Tuesday, February 18, 2014

JUDGE PAUL WALKER AND LAWYER JACK HITTRICH

Ray Ferris is continuing his comments on the Hittrich case that is ongoing now. He is a retired Ministry of Children child protection worker and supervisor yet because of what he is seen in recent years, he is an irrepressible critic of bad child protection work and a frequent contributor on this blog site. He is the author of the book entitled, ‘The Art of Child Protection.’ 

Jack Hittrich, lawyer
He anticipates that the court case will be over by the end of this month, but how long it will be before judgement is anybody’s guess. You have to see a CBC video interview with Jack Hittrich who argues for an investigation of MCFD because of this case. 
See as well an earlier post I wrote in August 2013, 'Justice Paul Walker Stunning Judgement.'

Here he writes:
"I have read the full judgement on the case now before Mr. Justice Walker . One is not allowed to name the case for good reasons. I think I can walk your readers through it. The mother filed for divorce and custody. She recorded her children giving detailed and specific information that there father had sexually abused them on several occasions. She also complained to the police about this. The father claimed that she was mentally unstable and that she had coached the children to make their statements.
Now note this. Solely on the word of the father who was in a bitter divorce dispute with the mother, the social workers accepted without hesitation that the mother was mentally unstable. In turn the police accepted this to be true, solely on the strength of this third hand hearsay evidence of the social worker. The family doctor interviewed the children in a very professional manner and found that they made very convincing statements about the sexual abuse. He wrote a letter to the children’s hospital and asked them to make sure that they passed it on to the protection social workers. This was not done and the doctor could not follow it up because he became seriously ill and had to take prolonged sick leave.
On the word of the father that the mother was mentally unstable and with no further evidence, the social workers removed the four children from the mother and placed them in foster homes. The mother was allowed very limited supervised access and the father was allowed unsupervised overnight access.
There is an important point for readers to understand here. The divorce action was in supreme court before Judge Walker.
When the social workers apprehended the children the case was held before a provincial court judge, who may or may not have known about the divorce action. As I understand it Hittrich law was representing the mother in divorce court primarily. As the evidence unfolded before Mr. Justice Walker, he became convinced that the father was a danger to the children and he ordered that only supervised access be granted to the man. It eventually came to his attention that the father had been seeing the children on an unsupervised overnight basis. In court he took the father to task and demanded an explanation as to why he had ignored the court order. Incredibly, the father told the court that the social workers had authorised it. They in turn blamed it on their own lawyers failing to liaise properly. The upshot was that Judge Walker exercised his prerogative as a supreme court judge and pre-empted the protection case. It was not long before he became concerned about the time the director’s case was taking and the adverse effect on the children. He decided to return the children to the mother under supervision until the end of the trial.
65 days into the trial the director decided to throw in the towel and give up the fight. He filed a letter stating that he wished to enter no further evidence. There is a clause in the CF&CSA, which allows the director to withdraw from the case at any time simply by filing a letter stating the reasons for withdrawal. The reasons can be sheer nonsense, but it doesn’t matter, because if the judge gets such a letter, he must close the case at once and cannot make a judgement. Kids must be returned home. This device is used when the children have been in care for a long time before the court in interim custody and there has been not proper protection hearing. When the social workers realise that they must come up with some evidence and they realise that they have little of substance to offer, they duck out in order to save an embarrassing judgement. They have a nice device for avoiding accountability. Meanwhile they may have traumatised children and spent millions on lawyers. Journalist Ian Mulgrew estimated that the director wasted between two and three million dollars on this case.
This tactic did not work in supreme court, because the case was joined with the divorce action and the judge had full power to make a judgement and to give any reasons he wanted. He granted sole custody to the mother and returned the children to her unconditionally. He was totally convinced that the father was a serial sexual abuser and that the shoddy work of the social worker had sabotaged any hope of prosecution. The police completely botched the investigation, because the had erroneously pre-judged the situation. The judge’s comments left little doubt that he had a very low opinion of the ministry staff.
The Hittrich company was out very large sums of money in their pursuit of justice. The mother had mortgaged her home and borrowed heavily to mount a defence, but this only provided a fraction of the cost. The ministry directors know full well they can easily outgun most parents with legal firepower and win by default. They spend millions of our money to do it. The only hope a law firm has is to sue for malfeasance. What they actually do is have the mother sue and they carry the case for her. If they get a large award for her they can get paid. Here is the rub. It does not matter if the ministry staff are totally incompetent, stupid and ignorant. It does not matter if they are totally derelict in their duty of care. If they do it with good intentions there is no redress. You have to prove malice. This is very difficult to do. The ministry upper echelons always hide behind the social workers in these cases. Even if the social workers are only faithfully following orders, they have to face the music alone. Like in the Baby Molly case in Victoria, the social workers were hung out to dry and got no support. Some of them had to take long stress leaves afterwards. That is what a parent has to do to succeed.
Now we have the malfeasance action against the director, which has been going on since October. The hearing has taken over one hundred days so far. My understanding is that the Hittrich company has not just called the lower echelons to the stand, but they have been going up the hierarchical ladder and grilling senior people about their responsibilities in the case. In effect, they seem to be putting the whole ministry on trial. As this hearing is before the same judge who was highly critical in the previous judgement, my best guess is that the mother will most likely get a huge award. The question then will be if the Minister for children will want to spend millions more of your money appealing it. You may be sure that Judge Walker has been very careful to avoid any chance of such an action succeeding.
Anyway Papa Inbc you have been following this case in person. Do you have anything interesting for us?"

4 comments:

  1. There will be an appeal, you can count on it. The past month a massive BCTF case basically destroyed the BC Governments credibility. The cost awards are no in line with what one sees south of the border, yet that isn't the true cost. The cost will be if this proceeds to Supreme Court, (which I believe it will) it does nothing in the interim to discourage more litigation. Indeed if the MCFD/ BC Government loses, the cost to them financially as well as damage to their PR will be enormous. In this case, I believe that the MCFD/ BC Government does not stand a chance. As with this case, it is not Family law. "Feelings" and "Belief" means absolutely nothing in Supreme Court. The final option will be a "not withstanding" clause. Again, this does nothing really for the government as the ruling will not have been overturned, simply quashed. And as they will have technically lost, the case can be used to successfully indict the MCFD on other cases. PS. From what I have heard it is extremely unlikely that the MCFD will dodge the bullet here. The only hope they have is if they find a BC Liberal friendly lackey sitting on a Supreme Court bench, and even then he will be forced to examine real evidence and not just the "allegations" dreamed up by the MCFD.

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  2. Thanks for summing this up so nicely. One can only hope and pray that the appropriate people take notice and a massive overhaul is made of the MCFd and it's practices and policies. When and if they do, I hope they contact you for input.

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  3. Anon Feb 18 10:55 pm, thank you for that insightful summary comment. Much appreciated.

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  4. Just as important as the judgement will be the judge's comments about the ministry. They will probably spark outrage from members on both sides of the legislative assembly. Even if the government appeals the decision, they cannot delete the judges comments and reasons for judgement, so politically there will be little to gain from an appeal.The focus should be on reforming the ministry. They should kick out the incompetent top brass.

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