The Florida Security Council set up a press conference before the hearing. Tom Trento, Jamal Jivanjee, Robert Spencer and I addressed the press. CAIR sent an agitator plant who was screaming names ("pathological liar!") as soon as we tried to speak. I'll address that in a separate post.
CAIR, Noor, and the Islamic infrastructure were caught with their pants down at the first hearing. They assumed Rifqa would be sent back to Ohio because of jurisdiction. They are making up for lost time now. They have brought in the big guns.
Mark of the Florida Security Council via Spencer secreted a press pass to me to get inside the hearing. G-d bless him. I am in. Handwriting my notes - no blackberries, laptops, or recording devices. Judge Daniel Dawson presides over the honey colored oak courtroom and sits beneath the large letters: "equal justice under the law". What he doesn't understand is that this is a landmark case - shariah law vs. American rule of law and individual rights.
Rifqa Bary, wearing a white top with a brown cardigan over her shoulder, is tiny. She was dwarfed by the overwhelming number of adults in that courtroom, there to determine her fate. As tiny as she was, she towered over the courtroom. She wore a silver Christian cross dangling from her neck and clutched her Bible. She looked over the press corp searching for a friendly face and became happy and animated when she saw members of a young church group she obviously knew. I was overwhelmed when she recognized me, broke into a big smile, mouthed my name and waved to me. It was a moment I will never forget.
Rifqa's parents were not there today. Mohamed Bary's new attorney, Shayan Elahi, shows himself during the proceedings to be a rabid Islamist. He jumps up and down, back and forth across the courtroom like a caged panther. He glares at Rifqa. She does not meet his eye. While he did go to a "Christian" school in Pakistan (St. Pats High School, Karachi 1983-1987), he is not a Christian....in this 2005 opinion piece he clearly labels himself a Muslim American.
Attorneys for Rifqa, her parents, FDLE, DCF and a media outlet are in the courtroom. Judge Dawson repeatedly requests mediation, asking why no date has been set. Judge Dawson presses attorneys to move forward on mediation and not wait for depositions. Mohamed Bary's attorney says mediation is pointless, futile, no reason for it. Judge differs, says even minor points can be worked out that don't have to take up the court's time.
Shayan Elahi rebukes mediation throughout the entire hearing, insisting there is "no room to maneuver".
The Orlando Sentinel petitions the court (!!) They want to be a party in the dependency case. I am stunned. The Orlando Sentinel, which single handedly has done everything in its diminishing power to ruin Rifqa Bary and anyone tied to her case, wants special exception.
The judge takes up the request. The media outlet is responding to the judge's decision to seal an FDLE report on the claims made by the teenager. If they are a party, Atlas is going to file, too.
Judge refuses the Orlando Sentinel request. If he does it for them, he'll have 800 media outlets asking for the same [not to mention the blogs].
Dawson declares, "the media has no right to be a party". The Orlando Sentinel dares to be named a party. They are ghouls.
FDLE wants the seal order clarified, since both parties have not seen it.
The attorney for Bary's father says "there is a need for information out there," and requests the judge allow the media more access to the family court's documents.
Her attorney argues against it, saying this is a "private matter."
They judge denied the Sentinel's request to be notified of proceedings in this matter. He did not curtail each party's right to talk publicly about the case, including the release of documents filed in this case.
Judge Daniel Dawson also decided to seal Florida authorities report on findings of Rifqa Bary's allegations that her parents in Ohio would kill her because she converted from Islam to Christianity.
Rifqa's attorney, John Stemberger, said he prefers the court see the FDLE report, just completed today, and choose whether to release it to the parties. However, the judge said legal documentation usually works the opposite way, with the parties getting it first.
DCF requests each party receive the FDLE report, but the contents not be allowed to be leaked to anyone else.
The Florida Law Enforcement Department conducted a lengthy interview with Bary and released a transcript to the lawyers.
Judge Dawson ordered the report released to the parties and has given them 10 days to say why they would want to release it or keep it from others. After that, the documents would be made available under the normal restrictions of juvenile court.
WDBO has this:
The problem with Rifqa's is that Rifqa did not have a lawyer or her guardian litem (Or anyone for that matter when the deposition was taken by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement). She asked for counsel but her request was dismissed.
In a gross attempt to have Stemberger removed from the case, Shayan Elahi is calling for an "attorney ad litem" in place of Stemberger. He badgers the judge.
After a meeting at the bench, the judge said, "We have plenty of attorneys in this case, I'm not sure adding more would assist this."
