What started off as police showing up at a California couple’s home in 2011, responding to a tip about illegal daycare, resulted in their two children being taken away for a year when authorities found the veteran father used medical marijuana to help him cope with pain associated with chemical exposure during his service.
Now, the family is suing, saying authorities lied in court and had no right to take their children.
The complaint filed by Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor stated their two children, 4 and 2 years old at the time, were seized without a warrant based on alleged “general neglect” when Coronado police came to their home on August 5, 2011, ultimately finding no illegal daycare service, according to Court House News.
The complaint states that Lewis was open with authorities, which at one point also involved San Diego Health and Human Services agents, about the use of the doctor-prescribed marijuana. He said his children were never exposed to the drug, which the Gulf War veteran was prescribed to deal with migraines, which are supposedly the result of chemicals he was exposed to.
“…even though they knew Michael Lewis’ use of medical marijuana was completely legal in that he had obtained a medical marijuana recommendation after an evaluation from a licensed medical doctor, and that Lewis only used the marijuana outside the presence of the children and only for amelioration of pain, these defendants seized and detained the children. They failed to conduct any independent investigation prior to seizing the children. Michael and Lauren were shocked, stunned, amazed and terrified,” the complaint states.
Neither Lewis nor Taylor were criminally prosecuted for the possession and/or use of the marijuana.
The children, Cameran and Bailey, though were taken and remained in the care of county facilities and the foster system for 364 days. The children were tested for cognitive development and other forms of neglect with no problems found, according to the statement.
“Despite the fact that Lewis’ use of marijuana was totally legal under California law, and despite the fact that all drug tests for Lauren Taylor were negative and there were no signs of abuse or neglect of the children, defendant Joseph continued to lie to the juvenile court by making false statements calculated to lead the juvenile court to believe that Ms. Taylor used marijuana and that such use posed a danger to the children,” the complaint states.
The complaint goes on to allege that prosecutors at the time also “lied to the court” saying that Lewis’ use of medical marijuana was not verified by a doctor, although Lewis apparently provided proof that it was.
“They left the juvenile court with the false impression that Lewis was a serious substance abuser, someone who forged records, a drug dealer, and a serious danger to the children when all those inferences were untrue,” the complaint said.
The complaint goes on to state that county agents kept information from the court to build a false case that ultimately lead to a year-long separation that was “significantly detrimental” to the children.
“Defendant San Diego County and defendant Joseph were informed that the children would often cry for more than an hour after they were only allowed brief and fleeting visitations with their parents and they would wake up crying for their parents at night and during naps – none of this exculpatory evidence was ever disclosed to the juvenile court.”
On August 7, 2012, the parents found out from the California Court of Appeals that it would be dismissing the charges against them and their children were returned, according to Taylor’s Facebook page.
Still, Lewis and Taylor are suing officers from San Diego County and the City of Coronado for civil rights violations, battery, false imprisonment and negligence.
Read more of the complaint in Court House News.
(H/T: Daily Mail)