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Child Welfare Agents Enjoy Immunity From Suit, 3rd Circuit Rules

Child welfare workers who took away a child from its mother during an investigation into her possible drug use enjoy immunity from suit because there was no notice that they were violating a clear constitutional right.

The case grew out of an unfortunate case of domestic violence where the mother attempted to abscond with the baby to a private residence without prior approval from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

PA Court Clerk Ordered to Stop Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses

A Pennsylvania judge ordered a Montgomery County clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As expected, the court determined that a court clerk does not have the authority to decide whether state rules are constitutional.

The big lesson: Despite monumental LGBT-friendly legal shifts on the horizon, court clerks don't have the right to preemptively decide the constitutionality of a law.

Bayer v. Monroe County Children and Youth Servs., No. 07-4267

In a procedural due process action involving an allegedly unconstitutional delay in holding a juvenile dependency hearing, district court judgment is reversed where defendants are entitled to qualified immunity, as it was objectively reasonable for defendants to have believed that their particular conduct in this case did not violate clearly established law, and that they had discharged their responsibilities with respect to plaintiffs' procedural due process rights by advancing the case to the point where a hearing could take place within the constitutionally prescribed time frame. 

Read Bayer v. Monroe County Children and Youth Servs., No. 07-4267

Appellate Information
Appeal from the United State District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 
Argued April 20, 2009
Decided August 14, 2009

Judges
Before SCIRICA, Chief Judge, SLOVITER and FISHER, Circuit Judges.
Opinion by SCIRICA, Chief Judge.

Counsel
For Appellant: GERARD J. GEIGER, Newman, Williams, Mishkin, Corveleyn, Wolfe & Fareri.

For Appellee: PETER G. LOFTUS, The Loftus Law Firm.