Well, I'm back

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    GAL visit was yesterday. She didn't go through the house but we have it in good shape to enjoy ourselves!!

    It sounds like difficult child will probably have to do some time in detention. We are working on gathering info to present to the judge on why he shouldn't. Really, I don't think he should because he is exposed to more and learns more bad from the other kids in there than learning anything good from it. GAL seemed agreeable to switching tdocs- she is going to call the new one and said it would help to let the judge know that a treatment plan is scheduled for difficult child to pursue through the summer. The principal wrote a positive letter in difficult child's favor.

    One thing that bothered me- the GAL had contacted the tdocs and psychiatrist and had them write letters and fax them directly to her. Now, I signed releaase forms for these people to let her know dates of treatment, general nature of treatment, and compliance- but I never signed anything or otherwise made any request for them to send her something in writing that I haven't even seen. These are private doctors that I (my insurance) is paying for. Another thing I thought wierd- she said she asked psychiatrist if it would be psychologically damaging to difficult child to be put in detention and she said psychiatrist said no, it wouldn't. Really? Where did he get that? It sure wouldn't be psychologically healthy.

    Anyway, the defense attny called yesterday but it sounds like he hasn't done ANYTHING to prepare for this.

    Also, I mentioned again about the prozaca dosage doubling a couple of weeks before difficult child's "crime spree" last year and the knowledge of potential induction of mania. She said the judge doesn't care. I said it is in the warning on the medication and the dr's start with this when unipolar depression or bipolar is questionable, so how is that difficult child's fault? She said it doesn't matter- this judge won't care. I'm wondering if it would help or hurt any chance of appeal to bring it up in court anyway. At least, is there a way to get the mitigating circumstances a part of his record?

    Soooo, this is where we are today!!
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry that you got such a clunker for a GAL. :( Here's my take on the doctor's releases and the judge, after having learned all of that stuff the hard way.

    There are two ways to get Dr.'s testimony into court. One is to pay them to take the day off and come to court. You know how much their fee is, and this isn't covered by insurance, so you would be out the $800 - $1,000 for the doctor to testify for difficult child. I'm assuming that you didn't make those arrangements. The release you signed was probably a "General Release" form rather than a "Limited Release" form. "General Nature of Treatment" is going to include a lot more than just "talk therapy" or "behavioral modification therapy". It's going to include diagnosis's and opinions. If you want those diagnosis's and opinions brought to court without paying the therapist and psychiatrist for their testimony, the only other way to get it in is to have it presented by a legal representative of the court. In your case, the GAL. It's unfortunate that you didn't understand this and get together with the therapist and psychiatrist and ask them to emphasize that difficult child would be more likely to offend after detention time, and their recommendation that he have more intensive treatment rather than detention. If you want to try to get that in, you need to talk to them and get them to write an addendum to their first letter saying so and send a copy to you so that you can be sure that it gets into court. Same with the info on the medications.

    From outside looking in, your GAL is pushing this in a very specific direction, and you have not been given very good advice on how to get her to advocate with your concerns in mind.

    As to the Judge. To withstand an appeal, he only has to make his decisions on "conclusions of fact and findings of law." He also gets to interpret the law within the boundaries of past decisions by him and any other judge in your jurisdiction. So, the question of bringing up the medications problems in order to bring it into an appeal is less viable than you might think. If other kids have been detained for the type of crime your son has committed with the knowledge that their behaviors were exacerbated by medications, he is within the duty of his courtroom to do the same with your son. Judges get to apply their opinions within the boundaries of the law. If this judge is of the opinion that medication reactions don't make a difference, he will decide that way, and the chance you could change his ruling on appeal is very small.

    My advice to you is to ramp it up with the therapist and psychiatrist as to treatment and the prognosis for recovery given that treatment, and to make certain that the GAL gets this information. It seems obvious that she purposely asked specific questions of them in order to elicit responses that would ultimately put your son in detention. It seems to be her opinion that is where he belongs, and she is not obligated to ask them questions that would elicit other types of responses regarding treatment plans or punishments. I'd also be very careful, if I were you, that she not make a report to the court about you that you are argumentative with her, that your ideas for your son's recovery are unrealistic, etc. She has an agenda, and she is the one that gets to present to the judge. Don't let her see you sweat. Get the therapist and psychiatrist to write strong addendums to her and be sure that she presents them fairly to the judge.

