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Defending Child Abuse Allegations in Arizona State and Federal Court

Published in the Maricopa Lawyer Family Law Section December 2023 edition.  By Sabra Barnett  As a former Assistant Federal Public Defender, I have experience representing clients accused of crimes ranging from gun charges and interstate drug trafficking to complex financial matters involving interstate wire transfers.  I always appreciated practicing in Federal court because of the tremendous caliber of […]

The Impact of the Department of Child Safety’s Document Failure on Parents

Originally Published on AZ Mirror on August 23, 2023 and on the Arizona Capitol Times on August 24, 2023. By Deandra Arena  On Aug. 21, a letter from the state attorney representing the Department of Child Safety (DCS) went out to all presiding judges across Arizona requesting that they “suspend any trials and severance proceedings” […]

Back to School: The Consequences of Neglect in Flagstaff, Arizona

By Isabel Ranney As we head back into the school year, it is an unfortunate truth that there will be an influx of child abuse and neglect allegations. Although summertime for children brings the promise of lazy afternoons at home, it also means that children are stuck at home with parents who might be abusing […]

Fast-Tracked Termination: What is Happening in Arizona

By Woodnick Law  Once a child is born, its parents are endowed with a “fundamental right to parent.” This means that like other fundamental rights (e.g. right to privacy, right to marry), there is a higher scrutiny placed on any attempts to interfere with that right and the presumption is that the right will remain […]

Racial Disparity in Arizona DCS Investigations Receives National Attention

By Woodnick Law, PLLC Conscious or unconscious, racial bias affects all aspects of life. The caseworkers and child welfare investigators (OCWIs) that make up the Department of Child Safety (DCS) are not immune from these biases. A recent article from ProPublica, which has received national attention, addresses how these biases have culminated in a disproportionate […]

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 […]

Allegations of Abuse Against Parents with Transgender Children in Arizona

Image thanks to Unsplash.

By Isabel Ranney  Imagine you are in the middle of a contentious divorce with your soon to be ex. You have one child in common—an eleven-year-old named Sam—who was born biologically male but has expressed a desire to wear dresses and be referred to using she/her pronouns. Sam’s preferences were a major factor in the […]

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 […]

When straddle injuries are confused with child abuse

By: Gregg R. Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Injuries with these symptoms are called straddle injuries. Straddle injuries occur when a female hits her vulva or perineum (external female genitalia) on an object, and the force of her weight on the object causes injury [1]. Signs of a straddle injury include tears in the vaginal area, […]