J A. C. and A. R. C.

,
Petitioners,
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND
Respondent

*
IN THE
*
COURT OF APPEALS
*
OF MARYLAND
*
SEPTEMBER TERM, 2008
*
In re: Z. C.,
*
D. C., and E.
*
Petition Docket No. -*********************************************************************
AMENDED PETITION FOR CERTIORARI
_____________________________________________________________________
Petitioners J A. C. and A. R. C, pro se, pursuant to Md. Rules 8-302 & 8-303,
petition this Court to issue a Writ of Certiorari to the Court of Special Appeals of
Maryland (hereafter “MD CSA”) to review the unreported opinion in In re: Z. C., D.
C., and E. C., No. 341, September Term, 2007, which was filed on March 12, 2008,
with the mandate issued on March 27, 2008, affirming the judgment of the Circuit
Court for Baltimore County. The Circuit Court and the MD CSA adjudicated all of the
claims in the action of their entirety. The parents filed a timely appeal which was
reviewed by the MD CSA. The parents again filed a timely appeal to the MD Court of
Appeals for a Writ of Certiorari. The CSA denied the petition, and the C.'s filed a
timely motion to reconsider.
QUESTIONS PRESENTED
1. Did the Court prejudicially make errors as to matters of law?
2. Did the Court make prejudicial erroneous findings of fact?
3. Was the State's doctrine of parens patriae misapplied in the present case?

4. Did the Court abuse its discretion and did it lack subject matter jurisdiction?

1

STATEMENT OF FACTS
E., D., and Z. grew up as articulate, bright, loving, and well-behaved children
in their parents' home. (T2.162) Their days were spent learning and playing in their
home-school. (T2.162, 165; T3.26; T7.7) The house where they lived had fruit trees, a
large vegetable and flower garden, and housepets that the children cared for together.
(T2.51; T3.28;T5.26; T.5.71,73; 6.45-46; 7.15;7.59) The children kept diaries.
(T.5.97; 7.35) The C. children owned a computer with internet and individual email
adresses. (T.5.68; T5.68; T.7.5; T.7.36) The children also owned a piano and violin.
(T.5.73;T7.14) Their parents, J C. and A. C., taught them to 'do unto others' as they
would like others to do to them. (T1.80) They lived with 6 other of their siblings,
Hephzibah, Michael, Bethel, HA.h, Elishebah, and Yeremiah, all full natural children
of both their parents. (T2.74; T.5.80) E., D., and Z. were part of a very tight family
unit and they remain very emotionally attached as siblings. (T2.154; T3.32,33;
T5.131,156,163,175)

J and A. were devoted to the care of their children, despite

financial and medical strains on the family (T.7.153-157). J is a disabled army
veteran who has regular medical treatment as an outpatient at the Veterans
Administration (“VA”) hospital. (T1.106; T.3.14; T.4.70; T.7.147) J received VA care
because he was awarded Veteran's benefits. (T3.14) The family lived in the middle
class but drug-infested, troubled neighborhood suburb outside Baltimore City caused
them to lead a sheltered life. (T2.153; T.7.23) Nevertheless, J and A. made sure that
the children made frequent outings to museums, parks, libraries, the Baltimore
Harbor, visited neighboring farms and farm families, church, and attended college.

2

(T.2.149; T.3.38; T.3.29; T5.100, 5.96,97; T6.9-10; T.7.11,48,49; T7.99103;T.7.63,64; T.7.66; T.7.19;T7.11-13) The children also kept pen-pals. (T5.68;
T.6.25; T.7.6,38,51-59, &76) The children also accompamied the parents to work and
on daily family errands. (T.3.15) The parents often protested against the war. (T.1.109,
112, 133; T4.16; T4.25,28; T.6.7) The family occasionally took the children to
national monuments to visit and sometimes distributed religious leaflets. The letters
often contained references to the family's religious beliefs.(T.7.69) The family was
non-denominational. (T.5.89) The family and children continued in their activism
including during the 2006 investigation of the Litvinenko poisoning affair. In a letter
in which the C's children wrote, they alerted London officials about the Polonium
cause for Litvinenko's sickness before it had been diagnosed by his doctors, and
before Litvinenko was even poisoned. (T.9.132; T.9.141) The parents made plans for
the family to move to J' original homeland of the Dominican Republic (“D.R.”) in the
Caribbean. (T.3.40; T.5.61;T.7.91) The family planned to enjoy a life of reasonable
cultural and social freedom and comfort. (T5.83) Upon arrival in the D. R., E., D., and
Z. were immediately enrolled in a private school. (T.8.38) They lived together with
their older siblings in a large house in a wealthy suburban town. (T.6.44;T.6.28) The
parents planned to reclaim lands legally owned by J' family illegally sold by the
Dominican government to American/Canadian companies.

