Sunday, December 8, 2013

MCFD lawsuit run by Jack Hittrich "Expert" witness, social worker Fran Grunberg Nov25-27, cross examination


Fran the social worker “expert” appears to be the Crown’s idea of legitimizing and justifying MCFD’s removal and 2-1/2 year retention of four children. 

Ms. Grunberg's lengthy report, including 50 pages of “argument” is supposed to convince  Judge Walker that MCFD used the best child protection practices generally and MCFD Practice Standards specifically. <insert riotous laughter here>

I put "expert" is in quotes because, surely, this is a joke. When a witness is declared an expert by the court, the expectation is that whatever report is written by this expert, the “opinions” expressed are expected to be deferred to by the judge based on superior expertise and clinical studies and generally accepted scientific evidence.

For example, the other “expert”, an MCFD hand-picked hired-gun psychologist Dr. Ericikson, gave mom and dad a parental capacity assessment. In his first judgment, the judge disregarded the opinions and conclusions of that expert.
Fran’s annoyance factor was fortunately outweighed by the entertainment value she provided, which was greatly assisting Jack Hittrich in the sinking of the Crown's defense with her nonsensical replies to simple questions.

Ms. Grunberg reminded me of the super annoying nasally Saturday Night Live character "Lisa", or Roseanna Roseannadanna, played by Gilda Radner. The glasses she wore are the thick black rimmed pointy type that you would expect to see from a shrewish ruler-wielding knuckle slapping school teacher in the 60’s. Think also of the SNL's Church Lady lizard neck and pursed mouth look. Frandannadanna.

When asked a direct question that had a yes or no answer, which at most, ONLY needed a one sentence response, this women launched on a oratory designed to remind us lower beings of her stature as an "expert," who was fully conversant with all the facts of the case - which she recited repeatedly. Several times. Jack repeated several questions, more slowly so she could understand it. That did not seem to help.

Ms. Grunberg was so COMPLETELY mixed up with the FACTS it was clear as an expert, she simply had to be the laziest individual the Crown could possibly have selected to do this job. Her job was to review the evidence, not listen to the conclusions of others and adopt those as her own. 

The high points were when Mr. Hittrich asked Ms. Grunberg whether or not, in her “EXPERT” OPINION, the judge got it wrong and MCFD and police and the 8 experts (and she, Frandannadanna) got it right.

Ms. Grunberg stopped to think, with a suitably degree of dramatic pause, and said very simply "yes". <gasp> <look at judge's reaction>

There was no long winded explanation, just "yes." I was dumbfounded. 

After that point, it was a struggle for the next hour not to burst out laughing. Perhaps an early retirement is in order for Ms. Grunberg? A lengthy holiday with all the cash she got for the report and her testimony? Does she get the usual $250/hr expert testimony appearance fee?

Ms. Gruenberg said she thoroughly reviewed the pre-trial evidence and expert reports. She did NOT review the ACTUAL trial transcripts and evidence for her report. And, oh, by the way, she just quickly read through a couple of intake reports the previous day (which she apparently read for the first time). She said the same thing the day before.

Keep in mind folks, Ms. Gruenberg’s "expert report" is MCFD's response to the lawsuit claim they did NOT follow policy or their own practice standard guidelines, which is a huge chunk of the basis of the lawsuit.

It became apparent, as Fran's testimony continued, that MCFD social workers supplied her only with a subset of all available materials. The videos of the children disclosing sexual abuse was not part of the review, for example. Fran emphasized her job was not to review the actual conclusion that the sexual abuse was fabricated as police and other social workers concluded, or that the abuse was valid, as was decided by the judge. 

All the “evidence” concerning mom’s mental illness appeared to be provided though.

In Fran’s mind, the esteemed judge should not have ignored these important MCFD-paid experts who assessed mom, and he should not have decided NOT to put any weight on that expert evidence. 

Jack reminded Fran that the reports were entered into evidence, and that there were transcripts and a judicial ruling to go along with it. Jack asked Fran if, perhaps, she should have studied the same materials the trial judge had BEFORE writing her expert report? (Perhaps, she said, but she didn't.)

Mid-testimony, Fran was given time to (re-)read the judge's 137-page decision. Her opinion was unchanged.


Frandannadanna, are these examples of “best practice”?
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Is it good practice to write down evidence?
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When asked the simple question, if practice standard included WRITING DOWN allegations into intake reports, Fran agreed, “of course”. 

Yet, when asked to identify the information that should have been written down in the relevant intake reports, and that she supposedly referred to well, by golly, she could not find any mention of sexual abuse concerns that she cited by "memory" as having seen them in the reports. Intake #3 specifically, which was closed in November 2009.


Writing a letter of no concern for pedo-dad in spite of a court order
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Fran was asked what MCFD practice standard permitted social workers to write a letter for a perpetrator upon his request, who had a restraining court order of no contact with mom and the kids, that MCFD had zero concerns. (Dad wanted to use the letter in court to regain access to his kids that he attacked earlier in October 2009.) 

