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WHAT IS JUDGE MARGUERITE DOWNING THINKING?
March 9, 2013
Presiding Judge Michael Nash
The Superior Court
201 Centre Plaza Dr., Suite 9
Monterey Park, CA 91754-2158
Dear Judge Nash:
RE: THE HENDERSONS
As you know, my newspaper has been following the case of the above-captioned family for the past six months. I understand that there was a “contested hearing” on Friday, March 8, during which the husband was told to cease contact with his wife by Judge Marguerite Downing.
I have been told that both parents have attended counseling regularly, all scheduled visits with the children and that Mrs. Henderson has just secured adequate housing in anticipation of someday having her children returned to her.
The seizure of the youngest child, now eight months old, from Mrs. Henderson’s arms on August 31, 2012 was done without the required verification, of which Judge Downing is aware. With such a violation of DCFS policy, why does the child remain in foster care?
At your suggestion last fall, I had requested the opportunity to review the case file but did not receive a response as to whether or not it would be allowed under California law.
My understanding is that Mr. Henderson moved into the home his wife secured for the family at the direction of a social worker who conducted a TDM last Tuesday. However, on Friday, Judge Downing apparently held that against Mr. Henderson and told the couple to separate. How is a parent to know what to do when the agency says one thing and the judge another?
Is there any chance that a sitting judge is not thinking clearly, influenced by drug or alcohol use, or making decisions based on personal feelings rather than DCFS policy, court rules, and California law? How often are your judges’ decisions reviewed by you or another supervising judge?
The parents have been excluded or not notified of several hearings in their case. Many visits scheduled but not carried out because monitors were unavailable have not been made up. As supervising judge, are you able to look into this matter?
Are children kept in foster care for as long as possible to provide financial benefit to the foster parents? What about the fact that some of the foster parents of these children speak Spanish primarily, while their foster children do not, something which DCFS Public Affairs Director Armand Montiel had told me “would never happen?”
Is there a true need to keep these children where they are, or is it a case of government overreach?
I am hereby requesting a copy of the transcript from March 8, 2013.
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT 06076
Editor’s Note: A writer for The Huffington Post was able to gain access to Judge Downing privately and describes her as “a confident, down to earth woman, with years of experience as a lawyer for juveniles and a judge.”
Downing’s biography is here.
Of Friday’s hearing, Jeffrey Henderson told The Post & Email:
Judge Downing ordered me to leave my wife because she believes I am controlling her. The judge gave a long speech that I am manipulating my wife to challenge the courts jurisdiction. The judge justified her ruling by saying if my wife can show that she is independent of my influence by leaving me that my wife is able to protect the children.
DCFS said the counseling was appropriate but claim that I have not provided proof. This is just another tactic to delay the children from coming home. I have provided the department with all the evidence of my completing all programs. In the future I will send the proof registered mail.