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April 15, 1993 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-15

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Page 10-The Michigan Daily -Thursday, April 15, 1993
Attorneys say child's rights were violated in custody battle

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Attor-
neys for a 2-year-old girl at the heart of
abitter child custody dispute yesterday
sued both her biological parents and the
couple who has raised her since birth.
The suit claims the girl's constitu-
tional rights were violated and asks that
she stay with Jan and Roberta DeBoer
of Ann Arbor until a hearing is held on
her best interests, said Richard Victor,
the child's attorney.
"In this case, the child fell through a
crack.That's wrong. I'vegotachildthat
from all the evidence I've read, irrepa-
rable harm will occur to her if she is
amputated from her Mommy and her
Daddy," he said.
The unusual suit was part of a swirl

of new legal maneuvering aiding the
DeBoers in a case that already has
dragged on more than two years in Iowa
and Michigan courts.
Victor said the suit was filed at the
request of attorneys who represented
Jessica in a Washtenaw County Circuit
Court hearing earlier this year. Those
attorneys recommended the girl stay
with theDeBoersrather than be given to
her birth parents, Daniel and Cara
Schmidt of Blairstown, Iowa.
"Such a custody transfer would rip
the plaintiff from the only home and
parents she has ever known and place
her with psychological strangers," said
the suit filed in Washtenaw County Cir-
cuit Court.

'in this case, the child fell through a crack.'
-Richard Victor
Jessica's attornery

Suellyn Scamecchia, attorney for
the DeBoers, said the fact that Jessica
istooyoung totalkorunderstandwhat's
happening does notmake the suit frivo-
"It's one thing to try to determine
what a child wants and then file suit
based on what she says. It's another
thing to recognize a child's needs and
attempt to protect her from harm and
that's what's happening here," she said.
A recently proposed Michigan bill
would letprospective adoptive couples

go to court to seek custody of a child if
the child has lived with them for at least
six of the previous nine months.
A judge then would hold a hearing to
decide what would be in the child's best
The bill would overturn a September
1992 Michigan Supreme Court ruling
barring such third party custody actions.
The Michigan Court of Appeals re-
lied in part on that ruling in deciding last
month that the DeBoers must give the
child to the Schmidts.

Joan Engstrom, coordinator of Jus-
tice for Jessica, told the Senate Family
Law, Criminal Law and Corrections
Committee that more than 10,000
people nationwide have called urging
Jessica stay with the DeBoers.
"They do not want Jessica to suffer
because of the lies that started in Iowa
almost three years ago by her biologi-
cal mother. They wanther voiceheard,"
she said.
Donald Duquette, director of the
Child Advocacy Clinic at the Univer-
sity of Michigan, said courts never
considered what was best for Jessica.
The clinic represents the DeBoers.
'This is an area in which the child
custody act does not speak to the best

interests of the child and really should,"
he said.
The tangled custody dispute began
when Cara Schmidt, mother of Jessica,
signed adoption papers after naming
another man as the father.
She changed her mind, informed
Schmidt of his paternity and in March
1991 he began a legal battle to get his
child back.
The Iowa Supreme Court awarded
the child to Schmidt, but the DeBoers
brought the case to Michigan.
A Washtenaw County Circuit Court
judge ruled in February it would be in
the child's best interests to stay with the
DeBoers, but the appeals court ruled he
had no jurisdiction to take the case.


DPS offers theft
protection for cars


Gabriel Richard High School first-year student Dale Fater whizzes around

the track on Palmer Field during his week of spring vacation.

by Shelley Morrison
Daily Crime Reporter;
Recorded serial numbers have often
been called the key to recovering stolen
items. If this is true, Saturday's police-
sponsored auto serial number etching
may be a safe bet for local car owners.
Sponsored by the Crime Prevention
Unit of the University Department of
Public Safety (DPS), the auto vehicle
identification numberetching willmark
the second time the free service will be
offered to Ann Arbor residents to pre-
vent car theft.
DPS Crime Prevention Unit Super-
visor David Betts said the service offers
many advantages to car owners.
"You can't steal a car with this kind
of etching," Betts said. "This is because
the etching exists on all windows of the
car, and in order to resell the car, win-
dows would have to be taken out."
In the etching process, the registra-
tion number of the vehicle is copied
onto an etching sheet and then applied
to the windshield, back window, and
driver's and passenger-side window
with a mild form of acid.
The acid eats through the first two
layers of glass, leaving a permanent
inscription of the car's serial number
that can only be removed by destroying
the glass itself.
The process takes approximately 15
minutes, and normally costs about $25.t
Betts said that etching is a small but
important part of crime prevention.
"It's a small preventative step, but
together these steps can prevent the
theft of your car," Betts said.
DPS Crime Prevention Coordinator


