Child Advocacy Clinic Wins Appeal in 2nd Department

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The Child Advocacy Clinic had appealed a decision by a Nassau County Family Court judge who refused to appoint a guardian for two Haitian teenagers. The Clinic clients, represented by student Alec Pine (’11) had been living with their aunt on Long Island since their home was destroyed in the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The parents had consented to having the aunt become the youth’s guardian, and they needed to be under a Family Court-approved guardianship in order to apply for green cards legalizing their status in this country. The Family Court had refused to appoint the teenager’s aunt as their guardian because her husband had been sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge for endangering the welfare of a child in 1997. The Clinic persuaded the Appellate Division that a criminal conviction should not be considered an automatic bar to guardianship, but rather the Family Court must look at the children’s interests. The case will now go back to Family Court to be heard by a different judge.