She doesn't need another attorney. It's the opposition's attempt to isolate Rifqa. Judge Dawson says no to an attorney ad litem. There is no need for an AAL. Rifqa's big sigh was heartbreaking.
The attorney for the Sentinel is being allowed to address the request. He is telling the court that gag orders are usually approved in jury trials. In this case, there is no jury and the judge will make the decision on Rifqa's request.
The gag order would not restrict the media from the court, but would limit what the parties can say about this case.
A DCF attorney says she is getting calls from children who are distraught about the media's coverage.
"There are adults who are parading this about the media," she said.
"This is absolutely causing problems in this case," she added.
Shayan Elahi goes off. He screams "the hypocrisy is clear": "right wing organizations" have been out there, promoting a political agenda. He has the audacity to whine that only Rifqa's story is being told. Uh, Elahi, meet the Orlando Sentinel, the Columbus Dispatch, Fox news, The NY times. He calls the judge's consideration of a gag order "ridiculous". He bullies. He stomps. He claims the Barys' name has been "dragged through the mud".
He said Stemberger is calling news conferences to make claims against the family, but now wants a gag order that would keep the parents from defending themselves.
"Where is his (Bary's) right to stand up and say, "Look not at my religion but look at how I raise my family'?"
"If you agree with this gag order, you are saying the other party cannot have their story told."
The attorney for Bary's mother, Roger Weeden, then breaks the gag order and declares that "there's nothing in this (FDLE) report that supports the girl's claim." Rifqa grabs the GAL's arm.
The Guardian ad Litem, Crista Bartholomew, says, "I can't believe you just said that". She demands that it be stricken from the record. His statement violates the judge's order not to release anything about the report for at least 10 days.
Judge Dawson quietly responds, "The state's concern is for the safety of the child". Based on media attention, Dawson says no one side has gotten the "best coverage". But the more media attention, "the less safe the child will be".
Shayan Elahi says the Barys are being denied their rights. He says that English is their second language and they must be able to have their lawyer (him) speak for them. Dawson says it is not the court's responsibility to provide the Barys with an English translator for their media interviews.
Elahi slanders the GAL (Guardian ad litem), saying she is working in cahoots with Stemberger. Bartholomew (GAL) insists she is not. "The state's concern is for the safety of the child. My take is what is in the best interest of the child". This is not a holy war.
Elahi continues aggressively. He demands that Rifqa's visit with the Lorenzos [sic - he doesn't even know their names] stop. He insists that Rifqa's best friend Jamal Jivanee be banned. Rifqa starts crying. The DCF are the final word on who can see Rifqa. They agree that the Lorenzes will not visit but their three children can, as they are close to Rifqa in age and she is so fond of them and they of her.
Next issue was Rifqa's immigration status. Apparently Shayan Elahi did not provide the court requested papers (passport etc) for Rifqa. Rifqa came here on her mother's visa - the documentation of which expired in 2005. Rifqa is in the country illegally and so is the family. The judge wants this addressed quickly so that Rifqa's "continued presence [is] in the US". Shayan Elahi has 10 days to present the family's immigration documentation.
The judge wants dates for mediation. He again re-affirmed that both parties need to have a mediation to see if they could agree on any issue and to expedite moving forward in an orderly fashion. Elahi once again says it's a waste of time. Judge Dawson's experience in these matters have shown just the opposite and he is becoming concerned that he is "not getting cooperation". Elahi backs off.
Shayan Elahi will be reopening jurisdiction. He threatens to file a motion calling Rifqa "an unruly delinquent" if there is no proof of abuse or danger.
There is talk of counseling for Rifqa and the family. Shayan Elahi wants it in Ohio. Stemberger wants some input on the psychologist's philosophy. The Judge says absolutely not. Perhaps the guardian ad litem should have some say. An anonymous source tells me that the one session Rifqa had with a counselor was a Muslim who spent a good portion of the session proselytizing Islam.
UPDATE: Thanks to Dee
St. Petersburg Times at TampaBay.com 9/1 article by Michael Kruse:
Shayan Elahi, the new Orlando pro bono attorney for Mohamed Bary. "Religious bigotry," he said, "is unacceptable and un-American." Roger Weeden, the new Orlando pro bono attorney for Aysha Bary, called the memo hearsay and totally inadmissible, and said it was "designed to inflame passions and generate fear without any relevance towards resolving the issues." Noor Center director Hany Saqr. . .denied all the allegations in the memo, according to the Associated Press. "Based on our religion, we think that there's no compulsion to religion. So Barys don't have to pay legal fees after all? And there's no compulsion in their religion as that would be unAmerican, and the mosque is not relevant.