August 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
MONTREAL – A mother of seven from north of Montreal is awaiting trial after being arrested in April for dreaming of killing her children, her lawyer alleges.
The 38-year-old mother, whose name can’t be published to protect the identity of her children, allegedly told Quebec’s child protective services that she had recurring nightmares of entering her daughters’ room and stabbing them to death with a knife.
Two weeks after she told her story to Quebec’s child welfare agency, police arrested her and charged her with assault with a weapon, possessing a weapon, and for failing to provide the necessities of life.
“I never wanted to hurt my children,” the mother told QMI Agency. “There was never even a knife, it was a dream.”
Valerie De Guise, the mother’s lawyer, told QMI Agency the criminal accusations will likely not stick because they are based on her client’s statements to the child agency.
The mother of seven was jailed for 90 days and hasn’t seen her children since her arrest.
The Crown declined to comment.
August 9, 2013 § Leave a comment
Father of foster child who died speaks to KVUE
MURDERED TWO YEAR OLD WAS BEING “PROTECTED” BY CPS FROM HER POT-SMOKING (“Midnight Toking”) DAD
… Another baby protected to death while in the governments’ care…
Note: When I look at these photos, and they are coming through everyday, beautiful little children who were loved, kidnapped and murdered by government departments who move onto the next family the next day, I can’t help but be reminded of my own little angel Lukey Pookey. These government predators need to be jailed..
A loving father lost custody of his little girl last November in Austin, Tx, after he admitted to.smoking marijuana at night after he put his child down for bedtime.
The precious little girl was not ill, or harmed by her fathers nightcap, nor was she exposed to the marijuana he smoked, yet this loving parent had his two year old baby girl taken by CPS and placed in foster care last fall.
At visits, the father noticed bruises on his daughter, and voiced his concerns for the welfare of his little girl at the foster home she’d been placed in. Those concerns went ignored by CPS.
Now this beautiful baby girl was MURDERED in foster care by an abusive foster mom who was in it for the money! Below is an article where the woman admits, after changing her story a few times, that she slammed the little two year old girl down on her head at least two times before losing her grip the third time, dropping the girl on her head. Causing her death.
The foster mother was angry at the little girl for waking up hungry and getting herself something to eat and some water to drink out of the kitchen. So she killed her.
This child was removed from her natural home because of a father’s recreational marijuana use. The same natural herb that is rapidly being decriminalized in many other U.S. states!! Really.
As an advocate for the foster children and families torn apart wrongly by the system, I have stated before, my stance, on the issue of drug use and CPS. I strongly believe that absent evidence of abuse or neglect, and absent injury or harm to the child,there should be no reason for the removal of that child from their natural home solely because of a parents’ drug use and/or drug addiction particularly if there is no reason to believe that the drug was never used in the presence of the child. If the use of the marijuana was kept outside the child’s awareness, smoked after bedtime, I do not agree with the removal of that child solely due to that recreational marijuana use if it truly had no deleterious effect on the child, and where there is no other sign of abuse or neglect, and no injury to the child!
If the social worker truly believes a parent has a drug problem..there are plenty of outpatient rehabilitation programs available for the parent to receive help that the CPS worker could refer the parent to, while keeping the family unit in-tact.
Had an approach such a that been utilized in this situation, this baby girl would not have suffered abuse by the FOSTER PARENT and would not have been brutally and senselessly murdered! I also question the worker monitoring the visits who failed to investigate the signs of abuse that the father pointed out with obvious concern. What happened there?
What this is .. is a child welfare system failure at its worst!
I hope this case grinds deep into the minds of every cps worker. I hope this reminds them to rethink when they begin to needlessly remove a child from an abuse-free/neglect-free home where other in-home services are available.
CHILDREN ARE NOT A SOURCE OF INCOME …. THIS WOMAN, when convicted (seems inevitable since she’s already confessed though, technically, she is still innocent til proven guilty in the court of law) (supposedly) SHE DESERVES DEATH…(and in my opinion,a slow painful death)
It should be recorded and televised for foster parents to-be to watch in training class. Then maybe the “monsters to-be” who are getting into foster parenting to “earn an income” like this monster did.. will reconsider fostering and go get a JOB away from our children if they saw something REAL AND JUST being done about those who abuse and kill foster children!
