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YouTube/Fox32 Chicago

A Chicago judge who revoked a mother's custody of her 11-year-old son until she got vaccinated has reversed his decision.

Rebecca Firlit, a 39-year-old desk clerk, was surprised when Cook County Judge James Shapiro asked about her vaccination status during a virtual child support hearing with her ex-husband.

Firlit explained that she had "adverse reactions in the past and was advised not to get vaccinated by her doctor. It poses a risk."

But Judge Shapiro revoked Firlit's custody of her 11-year-old son until she got the vaccine.
READ ALSO: Judge Revokes Custody for Mother Who Said She Was Unvaccinated
Firlit's attorney, Annette Fernholz, immediately appealed the order, arguing that Shapiro overstepped his authority as a judge.

"In this case you have a judge, without any matter before him regarding the parenting time with the child deciding 'Oh, you're not vaccinated. You don't get to see your child until you are vaccinated.' That kind of exceeds his jurisdiction," Fernholz told Fox 32 Chicago.

"You have to understand the father did not even bring this issue before the court. So it's the judge on his own and making this decision that you can't see your child until you're vaccinated," she added.

Fernholz said Judge Shapiro reversed his order on Monday.

"Judge Shapiro just issued an order vacating portions of his prior order of August 11th so Rebecca Firlit can see her son again," Fernholz told Fox 32.

She said the judge likely reversed his decision following "media outcry".

"I think there's been a lot of media outcry. The divorce bar here in Illinois has been responding when they saw it on the news," Fernholz said.

Another attorney representing Firlit's son said Firlit became "volatile" during the child support hearing, and her behavior may have influenced the judge.

But Firlit denied doing anything to endanger her child. "It definitely was not a reason to take my child away from me," she said.

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YouTube/Fox32 Chicago

When Rebecca Firlit attended a virtual child custody hearing with her ex-husband on Aug. 10, the first thing Cook County Judge James Shapiro asked was whether she was vaccinated.

Firlit, a 39-year-old desk clerk, explained that she had "adverse reactions in the past and was advised not to get vaccinated by her doctor. It poses a risk."

But the judge revoked her custody until she got the vaccine that poses a risk to her health.

Firlit's attorney, Annette Fernholz, immediately filed an appeal of the judge's order. Fernholz said her client has been divorced seven years and she and her ex share custody.

Firlit told the Sun-Times she thought the hearing would cover child support and child expenses - not custody.

"One of the first things he asked me when I got on the Zoom call was whether or not I was vaccinated, which threw me off because I asked him what it had to do with the hearing," Firlit said.

"I was confused because it was just supposed to be about expenses and child support. I asked him what it had to do with the hearing, and he said, 'I am the judge, and I make the decisions for your case.'"

Firlit said she hopes an appellate court will rule in her favor because she believes the judge overreached his judicial authority.

She said the only contact she has had with her son since Aug. 10 is by phone.

"I talk to him every day. He cries, he misses me. I send him care packages," she said.

Fernholz said she hopes an appellate court gets involved this week and reverses Shapiro's ruling.

"It's very much exceeding his judicial authority," she said.

Jeffrey Leving, who represents Firlit's ex-husband, told the Sun-Times he was not expecting the judge to ask about vaccinations. However, the father - who is fully vaccinated - agrees with the judge's decision.

"We support the judge's decision," Leving said, before adding they will fight Firlit's appeal.

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Syesha Mercado and her partner have retained civil rights lawyer Ben Crump to represent them in a custody battle in Florida.

The American Idol contestant and her partner, Tyron Deneer, lost custody of their newborn during a roadside encounter with Florida deputies on Wednesday, August 11.

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According to, the couple was riding in a car with Deener's three children, ages 8, 7 and 5, from a previous relationship when the car was surrounded by sheriff's deputies.

The officers gave the couple a court order to hand over their then-10-day-old daughter, Asset Sba, for a checkup at a hospital.

The deputies said they were ordered by family court to take the newborn, TMZ reported.

In video footage, a tearful Mercado is seen slowly walking her newborn daughter over to DCF officials, pleading with them not to take her.

Mercado and Deneer's 15-month-old son, Amen'Ra, was taken away from the couple in March amid reports that the boy was severely malnourished.

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Both children remain in "medical foster care" with an "estranged relative."

"We don't want to say where for their safety, but they are not with their parents. And not with the person they would choose," said Crump's co-counsel Louis Baptiste.

Mercado, 34, explained her anguish in a video press conference on Tuesday.

"I went somewhere to get assistance. My baby was supposed to come home with me. We should have nor been criminalize for getting assistance for something."

Deneer added:

"If this can happen to us, it can happen to you. We have no criminal background. We have no history with DCF. We have done nothing wrong."

Mercado said she and Deneer are "just missing out on so many precious moments" with their young children.

"I am a first-time mom and I've been deprived of holding my babies, and feeding my babies. I didn't get to see Ra say, 'Mama' for the first time. I didn't get to see my babies meet for the first time. I didn't get to see that and I can't go back and redo that moment, I will never be able to go back and redo that moment.

"If you are a parent, if you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, just know that we have agencies in place that have the ability to remove children without you breaking the law or abusing your niece, nephew, son."

Crump criticized the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for "dehumanizing" Mercado and Deneer.

The couple created a GoFundMe account that raised more than $420,000 of a $200,000 goal.

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