On today’s Radio show, we talk with two special guests: counselor, Maria Ruiz, and attorney Jaqueline Abdala
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT (Radio Show Transcript from January 16, 2016, Air Date)
Vincent Davis: Good morning. You’re on the radio with Attorney Vincent Davis. We’re talking about getting your children back when the CPS or DCFS gets involved. Today’s show is going to involve two special guests, one at the top of the hour and then one at 8:30 halfway point in the hour. Those two guests are going to be a counselor, Maria Ruiz. Ms. Ruiz is with an organization that provides low-cost counseling and parenting and CPS cases and we’re going to talk about how that can help you in the fight to get your children back.
The second guest is going to be Attorney Jaqueline Abdala. Ms. Abdala is an attorney with juvenile dependency and experience and she and I work together every day and representing families and relatives in the fight to keep families together. Also, if we have time, we’re going to be giving some tips today and today’s tips are going to be about filing a 388 petition and perhaps tips on your very first hearing known as the detention hearing.
So first let me go to the first caller, I hope it’s Ms. Ruiz
Special Guest Counselor, Maria Ruiz
Marissa Ruiz: Yes, it’s Marissa.
Vincent Davis: Hi, Marissa. How are you?
Marissa Ruiz: Fine. How are you?
Vincent Davis: Good. Thank you for calling in. First of all, do me a favor and tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and about your organization?
Marissa Ruiz: Well, I was a victim of domestic violence in the early ’90s until the end of my 11-year relationship. It was pretty brutal. It was physical, verbal, everything you can think of. I got married at 21 years old. I had actually left my house at 18 and I had — during that whole time, I did have domestic violence when this man. I also had four children. (TAG: domestic violence)
At first, my family did not know about it and then after I had no support, I really didn’t want to tell anybody because this will just embarrass me. Eventually I knew I wanted to get out and do something for my life and for my children. And I ended up going back to school without him knowing, got my bachelor’s degree in child development. After that, I ended up leaving him when my youngest son was two months old and then I pursued a Master’s Degree and then I have my Master’s Degree in Adolescent Therapy.
The domestic violence program actually came about, first of all presumably I had — I was always motivated to help people because I felt like I didn’t have that help at that time when the [0:03:24 inaudible] thing was happening and police took forever to get there and we didn’t really get involve. So after my mom passed away in 2009 and told me to move forward with my life and do my thing, that’s when I pursued my Master’s career and I decided that, you know what, I’m going to start — I’m going to do something.
So I did start with the city of Pasadena at the Jackie Robinson Center. It’s a small program and I invented the name, Mending Broken Wings. And Mending Broken Wings comes from – my personal perspective was that I fell in a family who — in a domestic violent situation. They’re injured, they’re ruptured and they need to be put back together. And the way we were the family and mending is we’re still mending them back together. And that started in 2011. About a year and a half later, I decided to go on my own granted I have no support, like no, nothing helping me. I just — I used my own money and I started my team from a church and then I started on Monday evenings and started doing parenting as well.
And, you know, every year, I have Christmas party for my families and a lot of it is out of pocket but I’m so motivated to help individuals, you know, in general that are going through it not just the — not just the victims, but worked also with some of the aggressive as well because as children, we have to talk with our parents as far as, you know, the sex talk and the stranger danger, but nobody has the domestic violence talk. And that’s something that I do implement in my class. Because I never knew what domestic violence because my parents never have that, so that’s basically how it goes.
As far as my motto, “mystery rage don’t engage.” That’s my personal motto. I feel that when people are in conflict for whatever reason, you know, I would say when you’re hungry, you’re tired or you’re angry, you should engage because you can’t get anything resolved. And you do engage, it ends up particularly into rage which is that’s why I say, mystery rage don’t engage and then I kind of joke about it, because you might end up in a cage which means jail or whatever. But a lot of my clients now are usually, you know what I remember myself like I have to come down, you know and then talk to this person or whoever it is and that involves anything with your children, with your work, with your spouse or your significant other.
And I’ve had a lot of success stories. My thing, it’s not like a revolving door. I don’t want to see these clients again. I may be seeing two out of the whole time that I’ve been doing this had come back.
Vincent Davis: Do you — where is your office located?
Marissa Ruiz: It’s in Pasadena. It’s 15-55 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. It’s right across the street from PCC and the street is Marian and I’m only there on Monday nights, but I mean, anybody can get — I have a cell phone and they can call me at that, 626-720-1171 and I always answer my — I pretty much always answer my phone, I get that by text or voicemail.
Vincent Davis: Do me a favor, repeat that telephone number one more time for us.
Marissa Ruiz: It’s 626-720-1171.
