appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including all privacy laws, this data will be disaggregated by county or other sub-State level, child age, placement type, and prior time in care.
(ii) Collecting needed data to preserve sibling connections.
(A) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall collect information from appropriate State and local agencies on the number of children in foster care who have siblings in foster care and who are not currently placed with their siblings.
(B) Within 3 years of the date of this order, to support the goal of keeping siblings together (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(31)(A)), the Secretary shall develop data analysis methods to report on the experience of children entering care in sibling groups, and the extent to which they are placed together. The Secretary’s analysis shall also assess the extent to which siblings who are legally eligible for adoption achieve permanency together.
(iii) Expanding the number of homes for children and youth.
(A) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall develop a more rigorous and systematic approach to collecting State administrative data as part of the Child and Family Services Review required by section 1123A of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) (42 U.S.C. 1320a–2a). Data collected shall include:
(1) demographic information for children in foster care and waiting for adoption;
(2) the number of currently available foster families and their demographic information;
(3) the average foster parent retention rate and average length of time foster parents remain certified;
(4) a target number of foster homes needed to meet the needs of children in foster care; and
(5) the average length of time it takes to complete foster and adoptive home certification.
(B) The Secretary shall ensure, to the extent consistent with applicable law, that States report to the Secretary regarding strategies for coordinating with nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based and community organizations, to recruit and support foster and adoptive families.
(b) Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary shall issue guidance to Federal, State, and local agencies on partnering with nongovernmental organizations. This guidance shall include best practices for information sharing, providing needed services to families to support prevention of children entering foster care, family preservation, foster and adoptive home recruitment and retention, respite care, post-placement family support, and support for older youth. This guidance shall also make clear that faith-based organizations are eligible for partnerships under title IV-E of the Act (42 U.S.C. 670 et seq.), on an equal basis, consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Sec. 3. Improving Access to Adequate Resources for Caregivers and Youth. While many public, private, faith based, and community resources and other sources of support exist, many American caregivers still lack connection with and access to adequate resources. Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary shall equip caregivers and those in care to meet their unique challenges, by:
(a) Expanding educational options. To the extent practicable, the Secretary shall use all existing technical assistance resources to promote dissemination and State implementation of the National Training and Development Curriculum, including, when appropriate, in non-classroom environments.
(b) Increasing the availability of trauma-informed training. The Secretary shall provide an enhanced, web-based, learning-management platform to house the information generated by the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative. Access to this web-based training material will be provided free of charge for all child welfare and mental health practitioners.
(c) Supporting guardianship. The Secretary shall provide information to States regarding the importance and availability of funds to increase guardianship through the title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (42 U.S.C. 673), which provides Federal reimbursement for payments to guardians and for associated administrative costs. This information shall include which States have already opted into the program.
(d) Enhancing support for kinship care and youth exiting foster care. The Secretary shall establish a plan to address barriers to accessing existing Federal assistance and benefits for eligible individuals.
Sec. 4. Ensuring Equality of Treatment and Access for all Families. The Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (the “Multiethnic Placement Act”) (Public Law 103-382), as amended, prohibits agencies from denying to any person the opportunity to become an adoptive or a foster parent on the basis of race, color, or national origin (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(18)(A)); prohibits agencies from delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or into foster care on the basis of race, color, or national origin (id. 671(a)(18)(B)); and requires agencies to diligently recruit a diverse base of foster and adoptive parents to better reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of children in out-of-home care (id. 662(b)(7)). To further the goals of the Multiethnic Placement Act, the Secretary shall:
(a) within 6 months of the date of this order, initiate a study regarding the implementation of these requirements nationwide;
(b) within 1 year of the date of this order, update guidance, as necessary, regarding implementation of the Multiethnic Placement Act; and
(c) within 1 year of the date of this order, publish guidance regarding the rights of parents, prospective parents, and children with disabilities (including intellectual, developmental, or physical disabilities).
Sec. 5. Improving Processes to Prevent Unnecessary Removal and Secure Permanency for Children. (a) Federal Review of Reasonable Effort Determinations and Timeliness Requirements.
(i) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall require that both the title IV-E reviews conducted pursuant to 45 CFR 1356.71 and the Child and Family Services Reviews conducted pursuant to 45 CFR 1355.31–1355.36 specifically and adequately assess the following requirements:
(A) reasonable efforts to prevent removal;
(B) filing a petition for Termination of Parental Rights within established statutory timelines and court processing of such petition, unless statutory exemptions apply;
(C) reasonable efforts to finalize permanency plans; and
(D) completion of relevant required family search and notifications and how such efforts are reviewed by courts.
(ii) In cases in which it is determined that statutorily required timelines and efforts have not been satisfied, the Secretary shall make use of existing authority in making eligibility determinations and disallowances consistent with section 1123A(b)(3)(4) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a-2a(b)(3)(4)).
(iii) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall develop metrics to track permanency outcomes in each State and measure State performance over time.
(iv) Within 6 months of the date of this order, the Secretary shall provide guidance to States regarding flexibility in the use of Federal funds to support and encourage high-quality legal representation for parents and children, including pre-petition representation, in their efforts to prevent the removal of children from their families, safely reunify children and parents, finalize permanency, and ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are protected. The Secretary shall also ensure collection of data regarding State use of Federal funds for this purpose.
(b) Risk and Safety Assessments.