    I hope I don't sound pessimistic and awful. Maybe I am damaged from what happened with L and see things that way. But to me, the writing is on the wall with this one. You can't sway her opinion, but you can be sure that the opinions of other professionals are accurately presented to the court.

    {{{{{{{{{{Big hugs}}}}}}}}}}}
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am glad you have a clean house to enjoy.

    I really think witz is right about the GAL and wanting to put difficult child in detention. It is pretty easy to take what a psychiatrist or therapist says and only use whatever supports YOUR agenda, even if it is the opposite of what he says.

    I am so sorry.


  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That is exactly what I thought before she got here yesterday- and it still might be all that is going on. However, she did put doubt in my mind when she said this is the kind of judge who just wants to see consequences and she was asking for info that she said might help keep him out of detention (what I had lined up for him to do in the summer, the appts with- therapist and psychiatrist scheduled, making sure he was kept under supervision,etc). Also, she started asking what punishments I had given him at home for his "wwrong-doings" and I told her that I had started typing up a list and would fax it to her.

    She mentioned a program that a neighboring county has where juveniles in trouble get put on work assignments- kind of like community service but these are really hard and nasty jobs. I said I thought something like that would be a better lesson for difficult child than being locked in detention where he would learn more bad than good. She said it was a pretty effective program but that our county doesn't have anything like that- they only have detention. I asked if we could try for community service.

    I think someone is pushing for detention, though. I'm not sure yet if it still might be the GAL, the commonwealth's attny, or PO. Or, if they really do just think this judge is apt to do it. The GAL said in most cases they don't want a substitute judge, but she said in this case, let's hope difficult child gets one. By the time she left, I felt like she was a little bit of an advocate. We go see PO in a few minutes. I don't put much weight in what she says- she has been wrong too many times about things she told me she was sure of.
  5. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Actually, I didn't get the take that the GAL was for detention, just being realistic. Some judges really don't care about psychological issues, especially medication stablizations problems -- they don't believe in them.

    The GAL is for a new therapist, agrees that a new treatment plan for the summer may help. This is not the sound of someone who wants to lock up a kid. It does, however, sound like the judge is one of those who believes that a kid gets one chance and then it is time to throw the child to the wolves so to speak.

    While being in juvie may teach your son more tricks on how to offend, that doesn't qualify as psychologically damaging. To be damaging, it would have to be shown it would cause some sort of a psychological breakdown. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

    Juvenile cases are extremely difficult to appeal. Minors really have no rights -- it is all based on what is best for the child. Parental control is tossed out the window. Parents' viewpoints have little to no validity. Sometimes (rarely) this works to the benefit of the child. Usually, it is the exact opposite.

    I'm sorry this is happening to your son. I'm even sorrier that some if not all of the cause is a medication's inability to help.

    Right now, fight to keep your son out of juvie. If you can't, fight to have the time be as little as possible. He may learn worse behavior. However, he may learn that this is not where he wants to be and it may stop him from further mischief. You never can tell.
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    We just got back from PO. It sounds like she might be the instigigator of detention. She said the judge "might want to see him held accountable for his actions". I guess some of them view detention as the only acceptable form of punishment.

    Anyway, I am trying to think of all the natural consequences that difficult child has to go thru as a result of all this, too. If I make his punishments sound extreme, couldn't that look like no punishment would work for him?
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I agree, MB. Our experience has taught me that when it comes to juveniles, I had to throw out everything I thought to be legal justice, rights, and proper procedure. It just doesn't matter in these cases. From them court ordering me to sign his mental health release forms to the GAL having lunch with the judge and discussing difficult child and his case and what she thought should happen a few days before court last year, it goes on and on.

