“But we didn’t know you couldn’t lie to the Court!”
Orange County social workers lied and submitted falsified documents to the court to justify taking two young daughters from their mother. When they got caught, can you guess what their defense was? “But we didn’t know you couldn’t lie to the court!” That line didn’t work on your mother, and it won’t work in court.
In 2002 the mother, Deanne Hardwick, sued Orange County in federal court. She argued that their social workers Marcia Vreeken and Elaine Wilkins violated her Constitutional rights. Their lying ways cost Orange County $4.9 Million in damages as the court ordered full restitution, and then some, to Hardwick.
This case eventually made it to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I do feel (kind of) sorry for the defense attorney, Pancy Lin. She obviously drew the short stick at the work assignment meeting that week. I mean, seriously, how do you defend that?!
Well…Lin argued that Vreeken and Wilkins were protected by qualified immunity because there is no clear, established law stating “a social worker may not lie in court or commit perjury.” Come on, Pancy, is that really the best you can do?
It only took one huff-and-puff from the panel to blow that house down:
Judge Trott: Are you telling me that a person in your client’s shoes could not understand you cannot commit perjury in a court proceeding in order to take somebody’s children away?
Lin: Of course not.
Judge Owens: Was there anything you know of that told social workers that they should lie and they should create false evidence in a court proceeding?
The moral of the story: Lying is bad. Lying to the court is worse. DON’T DO IT!
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