Judge reprimands CPS for Spring kids' removal

March 28, 2011 8:29:52 AM PDT
A Houston judge has reprimanded Texas Child Protective Services for not justifying removal of premature infant twins from their parents' custody.

State District Judge Michael Schneider called CPS removal of the infant daughters of Darcy and Tye Miller of Spring a "groundless cause of action" and ordered the agency to pay their $32,000 legal bill, the Houston Chronicle reported in its Sunday editions.

Schneider also ordered the caseworker in the Millers' case and her supervisor to write a report for the court within 30 days to prove their understanding of the state's child removal laws.

"The offensive conduct by (CPS) has significantly interfered with the legitimate exercise of the traditional core functions of this court," Schneider wrote in a 13-page order filed Friday.

According to court documents, the twins were born in December, and the Millers had taken them to their pediatrician almost weekly because of concerns about their weight. When their son developed bronchitis and passed it on to one of the girls, Darcy Miller took her to a suburban Houston hospital. After she was moved to Texas Children's Hospital when her condition didn't improve, a Jan. 27 chest X-ray showed several healing rib fractures.

Doctors confronted the mother and asked if she knew how they got there. When she said she didn't, CPS was called, and after X-rays of the other twin showed fractures in the same place as her sister's, a caseworker asked the Millers to voluntarily place all three of their children in the custody of relatives.

Five days later, the Millers were notified that CPS had sought and obtained custody of the children. Schneider says CPS did not notify the parents of the custody hearing or inform the judge of the voluntary custody arrangement it had agreed to with the Millers.

The Millers fought for return of their children, and Evan Glick, court-appointed attorney for the children, sided with the couple.

Schneider concluded that CPS had acted in bad faith by seeking the temporary emergency custody order without informing the Millers of their actions.

"I completely agree with what Judge Schneider did," Glick told the Chronicle. "I think CPS ... just rushed this. They breached their own agreement."

Also, an expert witness the Millers hired, Dr. Charles Hyman, offered "reasonable medical evidence" to the court that showed the fractures could have been caused by lifting the children, Glick said. Hyman also concluded that no abuse had occurred because of the absence of bruising or internal bleeding and lack of information on when the fractures happened,

Hospital officials declined to comment specifically on the case but said in a statement to the Chronicle that it acted purely in good faith and with concern for the children's safety and welfare.

CPS and the Texas Attorney General's office are considering an appeal, said agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins.