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Why attorney says state has no right to interfere in Michigan
parents' decision to stop son's chemo
A judge’s decision to dismiss a medical neglect charge against
discontinued their son’s chemotherapy treatments was
“appropriate” and supported by the facts of the case, the couple’s
attorney argues in court documents.
. . . The lawyer for Erin and Kenneth Stieler asks the state
appeals court to reject an appeal filed by the Michigan Department
of Human Services in a case involving the Stielers’ 10-year-old son,
Jacob. Attorneys are set to argue the case Wednesday in Grand
Rapids. . . . A year after
discontinuing treatment, Jacob is doing well – “happy and healthy!”
according to the family's website,
hopeforjacob.org. . .
. In May, he had a fourth PET scan showing no sign of cancer,
says the Stielers’ attorney, Michael Farris, of the Home School
Legal Defense Association in Virginia. . . . "This family has never failed to give Jacob the medical
care he needed," Farris said in a phone interview. "They just
disagreed with the doctors about what he needed. The law is parents
do make tough choices -- not doctors.
State Child Sexual-Abuse Cases Spur Legislative Response
As the attention in Pennsylvania to the incidence of child abuse
reached a crescendo with dual verdicts in the Jerry Sandusky trial
and the Philadelphia priest sex-abuse trial last month, a number of
public-policy proposals are in the works or waiting in the wings in
Harrisburg. . . .On
. . . The bill that has
advanced the furthest in Harrisburg is a bill that would allow
expert testimony in sexual assault cases. Gov. Tom Corbett has
signed the bill into law. . . .
Pennsylvania is believed to be the last state in the country
that disallows expert testimony to explain victim behavior in sexual
assault cases, including the sexual assault of children.
. . . Greg Rowe, chief of
the Philadelphia District Attorney Office's legislation unit and the
legislative liaison for the Pennsylvania District Attorneys
Association, said that it is important to have experts testify to
explain that "there is no one way a victim of sexual assault does
and should behave. There are some behaviors that merit some expert
testimony to explain that."
Calif. judge’s open court stirs
child welfare debate
Flaws in system balanced against impact on victims
A California judge’s decision to open a county’s child welfare
hearings earlier this year has energized a debate among advocates in
other states about whether greater transparency helps or harms the
young victims appearing in family court.
. . . When a child is abused or neglected, there is a family
court hearing to discuss the victim’s future. In nearly 20 states,
including Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois, those hearings are
usually open to the public, and there is a push among child welfare
advocates to open them in other states.
. . . Campaigns to open
the courts in California, Kentucky, and the District of Columbia
have garnered attention recently.
. . . Proponents say transparency leads to better decisions
by putting a spotlight on judges, exposes the blunders of child
welfare workers, and gives the public a better understanding of how
the system works.
Court: Children conceived after father's death not entitled to
In a case at the intersection of law and modern reproductive
technology, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that state
inheritance laws will determine whether children conceived after
their fathers' death are eligible for Social Security survivors
benefits. . . . The
justices in a unanimous decision said twins conceived by Karen
Capato through in vitro fertilization after her husband's death from
cancer did not qualify for survivor benefits because of Florida's
intestacy law. . . . In Astrue v. Capato, the justices examined the interplay of
several sections of the Social Security Act. Although Robert and
Karen Capato's children met the definition of "child" under act, the
Court found they did not meet the act's requirements for family
status in order to qualify for survivor benefits. One of those
requirements was whether the children could inherit under the
intestacy law of their father's residence at death.
. . . Robert Capato died
in Florida and that state's intestacy law permits children born
posthumously to inherit only if conceived during the decedent's
lifetime. . . . The high
court ruling overturns a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the 3rd Circuit.
Juvenile court judge releases
obese 9-year-old Cleveland Heights boy from protective supervision
A 9-year-old Cleveland Heights boy classified as obese was released
from protective supervision Thursday and released to his mother, who
can get agency help for the next 90 days.
. . . Visiting Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge David
Stucki said the lengthy case, which dates back to March, 2010, has
hopefully reached a conclusion now that a decision has been made "in
which the best interest of the child has been protected."
. . . The case gained
international attention after the Cuyahoga County Children & Family
Services removed the boy from his mother's care because caseworkers
said she wasn't doing enough to control his weight, which was 218
pounds at the time. He was pulled from his home last October and
slimmed down to 166 pounds after living with an uncle in Columbus.
. . . The boy was returned
to his mother early in March under protective supervision.
Phila. Jury Awards $78.5 Mil. for
Brain Damage During Birth
A Philadelphia jury rendered a $78.5 million medical malpractice
verdict in the case of a child who has cerebral palsy because of a
loss of oxygen during a delay in her delivery.
