Pelletier Family Files Habeas Corpus to Free Justina

Apr 14, 2014

Boston, MA – Today, Linda and Lou Pelletier filed a Habeas Corpus pleading with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Petition is filed to a single Justice of the court. The detailed Petition and Memorandum of Law requests that Justina be released from the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF) and be returned to the custody of her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier. On March 25, 2014, Suffolk Juvenile Judge Joseph Johnston ruled that the custody of Justina will remain with Massachusetts DCF.

“Massachusetts DCF has no right to hold Justina captive. This is unacceptable. Justina needs to return home,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

The Petition argues that DCF has no authority to hold Justina and that DCF’s actions violate the constitutionally protected rights of parents. Among other things, the Petition also argues that the requirement to issue detailed written findings of fact and conclusions of law justifying DCF’s intervention has never been met. Never has the juvenile court issued such required findings of fact or conclusions of law.

“This case comes down to the simple fact that new doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), who had no experience with Justina, came up with a different diagnosis than her expert treating physicians at Tufts Medical Center,” said Staver. “The state cannot take children from their parents when the parents make reasonable choices for their medical care. This case is outrageous,” said Staver. “The psychological experiment of Boston Children’s Hospital, under the sanction of DCF, has miserably failed. Justina has gone from a competitive figure skater to being confined to a wheelchair,” said Staver.

Fourteen months ago, Justina, now fifteen years old, was seized by Massachusetts DCF after her parents, at the direction of Dr. Mark Korson, took her to Boston Children’s Hospital to see Dr. Alejandro Flores, a gastroenterologist who had previously treated Justina when he worked at Tufts Medical Center before he transferred to BCH. Dr. Korson, Chief of Metabolic Services at Tufts Medical Center, was Justina’s primary physician who was treating her for Mitochondrial disease. Instead of allowing Justina to see Dr. Flores, Justina saw Dr. Jurriaan Peters, a BCH resident only seven months out of medical school. He brought in Dr. Simona Bujoreanu, a psychologist who coauthored an article in which she contends that in up to 50% of children who present with physical complaints, the complaints are not physical but mental. Without consulting with Dr. Korson or Flores, Dr. Bujoreanu rendered a diagnosis of Somatoform disorder. Without a thorough review of her care, she opined that Justina’s physical complaints were mental, not physical. BCH then presented the family with a new treatment plan to discontinue all medical care and medications and which forbade any second opinions. When the parents refused to sign the new treatment plan and requested that Justina be discharged so they could take her back to Tufts Medical Center, BCH called DCF, and DCF prevented the family from discharging Justina. Fourteen months later, DCF still retains custody of Justina.

For fourteen months DCF has refused to provide adequate medical care, refused to allow Justina access to a clergy or communion, and even refused to provide any meaningful education for her.

Justina has gone from a figure-skating competitor to being in a wheelchair. Without any education, she has fallen at least two years behind her classmates. DCF has limited the parents to only one hour per week to visit their daughter, but always with a DCF worker or workers present. DCF has prevented the parents from taking a cell phone in to photograph their daughter.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.


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