Friday, September 25, 2015

2015 Annual Report of the Parental Defense Alliance of Utah

The Parental Defense Alliance of Utah has just released its Annual Report for the 2014-2015 State Fiscal Year.  You can read the full report HERE.

We have also made past reports back to the year 2011 available on the website, which you can find HERE.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Registration for the E-Filing Training is now OPEN!

Registration for the E-Filing Training is now open.  There are two registration options:  In-Person or Webcast.  Please make sure you register for the correct one.

Court staff will be present to present on the E-Filing process and to answer questions.  The deadline for mandatory E-filing is December 1, 2015 so you won't want to miss this chance to prepare.  3 hours of CLE will be requested from the Utah State Bar.

Juvenile Court E-Filing for Parental Defenders

November 6, 2015

Breakfast and Registration 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Training and Webcast:  9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

National Juvenile Defender Center Conference will be in Salt Lake City!

For those of you interested:

The National Juvenile Defender Center is holding their Annual Conference this year in Salt Lake City on the weekend of Oct. 23-24, 2015, Salt Lake Hilton Hotel. Meals and conference registration are FREE but the deadline to register is this Friday, September 25, 2015. Online registration HERE.

The main conference sessions are on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23-24 with an optional 90 minute closing session on Sunday morning, Oct. 25. Topics include: effectively representing our delinquency clients in Juvenile Court, discovery/research tools, defense strategies, case law discussion, juvenile probation issues, creative lawyering, and other interesting topics. Attorneys, law professors, and juvenile court experts from all over the nation will be in Salt Lake that weekend speaking to us. Utah Bar CLE credit is pending. The Hilton Hotel is the conference site. Rooms are at discounted rate or, of course, you can commute each day to the conference.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Courtroom War Stories: WWJ(Julie)D?

The following was shared by PDA member Colleen Coebergh:

I wondered if you would consider putting this tale on the blog, because I love this story, a true story about one of our best and brightest, Julie George.   
Julie was called in to do a shelter hearing, and was representing alleged Dad.  Tiny infant, subject of the case, was being clutched tightly by foster mom who almost had a death grip on the adorable little bambino.  Incarcerated Mom, through counsel, indicated that she was prepared to swear that Julie's client was in fact father.  Alleged father asserted he was willing to swear the same.  A request was made the Court adjudicate paternity immediately.  The Guardian objected.  She wanted DNA testing.  The mom could just "say" that Julie's client was Dad, and he might not be biological father at all.   
The Court inquired, "well yes, but that's usually the case, what with Moms being in the best position to name Dads.  And besides, aren't men married to the Mom presumed to be legal father, irrespective of any notions of genetics?"  The Guardian persisted that if the Court adjudicated on their say-so alone, that man may weasel his way into the litigation, into the child's life, and that shouldn't be.  
Then she argued that guy didn't even have a right to court appointed counsel (which Julie was at the time) unless and until he established legal paternity.  (The old catch-22.  You can't have counsel until you establish legal paternity, and you can't establish legal paternity without counsel because you don't know what you're doing...)   
Without missing a beat, Julie stood up and said the alleged father just handed her a nickel, she considered that a "retainer agreement," and she was working for him for that nickel until paternity was established.  Then, she launched in the the smoothest, slickest argument about the State's efforts to vex the man in establishing paternity long enough to then turn around and argue that the child was bonded with the foster parents to the degree the child should not be moved.    
Held by the Court:  Paternity established.  DCFS has 48 hours to walk through Dad's house, and absent demonstrable safety concern, infant to be placed with Dad.  She earned just a bit over 3 cents an hour for that argument, and my undying admiration.  When frustrated, tired and lost in our efforts to open a can of whoop-ass on the powers that be, we should all ask, "WWJ(Julie)D?"   

Anyone else have a good courtroom war story to share?

Grant Dickinson's 10 Commandments for Cross Examination

On September 1, 2015, PDA board member Grant Dickinson presented at the Court Improvement Program Attorney Skills Training on the topic of Cross Examination.  Above are a copy of his slides that include helpful tips on how to prepare for cross examination of experts.

If the above slides don't load, try THIS LINK.

Monday, September 14, 2015

NY Times Article and Video on Shaken Baby Syndrome

The New York Times recently published an interesting article and video called Shaken Baby Syndrome: The Diagnosis that Divides the Medical World, which shows how the diagnosis has changed in the past few decades.

You can find the article HERE.  There are several other shorter videos within the article that are worth checking out as well.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Are You Ready for E-Filing? No? SAVE THE DATE!

E-Filing in the Juvenile Courts will be mandatory in December of this year.  To help you get ready we have arranged an E-Filing Training with the courts especially for parental defenders.  Mark your calendars for:

November 6, 2015 @ 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The event will be available both live on the Wasatch Front and via webinar for those unable to attend in person.  Registration will open soon and we will be applying to the Utah Bar for 3 hours of CLE credit.

In anticipation of the event, please make sure that you already have a CARE login as it will be mandatory for all participants.  If you don't have a CARE login, you can get one HERE.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Neil Skousen's Summary of ADA argument before the Supreme Court

Last week Neil Skousen argued before the Utah Supreme Court presenting the issue how the ADA applies in child welfare proceedings.  He did a great job!  Below is a summary he sent us after the argument.  Thanks Neil!

Update for Utah PDA Members:

I just completed oral arguments before the Utah Supreme Court on September 2 regarding whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to disabled parents receiving DCFS services at Disposition, during the Reunification/PSS service plan period, Permanency Hearings, and at Termination of Parental Rights proceedings/trial. I appreciate the support from Utah PDA and others who came to the Court to observe my arguments or listened on-line.

As a summary, I represent a disabled mother whose parental rights were terminated to her 7-year old daughter by the juvenile court because the court didn't want to give the mother more time to overcome her parenting deficits due to her mental and physical disabilities. This is a case of first impression in Utah (i.e., Utah's appellate courts have not ruled on this Americans with Disabilities Act/Child Welfare issue before). I originally filed this case with the lower Utah Court of Appeals. In an unusual move, the Court of Appeals voted to certify my client's case up to the Utah Supreme Court due to the importance of this parental rights issue statewide. The Court should be issuing its written decision within the next 2 to 6 months.

It's interesting to note that the State and Guardian ad Litem conceded, in oral arguments, that the ADA likely applies to Termination of Parental Rights proceedings. At the trial level, and over the past several months of briefing, the State and Guardian ad Litem have argued that it did not apply. But the federal DOJ and HHS Departments have issued reasoned opinions, historically and again this year, that the ADA does apply throughout DCFS services, programs and activities -- including TPR Proceedings/Trial. Your client's disabilities and requests for reasonable accommodations in the DCFS service plan should be raised by parental defense counsel at the Disposition Hearing, modified if necessary during the Reunification Services (or PSS) period, and definitely raised again at the Permanency Hearing and, if necessary, at the TPR trial.

Thank you!

Neil Skousen
Orem, Utah