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Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Probation Condition Prohibiting the Defendant From Fathering Children

From the Christian Science Monitor:

An Ohio appeals court has upheld a judge's order that a father can't have more kids until he pays his back child support.

The decision this week by the appeals court didn't provide an opinion about whether the judge's order was appropriate. Instead the appeals court said it didn't have enough information to decide the merits of the case without a copy of the pre-sentence report detailing Asim Taylor's background. 
In January 2013, Judge James Walther said Taylor couldn't have more children while he is on probation for five years. The judge said the order would be lifted if Taylor pays nearly $100,000 in overdue support for his four children. covers the case here. Daniel Taylor at the Findlaw Blog notes that while this sentence is peculiar, it is not a surprise to see a sentence like this in Ohio:

Northeast Ohio is also developing a reputation for doling out "weird" punishments. A judge in nearby Cleveland once ordered a woman to wear an "idiot" sign in public after she was filmed driving on the sidewalk. South of Cleveland in Brimfield, Ohio, Police Chief David Oliver has used Facebook to publicly shame criminal suspects.
The opinion is available here. While the majority of judges reach the decision that there is not enough information to decide the merits of the case, there is an opinion by Judge Donna Carr, who concurs in the judgment and holds that the probation condition is appropriate:

Given the number of children by multiple mothers, the high amount of the arrearages, Taylor’s ability to work, the fact that he was actually earning enough money to retain counsel below, his continued refusal to make any payments toward the support of his children notwithstanding his notice of the charges against him, and his complete lack of remorse or justification for his actions, I would conclude that an antiprocreation condition of community control was not unwarranted under these facts. Moreover, I would conclude that the condition was narrowly tailored to serve the purposes of community control.
Judge Carr's conclusion has some support. Carr cites State v. Oakland, a 2001 Wisconsin state Supreme Court decision that upheld a probation condition prohibiting the defendant from having children.

While the probation condition may be legal, I certainly have some reservations over whether probation conditions that extend this far are desirable.

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