Tony Alamo Christian Ministries - Our team was retained to seek injunctive relief on behalf of the ministry and it's members to stop the removal of children based solely on association with the ministry.
Church, Parents Oppose Gag Order
Alamo Ministries and Parents Question DHS Motive for Secrecy
Thursday April 23, 2009
In a response filed today by Alamo Ministries, the church claims that there is no need for secrecy and instead the DHS should defend themselves in an open court with public oversight.
Civil Rights attorney Phillip E. Kuhn states in the response, “Secret proceedings are the first symptom of power’s fatal disease that slowly corrupts and eventually destroys the health of a free society. Frankly, there has already been too much officially imposed secrecy in the history of the Alamo litigation”
Last September, State Officials initiated an armed raid on homes of members of the Alamo Ministries. Thirty-six children were forcibly taken into custody by armed law enforcement. Additional children are being hunted down by DHS throughout the United States because their parents have at some point attended or been associated with the ministry.
“DHS has conspired with officials in other states, including the Texas State Actors who were responsible for the armed raid against the FLDS church last year and its members,” states CPS Watch Legal Team Coordinator, Desere’ Howard, “When state officials conspire to violate the Constitutional rights of an individual, the public needs to know about it, so that they can protect their own churches and families from similar actions.”
Bert Krantz, a parent Plaintiff says, “I don't want to end up just another statistic of the abuses and deaths that have been suffered recently at the hands of Arkansas DHS. These atrocities are routinely swept under the rug of secrecy, while promises of internal improvements are made. Does anyone remember the four deaths and untold sexual abuses in DHS custody last year?”
The federal rules take the assumption that litigants are reasonable and thus require that the litigants first confer and attempt to reach an agreement regarding how to protect juveniles before asking the court to decide. The Department's premature filing of the motion without conferring with opposing counsel is indicative of their position that no person opposing them could ever be reasonable.
“The department's failure to abide by court rules is just another indicator of how they do business - with flagrant disregard for rules, law, and certainly, parental rights," said Cheryl Barnes, Litigation Specialist for the CPS Watch Legal Team. “Court rules require them to meet with us and come to a resolution. The way they ignored this rule is similar to the way they ignore the parent's right to choose the care, custody and control of their children; they assume everyone will make the wrong decision if they're not telling them what to do.”
In addition to the non-compliance with court rules; a motion like this is normally requested during the discovery phase of litigation. The premature filing indicates that DHS is more concerned about being able to withstand public scrutiny than it is with protecting children.
“The filing of this single motion is a prime example of their tendency to overreact in every situation,” Barnes said.
Copies of the DHS motion and the Churches response are available by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and Two Parents to file complaint today in Federal Court Seeking to Enjoin State Officials From Forcing Them to Leave Their Church
Texarkana, Arkansas, April 9, 2009
The Tony Alamo Ministries will file a complaint in federal court seeking to enjoin the Arkansas Department of Human Services from disrupting it’s operation as an organization by harassing it’s members and using the unlawful seizure of children to shut down the church.
The church and parents seek to enjoin DHS from requiring parents to leave the church as a prerequisite to getting their children back, to stop DHS from picking up any more children on the basis of an ex parte order without an opportunity to be heard, to stop DHS from taking the unborn children from its members at the time of birth, and to stop the unlawful vaccination of children against the parents religious beliefs and in contrast to Arkansas law.
Today, distinguished civil rights lawyer, Phillip E. Kuhn, filed a complaint with the US District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on behalf of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries alleging violations of the church’s First Amendments rights as well as Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment violations. Mr. Kuhn is the lead attorney for CPS Watch Legal team, a joint effort on behalf of two National Organizations known for serving as citizen watchdogs for child protection services. According to the complaint, the state court violated their rights and then issued a GAG order preventing them from seeking redress.
“Judge Barnes enjoys an excellent reputation as a jurist of exceptional learning and fairness. I am confident the court will give me a fair hearing and vindicate the constitutional abuses my clients have suffered at the hands of the authorities” says Mr. Kuhn, who has been practicing Civil Rights law for more than 40 years.
Cheryl Barnes, founder of CPS Watch said, ““This case doesn’t seek to prohibit the DHS from protecting children; rather it asks that they follow established procedures that protect Constitutional rights. If DHS has allegations of abuse or neglect against a particular child, they can petition the court to remove that child for his protection. We’re simply asking that DHS not be allowed to use the mere association with the ministry as a presumption of abuse. Serious damage can be caused to children by removal from their parents for even small amounts of time.”
Cheryl Barnes founded CPS Watch after her son Taler, was seriously injured in foster care. An appellate court returned her son by court order ruling that the child should have never been removed from her custody. However, before the Appellate Courts were able to review her case and return the child, he suffered a skull fracture, four rib fractures, a hip fracture and his eyes were gouged at the hands of his foster caregivers, leaving him legally blind and permanently brain injured. She serves the CPS Watch legal team as a Litigation Specialist in cases of child abuse and neglect.
“April is National Child abuse month”, states Desere’ Howard, Executive Director of Families Best Interest and CPSWatch Legal Team Coordinator, that provides services to parents, “this is a great month to prevent children from being abused in any situation, including children are being abused in foster care by the very persons sworn to protect them. Once again officials have painted with too broad a brush. These parents have spent thousands of hours attempting to satisfy the state’s demands, while being met with worker’s who merely pay lip service to the court’s goal of reunifying the children. The person who is accused of prospective abuse is in jail, awaiting a trial, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The department has a duty, mandated by Federal law to protect children using the least restrictive means; the DHS had many options to help these families and their children without removing them from their homes. They chose not to. They made bad decisions. They have hurt these families. We will hold them accountable. DHS thinks that they are above the law and have no accountability to the citizens of Texarkana and the state of Arkansas. Since we have been here other parents have come out of the wood work describing abuses perpetrated by the local DHS office here. Secret hearings and GAG orders do not serve the children of this state and instead serve only to protect the illegal actions of the Government. A true democracy is the cornerstone of America, one that is transparent to the citizens it serves and accountable for their actions or lack thereof.”
Copies of the complaint and its attachments are available by sending a request to email@example.com