Conference Materials

Annual Conference of the Parental Defense Alliance

April 23-24, 2015

Zermatt Resport and Spa

Thursday, April 23, 2015

8:00- 8:15  Registration and Breakfast
8:15-8:30 Welcome and Business

KEYNOTE: Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective by Ret. Judge Leonard Edwards

Judge Leonard Edwards is a retired Superior Court Judge now working as a consultant and teacher. In his work he provides technical assistance to the courts of California and courts across the country, particularly in areas involving children and families. Judge Edwards served for 26 years as a Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara County, California. He sat as a domestic relations judge and as a juvenile court judge. He also served for six years as Judge-in-Residence with the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, a division of the California Administrative Office of the Courts.

During his judicial career, Judge Edwards founded and was the first president of the Juvenile Court Judges of California, was founder of the Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Council, was founder of Kids In Common, and founder of the Child Advocates of Santa Clara County. Judge Edwards was the President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in 2002-2003. Judge Edwards has taught at the University of Santa Clara Law School, Stanford Law School, and the California Judicial College. He has provided judicial trainings in over 47 states and 11 foreign countries. Judge Edwards has written widely including a recent book entitled The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics. Judge Edwards has received many awards. He was the recipient of the 2004 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. Many of his articles and videos can be seen on his website:


Networking Break


Ethics for Parental Defenders by Adam C. Bevis of the Utah State Bar

Adam C. Bevis has worked at the Office of Professional Conduct since 2003. In that time he has investigated thousands of cases alleging attorney misconduct. In his capacity as Assistant Counsel he prosecutes cases before the Screening Panels, district courts and Utah Supreme Court. He graduated from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Adam also serves as a hearing officer for the Utah State Career Service Review Office.


Common Mistakes in Interviewing Children by Sergeant Travis Peterson

Travis Peterson was hired by Sandy City Police Department in 1994 and worked patrol, K-9, and Investigations assigned to the Crimes Against Persons unit working Child Abuse (Sexual and Physical), Homicide, Death Investigations, Robbery, and Domestic Assault. He was involved with the NICHD Child Forensic Interview Protocol research in 1997, and has assisted in training new investigators, CPS Workers, including family advocacy units in the U.S. Army, and Air Force in the United States, Germany, and South Korea. Travis was hired by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office in 2004 assigned to the special victim's unit. Travis has been interviewing child victims and witnesses for 18 years and was one of the Investigation Coordinators for the Utah Child Abduction Response Team. Travis retired from the District Attorney's Office in 2013 and currently conducts criminal defense investigations for attorneys in Utah.

12:15-1:15  LUNCH

What's New with Homeworks? by Kyla Openshaw of DCFS

Kyla Openshaw has a degree is Child Psychology from Weber State University. Kyla was a successful case worker for Child and Family Services in the State of Utah for nearly 6 years. Kyla was recently promoted to the In-Home Program Administrator position and her assignments include overseeing initiatives involved with Utah's IV-E waiver demonstration project, including the creation of the UFACET assessment. Since the creation of the UFACET Kyla has spoken nationally about the UFACET. Several states have mirrored the UFACET in their own assessment tools. Kyla is a single mother of 3 children and enjoys vacationing with them whenever possible.


Legislative Update by Senator Wayne Harper

Senator Harper has represented District 6 in the Utah Senate since 2013.  Previous to that he was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 1997 to 2012.  He works for Taylorsville City as the Director of Economic Development.


Networking Break


Jury Trial Debate Panel by Members of the Utah Legislature 

The issue of whether terminations hearings should be held in front of a jury has been a hotly debated issue in the Utah Legislature for the past couple of years.  We look forward to hearing from both those for and against the proposal.


 E-Filing Booth

In addition to our speakers, Libby Wadley, head of Online Training for the Juvenile Court will be available at a table to answer questions regarding e-filing and CARE.  She can also help those who do not have a CARE login to obtain one.

Friday, April 24, 2015

8:00-8:30 Breakfast

Mental Health Diagnosis and Parental Defense by Stan and Susan McCracken

Stanley McCracken, PhD, LCSW, RDDP
Stanley McCracken is a Lecturer at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. His research and practice interests include psychiatric rehabilitation, chemical dependence, staff training and consultation, evidence based practice, multicultural mental health, spirituality in social work, aging, and behavioral pharmacology. Mr. McCracken is a licensed clinical social worker with more than thirty years of clinical experience. He earned his AM and PhD from SSA and has been an instructor in the PDP program since 1984.



