CFR is grateful to our pro bono partners at Chadbourne & Parke LLP for their assistance on this important appeal. Stay tuned for updates about the decision.
Our client, Ms. C, was charged with neglect after her 17 year old daughter left home for one week, claiming to be staying with a close friend and then her adult sister. During the week, Ms. C and her daughter were in frequent context via text. What Ms. C did not know was that her daughter was actually staying at her boyfriend’s home and skipping school. When a call from the school alerted Ms. C to her daughter’s dishonesty, Ms. C immediately texted her daughter to come home directly—otherwise she would call the police. The school also called the City’s Administration for Children Services, which charged Ms. C with neglect.
The City alleged that because Ms. C’s daughter had been involved in counseling in the past, Ms. C should have immediately called the police when her daughter first left home—or should have assumed her daughter was lying and confirmed her whereabouts. When CFR became involved in the case, our team argued that Ms. C. had been in frequent contact with her daughter and had no reason to doubt her story. While her daughter should not have missed school, the team also argued that neither the daughter’s wellbeing nor her education had suffered; in fact, she went on to college the following fall. CFR won the trial and the case was dismissed against Ms. C.
However, the City appealed the decision. Ms. C, an immigrant who was a physician in her home country, now works as a baby nurse. A finding of neglect at the appellate level could seriously jeopardize her ability to continue to find gainful employment working with children. CFR immediately contacted our pro bono partners at Chadbourne & Parke LLP for assistance on the appeal. Associate Marc Roitman and Partner Doug Deutsch met with the CFR team and Marc crafted an excellent brief under Doug’s supervision. On Wednesday, September 18th, Marc argued competently and persuasively at the Appellate Division and by all accounts, the justices responded favorably.
Importantly, the Chadbourne attorneys took a step that is otherwise unusual for some pro bono counsel—they took the time to meet with Ms. C to understand her story and how overwhelming the legal process has been for her. Their competence and commitment to our client leads us to believe that the Appellate Division will rule in our favor.
Stay tuned for more updates about this important decision!