The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


Trial by Fire

As you well know, I have been working a lot at the Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Nashville (it's the little brick building next to the Coliseum that I always thought was Titans offices or such - nope, it's a courthouse!)

Last week I got my first dependency and neglect appointment. D&N cases are custody cases in which there is an allegation of abuse or neglect, or where a parent just wants to turn their child over to the state to deal with (very sad). In these cases, often it is the state bringing the case, through DCS, although the case I'm on was filed by a private attorney.

In every case, a lawyer is appointed for any parent who can't afford one, and a lawyer is appointed to be a Guardian ad litem for the children. GALs basically investigate the case - what the parents say, the kids, other relatives and neighbors, teachers, etc. They do home visits and look over medical and criminal records. In the end, they have the job of telling the judge what they think needs to be done, what is in the child's best interest. This is what I want to start doing.

But first, there is a training period. Friday, I finally received the training videos. These are about 6 hours long, and are accompanied by a 300-page manual. That afternoon, I was appointed to this case. Needless to say, I didn't get to watch the videos before I started.

I am representing the mother. The father filed a petition to have his children removed from her home and put in his custody, accusing her of the basics: drug use, neglect, and exposure to less-than-ideal people. His evidence didn't seem too strong, so we had a preliminary hearing that afternoon. We heard from the father, his mother, and the oldest of the 3 children. Nothing was very conclusive. At 5:30, the judge decided we should quit for the day, and come back today (Wednesday). He had both parents take drug tests before they left.

The father's came back positive for coke. So my client got her kids back. Unfortunately, it looks like there is some evidence of her using, too, and of the home being less than ideal, so the GAL for the case is recommending that there be a trial.

All of this just to say that I had no idea how to do any of this as of 1:00 p.m. Friday. I have learned so much in just a short time. And the other attorneys down there were SO gracious and helpful. They helped me understand what was going on and showed me what to do. When they could have just taken advantage of my ignorance and screwed me over. So just know that we lawyers aren't all bad, I promise. There are some truly amazing men and women making a real difference in these families.

And I will watch the videos soon, I promise.

On a lighter note, everywhere I go smells like honeysuckle right now, and I saw this in the news this morning! (Read the last item - my year will be made if this comes true!)

3 Responses to “Trial by Fire”

  1. # Blogger Malibu Librarian

    Oh my goodness. Be still my beating heart. :)  

  2. # Blogger amanda

    did i tell you about my recent child claimant just turned 18 sexual predator to be constituent just released from state custody? quite scary.  

  3. # Blogger Tara

    So you know...Grandma has moved on to Ted in the matchmaking arena. She's now got it in her head that he would be a good match for Amy, the girl slightly younger than me who grew up at their church...I found it rather amusing...  

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