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Need for a search warrant trips social workers
Alliance Defense Fund via TownHall.com ^ | 2/5/03 | Richard K. Jefferson

Posted on 02/06/2003 7:51:23 PM PST by Jean S

Ohio authorities not aware of Fourth Amendment protections

Erie County, OH – A home schooling family has settled its case against Erie County social workers and Vermilion police for the coerced entry into the family’s home on Feb. 21, 2001.

“Courts have settled this key issue in other jurisdictions, and now it’s settled in this jurisdiction. Social workers cannot enter a home, willy-nilly, without a warrant,” said Gary McCaleb, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, the national legal organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona, that supported the case.

Paul and Linda Walsh filed a lawsuit after police and caseworkers entered their home without a warrant and without permission. The social workers said they were acting on an anonymous tip about unspecified “hazards” in the home, and claimed they had a right to enter the home without a warrant.

The social workers threatened the family, saying that if they were not allowed in the home they would take the children away from the parents. In papers filed with the court, the Walshes said that a social worker even blocked their driveway with her car when the family tried to leave to attend a church function that evening.

The social worker summoned police, who frisked Mr. Walsh and threatened to arrest him on charges of obstructing official business if he did not allow the caseworkers into the home. Walsh said that he then allowed the workers to enter the home rather than risk being jailed.

The caseworkers found nothing in the home that constituted an immediate hazard to the family.

Instead of tolerating this official abuse, the Walshes chose to sue the caseworkers, the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services, the Erie County Board of Commissioners, the City of Vermilion, Ohio; and three Vermilion police officers.

Defendants told the court that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against illegal searches and seizures do not apply to them in such circumstances. They asked the court to throw the case out, but the court refused. The court said the facts supported the Walshes’ claims against the defendants for unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as for false imprisonment, assault, battery, and infliction of emotional distress.

In a forceful opinion, US District Judge James G. Carr wrote: “Despite the Defendants’ exaggerated view of their powers, the Fourth Amendment applies to them, as it does to all other officers and agents of the state whose requests to enter, however benign or well-intentioned, are met by a closed door. There is...no social worker exception to the strictures of the Fourth Amendment. ...Any agency that expects to send its employees routinely into private homes has a fundamental obligation to ensure that those employees understand the constitutional limits on their authority.”

The court stated that because the Walshes refused consent, and because the anonymous complaint did not supply persuasive evidence of an emergency, the caseworkers had no option but to either “leave the [Walshes] alone and in peace” or seek a search warrant.

The court further ruled that the police did not have probable cause to detain, frisk, and threaten to arrest Walsh, since he was not breaking any law but merely asserting his “fundamental right to be left alone.”

Kurt D. Anderson, a partner with the Elyria firm of Fauver, Keyse-Walker & Donovan, represents the Walshes. Anderson, a graduate of Alliance Defense Fund's second National Litigation Academy, said the training gave him the background to help the Walshes when the opportunity arose.

“ADF's training and resources really helped us confront an issue that, unfortunately, had apparently never been addressed in Ohio before,” Anderson said. “As far as we could tell, nobody in Ohio had ever challenged a caseworker's home inspection for failure to get a warrant. As a home schooling parent myself, I really took the Walshes’ situation to heart. I admire them for their courage to stand up for their rights, but it's a crying shame that it would even have to come to that. It’s just a reminder that we have to be vigilant and assertive about protecting our rights. They can be trampled on even by well-meaning but uninformed government agents.”

Anderson expects that as a result of the Walsh case, training policies will be revised for social workers not just in Erie County, but across the state of Ohio. “The caseworkers in the Walsh case admitted they had never been taught anything about the Fourth Amendment or search warrants. The feedback I'm getting is that agencies across the state have gotten a wake-up call on this issue.”

Anderson declined to reveal the specific amount of the settlement, which was not stated in the court record.

