Parent Defense Attorney (with Diana Rugh Johnson)

Children who age out of foster care, one in five will become homeless, 71% of women will be pregnant by the time they turn 21. There’s higher unemployment, criminal conviction, and having their own children end up in the foster care system. It is a cycle that we’re creating.

The American justice system is quite a paradox.  It’s a beacon of hope and justice for anyone accused of crime in America.  On the other hand, it can be a big and complex world that swallows the accused up without much thought to reformation and rehabilitation.  No one knows more about this dichotomy than defense attorneys, and perhaps no defense attorney knows this more than a parent defense attorney.  Parent attorneys are charged with the difficult task of defending parents accused of abuse and neglect, and helping them get their children back.  As you might imagine, many people find these parents to be indefensible, guilty before proven innocent.  Today’s guest Diana explains why they do indeed deserve defense, and how the justice system is reforming to put families first. 

A parent who has had a child removed has a constitutional right to an attorney just like a criminal defendant…and then children also have the right to an attorney so they are automatically appointed an attorney.
This guy called me not too long ago and he let me know that his son was graduating from high school, doing really well, was not taking any meds, and was enrolling in the US Navy…stories like that remind me that this is why I do what I do.

Interview Contents

3:00 – The gap between perception of these cases and what the cases are actually like.

5:15 – Common cases that Diana sees.

6:05 – Who turns in the parents?

8:10 – Investigating a parent that has been reported.

10:00 – The probable cause hearing.

11:30 – Is a child left with their parents during the case?

12:05 – The key players in the case.

14:30 – Trusting the child to know what is good for them.

18:40 – The timeline, process and potential outcomes for the case.

29:10 – Termination of parental rights. The civil death penalty.

30:20 – The onus to get kids back with their parents.

32:00 – An overview of foster care.

34:50 – Why do we need a parent defense attorney if a case manager also wants what is best for the family?

38:30 – Who is deciding if a parent is a real or just a perceived problem?

42:30 – When is a child not reunified with their parents?

42:10 – Sexual abuse.

43:40 – Repeat offenders.

45:20 – What percentage of the time do you see cases where it is appropriate for the children to be taken away from their parents?

47:25 – How often are we getting this cases right?

50:40 – Post foster care problems.

51:40 – A great case story.

Links

Diana's website

Blake Fletcher

San Francisco, CA

Livin it up!