There is absolutely nothing fair about the way the Child Abuse and Neglect cases are conducted in New Hampshire. Child protection is the only type of litigation in which the parents are up against parties and the courts who regularly keep in touch with each other to make sure their "policies" and "procedures" are uniform across the system. They have formal agreements to coordinate and cooperate in their efforts. Most recently, Governor Jean Shaheen appointed Marcia Sink, head of NH CASA, and Nancy Rollins, head of DCYF to the Guardian ad Litem oversight board. Judge Kelly was previously in charge of that function under the Administrative Office of the Courts. That's the equivalent of appointing the foxes to watch the hen house, and Shaheen hasn't fixed it.
Judge Kelly has refused to answer a Right to Know letter from me for two years now on how an attorney is placed on a court listing to be appointed to abuse and neglect cases. It's not the only Right to Know letter he's ignored. It's not a state secret that the court picks their preferred defense attorneys with absolutely no guidelines but the discretion of the judges. DCYF gets to pick not only their own expert witnesses, but the defense expert witnesses as well. Defense witnesses must be "approved" by the DCYF provider list to get paid for consultation. Many DCYF contract psychologists are little better than paid prostitutes, giving the courts whatever DCYF wants them to write concerning the "progress" of parents involved with DCYF. Parents are forced to litigate the issue of psychological "harm" to their children while being denied psychological records supposedly showing that "harm."
The state's worst dirty little secret has been legally denying fit parents the rights to custody of their children for over twenty years now, without the need for showing any allegation that they abuse or neglect their children. The Child Protection Act itself does not include a requirement for parental culpability. Judge Taube of the Manchester District Court stated in June of 1998 that there were "dozens" of cases of non-offending parents who have to "prove" their worthiness before his court to obtain custody of their children. In the case of In Re: Bill F., September 28, 2000 the NH Supreme Court determined that Judge Taube's policy is unconstitutional. My experience shows that even after the NH Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional, the NH Courts are refusing to hold fitness hearings for non-offending parents. Judge Kelly has no plans to notify non-offending parents currently involved in the courts of their right to request a hearing on their fitness to obtain custody of their children. Rumor now has it that Governor Shaheen plans to nominate him to the Supreme Court.
CASA Guardians ad Litem are not without fault, either. They have the fiduciary duty to advocate for the best interest of the child. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the best interest is presumed to be with a fit parent. CASA doesn't bother to train their volunteers in the fundamental nature of parental rights. They ignore that presumption, and have been advocating to deny non-offending parents their parental rights since CASA took over the Guardian ad Litem functions in abuse and neglect cases. WMUR casually supports this travesty of justice by having a link to CASA from its own web site. They are actively trying to convince the people of New Hampshire that CASA is a charitable organization doing good in the state. The truth is that they are dangerous fascists who arrogantly think they can decide what is best for your children without any legal training, and often without having children themselves.
Please take some time to find out why I obtained the license plate H8DCYF. Sign on to the web site, and look it over. Child abuse is a crime. The Child Protection System in New Hampshire is far worse, and it doesn't help most children in the system. When parental rights are trampled in the name of justice, the children don't win, the parents don't win, the Constitution doesn't win, and society doesn't win. Please call your legislator, and ask them to FIX the law.
Contact Paula Werme, Esq. or return to Law Practice home page.
Last updated 2001 March 30.