CHILD REMOVAL LAWS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, HURT MICHIGAN FAMILIES, ACLU CHARGES IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT

 

Penny and Maryanne Godboldo after rally that condemned police seizure of Maryanne’s child

Release from the Michigan ACLU

March 24, 2011

POLICE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REMOVE CHILDREN WITHOUT PROOF CHILD IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER

(Ed. note: story coming on Godboldo custody hearing April 22.)

DETROIT – In an effort to protect the rights of children, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit today asking a judge to strike down a state law that allows law enforcement officials to remove children from their parents’ custody without proving that the child is in immediate danger.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an Ann Arbor family whose 7-year-old son was placed in foster care after his father, a University of Michigan professor, mistakenly gave him a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at a Detroit Tigers game in 2008.

“Taking a child from loving parents is a harrowing, life-changing experience for both the child and the parents,” said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director. “However, Michigan law currently allows the government to take a child without having to prove that it’s necessary to prevent immediate danger. The law is unconstitutional, out of step with the rest of the county and must be fixed to prevent harm to other families.”

Christopher Ratte’s son was removed

On April 4 2008, Leo Ratté, then 7 years old, attended a Detroit Tigers game with his father, Christopher Ratté, a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Michigan. Before taking their seats, Christopher purchased what he thought was lemonade from a stand advertising “Mike’s Lemonade,” and not knowing that it contained alcohol, gave it to his son.

During the 9th inning, a security guard approached Christopher asking him whether he knew his son was drinking an alcoholic beverage. Christopher explained that he did not know that the lemonade contained alcohol, but the matter was turned over to the police.

While Christopher was being questioned by police, Comerica Park medical staff examined Leo and gave him a clean bill of health. Nonetheless, Leo was sent to Children’s Hospital in Detroit, where he was examined, found to have no alcohol in his blood, and cleared to go home. Instead of going home he was taken into custody by Wayne County Children’s Protective Services (CPS), a division of the state Department of Human Services.

Starletta Banks lost her three toddlers in 2000 over falsified X-rays; she still does not have them back.

CPS refused to release Leo into the custody of his mother, Claire Zimmerman, who was not at the game, or to his aunts – one of whom is a social worker and licensed foster parent. The first night, Leo slept on a couch in the CPS building with his parents waiting outside on the sidewalk. The next day, he was sent to a foster home.

On April 7, 2008, with the assistance of the University of Michigan Child Advocacy Clinic, Leo was finally released into his mother’s custody, but only after Christopher agreed to move out of the house and only have supervised contact with Leo.  Soon after, the case was dismissed and Christopher was allowed back into his home.

“This experience was traumatic for all of us,” said Claire, a professor of art history and architecture at U of M. “If the University of Michigan had not helped us, it could have taken weeks to get Leo back. It’s tremendously important for us to challenge this law so that no other family has to deal with the lasting effects of having a child unjustly removed. We tried for three years to convince the legislature to fix the law, but when the bill did not get a hearing, we had no choice but to file this case.”

Elena’s son Johnny was taken and was starved to death in foster care; see WXYZ expose at end of story

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the state’s standard for the emergency removal of children is unconstitutional as it does not require state officials to prove that the child is in immediate danger.

In addition, the lawsuit claims that Leo and Claire’s constitutional rights were violated when Leo was taken from her custody even though she was not present at the ballpark and had nothing to do with the Mike’s Hard Lemonade mistake. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down the Michigan law as illegal under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Children’s advocates have worked on a legislative fix to the Michigan emergency removal law for years. Last legislative session, SB 1533, or “Leo’s Law,” was introduced in the Senate; however, the bill died without a hearing or vote.

In addition to Steinberg, Leo, Claire and Christopher are represented by ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Abraham Singer and Adam Wolfe of the law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP and Amy Sankaran.

