From: Schafer []

Sent: Friday, June 16, 2000 5:00 PM

To: Denise Karp

Subject: Abusive Fla. DCF Sued for $501 million


On Wednesday, June 7,2000, a $501 million dollar civil rights class action suit was filed and accepted in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, on behalf of families who allegedly have been victimized by the practices of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Juvenile courts.

Attorney Robert Dowd, of Orlando, filed the 24-page suit on behalf of over 13 families and 50 minor children, including several from Okeechobee County.

Named as defendants in the action are the Florida Department of Children and Families, Judge Kathleen Kearney, the Juvenile Court System, DCF attorneys Bernstein, Swartz and Gillen, Attorney General of the State of Florida Robert Butterworth, DCF case workers Christina Garcia, Laura Dickinson, Lisa Suarez, and Michelle Akins.

In addition are listed Judge Kerry Evander and Judge Burton Conner. Also included in the suit are the guardian ad litem director, the Indian River Juvenile Facility and the inspector General for the State of Florida.

The suit alleges that the state engaged in a systematic process by which the families, parents, children and citizens of the State have been terrorized, traumatized and torn asunder as well as deprived of their fundamental rights without due process of law. The suit continues by stating that the motivation behind this system oppression is federal funding.

The state receives over one-fourth of it’s annual budget from the federal government. In the fiscal year ending in 1999, the state received over $10 billion from the federal government, of which the greatest share was for "human services." This amount is four-and-one-half times greater than that provided for education, and six times greater than funding for transportation.

The suit contends that Florida’s child welfare laws, as currently written and applied by the defendants, have been enacted specifically for the purpose of qualifying for that federal funding.

According to the court document, in accordance with the federal statutes, funding is increased in direct proportion to the number of children who can be brought within the juvenile courts, foster care and the compulsory adoption system.


The law explicitly calls this "freeing children" from their parents for adoption. Among the examples listed in the filing regarding the denial of due process includes allegations that the defendants flagrantly violated Florida Statute section 39, which contains the framework upon which DCF operates. It continues by stating that under current federal and state law parents are not permitted to know who has reported them to the state for alleged violations of child welfare laws.

Once the parents are accused, they are presumed guilty, and the burden is placed upon them to prove their innocence, said the lawsuit. In addition, the suit states that the juvenile courts are closed to the public and since they are a "star Chamber" due process can be abused with impunity.

As you can see I have been very busy here, and hopefully we will nail some thirty Judges very shortly. Among them, Walter Colbath, and Ron Hoy, from Palm Beach County.