Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What a difference a judge makes

Today is the permanency hearing. I expect nothing to happen. The hearing I reported on last time is apparently typical of this judge.


That's what I wrote an hour before I left. I had a couple other boring sentences and decided not to write anything more until after the hearing. The judge assigned to Gary's case wasn't there and another was handling the hearing.

The last judge didn't ask for anyone to identify him or herself. I wasn't even sure if all the people in the courtroom were connected to this case. This judge asked everyone for their name and relationship. When we were done she thanked me for being there and then asked every single person if it was okay if I stayed because she could ask me to make a statement and wait outside. Then she asked Gary if he wanted to wait outside or if he wanted to stay.

She summarized what she read in the documents, noted that there was not a specific document included that should have been. No one was in trouble because Gary wasn't sixteen when we were there last, but he is now and was she correct in assuming they would be "motioning that up sometime soon?" There was nodding.

She noticed that Gary had expressed a desire to have a driver's license. So everyone talked about that. The state worker said that it is the department's position that if the parents have parental rights they have to sign. It is the DMV's position that young drivers must appear with their guardian/parent in order to get a permit. Gary's dad previously expressed an unwillingness to sign. Gary's mom lives in another state and for multiple reasons is unable to travel here. So unless things change, Gary will have to wait until he is 18.

She asked me if I wanted to say anything. Last time my presence hadn't been aknowledged so I hadn't thought about what I might say. I mumbled something but she kept looking so I said, "He is a very responsible young man, working hard at school. He is struggling in one class, but working hard to fix that. He's a joy to be around." She looked at Gary and said, "That is a very good report!"

All in all, I think this judge is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the other.

And the permanency hearing is over.

And as for the document that wasn't filed? It's a detailed independent living plan. The state worker says that she is the only judge in the county that requires that it be filed. This isn't her case, which is why no one did it. Now that she has said that it needs to be done, it will be. There will be another hearing, probably in the next couple of weeks, in front of the original judge who will be confused about why we are all there.

I can hardly wait.

Afterwards I asked the agency worker in so she could get her monthly visit over while she was here. She asked Gary if he would mind if she looked up his dad so she could send him periodic reports on how he was doing. Gary thinks it is pointless, but he doesn't mind. So, who knows what will happen next.


  1. I hate that so much of these kids lives are nothing more than a question mark. Is there anything sadder?

  2. Anonymous6:02 AM

    Oh, for crying out loud! Let the kid have a driver's license! If the courts can allow us to do surgery without even notifying the bioparents, certainly they can allow a 16 year old who has displayed a responsible history to get a license!


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