Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's over?

Long saga of Juvenile Court ends with a deal

After 20 years of bitterness and broken deals, the Cuyahoga County commissioners and Juvenile Court judges plan to sign a pact Thursday to build a new detention center and courthouse. your bets...

Permanency is most important?

Teen Sues Mother for ID of Father

The teen, known as "Minor J." in court records, wants to check for any family illnesses. And the U.S. Constitution, Baskin argues, guarantees him the right to know that information, as does the U.S. Supreme Court. He cited a 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Gomez v. Torres, 409 U.S. 5353, in which the court held that an illegitimate child has a legal right to sue his father for support because he's entitled to equal protection under the law.


According to attorneys for both sides, Minor J. learned in 2004 from two DNA tests that his mother's ex-husband -- the man he thought was his father -- was not his biological parent. The parents had divorced in 1995. In 2004, the ex-husband went to court to end child support payments after DNA tests revealed he wasn't the father.


Putman's legal argument rests on the legitimacy of Minor J. She claims he is a legitimate child who has no standing to sue. She cited a 1988 Michigan Court of Appeals case, Puffpaff v. Hull, 169 Mich App. 688, in which the court held that a legitimate child does not have standing to pursue a paternity action. She also cited Michigan's Paternity Act, which holds that only illegitimate children can sue to have child support established.

It will be interesting to see how the court handles this. The individual rights argument is compelling, albeit a bit confusing with the approach from a child support angle. The child is not really pursuing a paternity action, but a...what? It's not a public records request. It's a personal right to private information. But who has the right...who does the private information belong to?

As the child of an adopted parent, I am particularly interested in the claims of a right to health information. I have suffered some strange medical conditions lately that make me wonder if my birth grandfather and his family would hold any answers.

Rehabilitation or retribution?

The debate rages on and on, ad nauseum. But it is no more sharply brought into focus than in Kenton, Ohio where two juvenile delinquents were sentenced to a stay in commence after football season.

Their offense?

The teens placed a decoy deer on a dark road in November. When a car crashed while trying to avoid it, two people were severely injured. Driver Robert Roby is now physically disabled; his teenage passenger, Dustin Zachariah, is brain damaged. Three other teens still have court cases pending.

The judge's reasoning makes sense on paper...

"I would love to make (the victims) whole, but you can’t go back and unring a bell," McKinley said. Then, he told a crying Howard: "I’m going let you play football. I’m going to let you have your shot at a scholarship. What you make of it is up to you."

To the attorneys and the courtroom in general, he added: "Denying him an opportunity to play football and denying him an opportunity to go to college isn’t in any way going to help the victims in this case or help society."

Obviously the judge is focused on rehabilitation. But I'm not so sure how I would feel if I were a victim. HOW to accomplish rehabilitative goals is far from an exact science. Granted, the future for these boys should be a consideration. But what rehabilitative qualities will detention have if it does not result in the loss of their freedoms to enjoy those things in life that they now freely enjoy? I'm not convinced that a temporary lock-up, at a person's convenience, holds any teaching value if it is treated merely as a scheduling inconvenience to be worked in when there is a lull in activity.

I do also have to admit to having an anti-football prejudice that makes me question this judge's decision. Would the same accommodation have been made for someone in the drama club? academic decathlon? band? No, never mind, I already know the answer.

Columbus Dispatch article

And I thought Ohio had problems

In Michigan, more than 300 juveniles have been sentenced to life without parole -- one of the highest such numbers in the nation.

editorial here

Monday, August 07, 2006

A favor

If anybody has a subscription to The British Journal of Psychiatry, I would love to see a copy of this paper...Stillbirth - psychological impact on fathers (Jul 31, 2006). Thanks!


Exemplifying the spirit of NATIONAL WOMEN'S CONFIDENCE DAY, the 2005 CURVATION PROJECT CONFIDENCE Awards national recipient was Yvonne Pointer of Cleveland, Ohio. Yvonne turned a heartbreaking personal tragedy into a one-woman quest to make the world a safer place and empower women and girls. She established the Gloria Pointer Annual Scholarship Award, funded by the proceeds of her self-published book "Behind the Death of a Child," which was written about the tragic rape and murder of her own fourteen year old daughter, Gloria. She also founded the non-profit Positive Plus, dedicated to motivating women to become responsible and seize control of their destiny; has been a role model for the Cleveland Public School's "Girl Power" program; and has spent time building the confidence and self-respect of inmates in women's and juvenile prisons. Yvonne is planning on using the winning grant to go to Ghana, Africa, where she is working to build a school for underprivileged children.



