Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

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As we prep our Family Life section, another non-bio lesbian mom loses access to child

We here at Dallas Voice are hard at work this week getting ready to publish our first-ever Family Life special section. That’s why this news story about a non-bio lesbian mom in Ohio losing access to her child had a special resonance for me this week.

Michelle Hobbs and Kelly Mullen had a child together in 2005, with Mullen as the biological mother who conceived through in vitro. But even though Mullen had signed a health-care power of attorney, a general durable power of attorney and will where she nominated Hobbs as the child’s guardian, when the two women split up, Mullen still decided to cut off contact between Hobbs and her child. And on Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court said Mullen could get away with that.

(By the way, the two women took out a second mortgage on the home they owned to pay for the in vitro fertilization process.)

Justice Robert Cupp, writing the opinion for the majority in the 4-3 decision, said, “Hobbs was a nonparent under Ohio law despite her active role in raising and caring for the child.” The court also said that because Mullen never finalized Hobbs’ parental rights in a legally binding contract, she had the right to end Hobbs’ parental role with the child when the two women split.

This, of course, isn’t the only case where a biological parent decided to cut off a non-bio parent’s access to children the two had raised together. But it seems especially timely to me, given the special section we are getting ready to publish. So if you and your partner have — or are considering having — children, be sure and check out Friday’s issue of Dallas Voice. We’ll have information in that issue on legal ways to protect yourself, your partner and your children, as well as other articles pertaining to various aspects of “family life” in all its forms in the LGBT community.

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Custody Battle Heads to Top Mich. Court

RENEE HARMON X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Michigan supreme court will decide next month whether it will hear
a case from a lesbian who is requesting joint custody of her
nonbiological children that she and her former partner raised together
until September 2009.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Arrest warrant issued for Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller
Lisa Miller

An arrest warrant has been issued for Lisa Miller, according to Associated Press.

Miller is the woman who had a child with her partner, Janet Jenkins, in Vermont. When the couple split, Miller moved to Virginia, hooked up with Jerry Falwell’s church and has defied the Vermont family court’s orders ever since.

A Virginia court ruled that the Vermont court had jurisdiction in the case. The Vermont judge first ruled that Jenkins had visitation rights. When Miller defied the orders, the judge in the case ordered full custody for Jenkins.

In December, Miller disappeared. The child was to have gone to Jenkins on Jan. 1. The judge gave Miller until this week to appear in court. When she did not appear, the judge ordered her arrest.

—  David Taffet

Lisa Miller given 30 days to appear in court

Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller

The judge in the Lisa Miller custody case has given Miller 30 days to appear in court. He could have issued a contempt of court citation.

Miller was the biological mother of a child she had while in a relationship with Janet Jenkins. The couple lived in Vermont.

Within a year of their daughter’s birth, Miller ended the relationship and moved to Virginia where she became involved with Jerry Falwell’s church. Jenkins sued for joint custody and won. Miller refused to abide by earlier court rulings and the Vermont family court judge changed full custody to Jenkins. A Virginia court ruled that the Vermont court had full jurisdiction in the case.

On Jan. 1, the transfer of custody was to have taken place. Miller and their daughter have not been seen since the beginning of December.

The judge set a Feb. 23 court date. If Miller does not appear in court, he could issue an arrest warrant.

—  David Taffet

Another lesbian custody case

Everyone is wondering where Lisa Miller is hiding out with her daughter Isabella to avoid having to relinquish custody of the child to her former partner — and Isabella’s other mother — Janet Jenkins of Vermont.

But out on the West Coast, in Santa Cruz, Calif., Kim T. Smith and Maggie Quale have a custody matter of their own on their minds right now.

According to MercuryNews.com, Smith and Quale are former partners who had twin boys together through artificial insemination. The babies are now 10 months old, and since their birth, Smith and Quale have split up and Quale is now romantically involved with the man who was the sperm donor for the babies, Shawn Wallace.

Smith and Quale never registered as domestic partners with the state, but both Smith and Quale are listed as the babies’ parents on their birth certificates, and the babies have hyphenated last name of Quale-Smith. Smith wants joint custody, but Quale and Wallace say they should get to be the little boys’ only parents.

Family law attorney Deborah Wald, who is representating Smith along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said if Quale and Wallace win the custody battle it would set a “dangerous precedent for lesbians having children with assistance of known sperm donors.”

