CPS worker said child needed cage
Detroit cop admits lack of authority
By Diane Bukowski
July 26, 2011
DETROIT — New and shocking details of the encounter between a lone mother and child, Child Protective Services (CPS), and a Detroit police “Special Response Team” replete with tanks, assault guns, and helicopters in March emerged in the first part of Maryanne Godboldo’s preliminary exam July 25.
They include a CPS worker’s statement that she told police Godboldo’s 13-year-old daughter needed to be caged on removal from her home, and a Detroit police officer’s admission that he had no authority to execute a civil order. A second officer testified that he did not mention observing a “bullet hole” in the house in two reports March 25 and May 19.
Godboldo, 55, faces one count of discharge of a weapon in a dwelling, three counts of felonious assault, three counts of resisting and obstructing an officer, and a felony firearm count related to her refusal to allow police into her home to take her 13-year-old daughter Ariana. She could receive from two to four years in prison on each of the counts.
The second part of the exam is scheduled for Mon. Aug. 29 promptly at 8:30 a.m. in front of Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Ronald Giles. Attorneys are to brief Giles on whether the prosecution can have Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas testify. Thomas said during the hearing that she was at the scene to act as a mediator between police, CPS, and Godboldo.
During the hearing, CPS worker Mia Wenk testified that she summoned police by calling 911, while waiting in her car at a corner near Godboldo’s home on Blaine near Linwood. She said she did this although it was not normal CPS policy, and two other CPS workers were with her. Wenk herself never approached the home.
“I told ‘911’ I needed assistance to execute a warrant,” Wenk said. “I told them when they get the child out they will need to transport her in their back seat since they have a cage in the car. I never met her [Ariana]. I didn’t even know what she looked like. I asked them to bring her leg, and told them she has ‘psychosis NOS’ [not otherwise specified].”
Many in the courtroom, which was packed with Godboldo’s supporters, gasped at the reference to caging a Black child, and the derogatory terminology used to describe her disability. The child has been disabled since infancy, but according to family and church members has led a normal life including dancing, swimming and horseback riding lessons, using a prosthetic leg.
Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Ronald Giles told audience members to leave if they could not restrain themselves, upon which Godboldo herself left the courtroom, returning shortly after she was able to compose herself.
Godboldo was represented at the exam by attorneys Allison Folmar and Byron Pitts.
“This witness heightened the level of law enforcement involvement based on her lack of knowledge,” Folmar said. She asked Wenk, who has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, whether she knew the difference between a “warrant,” and the civil court order which Wenk said she gave to police who arrived an hour later.
Wenk did not give a clear response.
Wenk testified that she petitioned Wayne County Family Court by filling out a “JCO5b” form (click on Order_to_Take_Children_into_Protective_Custody_321602_7 to see blank form) the morning of the confrontation, which began that afternoon. She said she left the form at the Family Court “intake” and later got what she called a “writ” back.
The “writ” was the JCO5b form with the rubber stamped signature of Wayne County Family Court Division Judge Leslie Kim Smith, and a provision that gave 30 days to execute it. Wenk testified it had a raised seal that she claimed made it “official.”
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lora Weingarden entered the form into evidence.
Judge Giles had denied Folmar’s motion to quash the court order at the beginning of the hearing. Folmar contended it was invalid because that there was no “Wayne County Clerk” stamp on the order, and numerous parts of it were not completed.
Those included what action was to be taken, who was supposed to take it, a full description of the child (Wenk entered only her birthdate) and whether the information was entered into LEIN (the Law Enforcement Information Network.)
Giles ruled that testimony could be taken regarding what was on the order, but granted a prosecution motion to preclude testimony regarding what led up to the issuance of the court order.
Wenk said two contradictory sentences on the form, “Reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the child(ren) from the home were not made,” and “Reasonable efforts were made to prevent the removal of the child(ren) from the home,” were both checked because the first was not fully erased.
She testified that the one “reasonable effort” she made to prevent Ariana’s removal was a “Permanency Planning Conference” (PPC) she held March 23. She said she notified Godboldo of the conference March 21 “by phone” and sent her a letter “as a courtesy.” When Godboldo did not attend, Wenk said she and another CPS worker held the meeting by themselves.
“Did you indicate in the letter that you were planning to take Ms. Godboldo’s child?” Folmar asked. “No,” Wenk replied. She said that when Godboldo did not keep the appointment, she immediately initiated removal procedures.
Click on CPS Removal and Placement of Children to read all required procedures. They define a Permanency Planning Conference as follows:
Over Folmar’s objection, Giles himself read Section 3a of the form into the record, “That Maryanne Godboldo has numerous CPS referrals in the last year regarding medical neglect . . .[the child] was prescribed Risperdal . . . .mother refused to give it to her. The mother is in denial . . .she believes [the child] is severely psychotic and out of touch with reality due to immunizations.”
There is also a medical form in Ariana’s file signed by Godboldo giving her the right to take Ariana off the medication for any reason.
Godboldo, who said Ariana had severe adverse reactions to Risperdal, has received worldwide support for her decision to take her off what many medical professionals have determined to be a dangerous drug, and for her stand against the CPS action. Many others who question the side effects of vaccinations have also come to her defense.
