Letter to Judge Stow re: the Right to be Deaf

note: videoletter link has been sent to all three parties involved.

To: Judge Stow: bfwatkins@kcgov.us
Shaun McLaughlin: Basejudragon@yahoo.com
Scot Nass: scot.nass@painehamblen.com

Greetings Judge Stow:

Dear Judge Stow:

Before you, you have a very complicated case. You have a Deaf girl with a Deaf father and a Hearing mother. The girl has bilateral cochlear implants. Recently you ruled that the father must force his daughter to use her bilateral implants all her waking hours. That judicial decision basically says that this girl is forbidden to be Deaf.

I am surprised that in a court room in the U.S. someone can ban someone from being what they are. You are ordering someone to use artificial technology all their waking hours when it is not a medical necessity. You have removed someone’s right to their own private property — their body. You have said you can come into their lives and bodies and control them. That decision has serious impact on a child, her relationship with her father and her mother and her relationship with her self. It may also have a severe impact on other children. When a Deaf baby is born, does this mean automatically that a judge can order the child be implanted with bilateral implants and be forbidden to be Deaf? It may also have a big impact on Deaf adults who have CIs. Does this mean if they want or need some type of reasonable accommodation — an interpreter (either oral or sign) or CART (transcription) for a trial or job interview — it can be forbidden? That someone could order them to rely solely on bilateral implants — order them to use their CIs all their waking hours?

Your decision relating to this girl’s body really violates the 14th amendment. She has the right to life, liberty, and property, her own body. Her father has a right to cherish and care for his daughter. The girl is with her father occasionally, not on a daily basis. It’s important for the girl and her father to have time together, to be able to communicate freely in American Sign Language. If the girl chooses to use her cochlear implants that’s fine, if she doesn’t want to, she should be allowed to put them aside too. It should not be up to a judge to mandate that she must wear these all her waking hours. Once a government decides to dictate what we can be and can’t be, we are on a very dangerous path. It’s a very dangerous path.

I hope you can see the wisdom in letting her be what she is. That she has this choice and to leave this choice with the parents — meaning that they would both allow her to use her CIs if she was comfortable with them and they were working and if they didn’t work they would leave her be and they wouldn’t have to feel coerced and compelled to make her wear them. She could be Deaf or she could use them as needed. A judge should not mandate it.

I thank you for your attention on this matter. I know it is a very complicated case. I know that family law is hard. My heart goes out to the mom. I’m sure she is struggling with all of this. My heart is with the father too. I’m sure he is struggling. I believe both the father and the mother LOVE their daughter. They love their daughter.
From: Case No. CV-04-3266 Order amending Custody order
District Court of the First Judicial District – Idaho
“4. Both parties shall ensure Emma’s use of her cochlear implants in both ears during all waking hours except when her activities would preclude the device or devices, e.g., water and helmet-related activities.

I believe that the whole CI issue should be removed from this case. It has no bearing on this case. It should be agreed by both parents that the child will be allowed to wear the CIs as they see fit — meaning if the CIs are working right, it’s the right environment, and they are needed — as they see fit. The case really should be about their situation with their daughter and visitation. The Cochlear implants should not be part of it. NO judge in this country should be allowed to order when a person can be Deaf and when they can NOT be Deaf. That is wrong. Thank you for your time and your attention.

This video letter — I am sending to both parties as well as you Judge Stow. I wish for all three parties to have good, caring, open hearts to allow wisdom to enter into these proceedings that are approaching soon. My heart is with all of you. The cochlear implant issue must really be removed from this case. Thank you.


Patti Durr


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