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July 2012

FLORIDA  

Judicial Opinion: “(D)on’t Let a Pistol-Packing Mother Catch You Naked in Her Daughter’s Closet.”

JD Journal   

07-09-12 -- The United States Court of Appeals for The Eleventh Circuit delivered the opinion on Friday in a case brought by one Larry D. Butler (19), against Sheriff of Palm Beach County and Dorethea Collier (the mother of the daughter). Here’s the first paragraph of the judgment quoted verbatim: . . . “In one of his ballads, Jim Croce warned that there are four things that you just don’t do: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape/ You don’t spit into the wind/ You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger/ And you don’t mess around with Jim.” He could have added a fifth warning to that list: “And you don’t let a pistol-packing mother catch you naked in her daughter’s closet.”” . . . The judicial opinion notes that it all started with a phone call by nineteen-year old Uzuri to Butler who was of similar age. . . . The judgment reads: “Once Butler was at Uzuri’s house, he and she consented to watch television for a while. Then they consented to do what young couples alone in a house have been consenting to do since the memory of man (and woman) runneth not to the contrary. The record does not disclose how long these two young people had known each other in the dictionary sense, but that afternoon in Uzuri’s bedroom they also knew each other in the biblical sense. While doing so, and while clothed in the manner that is customary in such matters, which is to say not at all, they heard someone coming into the house.”


June 2012

ILLINOIS  

Judge: Convicted madam to get her 2 little girls back

By Kim Janssen, Chicago Sun-Times Staff Reporter   

06-15-12 -- Kimberly Miniea will get her two kids back, a judge ruled Friday. . . . A notorious west suburban madam will get her two little girls back, a Cook County judge ruled Friday. . . . Kimberly Miniea’s lawyer had argued that, although Miniea “might not have a family like a 1950s sitcom . . . it’s still a real family” and the girls — 3 and 9 years old — should be returned from foster care to Miniea, who unofficially “adopted” them at birth from a heroin-addicted prostitute. . . . On Friday, Juvenile Court Judge Richard Stevens agreed. . . . Stevens said he believes Miniea is no longer involved in prostitution.


May 2012

ILLINOIS  

Woman claims deputy balked at breast-feeding

By Leeann Shelton Chicago Sun-Times Staff Reporter  

05-31-12 -- A Skokie woman is suing Cook County, claiming a sheriff’s deputy tried to stop her from breast-feeding by demanding she move from a courthouse lobby to a public bathroom — a request she says was not only illegal, but “degrading.” . . . Natalie Petrovic, a first-time mom who lives in Skokie, filed the suit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County. . . . She was at the county Municipal Courthouse in Skokie on April 18, waiting to apply for food-assistance benefits and covering herself and her daughter with a blanket when a female deputy approached her, the suit claims. The deputy told her to either stop breast-feeding or move to the public bathroom. Illinois legislators passed the state’s Right to Breastfeed Act in 2004, which says mothers may breast-feed in any public or private location where they are otherwise allowed to be, even if they aren’t modestly covered.

TENNESSEE          

US Judge: Woman Who Sent Back Russian Boy Must Pay

By Sheila Burke Associated Press | ABC News   

05-18-12 -- An American woman who adopted a Russian boy and later sent him back to Moscow on a one-way flight has been ordered to pay $150,000 and cough up an additional $1,000 a month in child support. . . . On Thursday a Bedford County, Tenn., judge said Torry Hansen must begin making the child support payments in June and continue to pay until the boy, who is now 9 years old, turns 18. Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell said the $150,000 Hansen must pay includes damages for breach of contract, legal fees and support for the boy. . . . Hansen sent Artyom Saveliev back to Russia in April of 2010 with a letter saying the child was disturbed, violent and she didn't want him anymore. The incident created an international uproar and prompted Russia to temporarily put a moratorium on its adoption program with the U.S.


