“I’M JULIA FAIRBANKS Your Honor, from Little Protective Services. Lilibeth is a fugitive Little, and so it’s standard procedure to restrain her to prevent further escape attempts, Your Honor.”
“It may be standard procedure elsewhere, but in my courtroom it will not be. Mrs. Tully, can you be respectful of court decorum if I order Mrs. Fairbanks to remove that gag?”
I watched as the woman nodded quickly.
“Mrs. Fairbanks remove that inhumane torture device that you all try and say is a pacifier, along with the swaddle blanket, and those leg cuffs and any other restraints that I can’t see. You will then place her in a booster seat over by her attorney.”
“Your Honor…” Reinhardt’s attorney wanted to argue.
“This is my courtroom. Choose your next words wisely,” she told him.
He shut up, and I watched as the poor woman was placed into the seat wearing nothing but a pink onesie that barely covered the diaper that at least appeared to be dry and clean. “Thank you, Your Honor,” she said to her when she was seated.
“You’re welcome Mrs. Tully.”
The bailiff was about to introduce the attorney again when Judge Jones spoke up, “From here on out I expect a level of respect to be granted for Mrs. Tully. Notice I said Tully, and not Dane. We are not in the State of Ames right now, and really this isn’t about being in the State of New Haven. This is the 3rd District Court, and that will be my ruling throughout this case.”
“Mr. Ingleton, presenting on the case,” was finally called once a moment of silence settled over the room.
“Thank you and may it please the court, I am James Ingleton representing Henry Reinhardt and Elizabeth Dane in the recovery of the woman referred to in this court as Lilibeth Tully, but previously Lilibeth Dane as adopted by my client ten years ago. At that time the municipal court of Oak City made a determination that Lilibeth Dane had demonstrated she was presenting a clear case of Maturosis after she pooped her panties in the grocery store that she worked.,Ms. Dane happened to be shopping in the store and found her panties a hygienic mess of fresh poop stains, so she took care of cleaning her up, and adopted her to re-raise her as is the normal guidance by health professionals.”
He paused, “After four years of care, Lilibeth was abducted from a park she was playing at by a man who is unfortunately still at large today. Ms. Dane went to the police, federal authorities, and others to locate her, but every attempt failed. When Mr. Reinhardt’s respected services became available, she made use of them. Within six-months, he believed he had found her in New Haven. Once he had positively identified her via fingerprints and facial recognition software, he then attempted to make the rescue of the girl to take her back home to her mother. The authorities unlawfully stepped into this custody dispute, and placed her with LPS pending this hearing. Per the Fugitive Little Act of the Constitution, she should be remanded to Ms. Dane’s custody immediately following this hearing. Ms. Dane is however not requiring her babies to come back to Ames, they may stay with their daddy here in New Haven.”
It was only then that I noticed the woman in a tasteful business suit immediately behind their counsel’s table. I could see tear marks on her face, and guessed that must have been the bitch of an Amazon. On the other side I noticed that Mrs. Tully had her husband, who looked to be just an inch or so shorter than I was. He was sitting there looking aghast at the whole affair.
“The F.L.A. promotes the well-being of all adopted Littles, regardless of the state that they are in when they are found. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled over the past century that nothing impacts the rights of a parent from reclaiming their Little who has been kidnapped, or escaped, and that any bounty hunters that seek them out must not be impeded in any manner.”
I felt my stomach turn at his arguments, laws that were quoted absolutely correctly. Each state had adopted its own laws pertaining to Littles… Ames I had discovered, along with Calisota where Selegnasol was located, were pretty much the worst. New Haven was probably the best for avoiding adoptions, but once you were adopted it was one of the strictest to get out of them besides those two. Both of the other two were under the jurisdiction of other courts, but the law nationally was that a ‘found’ Little had to be returned.
I was grateful when the bastard attorney’s red light turned on, and looked up to see Judge Jones looking decidedly grim. Mrs. Tully’s attorney was called up then.
“Thank you and may it please the court, I am Douglas Adams, and I represent Mr. Brian Tully, and his wife Lilibeth. This case represents more than a simple rule of law, Your Honor, it represents a situation where following the letter of the law will lead to immoral consequences. Mrs. Tully was abused badly when she was in the custody of her tormentor, Ms. Dane. Regularly left alone to stew in diapers that weren’t changed for days at a time, repeatedly beaten with paddles and canes, and fed only pureed meals of food that truly didn’t meet her minimum caloric needs. During her time with Ms. Dane, she went from being one-hundred pounds, a healthy weight for her size, to losing forty percent of her body mass and only being a malnourished sixty-one-pounds when she was treated at a hospital here in New Haven after her escape. She received beatings so severe that X-Rays show the healed fractures from no less than seven broken arms and legs over the four years she was held captive.”
