• Petitioned Texas Law Enforcement and District Attorneys

This petition was delivered to:

Texas Law Enforcement and District Attorneys
Texas Governor
Texas State Senate
Texas State House
Texas-086
State Rep. John Smithee
Texas-031
State Sen. Kel Seliger
Texas-13
Rep. Mac Thornberry

Texas cops and courts: Deprive Texans of their dog and get time in jail; deprive them of their children and get ignored by cops and criminal courts

    1. Petition by

      Shannon Kuster

      Amarillo, TX

The short story:

You can deprive Texans from their dog and possibly get time in jail if the owner can show documentation that the dog is theirs. However, one Texas parent can deprive another parent from their children and no criminal charges can be filed even if there is documentation that you have a right to the children, even if a judge has issued a court order specifying visitation periods, even if law enforcement officers witness the felony occur, even if law enforcement files a case, because district attorneys refuse to accept cases for the felony charge of Interference with Child Custody and/or law enforcement agencies have not updated their current policies to take action and save Texas families from being destroyed.

The rest of the story.....

I respect the lawmakers of the great state of Texas for recognizing that Interference with Child Custody is a serious offense that causes substantial damage to people’s lives and destroys families. The Texas state law classifies this offense as a FELONY. I don’t have to beg and plead that a law be enacted. Someone has already fought that fight for me and laid the foundation for my cause. However, what good does it do to have a justified felony offense as a state law if it isn’t enforced? State lawmakers did their job, but state law enforcers and prosecutors are neglecting their duties to enforce this law.

State law empowers law enforcement to take action. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedures Art. 2.13. DUTIES AND POWERS, states that, (a) It is the duty of EVERY peace officer to preserve the peace within the officer’s jurisdiction. To effect this purpose, the officer SHALL use ALL lawful means. (b) The officer shall:

(1) in EVERY case authorized by the provisions of this Code, INTERFERE WITHOUT WARRANT to prevent or suppress crime;

(2) execute all lawful process issued to the officer by any magistrate or court;

(3) give notice to some magistrate of ALL offenses committed within the officer ’s jurisdiction, where the officer has good reason to believe there has been A VIOLATION OF THE PENAL LAW; and

(4) ARREST offenders WITHOUT WARRANT in EVERY case where the officer is authorized by law, in order that they may be taken before the proper magistrate or court and be tried.

That doesn’t say they can, may, or could if they want to. It says they SHALL arrest offenders without warrant in EVERY case. Currently NO action is being taken by the Potter County Sheriff’s Office on this felony offense. At first, the dispatchers agreed to send deputies to assist, however the deputies refused to make a report or take any action when they arrived at the scene. Then the dispatchers agreed to document the incident with a cancelled call for service since the deputies wouldn’t do anything if they were sent anyway. Later a dispatcher wouldn’t document the call unless deputies were sent out so I requested deputies because that was the only way I could get the violation documented. After speaking to supervisors, the incidents were documented with cancelled calls for service again. Representatives of Potter County Sheriff’s office told me to quit even calling for assistance unless there was an emergency because of a manpower shortage stating they only had three deputies to cover the whole county. They encouraged the violating parent to file harassment charges against ME because I was showing up on my scheduled visitation days to get my kids. When I finally did convince them to make one report, investigators didn’t contact me. Investigators did not follow up on the case. They closed and cleared the case. It was not presented to the Potter County District Attorney. Blatant felony Interference with Child Custody cases with overwhelming evidence that are presented to the Potter County District Attorney’s office are routinely refused. Deputies told me to not go to the violating parent’s house and told me to call from the school. When I called from the school they told me to start going to the Sheriff’s Department to make the reports. They apparently don't even have a consistent way to handle these calls because they are so used to not handling them at all and civilians take their word for it that nothing can be done. 

Texas law allows for many situations where warrantless arrests are valid and legal. These exceptions can be found in Article 14 of the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure. Officers may arrest:

§ Where a law enforcement officer OBSERVES the commission of an offense

§ If the officer has probable cause to believe that a FELONY was committed and the assailant is about to escape (or leave with my children)

§ If the defendant makes a voluntary statement to the officer that gives the officer probable cause to believe the person has committed a FELONY.

