1 Nos & ================================================================ In The Supreme Court of the United States BOB CAMRETA, Petitioner, v. SARAH GREENE, personally and as next friend for S.G., a minor, and K.G., a minor, Respondents. JAMES ALFORD, Deputy Sheriff, Deschutes County, Oregon, Petitioner, v. SARAH GREENE, et al., Respondents On Writs Of Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF THE CHILDREN S ADVOCACY INSTITUTE IN SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY ROBERT C. FELLMETH Counsel of Record Price Professor of Public Interest Law Executive Director, CHILDREN S ADVOCACY INSTITUTE JULIANNE D ANGELO FELLMETH Administrative Director/Supervising Attorney, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEREST LAW ELISA WEICHEL Administrative Director/Staff Attorney, CHILDREN S ADVOCACY INSTITUTE EDWARD HOWARD Senior Counsel, CHILDREN S ADVOCACY INSTITUTE CHRISTINA RIEHL Senior Staff Attorney, CHILDREN S ADVOCACY INSTITUTE UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO SCHOOL OF LAW 5998 Alcalá Park San Diego, CA (619) Counsel for Amicus Curiae Children s Advocacy Institute ================================================================ COCKLE LAW BRIEF PRINTING CO. (800) OR CALL COLLECT (402)
2 i QUESTIONS PRESENTED In this case, the Court must decide to affirm or alter a Ninth Circuit holding that requires parental consent, or a warrant (or similar court detention probable cause order) under Fourth Amendment standards, before Child Protective Services social workers conduct an in-school interview of a suspected child abuse victim. The holding may apply a fortiori well beyond the instant facts, and to interviews for civil/child protection purposes conducted of child witnesses to abuse, and to child interviews in other settings outside of school.
3 ii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Questions Presented... i Interest of Amicus Curiae... 1 Summary of Argument... 3 Argument... 7 I. This Court s Fourth Amendment Balancing Test Consists of Four Elements: (a) the State Interest in the Intrusion, (b) its Nature and Degree, (c) the Opportunity for a Warrant, and (d) its Particularized Factual Basis... 7 II. CPS Investigations Are Complex Civil Inquiries Intended to Protect Children and Are Under the Auspices of Juvenile Courts Providing Substantial Due Process III. The Four-Part Balancing Test Commends Rejection of the Categorical Requirement of Parental Consent or Probable Cause Warrants Prior to CPS Child Interviews (A) State Interest in (or Justification for) the Search (B) Degree of Intrusion (1) Degree of Intrusion: Expectation of Privacy/Nature and Location (2) Degree of Intrusion: Nexus (3) Degree of Intrusion: Civil vs. Criminal, Target vs. Protection Facilitation... 31
4 iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Continued Page (C) Opportunity for a Warrant (D) Factual Basis for the Intrusion Conclusion... 35
5 iv TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Page U.S. SUPREME COURT CASES Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266 (1973)... 8 Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321 (1987)... 8 Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002)... 6, 28, 29, 32 Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979) California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988)... 8 California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621 (1991)... 8 Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967)... 8 Colonnade Catering Corp. v. U.S., 397 U.S. 72 (1970)... 8 Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594 (1981)... 8 Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 (1983) Illinois v. Lidster, 540 U.S. 419 (2004) Illinois v. McArthur, 531 U.S. 326 (2001)... 8 Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000)... 8 Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) Lassiter v. Department of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18 (1981) Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499 (1978)... 8 Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990)... 8
6 v TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656 (1989)... 9 New Jersey v. TLO, 469 U.S. 325 (1985)... 6, 9, 28, 31, 32 North American Cold Storage Co. v. City of Chicago, 211 U.S. 306 (1908)... 9 O Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987)... 9 Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978) Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding, 557 U.S. (2009)... 9, 36 Santosky v. Kramer, 45 U.S. 745 (1982) Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966)... 8 Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973)... 9 Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association, 489 U.S. 602 (1989)... 9 Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)... 8 U.S. v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311 (1972)... 8 U.S. v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1977)... 9 U.S. v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411 (1981) U.S. v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221 (1985)... 8, 30 U.S. v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112 (2001)... 9 U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543 (1976)... 8 U.S. v. Oliver, 466 U.S. 170 (1984)... 8 Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995)... 28, 32 Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967)... 9, 11 Wyman v. James, 400 U.S. 309 (1971)... 31
