2014 Bills

HB318: Jury Trial for Parents Facing Termination of Parental Rights

This bill passed the House 46-27 but was not considered in the Senate. Visit our Legislative Index to see the final vote rankings for the 2014 general session.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Last fall we published an interview with a mother whose relationship with her four children was legally severed by the state. This ruling was made by a judge who previously headed up the very agency that was seeking to terminate her parental rights. She and other parents in her situation have, in the past, desired the opportunity to face a jury of their peers and make their case.

Utah law does not afford them that opportunity. But House Bill 318, sponsored by Representative Lavar Christensen, would change that.

Importantly, the bill would make clear that “a parent who has been served with a petition for termination of parental rights continues to possess protected, fundamental rights and liberty interests”; an allegation by the state does not and should not violate this right. Further, the bill allows (but does not require) a parent to seek a “jury trial regarding the parent’s fitness and whether the parent-child relationship should be terminated.”

Asked in the interview why she thought this bill was important, the mother whose parental rights were terminated responded:

If I had had a jury trial, I would never have lost the rights to my kids. Never. Good citizens, good people, are not going to sit by and watch all this corruption go on. They don’t have the financial incentives like the judges, Guardian ad Litem, and DCFS do. And having several people deliberate on a decision rather than one person is clearly better. They would be impartial, whereas those in the current system are absolutely not.

Of course, jury trials may still conclude that a parent’s relationship should be legally severed; peer review in this fashion does not guarantee a favorable ruling. But we affirm that this option should exist for those who desire to take advantage of it. Justice and due process demand it.

  • Pete Bennett

    In my Contra Costa County Story, Judge Barry Goode never he was friends with President Clinton who pardoned Robert Vesco who stole millions via SEC Frauds. My attorney never said his brother-in-law was my step-son who was murdered to cover up a BYU out of wed-lock birth.

    One day the FBI arrested police officers, convicted them and then one day the family murdered in 2014, was the Strack Family were my relatives.

    My sons are gone, parental rights never terminated but taken by Contra Costa DA Mark Peterson whose brother stole the trust documents linked to Strack murders.

    Sorry I get really pissed of about these events that claimed the lives of witnesses, children, families, police officers and public officials.

    In ten years I expect the younger ones to ask “what day did 9/11 happen?”
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e4df3320e614f62eafe421925b1c37388a3bf06cd75a688b0cf9a27f8065afd.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aad16f21527ff8cf1f6ace5ac2ad9dfe6edfb6650186a12ab933a11b5b928d65.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fbbe435c5be07858583ed1ff9b269df0df25f3974b63bdeaac56cad0e2f9d8dd.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7f9b7b1e2edf5060133d6a7faf41164f6b2c74659cbf7089ae479ed149a2261f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8ab46970c81ac86bda71555e15fbb860de940216f6e1f5d998b4f7900517f7ef.png

  • Judi Atwood

    i recently interviewed a Family Law Judge that was fantastic . The industry is missing talented judges and attorneys that can resolve issues before they escalate and the children are loosing out.

    • Kathy Lester

      May I ask which Judge? We are a group of advocates a citizens oversight panel if you will, cps is violating familia rights daily the system is so broken? I am in Northern CA, thank you

      • Judi Atwood

        Hi Kathy ill post the article once I complete it and its been approved. I wanted you to know that CPS has been involved with my family since 2013. I lost all faith but I can tell you this time and recently the interviewer was human and easy to talk too. Strategically she is trying to help our children and I have a really good feeling about my interaction.

        • Kathy Lester

          Great love to read it … They denied me my own Grandson that I fought for while in the womb of my adult heroin addicted daughter because cps said they couldn’t help. Then he is born addicted and they lie to the Judge saying I threatened them which I threatened to sue as I caught them lying.

          • Judi Atwood

            One of the biggest issues that I see is fault finding in all judges. That is what distinguished this judge from most and somewhat. The issue is they are the hammer after the nail just as a dr that specializes in finding one disease the judges are trained to find the problem parent and punish them accordingly.

            I recently read an article https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/aug/16/emma-thompson-the-children-act-family-court-judge-role-great-privilege. Emma Thompson’s new movie the Child Act is due to be released this fall.

            Here is one of the quotes from the judges “One of the judges said to us: ‘You have to understand, every single case that we’re adjudicating contains pain,’” Eyre said. “Divorce, custody, cruelty – nobody comes in front of them, by definition, who is there for a laugh or has committed a crime and hopes they get away with it. Everybody’s lives are in some way damaged if they’ve got that far.”

            This is a very interesting quote. As an former engineer this would mean that if I was trained to look at some software as a problem on a network I would have to by pass a number of other issues like patches or software that just doens’t play well together.

            With a judge walking into a courtroom with the mentality that the issues with the parents is one of the parent and nothing else than the Family Court System clearly becomes a system of punishment because it seems that is how the judges are trained.


          • Kathy Lester
      • Aphroheidi

        The comment section on Judge Almquist is closed, but I need to get in touch with you regarding his extremely unethical tactics and the tragedy he brought upon my family despite mountains of proof that he was behaving in bad taste, to say the least. I know that he has passed away and I feel sad for his family, but I need to right the wrong that he caused and I also think my attorney had something to do with it…I would LOVE to talk to you!

  • Emily Kroll

    Judge Sugiyama head of Probate Dept. 14 at Martinez Court Contra Costa County – CHILD TRAFFICKER. His pro tem darling attorney Carolyn Cain court appointed minors counsel – CHILD TRAFFICKER.
    Liars, sociopaths, child abusers, ethics violaters, etc. Serving THEIR OWN BEST INTERESTS NOT THE CHILDREN THEY ARE REPRESENTING.