Judge Delays Justina Pelletier Ruling While Armed Guards Sit in on Visits

Justina Pelletier

Justina Pelletier rulingMassachusetts Judge Joseph Johnston delayed his promised Justina Pelletier ruling for the sixth time on Friday, stating that he will now issue the ruling on Tuesday March 25, 2014 in a facsimile message. The critically ill teenager’s family has been fighting a custody battle against the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) for more than a year. Meanwhile her older sister Jennifer is pleading with friends and campaigners to do all they can to support Justina. Devastated by the delays in getting medication for her sister, she tweeted Friday that armed guards sit in on visits while she is with Justina and that she is increasingly worried about her condition.

The Massachusetts DCF was made custodian of Justina Pelletier more than a year ago after her parents had admitted her to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) with influenza. Diagnosed with mitochondrial disease and previously treated at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, her condition had deteriorated and she needed to see the specialist, a gastroenterologist, who had previously treated her at Tufts (who now works at BCH). Instead a neurologist, a psychologist and a pediatrician who had no knowledge of her medical history, and did not consult the doctors and specialists who had been treating her, decided on a new diagnosis of somatoform disorder that is psychological. When her parents disagreed with the new diagnosis, and refused to sign documentation required by the hospital, the DCF got a court order that deprived the Pelletiers of custody of their child. The family has been fighting to regain custody ever since.

Custody Hearings
There have been numerous custody hearing since February 2013 when the DCF was first granted legal custody of Justina Pelletier. On December last year award-winning investigative reporter Beau Berman, who has been following the case very closely, reported that even though the custody hearings ended on December 12, Judge Joseph Johnston did not issue a final ruling. At that stage it was reported that the “final decision” would be before Christmas last year, on Friday morning, December 20, after Justina herself had testified in person. In the meantime, on November 7, 2013 Judge Johnston had issued a verbal gag order that prevented anyone from discussing the case with the media. On December 20 he postponed the case and his final Justina Pelletier ruling to February 2014.

On February 4 Judge Johnston again adjourned the case, this time to February 13, at which point Justina was transferred from BCH to Wayside Youth and Family Network in Massachusetts, said to be a “transitional facility.” Then on February 24, 2014 the parties again appeared before Judge Johnston and he postponed his custody ruling yet again. This time he made a decision that Justina should be transferred from Wayside to foster care and the next custody hearing was scheduled for March 17 when it was thought that the final ruling would be given. This was when Justina’s mother Linda collapsed and had to be carried from the court on a stretcher by medical personnel. Ultimately Justina was allowed to stay where she was, rather than go into foster care. As pressure from support groups and the media intensified, the gag order against her father was also lifted. Further, the DCF made a public statement to say that they would be transferring Justina into the care of a medical team from Tufts, which is what the Pelletier family wants.

On March 17 it was once again expected that Judge Johnston would deliver his final ruling, but this did not happen. On March 17, a Monday, the judge said he would deliver his ruling by Friday March 21. On March 21 word was that the judge would be emailing – or possibly even snail-mailing – the Justina Pelletier ruling to the girl’s parents. But on Friday the judge said he would fax his ruling on Tuesday (March 25) – more than three months later than the original “final decision” was promised.

Social Media Used to Get Support for Justina Pelletier
From the start the Pelletier family and their supporters have used social media to get support for Justina. There are several Facebook pages including two groups, Free Justina Pelletier & Oppose DCF/Psychiatry, and Free Justina Pelletier From Boston Children’s Hospital. A Miracle for Justina, a community page set up on March 18, 2013 as a non-profit fund to help get Justina home, has more than 21,000 likes.

Thousands of supporters have also been using Twitter to publicize Justina’s plight, including both Justina’s older sisters, Jennifer and Jessica, who also suffers from the rare mitochondrial disease. On Friday Jennifer tweeted that she was “disgusted with the state of Massachusetts,” and that the DCF was “harming my sister” by “completely neglecting her health!!!” She had been to see Justina and was worried how swollen her feet and legs were. They were, she said, “Very cold to touch! Used to be very ticklish … can’t feel.” She also tweeted that during the visit there were “two armed local cops not in uniform” present, “With guns showing!!” She pleading via Twitter, “Please help support my little sister!”