FLORIDA  

Teacher fired over pregnancy can sue religious school

By Terry Baynes, Thomson Reuters News & Insights  

05-16-12 -- A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived a Florida teacher's lawsuit against the Christian school that fired her after she confessed to conceiving a child before her marriage. . . . Overturning a lower court ruling in the school's favor, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found that Jarretta Hamilton was entitled to a trial on her claims of pregnancy discrimination by the Southland Christian School Inc in St. Cloud, Florida. . . . Hamilton, a fourth-grade teacher at the religious school, informed administrators in April 2009 that she was pregnant and needed to take maternity leave. During the conversation, she admitted that she had conceived the child three weeks before her February wedding. . . . One week later, the school fired her. Administrator John Ennis explained that "there are consequences for disobeying the word of God," according to the court opinion.


WASHINGTON   

Tri-City moms rally at Benton County Justice Center

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City Herald  

05-15-12 -- About 30 Tri-City moms, toddlers, babies and supporters gathered Monday at the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick to rally for a change in state law that would allow nursing moms to ask for long-term deferments from jury duty. . . . Their desire to see a family friendly jury duty law started when Richland mom Amanda Walley had trouble getting her jury service deferred. . . . Although Walley was able to get a three-month deferment approved by a Superior Court judge last week, she and others still showed up for a few hours Monday with picket signs to make their point and to encourage a change in state law.


This Mother's Day, More Moms Paying Child Support

Ken Altshuler, President, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers | Huffington Post   

05-12-12 -- In addition to receiving flowers and cards this Mother's Day, an increasing number of moms will also be setting aside time to send out child support and alimony checks. . . . According to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 56 percent of the nation's top divorce attorneys say that they have seen an increase in the number of mothers paying child support during the past three years, while 47 percent also note a rise in women being responsible for alimony throughout the same time period. . . . Of course, there are many reasons our members cite this increasing trend over the past several years. As women continue to achieve success in their careers, they will likely make more than their spouses in a number of instances.


TENNESSEE  

Mother jailed for baptizing her son without her ex-husband's consent... because it breached their divorce contract

By Daily Mail Reporter  

05-08-12 -- A woman was jailed for one day after letting her 12-year-old son get baptized without consulting the boy’s father, her ex-husband on the decision. . . .Stephanie and Stephen Miller's divorce contract states that decisions, including those on religious upbringing, about their children must be made together – and the boy's mother was dragged to court. . . . Both the boy's parents attended the baptism ceremony at a local church in Knoxville, Tennessee- but Steven Miller argued he should have been part of the original decision.


FEDERAL COURTS

Federal appeals judge stops Planned Parenthood injunction, allows women’s health law

By Associated Press | Washington Post    

05-01-12 -- A federal appeals judge stepped into the fight over the Texas Women’s Health Program on Tuesday, saying he wanted to hear arguments on whether the state should be prevented from enforcing a law that bans Planned Parenthood from participating in the program. . . . Less than 24 hours after a federal judge in Austin ordered Texas not to enforce a rule banning clinics associated with abortion providers from receiving state funds, Fifth Circuit Appeals Judge Jerry Smith granted Texas an emergency stay lifting the Austin court’s order. . . . Smith gave attorneys representing the eight Planned Parenthood organizations involved in the suit until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to present their arguments. . . . “We are disappointed in the stay granted last night,” said Sarah Wheat, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Austin Family Planning. “When presented with both sides, the District Court agreed the rule was likely unconstitutional, and that implementation would cause a serious problem with health care access for Texas women


Circuit Split Watch: A New Abortion Battleground

This article first appeared in the April 30, 2012, issue of the National Law Journal's Supreme Court Insider.

Posted by Michelle Olsen, Appellate Daily Blog

05-01-12 -- In a matter of days, a new battle over abortion could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether states can require doctors to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions, and to display and describe the fetal images to them. Federal courts have recently split on the question. . . . According to an April report from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice think tank, more than twenty states regulate pre-abortion ultrasounds. But provisions vary, ranging from written information provided to mandatory ultrasounds. Three states, North Carolina, Texas, and Oklahoma, have the most stringent requirements.


