Child-seizing state official charged with false statement

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Brenna E. Cervino of Tennessee Department of Children's Services has been indicted for false statements. (Photo TBI)

Brenna E. Cervino of Tennessee department of children’s services has been indicted for false statements. (Photo TBI)

In the Hanson Melvin case and no doubt and many others the officer reaches the standard for his “disorderly conduct” charge by faking it in his police report.

The disorderly conduct statute is stretched to fit the facts of the accused’s encounter by fudging the facts in his sworn complaint (the police report).

By David Tulis

It’s one thing for criminal court to dismiss a case because the statute applied to the defendant doesn’t fit with the facts of the case. 

But it’s another thing for the court to try a “disorderly charge” conduct filed without the officer’s having thought about what he is doing and misrepresenting the facts.

I suspect that disorderly conduct is a chief harassing charge that officers file against innocent members of the public to keep them in line and subservient to the state. It is a throwaway charge that officers file just to “make a point” with a seemingly hostile, resistant or unkind citizen.

But  remember. “The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot thus be converted into a crime.” Miller v. US (5th Circuit) 230 F. 2d. 486 (1956)

People such as Mr. Melvin who file abuse complaints with police departments argue that the facts of their cases are nowhere near the statue and because of the distance of the facts to the statute, they are victims of perjury or false statement. Mr.  Melvin’s internal affairs complaint is pending. A criminal case against him was dismissed.

State actor charged

In this vein a Tennessee department of children’s services employee has been indicted in a criminal case arising from a child abuse case in which they said false reports were filed.

Brenna Elizabeth Cervino, 33, of Dandridge is accused of filing false reports during a child abuse investigation that led to a child being seized from his family, TBI agents said Thursday, according to TV 7 in Knoxville.

Mrs. Dandridge was indicted by a grand jury on charges of filing a false report, two counts of official repression, three counts of official misconduct and falsifying a government record, TBI agents said.

She was booked into the Jefferson County jail on a $10,000 bond.

TBI agents said she’s also facing charges in Servier County for filing a false report, the TV station said.

Why this official isn’t charged with “perjury” I cannot say, pending further reading into any difference between perjury and false statement. I think perjury is a more grievous charge then false statement. However the offense under either heading is the same. And that is a knowingly false statement on a matter of material import under oath or on a state document.

Sources

Kaylin Searles, “TN Dept. of Children’s Services employee indicted for filing false report in abuse case,” Fox17.com, (Knoxville TV station), Sept. 22, 2016

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