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The Champion

September/October 2003 , Page 46 

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When the accused faces loss of family and property, as well as liberty

By Miriam Gohara

Read more 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 j

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