MISSOURI  

Woman gets 2 life terms for raping infant daughter

Associated Press | Fox News  

05-01-12 --A judge sentenced a Missouri woman to consecutive life prison terms for sexually assaulting her infant daughter along with a California man she met online. . . . Attorneys for 22-year-old Tessa Vanvlerah, of Ballwin, failed to persuade St. Louis County Circuit Judge Colleen Dolan to sentence their client Monday only to probation, because they argue that a psychological disorder is largely to blame for her crimes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/IE2USO ). . . . Vanvlerah pleaded guilty in January to incest, statutory sodomy and statutory rape in the attacks against her daughter, who is 3 but who was 5 months old when the pair first attacked her. The woman who fostered and then adopted the girl said initially, the girl would scream when anyone bathed her or changed her diaper. She still has night terrors and asks at each bedtime to make sure nobody else comes into the home. . . . However, she said the girl is improving day by day and "is no longer Tessa's plaything and she is no longer Tessa's child."


TRACKING YOUR CHILD HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER!!!

Amber Alert is A Victims-of-Law Associate


April 2012

ALABAMA  

Woman Sentenced to 10 Years for Taking Meth While Pregnant Attracts ‘National Army’ of Supporters

By Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

04-26-12 – A chemical endangerment law passed to protect children from meth labs has been used to prosecute about 60 women in Alabama who took drugs while they were pregnant. . . . Among them is Amanda Kimbrough, who received a 10-year sentence when she tested positive for methamphetamine after the birth of her son, the New York Times Magazine reports. The premature baby died 19 minutes after birth, and prosecutors said the death required a mandatory sentence under the law.


PENNSYLVANIA  

Pa. appeals court upholds awarding of embryos to wife

By Marie McCullough, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer  

04-14-12 -- For the first time, a Pennsylvania appeals court has confronted the complex question of who gets custody of embryos, ruling this week in favor of a Chester County woman who hopes to give birth using frozen embryos that her estranged husband wants destroyed. . . . The Superior Court decision upheld a lower court, but ran counter to the small body of national case law on embryo custody. In six other states where high courts have grappled with disputes over frozen embryos, they concluded that parenthood should not be forced on an unwilling person. . . . The Chester County couple, Andrea Lynn Reiss and Bret Howard Reber, underwent in vitro fertilization in early 2004 - three months after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 - because they feared cancer treatment would leave her infertile, according to court documents. . . . Thirteen embryos were created with her eggs and his sperm, then she underwent surgery, followed by eight cycles of chemotherapy, and 37 rounds of radiation. . . . Reber filed for divorce in December 2006 and later fathered a child with another woman.


 Total Injury

Total Injury is a Victims-of-Law Associate


March 2012

NEW MEXICO  

Breast-Feeding Woman Booted from Plane Wins Secret Delta Settlement, 2 Other Carriers to Pay $20K

By Martha Neil, ABA Journal

03-16-12 -- A New Mexico woman who said she was ordered off a Delta Connections flight in Vermont in 2006 after she refused an offended flight attendant's demand to cover herself with an airline blanket has settled her civil rights case over the incident. . . . According to Emily Gillette, who is now 32, she had her toddler daughter positioned with her head toward the aisle, so her breast wasn't publicly exposed, the Burlington Free Press reports. . . . The complaint Gillette filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington in 2009 also said she and her family were seated in the rear of the plane.


NORTH CAROLINA  

Appeals court rules against mistress in alienation of affection lawsuit

By: Michael Hewlett | Winston-Salem Journal  

03-06-12 -- The N.C. Court of Appeals has ruled against a Forsyth County woman challenging the constitutionality of a law that allows people to sue their spouse's lover. . . . Veronica Filipowski, ex-wife of former Winston-Salem Dash team co-owner Andrew "Flip" Filipowski, is suing Melissa Oliver for damages in Forsyth Superior Court under North Carolina's alienation of affection law. She alleges that Oliver's affair with her husband ruined their marriage. . . . Oliver filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court, which was denied. She appealed the decision to the N.C. Court of Appeals, arguing that the laws on alienation of affection and "criminal conversation" (a legal term for extramarital sex) violate rights to privacy and free speech.


TENNESSEE  

Mom Ordered to Pay Child Support for Adopted Boy She Sent Back to Russia

By Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

03-08-12 -- An American woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia has been ordered to pay child support to the adoption agency, which plans to hold the money in trust for the child. . . . Judge Lee Russell of Shelbyville, Tenn., entered a default judgment against Torry Hansen on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press and the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. The amount to be paid will be determined at a hearing in May.


