When a child is subjected to neglect or abuse, it is the role of each state’s department of child services to investigate the matter and determine the appropriate course of action. In Arizona and elsewhere, these governmental agencies do a great deal of good work within the community, and many children are saved from harm each and every year. That said, not every case is handled in the proper manner, and when a stable and loving family gets tangled up with social services, the resulting child custody matter can be financially and emotionally devastating.
Such has been the case for one family who has been in and out of court after an incident that took place when their daughter was just 11 weeks old. She was being held on her father’s lap when she began to slip off, and he instinctively grabbed her by her face to prevent her from hitting a coffee table. When the family sought medical treatment, it was determined that the infant had suffered an injury that led to bleeding between her brain and skull.
A doctor accused her father of abuse, and social services became involved. The father was subsequently arrested and was eventually found guilty of second degree child abuse; he is serving a one-year sentence in that case. The conviction occurred despite the fact that the father passed two lie detector tests, and medical experts testified that the infant’s brain bleeds were caused by the vacuum extraction used during the birth process. He is appealing that decision, and is being represented by an organization that specializes in wrongful convictions for shaken baby syndrome.
The family recently went before a court in a hearing to determine whether the father’s parental rights should be terminated. The judge in the case refused to take that step, and instead praised the family’s efforts in remaining united, even during the father’s time behind bars. An attorney for the family has stated that the tide has turned in the child custody case, and that the facts have led many to question the actions and assumptions that have been made by the government against this family. For anyone in Arizona who is facing a similar scenario, this case demonstrates the importance of confronting these difficult issues with the support and guidance of an experienced family law attorney.
Source: wxyz.com, “Judge refuses to terminate parental rights of Joshua Burns”, Heather Catallo, July 29, 2015