Saturday, February 25, 2012

Parents file child abuse charges against Picayune teacher

By Al Showers

PEARL, MS (WLOX) - The parents of two West Side Elementary School students in Picayune have filed child abuse charges against their first grade teacher.

That action came after the parents say the teacher taped their children to their classroom chairs last Friday.

The Pearl River County NAACP has launched an investigation into the alleged incident.

"How would someone feel if their child was taped to a chair? How would you feel?" asked Debbie Newsome, Terry's Mother.

Debbie Newsome and Destiny Magee say they know what it feels like. They say it happened to their six and seven-year-old sons.

"No one should be tied to a chair, taped, no one," said Newsome.

De'morieyus Magee the six year old alleged victim said, "She got some tape off her desk and she taped us up in the chair."

The boys' parents say they both received calls from the school principal last Friday.

"The principal called me around 9:30 and told me that one of the first grade teachers had walked in on Miss Pruitt and seen that my son Demorieyus Magee and Terry Fowler was taped down to their chair," said Destiny Magee, De'morieyus Mother.

Magee said the teacher that walked into the classroom reported what she saw to the principal. She says the principal went to the classroom and told The teacher Brittney Pruitt to un-tape them immediately.

"Our understanding it was masking tape the wide masking tape that you use. She proceeded to sit them in the chair and bound them their hands and around their wastes to the back of the chair and they said that they couldn't move," said Rev. Jimmy Richardson, President of the Pearl River County NAACP.

"That's child abuse to me," said Magee.

No one seems to know exactly how long the boys were allegedly taped up before the principal walked in and stopped it, but the parents say if only for one second was far too long.

Magee said she was told the boys were taped to their seats because they would not stay in their seats.

"She told them to sit down several times they didn't so she taped them. That's not the type of discipline you give a child at school."

They say their children haven't been the same since the incident.

"It affects a child mentally, physically it affects them. They cry. They cry at night," said Newsome.

Magee echoed her words, "He's traumatized about it. He say he don't want to go back to her class."

The Picayune Police Department confirmed two counts of child abuse have been filed against the teacher Brittney Pruitt, and that the county prosecutor is reviewing the case to determine what action to take.

When asked for comment, the Superintendent of the Picayune School District Dean Shaw told WLOX News, it was a personnel matter that they are dealing with it.


Child neglect leads to deputy's firing - Indiana

Child neglect leads to deputy's firing:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Child Protective Services has 'serious' problems, Wash. senator says

By Pat Reavy

PUYALLUP, Wash — Pam Roach has been a longtime advocate for changes in the policies and procedures of the state's Child Protective Services.

With the world's attention focused on the case of Josh Powell, who killed his two young sons and himself during a supervised visit, the Washington state senator is again calling for changes.

Public hearing planned

On Thursday, in Olympia, Wash., Roach will hold a public hearing.

Before public comment is taken, she will be joined by Chuck and Judy Cox, the grandparents of Charlie and Braden Powell and parents of Susan Cox Powell, the boys' mother who has been missing since 2009 and is presumed dead.

Josh Powell is the key person of interest in his wife's disappearance. Tuesday, Powell's death certificate was released. It showed that his body was cremated on Friday in Sumner, Wash., a short drive from Puyallup.

Thursday's hearing and news conference will address the issue of what happened in Charlie and Braden's case, and what, if anything, needs to be done with the system, said Anne Bremner, an attorney for the Cox family who will also be present.

The family is still dealing with "enormous grief and shock," she said They want to do something to make sure something like what happened to Charlie and Braden doesn't happen again, but they don't know how to go about it. Everything from a civil lawsuit to proposing new legislation had been tossed around.

"They're interested in any effort to make sure something good comes out of this," Bremner said.

What the attorney would like to see is new legislation, possibly something called Charlie and Braden's Law, that would essentially make it illegal for a spouse or significant other to have custody of a child while they're the subject of a criminal investigation for a violent crime.

“CPS needs to directly hear from the public,” Roach said. "At the end of the meeting the department will be presented with ideas for change. ... Everyone in the room will have a story to tell. We are going to ask them, in short comments, what changes should be made in the way the department does business."