Susan McCracken, Ph.D., CBP, LCC                                                                                            Susan McCracken is a psychologist with a clinician-educator perspective. She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, eating disorders, stress-related illnesses, and challenging family systems. During her 40 years of clinical experience, she has worked in inpatient medical settings, outpatient mental health settings, biofeedback labs, and employee assistance programs in business and industrial medical settings. She has provided supervision, training and consultation to schools and to practitioners in the juvenile justice system. She has a passion for healing practices through ceremony and ritual and she recently became a life cycle celebrant. She currently teaches as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Chicago, SSA and maintains a private practice.



The Adverse Childhood Events  Study (ACEs):  Implications of Long-Term Effects by Dr. Randell Alexaner

Randy Alexander, MD, PhD is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Florida, Chief of the Division of Child Protection and Forensic Pediatrics. He is on the International Advisory Board for the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, has served as Vice-chair of the US Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, been on the Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the boards of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and Prevent Child Abuse America (formerly the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse). Randy has served on state child death review committees in Iowa, Georgia and Florida, was chair of the Committee on Child Abuse for the Georgia and Iowa chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a Past-President of the Georgia chapter of APSAC, and Executive Director of GA CARES. He has extensive interests in all forms of child abuse, particularly shaken baby syndrome, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, prevention, and child death review. He is an active researcher, lectures widely, and frequently testifies on major child abuse cases throughout the country.

10:30-10:45  Networking Break 

Professionalism and Civility Challenge by Grant Dickinson

Grant Dickinson has been a member of the Parental Defense Alliance since 2010. Grant's practice focuses mainly in Utah County and like many of our members focuses on Parental Defense, Criminal Defense, and Family Law related cases. Grant achieved the Parental Defense Alliance 2012 Appellate Attorney of the Year for a case in which he finally obtained a reversal of the trial court's termination of his client's parental rights in L.G. v. State. The main issue in this case is rights of incarcerated parents. While studying at Willamette University, Grant served each year on the executive board of Willamette University's Public Interest Law Project. Prior to Law School, Grant was employed at the Fourth District Court as Deputy Clerk in Commissioner Patton's Court and also as a Deputy Probation Officer.

11:45-1:00 LUNCH and Awards 

Understanding Parent Rights under the ADA and IDEA by LauraLee Gillespie of the Disability Law Center

LauraLee Gillespie, an attorney at the Disability Law Center since 2012, focuses her practice in special education and Vocational Rehabilitation disputes. As a former public educator she brings a unique understanding to her work. Ms. Gillespie received a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education in 1996. She taught first grade in Provo School District for seven years. In 2011 Ms. Gillespie graduate from the S.J. Quinney College of Law. She has worked for the Disability Law Center since 2009.

2:00-2:15 Networking Break

Case Law Update by Danielle Allison

Danielle Allison is a Presidential Scholar who graduated with honors with an Associate of Science and an Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assisting from what is now Utah Valley University in 1995. She began her career as a paralegal in child welfare immediately thereafter with the Salt Lake City law firm of Laherty & Associates.  Following some time at Snell & Wilmer she started Expert Paralegal Services in the Fall of 2002 with the goal of assisting parental and public defenders through freelancing.

Expert Paralegal Services grew rapidly, providing both trial and appellate researching and drafting throughout the entire State of Utah in child welfare and criminal law, but ultimately becoming a general practice firm in all different areas of law. In 2005, the paralegal firm expanded by creating a network of freelance paralegals with differing areas of expertise. In 2013, Ms. Allison assisted on five appeals that obtained reversal before the Utah Court of Appeals and Utah Supreme Court, which were also in five different areas of law. This accounts for approximately 10% of all reversals in the entire State of Utah for that year. She has additionally had the privilege recently of drafting three appellate briefs before the United States Supreme Court in civil, child welfare and ICWA matters.

Ms. Allison's expertise in appellate law earned her recognition from the Parental Defense Alliance in 2010, being presented with their Appellate Advocacy Award--the only paralegal to have ever received this award. Ms. Allison currently serves on the Utah Valley University Legal Studies Advisory Board and is a frequent presenter at the Parental Defense Conference on the case law update.

Ms. Allison will be reviewing notable decisions from our appellate courts over the last year that have an impact in child welfare, discussing appeal issues currently pending before the appellate courts, and analyzing potential issues to raise in future cases.