Dominican authorities

began to pry into the private affairs of the C. family siblings then under the care of the
eldest siblings, aged 21 and 19. The children suffered severe trauma from the
Dominican authorities inappropriate treatment. (T.1.145; T2.61) D.R. Authorities put

3

the children under 24-7 house arrest by armed guards for a month. (T7.78) They were
secretly held then orphanages for an addtional month. (T3.41, 45; T5.99) The D.R.
authorities held constant and very numerous interviews in Spanish, which language the

children did not comprehend. (T1.66; T5.94; T.5.67;T6.96; T7.7; T7.25,29) The
Dominican authorities secured allegations from the children of bizarre religious
practices and claims of fear of being with their parents, along with a history of
extreme physical abuse and neglect. (T2. 172)
During that time, the parents involved the US State Department into securing
the children's release from the Dominican government. (T.1.64,65; T.4.67;
T.7.131,134,136) Instead, the State Department repatriated the children to the US into
the custody Baltimore County Department of Social Services (“BCDSS”) with
continued instructions not to inform the parents of the whereabouts of their children.
BCDSS obeyed that instruction and began an investigation into the allegations of
abuse and neglect. The impartiality of BCDSS findings and its obligations to provide
family services were compromised by external government agencies that spooked
social workers away from cooperation with the C's. (T1.85,86) Among the persistent
rumors from those external agencies were allegations that the C.'s are “linked to
terrorist-type groups.” (T1.69; T1.85) Despite those obstacles, the parents constantly
made phone calls to BCDSS on behalf of their children's welfare. (T1.63;
T.1.176,77,79; T1.83) Before the preliminary BCDSS hearing of February 2, 2004, the
parents agreed and signed a shelter agreement on January 30, 2004, the same evening
the children arrived in the US from the Dominican Republic. (T1.101) The agreement

4

was signed in a surprise interview before the C.'s had a chance to secure legal
representation and before they knew the children had been repatriated to the USA.
(T1.25-32; T.1.147) BCDSS did not inform the parents of the consequences of their
signing. BCDSS immediately gave the children physical examinations. None of the
doctors provided evidence showing the life-long physical or psychological abuse or
neglect the alleged in the social workers' reports. (T.2.161; T5.173) Upon the
children's arrival, BCDSS was informed of the C. family's claim to exemption to
vaccination on the basis of religious exemption. (T.7.22,23) After being informed of
the parents' exemption, BCDSS promptly vaccinated the children against the parent's
will, claiming that since the parents did not belong to a “recognized” religious
institution, they were not entitled to religious exemption under COMAR 10.06.04.03.
(T.1.84;T1.101,102; T2.53,54)

The C.'s were treated differently from other families

in similar conditions and circumstances. For nearly three years, the Court followed the
recommendations of Dr. Nancy Neicz Funk, a foster-family recommended
psychologist who recommended a plan of no contact for the first time in her entire 29year career. (T3.66,68; T.5.156-157; 7.140) Dr. Funk made the recommendation to the
court without prior knowledge of the children's traumatic experience in the D.R.
(T.5.59; T.5.174) Prior to the C.'s case, Dr. Funk had never testified in court. Dr. Funk
did not performing any clinical testing to diagnose the reasons for children's alleged
condition. (T.6.69,67) BCDSS offered the parents visitation with E., D., and Z.
without enforcing a requirement for a preliminary psychological examination if the
agreed to sign a consent to TPR. The parents refused the offer. The parents requests

5

for BCDSS services in order to fulfill their parental obligations were constantly denied
and were even opposed in court by the BCDSS.(T.2.54,55; T.2.87-88; T3.64-66) The
subsequent TPR trial revealed a process of BCDSS' selective record keeping that
falsified the actual extent of the parents' cooperation with BCDSS. (T3.85) BCDSS
had eliminated from their records any contact with the parents had made mention of
the family's religious convictions. (T3.82) BCDSS presented to the trial Court a total
of 6 calls over the period of 3 years to represent the maintenance of regular
communication by the natural parent with the custodian of the child under MD Fam.
Law 5-313(c)(2)(iv). (T3.54) During the 2-month shelter plan, the Department secured
the children's educational records from before the children came into state custody.
The children were all enrolled in the C's State-approved home-school umbrella,
Conowingo-Rising Sun Christian School. (T1.47; T3.10,61; T3.78; T6.6) The children
were immediately given placement exams in order to enroll them in public schools
where they placed at grade level and above. BCDSS nevertheless submitted the
allegation of educational neglect to the court despite obvious records to the contrary in
BCDSS possession. (T1.48; T3.79,83) BCDSS reported that the children were all
“very happy and healthy” in their placements, when in reality the children were
suffering from BCDSS and foster family mistreatment. (T1.15,16; T2.11,45-47;
T.2.37,38; 3.71-73; T.5.81) Bethel dropped out of college and became a stripper.
(T.2.31) HA.h attempted suicide a couple times. (T.3.76; T5.54, 56-57,60; T.5.93) E.
became so troubled, distressed and withdrawn that she refused to go to visits with her
siblings. (T2.45,46; T2.109,113) The children were also beset with various childhood