God be with this baby girls’ family in this time of grief.
I hope this tragic loss changes something in the system, for change is so drastically needed.
May this little girls death not be in vain.
ROCKDALE POLICE: FOSTER MOTHER ADMITS SHE SLAMMED TWO YEAR OLD FOSTER CHILD ON HER HEAD
by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist ERIN COKER Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE
ROCKDALE, Texas — Tucked away behind the trees in Rockdale, Texas is a normally quiet neighborhood, but the peace has been shattered.
“It shocked me. It really did,” said Lois Rash, who lives in Rockdale.
“It’s a shame. Never should have happened,” added neighbor Larry McAdams.
Their neighbor, 54-year-old Sherill Small is now charged with the murder of her foster daughter Alexandria Hill, better known as Alex.
Monday night, police, fire and EMS crews were called out to the Small home. Small, who was the only person home at the time, called and said the two-year-old wasn’t breathing.
Alex was taken to the hospital, then airlifted to the children’s hospital in Temple. Alex’s biological parents rushed to her side.
“When I got there, it was about 1:00 in the morning and I found out that Alex was in a coma,” said her father Joshua Hill.
Wednesday night Hill and Alex’s mother decided to take her off life support.
“There’s not words to describe trying to make that decision,” said Hill.
Back in Rockdale, police say Small’s story about what happened kept changing.
“Originally, Mrs. Small reported that the child was running backwards and had fallen and this is how she had received the injuries. Later, it changed to kind of we were playing ring-around-the-rosy and I was swinging her and she fell,” said Rockdale Police Chief Thomas Harris. “And at some point somebody had gotten information that she was supposed to have been riding a bicycle and fallen off.”
Chief Harris said things just didn’t add up.
“I mean a two year old child doesn’t run backwards and fall hard enough to get this type of an injury,” explained Harris.
Doctors say Alex had hemorrhaging in her brain and eyes. An autopsy shows she had blunt force trauma to the head.
Harris says Thursday morning, Small finally told them the truth.
“She had evidently been frustrated with the child all day long. She had… the child… had evidently gotten up before the Small’s did and she had went and got into some food and some water,” said Harris. “That is what Mrs. Small was initially upset with her about…. had made her stand in a dark room, according to our reports, for at least three-to-four hours, wouldn’t let her sit or anything.”
Then around 7:00 that night, the young child, so full of life, was knocked unconscious.
“She actually admitted that she had slung the child down on the floor,” said Harris.
Small told investigators she raised the toddler over her head and slung her down toward the floor twice.
“On the third time down she said she lost her grip and dropped the child. Slammed the child down on the floor,” explained Harris.
Harris says Small’s husband, who wasn’t home when the incident happened, became emotional and even cried when talking to police. But not Small.
“I did not see a whole lot of remorse. I think it’s more like a lot of times these people’s, they’re sorry that they’re in trouble. This is the sense that I get. It’s still about them, it’s not really remorse about the child. I never got that feeling,” added Harris.
The Small’s had another foster child who is eight-months-old. That child has been removed.
Police say neither Small or her husband had jobs, but were instead planning to foster between five and six children as a source of income.
Small is in the Milam County Jail. Her bond has been set at $100,000.
ROUND ROCK — He never thought his visit with her Thursday, July 25 would be his last.
“We got to sit down at McDonalds and have lunch and play for a while,” said Round Rock resident Joshua Hill.
“She got a little ‘Despicable Me 2’ toy in her happy meal and she loved it. She kept climbing up in my lap and she fed me french fries.”
But on Monday night, Hill’s daughter Alexandria, or Alex as they liked to call her, was rushed to a Rockdale hospital with severe head injuries, then flown to Scott and White Children’s Emergency Hospital in Temple and immediately placed on life support.
Alex was living with foster parents after DFPS removed her from her parent’s home last November for “neglectful supervision.”
Hill admits they were smoking pot when their daughter was asleep.
“We never hurt our daughter. She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care.”
For two months, Alex was placed in a home that Hill says was dangerous.
“She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag. It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to have me arrested because I wouldn’t let her go back.”
In January, CPS placed her with Sherill Small in Rockdale, and Hill says things seemed safe there.
