Texas Supreme Court Fails to Do Their Job -- Parents Unite With One Voice And Be Heard For Katie's Sake
Saturday, November 19, 2005
The issue before the Texas Supreme Court is the right of fit parents to make the medical decisions for their children. By avoiding the real issue here the Texas Supreme Court has failed to make a decision that only they can make that would affect all Texans. It is not just an issue of clearing our name of medical neglect as Kathyrn Garcia has stated below. I talked to her about the real issues involved here and I don't see a one of them mentioned in the Caller-Times. Yes, CPS wants the case dismissed, because they know the effect a ruling in our favor would have on the organization.
CPS apparently can control even the Texas Supreme Court.
CPS already controls the local court systems. They have their judge, their lawyers, the Ad Litem attorney for the child, their CASA representatives, all in the palm of their hand and under their control. Parents have practically no escape from their grasp and control of the system. Katie Wernecke hired her own lawyer because her court appointed attorney Linda Schauer wasn't representing what Katie wanted, and he was thrown out by the assistant county attorney and the court. They couldn't allow an outsider to enter their little system. Judge Carl Lewis was on the board of CASA and just resigned last week. Why was Judge Lewis the only juvenile court judge hearing CPS cases? There was no due process in this court. There was no protection of our constitutional rights. Do you see the conflicts of interest here and possible wrong doings? There is no oversight of the CPS agency.
Texas has no guidelines to decide who gets to decide, the parents or the state. It is time for the Supreme Court to step up to the plate and do what has to be done: Set guidelines for who gets to decide. Does the United States Supreme court have to come in here and do what our Texas Supreme Court should do?
The way it is now: doctors are in charge of the medical decisions of our children. I find that not acceptable and I think most parents would. The doctor says do it or I call in CPS. The doctors are in charge of our kids. They are using our kids in scientific experiments for cancer research. They don't care what is the best treatment for your child; just got to complete the experiment and get those results and that research money for the hospital. Doesn't matter whether this child lives or dies as there is always another child coming for our next experiment.
The way it should work is that the doctor makes a recommendation, tells you all the pros and cons, and side effects, and possible alternatives, and you as fit parents make the decision for your child. After research and study, you may agree with your doctor and go ahead with the recommendation. If you don't agree, or the doctor did not tell you the whole story (most likely), you may want to seek a second and maybe a third opinion, before you reach a conclusion and a decision. Remember, doctors can only make recommendations! This case leaves doctors controlling and directing the medical care of our children.
You, as an adult, can decide if you go along with the doctor's recommendation or if you reject that recommendation. Children do not have that right to decide for themselves. The parents, acting in the best interest of the child, make those decisions for the child. Now, in our case, as in many others, the doctor makes a recommendation and if we don't agree with that recommendation he simply has to pick up the phone and call in CPS to take the child away from the parents and the child gets the treatments. There is an affidavit filed with the court and a court order is issued giving CPS complete physical and medical control over your child for the next 14 days. There is a 14 day period before you can even get a hearing on the issue and meanwhile CPS and the doctors have free reign to do anything medically they want to your child. In most cases the child gets the treatment and is returned to the parents within the 14 days. Fine, if it truly was a life saving emergency treatment and no time for a hearing. Sometimes there are religious issues involved too.
This measure was intended to be used in a life and death situation only. If the doctors and CPS get away with this crime in our case, and misuse of the system of laws, parents everywhere are going to lose complete control of the medical care of their children. We had completed the treatment plan outlined by the doctor. The results were back. My daughter, Katie, had no active cancer anywhere in her body at the time. It was completely dead. There was no medical emergency. We asked for a second opinion. The doctors didn't agree. We asked to seek a third opinion. That was denied and the doctor called in CPS to force us to undergo his "recommendation." Well it was no longer a recommendation but a forced treatment using the power of Child Protective Services.
This was a treatment that we did not want for our daughter or even believed she needed, given the limited information we had at the time. The cancer was dead. The doctors took no time to really answer our questions or explain anything or even consider the alternatives. We didn't sign anything refusing treatment. The next thing we knew CPS was knocking on our door with two police officers to take our daughter Katie. There was no discussion, no hearing before a judge, nothing at all.
