From KKD: Chicago Trib: more info on corrupt Dorothy Brown under investigation

How long will this investigation take?  Now she says she is running for Mayor.  That’s insane and she basically challenges the FBI to “do something” about this at ever turn.

In the meantime, it cost fifty to 25 cents a page to get court records and you can only do it at the courthouse IF the printers are working and the employees “allow you” to get your file.

Pacer has been in operation since 2000 and costs 8 cents a page and it’s available to the public on the internet, as it should be.

FBI: Ex-employee alleges Dorothy Brown picked up cash payoffs at bagman’s home

A federal judge has ruled that the FBI had probable cause to search the cellphone of a longtime top aide to Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown as part of a sweeping probe into pay-to-play allegations of corruption in Brown’s office.

In denying a motion to quash information seized from former associate clerk Beena Patel’s phone, U.S. District Judge Sarah Ellis revealed new details from a sealed 2015 FBI search warrant application, including allegations from a former employee that Brown personally picked up cash payoffs from employees at the home of her alleged “bagman.”

 

The former employee — identified only as Individual A — told agents that Brown was personally involved in the hiring of all 2,300 employees in the office and that Individual A resigned after learning that she was “expected to make monetary contributions” to Brown as part of her employment, Ellis wrote.

The same former employee also said in an FBI interview that employees who received promotions “either contributed money to (Brown’s) campaigns or were otherwise close to the Clerk,” and that “it was common knowledge” that Patel had paid for Brown’s vacation to India.

Those allegations, although vague, were “consistent with the alleged culture of improper benefits” in the office and gave the FBI probable cause to seize and search Patel’s phone, Ellis said in the 12-page ruling posted Tuesday.

Patel, a former associate clerk who at one point supervised close to 500 office employees, has pleaded not guilty to charges she lied on two separate occasions to a federal grand jury investigating corruption in Brown’s office.

Brown, who earlier this year launched a long-shot bid for mayor, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has not been charged despite an investigation that has been underway for nearly five years.

READ MORE: Dorothy Brown brushes aside federal probe, announces run for Chicago mayor »

Brown’s criminal-defense attorney, Vadim Glozman, told the Tribune on Wednesday that Brown has been a loyal public servant for nearly two decades and that much of the information that’s come out about the ongoing corruption probe has been “sensationalized.”

“You have to take what these witnesses said (to the FBI) with a grain of salt,” Glozman said. He said he has not seen the 38-page FBI search warrant affidavit because it remains under seal.

Brown won a fifth term as clerk in 2016 even though the Cook County Democratic Party had dropped its endorsement of her after the federal investigation was disclosed.

She entered the crowded mayoral race in April, saying she wanted to create a “transformative, transparent and inclusive government.”

Asked then about the ongoing investigation into her office, Brown said of law enforcement: “Anytime someone comes and has a complaint, it’s their duty to look into it, whether it’s true or false — as these are false.”

A spokeswoman for Brown’s mayoral campaign had no comment Wednesday on Ellis’ ruling but in an email statement said Brown “urges the U.S. Attorney to charge the people with perjury who told the lies that started the entire investigation.”

Long known as a haven for patronage jobs, Brown’s office is the official record-keeper for the county court system and has an annual operating budget of more than $100 million.

READ MORE: ‘Going rate’ to buy a job in Dorothy Brown’s office? $10,000, employee tells feds »

The allegations of pay-to-play have focused on the large contingency of clerk’s office employees descended from India. The Tribune has reported that Brown first came under investigation after the sale of a North Lawndale building owned by Patel’s brother, Narendra, a west suburban businessman and longtime campaign donor to Brown who is now deceased.

In a filing earlier this year, federal prosecutors revealed that one former clerk’s office employee told investigators that the “going rate” to buy a job was $10,000, to be paid to Brown’s personal bagman.

Financial records appeared to back up the claims, including transactions showing the alleged bagman — identified as Employee One — paid $40,000 directly to Brown and a company she controlled, according to prosecutors. The clerk later deposited $30,000 of those funds into her campaign war chest, prosecutors alleged.

So far, the investigation has yielded only one conviction. In 2016, Sivasubramani Rajaram, a former clerk’s office employee, pleaded guilty to falsely testifying to the grand jury that he had not talked with Brown after his 2014 hiring.

Prosecutors alleged that to secure the job, Rajaram had paid a $15,000 bribe to Brown disguised as a loan to Goat Masters Corp., a goat meat supply company that Brown and her husband had recently founded.

Rajaram was sentenced last year to probation.

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @jmetr22b

MORE COVERAGE

Federally appointed monitor to follow Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s hiring practices »

Prosecutors allege Dorothy Brown took $15K bribe, but her lawyer calls it loan »

Ex-top aide to Dorothy Brown indicted on charges she lied to grand jury »

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From SB/VR: Ten tips on writing appellate briefs in Illinois

Appellate Practice

Ten Tips to Improve Your Case on Appeal

A reviewing court can be an intimidating place, especially for the occasional appellate practitioner. Here are ten practical tips to put you at ease and strengthen your case.

