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Nicholson v. Scoppetta

Court of Appeals of New York
820 N.E.2d 840 (2004)


Sharwline Nicholson (plaintiff) brought an action against the New York Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) (defendant) on behalf of herself and her two children. Nicholson brought the action pursuant to § 1983, alleging that ACS had improperly removed her children from the home without probable cause or due process of law. Nicholson was a victim of domestic violence, and ACS found that, as a victim, she engaged in domestic violence. ACS’s sole allegation of neglect was that Nicholson had allowed the children to witness the domestic abuse that was carried out against her. Nicholson alleged that the ACS had unlawfully violated her right to care for and have custody of her children. Nicholson’s suit was eventually consolidated into a class action. The district court issued an injunction preventing the ACS from removing mothers from their children solely due to the fact that the children had witnessed domestic violence committed against their mothers. ACS appealed the decision, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified the question of whether a parent could be found guilty of neglect and separated from his or her children solely because the children had witnessed domestic violence committed against the parent. The New York Court of Appeals accepted the certification.

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