“They listened, they paid attention when we had concerns, they tried to keep us in the loop, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.”
Hill got the call Monday night that his daughter was in a Temple hospital.
“They wouldn’t tell me what condition she was in or what was wrong or what had happened. The only thing they would tell me is I needed to be there. When I got there, I found out that Alex was in a coma.”
For two days, they held out hope she would regain consciousness but on Wednesday night Alex was taken off life support.
Rockdale detectives say Small’s explanation didn’t match Alex’s injuries, so Thursday they arrested the foster mother on murder charges.
Hill says he was less than four months away from getting Alex back and now he’ll never get the chance.
CPS removed another child from the foster home on Monday after Alex was rushed to the hospital.
Small’s bond is set at $100,000.
Officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services tell KVUE they rely on private child placing agencies to perform background checks on all foster homes.
The agency in this case is called Texas Mentor and state records show 15 total deficiencies for the Austin branch of that agency over the past two years.
Four of those deficiencies were for failing to perform proper background checks on people who live in foster homes.
The state does not specify which homes were involved in those cases.
by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN
ROCKDALE (August 1, 2013)–A Rockdale woman was arrested Thursday on a warrant charging murder in connection with the death of a 2-year-old foster child who was placed in her home in January.
Sherill Small, 54, was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bond on the murder charge, Milam County Jail records showed Thursday.
Bell County Justice of the Peace David Barfield pronounced Alexandria Hill, 2, dead at Scott & White’s McLane Children’s Hospital on Wednesday after she was taken off life support.
Barfield has ordered an autopsy.
Officers were sent to Small’s home at around 7 p.m. Monday in response to a report that the girl was unresponsive and not breathing.
The child was taken first to Richards Memorial Hospital’s emergency room and then was flown to Scott & White.
Rockdale police said Small was the lone caregiver at the time of the child’s injury and said the explanation she offered was inconsistent with what doctors found, police said.
Texas Child Protective Services and the Mentor Texas Program placed the toddler with Small and her husband Clemon in January, police said.
July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
What is a lawyer’s obligation to report to the ARDC misconduct by other lawyers in his or her firm? This article considers the Himmel doctrine in this context.
“Nothing in Himmel or subsequent cases excuses a lawyer from reporting another lawyer solely because the offending lawyer is his or her partner or associate.”
Most lawyers are aware that the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in In re Himmel, 125 Ill 2d 531, 533 NE2d 790 (1988), requires a lawyer to report to the ARDC certain types of misconduct by other lawyers. Many are also aware of the supreme court’s subsequent decision in Skolnick v Altheimer & Gray, 191 Ill 2d 214, 730 NE2d 4 (2000), holding that the duty to report is “absolute” and that the report must be made if a lawyer has “more than a mere suspicion” of dishonest conduct.
In Skolnick the court held that an attorney’s duty to report another lawyer’s fraudulent conduct to the ARDC could not be limited by a protective order entered in a lawsuit between the two lawyers. The court also ruled that reporting the fraudulent conduct to the trial judge in the pending case was not a substitute for reporting it to the ARDC. 730 NE2d at 10-15.
Nothing in Himmel or subsequent cases excuses a lawyer from reporting another lawyer solely because the offending lawyer is his or her partner or associate. Reporting a partner or associate obviously generates some significant personal and professional issues that are largely unaddressed in judicial decisions.
Jacobson v Knepper & Moga, P.C., 185 Ill 2d 372, 706 NE2d 491 (1998), emphasizes the mandatory nature of the reporting obligation. In that case, an associate became aware that the firm was routinely filing consumer debt collection actions in the wrong venue to prejudice the debtors, in violation of federal law. The associate was fired, and sued the firm alleging that he lost his job because he had repeatedly raised the issue with the partner in charge.
The supreme court held that the associate was not entitled to be protected against discharge for objecting to the pattern of improper filings. The court agreed that the firm’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct and had to be reported to the ARDC under Himmel.
But because the associate was obligated by Himmel to make the report, the court concluded that the judicial policy of protecting whistle-blowers need not be extended to the associate: “[T]he attorney’s ethical obligations serve to adequately protect the public policy established by the collection statutes. Because sufficient safeguards exist in this situation, it is unnecessary to expand the limited and narrow tort of retaliatory discharge to the employee attorney.” 706 NE2d at 493.