Vincent Davis: Okay now, let me ask you this, what specific services would you give a parent who’s involved in a CPS or DCFS case?
Marissa Ruiz: Well I just — I teach domestic violence and I should have probably said but it doesn’t matter, at five o’clock in the evening on Mondays. I teach domestic violence in Spanish. At 6:30, I teach parenting and it’s bilingual, so I go back and forth to speak English and Spanish. And then at 7:30, I teach domestic violence in English.
Vincent Davis: And how long are these sessions — are just that long the sessions?
Marissa Ruiz: The parenting is an hour and the domestic violence sessions are an hour and a half.
Vincent Davis: And are your programs approved by the juvenile court?
Marissa Ruiz: They are — well yeah, I have that code 1037.1. I have been receiving a lot of — I went to 40-hour sessions for domestic violence for victims and for batterers and I also have my Master’s degree in marriage, family and child therapy and [0:09:02 inaudible] and adolescent therapy and a bachelor’s in child development.
Vincent Davis: Okay. Now, when parents come in and take these courses from you, do you give certificates on completion? Do you get progress letters while they’re taking the courses?
Marissa Ruiz: I do all that. We do have like standard letters that, you know, when they register, they just say they just need a letter that they just started or they register, I give them that. However, if they continue to have poor cases, I do ask them to tell me in advance, like at least a week in advance, so I can give them a personalized letter about how they’re doing because I do keep track of how the parents are doing and I do go out there like they’re falling asleep or if they’re texting, these are things that I don’t allow. I make sure that everybody is participating and I do ask questions. And if I do feel like they’re falling behind or they’re not paying attention, I give them homework, you know, if you fell asleep, blah, blah, whatever.
And I let the social worker know or if they have their attorney or whatever, they give it to their attorney, I’ll talk to them as well.
Vincent Davis: Very good. Have you — excuse me — have you ever been to court to testify?
Marissa Ruiz: No, I have not.
Vincent Davis: Okay. Sometimes, you know, when a person goes to, for example, domestic violence counseling, and even though they’re participating in your program and perhaps feeling good in your program, social workers might write that the person is no participating or not doing well in your program and isn’t doing anything, if that would have happen, would you be willing to go to court to testify?
Marissa Ruiz: I think that would be unlikely in my case. I mean as far as — I mean they may write that, I don’t know. But I always — I keep a copy for myself the letter and the certificate and I give the client a copy and I give them a copy for their social worker or attorney. So I tell them, you keep this letter and you take it to court and you give it to your attorney just in case. So I may duplicate so that there is no misunderstanding about what’s actually going on.
Vincent Davis: Very good, very good. You know your services could be used by people not only in juvenile dependency court but in also family court and perhaps even criminal court. Do you have any clients that are in family court or excuse me in criminal court?
Marissa Ruiz: We do have. Pasadena has been sending me a lot because I’m well known in Pasadena now because I do have my business license in Pasadena. I’ve been there nearly five years now doing this. And so I have a good rapport with the court system there. And Pasadena DCFS has also been sending me people as well. Even for parenting, we do have some parents that are like new parents or they don’t even know their children. And so a lot of times, I tell them, well, you know, make believe you do have a child in this scenario happening now. And so there’s a lot of intermingling, there’s a lot of support. I’ve never had anybody where while this has happened there. Everybody is pretty supportive, respectable. It’s family owned, so I’m the founder and my children are adult children, so they help me as well.
Vincent Davis: Very good, very good. Have you ever thought about expanding to more days per week?
Marissa Ruiz: I have. That’s kind a future goal. I eventually want to expand to like an agency where I do offer more services, but that’s like in the works. That’s like in the future. I still have some work to do as far as — I have some goals that I want to do to get to that point. And financially a lot of — I don’t make enough, you know, it’s not like to get money. This is not a business to get money. A lot of the money that I collect on weekly, it goes — I have to pay money to that church, I pay rent there and so the majority of my money that get there goes to there and then I do savings all year long so I can have like a Christmas party for the families.
Vincent Davis: Great, great. You know, tell us a little bit about the cost if I were to come there because I have been accused of domestic violence and I needed a perpetrator’s class and I needed a parenting class which will be talking that I have to pay for this service?
Marissa Ruiz: It’s $15 registration and it’s $15 a class. I do have, you know, some parents, you know, who want to just pay it off and so what I do is a waive the registration and I will have to charge them $10 a class, so it will be — if they have to do 52 weeks, it would be a total of $520. And some parents they want to pay it off. And sometimes parents pay half of it, like the $260 and then they’ll pay the other $260. Or — and let me see — and then sometimes I have parents that are really, really struggling. So I do — sometimes I’ll — depending on the situation, I will raise their registration and maybe charge them $10 a class.