I'm a lawyer and I don't understand what this money will be spent on.

...better access to integrated services designed to protect their health and well-being...

...infrastructure activities, such as cross-systems training, quality assurance measurement, activity consultations and coordination, data collection and management, and related costs.



Guilty plea by woman who took son from hospital

Carlsen believed kidney dialysis might be harmful and wanted more time to seek a second opinion.

But doctors convinced a court that the surgery was needed immediately.


Because Carlsen has abided by the wishes of the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which had custody of Riley when he was taken, and has complied with the orders of the Pierce County judge handling custody issues in the case, the charge was reduced from felony second-degree kidnapping to second-degree custodial interference, a gross misdemeanor, said King County senior deputy prosecutor Lisa Johnson.


I do not know why, but this story distresses me. Unlike the story of the teenager who wants control over his own medical decisions, this child is at the mercy of two warring factions...his parents and his medical doctors. AND given that there seems to be some uncertainty as to the medical necessity of the procedure at this point in time, I have to wonder...what's going on here that I don't know?

Special four-part series on combating truancy in school

The Pine Journal
Cloquet, Minnesota

Part One

Part Two

Part Three
Edwatch by Julia Steiny: Instead of throwing kids out let's work on solving problems

The start of a new movement? Or an existing movement gaining momentum? I guess it doesn't matter.

When can a child choose his own medical treatment [with the guidance of parents-but not religiously dictated]?

An Accomack circuit judge ordered a new trial for Aug. 16 to decide whether Cherrix can choose his treatment. The judge threw out a juvenile-court ruling that ordered Cherrix to show up for conventional treatment at Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk.

Black's Law Dictionary:
Neglected child. A child is "neglected" when his parent or custodian, by reason of cruelty, mental incapacity, immorality or depravity, is unfit properly to care for him, or neglects or refuses to provide necessary physical, affectional, medical, surgical, or institutional or hospital care for him, or he is in such condition of want or suffering, or is under such improper care or control as to endanger his morals or health.

Having faced a whole lot of it this year, I think I see a system/society that is very afraid of death. The very definition of neglect is inherently afraid of death. But how does it guard against it? Majority rule? Who gets to decide? And what is "necessary" medical or hospital care?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Does anyone know if truancy programs that bring the parents into court actually work? I mean, it makes sense that if a child is truant, and the police pick him/her up and return him/her to school, that will lessen truancy and related crime. But what effect does bringing parents in have? I don't think I've seen any studies to prove one way or the other.

(ME1 - A not-so-stupid study possibility?)
The Boston Globe
For juvenile offenders, a measure of justice that heals
Teens go not to court, but to a program with the victim to sort the problem out

"In Zucker's case, soon after the graffiti incident, the owner of one of the vandalized businesses gave Zucker a job. Zucker said the job, which he kept for five years, was among the most positive influences on his life.
``I have seen what a great effect the program has had, particularly on my own child," Robin Zucker said. ``He saw he was treated with worth and dignity and had to treat other people that way."
Chase said that under the program the offender, the offender's parents, the crime victim, a police officer, a volunteer assisting the offender, a volunteer assisting the victim, a case coordinator, and a meeting moderator all meet to discuss what happened, the harm done, and how the harm can be rectified.

The group sits in a circle. To ensure that each person has a chance to speak without interruption, a round gray stone engraved with the word ``courage" is passed around the circle. Only the person holding the stone can talk.

``The process of going around the circle and speaking about it so openly and honestly and emotionally creates an atmosphere of healing that makes everyone want to do what's right," Chase said."

How refreshing to find a community willing to work to save juveniles on the brink of disaster. To use an old takes a village...
Now this is an interesting story. I would be very interested to read the actual charges filed...maybe a transcript of the "incident" would shed light on what happened.

But regardless of the facts of this situation, it raises an interesting question. How far can a judge/magistrate go in maintaining their docket? How civil does a judge/magistrate have to be to the attorneys who appear in front of them? What about those attorneys who engage in legal shenanigans and deserve a good lecture or two?

"...berating one of the attorneys, yelling at her as she tossed a law book on the table before her."

That makes me giggle because it sounds like something I would do. Which is precisely why I could never be a judge/magistrate.
Congratulations to the Columbiana County Child Support Agency for increasing its collection of child support by more than two percent.

Now, if we could just do BETTER than 69.3 percent of regular support orders and 69.6 percent of arrearages, we'd have a decent system. (sorry...was that too snarky?)