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Federal Judge reinstates case against social worker

Federal Judge reinstates case against social worker Unanimous Federal Appeals ruling opens door for 4th Amendment justice Federal Judge reinstates case against social worker Unanimous Federal Appeals ruling opens door for 4th Amendment justice

DECEMBER 6, 1999 CONTACT: Rich Jefferson (540) 338-9104 or e-mail

LOS ANGELES, CA A civil rights lawsuit against a Los Angeles County social worker and two sheriff's deputies for an illegal entry into a private home was reinstated today in Los Angeles federal district court.

Judge Margaret Morrow reopened Taylor v. O'Keefe, et al., on the basis of the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Calabretta v. Floyd, et al. In May, Judge Morrow threw out the case against Kathleen O'Keefe, a social worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies. But a unanimous August ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that said social workers must obey the U.S. Constitution when investigating child abuse made reinstatement of Taylor inevitable.

In its Calabretta opinion, the Ninth Circuit said that the "reasonable expectation of privacy of individuals in their homes includes the interests of both parents and children in not having government officials coerce entry in violation of the Fourth Amendment and humiliate the parents in front of the children."

Michael Farris, lead attorney for the Calabrettas and president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said that "police and social workers cannot force their way into private homes. The Calabretta ruling erases the possibility that the law is not clear in the rest of the country. This includes the deputies who used threats to coerce entry into the Taylor home."

On Feb. 14, 1997, Kathleen O'Keefe, a DCFS social worker, sought for 90 minutes to gain entry into the Taylor home. But she had no warrant, there were no exigent circumstances, and Vicki Taylor would not consent. O'Keefe contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which sent two sheriff's deputies to the Taylor home. Deputy Sheriff Brian Hudson told Mrs. Taylor that if she didn't allow O'Keefe to enter, he would get a warrant. With that threat, Mrs. Taylor allowed O'Keefe to enter. Then, the social worker questioned the Taylor children with sexual innuendo and detail they had never heard before.

"Parents have the right to protect their children," said Farris. "Social workers have too many times behaved as if they have an exception to the Fourth Amendment's prohibitions against illegal searches and seizures. Judge Morrow did the right thing when she reinstated the Taylor case."

A trial is set in Los Angeles federal court for February 1, 2000.

Submitted by: r *

3-Dec-2000 Hits: 517 Rating: 10.00 Votes: 2 Rate It

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