How a Brooklyn NY Father Sued the City to Get his Kids Back From ACS-CPS

Sonny B. Southerland Sr., Sued the City, Pro Se

In Southerland v. City of New York, 07-4449-cv (L), a father (Sonny B. Southerland Sr.) of a large family had his children forcibly removed from his home and his care, after the ACS (New York’s Child Protective Services) worker filed a petition using case reference of children with other names, in May 1997. Knowing that with immunity, case worker Timothy Woo would probably not get caught for reusing a template of old petitions, he simply filed and remove the children from the home. The 27th district court concluded that Woo was entitled to qualified immunity with respect to all of the claims against him. The United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit decided on June 10, 2011 that indeed, the caseworker is not granted immunity, see published brief.

In a classic example of a typical custody case, the sixteen year old daughter claimed to have been sexually abused by her father, which she later retracted as a lie. It is not unusual for traumatised confused children to say stories to get what they want in a custody case. So much more so if they admit that a parent told them what to say, as was true in this case.

On March 14, 2007, Southerland made a pro se submission to the district court requesting that the court take judicial notice of a number of documents, including a declaration by Ciara Manning that had been sworn on April 20, 2002. In that declaration, Ciara stated that Southerland had never molested or abused her in any way and that the statements she made previously to Woo and to the Family Court to that effect were false.

Amongst the forty defendants in the various lawsuits, Mr. Sutherland sued Rudy Guliani (Southerland v. Giuliani, 4 F. App’x 25 33, 36 (2d Cir. 2001)), and now, the City of New York, for punitive damages for denial of his constitutional rights for unlawful and unconstitutional removal of the children into state custody of the children.

In an interview with Sonny, CALA has had an opportunity to meet this awe inspiring individual. With unshaken faith in God, Sonny says, “you have to believe”. Sonny also recounted how the city operates to keep cases like his off the records. From the numerous survivors that have reached out to him for inspiration and empowered, all tell similar stories of threats and intimidations, meant to ostracize and force the person to fold. A trend seems to exist with denial of medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and social security benefits. All these threats are strategically designed to terrify the litigant, and most often, it works. A person suing the city will suddenly find their careers destroyed, their reputation hurt, and their circle of friends diminished to nothing.

Few people have the stamina to survive on thin air and litigate until they see justice. But for those who do make it, the Coalition serves to reach out to those who need a pat on their back, a warm smiling, and words to validate their battle.

See Sonny on his show advocating for people’s rights, on “ACS Domestic Terrorism pt. 2”, a video episode exploring NY issues on how con­tract agen­cy and top lev­el ACS of­fi­cial took mon­ey from fos­ter chil­dren, and adop­tion scheme by for­mer fos­ter­mon who abused the adopt­ed chil­dren and some still miss­ing to this day.

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Coalition Against Legal Abuse in New York - coalitioncalany@gmail.com
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9 Responses to How a Brooklyn NY Father Sued the City to Get his Kids Back From ACS-CPS

  1. nicole foster says:

    Please help my family I’m dealing with a similar situation and my rights have been totally violated, I’m aware that i can fight in just not sure how, my finances are not enough to get an attorney to listen but i know that my family has been serviced a great injustice. Please find it in your heart to reach out to me help me, I’ve notified the news,obama administration and so many more agencies yet no one hears me

  2. ashley clemente says:

    can acs take away my childern because i was supossed to be in the shelter but ive left because the shelter wasnt a clean place to live,my sons have asthma but they wont give me a change of placement so im stayin with my sons in a friends house but acs havent leare the home yet?