Illinois is home to not only a talented group of reviewing-court judges, but also some procedural quirks that may be unfamiliar to the occasional appellate practitioner. With that in mind, here are 10 practical tips on various issues – some critical and some subtle – to improve one’s chances in an Illinois reviewing court prior to the oral-argument stage.

1. Standard of review is the key

The success of many, if not most, appeals rises and falls on the standard of review. Yet many practitioners fail to adequately develop an argument for the standard that best serves their appeal, while others entirely fail to identify an appropriate standard.

Identifying the appropriate standard of review should be a practitioner’s first task, and it should be considered before the notice of appeal is even filed. Most reversals occur on questions of law that are reviewed de novo, meaning no deference is given to the trial court’s ruling.

A prospective appellant who cannot persuasively argue that de novo review is appropriate might want to reconsider the appeal. Other standards of review, such as “clearly erroneous,” “abuse of discretion,” or “contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence” are more difficult for an appellant because they trigger deference to the trial judge. Trial judges are rarely found to have abused their discretion, and findings of fact are seldom contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

Conversely, an appellee should always push hard for a standard of review that defers to a trial judge’s ruling. This is especially true when the trial judge makes credibility determinations or other factual findings that are not typically overturned.

Finally, remember that an appeal with multiple issues might involve multiple standards of review. Thus, if a favorable standard of review cannot be established for the case as a whole, consider whether a favorable standard applies for particular issues.

Similar concerns apply to petitions for leave to appeal (PLAs) filed with the Illinois Supreme Court. Of the thousands of PLAs filed every year, the ones most commonly accepted involve de novo review. Specifically, the Illinois Supreme Court is primarily interested in issues of great legal importance, cases involving a conflict between appellate panels, cases requiring exercise of the court’s supervisory authority, and cases of a unique nature.1 PLAs raising challenges to credibility determinations, discretionary rulings, or factual findings are often denied.

Thus, a divorce litigant who files a PLA contending that the trial judge abused her discretion in setting spousal maintenance might be wasting time and money, as might the criminal defendant who contends that the trial judge erroneously believed the victim’s testimony. Such cases are rarely accepted.

2. Improve your appendix

An appellant’s brief must include, as an appendix, a copy of the order under review, an index to the record on appeal, any materials that form the basis for the underlying ruling, and other items enumerated by rule.2 Many appellants fail to satisfy this requirement, possibly because they don’t grasp its practical purpose.

If an appeal involves an important document (such as a contract, will, lease, or insurance policy), it should be appended to the brief because the record on appeal is sent only to the authoring justice’s chambers. Unless another justice specifically asks to see it, it might stay there until after the ruling is issued.

For example, in the first district, it’s unlikely the record on appeal will be shuffled up and down the hallway so that each member of the three-justice panel can examine it. In the other appellate districts, where justices’ offices could be hundreds of miles apart, three-judge review of the full record is even less likely. In a case before the seven-member Illinois Supreme Court, that bulky record containing the smoking gun document is probably not going to be shipped from Chicago to southern Illinois and all points in between.

The Illinois reviewing courts are moving toward an electronic record transfer system, but that program has not been fully implemented. Accordingly, include critical items in the appendix. Be careful, though – if a document is not part of the official record, attaching it to a brief is improper.3

Regardless, attaching a key document to an appellate brief gives the reviewing court immediate access during oral argument, which cannot be said for an electronic copy. Good appellate lawyers must ensure that important documents are in the record on appeal and the appendix.

3. Untimely notice of appeal? There’s still hope

Generally, a notice of appeal under Rule 303 must be filed “with the clerk of the circuit court within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment appealed from.”4 Too often, practitioners file their notice late, either unwittingly or perhaps hoping neither the court nor the appellee will notice.

Make no mistake, an untimely notice of appeal is almost always discovered. The court might discover it immediately and dismiss an appeal on its own motion, or it might find out only after the attorneys have spent countless hours (and clients’ dollars) briefing and arguing the appeal.

But tardiness is not always fatal. Even a litigant who fails to exercise the absolute right to file a Rule 303(a) appeal within 30 days may request leave to file a late notice of appeal.5 Such motions must present a reasonable excuse and be filed within 30 days of the original deadline (i.e., 60 days from the original ruling). Analogous provisions exist for criminal appeals, which the state used in its appeal in the Drew Peterson case.6

The rules likewise provide a procedure to file untimely PLAs in the Illinois Supreme Court.7 Thus, an attorney representing an appellee may be wise to avoid filing a motion to dismiss an untimely appeal until 60 days have passed since the appealable ruling, because doing so alerts the appellant to the problem while a cure remains possible.

4. Consider a stay or expedited appeal

Many litigants incorrectly conclude that filing an appeal is all it takes to preserve their rights on appeal. Unfortunately, they often ignore the importance of seeking a stay in the trial court, the appellate court, or both. The failure to seek a stay may result in a case being rendered moot, or perhaps in a pyrrhic victory with no chance of substantive relief.