The other attorney squirmed a bit, but bit his tongue. Ms. Dane didn’t though, “That’s not true! I only kept her in a poopy diaper when she was really bad! And as a time out because she kept hitting me!”
Judge Jones brought her gavel down, “Order! If you can’t keep quiet ma’am, I will have you removed from the courtroom.”
“Please resume Mr. Adams,” she told him.
“Fortunately, she made contact with an operative who specializes in helping abused Littles get away from bad situations. It is our belief that should Mrs. Tully be forced to return with Ms. Dane, she will enact severe beatings, mutilations, and consequences upon Mrs. Tully as revenge for her escape. Furthermore, beyond Mrs. Tully, there is her family to consider. She is raising two beautiful baby girls with her husband, whom she legally married here in Hartford…”
For the next bit of time, I watched as her attorney didn’t dispute the law, but attempted to humanize Mrs. Tully to maybe make it possible for Judge Jones to find a way to rule in her favor. To her credit, by her questions, it appeared that she was trying to find an out through the law in any way she could. Finally, after she finished questioning both sides, she spoke. “Due to the circumstances of this case, I will render a ruling after a thirty-minute recess.”
I noticed that the attorney for Ms. Dane seemed surprised by that. Judge Jones waved at Kathy and I, “I’d like to see you in my chambers,” she mouthed.
The two of us jumped up and followed her quickly to her office and sat down in the chairs she pointed to. “I think it would be completely unjust to give that poor woman back to Ms. Dane, but the law is the law… Any ideas?”
I’d had an idea bubbling in my head after something Ms. Dane’s attorney had said, “The statute doesn’t give a specific time-frame, does it?”
She looked at me with wide eyes, and pulled the statute up on a screen we could all read at the side of her desk.
Fugitive Little Act:
SEC. 3. And be it also enacted, That when a person held to a diagnosis of Maturosis in any of the United States, under the laws thereof, shall escape into any other part of the said States or Territory, the person to whom such adoption has been made, their agent or attorney, is hereby empowered to seize or arrest such fugitive from care, and to take him or her before any Judge of the Circuit or District Courts of the United States, residing or being within the State, and upon proof to the satisfaction of such Judge or magistrate, either by oral testimony or affidavit taken before and certified by a magistrate of any such State or Territory, that the person so seized or arrested, doth, under the laws of the State or Territory from which he or she fled, owe their caregiving to the person claiming him or her, it shall be the duty of such Judge or magistrate to give a certificate thereof to such claimant, his agent, or attorney, which shall be sufficient warrant for removing the said fugitive from adoption to the State or Territory from which he or she fled.
“It certainly implies it’s immediate,” Kathy said.
“True, but it doesn’t say it in black and white,” I replied.
“What are you thinking?” Judge Jones asked me.
“Well… What if you said that you will issue the proper warrant to return her, but only when she no longer has any children below the age of their majority.”
“Buy her seventeen years?” Kathy said. “That doesn’t seem like a true solution… And I don’t know that it would be upheld on another appeal?”
“Interesting… Could actually be longer though … if she has more children,” Judge Jones said. “Ms. Dane is already fifty-five… she might be able to outlast her.”
I nodded, “That’s possible.”
“Any other ideas?” she asked me.
“What about you choosing to rule Mrs. Tully as emancipated?”
“You can’t do that, can you?” Kathy said to her.
“Does she meet the criteria?” Judge Jones asked… “She’s clearly supporting herself financially… Lives apart from Ms. Dane just fine, has her high school diploma, and I would say from the reports from her lawyer can make decisions just fine…”
“Problem is her potty training?” Kathy said as she flipped through a folder.
“What?” I asked.
“It says here while she’s been in LPS care she’s only been using her diapers; she hasn’t even tried to use the potty once.”
“How much of that is really her fault though?” I found myself asking in stereo with Judge Jones. We both looked at each other.
“I think I know what I’m going to do… for now… Let’s get back to the courtroom.”
