Florida Declines Jurisdiction Over Every Baby Conceived on Vacation There

Judge Martha Warner - Florida 4th District Court of Appeals
It is completely contrary to the legislative goals of the UCCJEA for Florida to assert jurisdiction to superintend the custody, shared parental responsibility, and visitation where the child is not and has never been a resident of this state. The mere fact of conception in this state is not such a tie to permit the courts of this state to exercise control in the face of express statutory authority precluding Florida from asserting jurisdiction.

Schaffer v. Ling, — So.3d —-, 2011 WL 4467341, (Fla. 4th DCA 2011).

If this has gone the other way, Florida would have become the judicial nanny for all 50 states, the territories, South America and most of Western Europe.

When every leaf is a flower

Autumn started on the 23rd. It was a lazy end of summer, little going on, not even any substantive or ridiculous appellate opinions (except for the one about spanking as domestic violence, which I haven’t gotten to yet). It’s as if the dependency system has stabilized a bit, a finally–if temporarily–well-oiled machine.

I know that’s not true. RTI kids are still getting cut. Medications are still being illegally provided. Reunifications and removals are being improvidently granted based on considerations unknowable by any party and not articulable by any judge. Kids are bouncing placements and aging out with nowhere to go, siblings are being split, fathers are denying paternity (some are having it thrust upon them), mothers are relapsing, crying, promising.  Grandmothers are appealing hopelessly, forbidden boyfriends are waiting in parking lots, therapists are quitting, foster parents are grappling with their feelings, guardians ad litem are concerned (but that’s it), defense attorneys are objecting (but that’s it), and on and on and on.

Silence where there should be bedlam is disturbing. So to the quiet summer, I say a goodbye. May this Autumn bring a lot of noise.

 

Leave Them Kids Alone

My favorite letter to the editor today. From jacksonville.com:

SAGGY PANTS

Leave kids alone
I’m probably going to be the sole dissenter concerning the article Monday about teen fashion of wearing pants low.

I am an adult with a college degree, and I feel that other adults are making far too big of a deal of this.

Yes, it looks ridiculous, but show me a single person who is harmed by it.

Every generation is going to have some fashion that is going to irritate their parents; from jazz music to long hair on guys in the 1960s and ’70s.

Yes, we need to set boundaries, but they need to be credible and meaningful ones, such as making kids do their school work, not letting them go out after curfew or making sure they are staying in school.

And crooks who do billions of dollars in damages often wear suits.

If you really want to see the fad die, stop making a big deal about it. It peaked 10 years ago anyway. All the hipsters are wearing skinny jeans.

I say let the kids express themselves.

Richard Jones,

Jacksonville

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2011-09-15/story/letters-readers-how-about-politicos#ixzz1Y7Cn5CKv

Emphasis ADDED.

ACLU and Navy Vet Sue DCF Over Drug Testing

DCF Secretary David Wilkins

The Tampa Bay Online is reporting and my inbox was blowing up all night: the ACLU has filed suit against DCF Secretary Wilkins (in his official capacity of course) over the mandatory drug testing of TANF recipients.

The lawsuit was inevitable, but the big question on everybody’s lips today is: will they serve Wilkins at the Dependency Summit? Get your camera phones ready.

How Often Does Florida DCF Get Sued and Lose Big?

[scribd id=64099195 key=key-207vda0dfaw21ewo2qa9 mode=slideshow]

The numbers don’t match up and there’s no explanation of why. For example, there were 19 sex abuse cases, but only 17 perpetrators. I’d also like to see the cases they lost/settled under $15,000. If there are 200 of those, then that’s significant. I’d also like an explanation as to why risk outlays plummeted 66% in 2010. I don’t supposed it’s because DCF suddenly did 150% better than ever.

A Small Pharmacy in Her Purse


Judge Jay P. Cohen - Florida 5th District Court of Appeals

On appeal, the mother argues that drug tests showing the use of drugs prescribed to her cannot support the conclusion that she failed to substantially comply with her case plan. Certainly, the legitimate use of prescribed medications should not lead to a parent’s loss of parental rights, but that is not the situation here. On multiple occasions, the mother possessed more medication, and in such a combination, as to belie any legitimate medical use. Additionally, she possessed unfilled prescriptions from several different physicians with dates close in time for the same medications. In short, this mother is the face of a problem of epidemic proportions—the obtaining of large quantities of prescription medications from numerous physicians.

T.K v. Department of Children and Families, — So.3d —-, 2011 WL 3861596 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).

I could find no other TPR case involving addiction to prescription medication or doctor shopping. The only similar case was C.A. v. DCF, 27 So. 3d 241 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010), where a permanent guardianship order was reversed and the case remanded for immediate reunification after an independent doctor said that the mother’s medications were appropriately administered.  Obviously, these cases pose significant proof problems–the production of a single valid prescription usually negates any argument of misuse. It’s not every day, as in this case, where you find a parent carrying hundreds of pills in a purse.

But the policy proclamations and rhetoric in this opinion are interesting, including the footnote quote from Governor Scott stating that Florida is the epicenter of pill mills (he wasn’t too keen on doing anything about it, but that’s beside the point). Prescription drug addiction, which was previously a privilege of the rich, has become as available to the poor as fast food (using similar distribution models). And, as usual, the consequences for the same behaviors across classes is greatly disproportional. Cases beget cases, so look forward to future pill mill TPRs soon.