Children's News & Views 2012

 

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July 2012

MICHIGAN  

Why attorney says state has no right to interfere in Michigan parents' decision to stop son's chemo

By Sue Thoms, The Grand Rapids Press   

07-10-12 -- A judge’s decision to dismiss a medical neglect charge against parents who 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.


PENNSYLVANIA  

State Child Sexual-Abuse Cases Spur Legislative Response

By Amaris Elliott-Engel and Ben Present, The Legal Intelligencer

07-03-12 -- 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 Agenda . . . 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."


May 2012

CALIFORNIA  

Calif. judge’s open court stirs child welfare debate

Flaws in system balanced against impact on victims

By Kelli Kennedy, | Associated Press | Boston Globe

05-29-12 -- 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.


UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

Court: Children conceived after father's death not entitled to benefits

By Marcia Coyle, The National Law Journal  

05-21-12 -- 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.


OHIO  

Juvenile court judge releases obese 9-year-old Cleveland Heights boy from protective supervision

By Pat Galbincea, The Plain Dealer

05-11-12 -- 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.


PENNSYLVANIA  

Phila. Jury Awards $78.5 Mil. for Brain Damage During Birth

By Amaris Elliott-Engel, The Legal Intelligencer

05-07-12 -- 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 court papers.


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April 2012

IDAHO  

Idaho doctor-lawyer fights fetal pain abortion law

Associated Press | Fox News  

04-17-12 -- 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."


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March 2012

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

Justices torn over whether children conceived in vitro are entitled to survivor benefits

Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal  

03-19-12 -- 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.


CALIFORNIA  

Justices OK Negligent Hiring Suit Against School District

Cheryl Miller, The Recorder  

03-08-12 -- 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 ruled Thursday. . . . 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.


WASHINGTON   

Court: Children's right to attorney not universal

By Shannon Dininny, Associated Press | The Seattle Times  

03-01-12 -- 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.


February 2012

ALABAMA  

Savannah Hardin, 9, Dies After Being Forced to Run for 3 Hours

By Brian Orloff, www.people.com   

02-24-12 -- 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.


NEW YORK  

Oswego County legislators concerned about Family Court rulings

By Debra J. Groom / The Post-Standard   

02-24-12 -- 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,” he said. . . . 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.


TEXAS  

Child at center of high court fight over custody gets closure

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer 

02-14-12 -- 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."



January 2012

FEDERAL COURTS

Court to weigh restitution for child porn victim

By Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press | Statesman  

01-30-12 -- 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.


FLORIDA  

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.

By Carol Marbin Miller & David Ovalle, The Miami Herald

01-30-12 -- 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.


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ALABAMA  

Judge no more: Warner banned from Alabama bench

Written by Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser

01-27-12 -- 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.


CALIFORNIA

Dad Gets Protection Order Against 4th-Grader, Calls Child’s Alleged Threats a Serious School Issue

By Martha Neil, ABA Journal

01-26-11 -- 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 Press-Enterprise.


"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country." --Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788


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10 Main Focus Areas

 

Judges lenient on sexual abusers of children

Connecticut
Hartford Superior Court Judge Lois B. Tanzer

Florida
Circuit Judge Ric Howard

Kansas
Shawnee County District Court Judge Matthew Dowd

Massachusetts
Brockton Superior Court Judge Suzanne V. Delvecchio &
Worcester Superior Court  Judge John McCann &

Bristol Superior Court Judge Richard Moses

New Bedford District Court
Judge Bernadette Sabra

Plymouth Superior Court
Judge Joseph M. Walker III

Michigan
Judge John M. Torrence

Missouri
39th Circuit Court in Lawrence County, MO, Judge Larry W. Meyer

Ohio
Common Pleas Judge
John A. Connor

Nebraska
Cheyenne County District Judge Kristine Cecava

New York
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department -- Before: Stephen G. Crane, J.P., Gabriel M. Krausman, Reinaldo E. Rivera & Mark C. Dillon, JJ.

North Carolina
 
Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis

Oklahoma
Pittsburg County District Judge Thomas Bartheld

South Carolina
Kershaw County Magistrate Rick Todd

Vermont
Judge Edward Cashman & Vermont's Judicial Conduct Board for Condoning Cashman's lenient sentence -- Thank God, Cashman is retiring from the bench in March 2007

Judge David Howard

Wisconsin
Rock County Judge Alan Bates &
Sheboygan County Judge Timothy Van Akkeren



WILL GET YOU,
a relative or a friend!

“IT”
is at the heart of the most serious societal problems in America.

“IT”
touches nearly all of our families.

“IT”
bankrupts and/or imprisons opponents.

“IT”
mercilessly propels our children to violence, suicide & anti-social behavior.

“IT”
snares a million of our children a year.

“IT”
is a multi-billion dollar industry ravaging our families, destroying our country, & threatening our society.

“IT” IS
the DIVORCE INDUSTRY &

“IT”
could get you, a relative, or a friend next!

ACT NOW!
Get Involved!

Support
Family Law Reform
before IT is too late!


A Matter of Justice
Coalition, Org.

P.O. Box 1209,
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"It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives."

-- John Adams (Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756) --
 Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (253)


 

 



 

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