The doctor simply reports you to CPS and sends a letter with his "recommendation." The CPS worker prepares an affidavit in cooperation with the county attorney and they take it to an emergency hearing before a judge and on that sworn affidavit the judge signs a court order giving CPS temporary managing conservatorship of your child. The problem is in our case this wasn't an emergency and our daughter was not at risk of dying immediately. The cancer was dead. But with some twisting of the truth, and outright lies and false information, a good CPS worker can make it look that way to the judge. And since this is always a secret emergency hearing where CPS fails to invite the parents and their attorney there is no one to question the validity of the affidavit. A sworn affidavit is considered hearsay in all other court proceeding until it is proven in court by cross examination of the person making the affidavit. And so CPS can't have the parents or their attorney present at this emergency hearing or they couldn't accomplish their goal of taking the child.
On the basis of such an affidavit they took Katie away from her parents. At our last court hearing with Judge Hunter, we submitted sworn affidavits from a doctor and another from an expert witness and both were rejected by the court and CPS attorneys because the doctor and expert witness were not present in the court room to be cross examined on their testimony. They can take my child away and have her treated with dangerous radiation against my wishes on the basis of a hearsay affidavit with no cross examination yet we cannot submit the same into evidence in court with supporting documents. Truly the courts and CPS don't have to follow the rules of evidence, unless they want to use the rule against you.
On top of all that CPS and these officers invaded my home without a search warrant and found some so called violations, and took my other three boys away without an emergency court hearing. In doing so the law requires a hearing to be held the next day in which the parents are supposed to appear again. Again we received no notice of this hearing and they manufactured another false amended affidavit to include all four kids now. Parents, representatives, and judges, CPS believes it is above the law. They do not follow the law in the family codes nor do they follow their own regulations and guidelines. They have no one overseeing the organization. There is no one to appeal your case to. We have an out of control agency. We spent over $150,000 on legal bills and expenses defending our case, most of which is still unpaid. This would bankrupt most families including ours. Here we are with a child with cancer and every dime should have gone into caring for and finding a cure for that child's cancer. This is just so wrong and just so unnecessary and just makes me sick to my stomach.
People we must stand up and say enough is enough. We must demand the Texas Supreme Court hear the issues involved here. We must call our Governor and legislatures to the task of correcting the Child Protective System. We must have some sort of an oversight committee or panel of parents to review decisions and actions of the agency.
One the other hand, the CPS agency should probably be dissolved. The present system is corrupt and no way to fix it. They do more harm then good. There is more abuse of kids in the system than ever done by parents outside. The more kids they take into the system the more money they make. Take a sick child that has cancer and that means big bucks.
CPS lied to the public and the press. CPS lied to the press and television crews stating that they wanted to keep the lines of communication open with the parents and Katie. Meanwhile in the court room, CPS was requesting to take away Katie's cell phone and computer and phone access and wanted to shut off all communication and visits with her parents. CPS said publicly and repeatedly that all they wanted was to get Katie the cancer treatments and get her well and return her back to her parents. That was a lie. According to my attorney Luis Corona, at our next to the last court hearing, CPS had filed for termination of our parental rights over Katie. They never had any intention of returning her to her parents. CPS filed to terminate our parental rights and to take Katie into permanent CPS custody until she could be adopted out.
The state blundered the case and blundered the treatment of my child, Katie. They took a child that didn't have any active cancer and returned us a child with about a 20% chance of surviving, according to M.D. Anderson, who used unproven and experimental drugs on Katie. So they gave her back because they don't want her dying in state care. That wouldn't look good. Now, if Katie dies in our care, they will prosecute my wife and me and put us in jail (See Channel III broadcast last Monday). Either way they win and finally get what they wanted -- the rest of our kids back in their care so they can adopt them out and make money on that end.
It is possible that the cancer would never have returned had Katie been left in our care. CPS ripped her from her parents love and health care and put her through severe emotional stress and trauma, with no nutritional support, allowing the cancer to return. Studies have shown that stress is enough to cause cancer.