So, according to Ms. Grunberg, social workers responding to an email by the perpetrator requesting they write him a "we are not concerned" letter was a tad unusual. Not giving a copy of the letter to mom was a tad unusual too. Fran did not appear to be aware that little bit about judge forbidding contact with the kids was written into the order she supposedly reviewed. 

As you can see, these arrogant social workers never, EVER thought all this evidence of tgeir activities would come back to bite them.

This letter from MCFD was written despite of the fact there was a court order of no-contact with the children by dad because he attacked the children and mom.  Fran was informed that Mr. Strickland testified that writing this letter was inappropriate and apologized in court. Still, Fran did not back off one bit or admit MCFD did one single thing wrong. Their lapses seemed to be within the normal parameters of excusable human error made in the heat of the moment. No biggy. (Did you get that, Judge? NO biggy, not worth millions of dollars!)


Crown lawyer instructs "Expert" how to edit her report
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Another great source of entertainment was when we discovered the Crown Lawyer that was present that day, Ms. Johnston, was caught verbally supplying instructions to Ms. Grunberg to edit her first report to produce the second report that was submitted as impartial independently written expert evidence. Hahahahaha!   Isn’t it great to have client-solicitor privilege waived?

You see, there were two versions of the "expert" report submitted by the Crown. 

The first report contained mention that the reviewed pre-trial evidence was preliminary, that NOT having the trial made it difficult to assess the case. After complaints that the original report contained 50 pages of hearsay, the second report was generated.

The second report version was edited, but even so, that version was still objected to verbally by Mr. Hittrich. The Crown put forward yesterday, that because of the lack of WRITTEN objection (trial transcripts don’t count, apparently), the report should remain as unquestioned evidence the judge should defer to. Nice try, Crown.

Next, Madam "expert" was confused about handwritten notes that recorded a telephone call from the Crown Lawyer instructing her to make edits to her expert report. She blamed her assistant for taking the call and writing the notes, but she could not get around that fact that she abided by the lawyer's directive and edited her second report accordingly. And no, the assistant's "help" was not acknowledged in the report.

Note that this admission by Ms. Grunberg was made AFTER she testified that she made the edits of her "own accord," as was her right as an expert. So basically she was caught lying on the stand. Correctiony: she "forgot" due to the stress of her husband dying around about that time (queue tears and squealing violin). The Crown lawyer was VERY quiet and did not object. Court is apparently very stressful.


MCFD not reading BC Supreme Court Orders, is this part of Standard Practice?
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To recap, the court order against dad forbidding him of contact with his kids stemming from an bathroom assault incident against dad's daughter, Fran didn't know about because she simply did not read the order and the EVIDENCE of this was not written into the intake report. Hmm, this doesn't seem to follow that practice standard that Jack had her read into the court for the record.

Fran tried to cover up her gaff by ignoring the particular stipulation in the order and saying that, "well, sometimes these things are overlooked." She continued on to say that in the context of the parents now being separated, the social workers WERE in fact following "practice standards" in finding no safety concerns to the children posed by either parent as of November 23, 2009. After all, the parents were now separated, so everything was good and mom was safely caring for the kids by keeping them from their dad.


Should social workers review evidence that police use to decide sexual abuse?
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Fran testified regarding social workers reviewing video evidence that mom made, well, that was the job of the police, so for social workers to look at that would have been a huge no-no. Apparently Fran was unaware that mom supplied video clips several weeks after the November disclosure. Fran was also unaware that every social worker in the office looked at the videos and decided that mom forced the children to “disclose” what she told them to. Besides, how else was MCFD going to ignore the allegations? Maybe MCFD did not give Fran the videos because they KNEW how they handled it wasn’t in keeping with any “practice standards.”

And no, Ms. "expert" did not ask to review the videos of the children's disclosure, because it was not her job to evaluate the non-finding of sexual abuse. Fran reiterated that her job was ONLY to decide if "practice standards" were followed.  

After all, Fran suggested, mom MADE her children say all those nasty things about their poor dad. Police "experts" said so. (The "Expert" being Ms. Rowley with no prior sex abuse training, who was in that position for just 4 months by that time.)



How might MCFD become more believable of mom’s claims of sexual abuse?
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Ms. Grunberg suggested that since mom was not cooperative in accepting the fact MCFD found dad was not a risk (a child molester), and that mom refused services to correct her deficient belief, thus, she essentially did herself in and became a victim of MCFD and VPD’s wrath. If ONLY mom cooperated and accepted these facts, well, perhaps the Ministry would not have found it necessary to see her as a risk to her children and removed her four children. 

No ministry policy or reference to relevant practice standards documentation was made, despite it being placed at her fingertips to point that out.