The Pelletiers are only allowed to spend one hour per week with Justina, and never without representatives of the DCF being present. On Saturday the family posted a statement on the Miracle for Justina Facebook page saying that Wayside clinic has now said Justina will not be allowed to see the Tuft medical team until Judge Johnston makes his custody ruling. Wayside Youth and Support Network is supervised by BCH and by the Massachusetts DCF. The president and CEO of the clinic for the past 30 years is Harvard graduate, Eric L. Masi who is also chair of the Children’s League of Massachusetts and the Association for Behavioral Health. BCH is the pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and well-known for its research on somatoform disorder.

State of Justina’s Pelletier’s Health
When the doctors at BCH made their diagnosis of somatoform disorder in February 2013, Justina was taken off all the medication prescribed by her doctors at Tufts. Since then, her family has reported a continued decline in her health. They have noticed intense red lines on her stomach and say that her legs and feet are “beyond swollen.” The swelling is so bad that they cannot see her ankles and she has no feeling in her feet. She is paralyzed from waist down and confined to a wheelchair, just over a year after she was competing successfully in ice shows.

While the DCF has accused Lou and Linda Pelletier (Justina’s parents) of child abuse, and allowing her to have medication they say it totally unnecessary (all of which was prescribed by the doctors at Tufts), the Pelletiers have consistently stated that they are only concerned with Justina’s health and welfare. “Our family is extremely worried based on what we witnessed that Justina is in desperate need of a medical examination and care.”

Yesterday evening Beau Berman interviewed Jennifer Pelletier on television, and she repeated what has already been stated on both Facebook and Twitter, adding that she has never seen Justina’s health worse. She said it simply was not fair that the authorities were prolonging the agony. This relates both to the delays caused by the judge who keeps postponing his Justina Pelletier ruling, as well as the DCF undertaking to transfer her medical treatment back to Tufts. Meanwhile the family will continue to visit Justina once a week while DCF representatives and armed guards sit in on visits.

By Penny Swift

The Boston Globe
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23 thoughts on “Judge Delays Justina Pelletier Ruling While Armed Guards Sit in on Visits

  1. Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a little out of track! come on!

  2. Neurology and psychiatry are closely linked and many doctors are certified in both. The neurologist’s name was listed in an early article, as well as the psychologist’s. I will see if I can find them again for the person who is wondering.

    1. Jen the neurologist was Dr. Jurriaan Peters – who had all of seven months experience at that stage. He saw Justina in ER. The psychologist was Dr. Simona Bujoreanu who maintained that her conditioned worsened when her mother was present. The pediatrician was Dr. Alice Newton – and I have seen a report that states it was she who made the diagnosis of somatoform disorder. I have also heard that Peters has done several research papers on somatoform

  3. It is quite possible the manufactures of the medications are complicit in keeping this quiet and the girl away from other doctors.

    I get the impression this girl was used as a guinea pig in drug tests. Should some of the drugs administered by BCH cause extensive damage to the child, it could be a huge financial blow to the drug companies involved.

    The action or lack of in this case makes the Judge look complicit or suspect. Why is the State Attorneys General not involved, corruption there too?

  4. I keep reading about this elusive “neurologist” and “pediatrician” and still can not find who is being referred to. I wont post their names because my comment might get deleted, but all of the doctors involved (except one, who might be a psychologist) were PSYCHIATRISTS, not neurologists. Why is the media letting psychiatry off the hook?

  5. Great article. This is such a sad case. The state of MA is torturing this girl and her family! If anyone is interested, Michael Graham, a local radio talk show host has followed this story from the beginning and will be interviewing the dad, Lou Pelletier, in a few minutes. You can listen here:http://www.michaelgraham.com/radio/
    Bookmark this site for future reference. He posts his podcasts, too so if you miss him live, you can listen later.
    Also, Jennifer Pelletier saidthis morning that Lou will be appearing on FOX news tinite, Monday, at 6:40pm so tune in for that.
    This family needs your prayers; especially Justina!

  6. Jack Smith, if that is your real name… you sound like you know this family personally. I am very much on the family’s side and have been sickened by this whole ordeal. If you have information, please share with the rest of us! Everyone keeps saying we don’t know the other side. That’s because they won’t tell us the other side! And no matter what you know, or think you know, the bottom line is this judge has put off his decision for far too long. I am a psychologist, and never in my life have I heard of hospitalizing a teenager with somatoform disorder for over a year! It is almost always done on an outpatient basis, unless the child is an immediate threat to him or herself or to others. If she is not ill, and her problems are psychological, why has she been inpatient for over a year? Please, if you know anything that will help shed light on the subject, please do! Otherwise, my prayers are still with the family and this poor girl. Actually, my prayers will be with them no matter what.