TO READ ENTIRE LAWSUIT, GO TO ACLU complaint on state law re police removals of children

WATCH WXYZ-TV EXPOSES OF STATE’S FINANCIAL REASONS FOR KIDNAPPING CHILDREN AT:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmMGbRt1A5A&feature=player_embedded#at=17

AND http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZeKJHphpQU&feature=related   

ALSO GO TO:

http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/04/study-why-child-abuse-investigations-dont-help-kids/  

To read Time article on why the nation’s Child “Protective” Services system is broken.

Also go to http://www.welfarewarriors.org/ to read about battles against CPS in Wiscosin.

 

Wisconsin’s Mother Welfare Warriors fighting child kidnapping

 


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10 Responses to CHILD REMOVAL LAWS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, HURT MICHIGAN FAMILIES, ACLU CHARGES IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT

  1. Natisha Street says:

    My 9 year old was bullied at school. Kicked, pushed, beaten by multiple students at a time, and stabbed with pencils. Prior to that, Samuel was always a happy child. I repeatedly complained despite the school’s refusal to address the issue. On 4/11/2014 , our lives changed FOREVER. After an argument on the phone his teacher, she filed a false report with CPS that led to series of very unfortunate events. On 5/8/2014, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare Dept filed petition alleging physical & mental abuse, that I don’t want my kid, that Samuel had a mental disorder, and I could not take care for him. I stopped breathing. My only child was removed from school and placed into foster care for 6 months. No visits. No telephone calls. No letters. Not even a hug goodbye. I can imagine he felt lonely, afraid, and abandoned. My baby finally returned home on 11/7/2014 after trial ended. Just 2 weeks prior to his 10th birthday. The court found that my child was not in need or protection or services.
    An inquiry has been completed by Wisconsin representative Evan Goyke’s and Wisconsin senator Nikiya Harris-Dodd’s offices. They have also requested an audit regarding the Bureau of Milkwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW’s) practices.
    Although Samuel is home, the fight is not over. A complaint has been filed with the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General Allegation Management and Fugitive Enforcement Division for investigation of possible fraud. For 7 months after Samuel returned home, there was an open claim for disability benefits that was filed by one of the entities involved. My son is not and has never been disabled physically or mentally. It was closed after I contacted Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s office.
    A complaint has been filed with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights regarding the psychiatrists involved and the administration of psychotropic medications in a healthy child.
    The NAACP and the ACLU have not been helpful. Recently, I have spoken with many attorneys that have informed me that I can sue the entites as well as individuals involved in federal court. A well known and highly respected attorney said that my case would be “setting the precedent”. My interpretation: ground-breaking. I am a single, hard working, college educated, and loving parent. Alone, do not have the means to obtain an attorney. We need your help. Please contribute to this fund. Be a part of change in a very corrupt system and keep families together. gofundme.com/SamuelStreet

    Media related links:
    http://www.jrn.com/tmj4/news/i-team/Child-taken-from-mother-for–283787661.html?lc=Smart

    https://youtu.be/_vIflD3Ru_E

    Love Always,
    Natisha Street

  2. Dallas says:

    You know what they need to do…. If there is a situation that seems child endangering, they need to take “the whole family unit” and do what needs to be done to get them operating “safely” again, “safely only”. If they can steal kids and charge child support, why cant they instead, help families as a whole for a bit and then charge them back child support, wouldn’t that be better and less harmful on everyone? Stupid System… I’m getting real sick of you America.

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  4. Nicole Durneb says:

    Hi Social services or Child protection services State of wi took my children from what the judge determine I was in poverty. The judge said they have hard facts and evidence but they have no proof. The said you should not use poverty as the only reason to take children from their parents. She also said that they better hope the “I” ms benrud wont go back after them. This was all very devastating after being illegally evicted and being homeless. My husband n i were separated but one day he happened to be with me and our children, we stopped to use a pay phone. Next thing I know a pi walked up to him and arrested and then my children and I had to wait bc cps was coming. Why should of my children get taken. Also they told my mom she was on the waiting list for kinship so my mom had to give them up to foster care…We also missed my daughters 2nd birthday because it was a unscheduled visit when both kids were supposed to be returned home before then. the guardian ad lietem was supposed to do his investigation in less than 2 wks it took him mnths. so much more that needs to be told.