    Edited to add: He was exposed to sexual things and harassed/almost attacked and threatened to be attacked sexually last year. I called to complain- they told me that I should understand that this wasn't a place where good kids are and that these things were going to happen. He might be able to handle that a little better now that he is a year older and looks older and is bigger, but still, he's 13 and I personally think this can effect their own process of forming identity and self-image.
  8. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I am sorry you are going thru this, and wish you and difficult child the best. Our justice system is not set up to deal with individuals with mental health issues, which is sad because so many are there because of mental illness.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    This is just me, but I never ever ever put anything into writing that can be taken out of context. If you send her a list, be sure to couch it along the terms of "therapist and I discussed such and such, and I also am considering this and that. Please let us know what you think and if you have any other suggestions."
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Good idea, Witz!

    And, by the way- according to defense attny, the GAL did start out a couple of weeks ago pursuing, or at least agreeing to, the idea of difficult child going into detention. So, there is truth to the questions being worded a certain way to tdocs/psychiatrist to achieve an agenda, I believe. But, the defense attny said he thought that between her findings and talking to him, that she was changing her mind. It seemed to help last yesterday when I gave her the specifics about why I wanted to change tdocs.
  11. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry. As others have said and you know our justice system doesn't seem to know how to deal with mental illness. Many gentle hugs being sent your way.
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Thank you, Sharon!

    Another nagging thought, when I testified regarding therapy in January, I found the judge to be reasonable. Now, she might have already had her mind made up and just been patronizing me. difficult child had her 2 years ago as a judge when he stole something and hit me. She was tough but not extreme.

    I realize that the GAL, PO, and others have much more experience with her than I do and she might be as "closed-minded" and unpredictable as they say. I'm definitely not ruling that out. But my impression was that she is blunt and will smart off to attny's or anyone else in the middle of court. She seemed to handle it just fine when I did that testifying and was pretty blunt, too, although I did throw in a few "with all due respects", "in my layman's opinion", and "just from a parent's point of view- but we will comply with any order you give".

    So, my impression is that this is just her personality, which is probably different from most judges- especially males who have never been school teachers. But it appears that these attny's freeze in court when she does this and stand there in a stupor rather than take that short opportunity to speak out with their points. So, then the judge will roll her eyes. To me, she is rolling her eyes because she threw out something and rather than them coming back with "Well, your honor, I'd like to also present this or that", they just stand there like paddled first graders. And worse, then there are the defense attny's who have gotten to a point, apparently, where they don't even bother preparing anything for court. So they are chastised more.

    Again, I have extremely limited experience with judges as compared to the attny's, but as an outsider looking in, this is the way it looks to me.

    In Jan., I mentioned that if difficult child didn't comply with my rules, he might not have an attny hired for him. She remembered this a couple of weeks ago at his arraignment, I believe, because she specifically told difficult child "if you don't have an attny show up with you, then that's it- you won't get one, do you understand", then she looked at me, and I just slightly smiled and she nodded.

    The gal asked me if I would be ok testifying again (i get anxiety issues). I said ok, but I thought we should ask difficult child to leave courtroom while I did because I didn't want him to hear some of the things I had to say about his therapist and I didn't want him to feel betrayed if I had to repeat some things he had told me. These things would work in his favor, but i don't want him emabaressed or anything.

    I don't know- maybe I am just so stressed that I am reading too much into things.

    Thanks all- for being here and giving support and being so patient with my rambling and venting!!
  13. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Haven't read the other response yet, but isn't it her job to make the judge care about the child she is representing? She's suppose to be representing him, not ignoring things because she's decided the judge won't care.
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    LOL Sara- even though I know it isn't funny. When she was first assigned (by a different arraigning judge), I thought she would be in the picture to be an advocate- it looked like that is why she was assigned.

    As time went on, it appeared more like she is "an extension of the judge" in that she is looking into things that the judge wouldn't have time to do personally. That might sound ok, too, except that the judge isn't here to really help this child, in this situation, she is here to punish him. Basicly, we aren't in court for domestic reasons (abuse, neglect, hardship, etc)- we are there because difficult child broke the law.