published Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Hearing delayed in custody case

Domitina Mendez holds photos of two of her children, Ever Mendez, left, age 5, and Debbi Mendez, age 3. She and her husband, Ovidio Mendez are Guatemalan indigenous Mayans who lost custody of their five children when the Georgia Department of Child Protective Services took their children in 2008. In June a Whitfield County judge permanently removed their parental rights in part because they don't speak English and the judge felt the parrents couldn't take care of the children's special needs and dozens of monthly doctor's visits.
Domitina Mendez holds photos of two of her children, Ever Mendez, left, age 5, and Debbi Mendez, age 3. She and her husband, Ovidio Mendez are Guatemalan indigenous Mayans who lost custody of their five children when the Georgia Department of Child Protective Services took their children in 2008. In June a Whitfield County judge permanently removed their parental rights in part because they don't speak English and the judge felt the parrents couldn't take care of the children's special needs and dozens of monthly doctor's visits.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The hearing of a Dalton couple to ask a judge to have their custody case reopened has been postponed. A new date hasn't been set.

Neither Sean Kean, Whitfield County Juvenile Court clerk, nor Bruce Kling, attorney for the Whitfield County Department of Family and Children Services, could provide any information because the case involves minors.

The couple's attorney, Richard Murray, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ovidio and Domitina Mendez lost their parental rights in July, three years after the state took custody of their five special-needs children. The state argued the parents are not able to care for their children.

But the Guatemalan consul in Atlanta, Beatriz Illescas, who is helping the family, believes the main reasons their parental rights were terminated were because they don't speak English and are in the country illegally.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network has an online petition asking judge Connie Blaylock to reconsider her decision and to reunite the Mendez family. More than 500 people have signed the online petition out of the organization's goal of 1,000.

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