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Consistently Poor Judgment in Judicial Appointments: No @HopeforVirginia

11 Apr

Three actions by the Virginia General Assembly show how the Virginia legislature is completely out of touch with the dysfunction in our Arlington Courts.   It also demonstrates how the process of picking judges for Arlington is not based on merit, but who you know (or are related too…just like the MAFIA).

Robin RobbThe General Assembly has unanimously voted to appoint Robin Robb to replace the departing (none too soon (Anti-)) Family Judge Esther Wiggins Lyles.   The six year appointment begins in July 2016.

Who is Robin Robb?   First off, she is the wife of Judge Benjamin Kendrick.   You know Judge Kendrick as a rough around the edges, shoots from the hip, and often ignoring the law in ruling on his cases.   He messed up a lot of families in Arlington.   A number of other very qualified candidates were under consideration, but somehow, with the support of Delegate Patrick Hope, the retired Judges wife was picked to replace Judge Wiggins.   Really!

Wait, it gets better! (Actually, gets worse).

Judge Esther WigginsDuring the session, the legislature threw Judge Wiggins a bone by passing a resolution honoring the “great fairness and wisdom” of Judge Wiggins, who served (and messed up the lives of numerous families and children) for 18 years after service in the Commonwealth Attorney’s office of Arlington.   Apparently none of those legislators ever set foot in Judge Wiggins courtroom and listened to how unfair and lacking in wisdom she was on a daily basis.   Apparently they had not read all of the testimony against Judge Wiggins and the complaints against her.   Maybe, if they had, they would have gotten rid of Judge Wiggins sooner.

Judge Varoutsos Arlington VirginiaSpeaking of getting rid of bad judges, anyone who attended the reappointment hearing last December 2015 for Judge Varoutsos would have walked away thinking that he was not going to get reappointed.  Judge Varoutsos came under heavy criticism in the lawyers surveys for entering orders lacking legal argument or erroneous argument.   But, true to form, the legislature ignored the opinions of members of the public and practitioners, and, instead, reappointed Judge Varoutsos for another six year term.

So, what is the take-away from these actions?   It is that if you want to be a judge or stay a judge in Arlington, be a dues-paying member of the Arlington Judicial Mafia (i.e., answer to the legislators who themselves or their partners often practice before you), and be as unqualified as you can be because it will only count against you and get in the way of ruling on cases the way the guys in Richmond want  you to.

Arlington deserves better quality judges.  The citizens should vote out any legislator who fails to make it their top priority.    Otherwise, there is no @HopeforVirginia

Source: Sun Gazette Arlington March 17, 2016

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December 11, 2015 Judge Varoutsos Up for Judicial Interview

7 Dec
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Judge Varoutsos (upper right) from Safe Kids International Posting on Facebook

At the end of each judge’s term, they go for an “interview” for reappointment with the joint  Senate Committee for Courts of Justice and the House Judicial Panel in Richmond.   Here members of the public are invited to testify in support or against the reappointment of the judges up for reappointment.

This year Judge Varoutsos of the Arlington Family Court is up for reappointment.   Those who have opinions that the committee might want to hear can attend the “interview” at 11 am, Friday, December 11, 2015, in hearing room House Room C — General Assembly Building.  Click here to read the announcement

Even if you don’t want to speak, it is worthwhile sitting in and listening to the members of that committee pander to the very judges that they appear before yet are in charge of reappointing.   A clear conflict of interest defect built into the system of judicial appointments in Virginia that all involved appear uninspired to correct.

House Courts of Justice|Judicial Panel
UPDATE Interview Schedule – Judicial Interviews – Friday, December 11th – House Room C, GAB – 9 AM
Meeting Date: December 11, 2015, Meeting Time: 09:00 AM
Location: House Room C, General Assembly Building
201 N. 9th Street, Richmond, VA 23219

Meeting Information: The House Judicial Panel will meet jointly with the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Friday, December 11, 2015 beginning @ 9:00 AM n House Room C to interview incumbent judges standing for reelection in 2016.  All members of the House Courts of Justice Committee are invited to attend if their schedule permits. The schedule interview is attached and linked to this email.

Meeting Notes:

Schedule of Interviews  – http://hodcap.state.va.us/publications/interimstudies/Judge%20Interview%20schedule%20Incumbents%2012-11-15.pdf

 Attachment Links:
 Judge_Interview_schedule_Incumbents_12-11-15.pdf – http://studiesvirginiageneralassembly.s3.amazonaws.com/meeting_docs/documents/000/000/031/original/Judge_Interview_schedule_Incumbents_12-11-15.pdf?1449501402

  

Link to Meeting: http://studies.virginiageneralassembly.gov/meetings/254

Link to Study: http://studies.virginiageneralassembly.gov/studies/317

Read More: Invitation to Judicial Interviews

Read More: Judge Varoutsos and Judicial Appointments

Sign the Petition Amend Virginia Code so that Child Protective Services must prove family “unfit” beyond a reasonable doubt.