But I — it’s not that I don’t want to, I’ll give everybody this. It’s just that financially I have to pay this church thing. As far as the parenting class, it’s only $5, there’s no registration fee.
Vincent Davis: Very good. Have social workers ever offer to pay the cost of your classes for the parents?
Marissa Ruiz: You know, I often hear clients come to me and say that they are and I think one time, I did give them like an invoice and I never heard anything back. And so the parents are having to pay for it. So I really don’t know if there is a program or if, you know, how that works as far as that in detail. I have tried to work with the parents as much as I can.
What I think is really important is that each person has their own individual sheet when they come in to DV class and they have 1 through 52. And it has the date that we’re doing that class. And so they sign in that date so we can keep track that way. And then there’s a register where everybody signs and I have my own. So there’s a three-way process. Oh yeah, and they have their attendance sheet that they bring to me every week, so if they don’t get their attendance sheet, at least they’ll do their individual sheet in the booklet. So we have a lot of ways to keep attendance, but as far as that happening, I’ve heard rumors about it, but it’s never really happened.
Vincent Davis: After the show, I’m going to give you a call next week and I’ll tell you how to set that up for awhile for you.
Marissa Ruiz: Okay.
Vincent Davis: In many cases, the Department of Children and Family Services was — and in every CPS department in every county in our state is supposed to be providing reunification services right from the beginning of the case and in many cases, that is provided services for the county pace, the provider such as you give these services to parents. (TAG: family reunification services)
But I wanted to get back for a moment to what you believe are the causes of domestic violence? What are some of the tale tell signs family members are missing when domestic violence is happening?
Marissa Ruiz: Some of the obvious ones are less relationships.
Vincent Davis: I didn’t understand it. What did you say?
Marissa Ruiz: People don’t get to know each other. Yes, go ahead.
Vincent Davis: You said some of the obvious signs are what, I did not understand what you said.
Marissa Ruiz: Well less relationships, not being able — they don’t really know that person that well. And so usually when a person, the domestic violence abuser or whatever, they try to rest the relationship, you know, as far as they barely know each other. They begin to date, they date like one month or whatever and then they’re getting married and they really don’t know this person. And a lot of times it’s because that person wants that person to move in with them or get married with them because they want to know where they’re at, at all times. And there’re a lot of jealousy or trust issues or whatever. But that wasn’t even discovered because they didn’t even get to know this person.
Vincent Davis: And what do you think causes the domestic violence?
Marissa Ruiz: There’re a couple of things. A lot of times men, as far as even looking at the victim side, if they were bullied in school, they have low self esteem. If they saw their — or on the other side, as far as the batterer side, they saw this kind of behavior with their parents. And on both sides, if you look at both the batterer and the victim, a lot of times seeing this domestic violence in their home or witnessing this as being a part of it to protecting their parent or get involve, a lot of times these children are very, very angry. And, you know, therapy has to come in.
And I know that because I have to deal with this with my own children, they were very, very angry, but you don’t see this until they get older. So as far as seeing some of the signs, as far as the victim, isolated, all of a sudden, you don’t want to see the family, not participating in social events like they used to, you know, kind of putting that other person first all the time, even, you know, kind of neglecting the kids, loss of weight or gain or weight, I would say, you know, like eating disorders. And then they also talk about like — they do talk about drug abuse and alcohol abuse because they don’t know how to deal with it.
Unfortunately, families just don’t see it. It’s just not there until the person actually, you know — because I have both eyes and I would just avoid seeing my family. And then when I went to work, when I was [0:20:39 inaudible] I would just say, I get mugged in an alley or something like that.
Vincent Davis: I see, I see. You know, I have a question for you. I want you to define domestic violence? In other words, does domestic violence have to be physical?
Marissa Ruiz: No. Domestic violence is — it’s so similar to what kids are dealing with, so the bullying, it’s verbal, it’s humiliation, emotional, psychological, it could be financial, you know, threatening, there’s this jealousy portion, trust issues. It’s really — I take so much from the victim of who they are. They have like no identity and their identity is so intertwined with the batterer because they’re meeting all their needs and they deprive themselves for what they really want to do or whatever because they’re afraid. They’re walking on egg shells.
And so it’s — and I’m not sure if you hear of Stockholm syndrome, it has to do with brainwashing and believing that this is what’s going on. And after you just become friends with this batterer, you just kind of go along with it for so long because this is now part of your life and you become so numb. But you have — you don’t feel — you don’t feel anything at some point and that’s why it’s so hard to read because you’re afraid too.
