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Emergency Screenings And Hearings
In Santa Clara County, when a child’s safety is in question, a judge may order Family Court Services (FCS) or, rarely, a private evaluator, to conduct an “emergency screening.” The goal is to determine the level of danger and take immediate steps to rectify the situation. This is not a mini-evaluation but literally an “emergency” screening.
The real issue arises for a parent who doesn’t agree with the screener’s recommendation. The judge will have calendared the cast to permit at most an hour of testimony. The FCS screener testifies first, and if a litigant disagrees with their recommendation, the party will want to cross examine the “expert.” Then the other party testifies. Maybe 15 minutes are left for the litigant to express his/her concerns. The whole hearing is set up in such a way that the screener’s recommendation will virtually always be adopted, and fighting it is very difficult.
It helps if one knows this in advance, and Arthur Lin has fought recommendations at such truncated hearings and won. To fight in a very rapid manner requires preparation and understanding the process as it exists here.