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When the accused faces loss of family and property, as well as liberty
By Miriam Gohara
Indigent Defense columns.
I, as most lawyers, will never forget my first client. Ramona was a
20-something single mother of two who had left her son in the care of an
adult neighbor while she and her daughter went to the beauty salon.
When Ramona returned to pick up her son, she learned that he was in the
custody of police. The neighbor had left him alone in a park near
Ramona’s Harlem apartment. When Ramona inquired at the local police
precinct, she was arrested for misdemeanor child endangerment and
slapped with a child neglect case by the New York City Administration
for Children’s Services (ACS). Both her children were placed in foster
care pending resolution of her family court neglect case.
For Ramona, her misdemeanor criminal case took a far back burner to the
family court case which would determine when she could regain custody of
her children. Coordination between her criminal court and family court
lawyers was critical to insure that disposition of either case would not
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