Vincent Davis: Well let me ask you this, in your expert opinion, what causes a batterer to be a batterer?
Marissa Ruiz: You know, I don’t know if there’s on single cause. I know that the risk level is high if children go up in that kind of environment. I think one of the main, main causes, I mean in my personal opinion is anger, there’s just so much built anger and don’t know how to deal with it. And it’s not the anger that we’re worried about. The point where anger gets to the level of rage and when you get to rage, it’s like you have to do something as a generalist, [0:23:15 inaudible] and so, you know — then that’s when the person reacts.
So when I tell my clients that it’s okay to feel emotion, you know, that’s perfectly fine. It’s what you do with the emotion that can cause, you know, physical harm to you or to somebody else if you don’t know how to handle it.
Vincent Davis: I see, I see. That’s very insightful, Ms. Ruiz. You know, I want to thank you for being on the show today. And do me a favor and give us your telephone number once again.
Marissa Ruiz: Okay, it’s 626-720-1171.
Vincent Davis: Okay. And for my listeners, if you are involved in a CPS case, give Ms. Ruiz a call regarding your parenting requirements. And if your case involves domestic violence, please give her a call with respect to that as well. Ms. Ruiz, do you have a website or email my listeners could contact you on as well?
Marissa Ruiz: I do have an email and it’s all one word, and it’s all lower caps and it’s mending, M-E-N-D-I-N-G, broken, B-R-O-K-E-N and it’s wings, W-I-N-G-S@yahoo.com.
Vincent Davis: Ms. Ruiz, thank you once again. Would you consider coming back in the future?
Marissa Ruiz: Yes.
Vincent Davis: Great. Thank you very much for calling in and I’ll be speaking to you.
Marissa Ruiz: Okay, thank you very much to you and have a good day.
Vincent Davis: Bye-bye.
Marissa Ruiz: Bye.
Vincent Davis: Right after this show, I’m going to be rushing to Manhattan beach, California at the Marriott Residence Inn on Sepulveda and I’m going to be giving a seminar today. And the seminar is called, The Secret: How to Fight CPS and Win. The seminar starts at 10. It ends at 1 and I — after the show, I usually sit down and I talk with the attendees one on one for kind of after party. We discuss their case. I get them some strategy tips that they can share with their attorneys when they go back home. (TAG: free seminars)
So if you can make it today, please come out to the webinar — excuse me to the seminar and say hello to me. Today, before we go to our next caller, I wanted to discuss a couple of tips for families and parents out there in your juvenile dependency case. And today’s tips are going to be basically talking what’s particularly called a 388 petition. So if you Google out there and [0:26:15 inaudible] 388, it’s a course that actually you can read it for yourself and you can see all of the things created. It has an advantage for you as a parent. (TAG: 388 petition)
And this is something that you should definitely talk to your attorney about. The typical scenario of the person who contacts me where I use a 388 is a parent has lost their children at the beginning of the case and at the disposition phase of the case and then they have gone through 6 months or sometimes 12 months of what’s called family meeting services where they have to do services in order to get the child or children back. And usually people call me when they don’t get the child or children back after the six-month period.
Now, one of the things I want to tell all of you is that at the six-month period, you are entitled by law to have a trial and that trial you can ask the court to either get the child back, to expand or localize your visitation from monitored to unmonitored. In some counties, they call it supervised or unsupervised visitation. And you can ask the court to extend your family reunification services. I just spoke to a woman this week, she wasn’t able to do her family reunification services completely during the six-month period because of an injury, a physical injury that had happened after her case started. She was basically bed ridden. And she didn’t have a trial to ask the court for additional time for a family reunification services because, you know, she was bed ridden. It was no to no fault of her own. (TAG: family reunification services)
Well, they terminated her family reunification services and they set out what’s called a 366.6 hearing selection and implementation hearing where they are going to try to terminate her [0:28:24 inaudible]. And this woman only has one escape clause. Actually she had two. She could have filed what’s called a notice of intent to file a writ to challenge the court’s decision to terminate her family reunification services. But generally there’s a time period for filing that notice of intent and this woman had missed that time period.
So she only has one other alternative and that is to file what’s called a 388 petition. Now, in this particular case, she is now starting her family reunification services which involved the parenting class, which involved domestic violence counseling, those types of things that Ms. Ruiz was just talking to us about. And she was also required to do some random drug testing and a drug rehabilitation course. And she is now participating in those programs.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to file a 388 petition. Now there’s a juvenile — excuse me — a California judicial council form that’s a mandatory use for filing 388 and right at the top of my head, I’m sorry, I forget the form, but if you Google California Welfare Institutions Code Section 388, it will tell you what the JD form is that you’re supposed to use. And I think there’s JD 180 or JD 285, I keep getting those mixed up in my mind.
