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157918 - In re Piland, Minors

In re Piland, Minors

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

Department of Health and Human Services,

 

Kahla Crino

 

Petitioner-Appellant,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Wayne – Baird, L.)

 

Respondent Parents,

 

Vivek Sankaran

 

Respondents-Appellees.

 

Summary

In this child-protective proceeding, respondents’ 3-day-old daughter died from jaundice, after they refused, purportedly on the basis of religious beliefs, to obtain medical treatment for her. The family court scheduled a jury trial to determine whether to take jurisdiction over respondents’ two minor sons. Respondents requested that the jury be instructed, pursuant to MCL 722.634, which states: “A parent or guardian legitimately practicing his religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, for that reason alone shall not be considered a negligent parent or guardian.” The family court denied the request. In a split published opinion, the Court of Appeals majority agreed with respondents that MCL 722.634 was applicable to child-protective proceedings and that the trial court was required to give the instruction. The dissenting judge agreed that the statute was applicable, but disagreed that the trial court was required to give the instruction. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on petitioner Department of Health and Human Services’ application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether respondents are entitled to a jury instruction based on MCL 722.634, which states: “A parent or guardian legitimately practicing his religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, for that reason alone shall not be considered a negligent parent or guardian”; and (2) for purposes of this determination, the distinction, if any, between the terms “neglects” and “refuses” in MCL 712A.2(b)(1), where the family court’s jurisdiction is sought on the basis of the parents’ failure to obtain medical care for a child.​