Why Arlington Judges Can Get Away With What They Do

28 Jul

Compared to other counties like Fairfax, Arlington Courts are very small, with only three circuit judges and two family court judge, one circuit court judge is the chief judge.   The small size makes for an incestuous relationship between the members of the Arlington Bar and the few judges before which their members regularly appear.

Got a bad judge?  Too bad.  Not much you can do about it.   Judges are immune from being sued.   You can file a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission but you will soon find that was a waste of time.   They rarely, if ever, discipline any judges.  [See, if you can find any opinions of judges being disciplined in Virginia...]

A case is going to the US Supreme Court on this very topic.   It seems a family court judge in Detroit, had sex with a witness for one of the parties.   Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree testified during his misconduct hearing about his affair with Geniene La’Shay Mott who appeared as a witness in a child-support case in his court.   Judge McCree ultimately ruled against the opposing party.  When the losing party attempted to sue in federal court, the court of appeals dismissed citing judicial immunity.

Up until now, the high court essentially has held that anything a judge does in his or her capacity as a judge is covered under the immunity clause. But if, for example, a judge unlawfully fires someone, that’s not covered because because hiring or firing is not considered a judicial activity.

Only a handful of judges nationwide have been successfully sued for civil rights violations. One such case involved a Tennessee juvenile court judge who was accused of violating the civil rights of three women by sexually assaulting them and threatening to take their kids away if they didn’t give in. In 1996, the 6th Circuit denied him judicial immunity from civil liability.

In Arlington, some judges have regularly violated the US Constitution, placing children in psychiatric facilities at Medicaid expense without required due process, denying foster care children their own counsel, holding trials where the parties could not see the witnesses on the witness stand, violating the freedom of speech of litigants without due process, and prohibiting litigants from freely consulting with legal counsel, but nothing happens to these judges.

The outcome of the McCree case could have significant impact on Arlington County judiciary, allowing litigants to sue some of very bad behavior of some if the family court and circuit court judges.

Read more: Detroit Free Press

Arlington: A Streetcar That Is Undesired

20 Jul

How about a “streetcar” without all of the expense of laying track in the pavement?     Its called the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway, featuring blue Metroway buses, and is expected to begin service Aug 24.   Initially, Metroway buses will connect the Braddock Road and Crystal City Metro stations with multiple stops between the two. The transitway eventually will extend to Pentagon City.  Service will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 20 minutes on weekends. Buses will run until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

The service in Alexandria includes travel lanes built exclusively for buses on U.S. 1 in Potomac Yard from Potomac Avenue to East Glebe Road. On some less busy portions of the Alexandria route buses will share travel lanes with regular commuters. For now Metroway buses in Arlington will share the road with regular traffic.

So, what happened to the streetcar that Arlington wants to build?   Well, that plan did not go away — even though the “Metroway” clearly shows it is unnecessary with a less expensive alternative.      And, if you want it electrified, all they have to do is add overhead wires and used electric buses (which look just like streetcars, but don’t require rails, and are more maneuverable).   Such busses are used on the “Silverline” in Boston which takes commuters directly to the airport terminal.

In a contentious three-hour session Thursday, July 17, the Arlington board members traded verbal barbs over the Columbia Pike streetcar project, and whether last week’s announcement that the state of Virginia is willing to pay for half the cost of the line can really be trusted.

Libby Garvey (D) and John Vihstadt (I) tried to use a normally routine workshop meeting on the county’s capital improvements projects to stop the long-planned transit project in south Arlington. They proposed a series of motions to stop all spending on the streetcar plans, but they lost almost all on 3-2 votes.

Vihstadt described the county’s publicity about the streetcar, which includes a series of online videos, to be “a costly and well-scripted Madison Avenue-like public relations campaign to sway public opinion, especially at a time when the funding scheme is in doubt… is an inappropriate expenditure of public funds.”

When Garvey argued that adding modern buses to the fleet that already plies Columbia Pike are a “proven” mode of transportation and that streetcars run at half the speed of buses, Fisette fired back “I disagree factually with everything you’ve said in that statement.”

When Garvey tried to persuade her fellow officials that money devoted to streetcar construction could be used for other purposes, Fisette had enough.

Vihstadt argued that the debate, which he characterized as civil and robust, was long overdue on a County Board that had supported the streetcar project without dissent. But in 2012, Garvey, who won a special election without taking a stand on the streetcar, abstained during a crucial vote. Two months later, in throes of her general election campaign, she became an opponent.

Vihstadt startled Arlington’s political establishment when he became the first non-Democrat in 15 years to win a County Board seat this past April. He replaced streetcar advocate Chris Zimmerman, who resigned in February. Vihstadt’s campaign was based on his opposition to the streetcar and other costly capital projects. He’s running against the same Democrat, Alan Howze, in November.

County officials now want to connect the project to a separate Crystal City to Potomac Yard rapid bus transit line that will eventually become a streetcar line as well. That segment would connect to the city of Alexandria’s bus rapid transit project that will run from Potomac Yard to the Braddock Road Metro station. They hope to have it open by 2020.

The County Board majority has rejected calls for a voter referendum on the topic.

