Laws? We Don’t Need No Stinking Laws

Arizona remains the wild, Wild West. Criminals are jailed in tents, forced to wear pink underwear, and eat green bologna. The seizure of children without a warrant is still common practice.

Fact: On the very rare occasions when a warrant is used, it is questionable at best and often based upon vague innuendo or false statements.

“Child removals are “seizures” under the Fourth Amendment. Seizure is unconstitutional without court order or exigent circumstances. Court order obtained based on knowingly false information violates fourth amendment.” Brokaw v. Mercer County (7th Cir. 2000)

Fact: Law requires that a search must be preceded with the serving of a warrant.

“There is no exception to the warrant requirement for social workers in the context of a child abuse investigation. A social worker may not force their way into a home without a search warrant in absence of an emergency. Police officers and social workers are not immune for coercing or forcing entry into a person’s home to investigate suspected child abuse, interrogation of a child, and strip search of a child, without a search warrant or special exigency.” Calabretta v. Floyd (9th Cir. 1999)

Fact: Fear is more often used rather than a warrant in the seizure of children in Arizona.

“Seizure of a person is a situation in which a reasonable person would feel that he is not free to leave, and also either actually yields to a show of authority from police or social workers or is physically touched by police. Persons may not be ‘seized’ without a court order or being placed under arrest.” 499 U.S. 621, California v. Hobari D. (1991)

Fact: Exigent circumstances occur when the law enforcement officer has a probable cause and no sufficient time to secure a warrant.

“Police officer and social worker may not conduct a warrant-less search or seizure in a suspected abuse case, absent exigent circumstances; Defendants must have reason to believe that life or limb is in immediate jeopardy and that the intrusion is reasonably necessary to alleviate the threat; Searches and seizures in investigation of a child neglect or child abuse case at a home are governed by the same principles as other searches and seizures at a home.” Good v. Dauphin County Social Services (3rd Cir. 1989)

Fact: Parents have the right to deny “warrantless” entry into their home.

“One’s awareness of his or her right to refuse consent to warrantless entry is relevant to the issue of voluntariness of alleged content.” (Lion Boulos v. Wilson) “Consent to warrantless entry must be voluntary and not the result of duress or coercion. Lack of intelligence, not understanding the right not to consent, or trickery invalidate voluntary consent.” (Schneckloth v. Bustamonte)

Fact: Ignoring the acquisition of a warrant is the practice/procedure in Arizona.

“The exigent circumstances exception to the warrant clause only applies when ‘an immediate major crisis in the performance of duty afforded neither time nor opportunity to apply to a magistrate.'” 342 N.W.2d 851, 855 (Iowa 1983) State v. Hatter (1983)

Fact: Arizona CPS workers consistently “pick up” children without an investigation or court order, without an emergency, and without parents ever being heard.

“Police officers or social workers may not ‘pick up’ a child without an investigation or court order, absent an emergency. Parental consent is required to take children for medical exams, or an overriding order from the court after parents have been heard.” 202 F3d 1126, Wallis v. Spencer (9th Cir. 1999/2000)

Fact: The seizure of a child requires a warrant, period.

“Child protection workers are subject to the 4th and 14th Amendment in the context of an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect as are all government officials. The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures applies whenever an investigator, be it a police officer, a DCFS employee, or any other agent of the state, responds to an alleged instance of child abuse, neglect, or dependency.” Walsh v. Erie County Department of Job and Family Services 3:01-cv-7588.

Truth: The State of Arizona and its state actors have to seal these cases so their activities will never face the scrutiny of public exposure, judicial review, and accountability for their purposeful disregard for the law.

Steven R. Isham
Professor Steven R. Isham (M.A., L.B.S.W.), an educator of 42 years working in behavioral health for 26 years, has been an athlete, coach, teacher, Principal, school board President, and Executive Director across elementary, high school, community college and University.