The Gavel of Damocles Falls on Rifqa

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Video Rally for Rifqa P-1
Video Rally for Rifqa P-2

In the most egregious violation of Rifqa's Bary's civil rights, Rifqa is being denied essential contact with the outside world.

Her laptop has been confiscated. And now friends of hers are being denied the right to see her. And the couple of people who were allowed to see her in the past were fingerprinted.

She has been in Ohio for two weeks, and still there is no "pre-approved list" of visitors for Rifqa. On more than one occasion Rifqa has asked and been denied her request to see friends. At a previous almost covert hearing that was held, Mohamad and Aysha Bary moved to restrict her visitation, and it seems they succeeded.

Can any outside pressure be applied? How do we know she is all right? How do we know she is not being psychologically pressured?

She has not been granted pastoral care. She is being denied the freedom to practice her religion. Where are Rifqa's protectors? Who speaks for Rifqa? 

Inmates in prison get visits from their clergy. She is not being afforded the right of prisoners. She has not committed any crime. Why can't friends see her? One of the people who spoke to me on the record was Jamal Jivanjee (the others, who feared retribution for Rifqa and themselves, asked to remain anonymous). He has been denied visitation. Why can't Jamal Jivanjee see her? He has requested a visit and Rifqa requested a visit from Jivanjee. He called Rifqa's lawyers, Franklin Child Services, and got the run around again and again.  He calls daily.

Bottom line. No one knows whats going on. Why the secrecy? Why the cloak and dagger? Why the unintended enforcement of sharia law?

UPDATE: I asked John Jay, a former prosecutor in Juvenile court, to help track down the new court dates. Here is his frustrating report:

 i was more than a little shocked when her trial on the merits in the dependency case was set for november 16, 2009 feeling that this setting following so quickly upon the transfer of her case from florida gave neither counsel, nor the social agencies and police agencies who might be charged with investigating the facts and circumstances of the case little time for preparation of authorities and arguments.

i really wasn’t too surprised when word leaked out, the afternoon of tuesday, november 10th, just two (2) court/business days before trial that the case was to be continued. this seemed a bit calculated to avoid the rally planned by the proprietor of atlasshrugs for the same date, but the avoidance of public controversy is not entirely new to courts & court proceedings, nor was the lateness of the continuance. i called the clerk’s office late tuesday afternoon, and was told no papers with regard to court settings had been filed with the clerk as of that date, again not surprising, because the physical transfer of such things takes time.

i was totally shocked, however, about subsequent events as i tried to confirm the continuance, and tried to find out the new court settings from the franklin county juvenile court clerk’s office.-- shortly before noon on thursday (franklin county having been shut down on veteran’s day, wednesday the 11th), i called the clerk’s office at 614.462.4411, and inquired of the clerk if i might receive confirmation of the striking of the hearing on dependency on the 16th, and also confirmation of the date to which the hearing had been continued.

i was informed over the phone that i could not be told that information, either with regard to confirmation of the striking of the hearing, or any date to which it had been continued. the clerk went out of her way to tell me that the matters involving the dependency were confidential as to the juvenile, and that such information could not be released to me in the juvenile dependency case, franklin county juvenile court case no.: 09JU12299. i inquired of the court about the companion “incorrigible child” proceeding, juvenile court case no.: 09JU12090, and the clerk of the court told me without hesitation that the 16 november hearing was stricken, and that the case had been reset for hearing on 22 december 2009.

i informed the court that i had practiced law for 25 years in washington state, much of it in juvenile criminal and dependency proceedings, and that while matters in juvenile “social files” were most certainly confidential, e.g., those things pertaining to case worker reports on abuse and negligent, and psychological evaluations and such like, … , those matters relating to court pleadings and orders were open to the public, as were all court proceedings unless specifically closed by the court.

the clerk softened a bit, and changed her tune, considerably.

she said that she would search the files, and look to see if any orders or clerk’s minutes had come up with the files indicating either a striking of the hearing, or a continuance date.

none had.

we chatted a little bit. it became obvious from discussing this with the clerk that the dependency proceeding was regarded as a high profile case, and that edicts had come down from the court to put the quietus on the proceedings. this was obvious when i asked the clerk, why, if the dependency proceedings were confidential because involving a juvenile was it o.k. for the clerk’s office to release the striking of the hearing and its resetting to the 22nd of december in the incorrigible child case? the clerk as much admitted to me, that that was the way the court wanted it.

she suggested i call again friday afternoon, late.

i called again, the afternoon of 13 november, friday, to see if i could get the hearing situation clarified. i spoke to the same clerk, and inquired of the hearing settings. she said that no paper work, either clerk’s minutes or court orders had come up with regard to the dependency case, that she could find upon inspection of the file. she did, however, confirm that the hearing set for 16 november had been stricken. she did not, however, find it either humorous or insightful of me when I asked her how this could be known to the clerk’s office, in the absence of written orders striking the hearing being entered into the file. she also reiterated the previous position of the clerk’s office that no documents from the court had found their way into the court clerks file, some two full business days from when i first made inquiry into this subject.

friends, this is disingenuous at best.

this is the way a court docket works. first, nothing is done in court on a case without the court’s file being present at the bench, usually in possession of an in-court clerk, and the file is handed up to the judge as the case is called. secondly, nothing is done that is not memorialized by a paper trail, and this applies first and foremost to court settings and dates. if a continuance hearing was held by agreement of the parties, it is memorialized by paper, and if a hearing is stricken upon either motion of the parties or by the motion of the court, that is memorialized by a brief order, if a notation order only. thirdly, and this is very important, cases are not left hanging in the void, or in hiatus: when the case is finished for the day, and before it leaves the purview of the judge, it has a new date agreed upon, entered, by written order or notice of hearing signed by the judge, and signed and distributed to the court and the parties. finally, when the matter is concluded, the originals of all of this are entered into the file by the in-court clerk if the court is efficient, or attached to the same pile of files that are taken back to the main court clerk’s office for re-filing. before the files go back into the stacks, the orders are in the file jackets, court clerk’s minutes are filled out, and any court orders or dates are entered into the computers, and docket entries made.

it must be done that way. look to the court clerk’s case number on rifqa’s dependency case. it is file number 12,299 for calendar year 2009 in juvenile court, columbus ohio. that’s a lot of files. there is nothing random about the way these things are handled, else it is absolute chaos.

the inescapable conclusion, therefore, and the worst case scenario, is that the judges of the franklin county juvenile court told the juvenile court clerks to lie about, or to withhold information about, the status of rifqa bary’s case. when the clerk on friday refused to tell me the settings with regard to 09JU12299, the dependency case, she either had all relevant documents with regard to settings before her in the file, or upon the computer screen where such entries are also placed.

she lied to me when she said there was no information on this. this is never, ever “no information” in a court file on settings. it may take a while for the substance of a court order to be drawn up, presented to all parties with notice, and signed by a judge on matters of substance and on the merits, … , but as to court setting dates, … , uh uh, that stuff is signed, dated and entered immediately.

files go nowhere without this information. this information is never absent from a file.

the conclusion is, again, inescapable. the judges have put the gloms on this dependency case. they are suppressing information that should be available to the public.