One example is In re Tekela,8 which involved a mother whose parental rights were terminated. She filed a notice of appeal but did not seek a stay, thereby permitting her children to be adopted during the pendency of the appeal.

Eventually, the first district entered an order reversing the termination. Shortly thereafter, however, the appellate court learned for the first time that the children had already been adopted and living with a new family for roughly a year and a half.

On further appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court held that since Illinois law requires any attack on an adoption to be made within a year, and because the mother did not seek a stay of the termination order, the mother’s appeal was rendered moot. The court also noted that the mother could have, but did not, request that the case be placed on an accelerated docket9 and be given an expedited briefing schedule.10

Subsequent changes to the Supreme Court Rules addressed several of the issues in Tekela, but the changes generally pertain only to children and parental rights. Appellants in other cases should still consider whether a request for a stay or expedited review is necessary.

Practitioners should be aware of some twists on this topic in the context of interlocutory appeals. For example, discretionary interlocutory appeals taken under Rule 306 impose an automatic stay of trial court proceedings.11In other contexts, an interlocutory appeal generally does not divest a trial court of all jurisdiction or serve as a stay, but it does restrain the trial court from entering orders that change or modify the order under appeal.12Finally, if a stay is not possible or practical, consider requesting an expedited briefing schedule or an accelerated docket.13

5. No court reporter? No problem (maybe)

The appellant bears the burden of presenting the appellate court with a sufficient record for review, and the absence of an adequate record severely undermines the appellant’s case.14 Accordingly, an attorney who conducts an important hearing without a court reporter commits a serious mistake.

Nonetheless, if the parties can agree and stipulate as to what was said in open court, they can file an agreed statement of facts.15 If they’re unable to do that, a litigant may file a “bystander’s report.”16 This requires a person who was present to accurately memorialize the testimony. This person may be, for example, a party or the witness.

The bystander’s report must be served on all parties within 28 days after the notice of appeal is filed. Additional deadline requirements exist for proposed amendments to the report, and eventually it must be presented to the trial judge who heard the case.

The trial judge will then resolve any disagreements over whether the bystander’s report accurately memorializes the testimony, and then certify the bystander’s report so that the appellate court can consider it. While this is an imperfect and difficult process that has a higher risk of error than a verbatim transcript, it is better than presenting the reviewing court with no record of proceedings.

6. Understand that a brief is a critical opportunity

In some appellate districts, draft rulings are prepared by the justice or her law clerks and provided to the panel in advance of oral argument. In others, a clerk prepares a “bench memo” in advance of oral argument that sometimes resembles a ruling except instead of saying something like “the court finds…,” it says “the court should find.…” Assuming the memo is adopted by the authoring justice and other panel members, it is converted into a formal opinion. Of course, if the authoring justice or panel is not comfortable with the contents of the draft opinion or bench memo, it will be modified before being issued as a final opinion. The Illinois Supreme Court follows a different procedure, and practices may vary from one reviewing-court judge to another.

The existence of these documents (whether in the form of a draft opinion or a bench memo) underscores the importance of the parties’ written briefs. These documents are prepared by the justices’ law clerks prior to oral argument, justices give fair consideration to their clerks’ analyses, and these documents are the foundation for a final opinion. That said, I do not suggest that oral argument is unimportant or secondary; in fact, some judges place great emphasis on oral argument, and sometimes draft rulings are changed significantly in reaction to it.

Nonetheless, an appellate brief is the first and best opportunity to make your case. If you have a critical point to make, don’t save it for oral argument. Indeed, many cases are not orally argued. A party must request it, and the requests are not always granted.

Finally, appellants should take full advantage of their reply brief. Reply briefs are an opportunity to attack the appellee’s arguments and obtain the last word. They should not be used to merely regurgitate points already made.

7. Frame the issues and tell a story…accurately

During his confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “I think all good judges focus a lot on the facts. We talk about the law, and that’s a great interest for all of us. But I think most cases turn on the facts, so you do have to know those. You have to know the record.”

The Chief Justice raises a good point. Suppose you’re representing an appellant in a negligence case. The court doesn’t need a primer on the elements of negligence, so don’t spend much time setting forth these elements. Instead, focus on why the facts of your case involve a duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Keep in mind four important caveats when crafting a statement of facts, however.

Avoid being argumentative. This is not to say you should not frame and present your facts in the best possible light. Nonetheless, providing a fair and objective recitation of facts is generally more effective than giving an editorial.

Carefully avoid misstating facts or presenting them in a misleading way. Few things are more damaging to your case than misleading the court. These first two caveats are not just practice pointers; they are requirements. Supreme Court Rule 341(h)(6) expressly requires a statement of facts “necessary to an understanding of the case, stated accurately and fairly and without argument or comment….”

Be concise and limit the “story” to relevant and dispositive facts. Don’t spend time making a statement of facts lengthy. Focus on making it effective.

