Parenting by Police Intervention
Jan. 28, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Ronald Jackson and Michelle Steppe have a daughter together, although they had never been married. That daughter lived with Michelle and for the first years of her life, during which it was believed that another man was her father.
In 2010, paternity was established by DNA testing, showing that Ronald Jackson was the father, and in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (known as a SAPCR, pronounced “sap-cer”) and subsequent court orders, Ronald was ordered to pay child support. He was also given visitation, under a standard visitation order, having the child on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month.
This was not a big happy family. Michelle, who was originally known as Michelle Irwin‑Jackson, legally changed her name to Steppe. Petitions and counter-claims were filed over and over. However, through all of this, Ronald still had visitation under the order, and under the order, while he has the child, has:
“the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child…”*
It also provides that Ronald has the right:
“to direct the moral and religious training of the child.”**
In September of 2013, Ronald found that his 12-year-old daughter was sending inappropriate texts on a cell phone. So he took the phone away from her, and within hours, Grand Prairie Police Officers showed up at his door, demanding the phone.
Did I mention that it was reported that Michelle used to be a dispatcher for GPPD? Or that her boyfriend (or husband? It’s unclear, as her Pinterest page has a “Police Wife” board), Nick Steppe, works as a police officer for GPPD? Or that Michelle is now a member of a city Advisory Board in Grand Prairie?
Ronald did not want to turn over his parental discipline to the police, most especially police who appeared to be doing this either as a favor for Michelle, or as a means of intimidation. So he refused to turn over the phone to either his daughter or the police.
In my view, and in the view of most of those who commented on the WFAA FaceBook page, Ronald had the duty to handle reasonable discipline of his daughter. So why were the police involved?
Well, simply put, because Michelle was upset.
And when the police showed up, they began demanding that Ronald give up his right to discipline his child when he had possession of the child, and police don’t like it when people tell them to pound sand.
So they issued a citation for Theft under $50, a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than $500. By God, we’ll teach him to defy us.
Only Ronald demanded a jury trial. So the city prosecutor dropped the charges and the GPPD filed the case with the Dallas County District Attorney as a Theft $50 but under $500, a class B misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Yeah, that’s so much more reasonable.
And they arrested him on a warrant, put him in jail, and forced him to post a $1,500 bond to get out. Then they went ahead and tried him.
Yeah, that’s reasonable too.
After the State presented its case, Judge Lisa Green directed the jury to find Ronald not guilty. It’s called a “directed verdict.” It doesn’t happen very often, although defense attorneys will almost always ask for it. Hell, it never happens.
What a directed verdict means is that the State’s case was so poor that it did not come close to showing that the defendant committed the offense. That it was so weak that no reasonable jury could possibly find the defendant guilty, so the judge tells them how they are going to vote on the issue. Not guilty.
Note that the defense doesn’t even have to put on a case. That’s how weak the State’s case was.
Ronald is now looking at a civil lawsuit.
The City of Grand Prairie should, but won’t, be looking at its own officers, prosecutors, and staff to find out why they went after a father exercising his duty to raise his own child.
Dallas County should be looking at why they wasted the taxpayers’ money in prosecuting this.
The citizens should be looking at the politicians, and ask not only why do you allow this, but why would you put the person who was the cause of this on a city advisory board?
In any event, Ronald was correct in telling the police to pound sand. It is not right for police to handle parenting, either directly or as a favor for an officer’s girlfriend.
*See Cause DF-10-04327, Order in Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship, 256th District Court, dated June 25, 2012.