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INSTRUCTIONS FOR DISCOVERY and INFORMATION REQUESTS

TWO WAYS TO GET YOUR INFORMATION IN CPS CASES

If you are having trouble getting information in your CPS case or just don’t know how to go about getting it, the following guide will show you two ways to go about this.

Most of what is outlined will reference Texas law, but this does not mean you cannot find the information in your state. If you have an open case, it will cost you less time and money to get the information in your case through Discovery requests to CPS. However, if you are having trouble getting Discovery or your case is over, this guide will explain how to get your information through Discovery and then through Information Requests.

SECTION 1: GETTING INFORMATION IN YOUR CASE WITH DISCOVERY REQUESTS

The three items within the Discovery section include Production, Interrogatories, and Disclosure. These are only three forms of Discovery requests that I am sharing. There are more options if you choose to request them. These include Requests for Admissions and Depositions. If you want to know more about this and want to add this in your case, you will need to refer to the Rules in your state for this portion of Discovery.

To find out what Discovery Rules apply in your case, refer to the Original Petition that you have from CPS. This is what you should have been served immediately after CPS took your child and/or took you to court. If you do not have this petition or never got served with it, go to the courthouse and tell the clerk you need to inspect the casefile for your case. It will be in this file of documents. It is a good idea to go periodically during your case to inspect the case file. If possible, have copies of the entirety of the casefile made.

  1. Finding the Discovery Level that applies to your case

The following image of the petition in our case shows on the first page what the discovery level is and refers you to the Discovery Rules.

 

 Petition Image Discovery

 

Referring to the image of this Petition, you’ll see, this was a “Level 2” Discovery in accordance with “Rule 190.3.” While all the legalese in these court files may look foreign to you, they are quite simple. These petitions and orders filed into your case give you the rules that apply and statutes they are applying. The Rules of Civil Procedure will teach you a great deal in how to fight in court. In our case, we learned that everyone involved became more corrupt and refused to comply with the rules and laws because we learned what to do and they just wanted their way. I want you to know, you may face the same challenges but I do believe that if enough people fight in accordance with rules and laws, we will see that CPS and the courts will have a lot of trouble continuing to do what they are doing. Discovery will allow you to not only see their “evidence” but also investigate them by finding the conflicting statements. Often, CPS forgets to keep up with their lies and you can also find plenty of opposing evidence to discredit what they say. Discovery is important to the case even for later if you want to file a lawsuit.

The TEXAS RULES of CIVIL PROCEDURE can be found here:

https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1444767/trcp-all-updated-with-amendments-effective-september-1-2019.pdf

If you are in a different state, just Google your state and “civil rules of procedure.” The rules should be available at your state’s main court office website.

The rule for the Discovery Level 2 in this case is Rule 190.3 in the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, it states:

190.3 Discovery Control Plan - By Rule (Level 2)

(a) Application. Unless a suit is governed by a discovery control plan under Rules 190.2 or 190.4, discovery must be conducted in accordance with this subdivision.

(b) Limitations. Discovery is subject to the limitations provided elsewhere in these rules and to the following additional limitations:

(1) Discovery period. All discovery must be conducted during the discovery period, which begins when suit is filed and continues until:

(A) 30 days before the date set for trial, in cases under the Family Code; or

(B) in other cases, the earlier of

(i) 30 days before the date set for trial, or

(ii) nine months after the earlier of the date of the first oral deposition or the due date of the first response to written discovery.

(2) Total time for oral depositions. Each side may have no more than 50 hours in oral depositions to examine and cross-examine parties on the opposing side, experts designated by those parties, and persons who are subject to those parties' control. "Side" refers to all the litigants with generally common interests in the litigation. If one side designates more than two experts, the opposing side may have an additional six hours of total deposition time for each additional expert designated. The court may modify the deposition hours and must do so when a side or party would be given unfair advantage.

(3) Interrogatories. Any party may serve on any other party no more than 25 written interrogatories, excluding interrogatories asking a party only to identify or authenticate specific documents. Each discrete subpart of an interrogatory is considered a separate interrogatory.

You’ll notice under (1) Discovery Period, CPS is not supposed to conduct Discovery any time within 30 days of your final hearing/trial. This is defined in order to prevent them from railroading you and gives you time to review the evidence. This is exactly what they will try to do and sometimes they may get away with it, but if you can document that they violated the rules by showing that they did, you have more evidence to use later. However, you’ll also notice that Discovery begins when the suit is filed. Therefore, you should request it early.

I recommend you read ALL CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES about Discovery so that you are fully aware of what you need to do, what you can expect, and how to raise issues should CPS violate the rules. In Texas, Rules 190 through 215 all cover Discovery.

It is important to serve CPS and their attorney with Discovery requests ASAP. When you serve them with the Discovery Requests (Production, Interrogatories, Disclosure), read the Rules in accordance with each Discovery request.

For Production, you’ll read Rule 196, for Interrogatories, read Rule 197, and for Disclosure, Rule 194. This outlines your responsibilities and deadlines, along with CPS’ responsibilities and deadlines.

A. Deadlines

As you’ll see in the documents (Production, Interrogatories, Disclosure), CPS has a 30-day deadline to respond to your requests. If they object for any reason, they must do so through the court, and you’ll find what you need to do in the rules as a response. If CPS just doesn’t respond to your Discovery requests, then you can refer to Rule 215. If they do not respond, you can file a Motion to Compel or Motion for Sanctions.

