Month: June 2011

awareness, child, child adoption, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, custody, domestic violence, families, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, legislation
Texas harms foster children with inattention, shoddy system, lawsuit says
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Source: Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Published 29 March 2011 10:38 AM

AUSTIN — Texas violates the rights of abused and neglected children by running a shoddy foster care system, the New York-based group Children’s Rights says in a class-action federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Too many youths are isolated and linger for years in care, the suit says. The state countered that it is working on fixes and that most foster children are safe.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, the group zeroes in on about 12,000 youths who’ve been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services and kept in the state’s care for more than a year, saying the children suffer after “permanency” deadlines of 12 to 18 months have passed.

Too often, CPS is unable to reunite the child with family or find a lasting home, such as with a relative or adoptive parents, and drops the ball because children from then on aren’t required to have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, the suit says.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of CPS’ parent agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the lawsuit threatens to do more harm than good.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said in a written statement.

Children’s Rights asks the court to order the state to lower caseloads for CPS workers, recruit more foster homes and do a better job of supervising private foster-care providers.

Lowry said some of those extra costs could be offset by eliminating the state’s wasteful spending on institutional care.

“It costs less to run a better system where children get permanence and get out of foster care,” she said.

The department has warned state leaders for months that the suit might be filed. A memo sent to legislative leaders in September emphasized large amounts of attorneys’ fees that have been awarded to Children’s Rights in similar lawsuits in other states.

The memo also touted CPS overhaul legislation passed in 2005 and a foster-care overhaul passed two years later for bumping up staffing and making sizable reductions in CPS workers’ caseloads.

The suit highlights the plight of nine unnamed children that the group wants the court to accept as a representation of the class of about 12,000 youngsters in Texas’ mostly privatized system of long-term foster care who it alleges have been mistreated.

One of them is “A.M.,” a 13-year-old from Canton who with two half sisters was removed from her home after witnessing fights between her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. The department “has separated her from her sisters, shuffled her from one placement to another, placed her in inappropriate foster homes and left her for years in an institution,” the suit says.

It says Texas frequently fails to keep children in the “least restrictive setting” and is too quick to move them into institutions and give them psychotropic medications.

David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which tracks lawsuits in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, says Lowry picks her targets carefully and almost never loses a case.

“The writing’s on the wall here,” Richart said, and Texas leaders should “spend time improving their CPS system instead of being in a reflexively defensive mode.”

awareness, child, child adoption, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, custody, domestic violence, families, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, legislation
Texas harms foster children with inattention, shoddy system, lawsuit says
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Source: Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Published 29 March 2011 10:38 AM

AUSTIN — Texas violates the rights of abused and neglected children by running a shoddy foster care system, the New York-based group Children’s Rights says in a class-action federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Too many youths are isolated and linger for years in care, the suit says. The state countered that it is working on fixes and that most foster children are safe.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, the group zeroes in on about 12,000 youths who’ve been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services and kept in the state’s care for more than a year, saying the children suffer after “permanency” deadlines of 12 to 18 months have passed.

Too often, CPS is unable to reunite the child with family or find a lasting home, such as with a relative or adoptive parents, and drops the ball because children from then on aren’t required to have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, the suit says.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of CPS’ parent agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the lawsuit threatens to do more harm than good.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said in a written statement.

Children’s Rights asks the court to order the state to lower caseloads for CPS workers, recruit more foster homes and do a better job of supervising private foster-care providers.

Lowry said some of those extra costs could be offset by eliminating the state’s wasteful spending on institutional care.

“It costs less to run a better system where children get permanence and get out of foster care,” she said.

The department has warned state leaders for months that the suit might be filed. A memo sent to legislative leaders in September emphasized large amounts of attorneys’ fees that have been awarded to Children’s Rights in similar lawsuits in other states.

The memo also touted CPS overhaul legislation passed in 2005 and a foster-care overhaul passed two years later for bumping up staffing and making sizable reductions in CPS workers’ caseloads.

The suit highlights the plight of nine unnamed children that the group wants the court to accept as a representation of the class of about 12,000 youngsters in Texas’ mostly privatized system of long-term foster care who it alleges have been mistreated.