For more information about home schooling and the law, please contact the Home School Legal Defense Association, an ally of the Alliance Defense Fund. HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville can be reached at (540) 338-5600.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a servant organization serving people of faith. The Alliance Defense Fund provides strategy, training, and funding in the legal battle for religious liberty, sanctity of life, and traditional family values.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; News/Current Events; US: Ohio
KEYWORDS: homeschooling

1 posted on 02/06/2003 7:51:23 PM PST by Jean S
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To: Vic3O3; dd5339
HS ping
2 posted on 02/06/2003 7:52:47 PM PST by cavtrooper21 (Shoot 'em if they stand, cut 'em if they run!)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: JeanS
SPECIAL THANKS TO HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION FOR ALL THAT THEY DO TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF HOMESCHOOLERS ACROSS AMERICA. http://www.hslda.org
or http://www.hslda.com
IT'S ONE OR THE OTHER.
4 posted on 02/06/2003 7:58:12 PM PST by goodseedhomeschool
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To: JeanS
read later
5 posted on 02/06/2003 7:58:56 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: goodseedhomeschool
THE FIRST ONE IS THE RIGHT ONE.
http://www.hslda.org
6 posted on 02/06/2003 7:59:40 PM PST by goodseedhomeschool
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To: JeanS
Modern day Gestapo
7 posted on 02/06/2003 8:00:07 PM PST by Liberatio
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To: JeanS
The caseworkers in the Walsh case admitted they had never been taught anything about the Fourth Amendment or search warrants.

The case worker added "I would have read the constitution, but it had so many big words in it.

God save us, please.

8 posted on 02/06/2003 8:05:10 PM PST by dpa5923 (More than a man, less than a god.)
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To: JeanS
Support the ADF financially if you can. They take pride in battling the ACLU.
9 posted on 02/06/2003 8:06:44 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead (It's all about ideas)
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To: JeanS
"...There is...no social worker exception to the strictures of the Fourth Amendment....'

Hurray for this family! I hope we start seeing more of these social-nazi thugs going to court.

10 posted on 02/06/2003 8:06:57 PM PST by Indy Pendance
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I called CPS on a family that lived next door in an apt bldg...next to my frat house.

there was a little kid about 6 or 7, who had a huge burn on his face. He said his sister (in her 20s) burned his face with an iron.

with all the handcuffs on CPS, they never were able to do anything, basically because they couldn't even come out unless I knew exactly which apt. it was. which i didn't...

and this was in California btw
11 posted on 02/06/2003 8:17:01 PM PST by KneelBeforeZod (Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets)
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To: EricOKC
Bingo. I hope the officers had to ante up with personal funds, and that the word gets out to the brethren.
12 posted on 02/06/2003 8:17:12 PM PST by FreedomPoster (This space intentionally blank)
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To: JeanS
Anderson declined to reveal the specific amount of the settlement, which was not stated in the court record.

Once again the innocent taxpayers are forced to pay for the goonish, jack booted thug tactics of the local Gestapo social workers and police.

The police and social workers responsible for this travesty should be fired, jailed, and then subjected to personal liability for their actions. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize tyranny.

13 posted on 02/06/2003 8:17:26 PM PST by jimkress
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To: JeanS
Judge James G. Carr; remember that name. Someday there might just be a filibuster about this man. Way to go, Your Honor!
14 posted on 02/06/2003 8:21:15 PM PST by NonValueAdded
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To: Texas_Jarhead
I would think the ACLU would be on the same side of this one.
15 posted on 02/06/2003 8:21:51 PM PST by Nathaniel Fischer
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To: JeanS
Fantastic case! By the way, I hope the defendants got more than a slap on the wrist. What did they sue for, and what did they win (besides protection of their rights)?
16 posted on 02/06/2003 8:22:36 PM PST by coloradan
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To: Nathaniel Fischer
probably but so that doesn't make them any less dangerous
17 posted on 02/06/2003 8:23:50 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead (It's all about ideas)
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To: JeanS
Bravo for the Judge. Socialist Nazis and other statist thugs in the Free State of Ohio best learn the Constitution or face the consequences.
18 posted on 02/06/2003 8:28:38 PM PST by SSN558
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To: JeanS
I just hate it when these kinds of stories come up in this great Country. I'll be pissed off for the next day or two.

"Obstructing Official Business ". AAgghhh.
I can think of many,many households (Mine included)where this little Constitutional drama would not have played out as well as this one did.

I salute Mr.&Mrs. Walsh for keeping their cool in front of their children and the Jack-Booted Gestapo. And I hope and prey that Judge Carr stays on the bench for a long,long time.

