A Position of Trust III: When Members of the Clergy Fail to Report Child Abuse

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney The conversation between an individual and a member of the Clergy during a spiritual confession is sacrosanct. It is a time when the person confessing should feel that they can speak freely, without fear of reprisal. This act of confession is so valued that Arizona law permits members of […]

A Position of Trust II: Teachers Facing Prosecution for Failure to Report Child Abuse

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney When mandatory reporters fail to report suspected child abuse, they are complicit in letting the abuse continue. Educators, in particular, have such a unique and consistent level of interaction with children that makes them a reliable source of child abuse/neglect reports. Due to this, nearly all states, including Arizona, lists […]

The Importance of Pre-Charge/Pre-Indictment Counsel

By Sabra Barnett Prior to working in private practice, I was an Assistant Federal Public defender. In this role, I received cases long after charges had been filed. Meaning, the opportunity for many of my clients to avoid being charged had long since passed. Grand Jurys had convened, statements were recorded, and the case had […]

Preventable: The Legal Consequences When a Child Accesses a Gun in Arizona

By Isabel Ranney It started with a loud popping noise. Marie rushed into the bedroom and found Reggie lying on the ground, blood pooling around him. Her two-year-old son stood nearby; a gun clutched in his hand. She immediately called 911 and began administering CPR while she waited for first responders to arrive. Reggie would […]

Is it Me or is Everyone Talking About Parental Alienation?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Things do not just “trend” in fashion or TikTok. They happen in courtrooms too. In the 1980s, the era of unlocking repressed memory had people suddenly remembering childhood traumas at a scientifically unsupportable rate, and with significant consequences. In the 1990s, guided imagery led to even more “recollections” of memories, […]

How Long Does Arizona DCS Have to Investigate an Allegation?

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Suppose five-year-old Lucas tells his Kindergarten teacher that his dad hits him and that is why he has a faint bruise on his leg. As a mandatory reporter under A.R.S. § 13-3620, Lucas’ teacher calls the DCS hotline and reports her “reasonable belief” that Lucas may be abused or […]

So DCS has invited you to a Team Decision-Making Meeting (TDM): Now what?

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney In the grand scheme of nearly indecipherable acronyms in child welfare investigations, one particular abbreviation stands out as being part of nearly every case but nonetheless being misunderstood by most parents. The “TDM,” or “team decision-making meeting,” is an important step in the resolution of child welfare investigations that […]

How the Medical “Code of Silence” Affects Child Abuse Litigation

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Despite being the fifth-largest city in the United States, Phoenix only has seven board-certified pediatric orthopedic surgeons, five of whom work at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Because of their specialty, it is safe to presume that the surgeons all know each other from their professional community and any conferences they […]

The Not-So Basics of Third-Party Visitation

By Markus Risinger and Isabel Ranney A person’s right to parent their children is a fundamental right under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The only way to completely dissolve a parent’s fundamental right to parent in Arizona is through severance. Visitation, however, permits a third party to be awarded time with the children if […]