Denise H Burch / Numerous Violations of Code of Ethics
Denise Burch is an attorney currently practicing in the Florence, Alabama area. She must be stopped before more families suffer total destruction at the hands of this woman. Burch who proven by her actions in this case, that she has no regard for the truth or the law. Burch was appointed as a Guardian Ad Litem for Danielle Reed, a minor diagnosed with mentally ###ation. Danielle was involved with the court system because she had tried to attack her cousin with a potatoe peeler. Danielle was charged with Domestic Violence/Assault 3rd. She was appointed a juvenile defense attorney and then for obvious reasons associated with her capacity to aid in her defense, she was appointed an additional attorney, Burch, to serve as her Guardian Ad Litem. When Danielle was scheduled to appear in court for her juvenile charges on July 21, 2011, the Guardian Ad Litem had hastily filed a petition for dependency three days prior. The current custodian by court order, Judy Whipkey, had no knowledge that anything had been alleged against her. In fact, Whipkey was in court that day without counsel and under the impression that Danielle was coming home after she was seen by the Judge. On this date, Burch set into motion a chain of events that are not only based on lies and false information but also repugnant to the constitutional rights that parents and custodians are clothed with across the board in the United States. Below is just a brief summary of some of the violations that Burch and others have made in Lauderdale County, Alabama and nothing has been done to protect the safety of this child. Please make your voice heard and do not allow your family to be disregarded and the law ignored by those with so little insight or regard for family values.
Burch has violated every civil right that an individual parent or custodian has but, here is a short list of rules violated of Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers practicing in the State of Alabama: Rule 3.1, 3.3, and 3.5. as well as violated §§ 15-12-21(b) & (c) of the Code of Alabama, 1975.
MERITORIOUS CLAIMS AND CONTENTIONS
(a)In his/her representation of a client, a lawyer shall not file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of the lawyer's client when the lawyer knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.Further, an assertion purporting to be on the lawyer's own knowledge, as in an affidavit by the lawyer or in a statement in open court, may properly be made only when the lawyer knows the assertion is true or believes it to be true on the basis of a reasonably diligent inquiry. There are circumstances where failure to make a disclosure is the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation.
In this case, Denise Burch filed a Petition for Dependency on [protected] for Danielle Reed based solely on statements made by Danielle.Dainelle is diagnosed as Mentally ###ed. Denise Burch knew or should have known that said allegations could be false and that a thorough investigation was necessary to ascertain the truth and that failure to ascertain the truth through an investigation could result in malicious injury to Judy Whipkey. However, Denise Burch failed to investigate the basis of the petition, yet represented said statements as fact in her petition and again in her GAL report. Denise Burch made malicious representations against Judy Whipkey in her dependency petition and yet failed to make a reasonable or diligent inquiry of the allegations with Ms. Whipkey. Further the false allegations against Ms. Whipkey contained within the petition for dependency maliciously injured Judy Whipkey’s creditability and custodial rights. In fact, said allegations have still to this date, never been investigated or substantiated by Denise Burch. Denise Burch failed to seek out viable relative resources prior to filing for dependency and her actions resulted in the depravation of constitutional rights of Judy Whipkey, the current custodian, and Kathleen Raskin, the default custodian from Order of the Court.
CANDOR TOWARD THE TRIBUNAL (Honesty with the Court)
(a)A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1)make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal;
(2)fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a
criminal or fraudulent act by the client;or
(3)offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures.
(b)The duties stated in paragraph (a) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
Representations by a Lawyer
An advocate is responsible for pleadings and other documents prepared for litigation, but is usually not required to have personal knowledge of makers asserted therein, for litigation documents ordinarily present assertions by the client, or by someone on the client's behalf, and not assertions by the lawyer.
In this case, the assertions contained in the petition for dependency, the Guardian Ad Litem Report, and every court report only contained statements made at one time by Danielle to Denise Burch. There was absolutely no validation or attempts to validate the assertions by Denise Burch, the Department of Human Resources of Lauderdale County, the caseworker from DHR, Labrisca Cook, or the Circuit Court Judge Billy Jackson.
Misleading Legal Argument
Legal argument based on a knowingly false representation of law constitutes dishonesty toward thetribunal. A lawyer is not required to make a disinterested exposition of the law, but must recognizethe existence of pertinent legal authorities.
In this case, Denise Burch, Lauderdale DHR, and Judge Jackson all were made aware that Judy Whipkey had a valid and current court order that granted her custody of Danielle Reed with her sister, Kathleen Raskin, as the default custodian. Not only was the current custodian not provided an attorney at the dependency determination, she was not allowed to be heard by the court all the while a Verified Court Order from Pennsylvania had been filed with the Court to put any interested party on notice that she and Kathleen Raskin had custodial rights. Further, Denise Burch, Labrica Cook with Lauderdale DHR, and Judge Jackson were all made aware that the rights of the biological mother, Terri Davis, had been terminated by Court Order in 1998.