19 posted on 02/06/2003 8:33:41 PM PST by Pompah
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: JeanS
“Despite the Defendants’ exaggerated view of their powers, the Fourth Amendment applies to them,...

Aye-men Bro!

It's about time these gubmint agencies got their chain jerked!

21 posted on 02/06/2003 8:57:09 PM PST by nightdriver
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To: JeanS
Kudos to this judge. Nice to know the good guys occasionaly win.

Several months ago, there was a thread about either this case or a similar one. I was thinking it was in North Carolina.

Anyone have a link to that thread?

I'm curious to see if anyone took the side of the social agency.

22 posted on 02/06/2003 10:22:04 PM PST by Ken H
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To: jimkress
"The police and social workers responsible for this travesty should be fired, jailed, and then subjected to personal liability for their actions. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize tyranny."

Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991) — State officers may be held personally liable for damages based upon actions taken in their official capacities.

Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56 (1992) — State or local officials who stand by or protect an unlawful eviction or seizure are liable for damages under 42 USC 1983.

Let the fun begin.

23 posted on 02/06/2003 10:25:47 PM PST by tahiti
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To: JeanS
FRONTLINE failure to protect; The Caseworker Files; Maine's child-protection caseworkers
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/837782/posts

24 posted on 02/06/2003 11:24:52 PM PST by quietolong
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To: tahiti
Thanks! Good info!
25 posted on 02/06/2003 11:44:28 PM PST by jimkress
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To: JeanS
it's a crying shame that it would even have to come to that. It’s just a reminder that we have to be vigilant and assertive about protecting our rights.

Yes, a cryin' shame. Illegal search and seizure under the 'we're here to help you' rationale; threats by the state to take their children! (Shades of Stalinist Russia!)
Thank heaven for the Alliance Defense Fund and similar organizations. The ACLU is conspicuous by its total absence from these cases.

26 posted on 02/07/2003 1:52:55 AM PST by pariah (Are these tag lines really optional?)
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To: TxBec
HS/4th amend ping!
27 posted on 02/07/2003 5:48:45 AM PST by Vic3O3 (-47 below keeps the riffraff out!)
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To: JeanS; dd5339
Personally, I think the thing the Walshes should have done was call 911 when the SW tried to illegally enter the home, and assert to the cops that there was someone impersonating a state official and trying to kidnap their kids! That would've gotten the cops over there in a big hurry! And on the Walsh's side.
28 posted on 02/07/2003 5:51:11 AM PST by Vic3O3 (-47 below keeps the riffraff out!)
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To: pariah
"Illegal search and seizure under the 'we're here to help you' rationale..."

I would like to check your "resolve" behind this statement.

Formulating my conslusions from the perspective of a "presumption of liberty" as well as the fact that we allow ourselves to be governed by a "constitutional republic" form of government versus be governed by a "democracy," government mandated federalized security personnel used to search my person and belongings before I board a privately owned aircraft violates the 4th amendment (no warrant before the search), violates the 5th amendment right of the airline's owners (nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation), and violates the 9th amendment of my right to travel. (The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.)

In addition, a government law not allowing the citizens to be armed while on public property, municipal airports, violates the 2nd amendment, as well.

Of course, all of this government unconstitutional activity is being done under the guise of "we're here to help you" rationale.

And yes the ACLU is conspicuous by it's absence in these cases because I asked them to help me file federal lawsuits against the Patriot Act and they would not touch it.

Think it over.

29 posted on 02/07/2003 6:01:50 AM PST by tahiti
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To: Nathaniel Fischer; Vic3O3; cavtrooper21
Nope! The ACLU would not be on their side for this one. You missed a couple of key points.
#1 The family was home schooling.
#2 The family attends church.

Both of those are about as big of strikes against you as gun ownership is to the ACLU.

My personal theory is that if they don't have the county sheriff and a valid search warrant with them then they have about 10 seconds to get off my property. And if they force their way into my house they will be dealt with like any other EXTREME threat to the health and safety of my family.

Semper Fi
30 posted on 02/07/2003 6:06:50 AM PST by dd5339 (Home schooling is education, not indoctrination!)
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