Homeless activists remember

Sgt. Benny Chenevert said some insur-
ance companies will reduce the cost of
insurance if the vehicle number is
"Insurance can be cheaper for cars
that bear the VIN (vehicle identification
number) because companies recognize
it as an effective method in deterring
thefts," Chenevert said.


by Hope Calati
Daily News Editor
One year after tents were pitched
outside the Washtenaw County build-
ing to protest homelessness in Ann Ar-
bor and Washtenaw County, the Home-
less Action Committee (HAC) and
Homeless Union are still asking local
governments, "What have you accom-
HAC member Corey Dolgon said
the groups will ask this question to the
county commissioners at their April 21
The groups have held two "Blocked

Out Block Parties" where homeless
people and homeless activists demon-
strated at neighborhood parks.
"There are a lot of people in Ann
Arbor who don'thave blocks to live on
and parties to work for," said Dolgon.
The third is scheduled to be held at
the "Little Park for aLittle While" next
to the Washtenaw County building.
He said activists want to bring the
issue of homelessness into more afflu-
ent areas.
The third block party will be held
beforea County Commission meeting.
The groups call for a turn away

from the status quo of "top-down so-
cial services that build dependence on
services rather than independence that
people really need and really want,"
Dolgan said.
County Commissioner Grace
Shackman said the commission has
been working to create affordable hous-
"I think it's an important issue and
there are things that we are proud of,"
Shackman said. She cited county fund-
ing to the Avalon project of the Shelter
Association of Ann Arbor and funding
to a low-income housing project in

tent city
conjunction with SOS Crisis Center in
Ypsilanti as steps toward increasing af-
fordable housing.
First-term Commissioner Dave
Monforton praised HAC for maintain-
ing public interest in the issue of
"I find their point of view is some-
thing that should be included in the dis-
cussion of homelessness and housing,"
Monforton said.
Although some people disagree with
the groups' tactics of public demonstra-
tion, the groups have raised interest in
the issue of homelessnesss, he said.

'It's a small
preventative step, but
together these steps
can prevent the theft of
your car.'
- David Betts
DPS Crime Prevention
Chenevertbegan the practice of VIN-
etching based on the practice he learned
as an officer for the Detroit Police De-
The first etching session took place
this fall, but Chenevert said it is the
beginning of what he believes will be a
regular event.
"We'dliketo continue thisprogram,"
Chenevert said. "It's a good service to
give to the people of the community,
and a great way to help stop crime."
Chenevert said the frequency of the
etching sessions will be based on the
turnout this Saturday, which he said he
expects to be high.
The etching will take place at the
North Campus Fire Station on Beal
Avenue between the hours of 10 a.m.
and 2 p.m.



Defendants of Russian coup forced to appear in court after first day halt

MOSCOW (AP) - The men ac-
coup failed to halt their trial on its first
day yesterday, arguing unsuccessfully
that they could not be tried for treason
against a country that no longer exists.
The day was marked by drama and
confrontation, as one of the defendants
rushed from the courtroom with chest
pains and pro-Communist demonstra-
tors scuffled with Russian journalists.
Three black-robed judges in high-
backed wooden chairs presided over
the trial inthemilitarybranch of Russia's
Supreme Court.
The families of three young Mos-
cow men who were killed in a clash with
Sovietarmored vehicles during the coup
huddled together on one side of the
"We are sitting here in the invisible

presence of our children," Raisa
Krichevskaya told reporters.
The 12 die-hard Communists are
accused of taking Mikhail Gorbachev
prisoner and seizing power from Aug.
18-21, 1991, in the failed putsch that
accelerated the SovietUnion's collapse.
If they are found guilty, they could
get the death penalty.
Some of defendants left the heavily-
guarded courthouse during a break and
addressed about 200 supporters out-
side. Police barricades held back the
demonstrators, who waved signs call-
ing the defendants "patriots" and de-
nouncing the judges as "traitors and
More than 120 witnesses are sched-
uled to testify- at the trial, including
Gorbachev. Russian President Boris
Yeltsin has not been summoned.

