A Bill for Those Who Kill: Termination of Parental Rights!

Posted August 2nd, 2016.

Categories: Family Law, Parental Rights.

parental rights gone law offices of mark s guralnick

On April 12, 2013, