An open letter to the judge on Justina Pelletier’s case
Judge Joseph Johnston,
It was bad enough that you postponed your ruling from this past Monday to Friday, after it was delayed from February, and before that December and before that November…
You have had over a year to decide this case, why did you need yet more time? Then, yesterday, as people around the country and around the world waited with baited breath and with prayers on their lips, we found that you are delaying your decision – yet again – until Tuesday. And I can only ask ‘why?’
Sir, I want to believe that you are doing your job – the job the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected and PAY you to do. I want to believe that justice is blind and that you are an unbiased arbiter of the law, that you are providing the essential checks and balances to an unbelievably corrupt system. But, your actions say otherwise.
I am one who believes pretty firmly that public opinion should not be the deciding factor in court cases; we are a country of laws, not of men and we decide thorny issues with the law for a reason.
Justice should be and must be blind. Yet, there are times when the court or other entities willfully flaunt the law and, when that occurs, the court of public opinion will always be in session to be judge and jury on people who hold themselves above the law. There are times when the public outrage over injustice is so loud that those voices must be heard. This, sir, is one of those times. Because, while justice must be blind, ultimately, the Judiciary is part of this government that is OF the people, BY the people and FOR THE PEOPLE.
There is a child whose basic human rights have been violated on YOUR watch. She and her family have been gravely damaged and her life is at stake. You, for reasons only beknownst to you, have aided and abetted the abuse of an innocent child. You are supposed to be the check and balance in this system – you are supposed to be the wise and impartial judge meting out justice to those who come before you. The judiciary is the people’s hope when laws have been broken and damage done. But your actions have made a tragic mockery of that hope.
Look, I think I see the deep hole you find yourself in. You, along with the rest of your judicial peers, have gone along with Department of Children and Families and Boston Children’s Hospital for the sake of expediency for so long that maybe you do not know how to stop. You have had this case on your desk – and probably in your nightmares – for more than a year and perhaps it seems that there is no way out of the mess you find yourself in.
After all, you have allowed some mighty questionable actions to take place under your very nose – perjury, for one – like when the social worker testified that she had no idea where the family came up with the mito diagnosis. Dr. Korson then testified saying he had told her that he had diagnosed Justina with mito. If she knowingly lied, that is perjury, as you well know. Then there is the fact that you have allowed DCF to thumb their noses at you when you issued a court order to send Justina home months ago. How could you do nothing at their defiance? You gagged the family from speaking out about their daughter, violating their right to free speech. You have not issued a SINGLE written order in the entire time this case has been in front of you – every order has been simply spoken from the bench and DCF only abides by the orders they like. You have allowed DCF to stonewall and stall and lie and blatantly defy you with impunity. To say there have been some questionable actions in your court room is an understatement at best…
I know you are in a mess and sometimes when we are stuck deep in the mire, there seems no way out. But, for the love of all things good, you are in BOSTON! The very place where John Adams practiced law. And when faced with a choice – to represent the hated British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre or take the easy way out and protect his reputation – he chose the difficult path, the path that he knew was right. He was taunted and tormented for representing the British ‘monsters’. He endured being called a Tory (there would have been no worse insult to Adams than this title) and his law practice – his ability to feed his family – suffered but he endured because he believed in the concept of a free and fair trial. He believed in a justice system that simply sought justice and he was willing to sacrifice his reputation and livelihood to do what he knew to be right. Do you think John Adams would be proud of your conduct?
Judge Johnston, there is a way out of this mess. Justina is your opportunity to do what Adams did. To take the difficult path. To simply do the right thing although it is challenging. To tell the truth, even at the expense of your own reputation and legacy. If you do the right thing, there might be pain in the short term, but your courage with be admired and respected. By doing the right thing, you could set a legal precedent that could protect future children from suffering what Justina has suffered. That is no small thing.
I probably don’t have to remind you of how John Adams’ story turned out – when the trial was over, he was universally lauded as a brave and honest man of highest integrity and principles. He represented Massachusetts in the Continental Congress, was a highly respected Ambassador who ensured funding for the Revolution and became our second President. He did the right thing and, although he went through bleak times, history tells his tale of honor and sacrifice. No man is perfect but you could do worse than to follow John Adams’ example and simply do what is right, regardless of the consequences.
If Justina was the only child who has been put in this situation by Boston Children’s, we could accept that it was just a big misunderstanding. But, she isn’t the only child to experience a parent-ectomy at BCH, so we know it isn’t a mistake.
If Justina’s life was not in imminent danger, we might be able to accept that the wheels of justice turn slowly. But, her life IS in imminent danger. If Boston Children’s is wrong and Justina really does have mitochondrial disease, she is in grave danger – she could die. And, if she does, know that you will be held personally responsible. Are you willing to be a party to murder? There are high stakes in this game and you would do well to consider the consequences.
This innocent, helpless child is trapped in a nightmare and it seems that no one can help her. If DCF won’t let her go and YOU cannot make them let her go, what hope does she have? What hope can any family trapped in this nightmare have?
Please, sir, enough is enough. Send her home. Ensure she gets back to her doctors at Tufts so she can get the medical care she desperately needs.Defy DCF if you must. Defy Boston Children’s. Go against the system that fattens the pockets of dishonest people and which gives those dishonest people more power than they ever should have been given. Tell the truth. Be the checks and balances that you are supposed to be. Uphold the Constitution. Do whatever it takes to protect this kid. If you do, you will be a hero. If you don’t, you will pay a heavy price.
You have the power to see that Justina spends the night in her own bed, surrounded by her loving family and her pets. Please. No more delays. No more stalling. Let the sun shine on all of the mistakes and corruption and ugliness – sunlight is the best sanitizer, after all – and just deal with the consequences. It is in your hands – send her home.