A fight is raging across Arizona – parents, foster parents, activists, lawyers and even the Arizona Republic are refusing to back down against the state’s apathetic resistance to real, meaningful solutions for its outrageous record as the top state in the nation for child removals. Arizona has taken children out of their homes at a rate far higher than any other state in the country. And Phoenix (Maricopa county) ranks as the city with the highest rate of child removals by CPS – higher than New York, L.A., or any other major U.S. city. The state’s shameful record goes back a decade or more, and frequently opposition has been disconnected or silenced. More and more families have been destroyed, children lost, and lives broken. But no more – activists, legislators and local media are gaining strength and momentum.
California civil rights attorney Shawn McMillan recently sat down and spoke with Tammi Stefano of the National Safe Child show regarding his work in litigating against corruption within Child Protection Services (CPS). McMillan gained national headlines at the end of 2016 in a case against Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when a jury awarded his client, Rafaelina Duval, $3.1 million in damages for wrongfully seizing her child. In this interview with Tammi Stefano, McMillan explains how he makes his living by exclusively suing county and state agencies that are involved in child abuse investigations, and violate parents' and children's Constitutional rights by misrepresenting facts to the court, either when they remove the children from the home, or afterwards. When Stefano asks McMillan why he does this, why he is so passionate about it, McMillan states: "They're stealing kids."
After a six-year court battle, a mother in Los Angeles who lost custody of her 15-month-old baby through false abuse charges won a major battle for parental rights last week. When Rafaelina Duval’s son Ryan was seized by L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in 2010, she was falsely accused of intentionally starving him. He had been diagnosed by a pediatrician with “failure to thrive,” but the doctor at the time also noted that the child was in no immediate danger, according to Duval’s attorney, Shawn McMillan. In a stunning blow to Los Angeles County, the jury found that its DCFS social workers “intentionally and willfully” seized her child without a warrant, and did so “with malice.” Additionally, the jury found that the county DCFS had “an official custom and/or practice of seizing children from their parents without a warrant” and failed “to enact an official policy or procedure when it should have done so.” The jury awarded Duval $2.94 million in compensatory damages, plus $165,000 after finding in a separate verdict that she was the victim of discrimination.
Attorney Shawn McMillan is continuing his fight against the corrupt Child and Protective Services in California, and has now filed a class action lawsuit against Orange County California for allegedly seizing more 5000 children in State-sponsored kidnappings. This follows his December 2014 class action lawsuit against CPS in Riverside County in California, which is also accused of kidnapping "thousands" of children without cause.
The City of San Diego will pay $225,000 to settle a civil suit filed by a teen mom who lost parental rights to her daughter just days after the child’s birth. Johnneisha Kemper says San Diego Police officers took her baby away in 2008, just days after she gave birth at the age of 16, claiming she was unfit to raise the newborn. Now, the city of San Diego has approved a settlement in the civil rights lawsuit filed alleging the SDPD took the child without threat or warrant. “The system did fail her in every way that she could have been failed,” her attorney Shawn McMillan told NBC 7. McMillan said they pushed for a policy change and training for officers in how they remove children but the City refused and even offered more money instead agreeing to change. McMillan has been fighting for the parents, he says, are being ripped away from their children. "We see this over and over and over again. We know it's a systemic problem, and we've been looking for a way to address this systemic problem so we can get real permanent change,” he said. That change he’s hoping will come from a federal class action lawsuit filed this week in Riverside County. The plaintiff is a newborn. The lawsuit says the baby was taken from its mother without a warrant by the Riverside County Department of Social Services while the two were still in the hospital. "You absolutely cannot seize a child from its parents unless there is reasonable evidence to show that the child is likely to suffer severe bodily injury or death in a two hours it takes to get a warrant,” said McMillan. "You saw what the police in San Diego said, they said we're not changing anything. We'll pay the money and we're going to keep on doing what we're doing, but that doesn't work for us. What we're really looking for here is a government that's going to follow the law and protect its citizens,” he said.
Attorney Shawn McMillan of California specializes in civil rights cases against child protection agencies. He has been awarded the "Street Fighter of the Year" award for defending family rights and taking on the abuses of social service agencies in California. Courthouse News Service is reporting that Attorney McMillan is representing a federal class action lawsuit against "Riverside County, Juvenile Dependency Investigator Karla Torres, Torres's supervisor Felicia M. Butler, and all similarly situated county social workers and investigators" for taking "a newborn baby from her mother without a reason or a warrant," and for making "a habit of it." The suit claims that the Southern California County takes "thousands of babies" without cause.