Remember the standard of review. For example, if the trial judge found that the appellee’s testimony was not credible, an appellant should highlight that because credibility determinations receive considerable deference. In contrast, if the case involves de novo review of a contract dispute, any favorable language in the agreement should be highlighted, and the trial judge’s analysis is less important.

8. Remember, formatting rules exist for a reason

The amount of paper that flows across the desk of an Illinois Supreme Court Justice is extraordinary. For that reason, Supreme Court Rule 341 sets forth the physical requirements for appellate briefs, including the page limitations and other rules regarding margins, spacing, and the like.17 Attorneys must sign a certificate of compliance confirming that the submitted brief follows these requirements.18

Attorneys sometimes attempt to surreptitiously skirt these rules with subtle deviations, such as typeface that is 11.5-point rather than required 12-point, or by using margins that are .9 inches instead of 1 inch. However, such efforts are often identified by the clerk’s office, which will likely refuse to accept the brief in that condition. A lawyer who waits until the last day to file a brief only to have it rejected by the clerk may face an embarrassing conversation with a client. Note, too, that noncompliance with Rule 341 may lead to sanctions.19

One other point to consider on this issue, this one being from the court’s perspective: attorneys who are willing to slyly disregard or disobey formatting rules may be perceived as likely to misstate the facts or law or otherwise mislead the court. Don’t jeopardize credibility by failing to comply with Rule 341, especially because that rarely strengthens the brief. Indeed, most practitioners do not need 70 pages to present an effective argument, and those with truly complex appeals may file a motion to exceed the page limitation.

9. Cite the best authorities available

Attorneys asking a court to do something should always aid the court by providing an authoritative basis for the request. Citing the best authorities available seems like a common-sense approach, but lawyers in both the trial and reviewing courts often make one of six mistakes in citing authority. Here’s how to avoid them.

Cite authority. Written arguments sometimes lack citation to any authority whatsoever, which violates Supreme Court Rule 341(h)(7). Note, too, that Rule 341(h)(7) dictates that case citations be provided with a certain level of competency because “a reviewing court is entitled to have the issues clearly defined with pertinent authority cited and is not simply a depository in which the appealing party may dump the burden of argument and research.”20

Cite cases that are relevant. Lawyers sometimes cite cases that do not support their position, that support their adversary’s position, or that have nothing to do with the case.

Avoid string cites when they are unnecessary. If an adversary argues that no court has ever awarded the relief you seek, citing a case from each appellate district is an effective way to overcome that argument. However, citing five cases for a basic proposition of law is an effective way to annoy the court.

Make sure the cited cases are good law. That involves more than just determining whether the case has been directly overturned. For example, many practitioners do not know that appellate court cases prior to 1935 are not binding precedent.21

Look for controlling precedent. Make every effort to cite to either the Illinois Supreme Court or, less preferably, the appellate district in which you are litigating. While it usually makes little difference, the reality is that “one district of the appellate court is not always bound to follow the decisions of other districts.”22

Succinctly explain the rationale. Lawyers sometimes cite a case without expressing a clear reason or rationale for the citation, or conversely, they spend an entire paragraph analyzing a case when less discussion will suffice. Consider whether a one-sentence parenthetical following a case citation would be sufficient or helpful.

10. Choose your battles wisely

One of the most important things a practitioner can do in the appellate court is to carefully choose the issues to appeal and how to best frame them. A lawyer on the losing end of a ruling might think that the trial judge committed a litany of errors and, occasionally, that happens. Seeking to convince the appellate court that every one of the trial judge’s rulings was erroneous is a good recipe for failure, because it’s likely that few, if any, constitute reversible error.

Worse yet, bogging down a reviewing court in unpersuasive minutiae will cause attorneys to expend significant “persuasion capital” and credibility better used on more critical issues. Therefore, instead of fixating on a dozen rulings the trial court got wrong, focus on the three or four most critical, most prejudicial, and most likely to warrant reversal.

Choosing one’s battles, however, requires caution. Points not argued on appeal,23 raised for the first time on appeal,24 or raised for the first time in a reply brief25 are generally waived or forfeited. Further, prudent attorneys will follow Rule 303(b)(2) by clearly specifying the judgment or order being appealed26 and will recognize that the Illinois Supreme Court routinely deems arguments as waived if they were not identified in the appellant’s PLA.27

Litigating in a reviewing court can be daunting for many attorneys, especially those who seldom do it. Ideally, these 10 tips will give the occasional appellate practitioners a higher level of comfort and understanding of the reviewing process and increase the effectiveness of their arguments.

Hon. John C. Anderson is a circuit judge in Twelfth Judicial District (Will County). He is a member of Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee and a former law clerk to Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride.


