Mother's Legal Rights Violated

I would like to thank everyone who has visited my website at and shared their stories. Here is just one:

Cheryl** is 37 years old. She is the mother of 3 children, ages 14, 7 and 14 months. Cheryl is employed full-time and lives in a 4-bedroom, 2 and 1/2 bath home on 60 acres. Orange County Child Protective Services (CPS) removed Cheryl's 3 children from her custody on January 15, 2008, alleging that her 7-year old son was locked out of the house one day and had to call his father from a neighbor's house. According to the juvenile petition filed by CPS, Cheryl is "jittery" and her behavior raises "suspicions" of a personality disorder or substance abuse. To date, Cheryl has taken 27 drug tests which have all been negative.

When Child Protective Services removes children from their parent's custody, North Carolina law requires the court to provide the parent with a hearing within 7 days of the removal of the children. If CPS does not prove at the 7-Day Hearing that the allegations made against the parent are true and that the children's removal from the home was necessary to protect them, the children must be returned to their parents.

On January 22, 2008, Cheryl went to court for her 7-Day Hearing. Cheryl's court appointed attorney failed to show up for court. Cheryl sat in the courtroom for three hours before being told by the CPS attorney that her case would not be heard that day. Cheryl's 7-Day Hearing was continued to January 28, 2008.

On January 28, 2008, Cheryl arrived at the courthouse promptly at 2:00 p.m. for her 7-Day Hearing. The judge arrived at 2:20 p.m. Cheryl's court appointed attorney arrived at 2:25 p.m. Because Cheryl's attorney was late, the judge refused to allow Cheryl or her attorney to present any evidence, and Cheryl's children were ordered to remain in foster care. Subsequent to the hearing, the judge signed a written order which states that neither Cheryl nor her attorney were present in court at 2:20 p.m. when her case was called. The order also states that evidence was presented, and that based on the evidence, the children should remain in foster care.

North Carolina law also provides a parent with an additional hearing within 30 days of the first 7-Day Hearing. Cheryl's court appointed attorney failed to ask for this hearing which could have resulted in Cheryl's children being returned to her custody. As of today--more than 4 months after her children were removed--Cheryl has still not had her 7-Day Hearing. Two of Cheryl's children, including the baby, are in foster care; the third child is living with his father. Cheryl is allowed to see her children for one hour a week. She was not allowed to see her baby on the baby's first birthday.

Cheryl has a court hearing scheduled for next month at which Child Protective Services must prove by clear and convincing evidence that Cheryl neglected her children. The same judge who refused to allow Cheryl to have her 7-Day Hearing because her attorney was late will be presiding over this hearing.

Betsy J. Wolfenden,

15-B District Court Judicial Candidate

**The name of the mother has been changed to protect her identity and the identity of her children.



based on the information provided that Cheryl's rights were not violated.  I'm not privy to all the information submitted.  I think Ms. Candidate should readily consider the welfare of the children instead of a technicality of a parent's rights.  I don't agree that we should send abused children to their homes because of any technicality (not saying that Cheryl "abused" her child, but I am saying that the risk of abuse in this case still exists).

 I hope that in the future candidates will refrain from using this blog to pursue their own political aspirations.

Dear Anonymous,

The "technicality" to which you refer is the law.  If the day ever comes that you have trouble of your own that must be dealt with in court, I wish for you an impartial judge who follows the law.  

I do have aspirations.  My aspirations are that one day every citizen in Orange and Chatham Counties will be treated fairly in court in accordance with the law.  Not just those people who the judge thinks are more likley to vote for him or those people whose attorneys gave the most money to the judge's election campaign, but everyone.   

Betsy J. Wolfenden

15-B District Court Judicial Candidate

OK, first, I can assure you from being privy to this case there were NO allegations of abuse...

2nd, Besty is right, what you call a technicality is someone elses constitutional rights, if you are comfortable stepping on those in certain circumstances then god help us when it comes to the individuals that we choose to decide whose rights are worth protecting and whose are worth sweeping under the rug.


a.  She didn't get her 7 day hearing as required by law because her attorney wasn't there

b.  got ruled against when she finally did get her day in court because her lawyer was late  (although they held up the next hearing for 45 mins waiting for someone from the other side to arrive)

c.  didn't get 30 day hearing because someone didn't request it

d. ex parte meetings with the Judge

e.  evidence not entered in order to cover someones behind

and MORE...  if you consider those things unimportant then you really are not privy to the law whatsoever or you are acutally a part of this whole "let's cover our butts" thing in her case, which would explain the anonymous post...  And I am inclined to believe it might be the latter 

Do you believe that the mother's rights are more important than the child's rights?  Are they equal?  Throw out mother, and put in "father".  Would that change your answer?

