The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that child protection officials may not order drug tests as part of a child abuse investigation on Tuesday, June 16th. The Justices sided with prosecutor David J. Russo who had recently come under fire from CPS agents.
Greene county received a confidential tip that David Russo was seen publicly intoxicated while caring for five children and that he had been charged with spousal abuse. The Greene County child protective service recused themselves and brought in Fayette county officials to complete an investigation.
The unanimous decision says that the law “does not expressly or implicitly authorize collecting samples of bodily fluids, without consent, for testing”.
David Russo said in a phone interview “I think this a great victory for the people against government intrusion. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has sided with the people.”
Fayette county lost a decision in a lower court that would have required Russo to submit to a drug screen and allow investigators to inspect the condition of his home. All five of his children were interviewed at school and the state was unable to substantiate any claims from the confidential tip.
David J. Russo was elected as a Republican to the office of District Attorney for Greene county last November. During his campaign he was also successfully representing himself in this legal dispute which he said “had become routine practice in Greene County”. Greene suggested it was very prevalent for child protective services to drug test both parents in every investigation before the superior court ruled in his favor.
The first complaint about Russo came in October 2018. An unidentified source claimed he appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol about two weeks earlier, while he was defending a client before Greene County Children and Youth Services. The second and third reports were in November 2018, alleging he had been “completely out of it” in public and that there was “domestic violence in the home,”.
Russo argued that the order to produce an observed urine drug screen violated his 4th amendment rights and requiring it “will inevitably lead to the forcible extraction of bodily fluids, the incarceration of parents for refusing to comply, or the exile of parents from their children.”