California Family and Disabled Daughter Head for US Supreme Court

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An adult disabled child removed from parents’ care, was confined illegally and subsequently injured while in state care. The parents were denied the right to represent her in a suit against her state conservators.

The parents of an 35-year old adult autistic woman have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a Ninth circuit civil rights lawsuit that denied them the right to represent their daughter.

Their attorney, Gerard Wallace, stated, “The courts are saying that challenges to the legality of Nancy’s removal and confinement can only be pursued by those who are confining her. This is the same as saying that only the jailors of criminal defendants can challenge the legality of their arrests and prosecutions. Barring the natural guardians of disabled persons from representing them in suits against their jailors means that the disabled have no where to turn for help.”

The Golin case raises issues similar to Anna Nicole Smith's case, Marshall v. Marshall (04-1544). Both involve the scope of the "probate exception" that would arguably prevent federal jurisdictional matters related to state probate matters from being heard by federal courts. Like the Smith case, the Ninth Circuit raised in part similar issues to deny the Golins a hearing in federal court on their civil rights issues.

The Golins raised and cared for their only child Nancy at home since birth until late 2001, when she was taken from her family by local police in Palo Alto, California. She had wandered away from her family one evening, returning happy and unharmed the next morning. Police put her in the psychiatric ward of Stanford hospital, rebuffing her parents. The Golins contend this constituted a wholesale denial of her 4th and 14th Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable seizure, as there was no warrant or emergency. Two weeks later, a local court told the state they had no authority to hold her because she was merely autistic. Despite this they defied the laws, hiding her away. Nancy has never been allowed to go home again. To keep her, parents showed the state sought the help of the local DA to charge the parents with some kind of criminal offense. After the parents protested to local media, police briefly locked them up, then later dismissed charges. When the state was finally appointed conservator over her parents’ objections, the procedures misapplied four statutory frameworks protecting developmentally disabled citizens. This, despite the parents’ showing that Nancy has been raped, drugged, received fractures, denied emergency medical care and subjected to life threatening conditions in State custody. The Golins are still only permitted to visit their daughter under approved supervision, even though the State admits their relationship is close and loving.

The Golins sued the state and county in 2003 in United States Federal District Court on a Section 1983 and 1985 civil rights lawsuit (Golin v. Allenby et al, NDCal 03-04752). The suit, on their own and their daughter’s behalf, was for injuries, conspiracy, malicious prosecution and wrongful confinement, among other claims. This escalated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where in June of this year the Golins were again denied standing (Golin v. Allenby et al, 04-15900). The parents also appealed directly to Gov. Schwarzenegger and their State Senator, Jeff Denham, to no avail.

The District Court ruled that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction, since now only the State had standing to seek redress on Nancy’s behalf, because the state appointed itself her conservator, despite the fact that the state would then be both plaintiff and defendant.

More information and photos can be found at http://www.freenancy.com, Contact Jeffrey Golin, (650) 814-6284.

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Jeff Golin, Gerard Wallace

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