7 vi TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page OTHER FEDERAL COURT CASES California Foster Parents Association, et al. v. Wagner, 620 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir. 2010)... 1 Doe v. Heck, 327 F.3d 492 (7th Cir. 2003) E.T. v. George, 681 F.Supp.2d 1151 (2010) (U.S. District Court Case No. 2:09-cv FCD DAD)... 1, 28 STATE CASES State v. Hunt, 406 P.2d 208 (Arizona 1965)... 33, 34, 35 FEDERAL CONSTITUTION U.S. Const. amend. IV... passim FEDERAL STATUTES 42 U.S.C. 670 et seq U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(B)(i) U.S.C. 671(a)(15)(B)(ii) U.S.C. 675(5)(B) U.S.C. 5106a(b)(2)(A)(ix) STATE STATUTES California Welfare and Institutions Code California Welfare and Institutions Code 355,
8 vii TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page California Welfare and Institutions Code 395, (l) MISCELLANEOUS AUTHORITY California Department of Social Services, California Child Fatality and Near Fatality Annual Report CY 2008 (May 2010) available at AnnualChildReport.pdf Childhelp.org: National Child Abuse Statistics citing 2007 data and available at childhelp.org/pages.statistics First Star and Children s Advocacy Institute, A Child s Right to Counsel, 2nd Edition: A National Report Card on Legal Representation of Abused and Neglected Children (2009) available at Final_RTC_2nd_Edition_lr.pdf Lyon, Thomas D., Investigative Interviewing of the Child, CHILD WELFARE LAW AND PRACTICE, Second Edition (2010), Chapter , 16 National Association of Counsel for Children, The Legal System, available at childlaw.org/?page=legalsystem... 18
9 viii TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Continued Page Cathleen Otero, M.S.W., M.P.A., Sharon Boles, Ph.D., Nancy K. Young, Ph.D., Kim Dennis, M.P.A., Methamphetamine Addiction, Treatment, and Outcomes: Implications for Child Welfare Workers, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, , available at Meth%20and%20Child%20Safety.pdf Roland Summit, M.D., The Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome, CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT, Vol. 7 (1983) at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities: Statistics and Interventions (April 2010) available at factsheets/fatality.pdf U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Maltreatment 2008, available at cm08.pdf... 13, 14, 23 Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Brookings Institution, Fragile Families, FUTURE OF CHILDREN, Volume 20, No. 2 (Fall 2010) available at publications/docs/20_02_fulljournal.pdf
10 1 INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE 1 Based at the University of San Diego School of Law, the Children s Advocacy Institute (CAI) is an academic center devoted to the interests of the nation s children. It monitors California and federal standards affecting children. Since 1993, CAI has offered courses and clinics in child-related law, including the representation of children, the county, and/or parents in juvenile dependency court, and more recently representation of children in juvenile delinquency court. Over 500 law graduates have participated in its programs. CAI examines state and federal regulatory and legislative policies pertaining to children, and lobbies in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., on behalf of children. It has sponsored numerous enacted statutes relevant to foster children and Child Protective Services (CPS) in California. It litigates on behalf of allegedly abused children and foster care providers CAI s founder and director, and co-author of this brief, is Professor Robert Fellmeth. Professor 1 No counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no counsel or party made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief. No person other than amicus curiae, its members, or its counsel made a monetary contribution to its preparation or submission. The parties have consented to the filing of this brief. Letters of consent are on file at the Court. 2 See California Foster Parents Association, et al. v. Wagner, 620 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir. 2010); see also E.T. v. George, 681 F.Supp.2d 1151 (2010) (Case No. 2:09-cv FCD DAD), now pending before the Ninth Circuit.
