Why no more juvenile clients
It breaks my heart to hear all the stories of parents separated from their children, often on a permanent basis. Why have I stopped helping or practicing in this area? The short answer is my blood pressure. The long answer is as follows:
I would like to preface this missive by saying that my story will not be unique. I know of many fine lawyers who have charged the windmill trying valiantly to help the parents keep their children from the state or being adopted out. Their stories are strikingly similar. In fairness, I have witnessed and have been either aware of cases or made aware of cases where the parents were never given a chance to reunify.
I started work in this area, by being the conflict attorney for the Juvenile Court in my local county. I thought all the cases were difficult, until a friend pointed out that I got all of the cases that the 4 contract attorneys did not want. The worst cases. However, it was like being thrown into the deep end with the sharks. Fortunately, being a shark myself, I thrive on conflict, to a point.
I would like to believe that over the 10 years I worked at this, I helped many people get a fair hearing in court and I helped them reunify with their children. The stories are many and this is not the place to hash them out. Suffice it to say, that the system is broken, and no one cares to fix it.
I remember when I first started doing juvenile cases, and a client said, “You know those caseworkers will get you a child to adopt for $10,000.” I laughed naively and said that it was ridiculous. After 10-plus years of fighting the good fight, it does make me wonder if it is closer to $15,000 with inflation. When all the parents have very similar complaints it gets you wondering. With that said, I know that I worked with some very dedicated and compassionate people, and I worked with others who were not. The main problem is there is no accountability, the best you can do is make them miserable and file motions to make them follow their own rules. The system is set up to benefit the foster parents (or placement).
The law itself does not plan it that way, but that is how the system works.
When I quit the contract work my staff rejoiced. I still did private representation, until I went to the ER two times in one week over blood pressure issues. What cases was I dealing with that week; mainly juvenile. I could write a book about my experiences alone, but who would read it? The apathy regarding the system is the enemy. None of the directors are willing to fix it, neither is the Governor’s office apparently. (I sent a letter more than once.) (I have spoken to my state legislator representatives, and they seem unsure what to do to correct it.)
I appreciate your time reading this missive. I liked helping people get justice or at least as close to justice as possible. However, in this area, I was asked by my staff to withdraw for my heart health.
God bless those who find a way to fix this very sad stain on our society and at least the state of Missouri.
God Bless and have a Great Day.
David Meyer, Esq.