Cox family, attorneys look at ways to prevent future tragedies

Chuck Cox reaffirmed that he does not blame Elizabeth Griffin-Hall, the social worker who was in charge of the supervised visit the day Josh Powell killed the boys. She had just arrived at Powell's rented house when the two boys got a step ahead of her. When they got inside, he shut the door on Griffin-Hall. During her subsequent call to 911, Griffin-Hall told the dispatcher she feared for the boys' lives.

"I don't blame her. She was doing what she was asked to do and she was doing her best to take care of the boys," Cox said Tuesday.

But Cox does have an issue with the visitation being allowed in the first place, just four days after a judge denied a motion to return full custody of the children to Josh Powell and ordered him to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.

"They knew he had mental issues, problems, and he was under a great amount of stress, and that courtroom setback — certainly was a setback — and the fact that visitation continued …" Cox said.

The supervised visit, he believes, should have been at a "protected place" and not Powell's house, or should have included more than one supervisor.

Powell decorated his rented home in Graham, Wash., with photos of his missing wife, including wedding photos and photos of them with the boys as babies. In November, a social worker noted the home appeared "staged" as if for the social worker's approval. Police later confirmed they believe Josh Powell did not live in that home and simply used it for visitation purposes.

Dr. James Manley, a psychologist, conducted the court-ordered evaluation on Powell. His report was part of a massive collection of more than 1,000 pages of records the Washington Department of Social and Health Services released last week.

In his report, Manley diagnosed Powell with narcissistic personality disorder and adjustment disorder with anxiety.

He noted that Powell talked frequently and negatively against Mormons and the Cox family.

"Mr. Powell has very little capacity at this time to rein in his opinions and commentary for the sake of his children's mental health," the report states. "It is concerning Mr. Powell cannot or will not stay focused on his children's emotional/psychological needs."

Manley said in his report that he was concerned about what would happen as Charlie and Braden became more independent thinkers and how their father would react. And while there was no history of abuse, Manley called Powell's alleged camping trip to Tooele on a "cold, windy" night before his wife was reported missing, "foolhardy" at best, and noted the trip did not appear to be planned.

The psychologist noted that Powell seemed to be living with a high amount of stress as well as defensiveness, and was a person who had a tendency to be over-controlling. Powell acknowledged attending counseling as a teen for "self-destructive tendencies" but could not recall details for his evaluators.

On Jan. 30, Manley was asked to view images found a computer seized from Josh and Susan Powell's home by West Valley police in 2009. There were about 400 "hand drawings, computerized drawings and photographs," according to the report. Some of the images were of well-known cartoon characters, such as The Simpsons, The Flintstones and Sponge Bob, engaged in pornographic acts. About 15 of the images were 3D style, with some of those images depicting incest.

Manley said in his report that graphic nature of the images was not only "concerning," but they also suggested "global approval" of sex between a minor and an adult.

"If these are Mr. Powell's images, it gives rise to great concern. Coupled with his general level of defensiveness across the evaluation there seems to be important aspects to Mr. Powell's life he is unwilling to discuss," Manley stated in the report. "Given the gaps of information about Mr. Powell, there seems reason to conclude he may not presently be a stable and appropriate resource for his children."

Chuck Cox said Tuesday that the possibility of a lawsuit against the state of Washington has been briefly discussed.

"It's been suggested. That's about as far as it's gone," he said.

Bremner said Tuesday that any talk of a civil suit is "premature."

"We don't know everything that happened," she said.


Audit: Child-welfare checks uneven in Minnesota

Article by: JEREMY OLSON

Audit urges state to unify county and tribal standards in handling abuse and neglect allegations.

Minnesota's child welfare system needs stronger guidance to ensure that vulnerable children are treated consistently from one county to another, a legislative audit concluded Tuesday.

Testing county and tribal child-welfare agencies with 10 fictional cases of abuse and neglect, state auditors found wide variations in whether local officials deemed investigations necessary. It was a virtual 50-50 split, for example, on whether agencies would investigate a claim of a small child found wandering a block from home. And 64 percent said they wouldn't investigate as maltreatment a domestic abuse incident that occurred while a child was in another room.

