The View from Four Stories

We at the Methodist Justice Ministry pray that you are all well and coping with these difficult times.

This blog is another in my occasional reports about the kind of cases we are handling. I know these are a lot of words, but I still hope you will take the time to read this.

Below are just four stories of recent cases where we are offering assistance:

I received a referral for a case for a mother and daughter. I interviewed the mother yesterday and am filing lawsuits today. The father has choked and beaten the mother and has a lengthy criminal record of methamphetamine possession and illegal weapon possession. When he uses meth, he becomes angry and violent. Mother and daughter fled the home at the last incident when the father choked the mother to unconsciousness. The mother paid a retainer to a lawyer back in September. He filed her divorce suit, agreed to a temporary order in October that gave the father visitation rights with the daughter, and then withdrew from representing her when he had run through her initial retainer. She had asked this lawyer to have the temporary orders modified for the reason stated below, but he would not do anything unless she paid him more money — money which she did not have. Since the temporary orders were entered in her case in October, the father has been convicted of methamphetamine possession (again), illegal possession of a firearm after felony conviction (again), failed to enter an inpatient drug rehab facility as ordered by the criminal court and had two more criminal warrants issued for his arrest. The father has been leaving vile voice messages on the mother’s cell phone, threatening to kill her and to rape the mother of a friend of hers. Today I am filing an amended petition for divorce, a request for new temporary orders, and an application for a protective order for mother and daughter. The mother has worked at the same job as a bakery manager for nine years. Because of COVID, the bakery is closing at the end of this month, when she will go from about $2,000.00 income a month to zero.  She is the sole source of support for herself and her daughter. MJM will help her financially as long as our funds last.

Jodie is representing grandparents in a case in which the mother of a seven-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl already had legal custody of the children. The father of the children was already denied by court order any access to or contact with these children because he had been convicted of choking the mother. Recently, the mother died by suicide, and the grandparents took in the children. The father is trying to obtain legal custody. Jodie is helping the grandparents, who have always been in the children’s lives, get legal custody in the place of the mother, and protect them from the father.  MJM will help them financially as long as our funds last.

Jannette has just taken in a case representing a young father and his baby. The baby’s mother has severe, untreated mental health issues. She has attempted suicide multiple times, the last time by trying to cut her own throat with jagged glass in front of the baby.  This young father has stepped up with the support of his extended family and has taken the baby into his family home. The father’s mother, the maternal grandmother to the baby, just died of COVID. The family has a low income, and MJM will help them financially.

Sarah is helping an adult half-sister to a baby born in January obtain legal custody. The father of the baby (and of the half-sister) is an alcoholic in his late 50’s. The mother of the baby is in her mid-twenties, obtained no prenatal care during her pregnancy, and abused methamphetamine. The couple was living in a camper van without a bathroom. In January, the drunken father shoved her out of the van into the cold weather and would not let her back in. So the mother crawled into a doghouse and gave birth there alone. She clamped the umbilical cord with a hair clip. When she crawled out of the doghouse with the baby, the placenta not having been expelled, and pounded on the trailer door, the father would not let her in. The baby was seven weeks premature, was born positive for methamphetamine, and spent weeks in the NICU at Cook Children’s. Only an adult daughter of the father was fit and willing to take in this baby. MJM will help the sister financially. The baby seems fine!

This work is what we do and have done for 14.5 years. Please pray for our clients, children, and us. And send money. Please, and thank you.

Rev. Brooks Harrington
Legal Director
MJM

To support the tireless work of the Methodist Justice Ministry, click here.

Brooks Harrington is the founder and legal director of the Methodist Justice Ministry, owned by First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth. He is an attorney and an ordained United Methodist minister.

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