One of them is “A.M.,” a 13-year-old from Canton who with two half sisters was removed from her home after witnessing fights between her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. The department “has separated her from her sisters, shuffled her from one placement to another, placed her in inappropriate foster homes and left her for years in an institution,” the suit says.

It says Texas frequently fails to keep children in the “least restrictive setting” and is too quick to move them into institutions and give them psychotropic medications.

David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which tracks lawsuits in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, says Lowry picks her targets carefully and almost never loses a case.

“The writing’s on the wall here,” Richart said, and Texas leaders should “spend time improving their CPS system instead of being in a reflexively defensive mode.”

accountability, Collin County, Texas, corruption
Details of the (Collin County, Tx.) district clerks’ indictments

The district clerks’ indictments were announced yesterday at 5:00 PM.

The Collin County Observer is linking the indictments and the details of the charges as follows:

Hannah Kunkle, the former District Clerk who retired last December after 33 years with the county….

She has been indicted on two counts.

The first charge is of “Abuse of Office”. The grand jury has detailed the charge as:

“between on or about December 15, 2009 and/or about June 3, 2010… Hannah Kunkle, being a public servant, to wit, the elected District Clerk of Collin County, did then and there, with intent to obtain a benefit, namely services and labor in support of the campaign of the elected office of Collin County District Clerk of Patricia Crigger, and to defraud another, namely the public and the Collin County Commissioners Court, did intentionally and knowingly misuse government property, services and personnel, of an aggregate value of $20,000 or more, by engaging in an constituting an ongoing scheme and the course of contact in which employees of the Collin County District Clerk’s Office were awarded time off from their employment, known as quote “‘Blue Book’ Time”, in return for engaging in campaigning activities on behalf of Patricia Crigger’s … in violation of section 39.02(a)(2) of the Penal Code.”

This charge is a 3rd degree felony, which can result in no less than 2 years and not more than 10 years in the Texas Prison and may also include a fine up to $10,000.

In the second count against Hannah Kunkle, the grand jury charged,

“between on or above December 15, 2009 and or about January, 2010, and before the presentation of this indictment, in the County of Collin, State of Texas, Hannah Kunkle, a public servant, named the elected District Clerk of Collin County, with the intent of a felony be committed, did enter into an agreement with one or more of Patricia Crigger, Rebecca “Becky” Littrell, and Sherry Bell, all of whom were public servants at the time… in violation of section 15.02(a) of the Texas Penal Code.”

This second count is of a “Criminal Conspiracy”. The second charge is a state jail felony which calls for a punishment in confinement in a state jail for no less than 180 days and no more than 2 years that could add a $10,000 fine.

The elected District Clerk Patricia Crigger and

Chief Deputy District Clerk Rebecca Littrell

were indicted on the same two charges with Hannah Kunkle.

(emphasis added)

Clerk Sherry Bell was also indicted, but only on an alleged conspiracy along with Kunkle, Crigger and Littrell.

The grand jury itemized specific alleged conspiracy acts caused by the four defendants:

  • That Hannah Kunkle authorized the ‘Blue Book’ to grant paid time off used in return for engaging in campaigning activities for Crigger’s campaign.
  • That Patricia Crigger authorized Rebecca Littrell to grant time used by the ‘Blue Book’ for activities for Crigger’s campaign.
  • That Crigger and Littrell held campaign organization meetings during county hours.
  • That Kunkle, Crigger, Littrell and Bell encouraged District Clerk’s employees to engage in campaigning on Crigger’s campaign and were told to expect ‘Blue Book’ time in return for campaigning.
  • Rebecca Littrell maintained records of Crigger’s campaign activities of District Clerk employees.
  • Littrell maintained the records of the ‘Blue Book’ time granted to employees in return for campaigning for Crigger.
  • Sherry Bell maintained records of campaign activities for Crigger’s election campaign by employees of the District Clerks office.
  • Sherry Bell transmitted lists of polling employees to Littrell for the Crigger’s campaign.
  • Sherry Bell coordinated the schedules of District Clerk employees for facilitating the employees campaign activities.
  • Littrell transmitted a “Crigger walk list” to Sherry Bell and that Littrell created the ‘precincts.xls’ document on her company computer for the campaign.