Jacobson underscores the mandatory nature of the Himmel reporting obligation, even when it results in the reporting lawyer losing his or her job. (A dissent by Justice Freeman persuasively argued that under the majority opinion, “in certain circumstances, it is economically more advantageous to keep quiet than to follow the dictates of the Rules of Professional Conduct.” 706 NE2d at 494.)
Against this background, what issues does a lawyer face when he or she believes that there may be a duty under Rule 8.3 to report a partner or associate?
What conduct must be reported? Rule 8.3 requires reporting “that another lawyer has committed a violation of Rule 8.4(a)(3) or (a)(4)” unless the knowledge is “protected as a confidence by these Rules or by law.” We discuss the exception below.
Reporting criminal acts. Rule 8.4(a)(3) provides that a lawyer commits misconduct if he “commit[s] a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”
Rule 8.3, which requires reporting of such misconduct, can generate difficult questions. What crimes “reflect[ ] adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects”? Must all such crimes be reported, even if they have not resulted in any charges, much less a conviction? Many lawyers develop social relationships with other lawyers. Through those relationships, lawyers sometimes learn that another lawyer has committed acts that are, or could be, considered “criminal.” In many cases, those acts never lead to any criminal charges, much less convictions.
Rule 8.4(a)(3) has been applied or assumed to apply to a wide variety of criminal acts. These include use and possession of cocaine (see ISBA Advisory Opinion 94-18, assuming that possession of cocaine is reportable misconduct; cf In re Scarnavack, 108 Ill 2d 456, 459-60, 485 NE2d 1, 2 (1985), which was decided under prior rules that required reporting of illegal conduct involving moral turpitude) and driving under the influence of alcohol (see, e.g., In re Dempsey, 94 Ill Atty Reg & Disc Comm CH 454).
The supreme court has made clear that those acts need not result in a criminal conviction in order to trigger Rule 8.4(a)(3). See, e.g., In re Rolley, 121 Ill 2d 222, 233, 520 NE2d 302, 307 (1988) (“It is not the conviction of a crime which justifies discipline, but the commission of the act.”); In re Ettinger, 128 Ill 2d 351, 368-69, 538 NE2d 1152, 1160 (1989) (acquittal in criminal proceeding does not bar subsequent disciplinary proceedings based on substantially the same conduct).
Under Rule 8.3, all violations of Rule 8.4(a)(3) must be reported. Accordingly, the duty to report can arise from a single instance of reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol (such as after a party), or a single use of an illegal drug. Although such reporting is rare, that fact may be more a function of lawyers’ resistance to reporting fellow lawyers than to any limitation in Rule 8.3.
These apparent consequences of Rule 8.3 might warrant amendment or interpretation to limit the reporting requirement to criminal acts that reflect adversely on the individual’s performance as a lawyer.
Reporting dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. Issues also arise with respect to reporting violations of Rule 8.4(a)(4). Rules 8.3 and 8.4(a)(4) require reporting of a lawyer’s “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” “Fraud, deceit and misrepresentation” are well understood since each is the subject of litigation and case law. Presumably the term “dishonesty” means something else, but that term is not defined in the Rules of Professional Conduct. But cf ISBA Advisory Opinion 93-20 (stating that “dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation” were used interchangeably with fraud under the Code of Professional Responsibility, the predecessor to the current Rules). It is reasonable to conclude that whatever it means, it must be of a similar degree of seriousness or wrongdoing as the other three terms used.
Case law holds that “dishonest conduct” can involve one’s work as a lawyer, such as repeatedly filing improper debt collection cases, as in the Jacobson case. But it can also involve actions not related to a lawyer’s work, but that are too troubling to ignore. See, e.g., In re Lamberis, 93 Ill 2d 222, 228, 443 NE2d 549, 552 (1982) (plagiarism in preparation of master’s degree thesis, under predecessor to present rules); In re Chandler, 161 Ill 2d 459, 471-73, 641 NE2d 473, 478-80 (1994) (false statements in mortgage application).
The open-ended scope of “dishonest conduct” under Rule 8.4(a)(4), coupled with the serious consequences of failing to report a possible violation, make Himmel and Skolnick potent sources of problems for lawyers.