6

sicknesses in BCDSS custody. The children were not bonding with the pre-adoptive
foster family. (T2.26,33,34) BCDSS kept the parents in the dark about their children's
suffering.(T1.142)
In 2006, BCDSS changed the plan from reunification to adoption. The four older
children rejected the plan of adoption for themselves. As early as august 27, 2004,
BCDSS was discussing adoption with the children. (T.3.71) In April 2006, an
Administrative Judge found that the parents were qualified to have contact with their
youngest children. As a result, the Department provided parents with a parenting
class, which they successfully completed.(T.2.84) The Office of Public Defenders
paid for the psychological evaluations. The Court then initiated contact by letters. In
the letters, the children expressed their undying love for their parents and desire to see
their parents.(T2.80;84) E. said that she was never physically abused by her parents.
E., D., and Z. are subjects of severe emotional and psychological repression and abuse
while in the custody of the State and its 'pre-adoptive' homes. (T2.45, 49, 50, 51) The
'pre-adoptive' foster family to which the Department had assigned E., D., and Z. were
enraged with the children's renewed interest in being reunited with their family.
(T.2.32, 33,34) The pre-adotptive' father, F., took violent actions against the children
in order to coerce them against pursuing contact with their natural parents and
siblings including verbal threats and intimidation. (T1.126, 129; T.2.31-33) F.
expelled E. from the house. F. Also continuously blocked efforts for the siblings to
contact each other. (T.3.74,75;T.5.77) The three young children were thus
permanently separate from each other for the first times in their lives. (T2.105) The

7

parents requested at a hearing that the visits be postponed until family therapy is
provided. Although parents' secured E.'s therapy by hearing, E. did not receive any
until 9 months after she was torn from her younger brothers, nor any family therapy at
all. (T.2.46; T2.19,18; T1.118;T2.98; 2.107,108) The Court did not interfere with the
behavior of the 'pre-adoptive' foster family toward the children. As a result of TPR,
the children may never have the chance to see each other again. (T.2.58-61; T.6773,77)
On May 23, 2005, the Department filed a case for TPR, a year after E., D. and
Z. were brought into State custody. The Circuit Court tried the TPR case beginning
February 12, 2007. The Court heard testimony from every child except for Bethel and
the three youngest children who are the subject of this Petition. The court could not
make findings of fact from testimony Hannah, Elishebah, and Yeremiah. Hannah's,
Elishebah's, and Yeremiah's testimonies were not substantiated or consistent. (T.2.50;
T.3.19,25,43,50; T.3.46; T3.48) Their testimonies represented the first time the were
interviewed individually about their family's case. (T.3.42; T.5.94) The stories of
abuse that they had grown into while in state custody suddenly became inconsistent
and confused.
The parents' psychological exams confirmed that the parents were indeed fit,
and that no physical threat to the children was posed by either parent. (T4.31,32;
T.10.75) The Court found based on the evidence that neither parent posed a physical
threat to their children.The trial court based its judgment of the witnesses' credibility on
their lifestyle choices and religion alone (T8.84,85; T9.142; T10.38). The trial court found

8

that the C's were fit parents and as such, BCDSS was obligated to provide services,
according to MD Fam. Law 5-313 (d)(1)(4). The court found that neither parent had a
criminal history, were ever involvularily hospitalized or had any previous allegations
of child neglect or abuse. The medical conditions that the State mentioned and the
Court reiterated as being difficult to cure since the “parents were not good candidates
for treatment” were conditions that did not affect the parents' fitness or the children's
safety in the custody of the parents. The Court did not make findings of fact that the
parents had committed any specific act of child abuse or neglect. Although the trial
court tried the case under the factors of Md. Fam. Law 5-313(c) and 5-313(d) of
(2004 Repl. Vol. & 2005 Cum. Supp.) The trial court terminated the C's rights
because they “just did not comply with the service agreements” and that they “refused
to submit to court ordered psychological exams.” (T 10. 81) The psychological
exams that the parents refused to submit to were not court ordered and voluntary.
(T1.83) A hearing on MD Fam. Law 9-101 was never held, and the parents were
never able to present relevant evidence to support their present conditions and
circumstances. The trial court admitted findings of previous non-TPR hearings on
abuse and neglect. (T 10.60) The MD CSA reviewed the issue of whether BCDSS
was justified in its denial of service to issue its opinion filed March 12, 2008 and
subsequent mandate filed March 27, 2008.
REASONS FOR GRANTING REVIEW
The standard of appellate review of a juvenile court's rulings in a TPR case is
well established. This Court must decide whether the court “properly applied the law