Arrest warrants for Kunkle, Crigger, Littrell and Bell were delivered today to the Sheriff’s Department. No court hearings have been posted on the county website. The Collin County Observer is posting the indictments of the District Clerk’s defendants below.

——————————————-

Dismissal, Patricia Crigger that dismissed older charges three weeks before the new indictments.
Indictment, Hannah Kunkle, former elected District Clerk
Indictment, Patricia Crigger, current elected District Clerk
Indictment, Rebecca “Becky” Littrell, appointed Chief Deputy District Clerk
Indictment, Sherry Bell, employee of the District Clerk’s office

Bill

Comments, Pingbacks:

Comment from: John Pitchford [Visitor] Email
Indict Judge John Roach! From Dallas Morning News 10/27/10.

“The District Attorney, John Roach, is using exactly the same type of duplicate books as Kunkle’s, instead calling it “High-Five.” The same allegation – falsifying official documents – could potentially be applied to this program as well.”
Call me if you’d like to do more about Collin County Corruption other than just talking about it.

06/03/11 @ 07:08
cps
Corruption in the Collin County District Clerk’s Office

District Clerks indicted again on corruption

Corruption in the Collin County District Clerk’s Office – Officials indicted for Third Degree Felonies

District Clerk, Patricia Crigger, Former District Clerk, Hannah Kunkle, and Deputy Chief District Clerk, Rebecca Littrell were indicted this afternoon. A Collin County Grand Jury charged the three officials with 3rd degree felonies of Abuse of Official Capacity between the amounts of $20,000 and $100,000. They each face up to 2 to 10 years in the State Prison and or $10,000 fine if convicted.

Hannah Kunkle
Patricia Wysong Crigger

The Texas Rangers raided the Collin County Courthouse in June 2010 pursuant to a subpoena seeking computers and documents after District Clerk employees were suspected of giving employees paid leave for helping Patricia Crigger campaign for District Clerk during the 2010 election.

Last year a Grand Jury indicted District Clerk Patricia Crigger and 5 District Clerks and supervisors. Last month a special prosecutor dismissed all charges, but stated there was still an investigation in the works, and that charges may still be made.

This is the first time that Hannah Kunkle has been formally charged in the corruption case.

The county website does not yet show the warrants or hearing dates.

Bill

cps
DMN – Editorial: Courthouse circus in Collin County

Dallas Morning News Editorial:

Courthouse circus in Collin County

Published 28 October 2010 04:39 AM
However the mess in Collin County’s courthouse is unraveled, it’s fortunate that the man in the middle – DA John Roach – will be out of office by then.

Roach has cultivated a reputation as a button-down, no-nonsense district attorney, but some kind of political nonsense is stinking up the courthouse. Outside prosecutors may end up in charge of two contentious cases – one against a sitting judge, the other against supervisors in the district clerk’s office. So far, so good.

Even better, because Roach is not on the ballot for a third term, and a successor will be in office if more dominoes fall in the criminal cases. A new DA might help restore public confidence that countyprosecutors don’t mix politics into law enforcement. And should charges be sustained against District Judge Suzanne Wooten or the clerk supervisors, the outcome might be cleansed of the suspicion of ill motive – if that’s possible at this stage.

Witness the standing ovation Wooten got from defense attorneys in her courtroom after her recent indictment on bribery charges. Some have accused Roach of a witch hunt, harassment and foot-dragging in his yearlong investigation of his fellow Republican. It was inappropriate that Roach dismissed members of the defense bar who “whine and cry” at hard-ball law enforcement.

A tough DA is one thing; one who antagonizes critics fritters away respect.

Wooten, who is currently suspended with pay, gained her judgeship two years ago after an expensive campaign to unseat longtime GOP incumbent Charles Sandoval. Charges allege a conspiracy and quid pro quo involving campaign money from a couple with a grudge against Sandoval because of rulings in their child-custody case.

The attorney general’s office is now handling the Wooten case. Putting the facts before a jury is overdue.

In the case against the clerk’s supervisors, the latest development oozes with embarrassment for the DA. Indictments won by prosecutors in August allege a conspiracy in the clerk’s office to fake time cards so employees could do campaign work on county time.

