“Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years?” The argument did not fare well as a hearing before Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Trott: “I’m just staggered by the claim that people in the shoes of your clients wouldn’t be on notice that you can’t use perjury and false evidence to take away somebody’s children. That to me is mind boggling.” [R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly; video]
“Judges at the UK’s highest court have ruled against the Scottish government’s Named Person scheme….The system would appoint a named person – usually a teacher or health visitor – to ensure the wellbeing of every child. Judges say some proposals breach rights to privacy and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.” They say that insecurity of data could endanger children’s privacy rights and that the bill goes beyond the legislative powers of the devolved Scottish parliament. The government of Scotland has indicated that it intends to implement the scheme in some form after addressing the court’s objections. [BBC; earlier; my Cato piece]
- In the mail: “No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting,” forthcoming book by Abby Wisse Schachter [more: Pittsburgh Tribune Eric Heyl interview]
- Neighbor reports Winnipeg mom to child services for letting kids play in fenced-in back yard [Canadian Press/National Post via Amy Alkon]
- “Public space in Germany is not held hostage by liability lawsuits; Berlin playgrounds are not designed by lawyers.” And they’re awesome [Anna Winger, New York Times]
- Controversy intensifies further on Scotland’s Named Person scheme [Scottish Mail on Sunday (“complete stranger” will be assigned as Named Person to each child over school holidays), Gerald Warner/CapX, earlier here and here]
- Omar Mateen’s road to becoming a security guard: “He had issues. All the records were discarded by the school system, per statute. Clearly, if his employer had access to his juvenile record, he would be the last person to own a weapon.” [Yahoo]
- Kansas Supreme Court orders state legislature to increase funding for poor districts [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Left-right cooperation on school reform begins to break down amid demands to toe social justice line [Robert Pondiscio]
- Judges generally aren’t supposed to jail defendants over petty fines and fees they’re unable to pay, but many do anyway. How one Texas judge resists [Ed Spillane, Washington Post]
- Maryland legislature passes amended version of asset forfeiture bill I spoke favorably of at Annapolis press event in January [Tenth Amendment Center, background]
- Child services hair-sample forensics: “This Canadian Lab Spent 20 Years Ruining Lives” [Tess Owen, Vice]
- Cato’s 1995 Handbook for Congress urged repeal of Clinton crime bill, but Congress didn’t listen [Tim Lynch, Newsweek and more]
- “The main thing going through my head was, ‘I’m never going to get a job again.’” Public shaming as punishment [Suzy Khimm, The New Republic]
- Judge Alex Kozinski publicly names prosecutors in Washington state he thinks may have violated a defendant’s rights [Matt Ferner, HuffPo]
We’ve warned for a while about the scheme in Scotland to appoint a state functionary, a so-called Named Person, to look after the interests of every child — not just every child in state care or for whom there are indicia of dangerous neglect or abuse, but every child, period. Now the results are coming in from early rollout of the scheme in some parts of the country. [The Scotsman]
[The professor’s] shock was compounded by the fact that work on this dossier, known as a Family Record, had started without his knowledge. He had only discovered its existence by accident long after the details of his home life had begun to be recorded. Furthermore, it was only after an eight-month battle with his local health board that he managed to obtain a redacted version of the document, which began to be compiled after an acrimonious break-up with his wife which led to a protracted legal row over access to their two children.
Initially pushed through with little opposition, the plan is now causing political grief for the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party of Nicola Sturgeon. Ruth Davidson, leader of the third-place Scottish Conservative Party, has called for rethinking the scheme, and now Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale has suggested a halt to its implementation, while still favoring it in principle. The scheme is set to become effective for Scotland as a whole on August 1.
Tragic cases like that of 11-week-old Caleb Ness, the Edinburgh baby killed by his father despite the involvement of social work and health staff, have convinced the Scottish Government that action has to be taken. Indeed, the Named Person approach has the support of many organisations within civic Scotland, including children’s charities and teaching unions, who believe it will help struggling families and prevent tragedies…. In general, health visitors will act as Named Persons for pre-school children, with head teachers taking up the mantle as they get older.
Where not redacted, the 60-page file on the professor’s family had included observations on his children appearing to have diaper rash and runny noses not cleaned for a while, and observed the father “did not appear to take advice on board fully” regarding the thumb-sucking habit of his younger son:
“I find it sinister. I find it very creepy. I find it chilling,” he said. “They just hoover up all of this hearsay and then collate it into huge documents and on to databases. Under the new legislation all sorts of people have access to these databases. All they need is four or five reasons for intervention and they can hoover up information from any database and there is no control over whether this is true or not.”
[cross-posted at Cato at Liberty]
“Remember the mom put on Illinois Child Abuse Registry for letting her kids, ages 11, 9, and 5, play at the park just outside her house? The state’s appellate court has thrown out the ‘child neglect citation’ against her, after a mere two-and-a-half-year battle with the Department of Child and Family Services.” [Lenore Skenazy, Reason] Relatedly, in Sacramento: “Mom Rejects Plea Deal of “Just” 30 Days in Jail for Letting 4 y.o. Play 120 Feet From Home” [Skenazy, Free-Range Kids]
What better reason for Mom to face jail time than to have let her 4 year old play outside alone, 120 feet from her front door, in a gated community? “We have a CPS (Child Protective Service) case now and every time he’s not in my visual site we’re in violation,” said Sonya Hendren. [KTXL, Sacramento]
The critique of Child Protective Services agencies advanced lately by the free-range kids movement should find a readier echo on the left, writes Michelle Goldberg in The Nation. “Progressives have not, in general, seen CPS as worthy of the same suspicion as other forms of law enforcement,” yet minorities and poor persons are exposed to its scrutiny and pressure if anything more intensely. “Most of the time, when CPS is called, no proof emerges that the parents did anything wrong.” Yet they may still keep coming around inspecting your refrigerator and so forth: “once CPS enters a poor family’s life…it can be hard for the family to extricate itself….A social worker may discover that the woman is living with a man who has a criminal record. And that’s enough to keep the case open.” One Twitter response, from Isaac A. Patterson:
As a former poor kid, CPS lurks behind every decision you make. You grow up fast, fearful & mistrusting authority. https://t.co/uQreXXZp1l
— Isaac A. Patterson (@godislaughing) October 1, 2015
More: Radley Balko.
During pregnancy “occasional, small doses of diazepam (the generic name for Valium) are considered safe… But one morning a few weeks later, when Shehi was back at her job in a nursing home and the baby was with a sitter, investigators from the Etowah County [Alabama] Sheriff’s Office showed up at the front desk with a warrant. She had been charged with ‘knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally’ causing her baby to be exposed to controlled substances in the womb — a felony punishable in her case by up to 10 years in prison. The investigators led her to an unmarked car, handcuffed her and took her to jail.” [Nina Martin, ProPublica]
P.S. Expanded into a longer post at Cato at Liberty.
“New Jersey officials were wrong to label a mother a child abuser for leaving her sleeping baby in an unattended locked car for 10 minutes while she went shopping in a nearby store, the state’s highest court ruled on Thursday.” Not only does she deserve a hearing before being put on the child abuse registry, said a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court, but such a hearing should not find neglect unless her conduct is found to have placed the child in “imminent risk of harm.” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog; earlier here and here]