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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.

Comments Off on Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. accused of influencing judge to hold bond hearing for client while courthouse was closed during Coronavirus outbreak

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Screen grab: Fox5 Atlanta

Fulton County Commissioner Marvin S. Arrington, Jr. is accused of using his political influence with the courts to schedule a bond hearing for his client on a day when the courthouse was closed during the Coronavirus outbreak in Atlanta.

Atlanta attorney Precious Anderson only found out about her ex-husband Kashka Scott's bond hearing when she searched the court database for hearings so she wouldn't get any surprises.

She was stunned to learn Scott's hearing was taking place on a day when the courthouse was officially closed during the virus outbreak. Anderson received no official notice of the hearing.

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Scott (pictured right) spent 6 days in jail on a charge of strangling another woman, according to Fox5 Atlanta News. Anderson was in the courtroom to watch her ex-husband's bond hearing unfold earlier this week.

Anderson wanted to be in attendance at the hearing because she is dealing with Mr. Scott on a variety of domestic and legal issues.

Child Protective Services opened 2 investigations into Scott in the last three weeks after receiving two separate complaints of child abuse from mandatory reporters.

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Anderson couldn't understand why -- with the courthouse shut down and no bond motion filed -- Scott was transported from jail and brought into court.

Anderson told Fox5 I-Team reporter Dale Russell why she believes Scott received preferential treatment over the other jailed detainees who don't have high profile attorneys.

"For him to have a hearing here today is just unbelievable, except for the fact of who represents him," she said, referring to Fulton County Commissioner Arrington.

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Arrington admitted he filed an "emergency bond motion" to get a hearing for Scott a half hour after the hearing was scheduled to begin.

Russell searched the court dockets and couldn't find a motion for an emergency bond hearing for Scott. Russell asked Arrington directly if he reached out to the judge personally to request a bond hearing.

Surprisingly, Arrington admitted that he did indeed reach out to the judge in her chambers.

"Uh, yes. I mean, that is something typical that attorneys will do," Arrington told Russell.

Arrington said Scott was concerned that he was locked up in a jail that wasn't adequately screening inmates for the virus.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Abbate told the judge he felt "blindsided" by the bond hearing. He argued that he received no advanced notice of a bond hearing and he had "no time" to review Scott's criminal history or prepare for the hearing.

So Abbate asked for a sky high bond of $150,000 for Scott based on his history of allegedly beating women and children.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause admitted the surprise bond hearing was a "strange procedure" during an unusual time.

She said she cancelled an earlier hearing because of fears of a "packed courthouse" during the Coronavirus outbreak in Atlanta.

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Judge Krause said Scott was eligible for a $20,000 bond despite the domestic charges against him. She ordered Scott to make no contact with the woman he strangled or his three children by Anderson. "When I say no contact, I mean no contact," she told Scott.

Anderson, who owns The Anderson Firm, a boutique law firm in Atlanta, says she wished she had more time to prepare for the hearing.

"I'm a member of the bar. I believe in justice, and this is not [justice]," she told Russell.

"This is made for TV. It is made for TV," Anderson said.

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CBSDFW News

Judge Tammy Kemp sat down with media outlets to explain why she hugged convicted ex-cop Amber Guyger, and gave her a Bible after her murder trial ended.

The embattled judge didn't just give Guyger any Bible, she went back to her judge's chambers to retrieve her own personal Bible to give the departing killer.

Kemp was criticized by legal experts and the public after she appeared to show bias toward the former Dallas police officer who was convicted of killing 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean in his own apartment last year.

Kemp wiped away tears as she told CNN she thought it would be "rude" not to hug Guyger after she hugged Jean's family members.

She said Guyger asked her, "Do you think God will forgive me?" Kemp said yes and, Guyger added, "'Well, I don't have a Bible. I don't own a Bible, and I don't know where to start.' And I said I will get you a Bible."

“And that's when I went to retrieve my Bible and gave it to her." Kemp also said, "She did tell me she'd bring my Bible back in 10 years."

Kemp said she told Guyger, "Brandt Jean has forgiven you. Please forgive yourself, so you can have a purposeful life. And she asked me, 'Do you think my life can still have a purpose?' And I said, 'I know it can.'"

Kemp said Guyger asked for a hug twice. "I'm embarrassed to say that she had to ask me twice," Kemp told CBSDFW News.

"When I looked at her and saw how she was hurting, of course I agreed to give her a hug."

Kemp responded to the backlash from critics who say she never shows empathy toward Black defendants in court.

"Frankly, I don't think I would be getting this criticism if Miss Guyger were a Black woman," Kemp said. "I hate that we limit our compassion to one race."
 

