News and Notes
Updates on the latest precedent-setting legal cases throughout the State of Texas from attorney Shane Kersh.
Civil Court Finds Against Texas Child Protective Services: Family Attorney Asks Prosecutors to Seek Criminal Charges
Representatives from Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) were found to have intentionally failed to disclose the date of an emergency child removal hearing, thereby preventing parents Melissa and Dillon Bright from exercising their legal right to provide a defense against the removal of their child, Mason Bright, from their home. The court awarded the Bright family $127,000 for court costs and miscellaneous expenses, possibly the largest sanctions ever awarded against Texas CPS.
The improper child removal and legal battle stemmed from an incident in July of 2018, when 5-month-old Mason Bright fell from a lawn chair on the driveway of the Bright home, requiring medical intervention. The resulting injury and hospitalization drew the attention of CPS and allegations of child abuse after the cause of the excessive bleeding was initially misdiagnosed. When a second opinion found that the bleeding was the result of a blood disorder and not an additional blow to the head, the assigned caseworker, Lavar Jones, was found to have deliberately withheld that information from the court, in addition to concealing the child removal hearing from the parents and failing to provide a copy of the removal order, which is required by law. When questioned on the stand about these transgressions, Jones repeatedly asserted his Fifth Amendment right.
The Bright’s attorneys believe criminal action against Texas CPS might be appropriate. Lead attorney Dennis Slate said that CPS “lied in their affidavit, they lied in their sworn removal testimony and they have — when questioned about those lies — taken the Fifth.” Presiding Judge Mike Schneider called the actions of CPS “dishonest” and “malicious.”