Originally created 07/14/01

Family court judge shows pattern of unwise decisions



American citizens plan and celebrate the Fourth of July. Each summer the celebrations grow and the fireworks are more complex.

As I come to you with concerns, I would like to involve the word "freedom." As a single mother, a public schoolteacher in Aiken and a resident of the county, a recent decision made within the walls of the family court has left me astonished.

My first encounter with the family court system was when an Aiken family court judge, without hesitation, ordered that a 4-year-old child be gone from his home for 40 days this summer, as part of a visitation that was presented as questionable for the safety of the child.

The documentation of the child's considerable weight loss over a weeklong visit was supplied to the court, but without a glance, Judge Larry Inabinet ordered that the child be put in his father's home in another state for the entire month.

I must now address another Aiken family court action: As a teacher, I see the results on children's lives of single-parent homes, divorce and custody issues. School violence in America has become very real, even in our own Aiken County.

The young man in North Augusta who brought the gun into the school was released on probation. I understand Judge Inabinet had knowledge of the entire facts in this case, but still ruled to allow the student back in the family, community and school.

The newspaper reports the judge was "reluctant," but acted in the above manner regardless. The facts were presented to the judge, but he again put innocent people at risk. I have difficulty understanding the lack of wisdom being disseminated from our halls of justice.

I plead with Aiken citizens to let your voices be heard on the gross misuse of this position of authority. The "freedom" that a parent should have to protect a child from harm and the "freedom" to feel safe as a professional educator in the South Carolina public school system have been stomped into the ground ...

Julie C. Hawkins, Aiken