COURT GRANTS TEN-DAY EXTENSION AFTER 90 DAYS REQUESTED IN FIVE-YEAR-OLD CASE
by Sharon Rondeau
Roosevelt and Kanika Williams insist that they have never abused or neglected their children and that the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has exploited the system to create the appearance of danger to children who have never been abused, neglected or abandoned by either of their parents for the benefit of grandparents who “simply want to adopt their grandkids from their parents.”
In speaking with DCFS Public Affairs Officer Armand Montiel approximately two months ago, The Post & Email was told that there is no limitation on how long a case or cases can proceed within the child-protective system. Regarding the prospective adoption of a foster child, Montiel said that it is rarely suggested early on in a case unless the parents are confirmed as batterers or murderers, of which the Williamses have never been accused.
The department’s stated policy is that family reunification is the first priority after children have been removed from the home.
However, in the case of the eldest Williams child, “adoption” was invoked as an option after only six weeks into the case. Kanika told The Post & Email that she finds the situation “alarming and illegal based on the U.S. Constitution’s limitations and California state law, which proscribes a limitation of 18 months on egregious cases such as substantive evidence of sexual and physical abuse, claims which were never made in any of our cases.”
The Williamses’ appeal for more time was filed in the Second Appellate District, Division Four of the Court of Appeal for the State of California. In an interview this week, Kanika said that she and her husband are “proceeding to assert their parental rights pro se, despite the fact that the California Appellate Project (CAP) was periodically updated about their case throughout its five-year life. “We were not made aware of CAP efforts or lack of efforts to have the case closed, nor were we even made aware of CAP’s existence until just recently, when Judge Downing ordered adoption of the two eldest children and we appealed that erroneous order,” Kanika said.
[Editor’s Note: The Los Angeles CAP website, which was updated while this article was under preparation, states, “We are the Los Angeles office of the California Appellate Project (‘CAP/LA’). We are a non-profit law firm. Under a contract with the State of California, CAP/LA manages the court-appointed counsel program for the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, which has jurisdiction over Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. We also directly represent some clients under court-appointment.”]
Of the process, Kanika, who graduated from law school in California in 2010 but did not take the Bar exam, told us, “Most if not all the Appeals go through” CAP. “These Attorneys are assigned the cases at various stages of the case going through the course of Children’s Court and the parents are not even aware that these people exist and that they are making filings on your behalf. By the time the parent finds out about these people and/or has a good understanding of what they are doing or not doing on your behalf, the case has gone thru Children’s Court and likely finalized. The whole system is one grand scheme; from the moment the parents step in, it’s set up.”
Regarding her appeal, Kanika said, “I immediately asserted my right to self representation. I was denied, with the Judge citing I was too close to the case, but in reality, it was so these incompetent attorneys could take over at the Children’s Court and Appellate Court level.”
Further, she opined, “It will take an outsider to change it because, for cases like mine, the judges already have a perception of the case and the parent based on the appeals that have been made without the parent even knowing.”
On December 9, Kanika and Roosevelt received the transcript from the August hearing ordering the adoption of their two elder children. In filing their appeal to the Division 4 appellate court in Los Angeles, the Williamses requested a 90-day extension but were granted only ten days despite the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays as well as the length and depth of the cases.
Their response is now due on January 14, 2017.
The couple’s third child also remains in the custody of Kanika’s parents, and the Williamses expect that she, too, will be recommended for adoption by Downing in March.
When The Post & Email began reporting on this story in September, Kanika and Roosevelt related that they had not seen their children for nearly a year. In an email sent on Monday, Kanika stated that she calls the children every day but is generally permitted access only once weekly and that the telephone calls are monitored by her parents, Willie and Katie Grant, who are seeking to adopt the children.
While Kanika said she is “uncertain” if the calls are recorded, she stated that “they are reporting to the social worker that the calls are inappropriate in some manner when they are not. The social worker is taking their word for it and is putting what they are saying in the social worker report to make us look bad and to prevent us from having what little communication we do have with our children from happening. The judge is taking the social worker report as gospel and not addressing it. The social worker hasn’t and didn’t ask us about the conversations to have any balance, which has been the main issue for the entire life of this case.”
In two lengthy interviews not yet fully presented in this publication due to time constraints, Kanika and Roosevelt refuted the many alleged reasons provided by DCFS in two “unpublished” court opinions alleging that they are unfit parents. On page 14 of the October 16, 2014 opinion, DCFS references Kanika’s alleged “failure to communicate with the grandparents.”
