August 7, 2002 - Press Release

Detroit - Tomorrow, a Wayne County Circuit Court will hear the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s request to disqualify Washtenaw County Chief Judge Archie Brown from deciding whether or not to allow unmarried couples to adopt based on his declared bias and prejudice on the issue of second parent adoption. The ACLU is representing six couples who had filed second parent adoption petitions in Washtenaw County.

"According to state law, second parent adoptions should be granted when it is in the best interest of the child,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director.  “Judge Brown’s admission that the marital status of parents is the only important factor to consider is wrong and clearly demonstrates his lack of regard for the families involved.” 

The Washtenaw County Trial Court has interpreted Michigan’s Adoption Code to permit second parent adoptions by unmarried couples for more than ten years.  In most instances one of the couple is already legally recognized as the child’s parent.  Until Judge Brown re-assigned the cases to himself, all of the petitions were heard by Judge Donald Shelton, the presiding Juvenile Court Judge.  The ACLU motion requests that all cases be returned to Judge Shelton. 

Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have adoption law language similar to Michigan’s and have permitted second parent adoptions by unmarried couples. 

The hearing on the motion will take place on Thursday, August 8, 2002 at 11:30 a.m. in Judge Kenny’s courtroom, located at 1441 St. Antoine, Room 302 in Detroit.