But anyway you fill up, with the assistance of your attorney, you fill up this form, but the big tip is this, generally in my experience and I’ve been doing this many, many years, just filling up the form may not be sufficient for you to get a hearing to ask the judge to give you more family reunification services, to ask the judge to give you more of the visitation, or ask the judge to just simply return the child to you. So what I suggest and what we try to do in most of our cases is we also file what’s called legal points and authorities and we file a lot of the exhibits to show the judge, now usually the exhibits are photographs or DVDs because the pictures speak a thousand words. So for example, in a recent case, we filled up a 388 petition and then we had the points and authorities. Now points and authorities, you know, it’s a legal document that attorneys would draw up and it specifically sets forth points of law and gives the judge the case authority on which the court set point.
So the case authority in California generally comes from our California Supreme Court, in our California Court of Appeals from the different districts around the state of California, but it can also be a United States Supreme Court case, it can also be a federal appellate case from the ninth circuit or any circuit in the country that supports the proposition in that the child should be returned to the parent or for an attorney to have more liberalized visitation in terms of frequency, duration and in terms of being monitored or unmonitored and also would support the court and the county be mandated to give that there are more family reunification services.
So the exhibit that we generally file are exhibits that show the child and the parents together, you know, doing this type of activity because generally, you know, the judge is probably — and this is very few pictures other than the picture that’s in the front page of the social worker’s report of this child and the child’s natural environment with the parent.
Recently, I was doing the trial and I was going to show some video evidence of the children with the father. And the judge told us in chamber she was excited to see this video evidence. And the reason why we’re showing video evidence is because in the case, it had been alleged that the children were afraid of the father and when I talked to our client who is the father, he told me, no, no, they’re not afraid of me. As a matter of fact they love the visitation that we have together and the activities that we do on visitation. So I said, well if that’s true, make us some video of your visitation.
He made this video and, you know, with technology today, he was able to edit it and add music and all those types of things. And when I saw the video, in his report, I was blown away. I was blown away by this guy’s video. And unfortunately the case was continued for other reasons, but I can’t wait to get back into court and, you know show that video in the television screen so that everybody can see and hear it. And that’s only to basically I can carry the day about the fact that the social worker is saying that the children don’t like the father and don’t want to visit with him. When you look at these videos, it’s completely the opposite situation.
So those are my two important tips for you today regarding your 388 petitions. Before we go to our next special guest, I want to take one call [0:34:26 inaudible]. Hello, you’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.
Caller Katy – Santa Barbara County
Vincent Davis: Hello, you’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.
Katy: Yes, hello. My name is Katy.
Vincent Davis: Katy, there’s a lot of background noise.
Katy: I think it’s probably [0:34:54 inaudible] for you right now.
Vincent Davis: Why don’t you cut that off because we’re getting a double playback.
Katy: There we go.
Vincent Davis: Perfect, perfect. Katy, what state and county do you live in?
Katy: I live in Santa Barbara county, in the city of San Bernardo.
Vincent Davis: Okay. Are you having problems with CPS up there?
Vincent Davis: Did you call to tell us the story or ask us some questions?
Katy: I would like to tell my story if I can.
Vincent Davis: Sure. We’re running out of time, so if you could tell us the story and tell us the main parts.
Katy: Yes. We have been taken from our three children who have also been separated from each other by the CWS workers and even the supervising staff here in San Barbara county. They’ve removed our children based on false information. It’s actually gone as far as tampering with evidence and photo shopping evidence that they’ve turned it against us. [0:36:07 inaudible] to see our children for over a month when we were supposed to be able to see them within days and phone conversations with an hour, it took 31 days. They’ve repeatedly suppressed our information and evidence and punished us any time we’ve made attempts to expose the information that they have.
And they are fully aware that the allegations that they — for the court against us were not accurate and they continued, they had an affirmation to continue to submit false information withhold our children, our children, our two sons don’t see each other anymore at all when they’re supposed to make sure that they keep siblings together and [0:37:03 inaudible] that our sons, they don’t see each other anymore. It’s been over six months now that our children is still not out at homes and we’ve paid for our services ourselves and have done anything we can to comply with them, to be working with them and they have barred us in any way possible. And I have seen multiple families here in Santa Barbara County being ripped apart in the process of being in the system and it’s been horrendous to watch it.
Vincent Davis: I’m sorry, did you say you’ve seen multiple families in Santa Barbara county being ripped apart by CPS?
