Swedish court rejects homeschool family's desperate appeal
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2013 (HSLDA) - In a perfunctory order the Swedish Supreme Court rejected a desperate appeal by Christer and Annie Johansson, parents of Domenic Johansson, who was torn from his parents while minutes from take-off on an international flight as the family prepared to move to India. There were no pending criminal or civil charges at the time.
By rejecting the appeal, the court upholds an appeals court ruling that effectively terminated the parental rights of Christer and Annie Johansson. United States courts have called the termination of parental rights the family court equivalent of the death penalty.
The family had previously won a District Court judgment in June 2012. After three days of testimony that court agreed that the parents were suitable and ruled that parental rights should not be terminated.
According to family attorney Ruby Harold-Claesson, however, when the Social Services agency appealed they were permitted to introduce their own new psychiatric expert while the appeals court refused a request by the family to provide additional testimony and an impartial psychiatric evaluation of the child.
Based on this new evidence, the court of appeals reached a decision that was diametrically opposite that of the district court, a situation, Harrold-Claesson said, that normally prompts the Supreme Court to hear an appeal.
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“It’s obvious that they haven’t even read the appeal,” Harold-Claesson told HSLDA.
“I had hoped something would change with this case, but sadly this is more of the same inhuman treatment from a ruthless system that has no regard for the rights of parents and children to be together. The court doesn’t seem to even notice how the state was permitted to introduce new evidence in the court of appeals but the Johanssons were not. In the Swedish system it seems as if individuals have no rights when they oppose the ‘almighty state’.”
Judge in Question
Harrold-Claesson also pointed out that one of the judges in the appeals court had been in charge of the administrative court system that had awarded custody to the state in 2009. He retired from that court system and was appointed to hear the parental termination hearing in the district court system, something Harrold-Claesson said should never have happened.
“I asked for the recusal of this judge because he was the chief judge in the Stockholm administrative court where all the cases for Domenic Johansson had been decided in favor of the state—how could he be impartial?” she asked.
Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director for international affairs, said the decision is reprehensible but par for the course given the Swedish court system’s demonstrated callousness.
“We are grateful for the many people who responded to our request to send letters to the court. We are heartbroken by the court’s unwillingness to hear this case,” he said. “How can anyone respect the Swedish justice system that allows this kind of injustice to go unheard.”
Roger Kiska, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior legal counsel in Europe, was outraged by the court’s action.
“It is beyond belief that a modern civilized country could allow such injustice to continue,” he said. “There is no evidence in the record that justifies the continued separation of this family. We will continue to fight for this family and on behalf of the principle that the European Convention condemns such acts.”
Donnelly vowed that the fight will continue.
“How can we give up?” he asked. “The fact that both Johanssons have survived after nearly four years without their only child is a testimony to their faith and hope. We will leave no stone unturned in helping this family plead their case, but there are few courts left to which they can turn. We ask our friends and supporters to keep this family and their legal team in their thoughts and prayers.”
Since the court has made its decision, letters and contacts to the court may no longer be effective.
However, we understand that some may wish to ask the court to reconsider their decision. The family’s lawyers are also reviewing other legal procedures that may be available to request reconsideration or to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. That court refused to hear an earlier appeal.
In the meantime you can show your support for this family at their Facebook page.
This article was originally printed by the Home School Legal Defense Association and is reprinted with permission.