I had read about court proceedings on line, in news papers and on TV. The American people are unaware there are Family courts and Criminal courts with different rules for each. In family / juvenile court you are guilty until proven innocent. I can not fathom how that came to be. Is it just me? Does the rest of the country know this? I do not think so. I am pretty sure legislators / lawyers have over time crept this into law along with numerous other changes. Not enough of the general public know about the inner workings of our judicial system or care about how it functions. Basically, the attitude is that so long as it does not affect us there is no need to understand it. That is why we have attorneys, right? If reality becomes part of your world, I hope you were able to glance at this first.
The state of Oregon like all states governs its courts through legislation. In cases such as ours where a child is removed by the Dept of Human Services (DHS), it becomes your worst nightmare! DHS is so consumed by their internal policies. Their existence is supported by their connection to the legal system. States have unlimited funds for legal representation and experts. Unless money is of no consequence to those challenging the state a public defender is the degree of legal help most receive. Money was of a consequence to us though we soon found out that a public defender is not the best option in today’s court rooms. It in my opinion is impossible to fight the system if living in poverty. It takes thousands of dollars to even attempt to challenge the state with a privately retained attorney. There are countless uncontested cases where the case didn’t get past an initial hearing. Innocent parents do whatever it takes to have their children returned. DHS Requires a safety assessment plan. That plans includes state payroll psychologists, state determined parenting classes, visitation through state run foster care programs and DHS certified observers. Is it just me or does it appear as though children within the system afford a certain level of job security?
Time is of no consequence to DHS. Once embroiled in a family court case they are exacting their job description. Opponents have to shift, maneuver and crunch their daily lives at the expense of the system. Court is only held during the work week and during normal working hours. The state has District Attorneys and Attorney Generals at their disposal. Money for witnesses is not a factor. The prosecutor determines what perjury is, if that comes into question. Seldom does a DA pursue charges on their own witnesses. Exculpatory evidence is irrelevant in family court. And though existing in both family and criminal courts, State employees have qualified immunity.
In Oregon, DHS primarily pursues court actions through the juvenile court system. The opposing party is put on the defense. There an opposing party is considered Guilty Until Proven Innocent. Preponderance of the Evidence is used rather than Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. At some point it was decided that having to prove someone guilty beyond a shadow of doubt was too lenient on child abusers. It became a hell on earth for innocent caregivers. The medical science concerning unresolved absolutes in how unexplained injuries occurred is damning. Cases involving the controversial and defunct Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), Infant vaccinations and metabolic conditions are too misunderstood. Judges are not experts. The weight of protecting the baby is ultimately on their shoulders. Beyond a shadow of doubt has no loop hole. Who, what, when, where, how and why have to leave no doubt as to guilt or innocence. With Preponderance of Evidence a judge can twist and write an opinion in such a way as to reflect guilt in cases of contested medical science. Why risk putting a child in a dangerous situation. Just rule so that DHS has control. Once DHS wins, they by order of the court and their own bureaucratic rules must oversee the return or continued separation of the child. Possibly, to the point of having the child adopted.
Lastly, once DHS even so much as suspect’s child abuse. Those suspected are placed on a Child Abuse Registry. That is for life and does not require criminal charges. That is a violation of Due Process and is being contested nationwide. Ask yourself, when and how did all this happen?