Katy: Yes, I have and in the process of being in the court with many families, I’ve actually helped a few families here from things that I knew that I wasn’t aware of when it was my turn to basically going through it. But there are several families here that the allegations against them were not accurate, they were brought to court and yet they were not given the opportunity to show that what we’ve come to understand that and that it seems that we have no right. Right that we are to have were denied and CPS is able to continue to do whatever they please including keeping children from their parents based on money.
Vincent Davis: Have you been able to make any complaints to public officials in your area?
Katy: Any attempts that we’ve made to do so, we’ve made several attempts, we’ve made contact with several public officials, however, they deny us any assistance and so the case was closed. And at that point, once the case was closed, we really would probably not have our children at that point and there would be nothing they can do to us at that point.
Vincent Davis: Well, you know, your only remedy is to go — to try to go to a federal court to try to bring some type of civil right’s case against the social workers in the county of San Bernardino. You know, I’ve heard stories like yours from all over the state of California, really all over the country about CPS abuse. And a lot of people don’t believe that you’re telling the truth and that this is happening to you. And ironically, this has been three or four weeks ago, a grandfather from — I think it’s from Riverside county, down the Riverside county, California called me and told me an unbelievable story just like yours. And this guy is a very successful businessman and conservative and he was actively involved in the local republican party and he basically said, “You know, I heard these stories before, I just didn’t believe them. And now, it’s happening to my family, to my daughter who is the mother and my grandchildren.” He was just — he didn’t know what to do and he wanted to pick up the torch and start helping people in his area in the state of California try to change some laws try to affect who is sitting as judges by voting good judges in and bad judges out. So he’s really becoming active. He’s actually working with me.
Would you be interested in doing that trying to impact some change to perhaps localize people at your county level and your state and in the state of California try to change some laws to — that would make it better for families in the CPS cases to try to take some of the power from the social workers because they have an awful lot of the power that the law has given them? Would you be interested in doing that?
Katy: I absolutely would be interested in doing that. I feel very strongly that families need to have as many advocates as they can. And I never would have believed this myself if I had not lived in everyday for the past six months. It’s absolutely mind boggling when someone talks about it even talking about my own case, it’s very hard for me to believe that it’s happened, but it has and I’ve lived it and I’m continuing to live it and I will do anything I could to spare families for what we’ve endured. It’s been heart wrenching.
Vincent Davis: Well very good, thank you. We will be in touch with you in the future and I want to thank you for your call and sharing your story.
Katy: Thank you.
Vincent Davis: Okay, we’re running out of time and I know I have that special quest, Attorney Jaqueline Abdala, she’s hold on. Let me take one more call. I’m going to take the call from area code 626 ending in 69. Hello, you’re on with Attorney Vincent Davis.
Tammy: Hi, how are you?
Vincent Davis: Good. How are you?
Tammy: I’m all right. I called in actually a couple of weeks ago when we got disconnected and I was actually going to contact you to set up a time to sit with you in regards to my case.
Vincent Davis: Okay. You can do that at any time. Did you want to share something with us this morning or ask a question?
Tammy: Well I’m still in the same position way back on November 17th, CFS came and detained my kids on information that was not valid and in doing so turned around three weeks later and in a hearing or in a mediation through that information out but continued to detain my kids based on the agreement which was manipulated because we were supposed to have a contested hearing that day to change the verbiage in the mediation and in the care plan, the information that was going to the judge.
And so what happened is we mediated. They’ve got us in a care plan. They had me going to rehab for alcohol when I’ve actually showed that I’m not an alcohol dependent and they’re making me jump through many, many hoops prior to the six-month hearing when they don’t have anything valid, nor did they to detain my kids.
Vincent Davis: Let me ask you this, when is your next court hearing?
Tammy: June 22nd.
Vincent Davis: And what type of hearing is that? Is that your first six-month hearing?
Vincent Davis: Okay. So I want you to do me a favor, do you have a pen and a piece of paper?
Vincent Davis: Okay. First of all I’m going to give you my telephone number, you can call after the show. My secretary will make an appointment for you. We can meet over the phone. We can meet via Skype which is free or we can meet in person, right?
Tammy: That would be great.
Vincent Davis: Call this number, 888-888-6582. 888-888 —
Vincent Davis: 6582, yes. So call today. My secretary gets in the office, you know, about 9:15, 9:30-ish and she’ll schedule whatever type of appointment you want. Secondly, I want you to write this down. I want you to — are you on the internet? Okay. So I want you to go to Google. Google knows all. And I want you to type in this, in the search bar, California Welfare and Institution’s Code 388.21E, E as in [0:45:11 inaudible].
