Monday, December 12, 2011

Judge sides with Godboldo, won't reinstate criminal charges

by Doug Guthrie

Detroit— Two judges in different Wayne County courtrooms sided Monday with a mother who resisted police forcing their way into her home last March to take her teenage daughter during a dispute with a Child Protective Services worker over medications.

A Family Court judge Monday afternoon accepted positive medical and education reports, and over the objections of an assistant state attorney general representing the Department of Health and Human Services, dismissed jurisdiction that had for nine months come between now 14-year-old Arianna Godboldo and her family.

Earlier Monday, a Wayne County Circuit judge refused to reinstate criminal charges, dismissed in August by a 36th District Court judge, that alleged the mother, Maryanne Godboldo, illegally resisted and assaulted police by allegedly firing a shot at them.

Family members hugged and issued thanks to the judges in both courtrooms, but authorities aren't done pursuing the Godboldos.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office issued a statement Monday, vowing to make a third appeal to reinstate criminal charges.

And, Family Court Judge Lynne Pierce told Assistant Attorney General Deborah Carley, who complained it appears the girl has never received anything other than homeschooling her entire life, she is not barred from pursuing criminal truancy charges if she feels the parents are flouting state law that required the education of children.

"There may be some more evaluation to be done, but I don't see any more need of this court's continued involvement," Pierce said.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Gregory Bill ruled in the morning against claims by the prosecutor that 36th District Judge Ronald Giles committed judicial error in August when he threw out the criminal charges. Bill said Giles was correct in concluding there was insufficient evidence to order Godboldo to trial.

"It is clear to me that he (Giles) doesn't think the defendant shot at anybody," Bill said, concluding if a shot was fired inside the house, it was fired at the ceiling and perhaps not by the mother.

"Did the child get a hold of the gun? I don't know," Bill said. "There are so many statements that are conflicting evidence, and Judge Giles went out of his way to allow the prosecutor to clear this up."

Godboldo's lawyers have said all along this was about parental rights to make medical decisions on behalf of their children, and the government abused its authority in obtaining an order to take the child without a court hearing. They also said the improper action created a conflict with police that resulted in criminal charges.

"It is absurd," Godboldo lawyer Byron Pitts said about the possibility of another appeal. "Four different judges have said they believe this family did nothing wrong. This includes another District Court judge, Judge (Paula) Humphries, who ruled earlier on some matters. It has been clear to these judges that this all stems from one overzealous caseworker, and continued appeals now border on persecution."

Acting on a call from Wayne County Child Protective Services worker Mia Wenk — who told police she had obtained an order to remove the child on a claim of medical neglect — Detroit police officers on March 24 accused her of firing a handgun at them through a plaster wall after she refused to let them inside. It took hours to talk Godboldo out of the house. She was jailed for several days until her release on bond, and her daughter was held in a state psychiatric facility for almost two months.

Godboldo was charged with resisting and assaulting police, as well as use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Giles tossed out the charges because he said the order used by police as authority to enter the house was invalid. It was never authorized by a judge, but had a rubber stamp signature. Police also testified they don't normally enforce civil court orders, but they had been told by the protective services worker it was a criminal warrant.

Bill said his opinion should not be considered as a criticism of Detroit police, but he raised questions about the behavior of the social worker, whom he described as "young." Bill hinted Wenk was impatient, filled out a legal order that was woefully inadequate, broke with established policy by calling 911 to have Detroit police enforce it rather then confront the woman herself, and then misrepresented the meaning of the order to police.

Pierce had ruled in September against the government's claims the mother had committed medical abuse by withholding a controversial anti-psychotic medication. The girl was being treated for a sudden onset of psychotic behavior the mother believes was caused by a bad reaction to immunizations.

Pierce determined Godboldo was within her rights to terminate the voluntary treatment program. The judge ordered the girl returned to the mother's home Sept. 29. A hearing to finalize the juvenile case also is scheduled for later Monday.

Godboldo said Monday she and her daughter had a difficult Sunday night because of heightened anxiety over the coming hearing. She said she hopes authorities will this time accept a judge's assessment of the situation and not appeal again.

"I hope they understand they are affecting people's lives," she said. "They should know of the damage they have done to my daughter because they broke the law."

Godboldo said her daughter had been doing better, but she was continuing to be home schooled because psychiatric troubles continue that she attributes to "effects from the immunizations." She said the girl, who wears a prosthetic leg, continues to enjoy studying dance and music, and playing her conga drums.

"She is coming along," Godboldo said. "She is doing better because she is at home where she belongs."


No comments:

Post a Comment