A federal judge will get 10 days advance notice before a 4 1/2-year-old boy at the center of a circumcision battle is set to have the procedure, the father's attorney promised Monday.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra — hearing an emergency request from an attorney for the boy and his now-jailed mom, Heather Hironimus, to block the surgery already cleared by two state courts — had inquired about the child's whereabouts and the status of the circumcision.
"The child is healthy and well," said Ira Marcus, attorney for father, Dennis Nebus. He told the court the boy is staying with his dad in a "safe and secure" location, has not yet been circumcised, and would not be operated on before telling Marra first.
"Mr. Nebus is entitled to some finality," Marcus said, arguing the boy's parents' legal fight has gone on long enough. "And you know what? The child is entitled to some finality."
But Thomas Hunker, hired by Hironimus to represent the child, urged Judge Marra to step in and protect the boy from "physical harm," brain damage or worse from an elective procedure that is not medically necessary for him and violates his Constitutional rights.
"This is a potentially life and death situation," Hunker said, contending that the child doesn't respond well to general anesthesia and is prone to scarring that could further harm his genitals if he survives. He further argued the procedure to remove the foreskin from the boy's penis is not "reversible" and violates his right to bodily "integrity."
Marra concluded a 75-minute hearing without ruling on the bid for a temporary restraining order against the circumcision — or Nebus' motion to throw the case out of federal court.
Several times, Marra peppered Hunker with questions about why he should hear a case that had already been decided in the father's favor by state circuit and appellate courts. "So you want me to take a fresh look at what was already done by the state court?" Marra asked.
On Friday, the attorney filed for the restraining order until the resolution of a federal lawsuit that was filed on the boy's behalf on April 13. The lawsuit states the boy's rights were violated because he hasn't had a psychological examination or an independent guardian to speak on his behalf in court as the mother requested, along with other claims.
The lawsuit lists as defendants his father, Judge Gillen, and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. Attorneys for Gillen and Bradshaw urged Marra to remove them from the case.
Meanwhile, Hunker also filed in state court Friday an emergency motion on behalf of Hironimus to freeze all state judicial orders and court proceedings in the long-running custody battle while the matter is pending in federal court.
In March, Gillen ruled Hironimus had committed a "direct, contemptuous violation" of court orders by continuing work with circumcision opposition groups — called "intactivists" — that have "plastered" the child's photos and name "all over the Internet."
During Monday's hearing, a small group of the mother's supporters stood outside the courthouse in West Palm Beach.
"I've been an advocate for all human beings to have bodily autonomy," said Rebecca Boni, a mother of two young children from Boca Raton. "To me it's so obvious it blows my mind the [state] judge decided to side with the father."
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Ah, Florida (via the Sun-Sentinel):