(i) Within 18 months of the date of this order, the Secretary shall collect States’ individual standards for conducting risk and safety assessments required under section 106(b)(2)(B)(iv) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106(b)(2)(B)(iv)).
(ii) Within 2 years of the date of this order, the Secretary shall outline reasonable best practice standards for risk and safety assessments, including how to address domestic violence and substance abuse.
Sec. 6. Indian Child Welfare Act. Nothing in this order shall alter the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act or replace the tribal consultation process.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Posted: May 27, 2020 / 02:22 PM EDT / Updated: May 27, 2020 / 02:22 PM EDT
News Channel 11 – May 27, 2020 – KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) — Arrest warrants in a Tennessee couple’s abuse case describe a hellish existence for four children in their legal custody, a nightmare that finally ended after a little boy was spotted walking alone along a Roane County road.
Passersby called 911, and a responding officer began asking questions. The boy’s legal guardian soon confessed, the warrants said, to burying the remains of a little girl in a barn and locking a 15-year-old boy in the basement for four years.
The two other children spent time in a wire dog cage, while all were supposedly homeschooled and appeared to be “stunted in growth,” the warrants said.
Michael Anthony Gray Sr., 63, and his wife, Shirley Ann Gray, 60, were arrested Monday on charges of aggravated child abuse, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated child neglect and abuse of a corpse, authorities said.
The surviving children, ages 11 to 15, were removed from their custody by the state Department of Children’s Services.
The oldest had been locked in the partially flooded, unfinished basement for stealing food shortly after the family moved to the home in June 2016, authorities said, “and had no contact with anyone outside the basement, only given small amounts of food, being white bread and some water,” the warrants state.
Michael Gray told authorities that the girl was about 10 when she died in 2017, a few months after she too was locked in the basement, and that he buried her inside a barn in the backyard, the warrants said. Investigators found her skeletal remains on Saturday, the day after the 911 call, according to 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson.
The Grays also built a tiny concrete room under the stairs for punishment, the warrants said. Authorities who liberated the older boy on Friday said he was surrounded by feces, garbage and mold.
The warrants say Shirley Gray claimed all four children were keeping up with their homeschooling requirements, but two of them “appear to have no formal education,” and “were, in fact, amazed by what a refrigerator does when they observed one in their foster home.”
The Grays remained in custody on Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether they have an attorney.
Many times, families are silenced by the Courts to prevent them from publishing their frustrations about Court proceedings. This type of restraint should not be allowed nor tolerated in our country. There are many cases prohibiting “prior restraint” when it come to our First Amendment freedoms.
In Federal Court, the implement “rules” against public dissemination of information about the case, presumably because it could affect the right of both parties to a fair and impartial jury. However, does social media really have such a broad reach to audiences that it would have a detrimental effect on a jury. And really, could this not be resolved in voir dire.
Recently, I was threatened on this very issue. I participate in social media platforms that are critical of the government and sometimes, challenge the operation of the Courts. In a pending Federal lawsuit, I made a disclosure about defendants regarding the corruption uncovered in this rural Tennessee county.
Within days, I received threatening letters claiming that Local Rule 83.04 prohibited such comments in social media.
So I found the reference below. In Ohio, the Federal Court has found this restriction to be unconstitutional………..Nice to Know.
Trial judges, the government, the lawyers and the public must tolerate robust and at times acrimonious or even silly public debate about litigation. The courts are public institutions funded with public revenues for the purpose of resolving public disputes, and the right of publicity concerning their operations goes to the heart of their function under our system of civil liberty. The courts have available other less restrictive approaches for insuring a fair trial. They may, for example, consider a change of venue or the sequestration of the jury or a searching voir dire examination of the jury.
The Court hereby finds that DR 7-107(G) is facially unconstitutional because it violates the over breadth doctrine as DR 7-107(G) is capable of being applied to punish attorneys for constitutionally protected speech or conduct and therefore, in the Court’s view, “reaches a substantial amount of constitutionally protected conduct.” Leonardson, 896 F.2d at 195. DR 7-107(G) has a chilling effect in that it prohibits attorney speech in civil litigation that is otherwise protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the Court finds that DR 7-107(G) is over broad because it does not aim specifically at certain evils, but it sweeps within its reach other speech that is constitutionally protected. See Thornhill, 310 U.S. at 97.
The Court also finds that DR 7-107(G) is facially unconstitutional pursuant to the vagueness doctrine. DR 7-107(G) is void for vagueness since its provisions do not provide adequatewarnings to all regarding what is permitted and what is proscribed by law. See Richardson v. City of South Euclid, 904 F.2d 1050, 1056 (6th Cir. 1990) (Merritt, C.J., dissenting); Grayned, 408 U.S. at 108. Thus, like Rule 177 as construed in Gentile, DR 7-107(G) with its somewhat ambiguous categories “creates a trap for the wary as well as the unwary.” Gentile, 111 S. Ct. at 1132. Moreover, DR 7-107(G) gives the disciplinary board considerable discretion in determining who will be disciplined and who will not be disciplined. Accordingly, DR 7-107(G) is void pursuant to the vagueness doctrine.
United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division
September 30, 1991, Filed Case C-2-90-335
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that a civil litigant’s First Amendment rights were violated when a U.S. district court judge ordered him to stop writing letters to shareholders of a bank that had sued him. Sept 2019. Bank of Hope v. Chon.