Vincent Davis: I want you to read it, okay? And you may not understand everything, but it will give you some general things about what the judge is going to be looking for and when we talk, we’ll go into more detail about it, but I want you to have a framework before we talk.
Tammy: Okay, sounds great.
Vincent Davis: The second thing I want you to do is I want you to Google California Welfare and Institution’s Code Section 388. I was talking about —
Tammy: Section 388.
Vincent Davis: Right. I was talking about that earlier in the show and you’re one of those prime candidates that might be able to file a 388 to get your child back before June or at least get more liberalized visitation. I don’t know if you have monitored visitation now.
Tammy: Oh yes.
Vincent Davis: And that should be more frequency in visitation, more duration in visitation, you know, maybe it can be go from monitored to unmonitored. And that might be something that you want to file now and we’ll talk about it more to see if you’re, you know, an eligible candidate. But before June comes, did you must have your last court date if you have court date in June.
Tammy: December 22nd.
Vincent Davis: Yeah, you just had a court date. And we’ll also talk about this because there’s still time for you to file an appeal. Now, I don’t know if you’re a good candidate to file an appeal, but when we talk, we’ll talk about the details of your case and you have 60 days from December 22nd to file that notice of appeal to appeal everything.
Tammy: Right, this gives me till February.
Vincent Davis: Okay, perfect. All right, what’s your first name?
Vincent Davis: Okay, Tammy. I look forward to getting that message from you and having that appointment with you. And thank you for calling in today.
Tammy: Thank you so much.
Vincent Davis: Okay, I’m getting messages that I’m supposed to mention a couple of things. Today, at 10 AM, we’re going to be having our monthly webinar How to Fight Child Protective Services and Win. That seminar to date is in Manhattan Beach at the Residence Inn in Manhattan Beach, California. It starts at 10 AM. It ends at 1 and everybody that attends after the seminar, I sit down with them one on one to discuss their case and give them some ideas and perhaps some strategies that they can share with their attorney to help them in their cases.
Our next seminar is going to be in February. I don’t think we have determined the date yet, that we didn’t have in front of me, so there will be a February seminar in Arcadia, California. That’s in our main office is in Arcadia. I think we’re going to be at the Embassy Suites in Arcadia in February 2016, but check back with our website, fightchildprotectiveservices.com and hopefully shortly it will give you the date and you can register through the event.
Special Guest Attorney Jaqueline Abdala
Okay, now in the next few minutes, I’m going to bring our next special guest. Her name is Jackie, Jaqueline, we call her Jackie, Abdala and she is an experienced attorney in juvenile dependency law and she works for my office. Hi, Jackie, good morning.
Jaqueline Abdala: Good morning, Mr. Davis.
Vincent Davis: How are you?
Jaqueline Abdala: I’m okay. How are you?
Vincent Davis: Good, thank you for calling in. Sorry I got to you — I’m getting to you very late, but I wanted to ask you — I wanted to ask you a couple of questions, Jackie about the very first hearing parents attend in juvenile court called the detention hearing. Can you tell us a little bit about what rights these parents actually have at a detention hearing?
Jaqueline Abdala: Okay, so at the detention hearing, you first — well, you get to see what petition is or what the allegations are against the parents. And you get to review that and then what’s included in that is what’s called the detention report and that’s the social worker’s report regarding what happened in the interviews they had with the parents, the child if the child is verbal, and any other parties such as like maybe doctors, or teachers and relatives. So that’s what happens in the detention report — I mean the detention hearing, you get to review that.
You could also set it for a contact which is under Welfare Institution’s Code Section 319A. The court shall — it says that at the initial detention hearing, the court shall examine the parents, guardians or other persons having relevant knowledge and hear the relevance as it is. As any of the parties including the child or the parents or their council desires to present at that contested hearing, you can [0:50:27 inaudible] the social worker. In fact if the county doesn’t produce a social worker at this contested hearing, the court doesn’t have to consider the report at all.
So it’s a very important tool especially if parents don’t believe that the social worker has enough evidence in the detention report or they just want to contradict the evidence that is in the detention report.
Vincent Davis: I see. So at this first hearing, the parents can require the social worker to go up and get on the witness stand to be questioned?
Jaqueline Abdala: That is correct.
Vincent Davis: Now, you’ve been practicing in juvenile dependency and at one time you worked for one of the court appointed firms for minors. How many times did you see that happen?
Jaqueline Abdala: As anyone, I was a minor council, no one contested a detention hearing because I worked mostly with the other court appointed councils, but I realize that whenever there was a private council, there would be — it was more likely that they would request a contested hearing.
