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Judge Rebecca Hardie allows Contra Costa CPS social worker to commit perjury

September 25, 2018

by Michelle Chan

It was a cool fall morning, the year was 2008, the city was Union City and this was in Alameda County. It was a time and a place quite different from the neighborhood and circumstances that now hold this family hostage – it was a period that Tanika Thompson remembers as if it were yesterday: It was when baby Ajzeya came tearing into this earth and into this life. The precious little girl found her way to Tanika’s because Tanika’s sister, a child sex trafficking victim, was not in the right place physically or mentally to care for her.

“My sister always had issues growing up, always had behavior problems. When she started running away at age 12, I pretty much gave up on her. But when she got pregnant and called me for help, I could not turn my back on her baby,” said Tanika.

Tanika talks about how sweet Ajzeya was, about how tiny and precious she was. “I had an immediate connection with her. Ajzeya was a content, loving, quiet baby,” said Tanika. “Ajzeya was very artistic and always liked to please people. I remember taking Ajzeya to Ruth Chris steakhouse in Walnut Creek when she was 6 and right before all this happened. Ajzeya fought like a little firecracker for the check.” Tanika laughed.

“Ajzeya kept saying, ‘I got this. I’ll pay for you. I got money.’” Tanika hangs on tight to memories like this one, because that is all she has left of Ajzeya right now. Like a fistful of sand, Ajzeya is quickly slipping through her fingers.

Parents Against CPS Corruption (PACC) rally outside San Francisco Superior Court on Nov. 3, 2017. The sign on the right reads, “The courts extort.”

From forced adoption to removal: A special needs child struggles and a family is destroyed

“I adopted Ajzeya when she turned 5 – through Lilliput Adoption Agency- to keep her out of the foster care system. Me and my family all had hoped that one day my sister would get her life together and that she could one day reunify with her daughter. So I adopted Ajzeya to keep her in the family.”

When Ajzeya entered into the first grade, her temperament changed. Every day when Tanika picked her up from school, there were reports of Ajzeya misbehaving. “Ajzeya’s teachers reported that Ajzeya was lying, slapping, touching inappropriately,” said Tanika. So Tanika disciplined her the same way she was disciplined growing up, the same way she had told the CPS social worker she would during the adoption process. She put Ajzeya in time-outs and, when that didn’t work, she spanked her.

“No matter what I did, Ajzeya’s behavior problems persisted. I didn’t understand it nor did I know what to do.” Ajzeya is a special needs child which made parenting and discipline even more challenging. Ajzeya has been diagnosed with autism and attention deficit disorder.

One day, Ajzeya went to school with a hand print on her leg. CPS was called, and Tanika and Ajzeya’s lives changed forever.

“The social worker came to my home to investigate, and I was totally honest with her because it’s not illegal to spank a child,” said Tanika. “And I also had told the adoption worker that I would spank her if she misbehaves and the adoption social worker told me that it was fine.”

Autism and ADD/ADHD is a common dual diagnosis in special needs children, and parenting such children is challenging. ParentingADHDandautism.com is a website dedicated to providing support and resources to families with children with autism and ADD/ADHD. According to the website, “It takes more work, and very specific work, to accomplish [a patient, calm, peaceful, cooperative, purposeful and joyful parenthood].”

One day, Ajzeya went to school with a hand print on her leg. CPS was called, and Tanika and Ajzeya’s lives changed forever.

Tanika had been a model client after Ajzeya was removed from her care. Not only did she pay out of pocket and successfully complete parenting classes, 101 therapy and anger management at COPE Family Support Center, she really internalized the lessons she learned while engaging in those services.

“If I had known then what I know now, things would have been different. I wasn’t educated back then about Ajzeya’s special needs,” said Tanika.

“I would have maybe put her in a different school, spent more time talking to her, taking her places. If she had a bad day, I would talk to her about what happened rather than resorting straight to disciplining her. I would also give her more responsibility and give her more opportunity to play with other kids.

“Things would be different if she were to come home. This all happened because I did not have the tools before to deal with a special needs child.”

The good, the bad, and the ugly: A tale of two social workers and one crooked judge

When Tanika’s case was opened, Sandra Andrade was the social worker assigned to her. Tanika reports that Andrade was a good, ethical and supportive worker; this inspired Tanika to be extremely dedicated in her attempt to reunify with her adopted daughter because it gave her hope and because she believed, at that time, that Contra Costa Children and Family Services, or CFS, was well-intentioned and sincerely interested in improving outcomes for her and her family.

“Sandra told me to work my classes, work my case plan, and do everything I need to do – and that if I did that I would be able to reunify with my daughter,” says Tanika. “Sandra acknowledged that my case wasn’t that bad, that there were no drugs involved and that I have a good job and a good home and that there really shouldn’t be any argument against reunification in a case like mine.”

“Sandra told me to work my classes, work my case plan, and do everything I need to do – and that if I did that I would be able to reunify with my daughter,” says Tanika.

The case was transferred to Penny Williams and right from the beginning things were different. “Ms. Williams didn’t return phone calls, she was downright rude. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened later.”

According to Welfare and Institutions Code §366.21, “If the recommendation is not to return the child to the parent or legal guardian, the report must specify why the return of the child would be detrimental to the child.”