The deputies have been furnished with the latest version of the custody papers that are on file and these orders can be verified. The court order specifies that any peace officer may use reasonable efforts to enforce the terms of child custody specified in the order. The deputies have confronted the violating parent and heard her state that she understood she was violating the court order and the she was refusing to allow me my visitation. The deputies observed the commission of the felony offense. They were aware a felony was being committed. The violating parent made a voluntary statement that gave the deputies probable cause to believe the person was committing a felony. Yet they did nothing.

In the Code of Criminal Procedures, Art. 2.17. CONSERVATOR OF THE PEACE, states that Each sheriff SHALL be a conservator of the peace in his county, and SHALL ARREST ALL offenders against the laws of the State, IN HIS VIEW OR HEARING, and take them before the proper court for examination or trial. He SHALL apprehend and commit to jail ALL offenders, until an examination or trial can be had.

Deputies are held to the same standards by Art. 2.20. DEPUTY, that states that, Wherever a duty is imposed by this Code upon the sheriff, the same duty may lawfully be performed by his deputy. 

I believe that the Potter County Sheriff’s Office does not enforce this law due to them not being able to file the case with the Potter County District Attorney’s office. The district attorney is routinely refusing felony Interference with Child Custody cases and thereby neglecting his duty.

The CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, TITLE 1. CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, CHAPTER 2. GENERAL DUTIES OF OFFICERS, Art. 2.01. DUTIES OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY, states that, Each district attorney shall represent the State in ALL criminal cases in the district courts of his district. When ANY criminal proceeding is had before an examining court in his district or before a judge upon habeas corpus, and he is notified of the same, and is at the time within his district, he SHALL represent the State therein. It SHALL be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys not to convict, but TO SEE THAT JUSTICE IS DONE.

The district attorneys in Texas, and specifically Potter County, are refusing and dismissing anyInterference with Child Custody cases presented to them. They are neglecting their duty and should be filed on for that charge if they continue to ignore the enforcement of this felony offense.

The neglect of duty is also covered by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Art. 2.03. NEGLECT OF DUTY. (a) It shall be the duty of the attorney representing the State to present by information to the court having jurisdiction, any officer for neglect or failure of any duty enjoined upon such officer, when such neglect or failure can be presented by information, whenever it shall come to the knowledge of said attorney that there has been a neglect or failure of duty upon the part of said officer; and he shall bring to the notice of the grand jury any act of violation of law or neglect or failure of duty upon the part of any officer, when such violation, neglect or failure is not presented by information, and whenever the same may come to his knowledge. (b) It is the duty of the trial court, the attorney representing the accused, THE ATTORNEY REPRESENTING THE STATE AND ALL PEACE OFFICERS to so conduct themselves as TO INSURE A FAIR TRIAL FOR BOTH THE STATE and the defendant, not impair the presumption of innocence, and at the same time afford the public the benefits of a free press. 

Art. 2.04. SHALL DRAW COMPLAINTS. Upon complaint being made before a district or county attorney that an offense has been committed in his district or county, he shall reduce the complaint to writing and cause the same to be signed and sworn to by the complainant, and it shall be duly attested by said attorney.

Art. 2.05. WHEN COMPLAINT IS MADE. If the offense be a misdemeanor, the attorney shall forthwith prepare an information based upon such complaint and file the same in the court having jurisdiction; provided, that in counties having no county attorney, misdemeanor cases may be tried upon complaint alone, without an information, provided, however, in counties having one or more criminal district courts an information must be filed in each misdemeanor case. If the offense be a felony, he shall forthwith file the complaint with a magistrate of the county.

