Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Attorney Defends Handling of Rape Case, The News Desk

Defense attorney Denise Rafferty spent roughly 80 minutes on the witness stand Tuesday, defending her handling of the case against a former Aquia Harbour teen now fighting to get his name off the state’s sex-offender registry.

She said she asked Edgar Coker’s parents multiple times for help finding people who would support him in his defense of a 2007 rape charge and for copies of his school records but got no help.

Coker was 15 on June 4, 2007, when he and a 14-year-old neighbor engaged in what the girl and her mother now say was consensual sex.

Attorneys for Coker, who is now 22, are in court this week to try to get his criminal convictions set aside and remove him from the state’s sex offender registry.

Seven Officers at Georgia RYDC Removed after “Egregious Policy Violations,” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced that seven employees at the DeKalb County Regional Youth Detention Center have been removed, following findings from a three-week investigation.

According to Jim Shuler, an official DJJ spokesman, three of the officers, among them the facility’s night shift sergeant, resigned while the review was still being conducted. The other four officers, all of whom were suspended during the investigation, have been dismissed from their positions.

In a press release, DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles said that several night shift officers at the facility allegedly allowed youths to enter and exit the facility at-will.

Perps or Pupils?  Safety Policy Creates Prison-like New York City Schools, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

When Minerva Dickson first saw her high school she thought it looked like a prison. After her first week she realized how right her initial impressions were.

Every day when she arrived at the Thomas Jefferson Campus in Brownsville, Brooklyn, she waited in a line that snaked out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. She would shuffle up two steps passing beneath words from Abraham Lincoln inscribed on the neo-classical pediment: “Let Reverence for the Laws Become the Political Religion of the Nation.”

Next, she reached into her pocket for her identification card and slid it through a machine. When it recognized her, it blurted an approving beep and a green light would flash. When it didn’t, the machine made an abrasive buzzing noise and lit up red.

Clear of the reader, she headed to the metal detectors. There, at least a half dozen school safety agents waited. School safety agents, who answer to the New York City Police Department, wear a police uniform and a shield. A pair of handcuffs dangles from their belts.

Baby Veronica’s Birth Mother: Girl Belongs With Adoptive Parents, The Washington Post

Christy Maldonado lives in Oklahoma. This month she filed a brief urging the Supreme Court of South Carolina to finalize her birth daughter’s adoption by Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

In the summer of 2009, I made the most difficult decision of my life: to place my baby, Veronica Rose, with adoptive parents. Many know her as “Baby Girl” or “Baby Veronica” because her adoptive parents and I fought all the way to the Supreme Court for Veronica’s right to be treated like a human being — not property owned by a Native American tribe.

I am Latina and not a member of any tribe. When I became pregnant, I was already a single mother with two children, in a relationship that was on the rocks. I thought hard about my options and decided I could not have an abortion. I was briefly engaged to Veronica’s biological father, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, but our relationship was over by my third trimester.

When I asked my ex whether he wanted to be involved, he told me, by text message, that he wanted to give up all parental rights. And that was the last I heard from him. It was clear that my pregnancy and my baby were my responsibility.
New DelhiThe Supreme Court has refused to reduce the age for being considered juvenile to 16 years and has said that even those accused of heinous crimes, but below 18 years of age, will continue to be tried by a juvenile board under the Juvenile Justice Act, and not by a regular trial court.The top court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate seeking an amendment to the existing Juvenile law to allow those below 18 to be punished under regular law if they are charged with serious crimes.”We uphold the provisions of Juvenile Act. Interference is not necessary,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir.

The petition was filed after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December last year.One of the six men accused of the horrific crime was a minor when the incident happened. He has been tried by the juvenile board and if found guilty, faces a maximum punishment of three years in a correction home.
Esther Kim

About Esther Kim

Esther Kim is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduate from Wesleyan University in 2007 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a focus in Chinese Language and Literature. As an undergraduate, she worked one summer at the Citizens' Committee for Children, New York, a child advocacy organization, where she developed an interest in children's rights, community after-school resources, and immigration. Esther has recently been selected to be an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation, at Lone Star Legal Aid, where she will be working closely with Asian victims of domestic violence in Harris and Fort Bend Counties.

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