Lee Davis: 6th Circuit Hears TN Case About 13-Year-Old Child Labeled Child Abuser By DCS

Thursday, February 21, 2013
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case out of Tennessee involving a 13-year-old labeled a child abuser DCS but this label is vehemently contested by his parents.

The case, Wright v. O'Day, concerning a young boy known as D.W., was brought by the child’s mother who sued the Governor of Tennessee and the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services claiming that they violated the boy’s due process rights by including him on the state’s child abuse registry without first offering him an administrative hearing to challenge the listing.

The issue arose after D.

W. was accused by another child, L.M., of touching his penis and sticking his finger in L.M.’s butt. D.W. denied the allegations during an interview with Children’s Services, but was later told that he would be indicated as a perpetrator of child abuse in the state’s official registry.
D.W. and his mother asked for a formal review of their case, but were never told what evidence had been collected against the boy. He was also denied an administrative hearing because the Children’s Services office claimed the designation would not affect his employment. D.W. pointed out that the designation would not disappear when he turned 18, but would instead follow him for life.

When the case was brought before a lower court, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that any claim based on the child abuser designation’s effect on D.W.’s employment did not present a justiciable case or controversy because D.W.’s claim of injury was speculative.

The district court agreed with the Commissioner and decided to dismiss the case, saying that the harm caused by the designation was in the future and was thus not justiciable.

The Sixth Circuit disagreed, holding that the designation as a child abuser is essentially permanent and that this amounts to a concrete injury. Given this injury, the child should not have to wait until he is denied an employment opportunity to bring the challenge. The Sixth Circuit made clear that because the classification as a child abuser leads to actual injury, D.W. has standing to challenge the classification.

To read the full opinion, click here.

---

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)


Local Batteries Plus Rebrands With "Bulbs"

Batteries Plus has announced the rebranding of its Chattanooga store at 1925 Gunbarrel Road as Batteries Plus Bulbs. The store’s new identity is part of a company-wide initiative which began in late 2012 that signals its leadership in the expanding $17 billion U.S. light bulb replacement industry.   Batteries Plus Bulbs has access to more than 15,000 light bulb products ... (click for more)

General Assembly Approves Legislation Aiding Morgan County

The state senate approved a house amendment and sent to the governor legislation sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) to assist Morgan County in attracting vendors to turn the former Brushy Mountain Penitentiary into a tourist attraction.   Senate Bill 1708 , which aims to recruit new jobs to the area, directs a portion of the state and local sales tax proceeds ... (click for more)

City Applies For $27 Million Federal Grant On $52 Million Wilcox Tunnel Project

The city is applying for a $27 million federal TIGER 6 grant for a $52 million complete reworking of the narrow Wilcox Tunnel through Missionary Ridge. The project would leave the current tunnel in place for westbound traffic with a single lane and build a new two-lane tunnel for eastbound traffic. There would be an emergency egress cross passage between the two. Final ... (click for more)

NAACP Recommends Staying Away From Planned Protest By Neo-Nazi Group

The president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the NAACP, urged local residents to stay away from a planned rally here by the Nationalist Socialist Movement in August. James R. Mapp said the group seeks to provoke incidents and said counter-protests could lead to problems. Mr. Mapp said, "On April 8th, 2014, reports surfaced throughout the Chattanooga-Hamilton County region that ... (click for more)

State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday: After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Some Really Funny Tweets

I am not on Twitter so I don’t tweet. Difficulties with my right hand don’t even allow me to text and when you blend in the fact I am now a bonafide senior citizen, it is ample reason for me to live a life where I am lacking in what otherwise might be achieved through social networking. Twitter has done real well without me. It is one of the 10 most visited websites in the world; ... (click for more)