Back from the hospital, they all sat in the Study as they could close off the room and keep warm. Ken was extremely tired, but he stayed awake for the sake of Collin, who was sitting there with him not ever wanting to let go. Mary had decided to spend the night and, of course, Ryan stayed, too. Ken's lawyer, Bill Jackson, called and explained he talked to a construction company who would be there soon to board up the broken and bullet riddled windows. Bill also told Ken the insurance adjuster would be there the next day around noon. Bill said he'd better stop by, too, just in case there appeared to be any liability involved on Mr. Ken's part.
That night, they all slept a fretful sleep, except Ken, who, due to all the medications he was on, was 'dead' to the world until late, the next afternoon. Collin and Ryan shared a bedroom and talked most of the night, but then fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Chief slept with Mr. Ken that night for the first time since Collin came to Three Finger Cove. She took up a protective position and awoke at every sound she heard. Mary used one of the freed up bedrooms as there were only two agents now needed until everything was wrapped up in the next day or two. Outside, sheriff deputies patrolled the entrance and the lake side of the house and would stay until the governor was convinced everything was going to be all right.
Even though they were still extremely tired, the lads woke up shortly after 8 AM Saturday morning and again began looking through the pictures Ryan took the day before. Around noon, Bill Jackson drove up and met Mary and the boys just before the insurance adjuster was to arrive. They never bothered Mr. Thomas, as they all knew he needed his rest after what he went through the previous day. Collin and Ryan both checked on him twice to make sure he was okay and didn't need anything. Then the adjuster arrived and began his survey.
When Sunday came, Ken knew he could not run the house lain up as he was. He knew he would be out of commission for at least six weeks and he needed someone who could do the stuff needed to coordinate a household staff and oversee the upcoming repairs to the house and grounds. He called his lawyer for advice who said he'd get back with him. He called Mary Taylor to see if she knew anyone who might be interested and she too said she'd also ask around. Ken then called Judy Turner and he filled her in on what happened. He also asked about identifying another person as a guardian for Collin if he were to ever get laid up as he almost was. That one question alone soon opened up a bag of worms Ken was not going to like.
By Friday, Ken still didn't have anyone to supervise his house. His business dealings were all put on hold due to his being shot and the principals all understood and agreed to postpone any further negotiations until he was a bit better, in three or four weeks. That afternoon, he received a phone call from Children’s Protective Services saying he had a court date next week to discuss his continuing as Collin's Foster Parent. He went ballistic after hearing that and he burned up the phone lines to everyone and anyone who would listen to him.
That weekend was very bad for both Ken and Collin. It was worse for Collin, as he really liked Mr. Thomas being his foster parent as they got along extremely well. And for what Ken had just done for him, he thought there was no way he wanted to leave this man. The man had put his life on the line for him and that was how he viewed what happened during the shootout.
Ken had Bill Jackson come over to discuss what might happen in court and directed him to contact the lawyers for Wilkinson's estate and ask what they had planned to do for Collin. Jackson agreed to represent Mr. Thomas in court, but explained he was not versed in juvenile court proceedings but would have a colleague of his along to assist. He convinced Ken to hire this guy who was knowledgeable in juvenile law and to put him on a retainer for any future dealings. All any of them could do now was wait for Wednesday and show up in front of Judge Adam Richards, District County Juvenile Court Judge, and to see how it goes.
Wednesday morning came, and everyone was on pins and needles. They had no idea why they were being summoned but the hearing was scheduled for 10 AM that morning and they knew it was not good to keep the judge waiting. On top of the Court hearing, Ken had still not contracted for a tutor for Collin, to get the lad up to speed with other the sophomores at the high school and he had that uppermost on his mind. Arriving in plenty of time, they entered the courthouse building and immediately got a shock to their system. There, in the large waiting room just outside Judge Adam Richards Court Room, were all the big guns from Children’s Protective Services, waiting with a slew of lawyers. Ken went into action and quickly took out his cell phone and made an urgent call to a good friend.
At 10 o'clock the Bailiff called the case number for the hearing and everyone involved went in. Mr. Thomas and Bill Jackson, and a juvenile lawyer, Stewart Russell, the man Bill recommended, and Collin were present for their side. On the side for CPS were Judy Turner and her bosses and four or five lawyers representing them. This was only a hearing and not an actual trial, but you couldn't tell that by the numbers present on the CPS side.