  1. Ill. S. Ct. R. 315(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).
  2. Ill. S. Ct. R. 342(a) (eff. Jan. 1, 2005).
  3. Seee.g.Harshman v. DePhillips218 Ill.2d 482, 503, 844 N.E.2d 941, 945-46 (2006).
  4. Ill. S. Ct. R. 303(a) (eff. June 4, 2008).
  5. Ill. S. Ct. R. 303(d) (civil cases) (eff. June 4, 2008).
  6. Ill. S. Ct. R. 606(c) (eff. Mar. 20, 2009).
  7. Ill. S. Ct. R. 315(b) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).
  8. In re Tekela202 Ill. 2d 282780 N.E.2d 304 (2002).
  9. Ill. S. Ct. R. 311 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).
  10. Ill. S. Ct. R. 343(c) (eff. July 1, 2008).
  11. Ill. S. Ct. Rs. 306(a)(1) through (9) and 306(c)(5) (eff. Feb. 16, 2011).
  12. See Witters v. Hicks338 Ill.App.3d 751, 755-56, 790 N.E.2d 5, 10 (2003).
  13. Ill. S. Ct. Rs. 311(b) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010) and 343(c) (eff. July 1, 2008).
  14. People v. Hunt234 Ill.2d 49, 58, 914 N.E.2d 477, 481 (2009).
  15. Ill. S. Ct. R. 323(d) (eff. Dec. 13, 2005).
  16. Ill. S. Ct. R. 323(c) (eff. Dec. 13, 2005).
  17. Ill. S. Ct. R. 341 (eff. July 1, 2008).
  18. Ill. S. Ct. R. 341(c) (eff. July 1, 2008).
  19. Ill. S. Ct. R. 375 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994).
  20. In re Marriage of Baumgartner237 Ill.2d 468, 474, 930 N.E.2d 1024, 1027 (2010).
  21. Bryson v. News America Publications, Inc., 174 Ill.2d 77, 95, 672 N.E.2d 1207, 1217 (1996).
  22. In re May 1991 Will County Grand Jury152 Ill.2d 381, 398, 604 N.E.2d 929, 938 (1992).
  23. Ill. S. Ct. R. 341(h)(7) (eff. July 1, 2008).
  24. Parks v. Kownacki193 Ill.2d 164, 180, 737 N.E.2d 287, 296 (2000).
  25. Salerno v. Innovative Surveillance Technology, Inc., 402 Ill.App.3d 490, 502, 932 N.E.2d 101, 113 (2010).
  26. Ill. S. Ct. R. 303(b)(2) (eff. June 4, 2008).
  27. Ill. S. Ct. R. 315(c)(3) (eff. Feb. 26, 1010); see also People v. McDonough239 Ill. 2d 260, 276, 940 N.E.2d 1100, 1111 (2010).

From change.org: wish list to clean up DCFS/CPS

If you get a chance, please sign this poor woman’s petition for justice:

https://change.org/p/presidant-donald-trump-lets-change-how-cps-dcfs-operates-now?signed=true

and look at her wish list to clean up DCFS/CPS:

SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE CHANGED IN THIS SYSTEM ON HOW THEY OPERATE AND EVALUATE THESE CASES! LET THIS GO NATIONAL PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!
IDEAS:
a.) There needs to be more state workers to take over extra cases so that the children and families cases don’t go longer than they need to and to make sure notes, documents, etc. are all correct and appropriate.

b.) Laws need to be uniform throughout the nation. When interstate cases happen this makes it a harder and the cases take much longer since it is more complex.

c.) Children shouldn’t be taken away until there is a true evidence in a case to make that case true unless there is evidence that is apparent right away for the safety of the children, but the parents still should have a fair trial.

d.) Parents should be told their rights. Many times this doesn’t happen and most people don’t know until its too late and parents are stripped of their rights.

e.) There should be more than one person (judge) involved in these cases. Why should one person determine what happens to these families and children? There should be people that are maybe experienced in foster care etc. taking over these cases to help determine what needs to be done.

f.) Grandparents and blood relatives (aunts, uncles, etc.)should have rights to their families children. Some families are small and they need to take that into consideration. KEEP THESE CHILDREN WITH THEIR FAMILIES IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!

g.) If one parent is being investigated for abuse, neglect, etc. the children should go to the parent that is not involved in doing so until the courts deem that the case is untrue. Some parents are falsely accused but in some cases this is true! Why should the children continue to live with a possible abusive/neglectful parent?

h.) Cases that were falsely accused should be closed or cases where a parent/parents/family are falsely accused to be taken off record because in some cases it interferes with a parent or both parents getting a job. There is a statue of limitations that makes it hard for people to fight to get their cases off their file. How is a parent supposed to provide for their children in these cases?

i.) Schools , daycares, etc. should be more educated on how to deal with foster children and know more when to report possible abuse.

j.) Free parenting laws nationwide to allow parents to raise their children the way they see fit to an extent. Children will grow up to be more independent.

k.) Foster parents should be thoroughly checked and have a psychological evaluation. There are too many foster parents that abuse foster children both physically, sexually, and emotionally.

l.) Agencies should have computerized notes to make it possibly easier for the caseworkers and so they hopefully make more accurate notes and notes, documents won’t get lost as easily.

m.) Parents/relatives should be retried if the cases against them were false or information was misconstrued.