9

and whether it abused its discretion in making its determination.” In re Adoption
Guardianship No. 94339058/CAD, 120 Md. App. 88, 101 (1998). MD Rule 8-131(c)
states that “when an action has been tried without a jury, the appellate court will
review the case on both the law and the evidence. It will not set aside the judgment of
the trial court on the evidence unless clearly erroneous and will give due regard to the
opportunity of the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses.” The “clearly
erroneous” standard has long been established by the Court of Appeals as a standard
of review in child custody cases. In RE: Yve S., 373 Md. 551, 819 A.2d 1030 (2003).
This Court “will not hesitate to reverse where hearsay evidence is erroneously
admitted and prejudice is shown.” Kapiloff v. Locke, 276 Md. 466, 472, 348 A2.d 697
(1975). The proper standard for appellate review of matters of law is whether the trial
court was legally correct. Heat & Power Corp. v. Air Prod. & Chemicals, Inc., 320
Md. 584 (1990). TPR hearings are always tried without a jury under MD Code of
Courts and Judicial Proceedings, Rule 3-808. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction is
itself grounds for reversal. MD Rule 2-324(b) mandates that “whenever it appears that
the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action.”
This court must remand a case for further proceedings in the trial court “if it appears
that the court erred as to matters of law.” In RE: Yve S., 373 Md. 551, 819 A.2d 1030
(2003).

ARGUMENT
I. The trial Court and the MD CSA made errors as to matters of law that were clearly

10

erroneous and prejudicial.
A. The trial court made errors as to matters of law that were clearly errorneous
and prejudicial. MD Ann. Code, Fam. Law 9-101(a) makes it clear that the court
“shall determine whether abuse or neglect is likely to occur if custody or visitation
rights are granted to the party.” The trial court's refusal to make findings of fact on 9101 harmed the rights of J and A. to a fair trial. A determination under Fam. Law 9101(a) was the only opportunity for the C's, as fit parents, to prove that, despite the
few services provided them by Public Defenders and the BCDSS- namely, written
correspondence with the children, the supervised visits, the parenting class, and the
psychological exams- there was 'no likelihood of future abuse or neglect' and the
children's future well-being in the parent's custody was guaranteed. The court
referneced findings from previous non-TPR hearings in its determination that it had
found that the “children are no longer subject to repeated instances of abuse, they are
no longer subject to such social isolation.” The court did not make any finding
relating to the likelihood of future or present conditions or circumstances that would
be detrimental to the children's welfare in the parent's custody. The judge applied a
much heavier burden of proof on the J C. and A. C. than is allowed by law by
referenceig only past findings for its determination. This court has made clear that
“even upon substantial evidence of past abuse or neglect, it does not require a finding
that future abuse or neglect is impossible or will, in fact never occur, but only that
there is no likelihood - no probability - of its recurrence.” In re: Adoption No. 12612,
353 Md. 209 (1999) “Such a finding would require unobtainable proof on the part of

11

the parent, and omniscience on the part of the judge. Such a construction would
render the statute nonsense.” In RE: Adoption No. 12612, 353 Md. 209 (1999)
The TPR trial judge found that the parents missed that opportunity of their own
accord and because of an initial lack of legal representation during the CINA
adjudication. A hearing on Fam. Law 9-101(a) is not a choice to be made by parties in
to the case, but rather a requirement for the court by law. Fam. Law 9-101(a) states
clearly that the statute applies in “any custody or visitation proceeding.” Findings of
past abuse are not sufficient to satisfy the presumption that child's best interests is not
served by custody of the child. In Yve S., supra, held that in TPR determinations, “the
trial court is constrained by the requirements of 9-101.” TPR hearings are therefore
custody proceedings to which Fam. Law 9-101(a) applies. TPR is determined based
not on whether there was evidence of past abuse, but “whether there is a likelihood
that abuse will happen in the future.” The findings for the requirement of 9-101 must
satisfy the higher standard for “clear and convincing evidence.” In Santosky v.
Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 102 S. Ct. 1388, 71 L. Ed. 2D 599 (1982), the U.S. Supreme
Court found that the state must produce a higher standard of "clear and convincing"
evidence that terminating parental rights is the best option for the child since "a fair
preponderance of evidence" is too low of a standard for termination of a constitutional
right. The termination of rights of fit parents for reasons of disagreement or noncooperation with service agreements is a violation of MD statutory and case law, as it
does not satisfy this requirement. As the present case shows, arrangements leading to
the children's vaccination, such as the parents could not agree to in good conscience,