Kanika has said that that claim is unfounded. “This has no relevance to my ability to parent my children without illegal and wrongful government interference, and any lack of communication with people who I view no differently than a person who steals something or someone that doesn’t belong to them has no bearing on abuse, neglect or abuse of my children,” she told The Post & Email. “That never has and never will happen.”
Roosevelt has three grown daughters from a previous marriage, and in respective interviews with his mother and ex-wife in October, both told The Post & Email that Roosevelt was a conscientious father who would never even have considered mistreating or neglecting any of his children.
Of the ten-day extension granted by the court, Kanika told us, “We requested 90 days, reasonable, in light of the fact that we are not Appellant Attorneys and the case has over 5 years of Case History. They granted us 10 days extra. (Please see attachment). This is the type of injustice that you think of in third world countries, but it’s right here. I sent an email below asking them to reconsider and expect a reply sometime this upcoming week and the reply I expect will state the same. The system is so failed that they will state we granted an extension, which isn’t a real extension in light of the facts of the case.”
Roosevelt and Kanika are awaiting the transcript from a recent hearing concerning their third child, whose case is continued to March. “My parents, the Court and social workers admitted on the record that they are not allowing us to talk to our kids because of my ‘outbursts,'” Kanika wrote. “I was not there so I was not able to challenge what exactly an outburst is and how their opinion of my conversation is relevant to my right to talk and be with my kids, but they actually admitted to it…”
When The Post & Email asked Kanika if her conversations with her children could be accurately deemed as “outbursts,” she responded that the court’s position is “outlandish, childish and ridiculous.” She further stated:
I call my kids every day, and when I do talk to them, maybe once in a week for 30 minutes, if that, I’m trying so hard to reiterate that I love them, that they have two parents and we are them, that this is not their fault and that they will be home. All of what I say is out of reaction to what they say to me. I know that Katie and Willie Grant are listening in on the conversation which is illegal and just stupid. I know that my kids are being lied to and are confused due to no fault of their own. For example, my daughter XXXXX called my parents her mom and dad while I was on the phone. I told her that is not true, that Roosevelt and Kanika Williams are your parents, that nana and papa are your grandparents. I told her brother to encourage her in truth and make sure she knows the difference. I can’t trust her grandparents to be mature and do the right thing, so I asked him to check that if he hears it. As soon as I say the truth, the phone is hung up and when I call back I get the voicemail. That type of immaturity that they showcase is considered an outburst because it is the Truth.
The Court however is in charge of making sure that their petty feelings and stupidity doesn’t get in the way of our rights to our children. First, it illegal to be tapping into our conversation. Our parental rights have not been terminated and we are asserting every right that has been trampled on and disrespected. They also said Roosevelt had outbursts and he talks to the kids less than I do, so it is truly bogus, unfounded, and ridiculous to think that a telephone conversation with my kids that have been illegally kept from me and their father has been construed as outbursts.
After receiving the ten-day extension, Kanika sent the following request for additional time to court personnel on Saturday, December 17:
Can you please reconsider the decision made regarding the extension. The case is over 5 years old and a final decision was not made until August 2016. It took over 3 months to receive the transcripts and I need time to review the transcripts and present my arguments.
I believe that it is only fair and right to have more than the time granted to make sure everything relevant to the
case is presented to the Appellate Court.
On Thursday night, Kanika informed us that she received a response to her request for more time. “I have no idea who all the people she is emailing, the only one I know is my husband’s, please see below,” she wrote.
The response reads:
RE: B277764 – Children and Family Services v. K.W. et al.
Veverka, Sandra <Sandra.Veverka@jud.ca.gov>
To K G
Cc Appellate@counsel.lacounty.gov <Appellate@counsel.lacounty.gov>, firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>, Roosevelt Williams, Lopez, Raylene <Raylene.Lopez@jud.ca.gov> Hide
Monday, December 19, 2016 8:40 AM
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You will need to file a written request for reconsideration. Please note that these appeals are expedited proceedings. And please also note that any e-mail sent by the clerk to counsel or parties is sent as a courtesy only and is not intended for parties or counsel to use for contacting the clerk about one’s case. Please refrain from using the clerks’ e-mail accounts for such purposes unless expressly directed by order of this court to submit or file documents electronically. Please pose general questions telephonically and address more specific questions in writing with a proof of service attached. (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 8.25(a)(1)-(2).)
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Please do not reply to this e-mail.
Sandy Veverka, Senior Deputy Clerk
COURT OF APPEAL, SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT
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