Exclusion for privileged information. Rule 8.3 provides that a lawyer need not report knowledge that is “protected as a confidence by these Rules or by law….” Here, the Rules provide some definitional help. “Confidence,” the definitions state, “denotes information protected by the lawyer-client privilege under applicable law.”
For a lawyer learning of misconduct by another member of the firm, this exception can arise in at least two contexts.
First, the offending lawyer may seek legal advice from a partner or associate about the lawyer’s conduct. Under such circumstances, no report should be required. This would certainly be the result if the offending lawyer were to seek legal advice from a lawyer not affiliated with his or her firm. See ISBA Advisory Opinion 90-8. There is no reason why the result should be any different if the lawyer from whom the advice is sought works at the same firm.
Whether this exception will apply is likely to be highly fact-dependent. The strongest case to apply the exception would be one in which the offending lawyer asks a lawyer in the firm to provide legal advice and specifically states that he intends that the information he is sharing remain confidential.
An ISBA Advisory Opinion concluded that once a lawyer has been “retained” to represent another lawyer whose professional conduct is in question, the exception applies not only to “confidences,” but also to “secrets,” which are defined in the Rules as “information gained in the professional relationship that the client has requested be held inviolate or the revelation of which would be embarrassing or detrimental to the client.” ISBA Advisory Opinion 90-8.
Under this interpretation of the exception, the retained lawyer has no duty to report the offending lawyer, regardless of whether he or she learns of the misconduct as a result of a privileged communication, or simply as part of a nonprivileged investigation in connection with the case. Again, there is no reason why this rule should not apply where an offending lawyer seeks advice from another lawyer within his or her own firm.
Second, issues arise where the other lawyer acquires the knowledge of the offending lawyer’s misconduct because a client confidence is involved. Where a lawyer obtains knowledge of the misconduct from a client within an attorney-client relationship, there should be no reporting obligation as long as the circumstances indicate that the acquired information is privileged. See, e.g., ISBA Advisory Opinion 91-7.
The most obvious situation where the information would not be privileged Ð and the reporting requirement would apply notwithstanding the fact that the information was obtained from a client Ð is the crime-fraud exception. There are other situations in which the exception for confidences may also not apply. Complex issues arise, for example, wheninformation comes from a client who brings a lawyer information about another lawyer in the firm, seeks legal advice about the conduct, and indicates that he does not want it disclosed. Normally, the client would be entitled to seek advice about the conduct of the other lawyer. The client’s right to confidentiality in this situation should be no different from what it would be if he had sought advice from an outside lawyer.
If, however, the reporting lawyer learns of the information other than through a confidential client communication, that lawyer will not be relieved from reporting simply because the client has asked him not to report, or because the client would benefit from the lawyer not reporting. See, e.g., ISBA Advisory Opinion 91-7. Moreover, if the offending lawyer’s actions or that of the client have misled a court, a long line of ethics opinions and rules require disclosure, even if the client ends up with a perjury prosecution. See ISBA Advisory Opinion 94-24 for a discussion of many of the relevant precedents.
Where the client has shared privileged information with the reporting lawyer, but the exception for confidences does not apply (and thus the reporting requirement does apply), the reporting lawyer is placed in a difficult position. Under certain circumstances, otherwise privileged information may lose its privileged status when provided to a regulatory body. See, e.g., Salomon Bros. Treasury Litig. v Steinhardt Partners, L.P. (In re Steinhardt Partners, L.P.), 9 F3d 230, 233 (2d Cir 1993) (citing cases discussing possible waiver of privilege upon voluntary disclosure to government agencies). Therefore, care must be taken to disclose as little of the client’s information as possible, to avoid prejudicing the client while still providing the ARDC with all of the information to which it is entitled.
If the client does not know of the offending lawyer’s conduct, but other lawyers in the firm do, thought must be given to informing the client of the facts. In general, the client is entitled to all information necessary to be reasonably informed, and to make informed decisions regarding his or her continued retention of the offending lawyer and the firm. See, e.g., Rule 1.4. In most cases, there will be no basis to avoid telling the client.