****We need to change this system in order for these children and families to have unnecessary emotional trauma and PTSD that takes years or therapy to overcome!****
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME IN LISTENING TO MY THOUGHTS IN CHANGING THIS SYSTEM AND SIGNING MY PETITION!

OUR FAMILY APPRECIATES IT AND HELP CHANGE THIS SYSTEM SO CHILDREN CAN COME HOME AND THRIVE IN THE RIGHT FAMILY!

YOU CAN BE THE CHANGE!!!! MAKE IT HAPPEN!!! PLEASE SIGN!!!!!!!!!

Sincerely,
Ashley Szekeres

From WH: How to sue DCFS for lying and removing children wrongfully

How to Sue Child Protective Services

Each state has its own Child Protective Services (CPS) agency that is responsible for protecting the health and welfare of children. CPS investigations can be traumatic and stressful for both parents and children. However, emotional distress alone does not give you the right to sue CPS. Since CPS social workers are government agents, they cannot act in ways that violate your established civil rights. An overzealous CPS worker may violate your constitutional right to due process, or your protection from unreasonable search and seizure. When that happens, you may be able to sue for monetary damages.[1]

Part1

EditBuilding Your Case

  1. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 1
    1

    Create a chronological outline of events. Beginning with your first encounter with CPS, draft an account of each encounter or communication you’ve had with CPS social workers and other staff members.[2]

    • Write down the names, job titles, and direct contact information of every individual at CPS who contacted you or communicated with you in any way.
    • You also want outlines of any other activities that have anything to do with your children or the reasons CPS became involved with your children.
  2. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 2
    2

    Gather any related documents and other evidence. You should already have been documenting every interaction you had with CPS. All of these records are now evidence you can use in your lawsuit.[3]

    • If you had written documents that you can no longer locate, make a note of them. CPS should have copies as well, and you can request them later.
    • You also want to gather any documents that have anything to do with the care of your children. For example, if you’re home schooling your children, gather school schedules, assignments, and curricula and make copies.
  3. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 3
    3

    Consult an attorney. Civil rights lawsuits in federal court are notoriously complicated. If you’ve decided to sue CPS for violating your constitutional rights, you need an experienced civil rights attorney to represent you.[4]

    • Civil rights attorneys typically offer a free initial consultation, so you can use this opportunity to speak to several attorneys. That can help you choose the best attorney for your case.
    • These lawsuits can drag on for a long time. Pick an attorney who is passionate about your case and who you get along with – you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and discussing some potentially sensitive issues.
    • If you have been brought up on criminal charges of child abuse or neglect, you may already have a criminal defense lawyer. Ask them for a referral to a civil rights attorney who can help you sue CPS.
  4. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 4
    4

    Identify an established right. The first hurdle you’ll face is pointing to a specific, established constitutional right that CPS violated while working with you and your children. This is a legal argument. Your attorney will review your documents and notes to determine which of your civil rights have been violated in your situation.[5]

    • This is part of the reason documenting all of your interactions with CPS is so important. Something that seems unfair to you may not necessarily rise to the level of a constitutional violation. However, something you thought insignificant might actually be a big deal.
  5. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 5
    5

    Calculate your damages. You may have heard of parents who sued CPS for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. However, the amount of money must be directly related to the violation of your rights.[6]

    • Your attorney will start with actual damages, if you have any. For example, if you and your spouse have been seeing a counselor as a result of the trauma you experienced from dealing with CPS, that expense may be considered actual damages.
    • Additional damages, known as punitive damages, may be available to you if the actions of the CPS social workers involved in your case were particularly egregious.

Part2

EditInitiating Your Lawsuit

  1. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 6
    1

    File a complaint. Typically, complaints are not extremely detailed. However, a complaint in federal court that alleges violations of civil rights requires more information than the typical complaint. If the violations aren’t explained correctly, the lawsuit may be thrown out. This is why you need an experienced civil rights attorney.[7]

    • You don’t have to prove anything or submit any evidence when you file your complaint. At this point, you’re merely making allegations.
    • Your attorney will file your complaint in the federal district court that has jurisdiction over the county where the CPS agency is located. You may have to pay the $400 filing fee, or your attorney may pay it and add the amount to the costs of your lawsuit.
  2. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 7
    2

    Have CPS served with the complaint. Once your complaint is filed, CPS must be notified of the lawsuit so that it has the opportunity to respond. Your attorney typically will have the complaint served on the attorneys of record for CPS.[8]
  3. Image titled Sue Child Protective Services Step 8
    3

    Evaluate the response from CPS. When CPS is served with your complaint, the agency has a limited period of time to file an answer with the court. A copy of that written answer will be delivered to your attorney.[9]

    • Your attorney will go over the response with you. Typically, the answer will deny all of the allegations and raise the defense of qualified immunity.
    • The response from CPS may include a motion for summary judgment. Similar to a motion to dismiss, this motion argues you have failed to state a claim for which the court can provide any legal or monetary relief.
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    4

    Attend the summary judgment hearing. When you sue CPS, the agency will likely raise the defense of qualified immunity. While technically a defense, if the court grants the agency (and its social workers) qualified immunity, you won’t be able to sue the agency at all.[10]

    • When CPS argues it is entitled to qualified immunity, the judge must hold a hearing to decide this question before you can move forward with the lawsuit. Until this matter is decided, you won’t be able to do any further work or information gathering on your lawsuit.
    • Your attorney and the attorneys for CPS will submit lengthy briefs to the court arguing both sides of the issue. The judge may decide the question after reading these briefs, or they may have a hearing in court.
    • If the judge denies CPS qualified immunity, you still may not be able to move forward to the next stage of litigation. CPS has the right to appeal that decision and argue to an appellate court that the agency is entitled to qualified immunity.