  3. ashley clemente says:

    and ive just got my childern back from froster care

  4. Robert Dugas says:

    I need help my daughter was taken from my girlfriend at birth because of an open case with dcyf that had nothing to do with me. Giving the short version first couldn’t even see my daughter for the first week of her life. Then the had a dna test done although the mother and I said we didn’t need or want one. Then had me do parenting classes that I found out I never had to take. That took another 7 weeks. Withs only 1 hour visits a week. Then had to do a parenting eval. That took 6 more weeks during that time had two 1 hr visits a week. I have three other boys 2 are adults, and my 11 yr old who lives with me, always has. Also while doing this gave dcyf a letter from a school psychiatrist, his school teacher, his pediatrician(since birth) his regular psychiatrist, his councillor, my oldest sons mother, my second sons, mother, my doctor, my landlord for 11 yrs, my concillor. All very positive and very heart warming. Some actually brought tears to my eyes. Now over six months later OVER 6 MONTHS the parent evaluation came back with no concerns the only recommendation was couples concilling. No need for supervised visits anymore however had me meet with Spudwich an agency that will be supervising my visits that THEIR psychiatrist said there was no need for. The asked me for tox screens for a yr I gave them back to 2012 never had a test come back positive for drugs other than my psych meds. Going back to court 1-28-16 at that point my daughter will be seven months. Dcyf has been to my house and have no concerns about my son. Have seen I have everything I need for my daughter. My son still lives with me he has never been taken from me NEVER. EVEN WITH BEING COMPLYING WITH EVERYTHING PASSING EVERYTHING —- THEY STILL HAVE MY DAUGHTER. PLEASE HELP ME

  5. paula leasure says:

    Please help my kids are in foster care agency and worker have failed us as a family it’s more then a year and a half please help I miss my kids we have done all the services.

  6. EARS says:

    I think I have a case of gross negligence against family court, ACS, forensic psychologist, guardian lawyer and board of education. Do you know of any trusted lawyer that can give me a free consultation to see for themselves that my crights has been violated and my children and I have been a victim of gross negligence.

  7. Latasha Webster says:

    Today has been a week A.C.S has took my youngest son from school and still has not contacted me to let me know that they have him. My son was tooken and A.C.S nor my sons school reached out to let me know that he has been removed. A.C.S removed him on a Wednesday, I didn’t speak or see him till that following Saturday after numerous attempts of reaching out to him because A.C S would not give me no answers to why they removed my child and why haven’t they contacted me and why I haven’t seen or spoke to my child as of yet. It was way over 24hrs. A.C.S failed to show up in court that following Friday. Court was adjourned to March 6, 2017 and here it is February 10,2017. The lawyer who was appointed to me couldn’t help me and no one seemed to care. I spoke with a A.C.S supervisor from the 404 pine street office who disrespected me over the phone on a recorded phone call because I had started recording them and she was the 2nd A.C.S worker who lied to me. Francis Jones who is to be I believe an A.C.S manager also lied on a phone recording because I was arrested and giving an order of protection on Khalilah Griffith for threatening her for trying to set me up to take my second child because they had my first child due to his, physical, and verbal abuse to me and which I tried numerous times to get this child removed out my home no one seemed to help me and that’s how A.C.S was involved but still they had no reason for an unsafe condition to remove my second son from school which was days later after A.C.S came to my home on a case about My first child.
    I have been reaching out to numerous people to get help about this manner and no one is helping me. Its overwhelming with stress and I am depressed behind this. I’ve went down to 150 williams street and they gave me the name to an Judy Emwright who said that she would get back to me about matter but failed to contact me so I reached out to William Fletcher who eventually reached out to Judy Emwright to help me but I ended up catching her in a lie on a phone conversation recording and when I brought it to her attention she hung the phone up on me. I continued making phone phone calls trying to reach out to some one who would help me. I reached out to Leticia James office who at first was trying to say that nt story was bogus and I needed to give the solid information but that was my true story so how can I give you something I don’t have. The people at Leticia James office said that they will look into it and get back to me between 7-10 days. That was too long for me because I still had nothing on my children. So I continued to call people and some people were out there office and some people told me that Judy Emwright is the only one who can help me so I reached back out to Judy Emwright who told me that she would fund out some information and call me back mind you my children were placed together with some one who I would never approve of and come to find out he wasn’t a foster parent but was “Working” on becoming one. Judy Emwright called me back later on in the day to tell me to go down to 1274 Bedford ave the next day to get an hour visit with my children from 6pm-7pm.
    They must call this justice but I call it mental and emotional abuse. There is so much more to this story but I’m just trying to give a brief idea of my case. I want legal actions taken against everyone involved in this matter. They need to be held accountable for their actions.

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