Indiana High Court Accuses CPS of “Significant Violations of Due Process in Termination of Parental Rights”
Commentary by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
Cracks are starting to be exposed in the foundation of the state-sponsored child kidnapping structure of Child “Protective” Services. Parents who have been fighting the system for their children have seen these gaping flaws all along, but for decades anyone with power to change it has turned a blind eye to their plight.
Finally, it appears that the higher courts in one state are beginning to recognize that the system is, indeed, violating parental rights with alarming frequency.
Appellate judges from the Indiana Court of Appeals recently sent a strong rebuke to the Department of Child Services (DCS), citing “significant violations of due process occurring in termination of parental rights cases throughout the state.”
Indianapolis NBC affiliate Channel 13 reports that the judges acknowledged that there is a pattern of “repeated violations” of parental and Constitutional due process rights by DCS.
While the fact that the agency routinely violates parents’ rights certainly comes as no surprise to anyone on the front lines of the battle, the admission by the appeals court and by DCS itself that it is happening comes as a shock, albeit a good one, to attorneys and parents alike.
Could this be the beginning of the dominoes falling? Will other states will take notice and follow suit?
Bob Segall of NBC 13 writes:
The Court of Appeals cited a “disturbing trend” with 10 cases it received between September 2017 and March of this year. In each of the cases, one or more parents appealed the termination of their rights, and DCS asked for the case to be sent back to the trial court rather than have the appellate judges issue a ruling.
In a July court order, the Court of Appeals formally admonished DCS. The judges wrote, “DCS essentially concedes that [the parent appealing the termination] has either not been provided with adequate notice or that their due process rights have been violated.” The judges criticized DCS for repeatedly requesting that the cases be returned to a lower court rather than submitting a formal response to the appeals, thereby avoiding DCS having to defend its actions.
The Court of Appeals also took aim at the trial courts, reminding judges that they too have a “duty to ensure that litigants’ due process rights are not violated.”
In its most recent opinion, the judges were so frustrated by “repeated violations” of the parent’s rights and other failures of the trial court, they wrote,
We are at a loss as to any possible, just reason for such conduct.
Public Defender Stunned at Turn of Events
Stephanie Thomas is an Indiana mother with mental health issues and a drug addiction history. Her daughter was placed into foster care in 2016. She learned in July that her parental rights had been terminated. DCS had held the hearing without notifying her:
I never got papers. I never got any notice. The only thing I got was a text after the hearing …. the case worker wouldn’t talk to me no more and said ‘your rights have been terminated.
She immediately filed for an appeal and was assigned public defender Dorothy Ferguson. According to NBC 13 Investigates, the attorney “immediately recognized problems with the way in which DCS handled the case.”
Nonetheless, as parents from all over America can attest, it was not unusual for DCS/CPS to violate their own policies and the law when taking children from their parents. In fact, dozens of people from many different states have told Health Impact News that they were told that “the Constitution doesn’t apply in family court,” as they watched all semblance of due process and Constitutional principles dissipate before their very eyes.
Ferguson still believed that they had “a good chance of winning the appeal.”
What happened next was nothing short of amazing. NBC 13 Investigates reports:
Thomas’ attorney then received a surprise phone call from the Indiana Attorney General’s office. She discovered the AG, who represents state agencies such as DCS, was also concerned by DCS’s actions and wanted to help her client.
“They told me they agreed with our position and wanted to file a motion to send the case back to the trial court,” recalled Ferguson. “I was like ‘What? This is crazy!’ This has never happened to me in my entire [career]. That’s really unheard of.”
DCS Director Agrees with Appeals Court
Terry J. Stigdon, MSN, RN, was appointed by Indiana governor Eric Holcomb in late 2017 to take over the position of director of the state’s troubled DCS agency. The governor called for a review of the DCS department in partnership with the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group.
According to FOX 59 News, Stigdon began her career working at the local children’s hospital as a pediatric intensive care nurse in 1998. At the time of her appointment, she was the “clinical director of operations at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis—overseeing strategy, finance, personnel, research and programs for several of the hospital’s key divisions, including emergency, trauma and nursing.”
