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Lawyers offer aid to Hes
3 schools want to submit briefs
by Shirley Downing
This story originally ran in The Commercial Appeal. Reprinted here at the request of the He family.
Three university law clinics --- including Loyola in Chicago and Vanderbilt in Nashville -- have asked to submit briefs as a "friend of the court" in the Anna Mae He case.
The lawyers offered to help by analyzing state law and clarifying parental rights issues in the high-profile child custody case.
Two Cordova couples are locked in a legal battle over 5-year-old Anna Mae He.
Chinese nationals Shaoqiang 'Jack' He and his wife, Qin Luo 'Casey,' gave their infant daughter Anna Mae to banker Jerry Baker and his wife, Louise.
The financially distressed Hes said the arrangement was temporary, but the Bakers said they were told they could keep the girl until she was grown.
The case raises a host of legal issues, particularly for the area's growing immigrant population, the motion said.
Bruce Boyer, director of the Loyola Child Law Center, said such cases could have an impact on many others.
He Case History:
"I see this as an opportunity to point out to the court the fundamental principles of the law that ought to be adhered to," he said.
The motion was filed on behalf of Boyer's clinic, the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic in Nashville, the University of Memphis Child Advocacy Clinic and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services.
Circuit Court Judge Robert 'Butch' Childers terminated the Hes' parental rights after a 10-day trial last spring. He called them unfit and said their legal efforts were a ruse to avoid deportation.
Jack He, a university professor who works at restaurant jobs to support his family, and his wife strongly disagree with Childers's assessment.
If allowed to submit briefs, the law clinic attorneys said they would identify major issues, including the statutory definition of abandonment, clarification of statutory procedures for determining parental fitness, and the statutory procedures for determining a child's best interests in parental rights termination cases.
They said they would show "that Tennessee's termination of parental rights statute does not endorse a comparison between a child's birth parents and any potential adoptive parents, nor does it support fact-finding with regard to removal of a child from her birth family based on the political climate of the child's country of origin."
The Hes' attorney, David Siegel, welcomes the help.
The Bakers' attorney, Larry Parrish, said he wasn't aware of the motion, but said such requests are fairly common.
"Well, come on ahead," he said. "If they are going to start getting people involved with amicus briefs, we might, too."
-- Shirley Downing: (901) 529-2387