12

were impossible to sign. Medical conditions that the State mentioned and the Court
reiterated as being difficult to cure since the “parents were not good candidates for
treatment” were conditions that did not affect the parents' fitness or the children's
safety in the custody of the parents. The Court's determination and the mandate of the
Court of Special Appeals are both errors of law and reversible actions.
B. The MD CSA made errors as to matters of law that were clearly erroneous
and prejudicial.
The Court of Special Appeals found that the Circuit Court “correctly
considered the required factors of Md. Code Ann., Fam Law 5-323(d) before
terminating the appellants' parental rights. The courts factual findings are supported
by the evidence.” Substantial differences exist between two versions of the statute.
The earlier version, MD Ann. Code, Fam. Law (5-313 (d)(1)(iii) (2004 Repl. Vol. &
2005 Cum. Supp.), placed a greater burden of proof on the state, as it required the
showing of neglect “where parents failed to give the child adequate food, clothing,
shelter, and education.” The later version 5-323 (d)(2), provides for greater lenience
on the part of the state to determine what is psychologically or emotionally acceptable
conditions for the children, allowing for greater possibilities for biased treatment of
families on cultural or educational grounds.
MD Code Ann., Fam Law 5-302(3)(b) states that the subtitle “does not apply
to a guardianship case filed on or before December 31, 2005, until guardianship is
granted” and “does not apply to an adoption case filed on or before December 31,
2005.” The C's Adoption/Guardianship case was filed on May 23, 2005. Therefore,

13

Md. Code Ann., Fam Law 5-323 does not apply to the present case, and the MD CSA
opinion on the application of the statute is invalid. The MD Permanency for Families
and Child Act of 2005, Section 4, states that MD Fam. Law 5-323 “did not apply to
any case pending on January 1, 2006” and that such cases “shall be governed by the
law applicable as is this act had not become effective.”' The MD CSA stated in its
opinion that it was aware of In RE: Rashawn H. and Tyrese H., 402 Md. 477
(September Term, 2007.) Yet in Rashawn, supra, this court held that a case filed in
December 2005 was pending January 1, 2006 and therefore Rashawn was governed
by Md Fam Law 5-313. The exception made by the MD CSA was prejudicial, as it
was aware of Rashawn and the ruling concerning the application of the law by this
court as well as the MD Legislature. The MD CSA should have enumerated the
reasons for its decision in order to erase the probability that it was not prejudicial in
its decision.
II. The trial court and the MD CSA made findings of fact that were clearly
erroneous and prejudicial.
A. The trial court's findings of fact for the factors of Md. An. Code 5-313 were
not supported by the relevant record evidence. The Courts findings intended to satisfy
the requirements of MD Code Ann., Fam Law, 5-313(d) were actually only adopted
from previous non-TPR hearings. This court held that the trial courts must “make
findings of facts as to each item listed in section 5-313(d) in a proceeding to terminate
parental rights.” In re: Adoption/Guardianship No. 87A262, 323 Md. At 19. MD Rule
11-501(d) states that a proceeding for adoption or guardianship shall be “separate

14

from any other proceedings involving the child who is the subject of the adoption or
guardianship proceeding.” Evidence that is “clear and convincing” yet was not found
in a TPR hearing is not admissible. Previous findings of non-TPR hearings which the
judgde used in its determiination were made under a much lower standard of
evidence.
MD Law guarantees that TPR proceedings are separate TPR trial court make
its own findings of abuse, neglect, and parental fitness to find what is in the child's
best interests separate from the those findings or records of previous non-TPR
proceedings. The trial judge decided to terminate the C's parental rights based on
their past non-cooperation with voluntary services agreements, which included
arrangements such as the vaccination of their children, that the parents could not
agree to in good conscience. The termination of rights of fit parents for reasons of
disagreement or non-cooperation with service agreements is a violation of MD
statutory and case law.
B. The trial court erroneously and prejudicially found that witness testimony
was not credible. MD Rule 5-610 makes clear that “evidence of the beliefs or
opinions of a witness on matters of religion is not admissible for the purpose of
showing that by reason of their nature the witness's credibility is impaired.”
In its determination, the court stated,
“During cross-examination, in particular, of both those
witnesses and also in response to certain questions from the Court, it
was clear to me that their testimony was, was not credible. It wasn't

