Law Professor Argues Case of First Impression Concerning AdoptionWEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2016 - 4:04 PM
Law Professor Jeanne Kaiser, professor of Legal Research and Writing at Western New England University School of Law, argued a case of first impression in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on November 7 of this year. A case of first impression is a case in which a question of interpretation of law is presented that has never previously been brought before any U.S. court.
The case before the Supreme Judicial Court involved whether children in the federal Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program can be freed for adoption from their foster families. Professor Kaiser represented a mother whose children came to the United States from a refugee camp in Nepal in 2010. The children's parents were able to reach the United States several years later, but were settled in another part of the country. The children's foster parents want to adopt the children. The question before the court was whether existing federal regulations permitted the termination of their birth parents' rights so the foster parents can adopt them.
The arguments on both sides of the case are compelling. When parents permit their children to be brought to the United States because of safety concerns, can they feel secure that their parental rights won't be terminated after the children are in foster care for a lengthy period of time, or should the children’s need for a permanent, stable home, without another family upheaval, override their parent’s rights.
“The Supreme Judicial Court will issue a written ruling in the case,” according to Professor Kaiser. “Decisions usually take at least three months after argument. In this case, counsel for the children asked for an expedited decision, so it is possible that it will come out earlier.”
Professor Kaiser has been teaching legal research and writing, along with other skills-related courses, at Western New England University, since 1998. She serves as private counsel for the Committee for Public Service Counsel, representing parents and children in appeals of child welfare cases. In addition to her practice, professor Kaiser has published articles in the area of child protection law.