I believe the court is acting in the best interest of the children.  You can agree to disagree.

You're privy to the facts of this case?  In what capacity?  Has everything remained confidential in respect of the children and the woman?
Yes, I assure you Cheryl and the children have remained protected... Unfortunatley, DSS is the entitiy bringing harm to the children in this case.  I know overall, DSS, the system and our Judges do a great job handling these cases, but we all know that there are cases once in a while that things just do not go the right way in, that is the truth and no one can deny that.  This is one of the cases and even though they may be few and far between, it is no less tragic when it does happen for those who are involved.

Hopefully this woman will have her children back again soon, I think our system, The Judge, DSS and her Attorney have failed her

I am going to be away from the computer and so there will be a defacto ban on new anonymous comments today, especially on this thread. You can still post them, but there is no gurantee they will be approved (which is the policy anyway).

Maybe it's time to stop trying this case here.   I hope the candidate will focus on her own qualifications and expertise moving forward. 

That is the problem with today's political races. Lets not talk about someone record or decisions they have made. How about electing county commissioners or governors or presidents without knowing what their record is or how they voted on a bill.

I want to know there record and what they believe in don't really care where they went to school or how many degrees they have.

We have continued to get anonymous comments on this post from people who claim to know many specific details about this case. I find this very inappropriate. If you are in a position to have inside information about this case or know "Cheryl," and are making a judgment based on that information, then you need to register and pbackup what you're saying with a real identity. It is too easy for Betsy and her supporters to just spin a tale that suits her political agenda without proving any of it.

Anonymous commenters who simply want to react to what is here are permitted (although I personally would like this thread to die a quick death).

A sad update to the Wolfenden saga

Here are my Tweets from the 15B Judicial District Bar Meeting earlier this evening:Mark Chilton: Orange/Chatham Bar is nominating candidates to replace Judge Coleman now. at 8:11pm · via Twitter Mark Chilton: Nominees are Jay Bryan, Lunsford Long, Lunday Riggsbee, Tab Hunter, Glenn Gerding, Lamar Alexander & Karen Davidson. at 8:17pm · via Twitter Mark Chilton: Judge Lonnie Coleman is retiring. at 8:20pm · via Twitter Mark Chilton: Top 3 vote-getters will be considered by the Governor. She makes the final decision. at 8:24pm · via Twitter Mark Chilton: 1 Jay Bryan, 2 Glenn Gerding, 3 Lunsford Long. at 8:44pm · via Twitter Mark Chilton: 115 to 114 to 78 at 8:47pm · via Twitter ·

Sorry, Idid the "Betsy Cares" post - I did not mean to go in anonymous - I forgot to sign in, you may post my name with it, or post this after it.

It is a shame the bar has banded together to blacklist Betsy.  I did a post on it earlier that still hasn't made it - So I will sum it up.  I would rather have an over zealous attorney than one who does not return calls, doens't show up for hearings and when they do they are dressed as if they are heading to woodstock... then lie to Judges and clients as to why they are late or missed the hearing all together ( I have seen this with my own two eyes, not hearsay)I will also say this, I think it is unfair that if a client (average joe) feels their attorney has screwed their case up (life) they can report to the Bar but MUST submit their names and the Attorney knows who filed the complaint, but Judges and attorneys who merely work with the attorney can file ANONYMOUS complaints... which they all did.  Pretty unfair they can hide behind a mask huh? One last point, if there was no merit to Betsy's allegations, then why is half the bar scrambling to silence her and shut her out, filing all these anonymous complaints, trying to take her bar license etc... If there is no cause for alarm, why are they "roundin up the troops"  Think about it folks... Oh, by the way, isn't correct procedure for an attorney that is on rotation and gets picked to be a "public defender" for a case suppose to bill the state (our tax dollars ) at a lower rate when the paralegal is doing the work?  If anyone can clear that up for me please do... whoever is over the Public defenders office in Orange should really start auditing the attorneys.I am tired of my tax dollars paying attorney rates for paralegal work...



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