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Family & Divorce Law

Unusual child custody case takes an unexpected turn

By Tolison & Williams / January 13, 2016

Some Colorado readers will recall media coverage of a highly controversial child custody case in which a judge sent three children to juvenile detention for contempt of court. The matter was subject to national media attention, and it sparked a great deal of debate across the nation. It appears that the state's Judicial Tenure Commission also took an interest in the child custody case and has since taken action against the judge.

The matter originated as part of an ongoing child custody battle between a former husband and wife. The judge presiding over the case felt that the mother had alienated the children against their father. When the kids refused to attend a scheduled lunch with their father, the judge ordered that they be sent to juvenile detention. She soon altered that order and sent the kids to summer camp instead.

The Judicial Tenure Commission took issue with several of the judge's actions during the case. At one point, she compared the oldest child, a 14-year-old boy, to cult leader Charles Manson. She also told the children that their case would not be subject to review until they turned 18. During one hearing, she made circular motions with her finger to suggest that the oldest child was crazy. The Commission also found that she was sarcastic with the kids, the youngest of whom was 9 years old at the time and laughed at them during at least one hearing.

In an unexpected turn of events, the judge recently removed herself from any further involvement in the child custody case. While she did not admit to any wrongdoing and asserts that she does not hold any bias in the matter, she did say that the Commission's accusations could lead to a perception of impropriety. The parties will have the opportunity to file new motions in the matter, which will be heard by a newly appointed judge. Many in Colorado who have been following the case feel that the judge has made the right decision in stepping down.

Source: Bloomfield-Bloomfield Hills MI Patch, "Judge Who Cuffed Kids for Missing Lunch with Dad Disqualifies Herself", Beth Dalbey, Dec. 28, 2015

Tags: Child Custody

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