Thetrial began with theformal read-
ing of treason charges and a roll call of
the defendants. Each stood in turn to
give his name and former position.

we have today to decide who can judge
an alleged crime against a state that may
no longer exist."
The defendants also contended that

'it seems to me that we have today to decide who
can judge an alleged crime against the state that
may no longer exist.'
-Genrikh Pavda
attorney for former Soviet leader Anatoly Lukyanov

for the trial. Most have used their free-
dom to re-enter politics: Marching in
pro-Communist rallies, denouncing
Yeltsin's economic reforms and calling
for the resurrection of the Soviet Union.
Before any witnesses are called, the
court must deal with procedural issues
and preliminary legal motions.'The de-
fendants lost the first round yesterday
when the judges ruled that the court has
jurisdiction over crimes committed on
Russian territory before the Soviet col-
The defendants then called for the
replacement of the entire team of nine
prosecutors. They said Prosecutor Gen-
eral Valentin Stepankov had biased the
team by publishing a book about the
coup before the official investigation
Defense lawyers also complained

that both Stepankov and Yeltsin have
publicly declared the defendants to be
Former Soviet Defense Minister
Dmitry Yazov alleged that he was de-
nied a lawyer for 10 days after his
arrest on Aug. 24, 1991.
"I believe that the grossest viola-
tions were made during the investiga-
tion with respect to all the defendants,
including myself," added former KGB
Gen. Vyacheslav Generalov.
The judges are expected to rule on
those complaints today.
Yesterday's opening session ended
Tizyakov bent over with chest pains
and hurried out of the courtroom with
his wife and lawyer. Tizyakov headed
an association of state factories before
the coup.

They called each other "comrade"
and immediately sought to derail the
"These men were the leaders of the
Soviet Union but ... the union no longer
exists," said Genrikh Pavda, attorney
for former Soviet parliament leader
Anatoly Lukyanov. "It seems to me that

the threejudges should be replaced by a
civilian jury because their commander
is expected to be a prosecution witness.
A military court is hearing the trial
because several defendants are former
All the defendants were released
from jail over the past year to prepare


Wayne State University to open public
school to practice teaching methods


DETROIT (AP) - Wayne State
University announced yesterday it will
open its own public middle school this
fall to develop new methods of teaching
urban children.
The University Public School will
accept between 300 and 350 Detroit
students from sixth through eighth
grades. Students will be randomly se-
lected from applications, and no tuition
or book fees will be charged.
The school will receive the same
$4,200 per student in state aid as the
Detroit school district, but the two will
have no formal connection. Wayne
State's school will have an extended
school day and year, special enrichment
programs and an interdisciplinary cur-
Wayne State President David

turning point in their lives.
"The biggest challenge in urban
education is atthe middle school level,"
school and high school is where we lose
most of the kids who eventually drop
Adamany proposed the idea of a
university-run neighborhood school
more than two years ago. Last year the
university abandoned an attempt to
manage nine Detroit public schools af-
ter Superintendent Deborah McGriff
said each school would have final say
over their operations.
"I think a school district-university
partnership would havebeen morepow-
erful and offered greater systemic
change forchildren inDetroit,"McGriff
said yesterday.

applaud them taking our people," cur-
rent board President April Howard
Coleman said yesterday. "All three fi-
nalists for the principal's position are ;
veterans of the Detroit Public Schools
...next they'llbetaking teachers tostaff
the classrooms."
The University Public School will
be located on the university's Detroit
campus, in the Metropolitan Center for
High Technology. Its school day will
last from8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students will
spend the time after traditional school
hours on non-academic activities.
Many classes will be organized
around themes instead of traditional
academic disciplines. Parents will re-
ceive letter grades and written evalua-
tions for each student.
The school Year will last 200 days



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