Amanda Elliot, 27, who is not mentally-challenged nor does she own an animal (though her father owns a dog), was notified of the ruling within the legally allotted 72-hour time period, and a hearing to assess the case was scheduled. At that hearing recently, the mother appeared before the same magistrate expecting to have the baby returned to her. Instead the magistrate, Gretchen Beers, ruled that custody remain with the babysitter, who is not related to the baby in any way (by blood or marriage).
"This is a very sad case, I think," says Kimberly Kislig, the attorney for Amanda Elliot. "Amanda has never been convicted or investigated for a child-related crime of any kind. That the court would give her baby away to someone with a police record is inexplicable to me."
April Brown, the babysitter, has a criminal record, and her husband has been the subject of investigation by Child Protective Services, which substantiated claims of child abuse against him (which means the claims were found to be true). A final hearing for Brown vs. Elliot is scheduled to go before Beers once again on September 10, at which permanent guardianship is to be determined.
"Even if Magistrate Beers finally does the right thing," says Kislig, "the baby will still have been separated from its mother for over six months. And for what? Pet hair? This is ridiculous."
Facts relevant to Brown vs. Elliot:
Miami County Ohio Juvenile Court case number 21030146
Magistrate, Gretchen Beers
Movant, April Brown – attorney Todd Severt (who is also April’s landlord)
Respondent, Amanda Elliott – attorney Kimberly Kislig
Guardian as Litem, Jennifer J. Walters