Sam M. v. Carcieri Amicus

Published On: April 1, 2009


The Youth Law Center joined fourteen other children’s advocacy organizations in an amicus brief filed with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Sam M. v. Carcieri. The amicus brief was filed by Suffolk University Professor Erik Pitchal on behalf of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) and the other groups. YLC Staff Attorney Corene Kendrick and summer intern Kara Abelson, a second-year student at UC Davis Law School, assisted Professor Pitchal in research for the brief. The case is a class action alleging myriad violations of the constitutional and statutory rights of Rhode Island’s foster children, brought by Children’s Rights and the Rhode Island Child Advocate. The case was dismissed by the District Court on the grounds that the adult Next Friends for the children were improper under Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court held that the only adults who could authorize a federal lawsuit for foster children are their court-appointed GALs in the state dependency case, on the theory that GALs are the children’s Rule 17 “representatives” for all purposes. If upheld on appeal, the decision will effectively bar Rhode Island’s foster children from getting any federal relief, and the implications could go well beyond the one jurisdiction and affect other reform litigation on behalf of children in foster care.

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