Matter of Angel P.

Family Law

New York Law Journal


Judge Timothy Lawliss

Angel's father, Thomas, was diagnosed with alcohol dependence. Thomas stated he wished to work for Angel's return from placement with Clinton County's Department of Social Services (DSS). To prove future sobriety, Thomas asked for, and was granted, a anklet SCRAM device, which monitors alcohol consumption by analyzing the gas leaving the skin. DSS moved to modify the order requiring it to ensure the SCRAM device be installed no later than Dec. 3, 2012. DSS argued it only had 20 devices and all were being used, alleging the court lacked authority to order it to obtain a 21st device for Thomas. DSS argued the order should be modified to provide that a device be given to Thomas when one of the 20 becomes available. The court stated DSS was obligated to make reasonable efforts to return the child home, including services designed to address Thomas's alcoholism. It noted there was no impediment to DSS obtaining another device for Thomas' use, nor did they provide a reason why they chose to maintain only 20 anklets, concluding the number 20 was an arbitrary limit. In denying DSS' motion, the court ruled there was no rational basis to deny Angel's family services available to other similarly situated families.

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