Despite these so-called "gray area referrals," many of the state's child-welfare intake workers made reasonable and thoughtful deliberations, said Carrie Meyerhoff, the lead author of the report for the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor.

Child welfare advocates sought the audit because of wide regional variations in screening decisions -- and because Minnesota is unique, nationally, for the low rate of child abuse complaints that it "screens in" -- or flags -- for investigation or intervention. In 2010, Minnesota screened in a third of abuse complaints for further action; nationally, the figure was two-thirds, according to a federal Child Maltreatment report. Minnesota had the nation's third-lowest screen-in rate.

The report encouraged the Legislature to clarify the legal definition of "risk of harm," and urged the Department of Human Services to increase its training for evaluating and screening child maltreatment allegations.

Counties, for example, varied in whether they accepted anonymous child-welfare complaints, the auditors found. Meyerhoff said some county officials thought that the statute might prohibit anonymous reports. Erin Sullivan Sutton, an assistant commissioner with the state Department of Human Services, said the State Supreme Court has determined that anonymous reports are valid if they meet all other legal requirements.

The audit didn't address the question of teen neglect or abuse, but Rich Gehrman of Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota said counties are inherently more protective of young children.

"Once you are above a certain age, at least some counties are not going to screen you in no matter what the circumstance," he said.

'Small boats'

Minnesota is one of 11 states that empower counties to manage and help finance child-welfare services. One lawmaker at the hearing questioned whether decisions on abuse allegations would be standardized by creating a single state-run system. Neither Gehrman or Sullivan Sutton endorsed such an approach. Sullivan Sutton said the 11 county-run states have enacted some of the nation's most promising child-welfare reforms.

"It's sometimes easier to move 84 small boats," she said, referring to the number of child-welfare agencies in Minnesota, "than one large ship."

The report did not address why the state screens out more child abuse claims than most other states. Meyerhoff said unreliable data made such a comparison too difficult.

At least one observer said he thinks Minnesota might be doing things right. For example, said Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, only 15 percent of the screened-in reports in Minnesota are turned away.

About 17 percent are substantiated, which means they become official child-welfare cases -- and kids can potentially be removed from their homes -- while another 65 percent receive alternative services to train parents and stabilize families.

"Minnesota caseworkers spend far less time spinning their wheels and more time actually providing help," Wexler said.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SD DSS and ACLU Director Issues

Blogger Note:

It would be intresting to know who much of this story may have to do with the following story below. It would be quite surprising if there is absolutely no connection but it appears that something fishy is going on.

Indian Child Welfare Act Violations Prompts ACLU Investigation Into South Dakota Foster Care System

ACLU Seeks Input from American Indian Families With Children in DSS

SIOUX FALLS, SD - The appalling treatment of American Indian children, family, and tribes by the South Dakota Department of Social Services as described in recent NPR News reports has prompted the ACLU of South Dakota to investigate the actions as violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The NPR News series, "Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families," explains how American Indian children represent more than half of all children in foster care, yet account for less than 15 percent of the state's total child population. The report also features interviews from tribal members who recall DSS officials driving onto the reservation, removing children from homes, and preventing contact with family.

The report describes several instances of ICWA violations, as well as blatant disregard of fundamental Constitutional norms and international human rights as affirmed by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, according to Robert Doody Esq., Executive Director of the ACLU of South Dakota.

"The ACLU is firmly committed to addressing this most recent manifestation of racism and colonization in our state," Doody said. "It is shocking to see politicians and members of the government, who hold themselves out as "pro-family," react in utter contempt and callous disregard to the legitimate grievances of American Indians."

The ACLU of South Dakota wants to hear from American Indians who recently had children removed by DSS in order to ascertain the depth and breadth of the problem. Any American Indian with concerns regarding their experiences with or treatment by DSS should contact the ACLU at (605) 332-2508 or email


Please direct media inquiries to Taté Walker, ACLU of South Dakota Communications Director: (605) 332-2508, (646) 421-9387 or For more information about the ACLU of South Dakota, visit, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Children removed from home of ACLU director after dispute - South Dakota

Written by John Hult

The stepchildren of the director of the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union were placed in protective custody last week after a family dispute call at his address.