How certain must you be to report? The Skolnick case goes a long way toward answering this question. If the information is more than a “mere suspicion,” a report is required. In effect, it forces the attorney to err on the side of reporting. But it does not require that the lawyer make any determination regarding guilt. It simply requires that doubt be resolved in favor of reporting.
Whether something is more than a mere suspicion is probably one of those things that, as has been said about obscenity, is hard to define, but falls into the category of “I know it when I see it.” As the Illinois Supreme Court noted in an attorney discipline case, “motive and intent are rarely proved by direct evidence, but rather must be inferred from conduct and the surrounding circumstances.” In re Stern, 124 Ill 2d 310, 315, 529 NE2d 562, 565 (1988).
Must you report immediately? If a lawyer has more than a mere suspicion, must he or she report immediately, or can he or she ask questions of the offending lawyer or permit the offending lawyer to self-report?
Presumably, a protracted delay in reporting could itself be a violation of the duty to report. But a reporting lawyer should be allowed to ask the offending lawyer for information in order to make sure that critical facts are not misunderstood, or that there is no proper explanation for what appears to be dishonest conduct. Since mental state will often determine whether an action is “dishonest” or constitutes deceit or a misrepresentation, it is reasonable to permit a reporting lawyer to ask clarifying questions before initiating a report.
If the offending lawyer chooses to self-report, additional issues arise. As a general matter, the duty to report is not relieved simply because the ARDC has learned of the misconduct from another source. See Himmel 533 NE2d at 792; ISBA Advisory Opinions 90-8, 90-28.
But an informal practice has arisen by which the reporting lawyer may informally contact the ARDC, ask to speak with one of the ARDC staff counsel and ask for confirmation that the ARDC has received a report from the offending lawyer, and that no further reporting is required. This process may be made even clearer if a self-report includes a statement that the other lawyers who know of the violation have been informed of the self-report. Since self-reporting is encouraged by the ARDC, such procedures should also be acceptable to it and not the basis for action against the lawyer who held off reporting for a short period of time to permit the offending lawyer to self-report.
In the context of reporting lawyers in your own firm, self-reporting is also to be preferred because it may improve the chances of salvaging a legal career that is of value to the firm in those cases where the offending lawyer’s actions are aberrations in an otherwise honest andproductive career. To the extent personal relationships are to continue with the offending lawyer, it will be important that he or she be afforded the maximum opportunity to resolve the underlying issue with the ARDC.
It should be noted that a lawyer’s report to the ARDC is absolutely privileged. Weber v Cueto, 209 Ill App 3d 936, 947, 568 NE2d 513, 520 (5th D 1991); Restatement (Second) Torts ¤ 592A (1977) (“One who is required by law to publish defamatory matter is absolutely privileged to publish it.”).
July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment
July 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
Judge dismisses lawsuit that challenged guardian ad litem system
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Moscow man who challenged Lackawanna County’s use of court-appointed attorneys in private child custody disputes.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann on Monday said the lawsuit filed by Dr. Michael Stefanov could not be heard in federal court because it involves an ongoing matter in state court.
Dr. Stefanov filed suit in March 2012 against Lackawanna County, Judges Trish Corbett, Chester Harhut and Thomas Munley and attorney Danielle Ross, who served as guardian ad litem, a court appointed attorney who represents the interest of the child in disputed custody matters.
Dr. Stefanov claimed Mrs. Ross, who is awaiting trial on charges of income tax evasion related to her court work, violated his constitutional rights by demanding he follow her often-unreasonable directives under the threat she would preclude him from seeing his son if he did not comply.
The lawsuit also faulted the county court system, alleging judges too freely appointed Mrs. Ross to cases where her intervention was not warranted, and failed to monitor her behavior to ensure she was not violating parents’ rights.
Judge Brann’s ruling does not address the merits of Dr. Stefanov’s claims as it is based on a legal interpretation of whether the case was properly before the federal court.
Attorneys for the county argued the case should be dismissed because it involves a custody case in state court. Federal appellate courts have previously held that the federal court system should not interfere with a state court proceeding except in extraordinary circumstances.
Dr. Stefanov’s attorney, Paul Cianci, argued the custody matter was not ongoing since a final custody order was issued in 2010. Judge Brann agreed with the county’s attorneys, who maintained the custody case was ongoing because the custody order could be modified at any time.
