A Dose of Stupid v131

It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept.

Case in point:

Social workers claim they did not know lying to the court was wrong

How is it possible for this to occur? What social worker does not know they are not allowed to falsify evidence in their cases? Who even needs a person to tell them this? Apparently some Californian social workers:

Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years?

From the you-can’t-make-up-this-crap file, county officials are paying Lynberg & Watkins, a private Southern California law firm specializing in defending cops in excessive force lawsuits, untold sums to claim the social workers couldn’t have “clearly” known that dishonesty wasn’t acceptable in court and, as a back up, even if they did know, they should enjoy immunity for their misdeeds because they were government employees.

One must give them credit for the arrogance and conceit it takes to make such an argument. To use this as a defense is absurd. To stick to it in the face of its obvious stupidity is rather bold.

The state is being sued over the wrongful removal of the children. The officials involved attempted to claim immunity as government employees, which the court rejected. They appealed the decision, which led to the following exchange between the panel and Pancy Lin, a representative of the firm:

Trott: How in the world could a person in the shoes of your clients possibly believe that it was appropriate to use perjury and false evidence in order to impair somebody’s liberty interest in the care, custody and control of that person’s children? How could they possibly not be on notice that you can’t do this?

Lin: I understand.

Trott: How could that possibly be?

Lin: I understand the argument that it seems to be common sense in our ethical, moral . . .

Trott: It’s more than common sense. It’s statutes that prohibit perjury and submission of false evidence in court cases.

Lin: State statutes.

Trott: Are you telling me that a person in your client’s shoes couldn’t understand you can’t commit perjury in a court proceeding in order to take somebody’s children away?

Lin: Of course not, your honor.

Trott: Of course not!

Owens: Isn’t the case over then?

Trott: The case is over.

Lin: Thus far we have not been presented with a clearly established right that tells us what our clients did which was remove the children pursuant to a court order . . .

Friedland: The issue here is committing perjury in a court to take away somebody’s children and you just said that’s obviously not okay to do.

Lin: According to our moral compass and our ethical guidelines, but we’re here to decide the constitutionality of it and we look to the courts to tell us.

One must give Lin credit for trying, and she is genuinely trying to make this sound like a rational argument. It clearly is not a rational, ethical, or moral argument and she knows it, yet is doing her job trying to defend her clients. Fortunately, the panel did not entertain her defense:

Trott: You mean to tell us due process is consistent with a government official submitting perjured testimony and false evidence? How is that consistent? I mean I hate to get pumped up about this but I’m just staggered by the claim that people in the shoes of your clients wouldn’t be on notice that you can’t use perjury and false evidence to take away somebody’s children. That to me is mind boggling.

Lin: In criminal proceedings we know this to be true because . . .

Trott: No, no! It’s a court proceeding with a liberty interest, a fundamental liberty interest at stake.

Lin: And on the reverse side . . .

Trott: And you’re telling us that these officials [weren’t] on notice that you can’t commit perjury and put in false evidence?

Lin: I understand broadly the principle that common sense tells us that lying is wrong and lying to . . .

Trott: Yeah, but it’s more than common sense. We’re using statutes against this kind of behavior.

Lin: I, uh, I don’t. I was not presented [sic]. I have not been seen [sic] any federal law or case law or law that tells me that in this situation that we were faced in that, which is what we have to look at . . .

To borrow a phrase from Stephen Colbert, this woman has a massive pair of lady balls, “thatchers”  if you will. To argue that there is no federal law or case law or general law that prohibits perjury in cases of removing a child from his parents smacks of desperation. State and federal law prohibits perjury. The laws do not need to specify the crime. It prohibits the act in and of itself. You are not allowed to lie under oath, be it with ill or good intention. It is illegal, everyone knows it is illegal, and no one thinks it is acceptable to lie to unreasonably remove a child from his parents.

Yet Lin continued to argue as if there were some legal distinction that allowed her clients leeway:

Trott: Well, say your clients hired six people to be actors and to go into court and to say, ‘We’re neighbors and we saw all this terrible stuff.’ And then your client presented those witnesses in court. You’re telling me that they would have no reason to believe that you can’t do that because there was no federal case that says you can’t bring actors into court to swear falsely against somebody?

Lin: But again here we’re appealing to a sort of broader definition of what is a clearly established right. I mean we have to find the clearly established right in the context our, um, social workers were presented with, which was they were faced with a court order.

Trott: Again, I cannot even believe for a micro-second that a social worker wouldn’t understand that you can’t lie and put in false evidence!

It would appear then that Lin’s defense hinges on stating that her clients were too stupid to know you cannot make up stories and present them as evidence. That alone is reason enough to hold them accountable for the false claims. They are not qualified, by virtue of their utter lack of basic intelligence, to do their jobs. They should be fired, charged, and sent to jail for impersonating a functioning human being, let alone lying to remove children from their home.

Even if one contended the social workers lied to protect the daughters, the situation they created by lying ultimately helps no one. By lying, these workers make all their previous, potentially legitimate findings suspect. They raise this concern with other cases reviewed by their supervisors. One must now review dozens, possibly hundreds of cases to ensure none of those removals hinged on false evidence.

The entire situation is absurd, and yet it continued:

Owens: Let me ask the question a different way. Is there anything you know of that told social workers that they should lie and that they should create false evidence in a court proceeding?

Lin: No, and, of course, that is, uh, we contend that is not what happened here.

Of course not. Instead Lin stated, “Thus far we have not been presented with a clearly established right that tells us what our clients did which was remove the children pursuant to a court order […] According to our moral compass and our ethical guidelines, but we’re here to decide the constitutionality of it and we look to the courts to tell us.”

That sounds like Lin’s argument is that there is no law prohibiting her clients from lying, so if they did it knowingly, they committed no crime. If they did it unknowingly, which would be quite the feat when faking evidence, then they still did nothing wrong.

Again, I  must give the firm and their clients credit for mounting one of the most ridiculous defenses to perjury accusations I have ever seen.

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2 thoughts on “A Dose of Stupid v131

  1. This is why “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Without that principle, “No-one can prove that I knew it was illegal” becomes a defense for even the most heinous acts. Happily, perjury is *illegal*. It is illegal *everywhere*. It *has always* been illegal, right back to the first recorded legal codes. It is the *duty* of everyone who gives testimony to understand that.

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