From the Desk of Harris

Harris has quickly become a hit at CJI's headquarters. On most days, he travels to work with CJI Executive Director, Eileen, and spends his time greeting visitors, keeping chairs warm, and looking adorable. He especially loves it when children visit the office. There are plenty of dog friendly offices, so Harris thinks it is only fair that cats be allowed the same privilege. We couldn't agree more, Harris! Make yourself right at home.

Child Justice Legal Director Receives Award from APSAC

CJI Legal Director Honored with APSAC's Outstanding Frontline Professional Award

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) presented CJI Legal Director Paul Griffin with the "Outstanding Frontline Professional Award" during the Beau Biden Foundation's National Conference to Protect America's Children.

Visit our YouTube channel to view the presentation by Viola Vaughan-Eden, Ph.D. What an amazing honor!

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Donor Corner

THANK YOU to our latest donors! Donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated, and may be made on our website, via Facebook or Instagram, or by check.

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Cynthia Cummings and Paul Griffin at the Leaders in Law Awards Celebration

CJI Legal Director and Case Manager Named Leaders in Law

Child Justice Legal Director, Paul Griffin, and Case Manager, Cynthia Cummings, were recently recognized as 2023 Leaders in Law. Through Leaders in Law, The Daily Record and the Maryland State Bar Association honor outstanding legal professionals across Maryland who are serving businesses, clients and individuals and making communities stronger. Check out the event photos here. Congratulations to Cynthia and Paul!

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Beau Biden Foundation's National Conference to Protect America's Children

Legislative and Policy Issues Panel from left to right: Meg Froelich, Anne Hoyer, Danielle Pollack and Paul Griffin

Child Justice spent three days learning, networking, and collaborating during the National Conference to Protect America's Children held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Organized by the Beau Biden Foundation, the conference brought together hundreds of professionals, advocates, and caregivers dedicated to protecting children.

Our legal director participated on two panels: U.S. Family Court Crisis - Revictimization of At-Risk Children with Professor Joan Meier and Camille Cooper, and Legislative and Policy Issues in Family Court with Danielle Pollack, Anne Hoyer, and Colorado State Representative Meg Froelich.

CJI Legal Director Paul Griffin and Professor Joan Meier, National Family Violence Law Center Professor of Clinical Law, George Washington University Law School

There were several additional noteworthy sessions related to the work that we do. Two of particular interest were the presentations by Kathryn J. Spearman, MSN, RN, who is also PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

Katie's well-researched presentations included: "What About the Kids? Understanding the Impact of Post-Separation Abuse on Children’s Health, School Engagement, and Well-Being" and "Abuse Doesn't Always End When You Leave: Understanding Post-Separation Abuse Tactics and the Harms It Causes." Her research is invaluable to the work we do!

Katie Spearman discusses her research on post-separation abuse and children's health outcomes.

We had a booth in the exhibitor area and spoke with many wonderful people. It is inspiring to meet others who have devoted themselves to making the world a safer place for children.

Child Justice staff gather in front of the CJI booth. From left to right: Paul Griffin, Robin Becker-Cornblatt, Eileen King, Lisa Dowell, Cynthia Cummings, and Ada Husten.

Child Justice Submits Amicus Brief to Appellate Court of Maryland

Child Justice has submitted an amicus brief to the Appellate Court of Maryland in the case of Elise Monroe, et al. v. University of Maryland Medical Center (CSA-REG-1550-2022). This case involves a lawsuit brought by a mother against the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) alleging that the reports made by UMMC to CPS, which temporarily placed the children with relatives, led to mental health issues with the children and the suicide of the older daughter.

Child Justice’s interest in the case stems from the desire to protect those who make reports of child abuse to CPS. The fear is that subjecting reporters to potential litigation for their good faith reports, past the summary judgment phase would lead to a chilling effect on reporters. It may cause reporters to be less willing to make reports to CPS out of fear that if they are ultimately proven wrong, they would be liable in civil court.

Interestingly, the Appellants filed an opposition to our motion to file an Amicus Brief, which the court denied. Oral arguments are scheduled for September 5, 2023. Stay tuned! 

CJI Legal Director Quoted in Ms. Magazine

In an article published by Ms. Magazine on July 13, 2023, journalist Amy Polacko continued her investigation into the heartbreaking case of Catherine Kassenoff

Ms. Kassenoff was a protective mother who lost custody of her three young girls after making an abuse allegation against their father. Catherine ended up taking her own life on May 27, 2023.

We are seeing cases like Catherine's pop up across the country, and also abroad. It is alarming.

“The other side will say mom is crazy and mom is going to flee the country, while mom isn’t there to defend herself, so she loses custody. They don’t set a date for a hearing and mom is stuck with the status quo. Her attorney files but she must wait three, six, nine months—or even longer—to be heard. It is definitely abuse.” - Paul Griffin, CJI Legal Director

A team of lawyers involved in Catherine's case believe that what's happening in family court violates federal civil rights law: "Courts routinely deny women's constitutional right to due process - a right the U.S. Supreme Court has stated includes 'an opportunity to be heard' - and some have lost their children because of it."

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has been asked to step in. We are closely following this development and will keep you updated.

Read the Article

Child Justice at the MSBA Legal Summit in Ocean City

The Maryland State Bar's annual conference took place June 7-9 in Ocean City. Nearly 700 attorneys and legal professionals were in attendance. In addition to sponsoring a booth to share our mission, CJI Legal Director Paul Griffin presented on contesting or defending a CPS finding in a child custody case.

When a judge is faced with the issue of whether a parent has abused a child, that judge is likely influenced by the outcome of an investigation conducted by Child Protective Services (CPS). It is very important that attorneys properly educate the court about the reliability of that investigation, particularly the child forensic interview. Learn more about forensic Interviewing in cases of suspected child abuse by visiting APSAC's Practice Guidelines, or contact us for a copy of Paul's presentation.

Fault Lines Documentary: Scout Master

One of the most disturbing sessions at the Beau Biden Foundation's conference was a screening of Scout Master, a documentary by Fault Lines, that investigated one of the largest sex abuse scandals in the United States. Over 80,000 allegations of sexual assault have been made against the Boy Scouts of America. What is most alarming is that BSA still has not put protections into place that will prevent sexual abuse from happening in the future.

Following the screening, Journalist Josh Rushing (pictured below) requested that we share the film in hopes of reaching more survivors. The video is linked below.

Watch Film

Client Words of Thanks

We love receiving updates from our former clients, like this one from a protective mom:

"Thank you for everything you have done for us these past 5 1/2 years. My baby girl graduated today from 5th Grade. We are so grateful for you!"

Partner With CJI at the 2024 Heroes of Child Justice Fundraiser

We have started planning our next fundraiser and we need your help! On May 18, 2024, we will gather Maryland officials, advocates, lawyers and friends to honor the many heroes of Child Justice. Would your company or law firm be interested in joining us as a sponsor? To learn more about how to partner with Child Justice, please review our Partnership Opportunities and fill out the interest form, and our team will be in touch.

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