10/05/09 – TG: DHS: Wanting to remove child from parents not retaliation

Texarkana Gazette
October 5, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

DHS: Wanting to remove child from parents not retaliation

Accusations that an Arkansas Department of Human Services petition to remove an infant born to Tony Alamo Christian Ministries members in June was filed in retaliation can’t be true, according to a document filed Friday by the DHS.

The parents of a 6-month-old said last week they believe the DHS is taking steps to take their son because of an affidavit from the father filed in support of bad faith allegations in a civil lawsuit.

“This claim is factually incorrect,” DHS officials said Friday. “At the time of the filing of the petition in state court, the Miller County child welfare officials were unaware of the affidavit filed in the federal lawsuit.”

Last Friday the ministry’s attorney, Phillip Kuhn of Florida, filed a request in federal court for a temporary restraining order concerning the conditions under which DHS can remove the child. If granted, the order would force the DHS to specifically outline exactly how and when the child has been abused and how the danger is imminent. It also asks that the DHS be compelled to notify the federal court within four hours if the baby is seized.

The DHS response asserts the federal court has no business interfering if the state decides to act concerning the baby.

“This would be an unprecedented and unjustified intrusion into the state’s compelling interest in protecting minor children from the risk of abuse or neglect,” the department’s response said.

The response said state court is the place the baby’s parents need to raise their objections to the state’s actions, not federal court.

If the parents are unhappy with decisions made in state court, there are higher, appellate courts to which they can plead their case.

In the request for the restraining order, Kuhn spoke of the potential harm that could result when a baby is separated from his primary caregiver as one reason the case should be swiftly addressed in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes is also being asked to decide if the civil suit filed by the ministry and two fathers with children in foster care should be dismissed. Typically federal courts don’t get involved in state court actions, like custody proceedings, except in rare circumstances.

Recently both sides of the civil suit submitted briefs concerning the ministry’s assertion the DHS acted in bad faith. Barnes has yet to rule on the matter of jurisdiction.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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