Judge improperly removed mother's rights to children

Family Law

A Tennessee judge who recently came off probation for mishandling cases improperly stripped a mother’s parental rights without proper notice or a hearing, a state court said.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals described the father as abusive to the mother and a danger to their children, who had been put in foster care. The mother was living in another state when Tennessee's Department of Children’s Services petitioned to terminate their parental rights.

The court ordered a new hearing for the woman as a matter of “fundamental fairness." It described the handling of the case by Campbell County General Sessions Court Judge Amanda Sammons as “both odd and of grave concern,” The Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

The mother evidently still hasn't been told she lost her parental rights, said the court opinion filed on March 18.

The court said Sammons persisted in the termination hearings even though department could not prove the mother had been notified. An attorney appointed to the mother told the judge he had not contacted the mother either. Despite this, she terminated the rights of both parents, identified as David and Cecilia S., in June 2019.

A two-judge appellate panel got the case after the father appealed. Its ruling upheld the denial for the father, citing drug use.

Sammons was suspended in 2016 after being indicted on felony misconduct charges for allegedly lying and misusing her authority. Those charges were dismissed by a judge who ruled her actions misguided but not criminal. She returned to court after three years of probation.

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