On Friday, an Arizona mother filed suit against the Arizona Department of Child Safety to defend her right to due process and clear her name.
While shopping for groceries in 2020, Sarra L. left her son and his friend to play at a nearby, safe park. But someone called the police, who charged Sarra with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Because the kids were never in any danger, the county prosecutors dropped the charges after Sarra agreed to attend a life-skills class. But the Arizona Department of Child Safety opened its own investigation and decided that Sarra should be placed on the state’s central registry of neglectful and abusive parents for 25 years. There was no jury, no due process, and virtually no protections for Sarra at all.
“Due process and the separation of powers should have protected Sarra from the Department of Child Safety’s abusive prosecution. DCS has a track record of ignoring due process that should protect innocent parties from severe punishment,” said Adi Dynar, an attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation. “Sarra is seeking to right the wrong done to her and prevent other parents from facing a similar fate in the future.”
“Overzealous bureaucrats shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute parents for letting their kids play in public parks. The court should, once again, rebuke DCS for meddling in the decisions of parents who have done nothing wrong,” said Timothy Sandefur, vice president for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.
Sarra has worked for years with refugee children. If the department’s actions are allowed to go unchecked, she will be branded a neglectful parent and unable to continue her work for the next quarter-century.
The case is Sarra L. v. Faust, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. Sarra is being represented jointly by Pacific Legal Foundation and the Goldwater Institute.
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