Sign the Petition to STOP… Child Protective Services (CPS) From Abuse of GOOD parents

21 Jun

This is a nationwide problem, happening in every state. You may think that could not happen to me or my family. It does happen and you could lose your children or grandchildren. We must act now to stop this from happening to your family. When it does happen you look every where for help and you will only find others with  same problem and very high legal fees.

This is why it is so easy for CPS. The poor and middle class do not have the money to hire a expert attorney that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars just to defend you. The largest targeted type of families are folks with low incomes, children on SSI and are minorities. If you even have one of those three issues, you are a target for CPS to illegally investigate you. While these things are a surefire magnet, they have been known to do illegal investigations against families if they were reported falsely with malicious intent.

For every abused child remove from a home, 17 unabused children are remove from good homes. Why? Follow the money, CPS recieves large funding from the federal government for all the children in their custody. Cps is incentivized to remove unabused children to fund CPS.

Removing children from their home is emotionally devastating for both children and their families and should only be considered when absolutely necessary. Removal from the parent should only happen if there is clear evidence of ” Imminent Danger ” to the child or children.

Child abuse and neglect is a crime and should be treated as such, Crimes against children should be moved from family and juvenile court to criminal court. This would force CPS to get a warrant before seizing children. It would also force them to have to provide factual evidence before they could sever parental rights. It would ultimately ensure due process.

A) Force CPS officers to inform parents or guardians of their right to remain silent before they are interviewed.

B) Take away adoption bonus incentive or match them with equal bonus incentives given to reunification.

C) The goal for permanency should be the best interest of children rather than financial gain. And reunification should always take precedence over severance. Family preservation should be the primary goal. Severance should not be rushed and should only be considered when all other options have been exhausted.

D) The case plan for reunification must be based on when the initial cause for removal is alleviated.

E) Set up specific case plan goals and requirements with a projected timeline and make sure parents or guardians are aware fully aware of them as well as the consequences for non-compliance, so they know what is expected of them.

F) Periodic checkpoints need to be integrated into case plans requiring frequent consultations with parents regarding their progress.

G) Completely reform the federal budget for CPS focusing on necessary expenses rather than basing it on child removal.

H) Give equal financial assistance to poverty stricken families whose children are in dependent care for the purpose of neglect because their parents couldn’t afford to supply them with their monetary needs, as is given to foster care.

I) Change the time-frame of severance. Severance should be based on each individual case and the circumstances surrounding it. Parents who have children under the age of three should be given equal time to alleviate their shortcomings as is given to parents who have children over the age of three. They shouldn’t have less time to better themselves or their circumstance simply because their children are more adoptable.

J) Family should always be the first considered to adopt when severance is necessary, before foster placements.

K) Government officials should be held accountable for their actions on a criminal level. Fines and incarceration aren’t unreasonable especially considering the impact their decisions can have on families.

Sign the Petition

 

Must-See Documentary On Flawed US Foster Children System — Taking Away Children From Loving Families

19 Jun

Watch this short version of the documentary, “Place-to-Place” that uncovers the disasters that the foster care system, like the one in Arlington Virginia, are creating at a cost of $8 billion dollars a year, creating homelessness, unwanted teen pregnancies, overdrugging of children, and worst of all, a void in their lives of being with the love of their families.    We hope that every Arlington DHS employee, every family court judge, every legislator, and every GAL watches this and decides, finally, to push for a change in the way they do business and the value (or to this point lack of value) they place on keeping families intact and the love those families provide.

There are 423,000 foster children in the USA.

The USA spends about $8,000,000,000 (eight BILLION) dollars annually on foster “care.”

Twelve million Americans have been in foster “care.” (myself included)

Thirty thousand young people age out of foster “care” each year in the USA.

1 in 7 former foster children (aged out) are homeless at some point before age 21.

Half of all former foster children will be unemployed at some point before age 21.

71 percent of all female former foster children will become pregnant before they are 21.

77 percent of all male former foster children will be arrested prior to their 21st birthday.

A few quotes from the film:

“[If] you set out to design, intentionally, the worst possible child welfare system, it would look like the system we have.” — From Place to Place, anon.

“We move them from a situation of risk, to one of danger, when we place them into these temporary systems…” — From Place to Place, anon.

“The system can never provide real love: real heart-bonded love like a mother has.” – Codie, in From Place to Place

“I needed somebody who gave a damn, and not because they were getting paid to give a damn.” – , in From Place to Place

“How we care for young people in this country really defines the strength of us as a country, and it matters.” – From Place to Place, anon.

“It breaks you down, makes you hurt, tears your heart, kills your belief, and your vigor for life. Rejection hurts. It’s absolutely hell to grow up switching place to place.” – Kirsten, in From Place to Place

“Human beings are very deeply geared towards attachment. We cannot tolerate loneliness. We cannot tolerate being by ourselves. We cannot tolerate being just flecks of dust traveling through the universe. We need to be connected. And of course, our most natural connection system, are our families.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk, founder of The Trauma Center, (Credited with diagnosis of PTSD)

Learn more: Fight CPS

Watch the full length version of the Place to Place documentary on Hulu