  7. @ Jack Smith. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He probably gets his paycheck signed by either BCH or DCF.

  8. @jack smith If ALL of what you are saying is true, it’s still not a hospital’s business to choose to keep a child just because they judge her parent’s marriage to be “hanging by a thread”.

    You consider her mother to be a “bona fide nut case”. Well, so are we to remove all kids from all families YOU judge to be bona fide nut cases?

    And if I had a nickel for every teenager who, at one time or other, did not want to see their parents, I’d be putting the federal reserve to shame. After all she’s probably been told about her parents now, I would be surprised if she could see them the same way. I hope they get a good lawyer and take them to the cleaners for what they’ve done to that little girl over the past year.

    Thank god for the media. They aren’t on the wrong side of this one.. but you appear to me to be on the wrong side of sanity and reason yourself.

  9. There is a God in heaven who will deal with those who delay justice and medical treatment for this, his tender child. For you “perps” @ DCF, on the hill, and in the courthouses ——- BEWARE!

  10. What will DCF do with justinas body when she eventually dies from mistreatment? Would her parents have an opportunity to have her autopsied in case she actually does have mito? Sorry to hear about Justine’s ruling being delayed again. Why isn’t her medical condition being independently evaluated?

  11. Keep the parents away from this beautiful child!! The mother is a bona fide nut case and the father is a sue happy greedy bastard. They are both guilty of medical abuse which has been going on for several years. The child doesn’t even want the mother or father to visit her!!! Their abuse has gone on long enough. Thank God for the MA DCF and the Boston Children’s hospital for finally making a proper diagnosis about her psychological condition. And the parents do not like each other at all! Their marriage has been hanging by a thread for the last 20 yrs!! Haven’t you noticed in the media videos and photos that they are not close to each other at all !!!
    The media is on the wrong side of this one!!!!

    1. Jack Smith, either name your sources for such alleged ‘information’ or STFU. And if you are unable to fully document and PROVE your libelous allegations, you might just find yourself on the wrong end of a subpoena.

  12. Judge Joseph Johnston – please order the immediate release of Justina, not only because it is the right thing to do, because it is the only thing to do.

    Keep siding with the DCF and you will look as corrupt as both they and the psychiatric team using her as a mental health guinea pig.

    What are you scared of Mr Johnston – really, what are you scared of? Because if Justine remains in DCF custody and should lose her fight for life, it will be PURELY down to her lack of treatment and care and because YOU made a bad judgement call.

    And guess what mate, if you think we (the worldwide public) are a pain in the butt now, you haven’t seen anything yet.

    Release her and release her now – no more delay tactics, no bowing down to the DCF and their corrupt and negligent polices and no bowing down to the God of Psychiatry who isn’t really god, but thinks they are.

  13. Armed Guards? REALLY??? Is BCH & DCF afraid Justina will tell her family all about the poisonous chemical cocktails she’s been pumped full of? BTW…This place they have Justina at has absolutely horrible reviews….this Wayside Youth Place…

  14. If the judge his sending his response via fax, i’d bet he has no intentions of returning her and doesn’t want to deal with the ordeal in the court room. Corrupt bastard.

  15. I’ve been praying diligently for Justina and her return to her loving family since November. My heart is aching for Justina. She must feel so alone and forsaken living as a prisoner of this shameful so called justice system. I will continue to pray for her release. I’m also praying the judge will have mercy on Justina and her family, and let Justina return home. Is there anything else I can do? I’ve donated, I’ve talked to people, and I pray constantly. My heart is broken for this family!

  16. It sounds like this judge is trying to cover for BCH and the states screw up. This is absolutely horrible to torture a young girl and her family! Please pray for Justina and that this judge will finally do the right thing. Shame on you BCH and DCF! Please just admit that you were wrong & set this girl free!!!!!

  17. I hope that you are sending this article accorss the AP and to all the National News Networks. #freejustina Praying she gets the medical treatment she needs

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