B. Serving Discovery Requests

Rule 191.4 discusses serving Discovery requests. You do not file the Discovery requests unless otherwise ordered. You will just need to serve the requests. I suggest that you serve CPS and its attorney through the court. You will send it certified mail through the court clerk.

C. Using the templates

Read the templates carefully so that you understand what you are requesting. Modify them as needed, whether you need to ask different questions, modify the state and rules, and make sure you insert the proper information for your case. You'll need to copy and paste the content from the text or pdfs. Obviously, you will need to replace the text in red with your information and then return the text color to black. You can add to or change the information within the requests to your case to request information that is more custom to your case. After you have modified the information, you can sign and serve the requests to CPS and to the attorney representing them. Again, it is best to serve through the court clerk, just don't file into the case unless your state's rules say to do this. Read the court petition and state court rules carefully.

These are PDF versions and WORD DOC versions of the three request forms:

PRODUCTION REQUEST:

Production Request PDF>

Production Request WORD DOC>

INTERROGATORIES:

Interrogatories PDF>

Interrogatories WORD DOC>

DISCLOSURE REQUEST:

Disclosure PDF>

Disclosure WORD DOC>

SECTION 2: GETTING INFORMATION IN YOUR CASE THROUGH INFORMATION REQUESTS

In Texas, when you want to get information via information request, CPS will proceed to tell you that you must fill out a form with a copy of your identification. The request form is narrow, not allowing you to specify what you want. I will attach a copy of this form. The process is likely similar if you are in another state. The problem with this is that it is taking away your ability to specify the information you want. The process also takes a ridiculous amount of time; up to nine months. Not only is this unreasonable, it violates the Public Information laws. So, I am going to elaborate on how you can step outside of this process to get much-needed information, direct the request to the liable official, and get your information in a timelier manner. Also, these forms go to a generic “records department.” This removes liability for producing adequate information.

Let’s look at the Texas Government Code regarding Public Information Requests.

Texas Government Code Chapter 552 deals with Public Information.

You can find the full Chapter here.

Sec. 552.023. SPECIAL RIGHT OF ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION Deals with what you will be requesting; information specific to your case.

Sec. 552.023.  SPECIAL RIGHT OF ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.  (a)  A person or a person's authorized representative has a special right of access, beyond the right of the general public, to information held by a governmental body that relates to the person and that is protected from public disclosure by laws intended to protect that person's privacy interests.

(b)  A governmental body may not deny access to information to the person, or the person's representative, to whom the information relates on the grounds that the information is considered confidential by privacy principles under this chapter but may assert as grounds for denial of access other provisions of this chapter or other law that are not intended to protect the person's privacy interests.

(c)  A release of information under Subsections (a) and (b) is not an offense under Section 552.352.

(d)  A person who receives information under this section may disclose the information to others only to the extent consistent with the authorized purposes for which consent to release the information was obtained.

(e)  Access to information under this section shall be provided in the manner prescribed by Sections 552.229 and 552.307.

Sec. 552.229.  CONSENT TO RELEASE INFORMATION UNDER SPECIAL RIGHT OF ACCESS.  (a)  Consent for the release of information excepted from disclosure to the general public but available to a specific person under Sections 552.023 and 552.307 must be in writing and signed by the specific person or the person's authorized representative.

(b)  An individual under 18 years of age may consent to the release of information under this section only with the additional written authorization of the individual's parent or guardian.

(c)  An individual who has been adjudicated incompetent to manage the individual's personal affairs or for whom an attorney ad litem has been appointed may consent to the release of information under this section only by the written authorization of the designated legal guardian or attorney ad litem.

Sec. 552.230.  RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR INSPECTION AND COPYING OF PUBLIC INFORMATION.  (a)  A governmental body may promulgate reasonable rules of procedure under which public information may be inspected and copied efficiently, safely, and without delay.

(b)  A rule promulgated under Subsection (a) may not be inconsistent with any provision of this chapter.

Sec. 552.201.  IDENTITY OF OFFICER FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION.  (a)  The chief administrative officer of a governmental body is the officer for public information, except as provided by Subsection (b).

(b)  Each elected county officer is the officer for public information and the custodian, as defined by Section 201.003, Local Government Code, of the information created or received by that county officer's office.

Sec. 552.202. DEPARTMENT HEADS. Each department head is an agent of the officer for public information for the purposes of complying with this chapter.

Now, do you see who is liable with complying with this chapter? It isn’t a generic “records department.”

You will prepare an information request and send it to the Chief Administrative Officer of the Agency (in Texas, the Commissioner is the Chief Administrative Officer) and then send a copy to the Department Head over CPS. In Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services is the parent agency. Department’s of this agency include CPS, Statewide Intake, Adult Protective Services, along with other departments. So, you will find the CPS Department Head and the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services. I recommend faxing, emailing, and mailing the request if possible. 

I’m providing a copy of a template you can use in Texas. If you are in another state, you’ll need to customize it for your public information request laws.

You’ll notice that it mentions to the Department Head and Commissioner that their standard records request form for case records is not in accordance with the law because it reveals that records may not be available for up to nine months which is extremely unreasonable. Also, that the form is narrow in scope, restricting people from requesting specific information. 552.229 only requires that a consent to release information be signed (which will be included with the request). I also recommend that you provide a copy of an ID to submit along with this.

The following PDF and WORD DOC attachments contain This Full Guide along with the Public Information Request template and Consent Form template.

Full Guide PDF>

Full Guide DOC>