A volunteer Guardian Ad Litem, Cynthia Bemis, and its VGAL program was found by Judge Anita Farris in Washington State, Snohomish County Superior Court to be engaged in abusive litigation tactics. This is just one of many recent cases of lying and engaging in harmful tactics by a state agency.
Channel 5 Reporter Susana Frame reported on this story.
This is just one case in a series of cases over the last several years of abuses that parents and children have suffered by so-called experts appointed by the family court judges.
On June 11, 2016, Judge Farris ruled that many children had been harmed by the very program that was supposed to help them. The judge determined that the Guardian ad Litem program had brought harm to the child.
The GAL had spied, lied, and submitted declaration to the court that was a “made up sham.” Judge Farris ruled that the misdeeds multiplied after the first allegations and that GAL supervisors looked the other way and also lied.
She stated that they engaged in abusive litigation tactics including concealing evidence, supplying false information, and retaliating repeatedly.
Adam Ballout, J.D. is the attorney who brought this case to court. According to his website, “Most people don’t associate the phrase Guardian ad Litem (GAL) with perjury, theft, fraud, retaliation, and bias so severe that a GAL would place a child’s physical well-being at risk. Maybe now they should. After nearly a year of litigation, court findings were made against several Snohomish County Volunteer Guardians ad Litem (VGALs), paid staff of the Snohomish County VGAL Program (the Program), and at least one Program attorney in a child welfare case in Everett, Washington.”
““It is unbelievable,” said one Snohomish County attorney familiar with the ruling, dated February 25, 2016. “It’s crazy, it’s nuts,” said another person who works in the legal field in Everett.”
Unfortunately, parents going through this know that this exists and is not just a Washington State problem. If you are parent and you have gone through family court custody battles, you are most likely familiar with the abusive tactics that are used, not just by GALs but also by other court-appointed experts like an Amicus.
These abuses are not just happening in cases where CPS is involved but also in cases where two parents are fighting for custody. These parents have to deal with the same GALs, amicus and CPS workers that parents who have their children taken by the state deal with.
In 2015, CPS workers in Texas were found to be lying. “It wasn’t an isolated case. Since 2009, at least 50 CPS workers have been caught lying to prosecutors, ignoring court orders, falsifying state records or obstructing law enforcement investigations, according to an American-Statesman review of state and court documents.”
The Texas Tribune reported that CPS in the state of Texas is currently under federal oversight in order to ensure that DFPS enacts the proper reforms necessary. A U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi ruled on December 17, 2015 that CPS had violated the constitutional rights of foster children.
These cases were successfully convicted because parents and other advocates kept good records and documented the abuses.