Fighting for Families and Youth
Changing the System
Case Summary: In re Elizabeth C.
In this case, through pro bono counsel Latham & Watkins, CFR represented Omar C. in an appeal from an order denying him an expedited hearing to contest the order excluding him from the home in which the children resided. Under Family Court Act Section 1028, a parent is entitled to a prompt hearing whenever a child is temporarily removed in connection with a child abuse or neglect hearing. The family court interpreted this statute to require such a hearing only when a child is removed from the home and not when a parent is removed from the home, despite the fact that both types of orders equally implicate the parent’s fundamental right to the care and custody of their child. On appeal, CFR argued that the text and purpose of the statute and the constitutional right to due process require that a parent have a prompt hearing anytime the state deprives the parent of custody of their child. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court agreed, holding that “Since an exclusionary order of protection compromises the parent-child relationship in the same manner as the relocation of the child would, it must be governed by the same legal standards as are provided for removal of a child in Family Court Act §§ 1027 and 1028. Due process demands nothing less.”