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Petitioning Senator Clinton Update / Seizing children being spanked in Canada

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Date: Mon Jan 06 2003 - 17:54:12 EST

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Good People & People of Faith:

This message contains information on:

1. Petitioning Senator Clinton - Jan 6 Update
2. Seizing children being spanked in Canada

1. Petitioning Senator Clinton - Jan 6 Update

John returned to the Syracuse Federal Building again today in a
continuing effort to petition Senator Hillary Clinton regarding Family
Law reform.  There are background and details at the site,
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr.   John was arrested for trespass, 
loitering, and disorderly conduct.  He was also given a Show Cause 
Order signed by a Federal Magistrate to appear in Federal Court on 
Jan. 16th for potential contempt charges.  He was arrested by Syracuse 
City Police and should be arraigned in City Court tomorrow. 

This is John's last planned NonViolent action until mid-February.   He 
has plane tickets to visit his son out West the weekend of Feb. 13th for 
his birthday.  John hopes the pending court appearance will not put that 
visit into jeopardy.

There has been no response at all from the office of Senator Clinton
to events after repeated contact attempts (see below).  John did
contact the Senator's office last Friday and talked to Eric in
scheduling, he was familiar with the group.  Eric said a new manager
of scheduling would be in place Monday.  Another copy of your letters
was faxed to Eric along with our meeting request and he did receive
it. We hope there will be a meeting soon.

Cover Letter & Your Letters:

You are welcome to FAX a letter directly to the Senator's scheduling
office:  Fax: 202-228-0121   Att: Eric Woodard
Subject:  Meet with parents hurt by family law system.

Follow up receipt with a phone call, tel: 202-224-4451

2.  Seizing children being spanked in Canada?

Submitted by:

Canadian Judge backs CAS seizure of spanked children
St. Thomas parents used the scriptures to defend discipline
Saturday, October 12, 2002

       A child care worker who entered a family home, interviewed seven
children and examined them for marks and questioned their mother before
abruptly seizing the youngsters didn't trample upon the parents'
constitutional rights, an Ontario Court judge has decided.

       The one-page ruling from Judge Eleanor Schnall was quietly
released two days ago to lawyers involved in the so-called "spanking
case" that unfolded in a St. Thomas, Ontario, courtroom last spring
under a blanket of secrecy.

       Unusually, since the case had been on hold since last June in
order to give Judge Schnall time to make this critical decision, the
judge did not release her reasons. Normally, judges either deliver a
ruling orally, and follow up with written reasons, or reserve important
decisions until they can provide a proper legal rationale.

       The ruling means that all the evidence heard over about a month
in what is known as a "voir dire" proceeding -- including various
statements made by the children and both their mother and father -- is
now admissible in the child-protection hearing proper.

       It is in effect a victory for the Child and Family Services of
St. Thomas and Elgin County agency, whose worker, Shelley West, decided
the seven children were "in need of protection" when she went to the
family house in the town of Aylmer on July 4 last year.

       The youngsters spent only about three weeks in foster care in the
summer of 2001 before being returned to their home, but their parents
have been living under a supervision order ever since, prohibited from
this sort of discipline and required to allow workers to inspect the

       There were no marks or bruises found on any of the youngsters,
and in videotaped interviews with police made shortly afterward, they
all appeared healthy, well-adjusted and happy, if distressed that they
had been wrenched from the bosom of their home.

       Ms. West, who testified at the voir dire proceeding, made her
decision to apprehend them based in the main on what their mother, who
at the time spoke little English, told them about her disciplinary

       The mother admitted to using various objects, including a belt, a
clothes hangar and the metal end of a fly swatter, to spank her

       Both parents are members of the fundamentalist Church of God
congregation in Aylmer -- upon which the St. Thomas agency has long been
keeping a watchful eye -- and as such, as they testified, believe in the
use of the Biblical "rod" or reasonable facsimiles in raising children.

       Though the children's father speaks good English, and did at the
time of the apprehension, only their mother was home when Ms. West
arrived on the fateful day. As with many Church members, her first
language is a dialect called "low German," and her grasp of English
remains halting.

       Lawyers for the parents, Michael Manear and Valerie Wise, had
argued that the parents' Charter rights to security of the person and
against unreasonable detention and seizure had been breached. Had the
lawyers convinced Judge Schnall, most of the evidence against the
parents could have been ruled illegal -- as indeed often happens in the
criminal courts.

       Alfred Mamo, on behalf of the St. Thomas children's aid,
successfully argued that child care workers must have the right to
interview and examine children without their parents' consent, and
without judicial warrants, when they believe a child may be at risk.

       The decision has significant ramifications, both for children's
aid agencies, who almost uniformly deem all spanking to be harmful, and
for Canadian families who believe, as do the Church of God members, that
corporal discipline is fairly a helpful part of the parenting

       The case won national attention because television cameras and
photographs captured much of the children's apprehension. The
youngsters, crying and asking for their Bibles, were taken out of their
parents' house by agency workers and local police officers.

       What is likely to follow now is that the dueling parties may try
to reach a deal which would satisfy the agency that the children won't
be spanked with objects again, but would see them remain in their
parents' care.

       Judge Schnall had originally clamped a series of sweeping
publication bans upon the voir dire proceedings, but these were briskly
set aside last June by a Superior Court justice.

       In her brief ruling last week, Judge Schnall gave no hint of how
she came to her decision, promising only to release proper reasons soon.

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