11 2 Fellmeth has held the Price Chair in Public Interest Law on the USD School of Law faculty since His background in the issues surrounding this case include its Fourth Amendment and child abuse investigation elements. His experience as to the former includes nine years as a public prosecutor, search warrant applications and litigation of search standards, six years teaching Fourth Amendment related courses, and co-authorship of the treatise California White Collar Crime (with Papageorge, Tower Publishing, 2010) addressing constitutional search standards across various civil state interventions. In the child protection subject area, Professor Fellmeth has taught Child Rights and Remedies for 21 years; has directed a law school clinic representing children in both dependency and delinquency courts; and is the author of the text Child Rights and Remedies (Clarity Press 2002, 2006; 3d edition scheduled for 2011). Professor Fellmeth has long been involved in child advocacy and civil liberties-oriented national organizations. 3 Co-author Christina Riehl is a graduate of the USD School of Law and its CAI program. She has four years of experience at the Children s Law Center 3 He currently chairs the Boards of Public Citizen Foundation in Washington, D.C., and the National Association of Counsel for Children, and serves as Board Counsel for Voices for America s Children (formerly the National Association of Child Advocates), among others. This brief represents only the views of the Children s Advocacy Institute and no other entity or person.
12 3 of Los Angeles, the nation s largest agency of attorneys representing abused children in state dependency court. From 2006 to 2009, CAI administered a federal grant for the education of new attorneys practicing in juvenile court in California; attorney Riehl was the primary organizer of that educational program. CAI offers this amicus curiae brief to present the perspective of the children it exclusively represents, particularly those subject to molestation, abuse and neglect. CAI has no financial or other interest relevant to this case SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT Child Protective Services (CPS) 4 interviews of children who may be victims of or witnesses to abuse are part of the state s assumed role as child civil protector. The Fourth Amendment s important limitations on the State vis-a-vis individual liberty is here somewhat complicated for the State here arguably acts not to oppress a citizen, but to preserve the rights of a helpless part of its citizenry from the depredations of privately stronger persons. And in the current context, the State may be the only protector of child rights extant. 4 CPS is a common name for social workers who operate hot lines or receive initial information about abuse and conduct initial investigations, but the nomenclature varies somewhat by state and county.
13 4 Moreover, the system in place includes numerous checks to protect the rights of suspected parental abusers, including required reasonable efforts not to remove a child; a detention hearing before a neutral court with the burden on the State to show child danger; appointment of counsel for all involved parents; mandated reasonable efforts to reunify; jurisdiction hearing; disposition hearing (pendente lite); review hearings; and permanent placement hearings all before the judiciary, and including liberal rights of appellate review. The sole state check in the other direction on the failure to remove a child subject to continuous beatings, molestation or severe neglect is the efficacy of the CPS investigation. Period. The obstacle posited of parental consent to a child interview is complicated by the involvement of a parent in approximately 80% of child abuse cases. And it is further exacerbated by the regrettably common dynamic of failure to protect or even complicity in the abuse by the non-offending parent. 5 The alternative obstacle of a probable-cause based warrant or detention order is complicated by both the time and resources required for its acquisition, and the fact that probable cause achievement typically comes from the child interview (not before it occurs), which creates a Catch-22 preclusion to effective CPS inquiry. The fact that about one-half of child 5 Parental protection is surprisingly trumped by spousal or sexual partner loyalty in many cases.
