By Andrew von Weber-Hahnsberg
At the conclusion of a “show cause” hearing on Monday, October 8, Judge Michael Schneider issued a ruling that Harris County Child Protective Services (CPS) could have no further contact with the two children it had held in custody for three days. This was a nearly unprecedented victory for family rights in Texas.
But how did we get here?
Harris County CPS Violating Family Rights
Michael and Melissa Bright are a loving couple with a two young children. When they brought their son to Texas Children’s Hospital in July 2018, they had no idea that their family rights would soon be in danger.
But Texas Children’s Hospital has a track record of making bizarre referrals to CPS—most notably, the case of Aniya Blu Vasquez, the four-month-old daughter of Anita Vasquez. A doctor at Texas Children’s Hospital gave Aniya a vaccine that should not have been given to children under 10 years of age. The hospital placed the blame squarely on Anita’s shoulders and successfully persuaded a judge to revoke custody of her child.
The Harris County CPS is developing a reputation of these types of cases. In 2017, based on another call from the Texas Children’s Hospital, they removed a 16-month-old baby from her parents.
Their reasoning was that the parents had traveled to Houston from Taiwan seeking medical care for their daughter, which led the hospital to believe that they were involved in human trafficking.
CPS Snatches the Bright’s Son Without Cause
Last July, in an unfortunate accident, the Bright’s five-month-old son fell out of a collapsible chair and injured his head. As any responsible parents would, they took him to the hospital to have him examined for severe injuries. After the doctor examined the child and the family had left the hospital, Harris County CPS received a call from Texas Children’s Hospital.
What happened next?
Soon after, CPS paid a visit to the Bright’s home. Upon the advice of a family friend, Michael Bright recorded the entire encounter with CPS in case evidence was ever necessary. Finding nothing, the social worker eventually left.
Later in a text conversation, the worker stated that “[We] did consult with legal [department] and we do not have grounds for a removal.”
That’s not all…
Three weeks later, the worker went to court requesting an emergency removal. His request was granted, both children were removed and a “show cause” hearing was scheduled.
Judge Schneider’s Ruling a Victory for Family Rights
Monday, October 8, was much like any other day for Judge Schneider at first. That changed when the social worker testified in the Bright’s case.
The caseworker walked up to the witness stand, was sworn in and was asked why he took the two children from the Bright family.
He invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer.
Everyone in the room was surprised, especially two attorneys in the courtroom: Stephanie Proffitt and Dennis Slate. “For their main witness to get up and admit he potentially lied to have this child removed or had these children removed was shocking to me,” said Slate. According to Proffitt, “It was shocking; people laughed, people gasped.”
Judge Schneider had enough of this case. He issued a ruling that CPS would return the children to their parents and would have no further contact with the family.
The court has informed THSC that, in a sanctions hearing that is currently being scheduled, Judge Schneider will rule on whether CPS owes the Bright family damages for attorney fees.
Why does this matter?
Judge Mike Schneider is a family law judge who has presided over the district court in Harris County since 2006. Prior to his appointment, he was the Chief Civil Prosecutor in Harris County. He is a volunteer at Child Advocates, vice chair and secretary of the Harris County Juvenile Board and the founder of Harris County’s human trafficking court.
THSC commends Judge Mike Schneider for protecting families against the overreaching and sometimes abusive practices of CPS. We strive to advocate for families, and this would not be possible without judges like Judge Schneider, who are Keeping Texas Families Free.
We believe that families raising their children is a God-given right and calling and that children should only be traumatically removed from their home to protect them from imminent harm. If you do too, please fight with us for family freedoms with two simple steps:
- Stay informed by signing-up for email notifications.
- Share this post, especially with any attorneys or judges you know who are needing continuing legal education.
Andrew von Weber-Hahnsberg is 17 years old and a senior in high school. He has been homeschooled since sixth grade with a combination of parent-taught courses, local co-op classes and online courses. He has a great interest in the field of liberal arts, with his main focuses being history and literature. He is determined to attend graduate school to study law and become an attorney. He wholeheartedly supports the mission of THSC and is proud to count himself among its ranks.