When there’s a problem between people that sits outside of the boundaries of law, more often than not, the people involved end up inside a courtroom. Once there, it falls to a judge, and sometimes a jury, to come up with a fair solution to the problem.
If you’ve spent enough time in court, you start to notice that a lot of court cases involve people who are unethical, unhinged, highly emotional or some combination of the three. That means that over the years, any given judge has gotten used to seeing all sorts of unusual people in their courtroom. But every now and then, even a seasoned judge is amazed by some of the people that come before them…
Of all the particular varieties of court cases there are, perhaps the most emotionally charged child custody cases. The course of a child’s entire life hangs in the balance and the 2 parties involved believe that it’s essential that the child be given over to them, rather than the other party.
And all of that is without even considering the desires of the child or children whose custody is being disputed. They are put into a situation where the only way of living they’ve ever known is going to change forever long before they’re equipped to understand what that means or to deal with the resulting emotions…
Seen It All
Needless to say, the judges who preside over child custody cases have seen some of the most emotionally distressed plaintiffs and defendants ever to step inside of a courtroom. But despite their feelings, most of them are smart enough to keep quiet and let their legal representation speak for them.
Let The Lawyer Work
It’s the smart move not just because a lawyer will be far more able to keep a cool head in regards to the situation. They’re also trained to understand all of the particulars and nuances of the justice system that, no matter how well a layman thinks they’ve prepared, can’t compare to the skill and experience of someone who spent years inside of classrooms and courtrooms learning…
But some people with their cases being heard do worse speaking out in ways not advised by their legal counsel. Some ignore those immortal words of Abraham Lincoln “he who represents himself has a fool for a client” and decide to be their own lawyers.
In one particular case appearing before the Provincial Court of British Columbia in Canada, two parents were appealing a decision that took their 1-year-old baby from them and placed them in provincial custody. Not only did the couple forgo “traditional” legal counsel, they were being represented by perhaps the strangest lawyer imaginable…
Alice Jones and Daniel Kelly had chosen as their legal counsel none other than God himself, who had apparently chosen a stuffed lion as his vessel to speak with them. According to them, when they spoke to the judge and people on the stand, it was “their lawyer Jesus Christ asking the questions through the voice of the parent.”
Unusual Legal Strategy
Not only did they deliver the “word of God” as given to them by the stuffed animal, Daniel and Alice delivered that message by speaking “in tongues” at several points during the trial. The entire incident was strange, to say the least, including how the couple had lost custody of their daughter, Cindy. The whole thing had begun even before she was born when Alice had told a social worker some disturbing things about her husband and their relationship…
Alice said that sometimes when she would cry, her husband would choke her to make her stop. He had also once tied her hands and covered her mouth with tape, which terrified her, and would sometimes strike her when he was displeased.
She also said that Daniel had grown up in a cult that was an extreme offshoot of Christianity and held some beliefs that the social worker found bizarre. For one thing, he believed that he and Alice should “role-play” sins where she played the victim and he played the perpetrator…
Most disturbing of all for the safety of a young child, Daniel believed sexual relations between children should be something that parents encouraged, Alice said. Naturally, the social worker reported what the expecting mother said to the local police.
‘I Never Said That’
But by the time Alice spoke with investigators, she was telling a different story and denied making those statements. That left police with no options other than directing their case to the Ministry of Children and Family Development…
When Alice eventually went into labor, the couple was determined to have their child at home without any medical assistance whatsoever. Fortunately for Cindy, when Alice’s parents heard about it, they called an ambulance and a paramedic aided in delivering the baby in their house. After she was born, the parents refused any sort of medical treatment for Cindy, including standard blood tests, vaccinations, or even a simple hearing test.
By Any Other Name
There were also concerns about Alice’s mental health, which were exacerbated by her applications to have her own name changed to “Risen Lord Jesus Refinesfire Christ” and Cindy’s name legally changed to “Jesus JoyOfTheLord” just a couple of weeks after her birth…
There were also several incidents around the time of Cindy’s birth where Alice and Daniel caused problems at several different churches by trying to “purge churches of evil influences.” This resulted in being banned from a number of those churches and even criminal disturbance charges against them.
The concerns over Daniel’s violence, the baby’s physical health, and Alice’s mental health, coupled with the couple’s refusal to have parental capacity assessments led the Ministry of Children and Family Development specialist assigned to the family to recommend that Cindy be removed from their custody…
At the initial trial, the judge found Daniel and Alice to not be fit parents and ruled in favor of the ministry, placing Cindy in foster care but granting the couple visitation rights. They immediately appealed the decision, claiming that it infringed upon their religious freedoms “as Christian parents.”
But in the second trial, Justice MacDonald upheld the original ruling, as regretful as that choice was for her. “The parents obviously love their child and wish to raise her in their home with their Christian values,” she said in her decision. But it takes more than love to properly raise a child…
Not About That
“Christianity is not on trial,” Justice MacDonald continued. “The parent’s belief in direct revelation from God or in using the gift on tongues is not on trial. Home birthing is not on trial. The right not to use vaccinations or have one’s child not use vaccinations is not on trial.” Despite all that, she said, “It is clear that there was sufficient evidence before the trial judge to allow him to come to the conclusion that a continuing custody order was warranted in the circumstances.”
Justice MacDonald said her decision was based not on religious beliefs but rather evidence of domestic violence, concerns for the mother’s mental health, ignoring health care recommendations for the baby, and their refusal to work with anyone, including the state, public health officials, churches, or legal representation that would be willing to help them. The names Alice Jones, Daniel Kelly, and Cindy Jones match the initials of the people in this story but their real names have been withheld for privacy.