An Illinois judge has revoked a mother’s right to visit her 11-year-old son because she refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In what appears to be an unprecedented decision, Cook County Judge James Shapiro said Rebecca Firlit, 39, who shares custody of her son with her divorced husband, could not see the boy again until she was released. she never took the picture.
“I was confused because it was just supposed to be about expenses and child support,” Firlit told the Chicago Sun-Times of the virtual court hearing, which took place earlier this month. this.
“One of the first things he asked me when I went on the Zoom call was whether or not I was vaccinated, which baffled me because I asked him what that had to do with it. see with the audience.
“He said, ‘I am the judge and I make the decisions for your case.’ “
Firlit’s attorney, Annette Fernholz, said she filed a complaint with the state appeals court, noting that the boy’s father had not requested such a ruling.
“The trial court clearly overstepped its authority in suspending the mother’s parenting time when the issue in court was child support,” Fernholz said in a statement.
“The mother was unaware that her parenting time was being discussed when she went to Zoom court. The judge deprived her of notice and a full hearing on the matter. “
Firlit, who did not say if she was going to get the vaccine, told the judge her decision not to take it was not political.
“I have had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past and my doctor advised me not to get the vaccine,” she said. “This presents a risk. “
Her son, she said, was upset that he was not allowed to see her and cried when they spoke to him on the phone.
“I think it’s wrong,” she said. “I think it divides families. And I think it’s not in my son’s best interests to be away from his mother.
A spokesperson for the Cook County Circuit Court said the judge could not comment. Jeffrey Leving, lawyer for father Matthew Duiven, said they supported the decision.
Although it is believed to be the first time that a judge has used non-vaccination as a punitive measure, others have dangled the coronavirus vaccine as an incentive or reward.
Offenders in several dozen minor criminal cases in Georgia have been offered shorter sentences in exchange for the vaccination. In New York, judges have demanded a vaccination clause in some plea agreements, or for a defendant seeking bail.