Detroit police officer Kevin Simpson testified that he and his partner “received a police run,” and met Wenk down the street from the Godboldo home. He said neither exited their cars, but that Wenk passed him the court order through her window.
He said he knocked on Godboldo’s door, and she opened the door inside the security gate. He said he asked to come inside to discuss Ariana’s removal, but that Godboldo said she needed to call her attorney. He said he went back to the door with the court order, which he had left in the car, but Godboldo told him he was frightening her child and closed the door.
He said his supervisor Lt. Michael Nied then arrived and knocked loudly on the door before the three obtained a crowbar from Simpson’s trunk. He said Nied yelled “Police,” and pried open a side door, then attempted to kick in a locked door at the top of a set of inside stairs.
“I heard a loud noise from the other side that sounded like a gunshot,” Simpson said. He said the three left the house, Nied with white powder on his left shoulder. He said Nied then declared a “barricaded gunman” situation and summoned the SRT.
On cross-exam, attorney Byron Pitts got Simpson to admit that they had no warrant, only a court order.
Pitts had him read a Detroit Police Department policy which says it is the responsibility of the Wayne County Sheriff’s office, court officers, or a bailiff to serve civil court orders.
“It’s not the official responsibility of the Detroit Police Department?” Pitts asked.
“No,” Simpson said.
“The order is not directed to the Detroit Police Department, it’s not directed to anybody?” Pitts asked.
“Correct,” Simpson replied.
Pitts asked further, “So you were not working in your official capacity, doing your official responsibility?”
Simpson admitted that was the case. Defense attorneys have focused on this issue, because MCL 750.81d, one of the statutes governing charges against Godboldo, reads in part, “(1) Except as provided in subsections (2), (3), and (4), an individual who assaults, batters, wounds, resists, obstructs, opposes, or endangers a person who the individual knows or has reason to know is performing his or her duties is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.”
After pointing out that the order gave 30 days to execute it, Pitts asked, “Nobody said, hey, let’s come back another day?”
“No” was the reply.
Simpson also admitted that there were no “exigent circumstances” allowing them to force entry into the home without a warrant, such as “hot pursuit” of a person who has committed a felony.
Pitts similarly shot holes in the testimony of Detroit Police Officer William Blake, a member of the department’s Tactical Mobile Unit.
Blake testified that they were backing up the SRT, and that he sat outside the home for about eight hours before Godboldo surrendered. He said he then entered the home to execute a search warrant for a gun. He said he is not an evidence technician and did not know if any had been called to the scene.
He said that he found a “bullet hole” in the ceiling leading to the locked door inside the side entrance that Need pried open, and plaster and debris in the stairwell. He said he found a “blue steel revolver sitting on top of a piano” in the front living room, with one spent casing still inside, and that he found a purse with 43 bullets that would fit the gun under couch cushions in the room.
Pitts referred him to his original report, known now as a CRISNET form, previously called a PCR, or “preliminary complaint form.”
“There is nothing in there about a bullet hole, is there?” Pitts asked.
Blake said, “No, just my discovery of the weapon.” Blake also told Pitts that he omitted any mention of the bullet hole from a May 19 report to the Prosecutor’s Office. “I chose not to write it down,” he said.
Daily media reports of the March 24 encounter prominently featured the alleged bullet hole.
“It’s a fair statement to say that you don’t know who fired a shot, isn’t it?” Pitts asked.
Blake responded in the affirmative. He said he did not know if pictures had been taken of the scene or if an evidence technician was ever called to the scene.
The prosecution then summoned Judge Thomas to the stand. Pitts exercised his right to “voir dire” (question) her prior to agreeing to let her testify without defense objection.
Thomas said she did not know the Godboldo family, but was called to the scene by a “mutual friend.” She said the Detroit Police Department also requested her presence.She said she sought to mediate between the CPS and the police on one side and Godboldo on the other.
Thomas said she spoke with Godboldo on a phone hooked up by the police department. “No one was listening in on 99 percent of our conversation,” Thomas said.
Giles asked her, “During this process did you at any time inform Maryanne Godboldo that your conversations were privileged and confidential?”
Thomas replied, “I did not. I don’t know if I even thought of confidentiality. My focus was on peace.”
Pitts said that statements made during compromise negotiations are not admissible in court, according to Michigan Rule of Evidence 408.
“Information given to her was to facilitate mediation to peacefully work out a compromise,” Pitts said. “A mediator can’t be forced to come to court to talk about what each side said.”
When Weingarden said she was not familiar with case law in the matter, Giles adjourned the proceedings and ordered both sides to brief him on the matter by Aug. 15. Weingarden said Thomas’ testimony, if allowed, will be the final testimony in the case.
Thomas has said in published statements that the court order to take Ariana was deficient. Judge Thomas became widely celebrated across Detroit for her stand against the domination of Wayne County juries by suburban whites, among other issues, beginning in 2004. However, to date, little has changed. If Judge Giles binds Maryanne Godboldo over on the charges she faces, she is also likely to face a jury dominated by suburbanites, with the prosecution deciding if she can have a bench trial (as Judge Thomas states in the video below).