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Archive for the ‘Abduction’ Category

Sweet (Idaho)

Things are so bad with family justice that one has to underscore when the worst is avoided. In Jesus Ramirez’case and his three-year old daughter, Maria, one was heading towards a fiasco à la Bail Romero in Missouri: an immigrant parent being deprived for ever of his parental rights.

Close call. Without the Idaho Supreme Court overturning the ruling of the Idaho Department of Human and Health Services, Jesus Ramirez would never have seen his daughter. Ramirez is a Mexican undocumented worker, who married an American citizen in Idaho in 2007.  A year after, he is expelled and returned to Mexico, soon joined by his wife.  Maria is conceived in Mexico but born in Idaho, where Ramirez’ wife returns in 2008. As she is accused of child’s neglect, Maria is put in a foster home. Ramirez, who has tried to come back to the country to reunite with Maria, is accused of having abandoned her, not to have the financial needs to support her, and is given the thorny “best interest of the child stuff”: Maria will live in the beautiful country of ours.

In Ramirez’ case, the Idaho Supreme Court has asserted that undocumented parents also have parental rights. That may help parental rights in general.

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Encarnación Bail Romero

Presumably most of the readers of this blog have had a taste of family court justice ‘s solidarity towards their own, and they know it is rarely about justice.  Say, you file a downward petition of child support which is denied; then you appeal and your appeal is also denied, because the appellate judge won’t overturn a decision of a fellow colleague. You may not be able to pay your rent but you are an unknown entity for these folks, while they cross pass every day and want to be able to take the elevator together if they have to without being uncomfortable.

Sometimes that’s sadly all there is to it in a ruling, or perhaps I am just rambling trying to find out a rationale to the termination of Encarnación Bail Romero’s parental rights. Bail Romero, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, lost custody of her son Carlos after the INS raided the poultry plant where she was working.  While she was incarcerated, Bail Romero thought her son Carlos was taken care off by family members, who in fact had their hands full with their own children and asked for the help of the Moser family. The Mosers came to like the kid and file for adoption, knowing Bail Romero’s predicament.

Don’t bother asking why in Missouri one can adopt a child whose parents 1/are known and in jail 2/ have not stated their willingness to give up her children for adoption. Judge Dally – Jasper county, Missouri circuit court- doesn’t mind and delivers the kid to the Mosers. Encarnacíon Bail Romero then regained her parental rights once in Missouri Supreme Court and lost them again, along with Carlos, a week ago. Green county Judge David Jones ruled that Bail Romero abandoned Carlos while in jail, clearing the way for the Mosers to file for Carlos’ adoption a second time. Evidently, judges in Missouri have a peculiar conception of parental rights, and one wonders how the Mosers can even think of adopting a child that they have to tear off from his mother. That’s the sad outcome of à la Dally and Jones justice: illegal immigrants’ children are up for grab in Missouri.

A justice system that allows Encarnación Bail Romero to be deprived of her parental rights does not need rogue judges like Dally and Jones in business. All that is needed is for the INS, after a raid into a plant operating with undocumented immigrants, to inform prospective candidates for adoption about the list of available children.

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I have been holding my breath for more than a  week, since the President of the Mexican Supreme Court Arturo Zaldívar put on the Court agenda Florence Cassez’s unconditional and immediate liberation. I thought this time, Florence would be whiffing Spring time outside of jail for the first time in six years. The Court decision came yesterday, March 21 and it is disappointing, for Florence Cassez and for the Mexican justice system: although four judges acknowledged serious violations of Florence’ human rights had flawed due process, only two voted for her immediate liberation. A majority of three was needed.

I am no Mexican constitutional lawyer, but I have to confess that the positions of those judges who did not see yesterday the legal imperative to let Florence go are quite puzzling: Pardo Rebollado for instance, stated that it was not “the appropriate legal moment” for the Supreme Court to take on the task to liberate Florence (when will it be if not now, let alone yesterday?); For Ramón Cossío, violations to due process in Cassez’s case were not serious enough to warrant her liberation; he wants another trial.  As if the Mexican justice system had not shown enough it was prone to commit type I errors – put innocents in jail and for that matter, Florence- not to give it another chance to do so…

It is clear one would not be that tempted to second guess the Mexican Supreme Court decision had President Calderón refrained from telling it how he wanted it to rule. Before the Supreme Court rendered its decision, Felipe Calderón urged it to take into account the victims of kidnappings. In so doing, Calderón encroached on the prerogatives of the judiciary. This is actually quite consistent with his administration practices, which blur the borders between justice and police actions:  Genaro Garcia Luna, the Secretary of Public Safety since 2006, cooks proofs, produces victims and culprits and stages them for TV.

President Calderón posturing as the knight of victims of kidnapping has something tragically ironical to it.  According to Damien Cave in a March 17 New York Times article, reported abductions in Mexico are up 300% since 2005.  There is even a new trend going on: the kidnapping of entire families.   Keeping Florence Cassez in jail at any price is about all that Calderón has yet left to mislead the Mexican people on the calamitous outcome of his administration in the area of crime prevention, kidnappings included.

One day will come, soon I hope, when Mexicans will not buy anymore the Calderón-Wallace propaganda that sells Florence’s liberation as a favor to a foreigner,  but will realize that liberating an innocent – who happened to be a foreigner- is a favor to the Mexican justice system and to Mexicans. Meanwhile, hold on Florence.  Abrazos.