Robert Doody, 31, was asked to leave a closed child protection hearing Tuesday morning at the Minnehaha County Courthouse. A judge decided at the hearing to keep the children in protective custody during a Department of Social Services investigation.

The inquiry was sparked by a report of physical abuse given to the Department of Social Services by the biological father of two of the children. By law, Social Services can place children in protective custody for 10 days while it investigates claims against parents.

Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan confirmed Tuesday that he was aware of allegations, but said no charges have been filed against the mother or stepfather.

“We’ll have to wait for the investigating agency’s report,” McGowan said.

Doody said the removal of his Native American stepchildren, as well as his absence from the courtroom, constitute violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The welfare act bars the foster care placement of Native children under most circumstances and gives Native parents additional rights during custody hearings.

“This is a disgrace. It goes to show that the state does not give due process to Indians or non-Indians,” Doody said after the hearing. “It’s a sham.”

Doody and the children’s maternal grandmother initially walked into the hearing Tuesday morning but were asked to leave, he said.

Doody denied any wrongdoing.

The only family members inside the courtroom were the children’s biological parents: Doody’s wife, Kimberly St. John, and their father, David Knorr.

After the hearing, Knorr said the judge determined that the children would remain in protective custody while the Social Services investigation proceeds. Doody and his wife objected to a placement in Knorr’s home.

The report appears on the Sioux Falls Police Department’s daily call log as a “family dispute” Friday morning, although Knorr said the incident in question took place Wednesday.

Police spokesman Sam Clemens confirmed only that the call came in as a Department of Social Services referral.

Doody has been the director of South Dakota’s chapter of the civil rights organization since 2008.

The organization has offered support to Native Americans suing the Department of Corrections and displaced voters on Indian reservations.

A spokesperson for the national ACLU declined to comment on the matter Tuesday.

“Robert Doody is an ACLU employee and as this is a personal matter,” Marsha Zeesman said.

Doody’s lawyer, Debra Voight, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday night.

St. John is director of Mita Maske Ti Ki, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.


DFCS acknowledges wrongdoing in child's death

By Craig Schneider

State child protection officials acknowledged Tuesday that they failed to properly watch over a 4-year-old Fulton County boy who died Feb. 6 of head injuries in a case that has been ruled a homicide.

The state Division of Family and Children Services had an open case on the family of Nasir Patrick, but there was confusion about which worker was to visit the home, said Acting DFCS Deputy Director Kathy Herren. Consequently no workers made a documented visit there in nearly two months before Nasir was injured on Jan. 25.

“We were remiss in visiting the child,” Herren told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday.

DFCS fired three employees after the boy died. The Fulton County Medical Examiner declared the death a homicide Tuesday, finding that Nasir died of delayed complications from blunt force head trauma. The Atlanta Police Department is investigating, but no arrests have been made.

Nasir’s mother, Yakerra Patrick, declined to comment when contacted by phone by an AJC reporter.

Nasir’s aunt, Mary Sewell of Coweta County, blasted DFCS for failing in its responsibility.

“He did not have to die,” Sewell said. “I blame them for not following up.”

Nasir’s death came to light through a joint investigation by the AJC and Channel 2 Action News. It was among 35 deaths in the past ten weeks of children whose families have a DFCS history.

The Patrick family came to the attention of DFCS in 2008, with allegations of neglect and inadequate supervision in 2008 and 2009. The agency could not substantiate those complaints, and the inquiries were quickly closed, according to DFCS records obtained by the AJC through the state Open Records Law.

Then, in August, Nasir and his younger sister were removed from the home after the little girl suffered a broken leg. The mother's boyfriend told investigators the injury occurred when the girl got her leg stuck between the bars of her crib.

But the doctor who examined the girl said that story did not wash, and DFCS classified the case as an instance of abuse. The girl was placed in DFCS custody and Nasir went to live with a relative.

DFCS officials say they asked the Atlanta police several times to look deeper into this girl's injury, but the department declined.

Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos told the AJC Tuesday that police thoroughly investigated the girl's injuries at the time and found no evidence to support criminal charges.

In December, DFCS returned Nasir's sister to the home after a judge issued a protective order stipulating that some adult -- the name is redacted from the case file provided to the AJC -- would have no contact with her. At that point, Herren said, the case was supposed to be transferred from one caseworker to another, but each thought the other was monitoring the family.