FLORIDA  

Same-sex custody battle could change Florida law

By James L. Rosica, Associated Press  

03-04-12 -- A custody battle in Florida between two lesbians could fuel the growing national debate over the definition of motherhood. . . . It also might force state lawmakers to reconsider a 19-year-old law regarding the rights of sperm and egg donors. . . . The women, now in their 30s and known in court papers only by their initials, were both law enforcement officers in Florida. One partner donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other. That woman gave birth in 2004, nine years into their relationship.


LawGuru Answers

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February 2012

TENNESSEE  

Mom May Face Contempt in Russia Adoption Case

Associated Press | ABC News 

02-24-12 -- An American woman who sent her 7-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow has been ordered by a Tennessee judge to appear in court to face a possible motion for contempt. . . . Attorney Larry Crain represents the adoption agency and the boy, Artem Saveliev. Crain said mother Torry Hansen, formerly of Shelbyville, Tenn., has not appeared at three noticed depositions, the last one scheduled for Monday. . . . On Thursday, Bedford County Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell ordered Hansen to appear in court on March 7 when the judge will consider whether to hold Hansen in contempt of court. He also will consider a motion for a default judgment against her. . . . The adoption agency, World Association for Children and Parents, is suing Hansen for breach of contract and for child support for the boy. Artem now lives in Russia but Crain said he still is an American citizen and Hansen still is legally his mother under U.S. law, although the adoption was revoked in Russia.


MASSACHUSETTS   

Retired Mass. judge defends ruling ordering abortion, sterilization for schizophrenic woman

By Associated Press | Washington Post 

02-21-12 -- A retired Massachusetts judge is defending her decision to order a mentally ill woman to have an abortion and be sterilized against her wishes. . . . Christina Harms is also criticizing Boston University for withdrawing a job offer after her ruling sparked controversy and was overturned by the state Appeals Court.


ALABAMA  

Alabama Supreme Court Issues Landmark Wrongful Death Opinion for Pre-Viable Infant

Liberty Counsel 

02-17-12 -- Today the Alabama Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that a mother may pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of her pre-viable unborn child. In the case of Hamilton v. Scott, Amy Hamilton filed suit against several doctors and a medical group for the wrongful death of her unborn child, claiming that the lack of proper medical intervention resulted in the child’s death, which all the experts agreed was at the pre-viable stage of pregnancy and could not have survived if born at that stage of pregnancy. . . . Justice Tom Parker, joined by three other Justices, issued a special concurring opinion, in which he specifically addressed that Roe v. Wade does not prevent such a ruling and that viability is arbitrary and changes with medical technology. Parker wrote that Roe is out of step with every other area of law in which many state legislatures and courts have recognized the rights of the unborn child in wills and estates, tort or criminal law, and more. Parker also cites a prior ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court in Wolfe v. Isbell, 291 Ala. 327, 330-31, 280 So. 2d 758, 768 (1973), in which the court wrote “that from the moment of conception, the fetus or embryo is not a part of the mother, but rather has a separate existence within the body of the mother.”


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA  

DC Law Firm Accused of Un-Hiring Pregnant Woman

By Jennifer Smith, Wall Street Journal Law Blog 

02-16-12 -- On the heels of an announced push to strengthen workplace-discrimination protections for pregnant woman and caregivers, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission sued a Washington D.C. law firm Thursday for allegedly rescinding a job offer to a prospective associate after learning she was pregnant. . . . Law firms have been in the EEOC’s sights in recent years because of mandatory retirement policies that the agency says discriminated against older attorneys at firms such as Sidley Austin and Kelley Drye. . . . According to the EEOC, James E. Brown & Associates PLLC offered a job to Zorayda J. Moreira-Smith in January of 2011. Moreira-Smith then contacted the office’s business manager via email around Jan. 6 to ask about the firm’s maternity leave policy, among other things, and also said that she was six months pregnant. That same day the business manager emailed Moreira-Smith and rescinded the job offer, EEOC said. The firm allegedly continued to advertise for the job and within three months hired two associates who were not pregnant.


