Civil Matter: Alleged Deprived Children and DHS Takes Custody of the Children
Case: In re Hall children
Court: [JD-05-123, Rogers County]
Result: Case dismissed when Rogers County Trial Judge Erin O’Quinn Reversed by Oklahoma Supreme Court
Read stories about this case from the Claremore Daily Progress:
- Appeals court reverses deprived children ruling
- Mayes County judge dismisses threat charge against father
Because juvenile matters are confidential by Oklahoma statute, the docket sheet and the identity of the 5 children in this “juvenile deprived” matter cannot be revealed, but Haslam represented their natural father in this Rogers County case that experienced unusual interest by the press and local community. On May 30, 2007, after 2 years of litigation, this case was dismissed outright and the children returned to their father.
The Bizarre Investigation and Charge
The Rogers County District Attorney alleged Mr. and Mrs. Hall deprived their children in McIntosh County. The Halls lived in McIntosh County, and the McIntosh County DHS office investigated and refused to find abuse. Nonetheless, Mrs. Hall was escorted from her home by family members to a Rogers County shelter. Mr. Hall knew nothing about their new location.
About one month later, Rogers County officials took the children from Ms. Hall because of concerns she was depriving them. Yet after another month, the Rogers County DA filed its deprived petition against both parents. Incomprehensibly, it based its petition against Mr. Hall on the very McIntosh County claims against him that had been investigated and declined earlier by McIntosh County officials.
The Rogers County Trial and Successful Appeal
Mrs. Hall admitted she had deprived the children, but Mr. Hall fired two attorneys before hiring Haslam to fight the charge. The local judges refused to allow Mr. Hall ANY visits with his kids for 10 months – not even SUPERVISED visits – while Ms. Hall was granted visitation. In a January 2006 bench trial, Judge Erin O’Quinn ruled that Mr. Hall had deprived his kids. The children did not testify, and hearsay statements were unlawfully admitted over Haslam’s objections.
In the first of two abrupt appellate reversals of Rogers County trial judge Erin Oquin, the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned her ruling denying Mr. Hall transcripts of his trial and an appellate attorney at court fund expense.
Then, adequately equipped to lodge his appeal, Claremore attorney Greg Laird persuaded the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals that Judge O’Quinn had committed error in the trial. The appeals court reversed her finding that Mr. Hall had deprived his children and remanded the case for a fair trial.
After Mr. Hall’s Appellate Victories: The Case is Dismissed and His Kids Returned to Him
After the appellate courts returned the case to Rogers County for retrial, prosecutor Jenny Sanbrano’s drummed up still more charges against Mr. Hall: this time with threatening Judge O’Quinn and her. This exercise of Rogers County’s vindictiveness was based on a phone call Mr. Hall allegedly made to DHS asking for the return of the kids to him pending the retrial, and in which he allegedly promised that Rogers County would be “…less one prosecutor and judge when he and his lawyer got finished.”
Haslam immediately, successfully moved to disqualify the Rogers County courts and prosecutors from the case. The case was reassigned to Mayes County Judge Gary Dean and the Ottowa County DA. After assessing the case history, Judge Dean removed the Rogers County DHS workers, the CASA workers and the childrens’ lawyer, Leslie Ellis-Kissinger, from the case.
On May 30, 2007, Judge Dean completely dismissed the case against Mr. Hall and returned all of his children to his custody. On December 7, 2007, the Court issued its final order. The order is candid in its findings: “…Based upon the record, the claims of Crystal Hall as to abuse appear to the Court to have been manufactured or fabricated….” [See the final order here]. As the order’s first paragraph relates, the Court took the extraordinary step of making its final order public record. Judge Dean also completely dismissed the “threatening phone call” charge involving Sanbrano.