Restoring Jury Trials for Innocent Parents
house district 32, "Republican", and statutator
Howard Stephenson, senate district 11, "Republican".
This bill would allow parents, including gun owners, to
request and receive a trial by jury prior to having their
parental rights terminated. HB
318 is a first step toward restoring justice to Utah's corrupt courtrooms,
and in providing substantive due process for innocent gun
This bill passed the house (46
yeas, 27 nays, 2 absent/not voting), Senate Monarch Wayne
Niederhauser's hand-picked judiciary, law [sic]
enforcement, and criminal justice committee
returned it to the rules committee, where it died.
UT Gun Rights
supports this bill. See its
bill status page.
To contact your statutators,
this page ("F-5" on most browsers) to
see latest version.
Last updated: 3/14/14
How could we possibly go
wrong giving one person such awesome power?
One Court Dictator Can Ruin YOUR
In Utah, your
children can be seized from you, placed in a foster home, and
your rights as a parent could be forever terminated without
ever being convicted of a crime. This can all be done by
the decision of one judge (sometimes with help from that
judge's bureaucratic "court commissioner").
unaccountable* court dictator holds the awesome power to
destroy your life, and the lives of your children. And
no impartial jury of your peers can currently intervene to
governor, without any substantive review or confirmation process,
hand-picks all voting members of "judicial nominating
commissions." These commissions select judicial candidates,
the governor selects his favorite, and his favorite is confirmed
by the state senate. The "judicial council" selects
court commissioners, who are deemed "quasi-judicial officers
of courts of record". Sources:
Utah Constitution, Art. VIII, Sec.
8, and state statutes
78A-10-204. In order for voters to remove a judge, over 50
percent of them must be sufficiently angry at him/her
to vote "no" on his/her judicial retention election. Imagine how many lives a judge could
destroy before half the voters voted "no"?
Tragically, such abuse happens
regularly in Utah, and all too often one or both parents
unjustly targeted because he/she is a gun owner. Many
Utah judges and court commissioners harbor extreme statist
views — to include an anti-gun agenda
and some seem to enjoy harassing and terrorizing gun owners.
Judges are supposed to be courtroom
referees, ensuring that the jury receives as much pertinent
information as possible, and that the prosecution and defense
have the opportunity to present such information. A
judge is NOT supposed to be jury and the executioner for the state agenda.
Vague Termination Criteria
The statutory criteria these court
dictators utilize to tear parents from their children includes
vaguely defined words like "abuse," "neglect," and
"educational neglect," which can be twisted to mean nearly
anything. Critically examine
state statute 78A-6-105 as an example.
And according to
state statute 78A-6-507, all the court dictator
has to decide is that the parents have violated any one of
these vague definitions. No actual crime need be proven.
So guess whose "interests" will be reflected in
"But the most grievous innovation of all, is the
alarming extension of the power of courts of
admiralty. In these courts, one judge presides
alone! No juries have any concern there! The law and
the fact are both to be decided by the same single
judge." — John Adams
Low Burdens of Proof
In nightmarish, but real,
scenarios, accused parents not only face a court dictator, but
state statute 78A-6-314(2)(b), their petition to
have their children returned to them can be denied by the
lowest threshold of legal protection: "preponderance of the
evidence." In other words, the court dictator gets to
decide if you are an unfit parent by the lowest standard of
Prima facie "evidence" of your
parental unfitness includes failing to "comply with a court
approved child and family plan in whole or in part"
(78A-6-314(2)(c)(ii)). And what is the "court plan"? Whatever
the court dictator wanted it to be, because he/she is often
part of the "treatment plan team."
Jurisprudence: Embracing a Tainted Ideal," by former Utah
juvenile court judge, Arthur G. Christean, Jan. 2002.
These "court plans"
can include unreasonable restrictions on firearms.
See discussion of
the statutory environment that helps to encourage such
restrictions on pages 6 and 7 of
2013 Utah Government Corruption Report and the
threat briefing for this
year's SB 35, ironically being sponsored by the senate
sponsor of this bill, statutator Howard Stephenson).
If the state files a petition to
permanently terminate your parental rights, the court dictator
can approve it based upon "clear and convincing evidence" (see
bill lines 61-62), which again means
whatever the dictator thinks it is; including your failure to
abide by his/her "court plan".
Keep in mind that native Americans on
reservations at least enjoy the higher protection of "beyond a
reasonable doubt" before their parental rights can be
terminated. Learn more about the
Federal Indian Child Welfare Act.
Note: State proponents of this sham
termination process sometimes point to
state statute 78A-6-503. Unfortunately, while this
statute contains lofty, flowery language, it offers no
substantive safeguards for accused parents, and no substantive
restriction upon the power of the court dictator.
System is Openly-Hostile to
Forget all this talk
about proofs and juries, comrade! The state is
As we outlined in our
assessment of SB 35, the "child welfare system" is designed
to be hostile toward gun owners.
For example, according to "administrative rule" R512-202-2,
Utah's Child and Family Services agency can intervene in
"homes where there are... loaded weapons within the reach of
If, therefore, your 17-year old
minor child ever has access to a loaded firearm, a state
caseworker could use that to build the case that you are
guilty of "child endangerment," an abuser, and therefore
subject to state intervention; potentially by having your
child seized from you.
