Judge Makes Justina Pelletier’s Parents Wait Until Friday for Answer on Custody

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 17, 2014   |   6:05PM   |   Boston, MA

The parents of Justina Pelletier are going to have to wait until Friday for an answer in their lawsuit as they attempt to regain custody of their daughter. Justina’s parents and their pro-life attorneys appeared in court today along with DCF officials.

Pelletier, the teen at the center of a legal battle between the Pelletier family and Boston Children’s Hospital over custody and proper medical treatment, spoke out publicly about her ordeal for the first time last week. Lou and Linda Pelletier from West Hartford, Conn., appeared in court several times, fighting for a resolution to regain custody and medical care of their 15-year-old daughter.

justinapelletier5The case is drawing national attention, as Boston Children’s Hospital filed a “medical child abuse” complaint against Justina’s parents last year, leading the state to take custody of her and hospitalize her for almost a year.

A judge had previously sentenced the Connecticut teenager, who has been caught in a yearlong custody fight between her parents and Massachusetts child protection officials, to a new foster care program in Massachusetts. The ruling triggered an anguished response from her parents when it was announced by a juvenile court judge and pro-life advocates were also up in arms.

The Blaze has more on what happened today in court:

The judge instead said that he would make a ruling by Friday, Mat Staver with Liberty Counsel announced outside of the Boston courthouse Monday afternoon, calling it “another kicking of the can.”

After the latest hearing at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, Staver said that Judge Joseph Johnson would be ruling on Justina’s custody by Friday. All options are on the table, including custody going back to her parents as part of a conditional plan, custody being transferred to Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families or custody remaining with Massachusetts DCF.

Staver also said the judge would rule on the family’s request to have him as an official lawyer on the case, which is something he said DCF opposes.

“I’ve been practicing for 27, 28 years and have never seen this happen in any other situation,” Staver said. The lawyer also said that he sees the case as a “significant violation of the [Pelletiers] constitutional rights.”

Phil Moran, an attorney based in Massachusetts who is joining the family’s legal team, said the Pelletiers are not pleased with today’s outcome because they were expecting results. They were expecting Staver to be allowed onto the case and they were expecting an outcome regarding Justina’s custody. He also said they are upset that DCF opposes the conditional plan they set forth to bring their daughter back into their home.

Neither Lou nor Linda Pelletier spoke with the press after the hearing, but their eldest daughter Jessica said “we just want our sister home” and noted that they are still hopeful.

“I am always hopeful. I am always try to stay positive,” Jessica Pelletier said.

The tragic case of Justina Pelletier has been dragging on for 14-months as pro-life groups have complained about how she has been denied education, religious services or clergy visit, and has had abysmal medical care while in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Pelletier has only been allowed one, one hour supervised visit per week with her mom and dad and they have not been permitted to take photographs of their daughter. But, following new legal pressure asserted by Liberty Counsel and intense media scrutiny, DCF permitted the most recent visitation to be unsupervised. Rev. Pat Mahoney, a nationally known pro-life activist, accompanied Lou and Linda Pelletier to visit Justina.

Justina is now speaking out and her words are being heard. Justina told her parents and Rev. Mahoney, “I feel like a prisoner.”

She also asked, “Why can’t I go home with my parents?”