Vincent Davis: Now, let’s tell the listeners what has happened when you show up at the detention hearing and the social worker is recommending that the children remain in foster care and wait for the parents. And you recently did a case, I think in Riverside a few weeks ago where you showed up, the report from the social worker was to detain the children, continue detaining the children in foster care and then you asked for this hearing.
Tell us what the attitude was towards you when you asked for this hearing?
Jaqueline Abdala: Okay. So I — the county was very upset. The county council who represents CPS or the social worker was very upset. She told me that they don’t usually do contested detention. She’s been one contested detention in the last 20 years that she’s been practicing. And she got really — she didn’t want to talk to me more. I told her that because that case was that the mother and the father, it was severe domestic violence. He actually tried to kill her. But he got arrested and because he was in the Armed Forces, he’s now — I don’t know the term, but he can’t leave the base. So they are completely separate. There’s no contact. The kids were detained.
I argued. I told the social worker, “Look, he’s not in the home. There’s a restraining order.” My client is willing to protect her children from her husband who committed this violent act. So I think there were definitely reasonable means to prevent the need of removal of the children from the home. So when I told the social worker or the social worker’s attorney that, she just wasn’t very happy.
Vincent Davis: So, this is before you actually put the social worker on stand, right?
Jaqueline Abdala: Yes, this was before I put the social worker on the stand.
Vincent Davis: So when you told them you wanted to put the social worker on the stand, the county council told you she has only seen that happen the one time in 20 years?
Jaqueline Abdala: I believe so, one time in 20 years or one time in like 10 years, it’s very rare.
Vincent Davis: Right. Now, did you put the social worker on the stand?
Jaqueline Abdala: So in this case, I actually did it because we ended up working it out where they released the children to mom, so long as she abides by the restraining order. So what happens was there was a military —
Vincent Davis: Okay.
Jaqueline Abdala: Oh, go ahead.
Vincent Davis: No, no, so is that though you threatened to put the social worker in the stand and they decided to give the children back to the mother?
Jaqueline Abdala: Yeah. I mean, prior to that though, I had the day before I talked to my client, the date that she got a restraining order even though there’s a military protective order, so she did all that paper work. So by the time the court was kind of ready to hear the case, we had a conference and all the councils reviewed the restraining order and so did the court and the court — everyone kind of — we continued the case to the next day and the social worker was okay releasing the minors to my client because of the restraining orders.
Vincent Davis: Now tell me what would have happened if you had not threatened to put the social worker in the stand and be prosecuted?
Jaqueline Abdala: I think what would have happened was because minor’s council was, I think, I did it then, we probably would have submitted to detention or argued against detention. It would just be via argument versus actually presenting evidence to but what is in the detention report. And I don’t know what this court would have done if they would have detained the children or not but I think by asking for this hearing, it kind of gives you an avenue to rebut the evidence that the social worker has which I think is, sometimes, appropriate.
Vincent Davis: You know, I wanted to tell you something which I tell people all the time, if you are an attorney and you are arguing against the social worker’s report, the chances are you’re probably going to lose because there’s a few other cases in California that say argument is not evidence and that the only evidence in the case is the social worker’s report, social worker wins. So by you threatening the case worker on the stand, you basically created a lot of leverage which cause them to agree that this child should be or these children should be released back to their parents.
Jackie, I’m running out of time. And I’m so sorry.
Jaqueline Abdala: It’s okay.
Vincent Davis: But thank you for calling in. Bye-bye.
Jaqueline Abdala: Of course. Bye.
Vincent Davis: I notice that we have a few more calls in the queue, but I’m running out of time this morning. And so please call back next week at 8 AM to a live talk radio show. In exiting today, there are a few things that I want to mention.
First I want to mention that if you have a case with DCFS or CPS in the state of California, the first thing that you have to do is you have to get expert legal representation. It’s imperative. There are so many things that happen at each and every hearing that could affect the outcome of whether — about whether you get your children back in your custody. So please get that expert legal representation.
The second thing that I want to mention to families and parents who are involved in these cases is you have to educate yourself. Don’t depend on the attorney, be he or she private or court appointed attorney to explain everything that you should know. Be active, you know, Google, look up the laws. You can go to my website and I have a free eBook that will get you started. So educate yourself to the process. It’s very important to get your children back.
And the third thing that I want to mention is you have to vote. You have to organize and you have to vote. You have to vote to change the wrongs, you have to vote to change the judges, judges that they’re appointed by the governor or elected by the popular vote, they’re subject to re-election, so know that you can vote.
I will be sending out information and talking about this in the future, but I’ve been trying to organize people here in Los Angeles and throughout the United States to organize to vote. We’re running out of time. We’ll see you next week on the radio at 8 AM on Saturday mornings. Byebye.
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