Fight for Families: Return Elizabeth's daughters.
***PLEASE NOTE: I have decided to move this petition to change dot org in hopes of reaching more people. If you already signed, you do not have to sign the new petition at this time!! If you still need to sign, apologies for the redirect, but please sign here:
Feel free to also continue reading the information provided on this page...I have anther link to the new petition below! Apologies for any confusion, and thank you for your support.****
My constitutional right, alongside my daughters’ rights, to family integrity were violated by Broward County and the State of Florida’s Department of Children and Family Services. My daughters were removed from my care on April 13, 2018. Although state and federal statute requires that DCF attempt to ensure the safety of the children using the least restrictive measures, no such attempt was made. In fact, no attempts were made to contact me at all before filing to remove my children. Without ever assessing the validity of the claims against me, assessing my relationship with my children, my willingness to address and resolve any perceived safety issues voluntarily, or speaking with me at all, a member of the Broward County Sheriff filed an emergency petition to shelter my children. When the magistrate heard their case, she noted that there was no evidence of current drug use, but that my history of engaging in evidence-based methadone treatment was just cause to remove my children from my care until a dependency filing could be made. Despite this being a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Florida Department of Children and Families promptly followed that with a dependency petition. Two separate attorneys with the Department of Justice acknowledged the injustice perpetrated against me, but failed to take any kind of correctional or assistive action.
Ultimately, the judge convicted me of neglect and imminent risk of serious harm. She cited no instances of neglect or maltreatment; the entire basis of this life-altering adjudication was her perception that I used poor coping skills one time when my PTSD was triggered (by spending a couple days in Miami after getting into an argument with my daughters' paternal grandmother), that I discussed the possibility of purchasing marijuana while being in remission from opioid addiction, and that she thought I was a good writer. In the final document, she simply copy and pasted the original accusations, which all revolved around unsubstantiated accusations of current drug use, my past treatment history, and my trip to Miami. No actual instances of neglect or maltreatment of any kind were ever iterated. I have never been accused of maltreating my children at any point in the life of the case--yet my parental rights have been terminated.
If you want to more about the details of my case -- I have outlined them here:
There were many, many more injustices and improprieties; for example, high caseworker turnover led to a number of delays and confusion. The changing caseworkers constantly disagreed about what kind of documentation was valid for showcasing my income, so I was never marked as compliant with income requirements despite having two paid fellowships during the case and regular, income-earning freelance assignments. Judge Gamm repeatedly marked my negative urine drug tests as positive, and refused to hear expert opinion on the impropriety of this action or other topics related to their handling of addiction medicine. Her mind was apparently made up.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, I have managed to safely care for my daughters on two separate instances of approximately eight and fourteen days when their paternal grandmother was ill and needed significant help caring for them in an appropriate manner. During the latter instance, she was in the hospital for a large chunk of the time. The caseworker was aware of this, which indicates that they do not consider me an imminent risk to my daughters' safety. This fact, coupled with the fact that there has never been an actual act of maltreatment iterated throughout this case at any point, and with the fact that my daughters express explicit, articulated desires to live with me, explicitly demonstrates that they can be safely returned to my custody. Failing to return them to my custody when there is no active safety threat is a violation of our constitutional rights and a gross miscarriage of justice.
I am asking that you sign on at the new petition
to show solidarity and support my request for:
--The immediate return of my two daughters, Anabelle Brico -- age 6, and Penelope Brico -- age 5, to my custody with no further DCF intervention
Should that not be possible:
--An independent third party review of the entire case, and appropriate correctional action taken including outright dismissal of the case OR a retrial with a new judge and counsel and which is determined fairly by a jury of my peers OR application of the least-restrictive options that were never taken (such as restoration of my physical custody, appropriate service mandates and timely/evidence-based referrals that are able to be completed while my children are in my home)
--A full review of the DCF process of removal and adjudication, including judges’ ability to change the valid results of drug tests in case records, the lack of judicial oversight, the low evidentiary standard, the lack of the choice to have a jury trial, and the lack of robust legal representation for low-income parents.
I am also seeking:
--An attorney willing to take on an appeal and/or lawsuit pro bono and dedicate time and resources to an adequate defense
--A harm-reduction oriented journalist associated with a prominent media outlet, who engages in evidence-based reporting, to shine a spotlight on the injustices perpetrated by Florida DCF/ChildNet/Judge Gamm against my family -- and/or a high traffic media outlet willing to publish my own account of this travesty of justice. Examples of past writing that has covered parts of this case:
UPDATE: Youth Today included coverage of my case in their recent article!! Check it out here:
TruthOut included coverage of my case as well:
I continue to seek coverage, and thank those who have helped get the word out!
By signing this, you are showing support of these demands and my journey to reunite with my children. Your name will be sent attached to this email
I also appreciate you sharing this petition on your social media platforms as a show of support and to help gather more signatories and/or counsel/media attention. If it suits you, please consider sharing with the hashtags #ReturntheBricoGirls #SendNellyHome #SendBellyHome #defundCPS #abolishCPS #LegalizeMotherhood #ElizabethBrico
Copy and paste this link to share the petition:
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