Comments by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News

An Arizona Judge recently ordered state Representative Kelly Townsend and the local media to leave the courtroom during the trial of the Chandler Arizona family who lost all 3 of their children for failing to take one of them to the hospital regarding a fever. Police broke down their door at 1 a.m. in the morning and forcibly removed all three children.

See our previous coverage of this story:

Police Break Down Door of Arizona Family at 1 AM to Medically Kidnap 3 Children Because Parents Refused to Take Child to Emergency Room with Fever

Was Arizona Family that had Police Break Down Their Door at 1 A.M. Targeted by Medical Community Because They Don’t Vaccinate Their Children?

According to the Arizona Republic, Judge Timothy J. Ryan ordered one of their reporters and Rep. Townsend to “immediately” leave an April 10 pretrial hearing in the case.

The judge was apparently upset over the media coverage this trial was receiving. This is consistent with how Arizona judges have acted in cases involving the State of Arizona removing children from their homes unjustly, as Health Impact News has been ordered several times in the past few years to take down our stories representing the families and victims of such actions.

However, Health Impact News has never complied with such orders, as they violate the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

The Arizona Republic reports about Representative Townsend:

Ryan also barred state lawmaker Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, who has publicly criticized the state’s handling of the case and had helped craft legislation requiring DCS to obtain a warrant before removing a child from their parents.

When she entered the courtroom April 10, the judge told her to leave.

“He said according to the recent news articles, it was their opinion that I had violated the confidentiality of the previous court hearing,” she said. “I was stunned.”

Townsend said she asked the judge for the court’s reasons for removing an elected state lawmaker from a public court hearing, asking which statute or policy she violated.

“I said, ‘Could I have it in writing?’” she said. “He said it would be entered into the meeting (record).”

Townsend said she’s concerned about how she can determine what violation she is accused of, because court filings in the child-welfare hearings are often private.

Townsend stated that she was concerned about the parents being treated fairly, because they chose not to vaccinate their children:

Townsend had previously said she worried the parents in the Chandler case were unfairly targeted because they had not vaccinated their children. In Arizona, a parent may decline vaccinations for their child based on personal, religious or medical exemptions.

She called on DCS to “immediately return the children who are also being traumatized” and said the case was “a complete miscarriage of justice and a shame to the state of Arizona.”

Townsend said state lawmakers have required a presumption of open child-welfare court hearings “to protect everyone — children, parents, the entire process.”

Barring lawmakers from a courtroom doesn’t serve the public’s interest, she said.

The judge allowed other attendees to remain in the hearing. (Source.)

The Arizona Republic reports that state social services still have custody of the children, and they also interviewed the attorney representing the parents:

In a March 29 interview with The Republic, Nicholas Boca, a family-law attorney for the pregnant mother, said his client faced officers with guns drawn for refusing to take her feverish toddler to the hospital. He criticized DCS for removing the woman’s three children and claimed police are trying to justify the use of excessive force.

The attorney’s criticism followed police releasing edited video of the incident and recommending criminal child-abuse charges against the parents.

Boca believes the charges and edited police video are payback for the parents publicly criticizing police, DCS caseworkers and the child-welfare system.

“Chandler police … absolutely made a mistake by using well beyond reasonable force to enter these parents’ home,” Boca said on Friday. “And instead of doing the right thing, instead of standing up and saying, ‘We made a mistake, let’s get these kids back to their home’ … they’re going the opposite direction with it and recommending child-abuse charges.”

Read the full article at The Arizona Republic.