by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
In a story out of Arizona that has received national attention, Judge Timothy J. Ryan ordered the children of a Chandler, Arizona couple returned home more than two months after police broke down their door at 1 a.m. to remove the children simply because the mother did not take one of them to an emergency room to check on a fever.
See our original report:
Police Break Down Door of Arizona Family at 1 AM to Medically Kidnap 3 Children Because Parents Refused to Take Child to Emergency Room with Fever
In a turn of events that might be due to the public outrage over this case, Judge Ryan reportedly went against the recommendation of the assistant attorney general representing the Arizona Department of Child Safety who wanted the children to remain in state custody.
An attorney for the mother argued the parents had followed the judge’s orders to regain physical custody, including meeting with a family reunification team and agreeing to counseling.
An assistant attorney general representing the Arizona Department of Child Safety objected to returning physical custody of the children, arguing the parents were still scheduling individual counseling and providing DCS with forms authorizing the release of the parents’ medical information to the state.
“I appreciate the department’s caution,” said Maricopa County Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Timothy Ryan. But, he added, the parents were following steps toward family reunification.
He ordered the children immediately returned to the parents’ physical custody. Court proceedings related to the child-welfare case and legal custody are slated to continue.
Judge lifts Ban on Reporters in Courtroom
The Arizona Republic is also reporting that the judge has reversed his decision on a courtroom ban that previously did not allow their own reporter into the courtroom:
This is the first time since immediately after an April 19 hearing that The Republic has reported on court proceedings in the child-welfare case without relying on second-hand information. Ryan kept open to the public the April 19 hearing but issued sweeping restrictions on the news media and public reporting on the proceedings.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Ryan clarified his earlier orders and allowed a Republic reporter he’d previously booted from a public hearing to remain in the open court proceeding.
Ryan’s loosening of unusual restrictions came after attorneys representing The Republic, filed a motion to intervene in the hearing to secure access to court transcripts and proceedings, an order vacating restrictions on news media’s First Amendment publication rights and an expedited hearing to address the alleged constitutional violations. (Source.)
Retaliation Against Those Who Do Not Vaccinate?
Arizona Representative Kelly Townsend was also banned from an earlier court hearing involving this family, after she suggested that the State of Arizona was retaliating against the parents because of their stance on mandatory vaccinations.
Townsend has publicly criticized police and DCS officials in the case.
She previously called on DCS to “immediately return the children who are also being traumatized” and said the case was “a complete miscarriage of justice and a shame to the state of Arizona.”
She worried the parents were unfairly targeted because they had not vaccinated their children. (Source.)
New Baby Born – Safe for Now
Since the original incident in March, the mother has now given birth to the couple’s fourth child.
The judge asked how the baby was doing:
Tuesday’s hearing was the first since the mother gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, a baby girl.
The parents had been concerned that if the custody case with the state lingered past the mother’s May due date, DCS would remove their newborn, too.
Ryan started Tuesday’s hearing asking about the infant.
“First off, how’s the baby?” Ryan said.
The father said their 10-pound baby girl was healthy and home. (Source.)
State Retains Custody in Spite of No Charges Filed Against Parents
While the children are all home for now by court order, the State of Arizona still retains custody of the children, and the legal battle continues for the children, even though there are no charges against the parents due to a lack of evidence.
Ryan set a pre-trial hearing for May 21 in preparation for a dependency trial to address legal custody of the three children, which the state still maintains.
Chandler police have recommended criminal child-abuse charges against the parents. The mother’s attorney said the charges and edited video released by police are payback for the parents’ public criticism of police, DCS caseworkers and the child-welfare system.
Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told The Republic Tuesday that officials have declined to prosecute the parents based on “no reasonable likelihood of conviction.” (Source.)