WA County’s Guardian Ad Litem Should Be Dismantled After Egregious Due Process Abuse Case

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

As many know I am often a staunch critic of Washington’s child protective services and a system that at times has shown itself to be rife with incompetence, vindictiveness, and laziness. For the past several years hardly a six month time period elapses without news of yet another major debacle occurring that shatters the life of a child or family member and results in millions of dollars paid out by the state in damages.

But the latest spell in my view goes beyond the usual bureaucratic blundering and crosses a line into what many would consider to be corruption.

The case began with the birth of a child–A.H.–born in 2013. Reportedly, the child came into the world testing positive for methadone and her mother tested for the same and marijuana. This and an allegation of an argument and the apparently accidental dropping of A.H. into her crib at the hospital led to Child Protective Service intervention and her removal to foster care where she has resided since.

Two Guardians Ad Litem were assigned to advocate on behalf of A.H. But according to court documents, one has to seriously question whether the child’s best interests were actually followed and I propose instead a government agency and several of its agents acted according to their own self-interests and desires to deny the civil and due process rights of the family as a whole.

The GALs thwarted the family member’s discovery rights, reportedly destroyed evidence, and intentionally made false statements to deny the family visitation and custody rights. Both the prosecutor’s office and the superior court were likely guilty of abetting the damage.  The issues described in the State Court of Appeal’s opinion show a systemic problem with the agency that I cannot see as being rehabilitated with the current structure and personnel involved. When an agency has gone this far astray, typically the best remedy is disestablishment and reorganization under another entity. 

I submit to the readers the Court’s opinion in full so they may cast their own judgment. See the link below (PDF)

In the Matter of the Dependency of A.E.T.H,  WA Division 1

By Darren Smith

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