We both entered just before her and were still standing when the bailiff called for everyone to rise. She sat down and got straight to the point as she gaveled the case back in session. “This case is a difficult one that pulls at a great deal of controversies within our society. On one hand we have a girl who was determined nearly a decade ago to be incapable of caring for herself after she had poopy panties in the grocery store she worked. She clearly was ‘cared’ for by an abusive adopted mother the next four years, and that abuse is something I believe should carry some weight in this decision. Mrs. Tully clearly is a good mother by all reports I have in front of me, and loves and cares for her one- and two-year-old babies very well. Her husband has a good job, they have a home, and she clearly is capable of making good decisions.”
She shuffled through some papers, “According to the relevant code I have received proof that Mrs. Tully is the Little that Ms. Dane adopted. Per the code I am supposed to grant a warrant to Ms. Dane or her agents to carry out a return of her to Ames where she lives. Per this code I am issuing said warrant,” my heart fell, and tears fell immediately upon Mrs. Tully’s face, “that shall be enforceable only after Mrs. Tully no longer has any children below the age of their majority.”
“What?” Ms. Dane’s attorney shouted.
“Order!” She gaveled. “Per that order, Mrs. Ames is to be released on her own recognizance, and Ms. Dane and her agents, and Little Protective Services are ordered not to approach within five-hundred yards of her or her family until the warrant becomes enforceable. Court is adjourned!” The strike of her gavel resulted in a lot of confused chatter around the courtroom.
She stood and paused, “Mr. Adams I would like to see you and your clients in my chambers in fifteen minutes.”
“Yes, Your Honor,” he shouted over the top of a loud roar of conversation happening.
There seemed to be a total uproar in the room over her decision. “That’s not going to make her very popular,” Kathy said as we followed Judge Jones to her chambers.
“It was a just decision though,” I told her.
She sighed, “Yeah, I just doubt it holds up to the Appeals process.”
“Somehow I suspect that is part of why she wants to meet them in chambers,” I told her.
“What do you think her plan is?”
“I’m not sure she has one more than letting a mother be with her babies as long as she can,” I told her.
Judge Jones had Kathy wait outside, but invited me into her chambers and pointed to a chair beside a small couch she had in the office for me to sit on. When the attorney and the two Littles came in, they climbed up on the couch beside the lawyer. Mrs. Tully was still dressed in the awful onesie and diaper that now looked to be sagging.
“Your Honor,” he said and shook her hand. “I don’t understand where this ruling came from, but we’re grateful for your mercy here.”
“I can’t lie to you and say it’s not going to cause problems, but the medical reports alone tell me that you should never have been with that woman,” she told Mrs. Tully. “As far as where it came from, it was an elegant solution from my intern who’s in his first day here.” She nodded to me.
“Cameron Sylvester, sir,” I told him.
“You’ve graduated school already?”
“I’m getting ready for my third year at Harlan,” I told him.
“Impressive… Not many lawyers your size out there, but if you have a brain like this, I have a feeling you’ll do quite well for yourself. Your Honor we’d like to get the Tully’s home to their kids, what did you wish to see us about?”
“Well, I can guarantee that within twenty-four hours there is going to be an appeal to the Supreme Court on this ruling.” She told him, “And, if I had to guess they will probably wish to take this case up on their docket. I would wager it’s an eighty-percent chance that they strike down my ruling and demand that the warrant be executed immediately. The only way that I see forward is for your client to be emancipated.”
He nodded, “That would solve the problem in theory…”
“But as soon as I was taken by LPS they did something to my bladder and bowels… I’m worse off than I was before I escaped,” Mrs. Tully looked terrified.
“A fact you will have a medical diagnosis behind within a day, won’t you Mr. Adams?”
“I’m giving you a letter that will state that in my opinion Mrs. Tully is not suffering from Maturosis and has demonstrated she can take care of herself and meet all requirements of an emancipation ruling. You need to get a doctor to sign off on the incontinence being caused by abuse and a medical issue. From there you should be able to apply for an emancipation ruling with the support of my document. I recommend placing a request in Judge Mercer’s docket before you leave today. Find that doctor and you should be able to get everything squared away before the appeal is filed. It’ll still be heard, but I believe the emancipation will make it a moot question.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” Mr. Tully said, “I didn’t know how I was going to go on without her.”
“My hope is that you don’t have to figure that out for many more years! If an appeal isn’t accepted by the higher court, it might not be a bad idea for you two to have a few additional kids though. If you can have kids that are under eighteen until your former mother passes away you should be completely free.”
At that statement Mrs. Tully broke down in tears in her husband's arms. I watched them leave and after the door was closed asked, “Will it really work?”
She shrugged, “It might, it might not, but in the end, it was the most just decision to make in a case that was full of immoral options.”