Mr. Cianci declined to comment on whether Dr. Stefanov will appeal the ruling.
The decision ends the civil case, but Mrs. Ross still faces trial in federal on charges she failed to pay income tax on approximately $200,000 she collected between 2009 and 2010 from parents for her guardian ad litem work. No trial date has been set.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 11, 2013 § 3 Comments
* This is just the latest twist in what has been a totally bizarre month in St. Clair County…
A former state lawmaker who’s the new clerk of southwestern Illinois’ St. Clair County says his new job will pay about $20,000 less than what he is making, but he’s fine with that.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports Tom Holbrook will make $100,800 as St. Clair County clerk. He’s now making $120,000 a year as chairman of the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
The county’s board on Monday night unanimously appointed Holbrook as the replacement of Bob Delaney, who resigned last week after an employee accused him of discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Delaney denied any wrongdoing.
* The Delaney incident was really awful…
Employees of St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney, who resigned abruptly this week, complained that their boss grabbed their breasts and buttocks, kissed them and made inappropriate comments at work, according a copy of an investigative report released Thursday.
The report, by county Equal Employment Opportunity Officer Laura Beasley, also said workers accused Delaney of drinking on the job, using racial slurs and cultivating a climate of fear and racial discrimination.
Beasley determined that the complaint was “overwhelmingly founded.”
The investigation was prompted by a May 16 complaint from Laura Romero, a 25-year-old employee who had been fired. The report was released Wednesday by Romero’s lawyer, Thomas Kennedy III, but parts were missing due to a faxing error.
The complete report says that four other employees were mulling complaints against Delaney. It says seven employees told Beasley that Delaney had grabbed the buttocks of workers, two employees said he grabbed their breasts and 13 said they had been kissed by Delaney “on the face, cheeks, and lips.”
* But that was nothing compared to what happened in late May. The judge who presided over the county’s drug court, and whose father is a major trial lawyer and bigtime Democratic campaign contributor, was arrested. From May 24th…
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook is the target of a federal investigation. […]
The investigation has raised new questions about the death of Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who died in March while at a hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill., owned by Cook’s family. The Pike County coroner, Paul Petty, confirmed Friday that Christ died of cocaine intoxication, and that traces of cocaine and drug paraphernalia were found near his body.
Christ, 49, a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor, had only been on the bench about a week before his death.
A southwestern Illinois judge already under scrutiny after a colleague died of a cocaine overdose at his family’s hunting lodge was charged Friday with possession of heroin and guns.
Wearing cutoff shorts and a T-shirt with the slogan “Bad is my middle name,” St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty to federal counts of possessing heroin and having a firearm while being an illegal user of controlled substances. The criminal complaint alleges those offenses took place Thursday, and that Cook is an addict.
Earlier Friday, the county coroner said toxicology tests showed that Cook’s colleague, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Joe Christ, overdosed on cocaine while staying with Cook at the Cook family’s 2,500-square-foot cabin near the Mississippi River in western Illin
* Apparently, the two went easy on an alleged heroin dealer who sold them drugs…
First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter blames St. Clair County justice for the absence of criminal convictions against alleged heroin dealer and addict Sean McGilvery of Belleville. […]
Porter said he was aware that a report from probation officers listed no convictions.
“We are also aware that the reason is because of the people he dealt with in the courthouse,” Porter said.
“He simply hasn’t been made to pay for any of the things he has done in the past.”
McGilvery allegedly supplied heroin that addicted former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook.
* Christ dismissed tickets…
In his final days as a St. Clair County prosecutor, Joe Christ recommended that traffic tickets be dismissed for two men accused in federal court documents of selling cocaine and heroin to Christ and his friend, Circuit Judge Michael Cook, and then Cook obliged.
* The scale is just mind-boggling…
Suspended Circuit Court Judge Michael Cook’s long-time friend, Sean McGilvery, has been named a co-defendant in a high-volume heroin distribution case allegedly run by a mother and son team from Fairview Heights previously charged with concealing the drug overdose death of a 30-year-old woman.
McGilvery, 34, of Belleville, was charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute more than two pounds of heroin. McGilvery, who pleaded not guilty, resided at 309 N. 38th St. in Belleville, the same address where the home’s owner, McGilvery’s mother Linda Gibson, said Cook was arrested Wednesday evening by federal agents.