TEXAS  

Attorney: False Allegations Led to Amber Alert

Mother concocted molestation story, father's attorney says

By Scott Gordon, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth  

02-14-12 -- Jessica Smith, the 11-year-old Fort Worth girl who was the focus of an Amber Alert, admitted that her mother concocted a story about her father molesting her, which enraged her mother and led to the nationwide search, the father’s attorney said Monday. . . . The Smiths are in the middle of a nasty divorce and child custody fight. . . . NBC 5 has learned the girl made the admission to a school counselor on the same day police say her mother, Kimberly Smith, assaulted her and then disappeared with her that night. . . . The two were found Sunday, hungry and exhausted, in a remote area of northern New Mexico, police said.


NEW YORK  

Ann Pettway pleads guilty to baby kidnapping charges

By Crimesider Staff, CBS/AP    

02-10-12 -- Ann Pettway, the woman who kidnapped a newborn from a New York City hospital more than two decades ago and raised the girl as her own, pleaded guilty Friday to a kidnapping charge. . . . Pettway, 51, briefly recounted how she took a train from her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut  to Harlem Hospital. This is where she scooped up Carlina White, a 3-week-old baby who had been brought to the emergency room by her parents. . . . "I went to the hospital. I took a child," she said. "It was wrong." . . . As part of her plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to recommend between 10 and 12 1/2 years in prison, although the actual term will be set by a judge. . . . As Pettway admitted her guilt, Carlina's birth mother, Joy White, quietly cried in the courtroom gallery. Afterwards, she told reporters that she was outraged at the plea bargain and felt a decade in prison would be too light a punishment for the woman who had robbed her so cruelly.


CONNECTICUT  

Homeless Woman Charged with Theft for Enrolling Son in Norwalk, Conn., School to Enter Guilty Plea

By Sarah Randag, ABA Journal

02-09-12 -- A Bridgeport, Conn., woman charged in April with stealing more than $15,000 in funds from the Norwalk, Conn., school district for using her baby-sitter's address in that city to get her son into school there will enter a guilty plea to those charges—as well as to two charges of sale of narcotics. . . . Darnell Crosland, said that his client, Tonya McDowell, maintains her innocence on the Norwalk charge but agreed to take the plea bargain rather than keep fighting, the Connecticut Post reported. Assistant State's Attorney Michael DeJoseph told the Post that he is recommending a 5-year prison term for McDowell on the narcotics charges. Whatever sentence she receives on the larceny charges would be served concurrently, according to the plea bargain.


TEXAS

Woman says judge's ruling on pumping breast milk was unfair

Deborah Quinn Hensel, Reuters 

02-09-12 -- A woman whose firing from her job over a request to pump breast milk was supported by a Texas judge said on Thursday the decision was unfair and discriminatory, and her lawyer an appeal was under consideration. . . . Donnicia Venters, who worked at a debt collection agency called Houston Funding, gave birth to a daughter in December, 2008. When she told a vice president of the company on Feb 17, 2009 that she wanted to make arrangements for a private place to pump breast milk she was told her position had been filled. . . . She received a termination notice in the mail a week later back-dated to February 16 citing "job abandonment," said Tim Bowne, a lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who represented her. . . . Venters sued the company but Judge Lynn Hughes last week dismissed the case, saying the complaint was not covered by a provision of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination because of pregnancy.


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FEDERAL COURTS

Federal Judge Nixes EEOC Breast Milk Pumping Case, Finds No COA re ‘Lactation Discrimination’

By Martha Neil, ABA Journal

02-08-12 -- A federal judge in Texas says a mother was not protected by law from losing her job even if it's true she was fired for asking to pump breast milk at work for her baby. . . . "Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition," and hence there is no cause of action for "lactation discrimination" under federal civil rights law protecting pregnant women, said U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in a written opinion (PDF) last week in the Houston case, to which KTRK provides a link.


ILLINOIS  

Judge ends parental rights of mom who abandoned newborn

Boy found outside Wheaton apartment building to remain in custody of foster parents

By Clifford Ward, Special to the Chicago Tribune

02-07-12 -- A toddler would be better off with his foster family than with his mother, a Myanmar refugee who abandoned him outside a Wheaton apartment building, a DuPage County judge ruled Monday. . . . Judge Robert Anderson ended the parental rights of Nunu Sung, saying he would appoint a state guardian who would have the legal right to approve the child's adoption. . . . The judge said his ruling took into account the best interests of the boy, who was born in June 2009. . . ."Clearly, that is with the only family the child has ever known and not with his mother," Anderson said. . . . Terra Costa Howard, one of Sung's attorneys, said they plan an appeal.