When Judge Richards entered the courtroom, everyone stood. He asked if everyone concerned with the case was present and the lead lawyers both responded in the affirmative. The judge didn't waste time. He had the CPS lawyer present the reasons for the emergency hearing and told him to be quick. When the Children’s Protective Services lawyer began to rattle off the charges; endangerment of a child under his care, failure to have said child in school, imprisonment of said child as the boy wasn't allowed to leave the premises, placing the child in harm’s way due to the shootout, not keeping his field representative aware of things going on with the child, etc., etc., etc., Ken's mouth fell open. A total of twelve charges in all were claimed by CPS against the person known as Mr. Kenneth Richard Thomas.
Hearing all that, Mr. Thomas almost had a coronary and he was only a 23 year old man. Collin wasn't any better and he hugged the man close as he felt he was going to be taken away that day. That show of affection did not go unnoticed by the judge.
The judge then asked how Mr. Thomas responded to the charges and Mr. Russell, the lawyer versed in juvenile laws and proceedings, answered for him. He told Judge Richards, "CPS had never, in the two months or so, since Collin Wilkinson was taken into Mr. Thomas' home, ever sent him any notice of non-compliance, nor did they at any time voice their displeasure in the housing arrangements for the boy, nor did they ever send their supposed representative to do a thorough survey of the home and present any findings in the form of acceptance or corrections. As for Mr. Thomas not giving CPS reports on the child's status and changes, we categorically claim they are lying, as his client has recorded phone conversations with one Judy Turner, the supposed CSP rep, who was also a guest at his home on Thanksgiving Day."
Hearing that, the CPS bosses all got bent out of shape. They all began arguing the point in court and the judge ordered them to be quiet. He reminded them that this was a hearing not a trial and he would see and hear all evidence forthwith. The CPS lawyers went first and they presented pictures and videos they had gotten copies of from one of their friends at a local newspaper. Ken knew which newspaper it was, as soon as he saw what they had. Ryan's grouping of his offerings into packages that did not mimic any other told Ken it was the very liberal Austin Statesmen Herald newspaper that was helping them. He figured they were getting even for their not being allowed into the grounds to take their own pictures. The CPS Lawyers then showed the empty folder where the status reports were supposed to be filed and they said they would have to subpoena FBI Agent Phillip Campbell to testify for the endangerment and other charges.
When Ken's lawyers got up to speak, Stewart went directly to the CPS lawyer and picked up the empty folder. Looking directly at the big bosses, he asked incredulously why they took everything out. He asked, "Shouldn't there at least be copies of the completed foster care training Mr. Thomas just finished, and of course, copies of his license and the continuation of said license?"
Mr. Russell then asked what newspaper gave them the pictures and videos and why did they choose to use those, over the other five agencies who had their own packages of pictures and videos. He almost accused the bosses of conspiracy to malign Mr. Thomas, as they were thwarted from the beginning by the federal government over who would have control over the boy. Stewart continued to debate every one of their charges and showed how each and every one could be fully answered. When Stewart Russell finally sat down, he had a big smile on his face and even the judge had a smirk he had to hide.
"At this time, I will ask Collin Wilkinson to join me in my chambers so I can get to know the boy and see how he feels about all of this," announced Judge Adam Richards. "Court is in recess."
But before the judge could pound his gavel the CPS Lawyer stood up and objected to that, saying as this was a hearing and nothing was going to be determined that day and it was improper to interview the child. He then complained they never had the opportunity to interview the lad and that would be detrimental to their case. Ken's lawyer quickly stood up and reminded his esteemed colleague that Miss Turner had ample opportunity to talk to the boy on Thanksgiving Day, as she was there almost eight hours and had several other occasions to talk to him when she visited the home to issue Mr. Thomas his licenses.
The judge gaveled them both to be quiet and reminded them it was his court and seeing he was the District County Juvenile Court Judge of record, he would do what was necessary for the sake of the child. He then asked Bailiff James to escort the young man into his chambers and get a coke for the boy and he would be right there.
As soon as Collin was out of the room, the judge lit into the CPS Supervisors. He told them in no uncertain terms that he was ‘not pleased’ with their actions that day. He berated them for their petty bickering over the welfare of a child in distress, as that boy was when he came to Mr. Thomas the night of the storm. He reprimanded them over their making every effort to wrest control over the fragile child so they could claim 'ownership' over him like he was a piece of property. He told everyone to remain available until he concluded the hearing. Then, seeing it was close to lunch time, he told them to get something to eat and they should expect to be back in court at 1 PM. Then the judge slammed down his gavel and left the courtroom.
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