Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How To Sue CPS In Federal Court

f you want to sue Child Protective Services in federal court it is best that you hire an attorney. Of course, it can be done In Pro Per (on your own), so if you have confidence in your legal abilities and can’t afford or find legal help, then go for it! Most of us, however, would have a difficult time managing a civil lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit is a complex task, and it helps to have an attorney evaluate your chances of winning the case before you get started.

Many CPS victims choose to file a federal lawsuit, to sue for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983:

42 U.S.C. § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

Section 1983 Litigation
In A Nutshell

If your Child Protective Services social worker or caseworker claims to have immunity from prosecution, don’t believe it! There is no immunity for CPS under federal civil rights law.

Locate your nearest federal courthouse using the Federal District Court Online Locator Service. Wherever that nearest court is, be prepared to go there during the course of your federal lawsuit. The District Court is the trial court level of the federal court system. If your case is appealed, bear in mind you’ll be involved with the Federal Appellate Courts. Learn about the different federal courts here: Federal Courts.

Whether you have an attorney or not, the book pictured, Section 1983 Litigation in a Nutshell, will help you understand Section 1983 litigation so you can help direct the course of your lawsuit.

How To Find A Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation Attorney

You could start by looking through the yellow pages of your local phone directory. In the section for attorneys, look for specialties, then locate the “Civil Rights” and “Constitutional Law” sections. Phone these attorneys to set up free initial consultations… but don’t make your decision too quickly. You’re in an information gathering phase now.

Have a notebook to record details of your conversations with the attorneys you talk to – including their contact information and fees, whether they think you have a case, and what they think the probability of success is if you proceed. Consider that if they think your lawsuit is sure to fail, they may be connected with principal characters you’re suing via friendship or relationship, and may try to discourage you from suing at all!

Often it is best to locate attorneys outside your home county to avoid any “good old boys” friendship networks between legal professionals within the county you reside in.

Here’s a way to do that: Go to the federal courthouse to look for cases using their computer database system. Find cases filed against the Department of Social Services in your state. Next, ask to look at those cases; they should be a matter of public record. Find the names of the attorneys who filed the cases, and contact those lawyers, asking for a free consultation. Don’t stop with just one – find as many names as you can and do interviews. Getting the best and most motivated attorney at the best price is your goal.

You may be able to do this online at Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) but bear in mind, there’s a fee involved. If your fee is less than the cost of gasoline to reach the federal courthouse, this would be worth using.

Represent Yourself In Court

Your Evidence Against CPS

Make sure your documentary evidence is well-organized before speaking to attorneys. You should have an ongoing case notebook, and evidence of everything that happened in your interactions with CPS.

Do the best you can to prove your case using documents so the attorneys you talk to will have more confidence that your case can be won.

Watch this video for suggestions on how to organize your evidence: An Attorney’s Advice on Protecting Your Family by Gathering Data. This video was done by practicing attorney, Dr. Lorandos. His YouTube archive, Accused Falsely, is an excellent source of information for anyone seeking to sue CPS.

Learn About Legal Precedent – Cases of People Who Sued CPS Successfully in the Past

Thomas M. Dutkiewicz, president of Connecticut DCF Watch did a lot of legal research a few years ago to find case citations that will help CPS victims sue the Department of Social Services and their CPS social workers and caseworkers. Read his handbook to prepare for your case, and to discover further aspects of the injustice done to you: Child Protective Services and the Juvenile Justice System: A guide to protect the constitutional rights of both parents and children as ruled by the Federal Circuit Courts and Supreme Court.

AFRA has a page on Federal Civil Rights Cases That May Help CPS Victims – another source for information you may want to look through as you prepare to file your lawsuit against CPS and your social workers and caseworkers.

Representing Yourself

Thomas M. Dutkiewicz did an excellent job of presenting his case In Pro Per, and it can be done if you are willing and able to take the time to learn the laws and how to use them. The book pictured above, Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case, can help you understand more about filing a civil lawsuit In Pro Per. It is recommended also for people who hire an attorney so you can be aware of all the things your attorney should be doing and make sure he or she is giving you the best representation possible.

