October 02, 2009

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Go Back in the Courtroom

First of all, let me tell you, we grownups at the Cleaver compound hate to hear the phone ring during the school day. Both The Mister and I might be heard muttering an obscenity every time we get a call during school hours. Always expecting the worst - hearing that, yet again, The Boy has lost control and done something horrible.

Thursday afternoon, yet another phone call. But this time, the dreaded ringing was not due to a call from school (where we both attended a meeting in the morning); it was from an attorney. An attorney who appeared for The Boy's detention hearing (her name is Freeman...cool name, huh?).

Someone at the Public Defender's office determined that The Boy was not eligible for a public defender since he receives money from Social Security (dependent benefits from his father, who is disabled). During the detention hearing, the judge ordered that The Boy was not entitled to further representation by the public defender's office.

So when we went to court last week, the public defender was not there. We had not hired an attorney - with both of us unemployed, it's not like we were going to go lawyer shopping. In short, we were there without counsel.

Since we knew that they were recommending probation (and not detention), we agreed that The Boy should plead guilty, and get this awful incident behind us.

Ok, back to today's call. Apparently, the judge was incorrect when he ordered that The Boy should not have the services of the public defender to represent him. And nobody at the court notified the attorney of the mistake, or even of the date and time of the adjudication hearing. So of course, she did not show up.

She said that this was the first case she knows of where a juvenile with both autism and bipolar disorder was sent to detention. She is angry, and feels that the justice system abused The Boy.

The public defender filed a motion Thursday afternoon to set aside the guilty plea. We get a do over (that's how The Boy described it). He is now again on 'temporary probation' (with the same restrictions as regular probation).

So now the attorney will begin to try to set things straight. She wants medical reports, interviews with his psychiatrist, therapist, etc., to provide a defense for The Boy's actions. She feels that it should be obvious that his disabilities prevent him from acting in a manner that one would expect from a normal child.

Although she and I both feel that there must be some consequences to his horrendous behavior, she wants to keep him out of the detention system, and off of regular probation. Because we both know he will have other outbursts...and the next outburst would be a probation violation. That violation will NOT land him in temporary detention, it will put him in the DYS (Division of Youth Services) system, where he will become a ward of the court, and we will really lose him. I would have to relinquish custody, and there is a possibility that he could remain in the custody of the state of Missouri until he reaches the age of 21.

Scary stuff...I try not to think about that (but it is ALWAYS in the back of my mind).

Now we begin anew, and hope that justice will be meted out fairly. And we will continue to work with The Boy to increase his tolerance and improve his self-control, so that he will not strike out at other people.

We'd be happy to keep you updated on the public defender's progress - just call after 3pm, ok?


  1. Finally some good news and someone looking at the situation with common sense. The public defender sounds amazing! Yeah!

  2. I am so glad you have someone in your corner, trying to sort through all the red tape to get to the actual situation. Someone to fight for his rights. Best of Luck and prayers ...

  3. Sounds like you have someone great behind you now! Good Luck.

  4. The stuff of heartaches. Rooting for all of you.

  5. Hold onto her with both hands. Having been on the other end (victim of a juvenile crime) it is so hard to find anyone who will do the right thing sometimes.

  6. I'm glad that you got someone on your side (finally) to help you sort all this out and protect your and the boy's interests. I'm hoping this makes a huge difference in what happens. Thinking of you.

  7. someone plase expaine how in the world. the juvenile juctice systeam is suppsoed to unrdstand and deal with bi-poplor and autism. this should be dealt with in meatal heath services.


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