Prosecutors disclosed this week that Roach’s office has been doing its own fudging of personnel records to give employees phantom days off as rewards for good work. The admission opens up the DA to charges of hypocrisy that are hard to counter.

At stake is the political career of Chief Deputy District Clerk Patricia Crigger, another Republican. She won her primary campaign for the district clerk’s job in March and has no Democratic opponent in next week’s election.

Roach’s office has asked for an outside prosecutor to take over the cases against Crigger and five others. As if he had any choice.

The citizens of Collin County deserve a courthouse minus the circus atmosphere. It appears that the job of erasing that image will fall to newcomers.

Comments, Pingbacks:

Comment from: Squanderville Resident [Visitor]
Clearly, Law & Order have left the
Collin County Court House!
HELP!!
PermalinkPermalink10/29/10 @ 07:16
Comment from: Pamela J. Lakatos [Visitor] Email
Thank you for posting this. I rarely have the time or inclination to read what newspaper boards feel important enough to memorialize as an editorial.While I do not pretend to know what the truth is, I suspect it has as much to do with the abusive exercise of power and the seductive effect of getting even as it has to do with justice.

No matter what the truth, damage has been done to all involved. Our county has been made the brunt of jokes, our elected officials have been adversely affected, no matter how innocent they might be, and the tax payers have been played.

There is much to be said for a new start. Let’s hope that our future will be bright, not because of who may or may not win in this election, but because of the caliber of the people we allow to ascend to the most important offices we have the privilege to elect.

Knowledge is power and power exercised intelligently is a gift we give to our children.

PermalinkPermalink10/29/10 @ 22:04
Comment from: DALLAS ATTORNEY [Visitor]
WORLD’S BIGGEST SCAM…..it just goes to prove that no one in COLLIN COUNTY is working very hard…and did NOT need a new MEGA courhouse….How else can so many employeess take so much time off UNLESS their workload was light…MANY people should be going to jail in COLLIN COUNTY …IN ANY OTHER TEXAS COUNTY ….investigations and prosecutions would follow..for much less than this MESS.
PermalinkPermalink10/30/10 @ 08:55
Comment from: Chuck Bloom [Visitor] Email
An editorial written by people who work and live in Dallas and hardly know the “ins” and “outs” of what’s REALLY happening in Collin County; based on stories written by staffers who only investigate the top layers of a large onion. There’s SO much more to what’s happening than anyone knows or wishes to investigate.
The sentiments might be correct but the truth and full disclosure of facts will never be known. Just remember, this is the same group of people who produced a puff piece on John Roach and what a great job he did during his term as DA …
Knowing what we do about the last TWO district attorneys, how can ANYONE living in Collin County trust a single thing that has happened in the courthouse? And what makes anyone believe it will change come Tuesday?
PermalinkPermalink10/30/10 @ 14:08
Comment from: Squanderville Resident [Visitor]
Collin County has become the laughing stock of the State of Texas!
Dallas Attorney you are so right, we did not need nor could we afford that Mega Courthouse. Example of County Commissioners gone wild! They had visions of land deals gone wild. But you can bet they made a bundle for themselves on the side.
The taxpayer will never get it paid off, & that is the reason CC has no Public Health Care.
The Commissioners squandered the money away. Just ask them!!
PermalinkPermalink10/31/10 @ 14:12
Comment from: Stepping Out on a weak limb [Visitor] Email
THANK YOU, JUDGE ROACH for making me regret EVER voting for you. We hope was a faux pax.. you need to go… WE’RE DONE HON, STICK A FORK IT IN! You are a horrible, terrible man and your son is too!
PermalinkPermalink11/01/10 @ 01:02
Comment from: Jen Haughton [Visitor] Email
“Hon” “Stick a fork in it” these are the immature statements you choose to make when commenting on such a serious subject. It sounds to me that you have very little to add except a spew of hate. I’ll pray for you.
PermalinkPermalink11/01/10 @ 06:22
Comment from: Squanderville Resident [Visitor] Email
So is Roach headed for New Mexico with the rest of the “Tribe”?
Sold the Windy Meadow Rancy, must be headed for the 4 corners!
PermalinkPermalink11/01/10 @ 15:28