14 5 deaths from abuse or neglect currently occur with prior reports to CPS about that child victim underscores the tragic consequences of the requirements here propounded. Amicus curiae CAI agrees that CPS interviews should not be cover for criminal investigations, and that children are best interviewed by multidisciplinary experts. But our advocacy for an ideal interview methodology, for a quicker timeline, and for clear delineation from a parallel criminal investigation should not yield the non sequitur of Constitutionbased rules and limitations with unintended and devastating consequences. If the interview is for bona fide child protection purposes, is conducted by the civil servant so dedicated, and would have been justified and would have occurred without the criminal inquiry aspect, it should not be precluded nor measured by criminal investigative standards. 6 CAI agrees that such interviews of children do involve state intrusion and can raise Fourth Amendment limitations on the State. But it is not the seizure of a parent s property as if the child were chattel. 7 CAI respectfully argues that the intrusive 6 The instant interview included a peace officer. But it was conducted by the social worker, and it occurred on the first day of school after the release of the parent from jail for relevant criminal charges. 7 CAI also recognizes that this child did not want to be interviewed. However, Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome is not uncommon, and is understandable given the dependence (Continued on following page)
15 6 searches authorized by Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002), and those now common in airports, at DUI checkpoints, and in numerous other contexts discussed below require no quantum of cause or suspicion whatever. And they often involve searches by peace officers, or with peace officers in the vicinity, and with referrals for criminal prosecution for contraband, et al. common and allowed. 8 But CAI respectfully urges that such blank license not be granted here. Rather, a more balanced standard of required reasonable suspicion should be imposed, as enunciated by this Court for school searches in New Jersey v. TLO. 9 The difference between probable cause and reasonable suspicion is momentous; the latter allows proper limitations on the State for of children on their parents, and the threats (or perceived threats) of retaliation from disclosure by the child that many children suffer. See discussion below. A gentle examination of a child s account may be necessary to identify contradictions and an accurate picture of current endangerment. 8 Here, the person detained for two hours and questioned was not the criminal suspect, but the subject of civil protection U.S. 325 (1985). Note that the purse search in TLO uncovered illegal drugs and there is no judicial bar to school officials referring such offenses to peace officers for criminal arrest and prosecution. The determining variable is not the presence of peace officers or the criminal aspect, but the legitimate primary motivation of civil officials (e.g., school administrators) to search for purposes of school rule compliance.
16 7 these intrusions, without the unintended consequences of an overly restrictive probable cause test ARGUMENT I. This Court s Fourth Amendment Balancing Test Consists of Four Elements: (a) the State Interest in the Intrusion, (b) its Nature and Degree, (c) the Opportunity for a Warrant, and (d) its Particularized Factual Basis CAI urges this Court to explicitly adopt a fourpart test for Fourth Amendment review generally. This test reflects a rational incorporation of the scattered doctrines and types of searches that have proliferated over the last six decades of court precedents. Instead of a body of law applying to a type of search unrelated to any unifying criteria, all state intrusions might properly be subject to criteria that allow cross-comparison, rational explanation, and enhanced predictability. There is not the temptation to invent a new term of art and body of law for each of the multitude of justifications that may come before the courts. 10 The probable cause standard traditionally involves critical elements of prior demonstrated source reliability (e.g., the source has provided information on three previous occasions, each resulting in affirmation of the information and conviction ). That level of confirmation is not common in child abuse investigations until involved children are interviewed, see discussion and citations below.
17 8 The extensive body of court-delineated law over the Fourth Amendment has involved a patchwork quilt of more than twenty different categories of searches each enunciated and developed in sometimes idiosyncratic fashion. Examples include detention to obtain a warrant, 11 searches allowed as part of a stop and frisk, 12 a seizure based on plain sight discovery, 13 the related open fields doctrine, 14 automobile stops, 15 evanescent evidence (that may disappear), 16 arson investigations, 17 an administrative search, 18 a border search, 19 a highly regulated industry search, 20 a search incident to lawful arrest, Illinois v. McArthur, 531 U.S. 326 (2001). 12 Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968); U.S. v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221 (1985). 13 Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321 (1987). 14 U.S. v. Oliver, 466 U.S. 170 (1984); see also application to trash put out for collection in California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988). 15 Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000). Warrantless roadblocks have been upheld for detection and arrest for drunk driving (see Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990)) or illegal immigration (U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543 (1976)). 16 See, e.g., Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966) pertaining to a blood sample containing alcohol. 17 Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499 (1978). 18 Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967). 19 Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266 (1973). 20 Colonnade Catering Corp. v. U.S., 397 U.S. 72 (1970); U.S. v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311 (1972); Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594 (1981). 21 See, e.g., California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621 (1991).
