- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 19, 2012) — An eyewitness in the courtroom this morning for the Henderson case, in which six children ranging in age from three to ten years of age were to be placed into the adoption process, told The Post & Email that the judge stopped short of issuing that order today.
The Henderson family was divided when the parents were falsely incarcerated in May 2011 and the children placed into a total of four different foster homes. An infant born to the Hendersons in July was forcibly removed from his mother’s arms on August 31 by a DCFS social worker and two Los Angeles police officers while the other children were present during an unsupervised visit.
The eyewitness told us:
There was a victory today in a sense. The children were not returned, which isn’t good, but both of the attorneys, for once, spoke up and said what Erica and Jeffrey asked them to say, which was to state that they had never been properly served for any of the hearings they’ve had, and the other thing to mention was that both parents are in compliance with the requirements from DCFS. So there’s no reason for them to withhold reunification any further.
The Post & Email asked, “Did an order go out for the six older children to be adopted?”
No, nothing happened as far as adoption today; that was the other victory. But they rescheduled it for December 20. Jeffrey said that that means they have to be served at least ten days prior to the hearing. They actually tried to serve him notice while he was there this morning waiting to go into court.
“For today’s hearing?”
Yes, and he told them that that was not sufficient, that it was supposed to be ten days in advance. So they postponed the hearing. One sort-of minor complication that the judge mentioned is that they are out of reunification services. That normally means a paid monitor for them and bus passes which help the parents participate in reunification requirements, and they said that they’ve not been getting that from the court anyway. So it’s not a big deal.
“It was DCFS which decided to put a monitor back in after Erica was having unsupervised visits.”
Yes. The other thing to mention is that Jeffrey said that his attorney appeared motivated as he’s never seen him before. He thinks that because of what’s going on with this particular case and the support from the community has helped tremendously…
“How long did the hearing last?”
We were in there for less than three minutes. There were so many supporters that there almost wasn’t room for us because my husband was standing, and the judge told him that he had to sit down or leave the courtroom, so everybody was squished over and sitting half in each other’s chairs. There are only two small benches in there. There were about a dozen of us, and one other person came but couldn’t stay long.
“How was Judge Downing’s demeanor in the courtroom?”
According to others who have been to previous hearings, she was much more pleasant; she didn’t throw Jeffrey out. That’s part of why she was more pleasant. It was only the attorneys who spoke, and they said what Jeffrey and Erica asked them to say, so everything went very well. The judge is up for re-election. She was appointed by Schwarzenegger. Unless things really turn around and she does the right thing, I know some people who are going to be involved in getting her out.
The one downside is that the children will spend another 30 days in foster care and nothing will get done. It’s very difficult because they want to go back to their parents, and they start getting involved in their other life, and it’s really tough.
“I know a lot of the readers have been praying for the family, including Van and Dawn Irion in Tennessee.”
Everyone’s prayers are definitely having an effect.
“And also people’s actions. At least one reader of The Post & Email filed a complaint against Judge Downing for her behavior toward the Hendersons. The purpose of the press is to present the information and leave it up to the readers to decide what to do.”
Things seem to be turning around, and we really appreciate your help. God bless you.
A second eyewitness reported:
Just finished with court. A record ELEVEN people came in support. We all wore white flowers. The judge’s demeanor was totally different. The hearing was continued for improper service, something they have tried to argue at every hearing because they are NEVER properly served. Next hearing is Dec 20. All continues as it has until then.