Part3

EditGoing to Trial

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    1

    Send written questions and requests to CPS. Provided the judge rules that CPS is not entitled to qualified immunity, you will proceed to the discovery phase. You will work with your attorney to create written questions and requests for documents, which must be answered by CPS.[11]

    • You will request CPS’s entire case file related to your family, as well as any internal documents, including emails, that are related to the investigation of your family.
    • The documents and answers to questions may reveal additional problems or violations that you didn’t know about before.
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    2

    Depose the social workers involved. A deposition is an interview under oath. Since so much of your case relies on the subjective beliefs and interpretations of the social workers involved, these depositions will be crucial.[12]

    • You may or may not need to attend the deposition. Your attorney may want you there, or they may decide that it’s better if you’re not there.
    • Regardless of whether you attend, your attorney will go over the deposition with you afterward and explain how it affects your case.
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    3

    Prepare for your own deposition. The attorneys for CPS will likely want to depose you as well. Your attorney will meet with you at least once to go over likely questions you’ll be asked and explain to you how to respond to deposition questions.[13]

    • Generally, you want to answer the questions directly and honestly, but refrain from rambling or further conversation. For example, if you are asked a yes/no question, your answer would be “yes” or “no,” without elaboration.
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    4

    Answer questions from CPS. Just as you sent written questions to CPS, the agency will likely send written questions for you to answer as well. Your attorney will draft the specific answers after consultation with you.[14]

    • Your attorney may object to some of the questions. If they do, they’ll explain to you why you don’t have to answer those questions.
    • Even though these questions are in writing, they are still considered to be under oath. Answer each question as honestly and accurately as you can. If you don’t remember something, don’t guess.
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    5

    Participate in pre-trial hearings. Judges typically schedule numerous hearings to make sure the litigation is on track and progressing on schedule. You won’t have to attend many of these hearings or meetings personally. Your attorney will update you on what happened.[15]
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    6

    Evaluate any settlement offers. Lawsuits in federal court seldom make it to trial. Discovery can drag on for months, and most litigants prefer settling the case to avoid the uncertainty of trial. The judge may encourage settlement talks or preside over a settlement conference.[16]

    • Any settlement offers from CPS will be communicated to your attorney. Your attorney will present the offer to you and offer their advice. Regardless of what your attorney recommends, the decision of whether to accept or reject the settlement is solely your own.

From FB; Great article on how judges often award visitation to the abuser and ignore the warnings of the protective parent

https://masslive.com/expo/news/erry-2018/07/1d8d81b44f6371/domestic-violence-victims-stru.html

Domestic violence victims struggle in family courts to retain custody of children

From FB: $21 million missing from the US treasury, is anyone shocked?

https://exopermaculture.com/2017/12/10/forbes-magazine-21-trillion-missing-u-s-treasury/

Forbes magazine just yesterday became the first major media to blow the lid off of $21 trillion that have gone missing from the US treasury. The entire article is copied below. To give an idea of how much money that is, if you divide the entire US population of around 325 million into $21 trillion, the amount missing is equivalent to $65,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country.

CBS News in 2002 was the first to report on the much smaller amount of $2.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon, as acknowledged by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a report on the Dept. of Defense website. Rumsfeld’s report was later strangely removed from the website, but is still available on the Internet archive.

No other media picked up on this mind-blowing story. What should have been a top headline-grabbing story of highest concern to all Americans was simply dropped. Since then, a few major media have published isolated articles on missing trillions, as summarized on this revealing webpage, yet again, these stories were not given the top headlines they deserved. They thus attracted little notice and were dropped, so the public remained uniformed of this concerning news.

A courageous former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under George H. W. Bush by the name of Catherine Austin Fitts couldn’t believe this vitally important story was being largely ignored by the media. An incredibly sharp economist who once served as managing director of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co, Fitts researched further and has been reporting regularly on the many trillions missing on her highly informative and inspiring website solari.com. The media has conspicuously avoided her detailed work on this.

Michigan State professor of economics Mark Skidmore discovered the excellent work of Fitts several years ago. He couldn’t believe Fitts claim that $6.5 trillion were missing from the US government. Thinking she had mistakenly written trillions instead of billions, he and his graduate students sifted through thousands of US government reports and were astounded to find not only that Fitts was right, but that the amount was even greater that Fitts had thought.

