Imagine being an excited new mother of a 4-day old baby boy and being accused of child abuse and having your child taken away from you. At 4 days old! That is the surreal situation which confronted Queenyona Boyd, already a mother to a healthy happy young daughter. "It was like having your child kidnapped." Queenyona said. There was no abuse, but abuse is extremely difficult to disprove. Though well-intentioned, 'Guilty until proven innocent' seems to be the unspoken guideline. Ironically, Queenyona has been active for years in Georgia's Child Welfare community fighting for children's rights in foster care.
Queenyona’s eagerly awaited baby boy A.J. was born with a broken femur, which was not detected at the hospital. The circumstances were unusual but by no means unprecedented, as both mother and newborn were Vitamin D deficient, a known cause of weaker bone strength. After taking her child home, the concerned new parents realized something was wrong and brought their son in immediately for a medical examination. Assuming the worst, the doctors alerted the Division of Family and Children Services who immediately took the child away from his parents for suspected abuse. The parents were devastated and frantic with worry. Where was their child? Who was feeding him? When would they see him again? To make matters worse, these cases typically take months and even years to make their way through an overloaded court system.
Fortunately, Queenyona and her husband found an experienced attorney, Diana Rugh Johnson, who took a personal interest in their case. Johnson said of Queenyona, “Her devotion to her child and the strength of her marriage amazed me. I had to fight this fight with her.” Another piece of luck was a photograph a relative took in the birthing suite that clearly shows a lump on the boy’s thigh where the bone break occurred. With this, and other evidence, Johnson was able to prove Queenyona’s innocence and return her child to her in just 27 days, an eternity to the parents but near record-time for such cases. "My lawyer put a lot of time into making sure I got my baby back," a relieved Queenyona states. "I credit my lawyer for that." AJ is a healthy, happy thriving 5-year old now living with his parents and his sister in their Lithonia home.
Diana Rugh Johnson has a private law practice specializing in child welfare law. She is certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children and practices in Atlanta, Georgia.
When asked what she remembers most about the case Johnson said, “I remember Queenyona’s calmness and grace. Queenyona, no matter what she was feeling inside, remained poised and professional at all times. Of course, my most vivid memory was of the judge making his ruling. Queenyona and Anthony’s joy was indescribable. I am the most proud of how quickly I was able to get AJ home safely to his parents. In cases like these, babies are often removed for 4-6 months awaiting trial. There was no way I was going to let that happen to this family. We worked around the clock to prepare for the earliest trial date we could get and it paid off. A case like Queenyona’s shows why lawyers are vital to our society. Without a lawyer fighting Queenyona’s fight, this family would have been broken apart – probably permanently given the seriousness of the accusation. Sometimes the system gets things wrong. Lawyers work to right those wrongs.”