After the Indiana Court of Appeals rendered their decision on almost a dozen cases, in which they found the department to be violating many parental rights, DCS director Terry Stigdon issued a statement to NBC 13 Investigates:
After a thorough review of the cases in question, I believe our legal work has fallen short of the standards I have set for our agency. We are working to recruit and retain top legal talent and provide additional staff training…. as well as build and maintain strong relationships with judges across Indiana.
Riley Hospital Child Abuse Pediatricians Responsible for Multiple Medical Kidnappings
The director’s previous employer, Riley Children’s Hospital, has been involved with every Medical Kidnap case in the state of Indiana that we have covered previously. The hospital employs Child Abuse Pediatricians Dr. Roberta Hibbard and Dr. Shannon Thompson, both of whom accused parents of abuse instead of figuring out that the children had metabolic bone conditions which led to their broken bones.
- Laura Gellinger and Dylan Day actually spent time in prison for “abuse” of their baby after Dr. Roberta Hibbard from Riley Hospital and Dr. Jamie Brummett of Reid Hospital said that x-rays showed multiple broken bones. The baby showed all the classic signs of metabolic bone disease, but the doctors refused to test for them. Baby Jackson was adopted out. See their story:
- Nikki and Rodney Wisler were arrested for accusations of abusing their baby. Dr. Roberta Hibbard said that baby Leigh Ann had a broken tibia, but when medical expert Dr. Ayoub said that there was no fracture on the x-ray, she retracted her diagnosis. See their story:
- Austin and Andrea Timmons had their boys seized by DCS after Dr. Shannon Thompson found fractures in their youngest son and accused the parents of abuse. Other doctors later figured out that the baby had metabolic bone disease and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The other doctors also could not find the rib fractures that Dr. Thompson had diagnosed. See their story:
- Ally Allen and John Kremitzki were accused of abuse when Dr. Shannon Thompson diagnosed multiple fractures in their first son. The whites of his eyes had a blue tint, and he had other classic signs of osteogenesis imperfecta and other metabolic bone disease. Dr. Ayoub diagnosed infantile rickets. The couple’s youngest son was taken when he was born, because DCS already had custody of his brother. Dr. Thompson reportedly showed the court an x-ray of their son, only it wasn’t him. The x-ray belonged to another child. See their story:
- Jade and Lehla Jerger had their little girl taken away from them after Riley Children’s Hospital got involved. The toddler was having up to 100 seizures a day with conventional medical treatment with Keppra, a dangerous drug with many side effects. When the Jergers started treating her with CBD oil from hemp, the results were almost miraculous, but doctors at Riley called DCS and insisted that she be taken off of the CBD oil and put back on Keppra. See their story:
Only 15% of the allegations against Indiana families are substantiated by the Department of Child Services. See:
How Many More?
Indiana public defender Dorothy Ferguson asked a question when she was being interviewed by NBC 13 Investigates:
How many other cases are out there without proper due process?
The answer is – too many, not only in Indiana.
Denial of due process is not the exception with Child or Adult Protective Services all across the nation. It is the norm.
After 4 years of our investigating cases of medical kidnappings of children and adult from Massachusetts to California and everywhere in between, it is clear that families are routinely denied basic human and Constitutional rights when it comes to the seizure of family members by the state. The right to be secure in one’s home, to be free from search and seizure without a warrant, and the right to familial attachment, in addition to the right to due process, are being denied to hundreds of thousands of American families every single year.
The Indiana Appeals Court judges cites the Indiana Supreme Court case In re Adoption of O.R. 16 N.E.3d 965, 972 (Ind. 2014), noting that:
the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of parents to establish a home and raise their children, that parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care custody and control of their children, and that the parent-child relationship is one of the most valued relationships in our culture.
The Troxel vs. Granville case before the Supreme Court of the United States of America clarified that:
the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
Yet, children, disabled adults, and senior citizens alike are being taken from their homes, sometimes permanently, based on false allegations, lies by social workers, misdiagnoses by (or egos of) doctors, or exaggerations of parental shortcomings that the same system has no problem with in foster parents.
Tennessee attorney and family advocate Connie Reguli calls it “generational genocide.”
When will it stop? When will the public, elected officials, and government leaders demand that state actors stop ripping families apart unjustly and insist upon Constitutional rights not only in criminal courts, but in family, juvenile, and probate courts as well?
Until that happens, every family in America is at risk of the state stepping in and kidnapping loved ones, for profit, under the color of law.
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