When evidence that a lawyer knows to be false is provided by a person who is not the client, the
lawyer must refuse to offer it regardless of the client's wishes.When false evidence is offered by the client, however, a conflict may arise between the lawyer'sduty to keep the client's revelations confidential and the duty of candor to the court. Upon ascertaining that material evidence is false, the lawyer should seek to persuade the client that theevidence should not be offered or, if it has been offered, that its false character should immediatelybe disclosed. If the persuasion is ineffective, the lawyer must take reasonable remedial measures.
In this case, Danielle has recanted that the statement s made against Ms. Whipkey to Denise Burch. However, Denise Burch has done nothing to take reasonable remedial measures to correct misrepresentations that she made to the Court. Further, Denise Burch made statements on the record in the hearing on 7-20-11 that Danielle Reed did not even know her aunt, Kathleen Raskin. This was an intention misrepresentation and presentation of false information that Denise Burch knew was false evidentiary statements.
Impartiality and Decorum Of The Tribunal
A lawyer shall not:
(a) Seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law;
(b) Communicate ex parte with such a person except as permitted by law; …."
In this case, Denise Burch had communications with Judge Jackson that were ex parte in nature. She consulted with him prior to filing her petition for dependency and disclosed what Danielle had told her to Judge Jackson. Additionally, the statutory provision which governs the appointment and payment of guardians ad litem in juvenile cases expressly states that it is the duty of the guardian ad litem to act as advocate for the ward.
Code of Alabama, 1975, §§ 15-12-21(b) & (c), provide as follows:
(b) If it appears to the trial court in a delinquency case, need of supervision case, or other judicial proceeding in which a juvenile is a party, that the juvenile is entitled to counsel and that the juvenile is not able financially or otherwise to obtain the assistance of counsel or that appointed counsel is otherwise required by law, the court shall appoint counsel to represent and assist the juvenile or act in the capacity of guardian ad litem for the juvenile. It shall be the duty of the appointed counsel, as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar, to represent and assist the juvenile to the best of his or her ability. (c) If it appears to the trial court that the parents, guardian or custodian of a juvenile who is a party in a judicial proceeding, are entitled to counsel and the parties are unable to afford counsel, upon request, the court shall appoint counsel to represent and assist the parents, guardian or custodian. It shall be the duty of the appointed counsel, as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar, to represent and assist the parties to the best of his or her ability. It is, therefore, the opinion of the Disciplinary Commission that attorneys who are appointed guardians ad litem are advocates for their wards just as, and in the same manner, as retained attorneys are advocates for their clients. Accordingly, guardians ad litem are subject to the same prohibition against ex parte communication with the court as are all other lawyers involved in the adjudicatory process.
In this case, Judge Jackson never offered Judy Whipkey, the legal custodian at the time of Danielle Reed, an attorney on 7/21/2012 when her custodial rights were trampled and ignored by placing Danielle Reed in foster care and giving custody to the Lauderdale County Department of Human Resources. This was a direct violation of the Code of Alabama as well as the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
Code of Alabama, 1975, §§ 15-12-21(c), provide as follows:
(c) If it appears to the trial court that the parents, guardian or custodian of a juvenile who is a party in a judicial proceeding, are entitled to counsel and the parties are unable to afford counsel, upon request, the court shall appoint counsel to represent and assist the parents, guardian or custodian. It shall be the duty of the appointed counsel, as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar, to represent and assist the parties to the best of his or her ability.
Canons of Judicial Ethics. Canon 3(A).(4) of the Canons of Judicial Ethics provides as follows:
"A judge should accord to every person who is legally interested in a proceeding, or his lawyer, full right to be heard according to law, and, except as authorized by law, neither initiate nor consider ex parte communications concerning a pending or impending proceeding." While Alabama appellate courts have never specifically addressed the issue of ex parte communication with the court by a guardian ad litem, other jurisdictions have expressly ruled on this issue and have held such ex parte communication to be ethically prohibited. See, e.g., Moore v. Moore, 809 P.2d 261 (Wyo. 1991); Veazey v. Veazey, 560 P.2d 382 (Alaska 1977); Riley v. Erie Lackawanna R. Company, 119 Misc. 2d 619, 463 N.Y.S.2d 986 (1983); De Los Santos v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 27 Cal. 3d 677, 613 P.2d 233 (1980).
Not only did Judge Jackson allow Denise Burch, the GAL, to communicate with him ex parte and influence his decision about Danielle’s future and placement, he also ignored Judy Whipkey’s legal interest as the custodian and Kathleen Raskin’s rights as the default custodian and desired intervenor. Judge Jackson did not offer Whipkey an attorney on the day of the ambush dependency hearing on [protected], nor give her an opportunity to be heard or defend her position. Judge Jackson issued a notice that Kathleen Raskin’s Motion to Intervene would be heard on [protected]. Raskin flew from Las Vegas, NV to never be acknowledged or provided an opportunity to be heard. Six days later on Danielle Reed’s 19th birthday, Judge Jackson finally issued an Order denying Raskin’s Motion to Intervene along with all other motions filed on Whipkey and Raskin’s behalf. Judge Jackson also granted custody to the biological mother in Pennsylvania, Terri Davis, who had her parental rights of Danielle terminated by order of the court in 1998.