 

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The Dallas judge who hugged Amber Guyger said the former cop asked her for a hug and for help seeking God's forgiveness.

Judge Tammy Kemp was widely criticized by legal experts and the public after she embraced Guyger and gave her a Bible at the end of Guyger's murder trial.

Kemp told The Associated Press that she believed her actions were appropriate since Guyger said she didn't understand how to begin seeking God's forgiveness for killing accountant Botham Jean, 26.

"She asked me if I thought that God could forgive her and I said, 'Yes, God can forgive you and has,'" Kemp said. "If she wanted to start with the Bible, I didn't want her to go back to the jail and to sink into doubt and self-pity and become bitter. Because she still has a lot of life ahead of her following her sentence and I would hope that she could live it purposefully."

Kenneth Williams, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told The NY Post: "[Kemp] has indicated an affinity or sympathy for the defendant."

And attorney Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted that a judge should remain impartial and unbiased in a court of law.

However, Kemp said she never acknowledged her Christian faith in court previously or provided a defendant with a Bible, but Guyger told her she didn't have a Bible at the end of the trial. Kemp said Guyger asked her for a hug twice.

“Following my own convictions, I could not refuse that woman a hug. I would not," Kemp said defiantly.

She also responded to the anger of Black people who wondered why she didn't show the same empathy for Black defendants.

"I don't understand the anger. And I guess I could say if you profess religious beliefs and you are going to follow them, I would hope that they not be situational and limited to one race only," Kemp said.

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An ethics complaint has been filed against a Dallas, Texas judge who hugged former cop Amber Guyger and gave her a Bible following her guilty verdict on Wednesday.

Guyger, who is white, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man who was relaxing in his own apartment when Guyger barged in.

Judge Tammy Kemp fueled outrage when she embraced Guyger in court and handed her a Bible after Guyger was sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The judge's actions prompted many to question why Black defendants aren't treated the same way.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an ethics complaint against the judge with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Thursday.

The FFRF group said Kemp went too far by embracing the former cop in court and praying with her before Guyger was shipped off to prison.

The FFRF called Judge Kemp's behavior inappropriate and unconstitutional.

After a victim impact statement by Jean's brother, Brandt Jean, he told Guyger he loved her and embraced her.

Then Kemp embraced Guyger and spoke with her before leaving the courtroom and returning with her personal Bible.

She turned the pages to John 3:16 and told Guyger, "This is where you start." She continued, saying, "He has a purpose for you," referring to God.

In the complaint, the FFRF said Judge Kemp, "Handled a difficult trial with grace" but that she "signaled to everyone watching... that she is partial to Christian reform and Christian notions of forgiveness."

Legal experts have noted that the hug and the Bible could cause a conflict if Guyger files an appeal, which her attorneys have stated she will.

Other legal experts weighed in, saying Kemp's actions bordered on judicial misconduct.

"I did not see why the judge did what she did," said C. Victor Lander, a former municipal judge who spent 27 years behind the bench.

"Once there's an appearance that the judges are not impartial, we lose our entire criminal justice system," Lander said.
 

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Law & Crime/YouTube.com

Legal experts are weighing in on the behavior of a Dallas, Texas judge after a former cop was convicted of shooting her unarmed neighbor in his own apartment.

Guyger, who is white, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man who was relaxing in his own apartment when Guyger barged in.

Legal experts say Judge Tammy Kemp, who is Black, demonstrated poor judgment and inappropriate behavior when she left the bench to embrace Guyger and hand her a Bible after the guilty verdict was announced on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

According to The Washington Post, legal experts says a judge hugging a defendant and giving her a Bible was "not only rare but inappropriate."

Kenneth Williams, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told The Post: "[Kemp] has indicated an affinity or sympathy for the defendant."

Other legal experts noted that the hug and the Bible could cause a conflict if Guyger files an appeal, which her attorneys have stated she will.

President and Director-Counsel of LDF (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational) Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted that a judge should remain impartial and unbiased in a court of law.

"A judge is not an average citizen. She is not the victim... She must, especially in a case that arouses passion and conflict like this one, stand for impartial justice. She may speak words from the bench. This is too much."

Others noted that Judge Kemp allowed Guyger's defense to use the Castle Doctrine defense, which is usually reserved for homeowners who stand their ground. The Castle Doctrine justifies deadly force when an intruder enters an occupied home.

Kemp also instructed the jurors to consider a "sudden passion" defense while determining Guyger's punishment. The sudden passion defense reduced the sentencing range from 2 to 20 years.