On Friday, Cook was charged with possessing heroin and a felony weapons charge. He pleaded not guilty.
Also charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin are Deborah A. Perkins, 64, and her 46-year-old son, Douglas W. Oliver. They were charged Sept. 5 with moving the body of Jessica Williams from their Fairview Heights home and dumping it in Washington Park. An autopsy showed Williams died from a heroin overdose. […]
In addition to being friends for years, McGilvery is also linked to Cook through a 1999 injury liability case where Cook was his lawyer, and in a 2011 drug possession case where Cook was the judge. Cook dismissed the felony drug possession charge in May 2012 after McGilvery completed a drug treatment program.
* And the irony is too thick to be imagined…
The St. Clair County Circuit judge at the center of a drug scandal and charged with heroin possession, handled 90 percent of the circuit’s drug court cases. Judge Michael Cook decided if felons were complying with their rehabilitation efforts. Ironically, it is the judge who is in rehab right now.
* A probation officer was also involved…
On Tuesday, St. Clair County Probation Officer James K. Fogarty, 45, of Belleville, appeared in federal court to answer to charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He pleaded not guilty and waived his preliminary hearing. He remains in federal custody until a bond hearing set for next week.
During an interview with FBI agent Joe Murphy at Fogarty’s home, Fogarty said he used cocaine with Cook and newly elected Associate Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who was a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor.
Fogarty told Murphy that he sold an “eight ball of cocaine,” or about an eighth of an ounce, to the judges with each paying about $140 apiece. The cocaine was purchased by the judges the day before Christ was found dead at Cook’s family’s hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill. The Pike County sheriff has said that Christ died of cocaine toxicity.
* And that probation officer reportedly squealed…
In asking a judge not to release a former St. Clair County probation officer on bond, a federal prosecutor said the defendant “implicated a number of prominent people up in Belleville and the area around.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter said the government was concerned that these people might encourage James K. Fogarty, of Belleville, to flee so that he could not further implicate them. He said Fogarty, in his job as a probation officer, committed “a jaw-dropping and extraordinary breach of trust,” and is a flight risk.
* The rot appears to be quite widespread…
The daughter of a former St. Clair County judge was a co-defendant in a drug case against a man who federal prosecutors say provided heroin to another county judge, Michael Cook.
Katherine C. O’Malley, 33, of Belleville, the daughter of retired Circuit Judge Michael O’Malley, is listed as a co-defendant in the 2011 case of Sean McGilvery of Belleville, who was charged with possessing crack cocaine.
Cook, a longtime friend of McGilvery’s, ordered McGilvery to complete a drug treatment class, then dismissed the case.
O’Malley’s case has been expunged and is no longer listed in the circuit clerk’s records, but her attorney, Greg Skinner, said she was ordered to complete drug school, then Circuit Judge John Baricevic dismissed the case on May 23, 2012. It was the same punishment as McGilvery received.
* The US Attorney is expanding the probe…
U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton told reporters the investigation into who else might be involved is “wide open,” and continues within St. Clair County Courthouse and beyond
* Did that federal probe include a local police chief, who killed himself?…
No one has implicated the late Caseyville police chief J.D. Roth as a suspect in a federal investigation, except Roth himself.
After his June 13 suicide, those close to him told Fairview Heights police that he had been depressed for months about an investigation.
Public records show Roth was arrested on May 8, when state police picked him up on two charges of official misconduct.
Roth shot himself in his back yard, at 9704 Avalon in Fairview Heights..
* Departing clerk Delaney faces action over bad debt
* Bound in handcuffs, Belleville woman is interrogated by FBI about Judge Michael Cook
* Judge grants Cook’s motion to continue trial on drug charge; Grand jury returns indictments of McGilvery, Fogarty
* Mothers of women who died from heroin blame Cook: ‘If (he’d) been doing his job …’
* ‘What’s the difference between him and me — the black robe?’: Former addict resents being sent to prison by Cook
* Fallout from Cook case: St. Clair County may expand drug testing
* Accused drug dealer at heart of courthouse scandal won’t go to rehab
* Steven McGlynn named to St. Clair County bench
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