At some point, the relative with whom Nasir was living returned him to his mother's home, without alerting DFCS. It is not clear whether DFCS workers ever discovered that he was living there.

The agency made no visits that documented the children's well-being between Dec. 9 and Jan. 25, when Nasir was injured. Caseworkers are supposed to visit families at least once a month. The DFCS record notes that a worker made a visit on Dec. 21 to deliver Christmas presents, but did not document that the children were seen.

Nasir was admitted to Scottish Rite children’s hospital Jan. 25 and diagnosed with a skull fracture. According to the police report, his mother told hospital staff that she had left Nasir with her boyfriend while she went to work. She said the boyfriend called her at work to say Nasir had suffered a seizure and fallen to the ground, striking his head on a toy truck.

Again, doctors said the injuries were not consistent with that explanation, and the case was turned over to the Atlanta police.

Herren said DFCS has been reviewing problems with internal communication for the past year, ever since its parent agency, the Department of Human Services, was put under the direction of a new commissioner, Clyde Reese. She said the handling of the Patrick case is being scrutinized and that the lessons learned will be communicated across the agency.

That’s small comfort to advocates who have monitored the agency for years.

“It’s a tragedy whenever people responsible for keeping children safe don’t do what they’re supposed to do,” said Normer Adams, executive director of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children.

Sewell said her nephew's death should sound alarm bells throughout DFCS.

"This should be a wake up call for all DFCS workers," she said.


Another informative link:

Child protection cases for parents with intellectual disabilities

Here's a good informative link we would like to share with you.

Mothers charged with abuse over condition of Jefferson County home

Written by Jason Riley

The house was, by all accounts, filthy and unfit for children to live in, filled with dog feces, urine, rotting garbage and other hazards.

It was the type of home from which the state routinely removes children, at least until the the dangers are eliminated.

But more than two years after two toddlers were removed from the home in eastern Jefferson County and placed with a family member, prosecutors entered into what some local officials say is uncharted terrority in so-called “dirty house” cases: prosecuting twin sisters for raising the children in such a hazardous environment.

Local officials say the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services routinely investigates dirty-house cases, but it’s rare for them to wind up in Family Court — and unheard of for anyone to face criminal charges where no child was injured in the home, as is the situation for Jeanette Allen and Janet Doughty, who are charged with criminal abuse and wanton endangerment over the home’s condition.

“It is our belief that these are the only two people in Jefferson County that have ever been prosecuted” in a case like this, Allen’s attorney, Brian Butler, said during a recent court hearing, where he argued that the case should be dismissed for selective prosecution.

“This never happens. ... These people are being treated differently and unfairly.”

The defense claims that Allen and Doughty, in their early 20s, are being singled out because of what happened to their children after they were removed from the home.

Christopher Allen, 2, was beaten to death and Wyatt Allen, his half brother, also then 2, was injured within days of being removed on Aug. 25, 2008, and placed with their aunt, Nereida Allen.

Jeanette Allen is Christopher's mother, and Doughty is Wyatt's mother.

Nereida Allen and her former boyfriend, Joshua Peacher, were convicted last year of wanton murder, assault and criminal abuse and sentenced to 47 and 70 years in prison, respectively, for the death and abuse.

Timing questioned

A day before they were sentenced, the sisters were indicted over the condition of their home. They have pleaded not guilty.

“The timing is suspicious,” said J. Clark Baird, Doughty’s attorney. “These girls were not charged until after this trial was finished.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Scott has said prosecutors didn't seek charges sooner because they didn't wish to interfere with the murder case, and Kentucky has no statute of limitations on felonies.

And as unique as the 2011 indictment appears to be, defense attorneys have gone to equally unheard of lengths in trying to get the cases dismissed.

Butler has filed a subpoena for one of the prosecutors, asking a judge to order him to turn over any similar criminal cases ever handled by the Jefferson commonwealth’s attorney’s office; a family law attorney who served as court-appointed guardian for the two children testified that she had never heard of this type of prosecution; and, most recently and most surprisingly, the defense brought a longtime Jefferson Family Court judge in to testify in front of the circuit judge in the case.