15

credible. Their perceptions of reality are a great concern to the Court
and, as a result, it calls into question everything that they testified
about.”
C. The evidence it used in its determination was not admissible or were
contrary to the evidence in the record. Finally, the finding of the trial court with
respect to MD Law 5-313(d) opposed the MD statutes regarding parental contribution
and obligations to their children's education. MD law honors the “freedom of parents
to direct the children's education.” This principle is reflected in Maryland educational
statues and its educational traditions. From 1993 to 2007, the number of homeschoolers in the State of Maryland increased from 6, 597 to more than 24, 277
students. As the number of students and families of home-schoolers in Maryland
increases, the likelihood of the DSS involvement in a troubled family that is homeschooled also increases. It is imperative that the Court make clear the rights of the
families who are in the State umbrella programs, especially in cases where religious
preference is concerned since the State guides families into church-based education
programs under MD Rule 7-301(a)(1) and MD Department of Education regulations
in COMAR 13.10.05. The ruling of the trial court that found educational neglect
under guidelines claimed to have been applied or followed by the Baltimore County
Department of Social Services puts the DSS in direct conflict with the regulations of
the MD Department of Education. From 2000 to the present day, Baltimore County
has had the largest number of home-schoolers in the state of Maryland after Prince
Georges County. The case of Goulart v. Meadows, 345 F. 3d. 239 (2003) recognized

16

such state church-based education programs that “allows parents to bypass all direct
state regulation with the exception of the form with the county.” The courts's findings
of the children's emotional well-being were contrary to the record evidence. When the
court decided that the children 'indicated' that they didn't want to return to live with
their parents, the best interest standard was not met. The court failed to take in to
account evidence that the children had suffered from throughout the course of state
custody. Seeing from the record evidence that the children were under severe pressure
by the DR Social services, BCDSS, and the foster families to reject their natural
parents and to consent to adoption, even at the expense of the children's personal
health on the possibility of permanently losing the sibling contact which the children
held so dear and for which they had already suffered great personal torment, as
documented by the various social workers and therapists, the court should have
weighed those existing 'indications' as less than “clear and convincing.”
Parental rights may not be terminated where the primary obstacle for
reunification is an 'indication' that the children don't want to return to live with their
parents. Refusal to return to the parents is an issue that can be reversed in therapy.
The record showed that none of the children never received therapy to address that
issue. Therefore, neither the state nor the court had any way of measuring whether the
children's forced 'indications' were genuine or well founded. The BCDSS or the court
had a chance to correct the lack evidence as it is already this court has held that the
BCDSS must provide therapy to address children's fear of parents. Burdick v. Brooks
160 Md. 518. In the presumption that it is the best interests of the child are served by

17

custody by the natural parent, the burden is on the state to show, in the case of fit
parents that, by 'clear and convincing' evidence, there exist 'exceptional
circumstances' that would make a continued parental relationship detrimental to the
best interests of the child. If the a state's child caregiver(s) have shocked a child
sufficiently into rejecting their parents and siblings, the burden of proof cannot have
been met to deem resulting 'indications' as satisfying a finding of parent's detriment to
child wellbeing.

Ross v. Hoffman, 280 Md. 172 (1977) described exceptional

circumstances as “[1] length of time the child has been away from the biological
parent, [2] the age of the child when care was assumed by the third party, [3] the
possible emotional effect on the child of a change of custody, [4] the period of time
which elapsed before the parent sought to reclaim the child, [5] the nature and
strength of the ties between the child and the third party custodian, [6] the intensity
and genuineness of the parent's desire to have the child, [7] the stability and certainty
as to the child's future in the custody of the parent." These 'exceptional circumstances'
outlined in Hoffman, supra, illustrate how that in the present case, the parents' ability
to present relevant evidence to the court was close to none, as the controlling factors
were in the hands of the State. The two factors that stand out with respect to the C.'s is
the possible emotional effect on the children's change of custody, the nature and
strength of the ties between the child and the third party custodian. The children's
emotional issues must be guided by the court in order that a repeat of the 'preadoptive' custodians' emotional assault on the children is not a factor. The nature of
the ties between the children and the third party custodians have already shown to be