. . . The verdict against
Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, Montgomery County, is the
second-largest medical malpractice verdict in Pennsylvania since
2000. A Philadelphia jury awarded $100 million in 2001 in the case
of Able v. Cavarocchi, according to The Legal 's sibling
publication, PaLAW . . . .
The jury in Nicholson-Upsey v. Touey deliberated an estimated
15 hours over three days, lead plaintiffs attorney Daniel S.
Weinstock of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig
said on Friday afternoon. . . .
Parrys Nicholson-Upsey's mother, Victoria Upsey, was told her
baby had died, but Upsey told the treating obstetrician she was
still feeling her baby kick inside of her, according to plaintiffs
SAVE AT AMERICAN
Idaho doctor-lawyer fights fetal
pain abortion law
The first challenge to the constitutionality of the so-called fetal
pain anti-abortion laws enacted in several states has come from an
unlikely place. So has the second.
. . . Rick Hearn, the lawyer in the center of this fight,
represents an Idaho woman challenging her state's abortion laws in
an effort to avoid future prosecution.
. . . The same Rick Hearn, who also is a physician, is
attempting to jump into the case as a plaintiff using his status as
a doctor, even though he has never terminated a pregnancy, in an
effort to make sure that if the case is successful, it applies
broadly enough to get his client off the hook for good.
. . . "I was forced to take this highly unusual step to try
to intervene," Hearn said. "I didn't want to."
TRACKING YOUR CHILD HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER!!!
Alert is A Victims-of-Law
Justices torn over whether
children conceived in vitro are entitled to survivor benefits
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struggled to fit new reproductive
technology into old Social Security definitions as it heard
arguments over whether a child conceived in vitro after the death of
the father is entitled to survivor benefits.
. . . The case, Astrue v. Capato, arose when the
Social Security Administration rejected Karen Capato's application
on behalf of her children for survivor benefits after the death of
her husband, Robert "Nick" Capato. Nick Capato, diagnosed with
cancer in 2000, preserved sperm so he and his wife could have
children even if chemotherapy left him sterile. After he died in
2002, his widow used the sperm and gave birth to twins 18 months
after his death. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3d Circuit sided
with Capato, finding that the twins were the "undisputed biological
children" of both parents.
Justices OK Negligent Hiring Suit Against School District
A Southern California school district and its administrators can be
sued for negligently hiring and supervising a counselor who molested
a teen student, the California Supreme Court
. . . The unanimous high
court said a "special relationship" between public school employees
and students imposes "the duty to use reasonable measures to protect
students from foreseeable injury at the hands of third parties
acting negligently or intentionally."
. . . "C.A.," a former Golden
Valley High School student in Santa Clarita, sued the William S.
Hart Union High School District, alleging that his guidance
counselor, Roselyn Hubbell, molested him on and off campus over a
nine-month period in 2007. C.A. said district administrators knew or
should have known Hubbell had a past history of abusing children.
C.A. also accused the district of failing to properly supervise
Hubbell during the time he attended Golden Valley.
Court: Children's right to attorney not universal
The Washington Supreme Court upheld a state law Thursday that
authorizes trial judges - but doesn't require them - to appoint
lawyers to foster children in cases where a court is considering
removal from families.
. . . The court ruled that
children have due process rights that must be protected, in some
cases by appointment of counsel. But the justices ruled 9-0 that the
right to an attorney isn't universal, saying trial judges have "the
discretion to decide whether to appoint counsel to children who are
subjects of dependency or termination proceedings."
. . . The case stemmed from a
King County trial court judge's decision to terminate Nyakat Luak's
parental rights following a 13-day trial in 2008.
Savannah Hardin, 9, Dies After Being Forced to Run for 3 Hours
A 9-year-old Alabama girl died on Monday after allegedly being
forced to run for three hours as a punishment for lying about eating
a candy bar.
. . .
The girl, Savannah Hardin, was
reportedly forced to run on the afternoon of Friday Feb. 17 by her
grandmother and stepmother. According to the
Birmingham News, her stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin,
called 911 at 6:45 p.m. and reported that Savannah was having a
seizure and was unresponsive.
. . .
She was taken to Children's Hospital
in Birmingham, Ala., where she died after being taken off life
support on Monday.
. . .
A state pathologist ruled the third
grader's death a homicide, and her body has been sent to Huntsville,
Ala., for an autopsy, reports the
Birmingham News. Preliminary reports indicated that
Savannah was extremely dehydrated and had very low sodium levels.
Oswego County legislators concerned about Family Court rulings
Oswego County lawmakers are asking an administrative judge to review
Family Court Judge Kimberly Seager’s record for returning foster
children to their parents.
. . . They’re concerned
Seager sometimes sends children back to parents or guardians who are
not fit to receive them.
