Yet again, in what appears to be becoming an annual event, I am forced to defend our most basic rights. I hope you'll take a couple minutes of your time to assist.
Long-time readers and friends already know the background
of this situation. For those who do not, I included that information and links
to further details
. Thank you for taking the time to read and, hopefully, send an e-mail or make a phone call.
Here is the most recent CPS e-mail exchange:
I sent an e-mail to Anthony Ramos:
From: Sharon Secor
Cc: JAMES.BJORUM@dfps.state.tx.us LETICIA.GARCIA@dfps.state.tx.us CONSUELO.HERNANDEZ@dfps.state.tx.us firstname.lastname@example.org
Date:Mon, Jun 13, 2011 10:03 am
Good Morning Sir:
I am respectfully requesting that you e-mail me a copy of your allegations. I thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Sharon Secor, Freelance Writer
His supervisor, Leticia Garcia responded:
Date:Mon, Jun 13, 2011 5:27 pm
Ms. Secor, Mr. Ramos is out today. This serves as a response to your request. I am unable to provide you with the written allegations either by e-mail or regular mail. The investigator, Mr. Ramos will need to meet with you personally to provide you with this information. Please let him or I know as soon as possible when you can meet with him to discuss the reported allegations. Your cooperation is truly appreciated.
Unit QO Supervisor
My response to her, which I also forwarded to their legal department:
From: Sharon Secor
Cc: CONSUELO.HERNANDEZ@dfps.state.tx.us ANTHONY.RAMOS@dfps.state.tx.us JAMES.BJORUM@dfps.state.tx
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 8:40 pm
Let us not be disingenuous here. You and I both know that under Texas law, it is my right to have a copy of your allegations. A right stands on its own. It is not a privilege to be denied.
In addition, a right is not a bargaining chip. I have a right to a copy of those allegations, meeting or not. Those are two separate issues.
Perhaps you are not responding with a lack of candor. Perhaps your response stems from a lack of knowledge, rather than a deliberate effort to deny me my rights under Texas law.
Because I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on this point, I've done you the favor of forwarding our conversation on the matter to your legal department so that they may enlighten you on the subject.
I shall look forward to seeing your spurious allegations against me.
Sharon Secor, Freelance Writer
She responds with:
Sent: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 10:29 am
Subject: RE: Allegations
Ms. Secor, you are correct in stating that underTexas law you are entitled to a copy of the records but not until the CPS investigation is completed and closed. Attached is the TAC provision. Again, your cooperation in helping us complete the investigation in a timely manner will allow us to inform you of the allegations and then provided you with the requested records. Please inform us as to when you can meet with the investigator. Thank you. Letty GarciaUnit QO SupervisorRegion 10-Marfa432-729-3131
My response to her:
RE: Allegations -- Required Content of First Contact
Date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 1:21 pm.
This is from your own DCFS handbook:
2243.3 Interviewing Parents or Alleged Perpetrators
Required Content of First Contact With Alleged Perpetrator
"During the first telephone or face-to-face contact with the alleged perpetrator, the worker must advise the individual of the complaints or allegations made against him or her."
Your investigator, Anthony Ramos, refused to do this during our initial telephone contact. You are supporting a direct violation of your own governing handbook, as well as violating my federal and state constitutional rights and the court affirmed constitutional rights that each of my children has.
Friends and Readers, Readers and Friends... Please feel free to use the above contact information to remind these people that they are bound by law to respect the rights of my family and myself. It has been my experience that these sorts of people are more inclined to do so when they know that others are watching.
Here is an excerpt from my recent letter to Governor Perry. It explains the situation, a bit of background (which can also be found by scrolling through the blog for anyone interested), and my position on the matter:
"My family has had to contact your office regarding Brewster County DFPS caseworker Anthony Ramos twice before and due to his continued harassment of my family, today I am forced to contact you again, requesting any assistance you may be able to provide in aiding me to protect my children from this man. As I have discussed with your office before, Ramos has had numerous complaints against him for multiple instances of abuse of power and intimidation.
Last year, I successfully resisted his unconstitutional demand that I present my children for inspection with the help of your office and other concerned parties. During that incident, you requested that Anne Heiligenstein, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, look into the matter. On Friday June 3, 2011, Anthony Ramos contacted me again, demanding a meeting, claiming a report was made. However, last year he contacted my brother, David Secor, stating the same thing, despite the fact that his partner, Azucena Carrasco, said specifically there was no new report or complaint, but that they were hoping to wrap up loose ends in the prior year’s investigation, which was unfounded and closed 4/17/2009.
Please note that in 2009, I was investigated and cleared (Ramos signed the 2009 letter himself, I have it still in its original envelope) in absentia, the fact that I wasn’t even a resident of Brewster County at the time adding a truly surreal element to the situation. I have never seen this man face to face and until our telephone conversation of June 3, 2011, I have never even spoken to him before. This is a very small community and everyone, including our local deputies, knows that I do not neglect or abuse my children. However, due to Ramos’s past and continuing behavior, I cannot trust this man to behave in a professional, fair manner.
Furthermore, as a full-time writer, I am particularly invested in the concept that words mean things. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and Section 9 of the Texas Bill of Rights state unequivocally that “no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.”
The Texas Bill of Rights offers further protection, stating in Section 29 that “PROVISIONS OF BILL OF RIGHTS EXCEPTED FROM POWERS OF GOVERNMENT; TO FOREVER REMAIN INVIOLATE. To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this "Bill of Rights" is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.”
The highest courts in the nation have affirmed that the protections of the Fourth Amendment do extend to child abuse investigations, with one notable case being Calabretta vs. Floyd, which also addresses intimidation and coercion techniques as being forbidden and unconstitutional. It has also been established judicially that each of my children has her own Fourth Amendment protections. And, it is very clear what the Fourth demands prior to searching any place or seizing any person (including for involuntary questioning or ‘interviews’) – a warrant based upon probable cause and supported by oath or affirmation.
Ramos is not excepted from this demand and the abridgement of that protection is forbidden in the state of Texas by the simple, direct words of Section 29 of the Texas Bill of Rights. To my mind, the issue here is a simple one – do the federal and state constitutions mean what they say or not? As the highest laws of the land, I believe that they do. And, I hope that you do too."
So, basically here we go again. I am rapidly collecting information and extend my deep gratitude to those who have already been so helpful to me in that arena. As I contemplate my various options, I welcome input in developing my strategy for managing this situation. I shall look forward to hearing from those who choose to share their experience, expertise, ideas, and suggestions.