On February 23, 2011, The National Law Journal selected the Children's Advocacy Institute's Amicus Curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Camreta v. Greene / Alford v. Greene as the "Brief of the Week."
These cases, which will be the subject of oral argument before the Court on March 1, 2011, involve a Ninth Circuit holding that requires parental consent, or a warrant (or similar court detention
probable cause order) under Fourth Amendment
standards, before Child Protective Services social
workers can conduct an in-school interview of a suspected
child abuse victim.
In its brief, which was submitted in support of neither party, CAI argues that the Ninth Circuit's ruling imposes a serious barrier that will impede and in some cases cut off child abuse investigations. Requiring parental consent is problematic because parents are involved in 80% of child abuse cases. The
alternative obstacle of a probable-cause based warrant
or detention order is complicated by both the
time and resources required for its acquisition, and
the fact that probable cause achievement typically
comes from the child interview (not before it occurs),
which creates a “Catch-22” preclusion to effective
CAI Executive Director Robert Fellmeth explains CAI's position:
"We have all sorts of checks and balances in the system when someone has taken a child without basis from the home or where the state has intervened inappropriately or excessively. But if a CPS worker does not remove a child who is being raped or tortured every night, there is no safeguard....I'm not saying you should be able to interview for any reason. I want reasonable suspicion. I just know what probable cause means. I know the difference between the two, and that's the line you don't want to cross when protecting a victim and you're only game in town."
To view CAI's brief in full, please click here.