. . . Two such decisions by
Seager recently were overturned by an appellate court, and a third
is being appealed.
. . . Oswego County
Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley said he will send a letter to
Chief Administrative Judge James Tormey in Syracuse Monday to
discuss concerns about Seager.
. . . Beardsley said
legislators received “concerns from a number of (county)
departments” about such decisions.
. . . “We want to make sure
we’re being proactive to be sure another disaster doesn’t happen,”
. . . Beardsley was referring
to the case of Erin Maxwell, an 11-year-old girl found to be living
in squalor, often with too little food to eat.
Child at center of high court fight over custody gets closure
He was known only as A.J.A.-- a little boy at the center of a
international custody fight that went all the way to the U.S.
Supreme Court. The near decade-long dispute has now come to an end,
not because of any judicial action, but simply because of time.
. . . Alex Abbott turned 16 recently and has officially "aged
out" of coverage under The Hague Convention dealing with child
abduction across borders. A U.S. federal judge this week signed an
order dismissing the case between the boy's parents.
. . . Mother and son now live in Texas. She says the
youngster seeks no further contact with his father.
. . . Jacquelyn Vaye Abbott said she was shocked when she
heard the news Monday, never quite sure her case would ever be
resolved. . . . "Alex is
safe and his own country, that's the most important thing," she told
CNN from her office in Austin. "We're whole, we're here, we're safe.
Everything else is inconsequential."
Court to weigh restitution for
child porn victim
A federal appeals court in New Orleans has agreed to rehear two
cases in which a victim of child pornography sought restitution from
men who viewed sexually explicit photographs of her on the Internet.
. . . The victim in both cases, who is identified only as a
woman named "Amy," was a young child when her uncle sexually abused
her and widely circulated images of the abuse, according to court
records. . . . Last March, a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals ruled Amy is entitled to receive restitution from
Doyle Randall Paroline, an east Texas man who pleaded guilty to
possessing child pornography. . .
. A month later, a different 5th Circuit panel overturned a
judge's ruling that New Orleans resident Michael Wright owed Amy
more than $500,000 in restitution for viewing photos of her. Wright
pleaded guilty to child pornography possession in June 2009.
Judge: Abused boy looks like
concentration camp victim
Abused, starved and naked, a 9-year-old boy was rescued by neighbors
when he was found on the streets. A Miami judge Monday demanded to
know how it happened.
Joseph Lee studied a color snapshot of his 9-year-old nephew Monday
as a Miami child-welfare judge glanced at Lee.
. . . The judge was
looking for signs that Lee was as disturbed by the photo as she was.
But Lee simply stared at the picture.
. . . “I’m looking for words,” Lee said. “I was not aware of
any of this.” . . . The
photo, which was not released publicly, depicted a little boy who
had become so emaciated that his bones protruded from his skin, and
his eyes bulged from their sockets, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy
Lederman said. She likened him to a concentration camp survivor.
. . . The boy was discovered by police wandering his North
Miami Beach neighborhood Saturday — beaten, naked and starving. His
parents, 34-year-old Marsee Strong and 40-year-old Edward Bailey,
remain at the Miami-Dade County Jail on charges of aggravated child
abuse and neglect. On Monday afternoon, they were still jailed and
had yet to post $65,000 bail. . .
. The boy and four of his siblings were placed in the custody
of Lee, a maternal uncle who was ordered by the judge not to allow
the boy’s parents any contact with him. Lee also agreed to adopt the
children if their parents are unable to regain custody. The boy also
has an 18-year-old sister who is pregnant.
Current Kids a Victims-of-Law
Judge no more: Warner banned from
Former Montgomery County family court Judge Patricia Warner and the
Judicial Inquiry Commission filed an agreement Friday that forbids
Warner from ever serving as a judge in Alabama again.
. . . Warner has lived in North Dakota since abruptly
retiring from the bench last June, days before an ethics complaint
containing 74 separate charges was filed against her.
. . . Under the terms of the agreement, the Alabama Court of
Judiciary found that Warner created "the appearance of impropriety"
in a child custody case, in violation of Canon 2 of the state Canons
of Judicial Ethics. . . .
The remaining 73 charges against Warner -- including accusations of
mishandled cases and entering orders without hearings or evidence to
support them -- were dismissed.
Dad Gets Protection Order Against
4th-Grader, Calls Child’s Alleged Threats a Serious School Issue
When the father of a California elementary school student wasn't
satisfied with the school administration's response to another
child's alleged threats, he took the matter outside.
. . . In what may be a first for the school district, a local
court in Riverside County has issued a restraining order to require
the unidentified fellow fourth-grader to stay at least 20 feet away
from Robert Casteel's son Christopher prior to a February court
hearing, reports the