Do you think it can't happen to you or this don't concern you? Think again. Cancer now happens to 1 in 3 people. That means before long there is a chance for nearly every family to have one member with cancer and one of those might just be your child too. It does not even have to be about cancer, just any illness where the treatment is controverisble. What about the drugs like ritalin that some teacher thinks your kid needs because he doesn't sit still in school. Refuse the doctor's order to give it to your kid and CPS comes and takes your child away. It happens every day. The decision, here too, must ultimately be up to the fit parents to decide.
This is an issue for every parent in Texas. It is that important. Who do you want making medical decisions for your child? If you do nothing the doctors will dictate the treatment of your child. Child Protective Services becomes the enforcer of the doctors orders. The doctor is no longer making just a recommendation. As a consequence we have lost our children's care to the state. Big Money and the drug companies influence the doctors heavily. Before long, they will be testing drugs on our kids without our consent. Don't believe it. That is exactly what M.D. Anderson was doing with Katie Wernecke. They used drugs on her that were in a Phase 2 Clinical Trial.
Child Protective Services stole five months of my daughters precious life away from her family. They traumatized the boys in the family for life. The damage and cost of that is so high I cannot even place a figure on it. Yet, there is no one to hold CPS accountable for the damage they have done to my family and our lives. They are even immune from lawsuit under the law. We must make sure this can never happen to another Texas family again. I am calling, and want you to also, on the Supreme Court to act without delay and give some guidelines as to who gets to decide.
We don't need any more government intrusion into our lives and we certainly don't need some CPS worker, with 3 months of training, never even had kids of their own, making medical decisions for our children.
Parents join together with us and make your voices heard loud and clear. We are not going to stand for anymore. The time is now! We won't get another chance to change this again. Call the Texas Supreme Court and let your voice be heard. Call your representatives and tell them if you expect my vote then get to work and fix this problem.
Court dismisses Wernecke request
By Kathryn Garcia Caller-Times
November 19, 2005
The Texas Supreme Court dismissed a request made by Katie Wernecke's parents to absolve them from all charges of medical neglect saying the request no longer was valid after the 13-year-old cancer patient's return home.
Katie's father Edward Wernecke said the Supreme Court's decision is a setback, but he and his wife, Michele, will continue to try to clear their name.
"The fight's not over," Wernecke said. "We're having to jump through more hoops, meanwhile a child's life could be snuffed out."
The state Supreme Court's decision comes after attorneys for Child Protective Services filed a motion to dismiss Wednesday saying the Wernecke's request was moot.
James Pikl, attorney for the Werneckes, did not return messages late Friday. Pikl filed an appeal to reverse all Juvenile Judge Carl Lewis' orders including finding the Werneckes medically neglectful. He filed the appeal with the state Supreme Court Oct. 6 before Judge Jack Hunter ruled Oct. 31 to return Katie to her parents and dismiss Child Protective Services.
Lewis recused himself Oct. 13 from Katie's case, saying he didn't want to become a distraction after The Texas Supreme Court reversed his ruling and allowed Wernecke to visit Katie.
CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins said CPS filed the motion to conclude the matters still pending in the Supreme Court and end their involvement in the case.
"CPS hopes for a full and complete recovery for Katie and that she can return to health," Crimmins said.
Katie is undergoing intravenous Vitamin C treatments at her home three times a week to treat her cancer, Wernecke said. He said he was attempting to schedule his daughter for an MRI.
Katie returned to class Monday at Banquete Junior High School, where she was treated like a family member coming home to her small community, said the school's Principal Eusebio Torres.
"She was accepted with open arms among her peers," Torres said. "That's just the way the kids are in this community. In Katie's case, she's very popular, and she's always been an excellent kid."
Wernecke said Katie's first week at school has helped her return to normalcy.
"She's gonna have a little catching up to do, and she's working hard to get back up to where the rest of the class is," Wernecke said. "She'll adjust and get back in the swing of things pretty quick. She's a trooper."
Torres said Katie is a straight-A student who should have no problem readjusting.
Katie joined her parents Nov. 3 at their family home in Agua Dulce after spending more than four months in state custody after the Werneckes refused radiation treatment for her Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
Doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where Katie had been receiving chemotherapy treatments, had said her chances of survial had fallen from 85 percent in August to as low as 20 percent. Dr. Ron Hunninghake, who is treating Katie with Vitamin C, has given Katie a "better-than-average" prognosis.