A look at the “Right To Lie” case where Mom got $9.6M and then, the daughter sued Orange County.
Child Protection workers costs taxpayers billions every year in lawsuits that most people are completely unaware of, and would be outraged about if they understood. I found Kathlee Arthur a few years ago in my research on the subject. Kathlee Arthur is a woman from Washington State who advocates nationally for foster children and their biological families. She informed me about the “Right To Lie” case that at the time she was using to raise awareness to legislators to show how devastating it is when social workers get away with lying on the stand to keep children separated from their biological families.
Deanna Fogerty-Hardwick lost custody of her minor children, Preslie and Kendall. Deanna Fogerty-Hardwick filed suit and won. Later, her daughter Preslie filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the County and employees of the SSA. In 2011, a jury awarded Fogarty-Hardwick $4.9 million in damages. Orange County then appealed the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court at the taxpayer’s expense. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. During that time though, interest and additional attorney fees were racking up the costs that Orange County was charging taxpayer’s to fight for the “Right To Lie”. The total payout came to $9.6 million. The county also incurred an additional $1 million for its own legal costs on the case. None of the social workers that fought were ever held accountable for lying in court to destroy the family. None of the people making the decisions to fight for the right to lie in court ever had to pay out of their own pocket to make that argument.
Preslie showed the courts that the social worker employees acting under color of state law maliciously used perjured testimony and fabricated evidence to secure her removal from her mother and that the state abused it’s power when it violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights to her familial relationship with her mother. Federal appellate court No. 15-55563 D.C. No. 8:13-cv-01390-JLS-AN opinion affirmed that Orange County is not immune from liability when workers perjure themselves to adopt a child out to complete strangers.
The ruling issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is based on the same events that caused a jury to award Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick $9.6 million from Orange County in 2011 after she alleged that social workers used fabricated evidence to cause a court to remove her two daughters from her custody for six and a half years! The district court denied absolute and qualified immunity to the individual defendants.
Preslie’s complaint targets conduct well outside of the social workers’ legitimate role as quasi-prosecutorial advocates in presenting the case. The court concluded that Beltran v. Santa Clara County disposes of the issue. In Beltran, the court held that social workers are not entitled to absolute immunity from claims that they fabricated evidence during an investigation or made false statements in a dependency petition affidavit that they signed under penalty of perjury, because such actions are not similar to discretionary decisions about whether to prosecute. The court also concluded that defendants’ use of perjured testimony and fabricated evidence in court in order to sever Preslie’s familial bond with her mother was unconstitutional. In this case, Preslie has produced more than sufficient admissible evidence to create a genuine dispute as to whether her removal from her mother’s custody violated her clearly established constitutional rights, and defendants’ case for qualified immunity from these charges is not supported by the law or the record. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. (Justia, Hardwick v. County of Orange, No. 15-55563, 9th Cir. 2017)
The County could be on the hook to pay out once again. Still, California’s social worker employees that are fighting for the right to lie in court have not been held accountable for perjuring themselves. Those workers did not lose their jobs, go to jail, or spend any money out of their own pocket. Instead, after trying to destroy this family completely and then lying about it, they get to spend money they can access that we put in the Social Security Fund for retirement and disabled people. And Congress let’s state employees get away with this every day.
“No official with an IQ greater than room temperature in Alaska could claim that he or she did not know that the conduct at the center of this case violated both state and federal law,” Judge Stephen Trott wrote in the opinion. “Perjury is a crime under both federal and California state law, as is the knowing submission of false evidence to a court. … Because they are supported by the record as a whole, we construe the facts Preslie offers in support of her allegations in the light most favorable to her.”
Hardwick’s allegations are the same as her mother’s. In 2000, Orange County Social Services agents Marcie Vreeken and Helen Dwojak fabricated testimony “that (Fogarty-Hardwick) had caused her daughters to skip a mandatory visit with their father, when in fact the problem was caused by a visitation monitor.”
Hardwick said that there are other lies that the social workers delibertly and maliscously told the court; when they said that Fogarty-Hardwick had turned her daughters against their visitation monitor and when they told the court that Fogarty-Hardwick had told her children that their father was trying to take them away from her.
Thankfully the court disagreed with the assertion that Orange County attorneys argued that it was not clearly established in civil court at the time of the events in question that in situations such as Hardwick’s, those involved had “the right to be free from deliberately fabricated evidence.”
Orange County officials have maintained that its social workers never wronged Fogarty-Hardwick or her family. Neither employee was disciplined and Vreeken was later promoted to a position in which she trains other social workers. County records show Vreeken was still employed in 2015, when she earned $132,466 in total compensation. County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said that social workers often face difficult decisions when deciding when and whether to separate a child from their parents and that it was important for those employees to know that the county backs their decisions. “Social workers have an immense responsibility to protect children, and I’d much rather have a social worker err on the side of taking a child from the home than leave a kid where there might be suspected child abuse,” Spitzer said. “It’s a delicate balance, and social workers needs to know that if they do that the county will back them up.”
I have to disagree that social workers are lying In court to protect children. They are lying in court to get away with destroying the very people they are created to serve. I hope others will consider this case and seriously ask themselves if anyone should ever have a right to lie about another in court.
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