  5. This is happening to good families all over the country, where strong, large, and over-reaching government wants to come into our private homes and instruct us as to how to parent. The good news is that parents are organizing and fighting back. “Friend” me on Facebook, and I will introduce you to organizations and other people to network with. They count on you staying silent and afraid.

    Rev. Dr. Brian James Shanley
    Oakdale, MN, USA
    612-867-0699

  6. I don’t even understand how I ended up listed here, but I assumed this post was awesome. I have no idea who you happen to be but clearly you?¯re going to a celebrated blogger when you aren?¯t already Cheers!

  7. TT says:

    I just cancelled my 40th b-day party. Someone call cps they contacted me gave their loose interpretation of the law regarding alcohol! They will remove my 7 yr old even if I have a responsible adult at my party taking care of her. I was told one beer will deem me unfit to provide proper care for my child! For real … Where does it say I cant have an adult sitter? Where does it say alcohol is illegal! I have had them treat me with complete disrespect. Was asked did you party last night? Forced to submit to drug test! I passed! Then they just went away with disappointment.. Disappointed Im a terrific responsible mother. I LEAVING MICHIGAN! Our civil rights dont count here. If my child is safe why tell me I cant celebrate my b-day! Since when do they have the right to assume my child will be endanger? Something has to give .. Once they get ur name they come again and again trying to find cause to remove the child! God help us Michiganders.. Pls?

  8. joanna says:

    I just got my child back from the system and now the case worker that was assigned to my case is harassing, and she has on several occasion made me feel like I am inferior to her. I have complained to her supervisor and to her co-workers. Other people has witnessed her behavior towards me. Such as my therapist has warned me to be careful that she is out to get me. And a person that was hired through the state to help me adjust to my son (Kim) has witnessed her behavior. I am in the process of filing an grievance against her. The harassment has caused me great stress, I can’t be in my own home because I’m waiting for her to call and have my child remove. My child is 10 years old and can be questioned. When my son was in the system they said that he was over weight and he had to lose 20 pounds. Now that he is back in my care he still has to maintain his weight. Now he has self-esteem issues because of his weight. I need help. Joanna

  9. Toshanda C. Lundy-Moore says:

    i am going through the same thing with DHS about my children here in Michigan and i’m looking for some one to help me in this matter my number is 313 825 4930

  10. Loretta Sue Phillips says:

    pLEASE STOP REMOVING TTHE CHILD LET HIM STAY WHERE HE LIVES , MAKE OTHERS LEAVE AND PUT SOMEONE ELSE IN THERE. wHY WOULD A CHILD HAVE TO LEAVE A GOOD HOME IF HIS MOTHER ,FATER DOES NOT COOPERATE? cAN THE PARENTS VISIT THEIR OWN HOMES TO SEE THEIR CHILDREN?

    rEMOVING KIDS HAS NOT DONE ANY GOOD FOR DECADES. WHY ARE WE WAITING TIL SO LONG TO ? pEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO KEEP WHAT THEY HAVE SHARE IT WITH OTHERS FOR SO LONG TO MAKE THEIR LIVES BETTER. iF YOU CAN MOVE A CHILD,YOU CAN MOVE A COMMUNITY .

    KEEP THE CHILD WHERE HE IS ACCORDINGLY,CHANGE THE SCENE A BIT,
    WHAT THE CURRENT SITUATION IS NOW HAS NOT HELPED AT ALL.

    fOSTER PARENTS ARRE NOT THE WHOLE ANSWERS. iF A CHILD IS FAMILIAR WITH HIS NEIGHBORHOOD,LOVES HIS HOME,DOES NOT WANT TO LEAVE,LET HIM STAY,PUT THE FOSTERPARENT IN HIS HOME. OR GIVE THE PARENT(S) A NEW HOME TO LIVE AND WORK IN.

    wORK TOGEHTER? THIS IS HOW YOU WORK TOGEHTER.

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