18 9 hot pursuit, 22 explosives, 23 food safety, 24 probationers homes exception, 25 government employee desk searches, 26 drug testing generally, 27 consent, 28 and many others. There is also the student school search category where searches are allowed based on reasonable suspicion. 29 In the most recent school search case of Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding, 129 S.Ct (2009), this Court made reference to a balancing test in rejecting the inspection within bras and panties of an adolescent girl for pills without cause to believe such items were being so concealed. What was and is that balancing test? A review of the body of caselaw from this Court suggests the following four elements: 22 Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967). 23 U.S. v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1977). 24 North American Cold Storage Co. v. City of Chicago, 211 U.S. 306 (1908). 25 See U.S. v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112 (2001) permitting the search of a probationer s home on reasonable suspicion of a violation separate and apart from probationary conditions. 26 O Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987), allowing search of the desk of a doctor in a public hospital for work-related misconduct based only on reasonable suspicion. 27 Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association, 489 U.S. 602 (1989); see also National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656 (1989) allowing search without warrant or probable cause or even individualized reasonable suspicion. 28 Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973). 29 New Jersey v. TLO, supra note 9.
19 10 (a) What is the state interest in (or justification for) the search? The state s interest in a search or seizure is a necessary factor in weighing its reasonableness. And the nature and extent of the state s interest is a primary determinant in any constitutional balancing whether it be the compelling state interest analyzed in strict scrutiny, or the legitimate state interest weighed in rational relation test application. Reasonableness implies a reason for an action, and the greater the legitimate need for that action, the more weight properly given to an intrusion, with tolerated intrusion increasing as the state s rationale becomes more compelling. (b) What is the nature and degree of intrusion? Four subparts make up the second element of degree of intrusion. First, it depends upon the underlying reasonable expectation of privacy as commonly articulated by this Court. 30 That expectation varies according to the zone of privacy involved and the degree of state intrusion. That variation spectrum extends from the privacy accorded mutually consenting sexual decisions by adults in the bedroom to the reduced privacy expectation of a publicly regulated utility. Second, is the nature of the intrusion. Is it a brief stop and conversation? Or does an actual seizure occur? Where does it occur (e.g., within the body, in a home, in a public place)? 30 Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967); see esp. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978).
20 11 Third, what is the nexus of the intrusion to the first element of compelling state interest above? Is it overly broad and involve excessive and gratuitous state interference beyond the scope of the state justification? Such an element is similar to the no less restrictive alternatives or required fit elements in much Constitutional precedent. Finally, do we enhance the degree of intrusion where the state intruder is the armed police (e.g., a peace officer) engaged in a criminal investigation? Is it enhanced, in particular, where it is for the purpose of possible incarceration by armed constables, and where who is searched is determined by relatively unfettered police discretion. (c) What is the opportunity for a warrant? The constitutional requirement of a warrant incorporates precedent for its traversal if its probable cause basis is flawed. Is the required substantive basis for a warrant properly a precondition for a search given the involved compelling state interest and the degree of intrusion occurring? Does it matter that the intervention occurs while a continuing violation may be occurring? Is there a time constraint parallel to those acknowledged, for example in the hot pursuit or emergency search and seizure exception doctrines? 31 (d) What is the factual basis for a particular intrusion? What is the quantum and reliability of information indicating that it may produce what is 31 See, e.g., Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967).