Since Tanika had successfully completed her case plan, the only way to terminate her rights would be if CFS produced evidence that reunification was not in Ajzeya’s best interest. Social worker Penny Williams did this by falsifying information in the 12-month review report; she wrote that Tanika had called Ajzeya a “nappy head” during a supervised visit and later testified in court that the visitation monitor, Uche Mcgee, had reported this comment.

The case was transferred to Penny Williams and right from the beginning things were different. “Ms. Williams didn’t return phone calls, she was downright rude. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened later.”

“When I saw the report, there were so many lies. Penny Williams also wrote that I said that I have no intentions of changing the way I parent, but I have proof that that isn’t my viewpoint. My parenting class instructor and therapist can verify that I made progress in my services and learned new tools and techniques to be a better mother.”

Tanika’s attorney, Cheryl Smith, did a discovery to obtain the visitation transcripts. None of the transcripts reported the “nappy head” comment. Cheryl Smith then subpoenaed the visitation monitor to testify in court that Tanika had never said anything of the sort during any of her visits.

Judge Rebecca Hardie allowed the falsified report and perjured testimony to stand and failed to hold Penny Williams accountable for lying.

“Judge Hardie said on court record that she had no reason to believe that Penny Williams would lie, and she terminated my reunification services at that hearing. Never in my life did I think that something like this could happen. Never in my life did I think I could lose my child forever based on a flat-out lie,” said Tanika.

Judge Rebecca Hardie allowed the falsified report and perjured testimony to stand and failed to hold Penny Williams accountable for lying.

On Oct. 3, 2018, Tanika Thompson is facing her termination of parental rights hearing, or TPR. If she loses this hearing, it is likely that Ajzeya will never see her family again.

Tanika alleges that she recently saw Penny Williams at the Walmart in Antioch on Lone Tree Way. “I walked up to her and asked her why she lied in court like that. She told me that it was politics, that she had instructions from higher up and from county counsel to do what she did.”

There are funding incentives to keeping children detained in the child welfare system. Contra Costa CFS gets many millions of dollars per year in federal funding.

“I walked up to her and asked her why she lied in court like that. She told me that it was politics, that she had instructions from higher up and from county counsel to do what she did.”

Moreover, special needs children carry a significantly higher price tag. Child welfare reform advocates all across the nation are fighting for legislative reform to vary the way that Title IV-E funding is allocated to county governments. Tanika believes that what happened to her happened because of the money the county stands to earn off of Ajzeya.

Contra Costa CFS and Judge Hardie had the opportunity to help this family and improve outcomes for this child, but instead engaged in gross and criminal misconduct to keep Ajzeya in the system. How is Tanika facing the termination of her parental rights in a case that only involved inappropriate discipline, in a case where the issues that led to the removal have been resolved; why is this child perpetually trapped in the foster care system when this child has family who want her and a loving and stable home to return to?

Contra Costa CFS and Judge Hardie had the opportunity to help this family and improve outcomes for this child, but instead engaged in gross and criminal misconduct to keep Ajzeya in the system.

How is it that a social worker was caught committing perjury and yet no one has held her accountable? Where is the oversight of our child welfare system and juvenile courts? Where is the outrage that this is happening and American families are being unnecessarily destroyed in court proceedings that operate under a shroud of secrecy, in court proceedings in which criminal misconduct is covered up and the best interests of children are ignored?

Citizen oversight of bad judges and call to action

Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, is a citizen oversight group that has launched a three-judge recall effort in Contra Costa County. Judge Rebecca Hardie is one of the subjects of the Contra Costa recall. See https://patch.com/california/walnutcreek/recall-judge-rebecca-hardie-judge-jill-fannin and https://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/2016-01-01-13-17-00/los-angeles/16021-attack-on-corruption-contra-costa-county-three-judge-recall-launched-by-parents.

This notice that a recall petition has been filed against Judge Hardie has been published in a local paper.

A judge recall is a procedure by which voters can remove a judge from office through signature gathering and direct vote before the elected term has ended. PACC asserts that Tanika’s story is one of many that demonstrates that Judge Rebecca Hardie is engaging in a pattern of misconduct in her courtroom that is harming the very children she is charged with protecting.

Andrea Wood and Kristie Karkanen are leading PACC’s judge recall effort in Contra Costa County. “We are out there in front of the courthouse every weekday, educating the public and trying to restore justice and fairness to children and families.

“What is happening in Contra Costa’s family and juvenile courts is not right and we will be a permanent fixture in front of the courts and out in the communities for the next six months to deliver our message loud and clear, that our children are not for sale,” said Wood.

PACC is also executing a recall attempt in San Francisco against Judge Susan Breall, led by Donna Levey. To read Donna’s story, see http://sfbayview.com/2017/08/misconduct-and-collusion-by-cps-attorneys-in-san-francisco-superior-court/.

For more information on PACC’s efforts, to find out about our reform initiatives and protests and marches, to participate in our mass complaint efforts or for peer support, visit ParentsAgainstCPSCorruption.com, or call 415-815-9415.

Michelle Chan is founder and president of Parents Against CPS Corruption and can be reached at Protest@parentsagainstcpscorruption.com.

3 thoughts on “Judge Rebecca Hardie allows Contra Costa CPS social worker to commit perjury

    1. parentsagainstcpscorruption

      It's a bit suspect that out of all of the crooked probate judges, including Judge Sugiyama and Judge Eddie Weil (who never seem to be making headlines) Bailey seems to be targeted out of a mix of worse players.

      because Bailey is an outlier Republican? The Dems just weren't having any partisan opposition?

      Reply
  1. christine

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