Saturday, June 16, 2012
Up front I want to thank Lenny Sienko (http://lennyesq.wordpress.com/) for putting me onto the case of People v. Leonard (http://newyorkcourtofappealsopinions.justia.com/2012/06/01/people-v-leonard) wherein the NY Court of Appeals twists and contorts the law so that it can permit the Government to intrude unnecessarily in the most important relationship in the world, that between a parent and a child. It is not enough that for whatever reason, the state refuses to acknowledge a privilege between child and parent so that one can be forced to testify against the other, but now a custodial parent can be charged with kidnapping. Thats right the custodial parent can be charged with taking his own child illegally. The facts of the Leonard case are simple and sad. Father and Mother conceive child out of wedlock. Mom stays with dad until child is born and then takes child from Brooklyn to Ulster County. She never seeks an order of custody or sole custody. Dad goes to Ulster and visits with mom and child and possibly engages in an act of domestic violence against mom. Dad now has child and wants to keep him (as is his legal right at that point). Cops arrive, dad has child and a knife, cops chase dad into a bedroom dad allegedly holds knife to child's throat and tells cops he wants to leave with his son. They refuse and are rightly in fear for the child's safety. Ultimately the child is taken back and the cops arrest the Father for??? Endangering the welfare of a child??? NO Of Course not, the DA and Cops want to shred the law and want to bring as high a charge as they can so, they charge KIDNAPPING!!!! Judge Smith in the Ct of Appeals and the majority (it was a 4-3 divided opinion) goes into a convoluted twisting of the meaning of words when the real issue is, did the legislature ever in its wildest dreams think a court would allow the Kidnapping statute to be used against a parent who had custodial rights?? NO! In fact the legislature would say we have a law... THE ENDANGERING THE WELFARE OF A CHILD law. Smith and the others in the majority know it is a bad decision. They know it because in their opinion they use dicta to explain that this outcome should only be precedent in cases with similar fact patterns. SURE! RIGHT JUDGE! Like that is going to happen. Look it is a bad case but we know that when courts do not have the backbone to stand up to the bad case, it makes bad law. Why is this bad law, because: 1. It was not predictable to the Father that this would be the outcome of trying to take his own custodial child. 2. It further damages the relationship between the parent and child. We have no privilege with our children, CPS can interfere in that relationship in the name of protecting the child and the family courts do not consider the needs of parents at all but only what the court decides is in the best interest of the child. 3. Criminal court is not the place to decide cases like this and they are better handled in Family court. 4. It over criminalizes activities and gives parents another sword in which they can hold over each other's heads. Here is an example. Mother and father at odds, child with father, mother comes to father's house takes child in a raid with 3 other of mom's family members mom is in such a hurry to outrun father that she leaves child's asthma meds in house. Well, did she kidnap kid?? I think so. Especially under this ruling. What is kid dies of an asthma attack? Is it Murder? Since Kidnapping is an intentional crime, is this intentional murder? Forgetting bad consequences, any law that keeps parents and child apart without actual physical damage being done to the child, is not a good law. Parents need room to discipline children, teach them their religion, and give them education. A parent nurtures a child in ways that a community can't (Apologies to Madame Secretary of State Clinton), and mostly the law needs to stay as far away from our homes as it possible can. We do not need a cop or a lawyer or an appellate judge (especially not an appellate judge :) ) determining what should pass for reasonable behavior and what doesn't pass in the lives of our children. What say you??