After The Family Innocence learned that Restorative Justice Circles were successfully used in the most contentious family court cases by expert John Myser, Family Innocence advocates, including Barb Zorn joined peacemakers from around the world, at The Gandhi Institute in New York, to learn to facilitate circles from the master, Dominic Barter.
A Miracle in Minnesota on All Saints Day. Last year, family law attorney Michelle MacDonald prayed to Pope John Paul II for a miracle to eliminate court for families. When she later learned that her client, Benedictus Ombuna was confirmed by the Pope, it sealed her conviction. Less than a year later, Family Innocence developed a model to keep families out of court. This past week, in what can only be described as “miraculous,” Benedictus Ombuna’s son, Costas, and relative Pamela Chase circled John Myser and circled Barb Zorn to facilitate a restorative justice family circle , held at the public library in West St. Paul. Remarkably, in less than 3 hours , a 5 year family court dispute involving the wrongful custody order (obtained after Costas’ mother died in 2007) was resolved in a circle , with what’s called an “action plan.” Benedictus, Costas, and Pamela’s plan included a dismissal of the case, which takes them back to what MacDonald calls “family innocence.” IA court Order for dismissal was signed by Judge Kevin Burke, the sixth Judge assigned to the case on, of all days, November 1, 2012 -All Saint’s Day.
Pope John Paul’s Feast Day. Even more remarkable, the opposing attorney in the case referenced Benedictus’ God-given rights to the care, custody and control of his son, Costas, in a written extra-judicial agreement she sent to attorney Michelle MacDonald on Pope John Paul II first feast day, October 22, which Benedictus and Pamela signed. No attorney signatures were requested.
Does it have to be miracle for fit parents to have the care and control of their own children?
Another Family Miracle? On John Paul II’s feast day, October 22, Benedictus’ adult son, ’s two young children were “placed” with him. That’s when he learned that even though he was on the birth certificate, paid support as court ordered, and parented on the weekends, the State only recognized him as a “participant” , and not as a “custodian.” This is because he never had reason to sue their mother for custody. Last month, child protection had removed the 2 and 5 year old from their mother’s home, and placed them in foster care, instead of with their father, and over his objection in court. In fact, Trevor and attorney Michelle MacDonald were directed to take a seat at the back of the court room at the second hearing. Michelle had argued earlier a parent’s fundamental and constitutional rights, as addressed by Supreme Court Justice Lori Gildae, and that after the couple separated, Trevor parented on weekends. Their mother took the weekday shift, while Trevor works his way through college .
No Family Court. Trevor says in Kenya, Africa, where he lived with his father, Benedictus Ombuna and 3 siblings as a youth, a mother and father are just that – parents. “A father or mother does not have to go to court to obtain rights," he says. “Your children are your life, like the air you breath, and from God.” Trevor wants to support their mother in every way possible to get back on her feet to help him care for the children. He also considers having family innocence circle his family by facilitating a restorative justice family circle. Trevor agrees “it takes a village” and has no qualms about having relatives help him with the children. In fact, their maternal grandmother cared for them so he could attend his first Family Innocence ’s Social to celebrate the children’s return, with his brother, also in attendance.