On Jan. 30, Judge Joan Byer testified that she has handled thousands of cases, many involving dirty homes where children lived, but had never seen a family member criminally prosecuted over the condition of a home.

In fact, Byer testified, social workers typically keep dirty-home cases out of Family Court, giving the parents a chance to clean up and fix problems — such as a lack of electricity — in order to get the children back.

“The goal is not to send the case to (Family) Court except in the most extreme or extraordinary circumstances,” Byer told Judge Barry Willett.

But prosecutors argue that Allen and Doughty’s case is, in fact, extreme and extraordinary.

“This is more than a dirty-house case,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dorislee Gilbert told Willett on Oct. 31. “The behavior they engaged in was much more than that.”

Not only was the home a health hazard — the prosecution will have an expert testify at trial that the exposure to the feces could have caused long-lasting physical problems for the children — but the sisters admitted that they would lock the children in a room by tying an electric cord from the door handle to a heavy piece of furniture, according to court records.

A social worker told police that the sisters were putting their children “in danger” and that the home was a “safety hazard.” Both sisters, who are out of jail on their own recognizance, admitted to social workers that the home was unfit for their children, according to court records.

Yet the social worker also said in an interview with police that the children were not ill and that the sisters could have gotten them back once the house was cleaned, without any court involvement, according to a transcript of the interview.

The sisters inherited the home, which has been been sold, from their mother.

Butler said in court records that he has subpoenaed Scott to force prosecutors to “admit that they have never prosecuted a dirty-house case despite the fact that they are relatively routine.”

In an interview, Scott said this “case is not simply about a dirty house but the criminal conduct of a parent exposing their children to hazardous conditions, and that constitutes abuse.”

Scott declined to say if the state had tried similar cases, saying the issue was pending before Willett and he couldn’t discuss it.

The newspaper could not find any similar felony cases in Jefferson County. But the county attorney’s office, which handles District Court cases, said criminal prosecution in dirty-house cases is rare but not unheard of.

And there have been similar cases prosecuted outside Jefferson County.

Warren Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Cohron, past president of the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Association, said he had similar cases, including one in which a man pleaded guilty to criminal abuse after being charged with allowing a 4-year-old to be locked in a room with feces on the wall and with urine-soaked carpet.

“We’ve had cases with children living in abject squalor that we believe rose to the level of criminality,” he said.

In the sisters’ case, Butler said that he will argue that Child Protective Services found Christopher and Wyatt were healthy and without any evidence of abuse when they were removed from the home. The agency determined that the children should be temporarily relocated to allow their mothers time to clean the residence.

Prosecutors, Butler said, are creating law, a scenario no different than if they tried to prosecute a parent for smoking around their children or for giving them too much fast food.

“The commonwealth has in fact created a novel crime without any injury to the child,” Butler said in a motion to dismiss. “... Simply put, a prosecutor does not and should not have the power to create law.”

Byer testified that she had reviewed the particulars of the case and found it was not unlike others she had seen.

“Unfortunately ... this type of scenario is not an unusual scenario for the court to get,” she said. “I could give example after example of similar types of situations. ... I have never in 16 years been aware of a criminal prosecution” in a case where the child was not injured in the dirty house.

The judge told Willett that she had a recent case in which a dead dog lay in a bathroom for weeks and another where a man locked a child in a basement, forcing him to urinate in a bottle. Neither led to criminal charges.

Scott questioned Byer, however, on whether she has seen homes so bad that she felt that someone should be charged for putting children’s safety at risk.

Byer said she couldn’t answer that question but believed it would require an intent to do harm.

Susan Meschler, a family law attorney who was appointed guardian for the boys, testified that the uncleanliness of the house was just a minor part of the case and that she has never seen a case where someone has been criminally prosecuted for a dirty home.

Willett has not ruled on whether to dismiss the case before trial, but senior status Judge Geoffrey Morris, sitting in for Willett during a November hearing, said the fact that Byer hadn’t heard of any of these type of cases wouldn’t sway him to dismiss the case, at least before trial.

“It doesn’t make any difference whether another judge had never seen a case like this,” Morris said. “Wouldn’t mean a thing to me.”