Court of Appeals of Virginia Hears the Landmark Appeal of the Mistaken Removal of Ashlie by Arlington DHS

6 Jun

Yesterday, in an open hearing in the historic Alexandria courthouse, the Court of Appeals of Virginia heard the three appeal cases for the CPS mistaken removal and separation of Ashlie from her loving family.   Delores Heffernan vs. Arlington DHS (Record 1471-12-4, and 1520-12-4) and Patricia Tackett vs. Arlington DHS (Record No. 1519-12-4)

Ashlie Mae OBrien


The many Ashlie Supporters who attended were very complimentary of the polite demeanor and intelligence shown by the members of the panel.  (Honorable Chief Judge Honorable Walter S. Felton, Jr., Honorable Robert J. Humphreys, and and Honorable D. Arthur Kelsey).  After each case, the panel members showed tremendous humility and grace by getting up from the bench and personally greeting each counsel and pro se Appellant Delores Heffernan.

Other notable highlights of the hearing was the concession of Arlington Assistant County Attorney Jason McCandless that Ashlie’s parents were not provided any notice as required for the proper removal of Ashlie.   It was apparent that the court panel thought this was a major mistake by Arlington DHS.   It showed their disregard for the rights of Ashlie’s parents.

Ashlie Mae OBrien and James Toscano

An unenergetic sounding Assistant County Attorney Mr. McCandless  also tried to convince the court that “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.”     Apparently he did not think through the implications of his statement.   If a Freudian slip, it shows that Arlington County, in fact, considers no parent  “reformable,” and thus worthy of having their children returned — a clear violation of the federal law and Virginia law requiring that the goal be return of children to their families.   Mr. McCandless has personally been the primary impediment to the reunification of Ashlie with her family.   Although not a social worker nor having any qualifications as such, he personally vetoed allowing Ashlie to even have a telephone call with her sister or any other member of her family for the last year.   Mr. McCandless also made many false statements to the court that were not supported by any evidence or findings of the trial court record.

Karen Grane, GAL

GAL, Karen Grane looked severely depressed and disheveled.  She took typically two minutes to tell the court the same “boilerplate” statement to the panel that contributed nothing to the legal issues being discussed.

Sherri BrothersSherri Brothers, the Arlington DHS supervisor, seemed more interested in texting during the hearing than paying attention to what was being discussed with regard to Ashlie’s fate.   Her fingers were feverishly tapping at her telephone keyboard throughout.    This, despite the warning on the court door that phones must be turned off in the courtroom.     Hopefully whoever she was texting (it is assumed it was texting, rather than playing a game) appreciated the devotion she had to her texting activity.

Attorneys Kramer and Tuomey did excellent jobs of representing their clients, Ashlie’s Mother Patricia Tackett and Grandmother Delores Heffernan, respectively.   Both helped the court sort through complex issues of “first impression,” that will no doubt set precedent for the Commonwealth.

Delores Heffernan O'Brien and Ashlie Mae O'Brien

Delores Heffernan and Ashlie

Ashlie’s Maryland Circuit Court Appointed Guardian and grandmother, Delores Heffernan presented an emotional, but accurate, picture of how Ashlie’s removal and the subsequent process were violative of both moral and legal principles.   How Ashlie had suffered.   She also made the case how Judge Kendrick plageurized an affidavit from the JDR court proceeding for his findings and, possibly an indication of his failing mind, read statements that were complete non-sense.  As as result, it was shown that Judge Kendrick violated the requirements for a de novo trial in circuit court.  She also pointed out that Ashlie’s home state at the time of removal was Maryland.   Her mother was also living in Maryland.   Thus, Arlington took Ashlie without proper subject matter jurisdiction.

All and all, those who attended were impressed with the Court of Appeals panel, and found the panel a refreshing contrast to quality of what they had seen in the Arlington County courthouse below.

Ashlie would be proud of how her family is fighting for her return to her family and the broad support her cause is getting from many citizens.