I am referencing STATE LAWS of Texas. I am not perfect, but I do try to respect the laws of the state of Texas to the best of my ability although it seems that the violating parent, the law enforcers themselves, and the prosecutors are exempt from following these Texas state laws. Justice is not being done as required by the law. How is it that the Interference with Child Custody charge can’t be filed because it’s a civil matter involving a court order and needs to be handled through a civil trial, but child support required under the same court order can be filed criminally, violators are arrested by law enforcers, and cases are accepted by prosecuting attorneys? That is not justice. I don’t care how heavy your work load is or how few deputies you have to cover the county. The LAW says these things SHALL happen and I am waiting. All it takes is a CHANGE in policy. If the cops and courts would start filing felony charges on these bullies then very few parents would dare to violate the court orders and risk losing their jobs and prospects of new jobs with felony charges on their criminal history. The workload would go down and the three deputies could more easily cover the county. Isn’t that why we have the death penalty in Texas? As a deterrent to capital murder? That’s why Interference with Child Custody was classified a felony. As a deterrent, but it doesn’t work as a deterrent until you start filing on violating parents and setting an example.

Parents physically abuse their children and they are filed on criminally. Parents who emotionally and mentally abuse their children by depriving them of their other parent and committing the damaging act of parent alienation are protected by those who are sworn to protect us. Family members of the violating parent see the mental anguish of the children involved, but won’t say or do anything to upset the violating parent. Would they also just stand by and let the violating parent physically abuse the children? Just because the injuries of emotional and mental abuse are not visible, does not mean that damage isn’t being done. Do something!

Somebody…..

I’m asking for law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorney’s across Texas to do the right thing on their own and update their policies. Provide your employees with training on parent alienation and co-parenting. If they don’t, then I’m asking for the powers that be to make sure these agencies are encouraged to do their jobs the right way instead of picking and choosing the laws they want to enforce.

I'm asking TCLEOSE officials to consider requiring training courses for all TCLEOSE certified law enforcement officer in parent alienation, co-parenting, and the enforcement of Interference with Child Custody.

I’m asking State Legislatures to encourage law enforcement and district attorneys to enforce the felony offense they deemed necessary to place in the Penal Code. Please do not “fix” the problem by lowering the classification of the offense to a misdemeanor. Other states have policies in place that guide law enforcers on how to deal with Interference with Child Custody according to frequency of the offense and a set of guidelines to parents to try all avenues of resolution before charges are filed, but provide for SOME action to be taken by law enforcement and the courts at some point after all other avenues have been exhausted. Texas agencies need to review and update their enforcement practices and policies to handle this issue in a more fair and just way for modern parenting. The Bannock County Prosecutor's Office in Idaho has an example of a policy posted on the internet that would be a good start in the right direction.

I’m asking for an authorized requestor to step up and ask the Texas Attorney General for a general opinion regarding our cause so the Attorney General can influence law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to change their policy. An authorized requestor as Sections 402.042 and 401.043 of the Government Codes set out the state and local officials who are authorized to request formal Attorney General opinions on questions of law. The Attorney General is prohibited by statute from giving a written opinion to anyone other than an authorized requestor (so I can't ask for it myself). Authorized requestors include:

ü The Governor

ü The head of a department of state government

ü The head or board of a penal institution

ü The head or board of an eleemosynary institution

ü The head of a state board

ü A regent or trustee of a state educational institution

ü A committee of a house of the Texas Legislature

ü A county auditor authorized by law

ü The chairman of the governing board of a river authority

I am asking anyone reading this to send it to EVERYONE on your email list. There are so many Texas parents who are going through this and so many more that have been through it but trusted the officials when they were told nothing could be done. I refuse to let the violating parent keep my kids from me. I will fight the fight and back up anyone fighting the same fight. I understand now why some parents walk away from their children. They have been bullied by the violating parent, the cops, and the prosecutors. It is hard to keep any hope that the nice guy will ever win. The FELONY offense of Interference with Child Custody should be enforced. Cops and courts need to get tough. I’m tired of getting bullied. We have a voice. If Occupy Wall Street can get as much attention as they have gotten then surely we can get some attention and some action on a very worthy cause too. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven took one year or less to become the law of the land- all because of public pressure. I can’t make this cause successful, but WE can!

I am trusting the system for now. I am filing for enforcement on the court order through the civil courts. I have the money to hire a lawyer and take care of this instance. What about those that can’t afford a lawyer? Who is going to help them see their children again? The state is supposed to be there to act as the public prosecutor so those who can’t afford a lawyer won’t have to wait until they can afford one while their family continues to be destroyed. The state should be filing these cases. That is why the law is in the books. How hard is it to do the right thing?

 

 

 

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