DCF Finding of Neglect Overturned at Fair Hearing

On July 9, 2019 KM, a 45 year old Manager at a large Defense Contractor was arrested at his home in Andover by the police and charged with Witness Intimidation and Malicious Destruction of Property (a cell phone). KM and his wife had had an argument over KM’s texting with another woman. The argument got heated and when KM’s wife went to call 911 KM took her phone and smashed it preventing her from calling the police. KM and his wife have two young children who were asleep at the time the argument started but were awakened by the smashing of the phone. Ultimately KM’s wife went to a second phone and called 911. The police responded to the house and arrested KM. In addition the police reported the incident to DCF (the Department of Children and Families). DCF did an investigation and determined that KM had neglected his two children.

KM interviewed several attorneys. KM had an initial free consult with Attorney Robert Lewin from Andover. The consult was almost two hours. KM then retained Attorney Lewin and Attorney Lewin went to work on both cases (the criminal case and the DCF case). On October 30, 2019 the criminal case was dismissed in Lawrence District Court.

The finding of “neglect” by DCF could have dramatic consequences for KM; he could be prevented from participating in school events for his two children and his security clearance at work could be affected. Attorney Lewin appealed the finding of neglect. A “Fair Hearing” was scheduled for December 19, 2019.  Attorney Lewin prepared KM and his wife to testify at the hearing. Attorney Lewin prepared a thorough and detailed Memorandum for the Fair Hearing Officer detailing why the decision was wrong and needed to be overturned. On December 19, 2019 KM, his wife, and Attorney Lewin appeared at the DCF Office in Lawrence for the hearing. KM and his wife both testified. Attorney Lewin argued that “one loud argument between a husband and wife that woke the children up should not lead to one of the parents being branded a perpetrator of neglect”.

Sixty days later the Fair Hearing Officer wrote a seven page decision in which she concluded that the finding of neglect by DCF was wrong and not supported by the evidence and she reversed the decision. In her decision the Hearing Officer quoted directly from Attorney Lewin’s Memorandum: she wrote: “The Appellant’s (KM’s) defense was one loud argument between parents should not lead to be branded a perpetrator of neglect. The Appellant’s argument was persuasive.”

Because the Fair Hearing decision overturned the DCF decision there is a mandatory review by the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. Finally on May 27, 2020 the Commissioner let stand the decision of the Fair Hearing Officer.

This was an important win for KM. As a result there is NO finding that he neglected his children and he is free to continue to participate in all his children’s activities and his security clearance was not impacted.

Attorney Lewin has been representing clients at Fair hearings for decades and has an enviable record of winning.

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