RI Top Court: Lawsuit Alleging Constitutional Abuse by Family Court is MOOT!

In 2010, fifteen minor children sued the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Family Court as well as numerous Magistrates of the Court. The minor children who filed the lawsuit all participated in the Court’s Truancy Court Diversion Calendar Program. This program involved RI Family Court Magistrates conducting court hearings at Public Schools across Rhode Island. This case is completely unrelated to other family Court matters such as RI divorce, custody, paternity and child support matters.

daycare and child support

Child custody, child support

The Rhode Island Supreme Court described the Truancy program as: “Program is to ensure that children not only attend school, but also that they receive necessary rehabilitative and educational services to assist them in maintaining school attendance and achieving academic success.” Elizabeth Boyer et al. v. :Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian et al.

The Children claimed that their constitutional rights had been violated because of “procedural errors” in Truancy Court.

The children had numerous complaint including as set forth in their complaint:
“[2] fail[ed] to provide adequate information regarding individual
rights at the arraignment,
“[3] permitt[ed] children members of the Plaintiff class to waive
their right to counsel without first consulting with counsel, * * *
“[4] engag[ed] in ex parte determinations regarding whether
Plaintiff children ha[d] violated the terms and conditions of
Truancy Court,  [and]
“[5] fail[ed] to keep and provide to the Plaintiffs a verbatim record
of all proceedings before the Truancy Court.”

“[1] fail[ed] to ensure that interpreters [were] available as
necessary….” Elizabeth Boyer et al. v. :Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian et al.

After the Lawsuit was filed, a new Chief Judge of the Rhode Island Family court was sworn in, Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian. Chief Judge Bedrosian issued an administrative order which revamped the court’s procedures drastically. Justice Bedrosian set out written procedures which totally reformed the Truancy Court Diversion Calendar Program.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court decided that the Plaintiff’s complaint was moot and there was no current controversy that was justiciable.

“After a review of the ten constitutional challenges raised in plaintiffs’ complaint, we are satisfied that they have been obviated by the administrative order and by existing law.  Further, plaintiffs do not argue that the administrative order has not been properly adopted or implemented by the Family Court.” Id.

“We hold that there are no ongoing truancy petitions that continue to be affected by the earlier Truancy Court procedures; this Court finds no ongoing controversy in which the plaintiffs have an articulable stake” Elizabeth Boyer et al. v. Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian et al.


R.I. Supreme Court orders dismissal of ACLU suit against state’s 

Post By Rhode Island Divorce, Family Law and Child Custody Attorney David Slepkow 401-437-1100