3 Oct

Stop the madness of Virginia CPS destroying good families and the organized crime of profiting off of our kids’ misery. Sign the petition to change the law: Sign Here

The Child Protective Services and the foster care system in Virginia are broken. Let’s end the “Kids for Cash” program in Virginia.

Currently Virginia has a program whereby social workers and guardian ad litems split children away from their parents due an in-existent alleged “danger” of the child’s well-being.

The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court forces the parents to prove the danger does not exist under a court of law. The parents often do not have knowledge of what the “danger” the social worker or guardian ad litem is asserting, because the social worker or guardian ad litem also often claim that it is in the best interest of the child for the parent not to know, preventing any effective defense to the vague or unspecified assertion of potential danger to the child..

Another issue is these social workers are rated, as to how well they are doing their job, only by the courts.

Virginia makes money from the federal government as an incentive to foster care. The foster parents make a lot of money and often these kids are abused, because the real motive of the foster parents is income production, not child development and care.

Some judges put gag orders on parents asserting the “the gag itself is in the best interest of the child,” so that the parents cannot talk to the press, friends or neighbors without risking permanent loss of their children as wards of the state available for adoption.

When children are actually adopted the Commonwealth of Virginia receives $5,000 to $8,000 “Per Unit Child” in federal Medicaid funds. Through federal grants, Virginia can make up to $500,000 “per unit child.” This creates a perverse incentive for Virginia to misuse its state authority by Medicaid Fraud to destroy perfectly good families and simply “cash in on the kids.”

As a result, formerly perfectly happy children, are being needlessly stripped from their loving families and then are maltreated and trained to hate the state.

The next generation of criminals are being created for future Virginia citizens to have to pay for, and deal with, in crime and loss of liberty, for a quick “Kids for Cash” Medicaid fraud fix right now for a Federal- Cash-Addicted Commonwealth of Virginia.

This is a very sorry political trade-off, which has been engaged in over the past few administrations, by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Illicit “Cash-for-Kids schemes, via the destruction of families, are now creating a multi-generational echo of even more needless crime into our future, which is a direct result of foolishly abusing state authority, to engage in recklessly dismantling perfectly good families.

All Virginians should evaluate this problem now, and help me save these helpless children.   Sign the petition today.

Baltimore DHS Director: “Stop the Insanity;” “Kids ought to be in families.”

4 Sep

Over the years, this blog has sought to get Arlington County to rethink its approach to protecting children.   Instead of removing children from their families as a primary tool, this blog has argued that its primary tool should be to keep families together and, using other tools, solve the particular threat to the child.

In this TED talk, Molly McGrath Tierney, the Director for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, explains what is wrong with the current child welfare system and how she has worked over the past six years to change it in Baltimore.  She has led a massive reform effort to dramatically improve the impact of services to vulnerable citizens of Baltimore. Molly’s work is considered a national model for modern social services.

In this TEDx talk she advocates what this blog has been advocating.   Here are her key observations:

  1. “Kids who grew up in foster care…. You know what they want? They want to go home

  2. Now, there are over 50 child welfare agencies in the country, and the funds to underwrite them are in the billions.  There is not one among them that’s reputed to be working well.

  3. Awful things happen to children in foster care. Short term, their outcomes for important things like health and education are abysmal, and long term it just gets worse. Kids that grow up in foster care [are] overwhelmingly destined for the penitentiary, the morgue, or the child welfare system when their own kids come into foster care.

  4. the agency she runs now was once considered among the worst in the country;  during her tenure it reduced the number of children in foster care by 58%, reduced the number of kids living in orphanages by 89%, increased adoptions 59%, and increased the number of kids that left foster care for families by 47%.

  5. She did it by articulating a mission and repeated it like a broken record,  “Kids ought to be in families.”

  6. The reason child welfare isn’t working is because there are children in foster care.

  7. “Why would we do such a thing?”

    “first, it feels good to save kids. We get a great injection of adrenaline when we rush in, and our brain responds to that stimuli. Just like we do anything else that feels good, we want more of it. And when we figure out how to keep returning to that good feeling, we start thinking that, in and of itself, is success. We’re mistaking something that feels good to us for something that is actually helping other people, because if it feels so good, we must be doing the right thing.”

    Second, child welfare is an industry, and industries are self-protecting ecosystems. Think about it. The only time the federal government pays me is when I take somebody’s kid. And as soon as that kid’s in foster care, they instantly become a commodity, and the industry starts to wrap around – doctors, lawyers, judges, social workers, advocates, whole organizations. The industry is committed to this intervention, this taking other people’s children, ‘cause that’s what it needs to survive. And it’s on auto pilot, and it’s going to do whatever it has to do to stay alive.  And this industry, to stay alive, needs other people’s children. And this industry, to stay alive, needs other people’s children.”

  8. Child welfare is mostly driven by DHS workers, guardian ad litems, and family court judges soothing their own egos and wanting to feel good about themselves, rather than doing what is best for the family and child.

Read the complete comments of Molly McGrath Tierney.

Related: Listen to the Kids