December 12, 2012
Sanity prevailed in the form of a 131 page decision in Lamar County, Mississippi with Chancery Judge Ronald Doleac, at the helm. Judge Doleac essentially rescued a minor from her sex offender father and mentally impaired mother, (who had lost her parental rights for another child), after failing to protect the older child from sex attacks by the father of the most recent victim.
Custody of the youngest child, a daughter, was fought for by Julie and Michael Garrett. The Garrett family history is much like Leave it to Beaver. However, DHS did not care for the Garretts, and ignored the inter-family marriages, and a 20 year history of sex crimes. DHS workers repeatedly testified, “no problem” to the reams of evidence provided. But it didn’t end with DHS personnel ongoing refusal to protect Mississippi’s children. DHS failure to perform, included ignoring court orders.
Judge Doleac wrote in part:
“It is clear to the court that at least some DHS workers in this case developed a bias against the Garretts early on in the proceedings, which has only served to hamper the court in making a determination of the facts and the best interest of the child.”
“DHS chose to ignore the direct order of the Youth Court judge…when he said the (couple’s other children) should not be returned to the … home on July 10, 2010, and instead substituted its own judgment and interpretation of the law.”“Frankly, the court is at a loss,” Doleac said. “Fortunately, this case has lifted a veil for the court regarding the nature of investigations and services provided by DHS (and their subsidiaries and counterparts). Unfortunately, that birds-eye view caused much of the testimony on behalf of DHS employees in this case to be viewed in dim light, decreasing the credibility of those witnesses to a large degree. The court hopes to see more diligence and less bureaucracy going forward.”
What has become this writer’s favorite part of story, is reporters turning into dictating machines instead of challenging, outrageous statements from various County/State personnel, “spokepersons.”
In this case it was the unchallenged statement from Julia Bryan, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services. Bryan declined to comment specifically on the case. Which if the reporter wasn’t going to challenge her. Instead the reporter wrote,
“Bryan “would only say that the Mississippi Department of Human Services is committed to the safety and security of Mississippi’s children.”
So, not reporting. So dictating machine.
One clear cost benefit to the public would be the retiring of both “Spokespersons” state employees, who deliver remarks that clearly are opposite facts. Remembering these are tax-payer dollars to deceive, and designed to protect DHS personnel who on a daily basis, put the child at risk. Reporters who accept such nonsense are not doing their job.
Returning to the evidence, although four other children were previously removed from the home, DHS dug in their heels with the Garrett family. Michael Garrett spoke at length how personnel from DHS treated the couple “like dirt.”
The lawyers win, but little changes
Judge Doleac’s decision was on the heels of an earlier lawsuit against the State of Mississippi’s DHS which was settled in September. At that time the Mississippi Department of Human Services’ statistics, Division of Family and Children’s Services had grown in personnel to about 1,500 positions since 2008.
Trumpeting the end of that litigation, interviews with the head of DHS Regional Director Jolie Kerenick, were quite cheerful. Especially when considering the possibility of reuniting children with their biological families. At that time the head of DHS said about Lamar County, regarding DHS personnel to handle the Lamar County area
“My highest (now) is probably 11,” Jolie Kerenick said of her region that includes Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River, Perry and Stone counties:
“It’s very, very manageable, which really allows them to do better quality work because they have fewer children to focus on.“
Jolie Kerenick has worked in child-related fields since the mid-1990s, in Texas and Mississippi before taking over as regional director for Region VI.
For a review of other states being successfully sued, see the “Kids Killed” section of Familylawcourts.com.