Skidmore eventually worked together with Forbes magazine contributor Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University to compose the below article blowing the lid off this huge cover-up of $21 trillion gone missing from government coffers. Note that once certain officials saw Skidmore exposing this, the government removed many of the incriminating documents from their websites. But he wisely had downloaded all of the documents and has reposted this incriminating information on the website of Fitts on this webpage.

You can help to inform the public of this huge cover-up by spreading this news to all of your friends and colleagues. It’s time for us to join in demanding full transparency on how our tax dollars are used and to expose the major corruption taking place. See the “What you can do” section below the article for more ways you can make a difference. Thanks for caring. Together, we can build a brighter future for us and our children.

With best wishes for a transformed world,
Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Former White House interpreter and whistleblower
December 9, 2017

Note: Watch Prof. Skidmore discussing this astounding news in this interview.

Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?
By Laurence Kotlikoff
Forbes magazine, Dec 8, 2017

I am co-authoring this column with Mark Skidmore, a Professor of Economics at Michigan State University.

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” ~ Article I, Section 9, Clause 7, The US Constitution

On July 26, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report “Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported”. The report indicates that for fiscal year 2015 the Army failed to provide adequate support for $6.5 trillion in journal voucher adjustments.

According to the GAO’s Comptroller General, “Journal vouchers are summary-level accounting adjustments made when balances between systems cannot be reconciled. Often these journal vouchers are unsupported, meaning they lack supporting documentation to justify the adjustment or are not tied to specific accounting transactions…. For an auditor,journal vouchers are a red flag for transactions not being captured, reported, or summarized correctly.”

(Note, after Mark Skidmore began inquiring about OIG-reported unsubstantiated adjustments, the OIG’s webpage, which documented, albeit in a highly incomplete manner, these unsupported “accounting adjustments,” was mysteriously taken down. Fortunately, Mark copied the July 2016 report and all other relevant OIG-reports in advance and reposted them hereMark has repeatedly tried to contact Lorin Venable, Assistant Inspector General at the Office of the Inspector General. He has emailed, phoned, and used LinkedIn to ask Ms. Venable about OIG’s disclosure of unsubstantiated adjustments, but she has not responded.)

Given that the entire Army budget in fiscal year 2015 was $120 billion, unsupported adjustments were 54 times the level of spending authorized by Congress. The July 2016 report indicates that unsupported adjustments are the result of the Defense Department’s “failure to correct system deficiencies.” The result, according to the report, is that data used to prepare the year-end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail.

The report indicates that just 170 transactions accounted for $2.1 trillion in year-end unsupported adjustments. No information is given about these 170 transactions. In addition many thousands of transactions with unsubstantiated adjustments were, according to the report, removed by the Army. There is no explanation concerning why they were removed nor their magnitude.

The July 2016 report states, “In addition, DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) Indianapolis personnel did not document or support why DDRS (The Defense Department Reporting System) removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million feeder file records during the Third Quarter.”

An appendix to the July 2016 report shows $2 trillion in changes to the Army General Fund balance sheet due to unsupported adjustments. On the asset side, there is $794 billion increase in the Army’s Fund Balance with the U.S. Treasury. There is also an increase of $929 billion in the Army’s Accounts Payable.

This information raises additional major questions. First, what is the source of the additional $794 billion in the Army’s Fund Balance? This adjustment represents more than six times appropriated spending. Second, do these transfers represent a flow of funds to the Army beyond those authorized by Congress? Third, were these funds authorized and if so when and by whom? Fourth, what is the source of these funds? Finally, the $929 billion in Accounts Payable appears to represent an amount owed for items or services purchased on credit. What entities have received or will receive payment?

Note: The above article is copied from the Forbes magazine website on this webpage.Watch Prof. Skidmore discussing this astounding news in this interview.

From FB: Video of mom having phone grabbed, surrounded by sheriffs, all for trying to set motion hearing

from https://custodywars.com/2018/07/alex-jones-exs-custodywars-com-announces-video-series-footage-the-jury-never-saw-2/

When Judge Orlinda Naranjo refused to even set a Hearing for Kelly Jones’ Emergency Temporary Restraining Order, Kelly said she wouldn’t leave the Courthouse until her Motion was set.

The Emergency TRO was filed the same week that Kelly’s ex, Alex Jones, was taken off YouTube and Facebook (blocked) for Hate Speech and Child Endangerment.

When an Emergency Ex Parte TRO is filed, it is the Judge’s duty to hear it immediately.

Kelly stayed in her car overnight with her friend, Dawn Balli, who lost her daughter in Naranjo’s Court.

The next morning, when Kelly went to the Administrative Court to get the Hearing set, she found herself surrounded by five Sheriff’s Deputies.

One grabbed her phone.

Kelly has experienced years of bias, intimidation and injustice in the Travis County Court system.

Please watch and share this far and wide. Kelly needs people to understand and get outraged about Court corruption in Travis County, so that she will finally get her children the protection they need and deserve from abuse and endangerment while in the possession of Alex Jones.

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