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superficial by the mistreatment that they received while in the home. The stability and
certainty as to the child's future in the custody of the parent can only be known by a
hearing on MD Fam. Law 9-101, which never took place in the C.'s case.
D. The scope of the trial court's discovery was not guided by law. MD Rule 2402 and 5-402 guides the court on matters of relevance in discovery. Issues relevant to
TPR are limited to requirements under MD Fam Law 9-101 and 5-323. Discovery on
aspects of the family's religion that did not touch on matters of the safety or health of
the children was inadmissible. The extraneous religious issues were examined to
establish the basis for DSS' denial services on grounds the C's “did not belong to a
recognized religious institution.” The Court by its action did not expressly punish the
C's for practicing their religion but passed this task on to the DSS by justifying their
discrimination with respect to denying the full range of services that the State was
obligated to make available the C's. The Court justified the DSS in denying the
services when they prejudiced that the C's religious beliefs were the product of mental
illness.

III. The doctrine of parens patriae that govern the application state's rights to
guardianship was misapplied in the present case, undermining the effectiveness of
Maryland and Federal statues intended to protect the rights of children, parents, and
families.The parents argue that even in the circumstances of complete noncooperation with either signed and/or unsigned services agreements under current
DSS regulations, it is still possible for the Court to ensure the safety and best interests

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of the children without terminating parental rights. In RE: Adoption Guardianship of
Victor A., 386 Md. 288, 872 A.2d 662, 2005 Md. LEXIS 185, In RE:
Adoption/Guardianships CAA92-10852 & 53, 103 Md. App. 1, Burdick v. Brooks 160
Md. 518. In Davis v. State, 294 Md. 370 (1982), COMAR 10.06.04.03 was cited and
the court held that "membership in a recognized religious group cannot be required as
a condition of exemption from vaccination." In that case, the religious exemption
terminology in the COMAR 10.06.04.03 was held to contravene the Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution and was therefore deemed
invalid. COMAR 07.01.03.04 also prohibits discrimination:
“In the delivery of services, the Department or local Department may not, on the
grounds of religious or political opinion or affiliation...or mental disability...deny any
aid, care, service, or other benefits provided under any program, subject an individual
to segregation, or separate treatment related to the receipt of any aid, care service, or
other benefit, or treat an individual differently from others in determining whether the
individual satisfies requirements which all individuals must meet in order to receive
any aid, care, or service. Neither the Maryland State regulations of the Department of
Education or DSS in COMAR nor the MD Ann. Code of Family Law require a
psychological exam before the rendering of other services made available to families
in CINA proceedings. The burden put on the A. and J for psychological evaluations
was a violation of their personal right to privacy.
In light of the numerous findings in favor of preserving parental rights, the
court should not make a determination in favor of TPR. In In Re:

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Adoption/Guardianship of Victor A., 157 Md. App. 412, 852 A.2d 976 (2004), CSA
ruled that lack of cooperation of the parent and lack of interaction with the
Department is not sufficient ground to terminate a parent's Fourth Amendment Rights,
stating that “in a termination case, the burden falls upon the State to prove, by clear
and convincing evidence, that the termination of a parent's rights serves the best
interest of the child.” The law states specifically that “visitation rights...are not to be
denied even to an errant parent unless the best interest of the child would be
endangered by such contact." Roberts v. Roberts, 35 Md. App. 497, 507, 371 A.2d
689, 694 (1977) Boswell v. Boswell, 352 Md. at 220, 721 A.2d at 670 (1998) states
that "it would only be in an exceptional case and under extraordinary circumstances
that the right of visitation will be denied." In the light of the J' and A.'s constant
cooperation with the BCDSS and the Court, the only factors that have made the case
exceptional or the circumstances extraordinary has been the discriminating actions on
the part of the DSS against the C. family.

1. The Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.
A. The court lacked jurisdiction to decide the legal status of the C.'s state-approved
home-school umbrella. The court heard testimony by social workers that when
BCDSS went to register the children in public schools upon the children's arrival in
State custody, they provided the public school with the children's school records from
Conowingo-Rising Sun Christian School, a state-approved umbrella program. The
social workers reported that though the public schools registered each of the children

