Leo’s Law ready for governor’s signature
LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation establishing new standards for removing children from their parents, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.
Senate Bill 320 would ensure that Michigan law meets the constitutional standards as defined by several of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. The proposal has four parts:
• Standard for emergency police removals;
• Process for judicial officer review of emergency placement;
• Standards for ex parte court-ordered emergency removals; and
• Preliminary hearing pretrial placement standards.
A notorious foster care case occurred when 7-year-old Leo Ratte attended a Detroit Tigers ball game with his father in 2008. Leo was placed in foster care for three days and two nights when his father Christopher Ratte, a classics professor at the University of Michigan, inadvertently gave him a Mike’s Hard Lemonade, not knowing it was an alcoholic drink.
Leo was placed in foster care, even though physicians from Children’s Hospital found no alcohol in his blood and determined he was fine. When his mother Claire Zimmerman tried to get her child, she was denied although there were no charges against her.
“This case was a simple misunderstanding, and it should have been cleared up in a matter of hours, not days,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I want to ensure that a child who is in immediate danger is protected, but also ensure that proper standards for removal are detailed in state law.”