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Encarnacíon Bail Romero (photo New York Times)

It is amazing how slow justice is, and even slower at fixing its own mistake; mistakes, which in the case of family justice, are profuse and leave incurable wounds.

Missouri Supreme Court finally gave back Encarnacíon Bail Romero the parental rights that she had lost in Jasper county circuit court. More than two years ago, an admirable knight of family values, judge David C. Dally, deprived Bail Romero of her custody rights of Carlos, her son. Why? She was an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, in jail after the poultry plant where she was working (plant whose owners, I bet, are one of these folks who would tell you very seriously that taxes and Obama’s health care law kill private- sector hiring) was raided by the I.N.S.  After Dally’s ruling, the then two-year old Carlos was given for adoption to an American couple.

John De Leon, a lawyer of the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry, declared that the Supreme Court had recognized that immigrants have the same rights than anyone else. I would not go that far. Bail Romero has still to go through another trial to regain Carlos’ custody.

I have not found anything in the media about Jasper circuit court judge David C. Dally. I wish the Missouri Supreme Court had removed this fellow from his job and had been creative in his sentencing. I would gladly see Dally sentenced to  work in the very poultry factory Bail Romero was working, and his wage given to her as long as she is separated from her son Carlos.

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Family courts must render justice once in a while, I guess. When you are female, US citizen and well-off, you have better chances

Cirila Balthazar Cruz and daugher in Jackson Mississipi

to get it.  If you do not have all of these three characteristics, you are in trouble. Family courts are machines that step on parental rights and produce legal abductions. If you are an illegal migrant, that’s an aggravating circumstance.  As Cristina’s show on Univision documented it, the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) might separate you from your kids, then comfort you with the assurance that they will be placed in an affluent family. Or the INS might let family court deprive the illegal migrant  from her parental rights.  Jaspar County’s judge Dally gave Carlos Romero for adoption because his mother, Encarnación Bail Romero, was in jail facing deportation.

Cirila Balthazar Cruz is a Mexican immigrant who gave birth to a baby girl in Pascagoula (Mississipi) in 2008.  She does not speak English or Spanish but Chatino,  an indigenous language spoken in the Oaxaca region. Unfortunately, a social worker who had certainly missed his vocation as a customer representative in a private health insurance company, was working in the hospital. No english? Unfit to be a mother. It took the efforts of the Mississipi Immigrants Rights Assistance and the intervention of the Mexican government to reunite Balthazar Cruz with her daughter. Two years after the facts.

Family is supposedly a value in this country. Why is there such a density of incompetent people working in family courts, whose mess needs to be cleaned up?

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Patricia Joly’s article in the January 8 2010 issue of the French newspaper “Le Monde” is not primarily about parental alienation.

(Copyright Didier Erwoine)

It is about a woman in her fifties, Chantal Clos, and her eighteen-year old daughter Anouk, being suspected of having abducted, while pretending to be two Belgian journalists,  the lawyer Pascaline Saint Arroman Petroff. Saint Arroman Petroff was tied to a tree in the forest of the Parisian suburb. The kidnappers were hoping that the cold would kill their victim, who succeeded after a few hours to free herself. During her ordeal, the lawyer identified her two executioners as being the wife and daughter of one of her client, Yves Phélut.  In the 1990’s, Clos asked for divorce on the ground that Yves Phélut had incestuous relationship with his daughter. Three times she pressed charges against Phélut at no avail. Saint Arroman Petroff was Phélut’s lawyer.

The article stresses Clos neighbors’ relief after her arrest. Clos was certainly a disturbing element of the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Yet what is of interest to me in Joly’s article, is parental alienation. Clos is of Natalia Borukhova‘s type. She led her daughter Anouk to embrace her plan to destroy her father, harassed the French justice system, kidnapped one of its representative – the lawyer of her former husband. Clos also threatened a physician who did not want to sign a medical certificate testifying that  Anouk had been sexually abused. Among Clos’ achievements, her role in the creation of an obscure committee of mothers (comité des mères). Every time she pressed charge against her ex-husband, Clos benefited from legal aid.

Her husband, Yves Phélut, is part of the vast international club of fathers accused of child abuse, cleared of this accusation and who does not see their children (he has not seen Anouk in thirteen years). I do not see much hope on the front of fathers’ rights on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Father and sonDavid Goldman’s ordeal is finally over. It took negociations at the highest level for him to be reunited with Sean, his son. Upon arrival of Sean to the US,  Secretary Clinton congratulated all those who participated to this happy outcome.

The Goldman’s story is one of the restoration of parental rights thanks to Brazil respecting the international convention on abduction, which it is a signatory. Unfortunately this has been the omitted part of the story here. The media has been busy, again, waving flags, and  boring us with Sean’s first hamburger eaten in the US (they don’t have hamburger in Brazil?). Although I share David Goldman’s happiness, I think the dignity of the event was lending itself to a reflection on parental rights and abduction in a more general sense. For instance, parents deprived by the family court system of their parental rights just because of they have been accused without proof of domestic violence or child abuse; or illegal emigrant parents whose children are taken away from them, because a judge thinks that an adoptive, well-off  American family would be more suited for their offspring. Here, in the US, these folks have no international convention on abduction that protects their parental rights.

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