No. 34599 - In the Matter of B.B., K.B., T.B., P.B., J.B., B.B. and T.F.
Benjamin, Chief Justice, concurring:
I concur completely in the majority per curiam
opinion of the Court. The July
3, 2008 Dispositional Hearing Order of the circuit court and the termination of rights and
denial of post-dispositional visitation was proper. As I wrote earlier this year in my
concurrence to the Court's decision in State ex rel. WVDHHR v. Pancake
, 224 W.Va. 680
S.E.2d 54 (2009) (C.J.Benjamin, concurring): Our guiding principle in cases such as this
is the health and welfare of the child. These cases deservedly receive the highest priority of
the court system's attention _ a priority which applies to government in general. In re Carlita
, 185 W.Va. 613, 408 S.E.2d 365 (1991).
I write separately to express my continuing frustration with the failures of the
Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to comply in a timely manner with
its legal mandate to help families and children in West Virginia. My concerns are shared by
Justice Workman and, I believe, by others on this Court.
(See footnote 1)
The harsh emotional tone adopted
by Justice Workman in her concurrence, I believe, richly conveys the general frustration of
many with DHHR's inability to meet its legal mandate _ an inability which, I believe, will
necessarily require this Court to resolve the issue if nothing is done.
In view of the continuing inability of the DHHR to meet its legal mandate to
the children and families of West Virginia, I believe that this Court must soon consider the
creation of a commission to ensure that all legal mandates are adequately met by the DHHR.
See, for example, Justice Workman's concurrence herein. Because I believe that
Justice Workman's concurrence focuses too much on the employees and administrators of
DHHR, rather than on more institutionalized systemic problems such as inadequate
resources, I choose not to join her separate opinion. From my observation, the employees
and administrators of DHHR not only have the desire to serve the families and children of
West Virginia, but also do so to the best of their abilities. Theirs is a thankless task which
is easy to criticize and which too frequently goes unnoticed and unrecognized for the
good actually done. I likewise choose not to join in the raw emotionalism apparent in
Justice Workman's concurrence. [T]he effective judge . . . strives to persuade, and not
to pontificate. Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Speaking in a Judicial Voice,
L.Rev. 1185, 1186 (1992). A judge should speak in a moderate and restrained voice.
A separate opinion should never generate more heat than light. Id.
, at 1194. While
I choose not to join her separate opinion, it is apparent that Justice Workman not only
shares my frustrations, but that her patience is close to being exhausted, if it isn't already