And if your children are sent to
foster care homes, according to "administrative rule" R501-12,
foster parents who do not have a concealed carry "permit," and
who do not have their firearm on their person, must
essentially live in a disarmed, or criminally-vulnerable, home
The underlying philosophy of the state
is clear: foster parents must be unarmed, and if they are
unarmed, natural parents should likewise be unarmed.
If a court dictator terminates your
parental rights, such decisions can be utilized by other
bureaucratic processes to further destroy your right to keep
and bear arms. For example, as we pointed out with our
threat assessment of last
year's SB 80, any jury-less court decision can
be sufficient grounds for the Utah Bureau of Criminal
Identification to revoke that person's concealed carry permit.
How this Bill Could Be
Time to rein in
Utah's court dictators. Click picture to enlarge.
This bill could be substantively
improved by the following:
1) Require that parents be proven
guilty, by an IMPARTIAL JURY, of actual, serious, and
purposeful criminal behavior or unfitness that renders them
permanently unable to serve as parents, before their children
can be permanently removed. Before any accused loses a
fundamental right, he/she must be found guilty (not innocent)
through substantive due process, which includes this
bedrock assurance. See "Why
Are Jury Trials Crucial to Your Freedom?" by
2) Require that the state's burden of
proof be raised to the highest standard of "beyond a
reasonable doubt" in permanent termination cases, as is the
case with native American families living on Indian nation
reservations. Accused Utah parents should enjoy the same
protections as native Americans.
3) Remove the filing fee in lines
56-57 for parents who request a jury trial in civil cases.
Innocent parents, including indigent ones, should not have to
pay to receive substantive due process.
4) Require the unanimous opinion of 12
jurors to convict a parent of a crime and to terminate his/her
Article 1, section 10 of the Utah state constitution
foolishly empowers the state legislature to limit the number
of jurors in non-capital cases. Forever losing one's
children is a fate worse than death.
The fact that these improvements are
NOT already statute is further evidence of the corrupt and
degenerate state of Utah's governmental affairs.
Yeah, But Is this REALLY a
"Gun Rights" Issue???
Is it preferable for one individual,
employed by the state and representing the state's interests,
to determine the fate of an entire family? What if the
decision to terminate is an unjust one? The consequences
for that family could arguably be worse than a death sentence.
If it is acceptable to grant such
awesome power to one individual in parental termination cases,
then, to follow the logic, it should be acceptable for one
individual to determine the fate of gun owners in any other
In fact, Utah court dictators are
currently empowered to involuntarily commit gun owners to
mental institutions; thereby terminating their ability to keep
and bear arms. They are likewise empowered to terminate
concealed carry "permits" for individuals accused of mental
illness or accused of violating statute. Consider discussion
of last year's
UT Gun Rights argues that one
individual's (i.e. the court dictator's) employment, biases,
intentions, aspirations, definitions of right and wrong,
lifestyle choices, etc., are dangerously insufficient where
such finality is concerned. The risk of relying upon one
person's limited experiences and motivations is better
mitigated by dispersing such power amongst many (the unanimous
verdict of 12 is traditional) individuals who are less
compromised to the prosecutorial objectives of the state.
What makes trial by an impartial jury
the business of UT Gun Rights? This right was arguably so
fundamental, its absence "in many cases" was listed as a cause
for separation in the unanimous Declaration of Independence.
To abandon it in cases such as these would be akin to arguing
that the right to keep and bear arms only exists if one state
employee says it does on any given day.
Are there problems with the
educational level of many jury members? Certainly. American
revolutionaries contemplated the same dilemmas:
"I know no safe depository of the
ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and
if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their
control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take
it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.
This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional
power." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles
Jarvis, September 28, 1820 (see The Founders’ Almanac, by
Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 180)
Appropriate Action: Contact
The Two People Who Own the Statutarium ("legislature")
2013 Utah Government Corruption Report amply demonstrates,
two monarchs abuse and dominate the house and senate and work
together to destroy your rights:
house speaker Rebecca Lockhart and
senate president Wayne Niederhauser. Contrary to what you
learned in civics class, your house and senate statutators
merely serve their gun control agenda.
How can two people possibly exercise
such control? As one example, the house speaker and senate
president alone appoint and remove EVERY member of EVERY
committee. Lockhart and Niederhauser are empowered to do this
without any review or confirmation process.
Sources: “The general duties of the
Speaker are to:... appoint the members of committees…” (House
Rules 1-3-102. Duties of the speaker) and “The general
duties of the president are to:… appoint the members of
Duties of the president)
Consider the vast implications of this
incredible power! No bill may be voted on in the house or
senate without going through a committee. As a result, bills
live or die almost entirely upon the calculated orders of
these two monarchs.
Their powers are so extreme, no
provision exists in the house or senate rules to fire the
monarchs before their two-year terms are over. They lord over
each body, trade favors, and sell your rights; all while
pretending that decisions are made by the will of the majority
instead of their monarchial authority.
The political buck stops with Lockhart
and Niederhauser for failing to advance positive gun owner
bills, and for every gun control bill enacted. Until more
statutators are motivated to oppose the iron fists of the
monarchs’ near absolute power, your rights will continue to be
Because your house and senate statutators
merely serve their will and agenda, contacting them is often
just a courtesy call. Only two people hold the power
over Utah's statutarium ("legislature"):
For House Monarchess Rebecca Lockhart's contact
information (and the rest of the house statutators),
click here. For Senate Monarch Wayne
Niederhauser's contact information
(and the rest of the senate statutators),
Click here to go back
to The 2014 Bill Tracking Page: The Good, The Bad, and The