A recent case has made headlines in Michigan, after an Otsego County Family Court Judge chose to visit the home of a family involved in a termination of parental rights case. His reason for stopping by? To see for himself how the family was handling the situation, and whether or not the prosecution’s claims about their home were really on the up-and-up. The parents, whose daughter has a chronic kidney disease, were at risk of losing their parenting rights. A judge’s home visit during an ongoing CPS case is unprecedented, and according to the Supreme Court, actually illegal!
So how did the situation go down?
Judge Michael Cooper showed up at the family’s trailer with attorneys from both sides to investigate the situation personally. Although the agreement was that neither attorney was allowed to ask the family questions in the judge’s presence, or explain any aspect of their life or home, it turns out that the visit was not legal. Based in part on his impressions during the visit, Judge Cooper terminated the couple’s parental rights.
Because of the home visit, the entire case came under review.
In fact, the case ended up in front of the Michigan Supreme Court. This is a strange situation, which shows just how easy it is for a judge to step over the line and compromise their position of neutrality. The Michigan Supreme Court was then forced to consider whether it’s appropriate for a judge to see the conditions of a family’s home before terminating the rights of the parents involved.
What is the role of a judge in a court proceeding?
According to the American Bar Association, the role of a Judge in court proceedings is like umpires in baseball, or referees in football or basketball. Their role is to make sure that the rules of court procedures are followed by both sides. That means “without regard to which side is popular, without regard to who is “favored,” without regard for what the spectators want, and without regard to whether the judge agrees with the law.”
Chuck Kronzek says the judge’s home visit wasn’t appropriate!
Chuck Kronzek, founder of The Kronzek Firm PLC and a CPS defense attorney with decades of experience, spoke with National Public Radio (NPR) on the subject, and explained why this is so concerning. “The judge took him or herself out of the role of being neutral.” Attorney Kronzek explained,” He made himself a witness and made that part of a decision without the ability of an accused parent to confront him, cross-examine him, and so on.”
CPS cases are full of unexpected twists and turns.
This situation, where a judge made an unlawful home visit, is very rare. However, there are many other instances where CPS workers step over the line. Whether it’s their bullying tactics, or their frequent threats made to parents who are struggling to get their children back, we’ve seen it all! So if you need a highly skilled and experienced CPS defense attorney, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 today. We have helped thousands of families across Michigan since the last century.