June 18, 2010

Victory in the First Circuit: Sam and Tony M. v. Carcieri!

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (which included Justice Souter sitting by courtesy) ruled in favor of the foster youth in Sam and Tony M. v. Carcieri, a class action suit against Rhode Island, seeking to reform the state’s foster care system. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s holding that only the foster youth’s guardians ad litem, or GALs, could serve as the children’s next friends in the litigation.

The Court of Appeals stated:

“We believe that because these foster care children lack significant ties with their parents and have been placed under the state’s legal custody and guardianship, a significant relationship need not be required as a prerequisite to Next Friend status. Important social interests are advanced by allowing minors access to a judicial forum to vindicate their constitutional rights through a Next Friend that the court finds has a good faith interest in pursuing a federal claim on the minor’s behalf; particularly where, as here, the minors seek relief for alleged violations of the guardian’s duty to protect them.”

Corene Kendrick worked with Erik Pitchal to write the amicus brief that was filed by the National Association of Counsel for Children, and the Youth Law Center and Micheal Dale, YLC Board member, both signed on to the amicus.

Sam and Tony M. v. Carcieri