21 12 sought? Does the State have solid probable cause, and merely lacks time to obtain a warrant? Is the basis for the search nothing more than rumor? Are there objective facts producing reasonable suspicion? Is the motivation not bona fide, but occurring for an improper motivation retaliation, harassment, discrimination or is otherwise improper? Again, does the factual basis have sufficient connection to both the State interest justifying it (supra), and to the scope of a particular search? Importantly, this fourth element is very much influenced by the state justification for the search and the weight given to it viscerally. Hence, relatively baseless and boundless searches are approved involving airplane flight safety (with millions now subject to body cavity oversight), border searches, highly regulated industries, drug testing, automobile roadblocks and others. The major requirement here is lack of collateral animus or impermissible profiling. For other categories and circumstances individualized reasonable suspicion is necessary. For others, consent is needed, and for still other situations, a prior court warrant based on reliable probable cause is required. II. CPS Investigations Are Complex Civil Inquiries Intended to Protect Children and Are Under the Auspices of Juvenile Courts Providing Substantial Due Process CAI respectfully contends that the four-part test above is a fair distillation of this Court s numerous
22 13 decisions historically applying the Fourth Amendment to state action. To apply it in the instant case requires consideration of the compelling state interest in CPS investigations, the role of child interviews, and the consequences of alternative limitations or prerequisites for such interviews. The Ninth Circuit opinion refers to the 3.6 million annual reports of child abuse or neglect nationally (using 2006 data; see Opinion at 16300). The opinion notes that only 1 /4 are confirmed. The implication is that many instances of state intrusion are occurring and in only a small percentage does inquiry lead to a level of confirmation warranting such state interference. This notion, and the opinion below in general, do not reflect an accurate understanding of how CPS investigations are conducted, nor (of greater concern) the unintended consequences of its holding as applied. CAI presents an important predicate: A description of how Child Protective Services work, their authority, purposes and circumstances. Of the cited 3 million-plus reports of child abuse received each year, over one-third are screened out at the point of the phone call. 32 This means that, while someone apparently called to report suspected abuse, no further interviews or other action was undertaken by CPS. Importantly, more than one-half (57.9%) of 32 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Maltreatment 2008 at 5 (available at programs/cb/pubs/cm08/cm08.pdf).
23 14 the reports come from professionals such as teachers, attorneys, police officers, social services staff, medical staff, mental health workers, child daycare workers, and foster care providers, most of whom are mandated reporters. That is, under state law they are required to report suspected abuse or neglect in violation of state law. Of the reports that do reach the point of further investigation, that further inquiry finds a child to be the victim of abuse or neglect in 23.7% of the cases. 33 Underscoring the misplaced reliance on parental consent as a prior condition for child contact, more than 80% of these cases involve an alleged finding of abuse by one or both of the parents or caretakers of the child. 34 While the police may be present as a part of the investigatory phase, this is often merely to assure peace throughout the process (and, often, to assure the social worker is adequately protected). In the majority of cases where child abuse or neglect has occurred, there is no subsequent arrest of the perpetrator. This disconnect between child protection and criminal arrest occurs for numerous reasons, including the very different standards of proof for 33 Id. at Id. at 28. Regrettably, even where one parent is not involved in the abuse, in a disturbing percentage of the cases the non-offending parent covers for the offending one, or does not believe the allegations of abuse even where they are substantiated by overwhelming evidence. This failure to protect problem and the primacy of spousal allegiance is not rare.
24 15 criminal abuse and neglect than for civil abuse and neglect that will give rise to the removal of a child from her home. While criminal culpability requires a finding beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof for the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to protect an abused or neglected child is a preponderance of the evidence. The interview which occurred in the present case should be understood in the more typical context. CAI agrees that interviews of child abuse victims are best conducted not as the opinion below describes. Rather, they are best conducted by experts who know how to ask open-ended questions, with expertise, and ideally, on videotape. More and more jurisdictions are turning to Children s Advocacy Centers for the initial interview of children suspected to be the victims of child abuse. 35 There are already 300 such Children s Advocacy Centers across the country with several other jurisdictions using best practice techniques for the interviewing of children. A great deal of work has been done in recent years to establish best practices for interviewing children to improve the quality of the interviews conducted by social workers, police, and therapists While this type of interviews is certainly a best practice approach, we note that the removal of a child to a Child Advocacy Center would certainly involve a taking which is not always the case in field interviews such as the one that occurred here. 36 Lyon, Thomas D., Investigative Interviewing of the Child, CHILD WELFARE LAW AND PRACTICE, Second Edition (2010), (Continued on following page)
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