[Update - 5/19/11 - I was just given this link and want to share it with those of you who seek to file a federal lawsuit against CPS: Safety Lawsuits.]

Filed under: Legal Issues — Linda Martin @ 12:38 pm


  1. A grandparent who is trying to get custody of three grandchildren in cps custody. Have been informed I have disposition with CPS. Have never had a CPS case. Grandchildren about to basically be farmed out to people who have injured children, been in penitentiary for murder, They have blocked me every way. Getting this info where I've injured a child takes 18-24 mos. Filed for custody. Judge threw case out (CPS had judge sign an order) Never was informed of decision until I called court house to check on status of case. Never even got a chance to have petition heard. I angered CPS supervisor when I told her this was cluster f and she was head clucker. Pretty dumb I know. My grandson was being fed on by chiggers for over two mos in foster care. He has permanent scarring from it. I'm a retired postal worker so I. need to know if there is anyone who can help me as I don't have a lot of money. Ideas. I did file the petition pro se. Used alegal service in Tx.

    1. Dennis M. Slate, Attorney at Law

      Can Grandparents get custody in a CPS case?
      Posted on Apr 19, 2014 6:25pm PDT
      When Children’s Protective Services (CPS) seeks to remove children from their parents for abuse or neglect, its caseworkers have a duty to seek placement of the child(ren) with a relative of either the mother or the father. Often, it is the grandparents who are in the best position to seek placement and to provide for the care of the child(ren).

      The courts are required to provide the parents of any child CPS removes with a hearing to determine whether the removal was warranted. The hearing must be held within 14 days of the child’s removal. This hearing is also when the court will decide where the child(ren) will reside while the case is pending, which could be up to 18 months. Because of this short deadline for the hearing, it is very important for grandparents who want their grandchildren to be placed with them to consult and hire counsel very quickly once the child has been removed.


      Depending on the alleged conduct of the parents that necessitated the removal and the feelings of the grandparent towards the parent, there are two options that can be pursued. First, if a grandparent wants to support their child in trying to eventually regain custody of the grandchildren, they can seek placement of the child(ren) without actually filing their own suit. This option allows the grandparent step in and keep the child(ren) out of foster care, while still being able to testify in favor of the parent.

      The second option requires the grandparent to file their own lawsuit, called an intervention, seeking legal custody of the grandchild(ren), instead of just a temporary placement. If a suit of this nature is filed, the grandparent must allege that if the child(ren) was returned to either parent that their health or emotional development would be significantly impaired. By filing a lawsuit, the grandparent then gets a voice in the lawsuit and courtroom they would not have otherwise.

      If your grandchildren have been removed from their parents by CPS, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. It is also important that the attorney you hire is skilled and trained in handling CPS cases.

      I specialize in representing grandparents, and can help you in getting your grandchild(ren) out of foster care and returned to live with their family, Grandparent Rights
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  2. My kids were abused by their foster parents, their foster father was indicted on charges also while they were in there care, the children and youth agency is currently under investagation can sue the agency?

  3. How To Sue CPS in Federal Court

  4. My sisrer has 4 kids that ot tooken away from her due to false allegations from her oldest kids dad .He is not even the father of the other three kids. Recently before all of this he had a baby and the baby is very sick .I believe that he is using my sisters kids into getting money . He also is coaching is kid by her to say bad things about tthe mom and lie and say bad thins about other people as well to keep the case prolong he even try to get my child invoved in his sick stories that didn't play out the way he thought . The kids in his care are not doing well at all. The oldest which is his is doing awful in school the secound oldest is anti-social the midle child has been to the hospital 2 tmes under his care of habving multiple seizure do to bad reaction of laughing gas that was told not to do and also was in the dentil records and still did it anyway and the youngest wont eat at all and is going bald plz. someone tell me what to do to help her CPS is not trying to help her at all they are to busy having her do things to prove she is a good parent and brought them in the hands of someone who diffently is not caring for them but only using them for his oiwn selfish ways


Please feel free to comment, or if you have any questions for me, let me know and I will see that I can do to help you.