Quale’s lawyer, Darlene Kemp, says the case has nothing to do with sexual orientation or LGBT rights, and is just a legal dispute between two parties. She says Smith does not meet the legal criteria of a presumed parent.

Well, I am not sure what the legal criteria for being a “presumed parent” are in California. But surely the fact that Smith is listed as a parent on the babies’ birth certificate and the babies share her last name should carry some weight!

I am also wondering when the right-wingers are going to latch onto this case, as they have to the Jenkins-Miller case. Isn’t it funny how the same people who attack us for going against “traditional values” are the people who do their best to keep up from following those values by getting married and loving and caring for our children?

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Contempt of court hearing scheduled for Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller
Lisa Miller

A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 22 in Rutland, Vermont, to have Lisa Miller held in contempt of court, according to the Burlington Free Press.

Miller and Janet Jenkins were civil union partners who had a child together. Miller was the birth mother. The couple split up a year after the child was born and Miller moved to Virginia.

A family court in Vermont gave the couple joint custody of the child, but Miller refused to comply. A Virginia court ruled that the Vermont court did have jurisdiction in the case. The Vermont court transferred custody to Jenkins and the child was supposed to be turned over on Jan. 1. Miller has not been seen since the beginning of December.

When Miller moved to Virginia, she announced she was no longer a lesbian and she joined Jerry Falwell’s church.

In November, after Miller was ordered to tranfer custody, she told Newsweek, “There is a homosexual agenda at work here, and Isabella is a pawn in their game. It has nothing to do with the law. Isabella was saved at age 4, loves God, and knows what’s right and what’s wrong. We don’t hate Janet. We pray for her soul and salvation.”

Jenkins said, “My goal has never been to separate Isabella from Lisa. I just want Isabella to know and love both of her parents. I just want to be with her, like any parent.”

—  David Taffet

Where is Lisa Miller?

Janet Jenkins
Janet Jenkins

Janet Jenkins has been fighting since 2003 to get to see her daughter, Isabella, on a regular schedule. It looked like she was finally going to get her wish when the judge in her ongoing custody battle ruled that Jenkins’ ex, Lisa Miller, would have to hand over custody of the daughter to Jenkins.

The judge issued the order after Miller repeatedly refused to follow court orders granting Jenkins visitation rights.But now Miller has taken Isabella and disappeared. Jenkins said she last saw her daughter in January, and last spoke to her in March.

Isabella was born to the couple in 2002 after Miller was artifically inseminated, and after the two had moved from Virginia to Vermont and entered into a legal civil union. But the women broke up in 2003, and Miller moved back to Virginia, announced she was no longer a lesbian and became an evangelical Christian. At that point, she got hooked up with attorneys from a right-wing religious group and refused to allow Jenkins to see the child.

Jenkins went to court in Vermont and got rulings in her favor. But Miller retaliated by going to court in Virginia, where she got judges ruling in her favor. Eventually though, even the Virginia courts said the Vermont court rulings should stand. But still Miller refused.

Miller was supposed to hand over Isabella to Jenkins on New Year’s Day. But neither mother nor daughter has been seen or heard from in more than a month.

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Vermont-Virginia custody battle takes another turn

Janet Jenkins has been fighting in court for years to get access to her daughter Isabella, and as of Jan. 1, she will be given custody of the child, thanks to a court order by Judge William Cohen.

Isabella is the biological daughter of Jenkins’ former partner, Lisa Miller, who conceived the child after she and Jenkins moved from Virginia to Vermont to have a civil union. But after the little girl was born, the couple broke up. And Miller decided she was no longer gay and moved, with Isabella, back to Virginia where same-sex unions are not recognized and where she thought the courts would be on her side in the ensuing custody battle.

But Jenkins filed suit in Vermont courts to get visitation rights with Isabella. The Vermont courts sided with Jenkins, and the Virginia courts basically went along with that precedent. But still, Miller has consistently refused to abide by the courts’ rulings and has refused to let Jenkins see the child.

Finally, Judge Cohen got fed up with Miller and has decided that Jenkins will get custody of Isabella, effective Jan. 1.  Jenkins has agreed to visitation for Miller.

ProudParenting.com has more on the story.

—  admin