TEXAS  

Judge says he was forced to dismiss challenge to Texas sonogram law

By Chuck Lindell, American-Statesman Staff 

02-06-12 -- U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dismissed a lawsuit challenging Texas' pre-abortion sonogram requirement, saying Monday that he had no choice despite his continued belief that the law violates the U.S. Constitution. . . . Sparks said his hands were tied by last month's federal appeals court ruling that found the sonogram law to be an appropriate exercise of the state's power to regulate the practice of medicine. . . . But in his order dismissing the lawsuit by abortion providers, Sparks took issue with the appeals court ruling, saying it "eviscerated" the free speech rights of doctors to support a law that improperly limits a physician's ability to exercise medical judgment.


UTAH  

Mother fighting Social Security Administration may set court precedent

Nineveh Dinha,  FOX 13 News  

02-06-12 -- A child conceived after his father's death. Should his mother have a legal right to Social Security benefits? One Utah woman says yes and is taking her case to the Utah Supreme Court. . . . Gayle Burns gave birth to a baby boy through in-vitro fertilization after her husband Michael died. She says Michael paid into the social security system, and their child has the right to his survivor benefits. . . . "He used it for training and he used it for Darth Vader,” says young Ian, playing with his light saber, pretending to be Luke Skywalker. Then continues in an accent, "this is captain ...prepare my ship for immediate takeoff." . . . The 8- year-old Star Wars fan never met his father, but he knows "the year was like 2001." That's the year his father, Michael died from cancer. . . . "I remember breaking down in our bedroom just it can't be, it can't be. He's 24; this can't be we just started our whole life together," says Gayle Burns. . . . Gayle and Michael began a life together in 1997. Three years later their lives changed when the pre-med student was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Because chemotherapy would make Michael sterile; he had his sperm frozen. The couple planned to have children and doctors told them his chances of survival were good. . . . "He and I discussed in the event that i die, which was highly unlikely, which we never actually considered but he said if I do die, I want you to have the baby," and she did have his baby. Two years after his death.


NEW YORK  

Queens judge steps down from wrenching custody battle amid accusations by boy's mother

TV commentator says son is suicidal and judge is to blame

By Thomas Zambito / New York Daily News 

02-03-12 -- A Queens judge has decided to back out of a wrenching custody battle involving a 10-year-old boy whose TV commentator mom accused the judge of putting suicidal thoughts in the boy's head. . . . Queens Supreme Court Justice Sidney Strauss announced Friday that he will hand off the case involving Fordham University Law professor Annemarie McAvoy to another judge. . . . Strauss didn't address the nasty allegations lobbed by McAvoy, which caused the case to be moved to a Brooklyn judge for an emergency hearing two weeks ago. . . . “I think Judge Strauss has acted in a very wise way throughout a very difficult process,” said Justice Jeremy Weinstein, the administrative judge for the civil division of Queens Supreme Court. “He wants the case to be done. This matter has dragged on for many months, and that does nobody any good.”

January 2012

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.


MASSACHUSETTS   

Appeals Court Overturns Judge Who Ordered Sterilization for Schizophrenic Pregnant Woman

By Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

01-18-12 -- The Massachusetts Appeals Court has overturned an order by a now-retired probate judge who authorized an abortion for a schizophrenic woman and decided sua sponte that she should be sterilized. . . . The appeals court reversed the sterilization order and called for a new evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether the woman, identified by the pseudonym Mary Moe, would have an abortion if she were competent. The Boston Herald and the Boston Globe covered the Jan. 17 opinion.


ILLINOIS  

Judge rules Wheaton mother who abandoned newborn unfit to raise him

By Dan Rozek, Chicago Suntimes Staff Reporter  

01-17-12 -- A DuPage County judge on Tuesday ruled a Wheaton woman is unfit to parent the newborn she abandoned after birth. . . . Judge Robert Anderson ruled Nunu Sung is unfit to parent the son she left under bushes after his birth on June 12, 2009. . . . But his ruling doesn’t permanently sever Sung’s parental rights to the boy.


