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CPS workers can interview children without adult’s consent, AG concludes

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Child welfare workers can interview children without the consent of their parents, Attorney General Mark Brnovich concluded Monday.

In a 10-page formal opinion, Brnovich said a contrary finding by the Arizona Ombudsman office is legally wrong. In fact, the attorney general suggested that opinion was based on “hypertechnical textual analysis.”

Monday’s opinion is a victory for Greg McKay, director of the state Department of Child Safety. He has consistently insisted that interviews without parental consent have been agency practice for some time.

And McKay said he could find no court rulings to the contrary.

Brnovich agreed.

An attorney general’s opinion does not carry the same weight as a published appellate court ruling. But it can be cited by attorneys in a legal battle.

Potentially more significant, state agencies are entitled to rely on that opinion.

The legal dispute came after a mother complained in 2014 that DCS staffers took her children out of school. The issue in that case was a report of neglect involving her brother’s children.

According to reports, her children were living in the same home as the brother.

The case was classified not as abuse but the lesser offense of neglect. Based on that, the ombudsman said state law required DCS to get the mother’s permission to conduct interviews.

Brnovich disagreed, saying there are provisions in state law creating exceptions. And he said one of those exceptions is when there is an investigation that DCS is statutorily authorized to do.

Senate President Andy Biggs, who has been critical of some of the procedures used by DCS, said he was concerned about the new opinion. He said it gives too much authority to the agency.

“If you have probable cause to believe there’s some kind of criminality, then I understand interviewing the child outside the presence of a parent,” he said. “But that’s kind of where you draw the line.’’

Biggs said he wants to study the opinion further before deciding whether changes are needed in the law.

4 comments

  1. Makes sense. The Ombudsman isn’t an attorney. Good chance his “legal” opinion is not going to be accurate. AG opinion had most politely aggressive language you can get. (“explicitly rejects”) Of course it is explicit…

  2. Sorry but no Attorney General can dispute the Constitutional rights of the children and parents. His opinion does not TRUMP our inherent rights to be answering questions without an attorney or without parental consent…they just don’t want to get into trouble for breaking the law which they do daily when they remove kids for ridiculous reasons and make kids wards of the state putting them in the offices to sleep or warehouses manned by volunteers. Maybe this Attorney General needs to dust off the constitution and READ it…he didn’t give us our rights nor can he take them away or have an opinion about it, it is not his children…pretty sure he wouldn’t want his kids to be interviewed by some stranger.

  3. Brnovich is creating a trail of opinions that are very hostile to parents’ rights. He ignores the rights and protections acknowledged in ARS 1-601 and 1-602 to claim greater powers for the government than are actually authorized.

    Brnovich is part of a cadre of former Goldwater Institute employees who have followed Ducey into office and who seek to diminish and eliminate parental rights in the areas of education, family law, and DCS. They appear to be doing so at the bidding of moneyed interests in the law and psychometric data mining arena who profit greatly by trampling parental rights and family privacy.

  4. DCS WREAKS!

    Help end the Warrantless Removal Epidemic Against Kids by DEMANDING Warrants to seize kids

    https://www.facebook.com/DCSWREAKS/

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