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The Importance of a Time Line in Government Abuse Cases

Most people feel intimidated at the prospect of writing things down on paper. They are even less inclined when state agencies are coming after them.

Fortunately, you don't have to be a college graduate in English grammar to write a time line. The hardest part of putting a time line together is grabbing a pen and starting one. SO START ONE RIGHT NOW! What do you have to lose?

In our experience, time lines are extremely important. They can:

  • Assist you and others in remembering important names, dates, and other details.

  • Build your own confidence in the justness of your own cause.

  • Help you become more of a partner in your defense rather than a helpless observer and victim.

  • Improve your ability to succinctly and powerfully explain your case to people who may be able to assist you.

By time line, we simply mean listing each event in the order that it occurred. What happened first, then second, then third, and so forth? Each event should consist of:

  • A date and time (write down your best estimate if you are not certain and note that it is an estimate);

  • A description of what happened; and

  • Any witnesses, documentation, or recording that can verify all or part of what you have written.

Events include any actions and conversations you, or someone relevant to your case, have with any state agent. State agents include, but are not limited to:

  • Police officers;

  • Judges;

  • Court commissioners;

  • Attorneys;

  • Social workers;

  • Guardians ad litem; and

  • Attorneys (including your own attorney).

Events also include any actions and conversations that are possibly relevant that you, or someone relevant to your case, have with other persons. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Doctors;

  • Nurses;

  • Social workers (public and private);

  • Volunteers; and

  • An alleged or actual abuser, or any alleged or actual victim.

Descriptions include:

  • Their full name (ask for employee I.D. numbers if they refuse);

  • Official title(s);

  • Any promises these agents made;

  • Any actions they took;

  • Their demeanor;

  • Any threats they made; and

  • Offensive or demeaning language they used.

Within each item in your time line, list the names of people who could verify all or part of what you have written (hint: witnesses are generally a very positive thing to have on your side!).

Keep this time line up to date. As soon as you have another encounter, quickly update it, so that it is fresh in your mind.

Keep several copies of your time line and any supporting documentation or recordings in safe places. Safe places likely do NOT include your residence, as state employees have been known to break into residences or order police searches to terrorize and seize any items they can to cover their tracks. You do not have to let anyone know you have even compiled a time line if you do not want to.



Important Note on Recording Devices: Small tape recording devices are inexpensive, easily concealed, and can be a wonderful aid in capturing abusive behavior. In our opinion, citizens who are being attacked should keep a recording device on hand at all times and use it in any interaction with government officials. According to Utah statute, as long as you are a participant in the conversation, or someone else who is participating in the conversation has given you prior consent to record it, your recording is legal.

See additional information and Utah statutory restrictions. The Utah attorney general has also given state agencies the green light to record their phone and other conversations with you (and they probably arenít going to share it with you unless it harms you). Therefore, in our opinion, unless YOU record it, YOU LOSE!

Additional Information: If you are being attacked by the Utah Department of Child and Family "Services" (DCFS) or some other agency targeting your children, please also refer to our Family Survival Information brochure.  For more information on dealing with government, see the Training section of our Citizen Library.

Disclaimer: Accountability Utah is not comprised of attorneys and does not give legal advice. Our information, either verbal or written, is for educational purposes only.




Accountability Utah recipe: Take our information and opinion, research their information and opinion (if it is available), and then examine the law and draw your own conclusions.  If you have comments or suggestions, please email us at info@accountabilityutah.org.

Copying Permission: Permission to reprint our articles and material in whole or in part is hereby granted provided that Accountability Utah is cited.  Citizens are encouraged to share this information with others.


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