Judge to rule on parental fitness of refugee who abandoned newborn

If court finds Nunu Sung unfit, she could lose parental rights to her son

By Clifford Ward Special to the Chicago Tribune   

01-17-12 -- A DuPage County judge is expected to rule today on a refugee's fight to reclaim the child she bore outside a Wheaton apartment building in 2009, then left in a nearby bushy area. . . .Judge Robert Anderson is scheduled to rule on Nunu Sung's fitness as a mother, a decision that could either reunite Sung with her son or spur additional court proceedings that could result in the termination of her parental rights. . . . Anderson, who has presided over a hearing that began in early December, spent three hours Friday listening to lawyers argue over the events surrounding the birth of the Myanmar refugee's child on June 12, 2009, and whether Sung's actions should disqualify her from raising the child. . . . After delivering her child alone outside the apartment building where she was temporarily living with a cousin, Sung placed the child nearby and returned to the apartment. A neighbor discovered the infant, who was suffering hypothermia, and police were able to link Sung to the child.


NEW YORK  

Mom ordered to slash ‘iTime’ with son

By William J. Gorta, NY Post

01-13-12 -- A Brooklyn judge yesterday ordered a mother embroiled in a bitter custody dispute to cut back on all the FaceTime with her 10-year-old son. . . . Fordham law Professor Annemarie McAvoy was ordered to take away the boy’s iPhone because she was using the Apple device to pry into the father’s home — spending long stretches talking with their son via the smartphone’s FaceTime video-chat feature. . . . “I believe the mother has entered the father’s home and has taken up residence to a certain extent,” Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine said.


“The Great Nurse-In” to take place at the National Mall this summer

By Janice D'Arcy, Washington Post Life Style 

01-11-12 -- Want to make a very public statement about public breast-feeding? Than mark a date on the calendar for this summer on the National Mall. . . . A D.C. mother of two is organizing what she hopes will rival some of the largest gatherings on the Mall and send a strong message about the need for all of us to embrace the natural and healthy act of nursing. . . . The event, with a working title that is subject to change (explained below), is scheduled for Aug. 4, 2012, smack in the middle of World Breastfeeding Week. . . . The organizer is Rachel Papantonakis, a mother who is currently nursing her infant son. She also has an older daughter whom she nursed for a year. Though she, herself, hasn’t experienced pressure not to nurse in public she said she’s been outraged by stories from friends who have and a recent spate of news events.


TEXAS  

Judges: Texas Can Enforce Sonogram Law Now

by Emily Ramshaw, Texas Tribune

01-10-12 -- A panel of federal appellate judges has authorized Texas officials to enforce a controversial abortion sonogram law while its constitutionality is being challenged in court. . . . In an opinion, the judges said the measure's opponents "failed to demonstrate constitutional flaws" in the measure, which they said was "fatal" to their effort to prevent it from taking effect.  . . . The abortion sonogram law, which lawmakers passed last legislative session, requires doctors to perform sonograms and describe what they see, including the size of the fetus and the length of its limbs. The measure has been in court almost since it passed, with opponents arguing it violates doctors' First Amendment rights by forcing them to disclose information that isn't medically necessary and that the woman may not want to hear. . . . The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Austin District Judge Sam Sparks' temporary order this morning, preventing the sonogram measure from taking effect. . . . According to the appellate judges' opinion, "the required disclosures of a sonogram, the fetal heartbeat, and their medical descriptions are the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information."


FLORIDA  

Both lesbian moms have parental rights, Florida court rules

One was the egg donor and the other carried the child to term. Then they split up. The appellate court's decision could have wider implications

By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel

01-03-12 -- They fell in love, moved in together in a house in central Florida and had a baby girl. Now they are fighting over who should raise the child. But unlike most couples, they are two women. One donated the egg. The other had it implanted into her womb and carried the child to term. . . . So which one is the mother? The woman who bore the child says it is she and she alone. . . . A circuit judge in Brevard County, writing that it broke his heart to say so, ruled that she's right. Under Florida law, a woman who gives birth is the mother. Late last month, however, a state appeals court in Daytona Beach overturned his decision, saying the other mother has parental rights too. . . . The 5th District Court of Appeal ruled that the U.S. and Florida constitutions trump Florida law and give parenting rights to both women. State law, it added, has not kept up with the times.


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