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Judge: Child And Family Services Stays Under Court Supervision

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

A federal Judge has found D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in contempt of court in the city's ongoing case over its Child and Family Services agency. The ruling is a setback in the city's attempt to remove the agency from court supervision.

For nearly 17 years, the District's Child and Family Services agency has been under some form of court supervision for failures in it's child welfare system. For the past year and a half, the city has argued that supervision should end. Attorney General Peter Nickles says substantial improvement at the agency should free it from court oversight.

"Unless there's a current federal law violation or constitutional violation, the court, under separation of power principles, should permit the executive and the legislature to direct the operation of city agencies," says Nickles.

But in his ruling Monday, Judge Thomas Hogan disagreed. He says while there has been some progress, significant reductions in case backlogs for example, the current record is mixed. History and experience prevent him, the judge says, from concluding just yet that the progress would last.

Judge Hogan also criticized the District for being uncooperative, finding the mayor in civil contempt for not coordinating key decisions with the plaintiffs in the case. Attorney General Peter Nickles promises to appeal the decision.

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