General commentary
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THIS is how you do a proper cross examination. Get the witness to cite from memory first, THEN confront them with the evidence that is different from their recollection. Not vice versa. The Crown objected to this style of questioning SEVERAL times during this trial, asking the judge to tell Mr. Hittrich to put the evidence to the witness when they expressed a lack of recall. Again, nice try, Crown. 

Folks, it does NOT get much more entertaining than this. I was laughing at the breaks. When the Crown lawyer objects to a line of questioning, this is when you know Jack is getting to the good stuff that is making the Crown lawyers sweat bullets.

As mentioned previously, Ms. Grunberg got her dates and facts mixed up terribly. Basically, she was NOT conversant with the information she was supposed to be VERY familiar with as an "EXPERT". The funny parts were when she was confronted with these errors, and she just responded by dynamically "re-qualifying" what she said in earlier statements. She wasn't apologetic or embarrassed by this either. 


Peanut gallery conclusion
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My conclusion is that this "expert" paid by the Crown is not only incredibly biased, she is incompetent. She did not properly or thoroughly review the evidence and lied about doing so, she listened to lawyers telling her to write what they wanted her to write in order to improve the case evidence, and she did not change her position in the face of clear evidence that she admitted to not properly reviewing the evidence.

Mom has had to endure 2-1/2 years without her children, who were allowed unsupervised access by MCFD in clear violation of a BC Supreme Court Order. Children that, as a result, pedo dad further abused. 

These four children have now have been diagnosed with PTSD and continue to pay the price for MCFD and VPD's malicious approach to dealing with mom, and allowing dad unsupervised access and free rein to further abuse the children.



Dad continues to run free, his identity protected. There are no criminal charges, nothing. He simply does not get access to his children.

The trial continues January 6th, 2014 in courtroom 75 at 10:00 AM before Judge Walker. Bev Scholtz, the after hours social worker who removed the four children December 30th, 2009 testifies next. Fran Grunberg will be recalled to testify further as well.

4 comments:

  1. Did you read the book call " Whores of the court" By Margaret Hagen???

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  2. It's about time things like this are being exposed. I hope justice is served and this will further help bring awareness to how unprofessional MCFD is and how harmful they are to families.

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  3. MCFD Social Workers, Team Leaders, Managers and Lawyers all work together as a dishonest team. Truly the Ministry of Children and Tearing families apart, who suffer innocently for life. I cannot say how happy so many families are who have been so wrongly committed of having their families TORN APART, for having Jack Hittrich, going to court for over a year on one and only one disasterous cases. These children taken from parents for no reason, or even hearsay, secondary to disceitful non-empathetic and ignorant Social Workers who form one and only one judgement of a parent involved. Once this hateful wrongful judgment has been created (most likely of a parent asking for more investigation or allowed to be heard) is then supported by all the other social workers, team leaders, and managers, so as to make sure that the first social worker is not classified as potentially not getting enough information before being accusing.
    Families that go through this, then get a lawyer, pay out all of their savings, to only be dragged through court with lies to the judge, excuses, adjournments, and every stall tactic... When the case finally goes to court .... do these families have any more money to have a lawyer take it to court? No, obviously in many cases, it goes to court once the parents are broke financially, and left with a family torn apart, and both the child and the parents are left with life-long scars. This MCFD, and the Minister of Families need to be woken up to their ignorance, and leave their power trip behind them. I am aware that the Minister's mandate for the MCFD is that "services will be delivered in a client-focused, compassionate, culturally-based .... manner to help BC families achieve their maximum potential"??? The Representative of Children and Youth took a 100 cases of children in care a few years ago and found only 5% of these children even had a file, or let alone a plan of care??! Well she should do this again with another random 100 files, and see if the case had been properly treated, as Jack Hittrich would approve of!!! Or even better Jack Hittrich should be paid finally to review the other 100 files, and give his litigated opinion, so these families are not wrongly convicted of having their family torn apart, and the child suffering for life with the psychology carried with the them.

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  4. Now there is a good idea, an independent representative of taxpayers that will examine the nuts and bolts of the inner workings of MCFD that litigated parents know only too well the loopholes that exist.

    This cannot simply be assigned to the RCY, which many see as a sort of reverse-psychology public relations arm of the MCFD. RCY will write a report, we will all be appalled, and then MCFD winds up with more cash to take more children.

    You can rest assured foster care contracts exist for each and every child. You can rest assured that medical and dental is switched over the MCFD instantly, and there is associated paperwork for that.

    As we have seen from the Hittrich case, "Practice Standards" certainly look and read fine, but they are not followed. There are gaping holes in something as critical as how to write a "Report to Court", for example. This document handed to parents on the day of the first appearance, with five minutes notice and no time to read or study the material.

    The Hittrich-run lawsuit is exposing many of these failings of MCFD, exactly as the above comment describes. I am hoping that as much as possible makes it into the ruling when it is released many months from now.

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