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at grade level or above, the schools would not transfer or apply the individual hourly
credits from the home-school report cards to the public school report cards. The social
workers reported this fact to the court as evidence of educational neglect. The court
drew from the report to make a finding of fact for MD Fam. Law 5-313(d)(iii)
“The testimony in this case is that to the extent there was any home-schooling for
these children, it was not through any type of accredited organization.”
IV. The Court abused its discretion.
A. The court abused its discretion when it found that the testimony of C.'s
witnesses, Hephzibah and Michael, were not credible because of 'perceptions of
reality.' In cases tried without a jury, it is in the court's discretion to judge the
credibility of the witnesses. (Md Rule 8-131(c)). The court did not make a finding that
by indication of behavior of the witnesses or other impeachable evidence to prove that
they “lack[ed] personal knowledge or exhibited weakness in the capacity to perceive,
remember, or communicate.” The court said that the witnesses' “perceptions of reality
are a great concern to the court, and, as a result, it calls into everything that they
testified about.” The court did not distinguish between the perceptions of reality or
bias of the three children that had conflicting testimonies. The judge said that she also
“had concerns” about the witnesses' “wellbeing” without describing what those
concerns were or how the concerns affected TPR. The judge did not express
“concerns” for the wellbeing of the other State witnesses who were under emotional
trauma caused by treatment of thee state with regard to the denial of their rights as
siblings. This is quite puzzling in the light of the familiar bonds and the fact that one
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of the children in state custody had recently attempted suicide. Abuse of discretion is
“that power of decision In In RE: Adoption/ Guardianship No. 3598, 347 Md. 295
(1997), this court described as "'that power of decision exercised to the necessary end
of awarding justice and based upon reason and law, but for which decision there is no
special governing statute or rule"; a "reasoned decision based on the weighing of
various alternatives"; "where no reasonable person would take the view adopted by
the [trial] court;" or when the court acts "without reference to any guiding rules or
principles." An abuse of discretion may also be found where the ruling under
consideration is "clearly against the logic and effect of facts and inferences before the
court," or when the ruling is "volatile of fact and logic.'”
MD Rule 5-401 and 5-402, irrelevant evidence is not admissible. MD Rule 5-601
defines "relevant evidence" as “evidence having any tendency to make the existence
of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or
less probable than it would be without the evidence. Yet MD Rule 5-616 states that in
order to impeach a witness, “extrinsic evidence may be admitted on collateral
matters” in the court's discretion. However, the court's decision to admit irrelevant
evidence on matters of religion put too great of a burden on the C.'s to rebut the
allegations of the State. The court could have just as well struck the inconsistent
statements of the State's witnesses, who at many times contradicted the judge's
perception of facts, but it did not. No character witnesses testified during the trial. In
fact, the result of discrediting Hephzibah's and Michael's testimonies is puzzling in the
fact that whereas the judge found that it “was not credible at all,” the record shows

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that the State witnesses' testimonies, and the judge's determination itself stated the
exact same facts. If Hephzibah's and Michael's testimonies were not credible or
“called into question everything they testified about,” as the judge said, how correct
were the perceptions or facts provided by other witnesses that led to the judges'
findings?
B. There was a high probability that the impartiality of the opinion of
the MD CSA was compromised. MD Rule 16-814 mandates the impartiality
of court appointees. The impartiality of the MD CSA may have been
compromised in this case. The records show that Dr. Funk, who filed the illinformed report on the recommendation of the foster family, is the wife of the
current Stran J. Funk, who, as Chief Staff Attorney in MD CSA, was tasked
with preparing the CSA opinion of March 12, 2008. This may be this first
time that such conflict has occurred, as Dr. Funk never testified in court
before the C's case.
C. The trial court placed a heavier burden on the C.'s than was
allowable by law, and a lower burden on the state.
The court made findings from evidence that does not appear in the record. The
court also made findings that required the court's omniscience. D & Y, Inc. v. Winston,
320 Md. 534 (1990). Seeing the obvious supremacy in the ability of the State to prove
its case, the court should not have shifted the balance of burden of proof in such an
extreme way. The fear of harm to the child “may not be simply a gut reaction or even a
decision to err-if-at-all on the side of caution." In re Jertrude O., 56 Md. App. at 100,
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46 A.2d at 894. Given the record evidence in the present case of harmful coercion and
pressure on the children to make certain testimony in order to support adoption, the
court should have taken into consideration the State's “power to shape the historical
events that form the basis for termination.” Santosky v Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982)
The present case should be remanded to the trial Court to properly apply the
law. If this relief is granted by the Court of Appeals, and the requirements outlined
under 9-101, the parents request that the children's family bonds be nurtured by State
services, that the parents receive the parenting help that they were unlawfully and
unconstitutionally denied in order to reverse the damage to the family. The family also
seek that the children be removed from the emotional and psychological abusive
schemes and influence that have made them subjects of psychological terror and
manipulation.
CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, the Petitioners request that the Court of Appeals
grant this Petition for Writ of Certiorari.
Respectfully submitted,

______________________

_________________________

Dated: October 14, 2008

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