Friday, January 21, 2011

Judge slams gag order on N.J. custody case

Homeschooling Christian parents not allowed to talk to WND
Posted: January 21, 2011
12:50 am Eastern

By Brian Fitzpatrick
© 2011 WorldNetDaily


Jackson family at Maj. John Jackson's promotion ceremony.

The N.J. Superior Court in Morris County has placed a gag order on the parties involved in the N.J. Division of Youth and Family Services case against Christian homeschooling parents John and Carolyn Jackson.

As reported yesterday by WND, DYFS took the five Jackson children away from their parents on April 16, 2010, citing an imminent danger to the children after the youngest, 2-year-old Chaya, was hospitalized. The parents have been fighting in court to regain custody.

According to a source who asked not to be named, the judge hearing the case, Michael Paul Wright, imposed the gag order Wednesday afternoon upon the request of DYFS. WND called DYFS to inquire about the case early Wednesday afternoon, and posted a news story on the WND website early Thursday morning.

Army Maj. John Jackson confirmed to WND today that he is under a gag order and is no longer allowed to talk to the media about the case.

"That's unbelievable," said N.J. attorney William Baer. "It's pretty common for a New Jersey judge to impose a gag order on a child custody case. As a general matter the judge would defer to the state. But the fact that they didn't impose this until there were rumblings about going to the media is interesting.

"The request for a gag order would have to come on a motion from one of the parties," Baer continued. "Because the Jacksons are talking to you, I doubt they are the party that is trying to stifle discussion of this case.

"It wouldn't matter whether it was DYFS, which is the state of New Jersey , or the court, which is also the state of New Jersey. It's the people v. the government," said Baer.

WND's calls to the Morristown County Courthouse went unreturned.

Another N.J. attorney, Leigh-Ann Bellew, observed that getting information about such cases is difficult if the parties aren't allowed to speak.

"The problem is that family court is not open to the public, for the protection of minors," Bellew told WND.

A DYFS spokesman again declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules. "We're not even allowed to say if we're involved in a case with a particular family."

The Jacksons also spoke about the case with another news website, the Tea Party Daily News, which posted a story about the case on January 10.

The unnamed source described the Jacksons as a "wonderful, loving, caring family. The children are normal, happy and, except for Chaya, healthy.

"To immediately withdraw the children from the home without any evidence of wrongdoing is devastating and frightening. If it could happen to this family, it could happen to anybody.

"There's been no justice here," the source added. "They've been deprived of their right to a speedy trial."

The Jacksons are scheduled to present their defense to the court next Monday and Tuesday, nine months after the custody battle began.

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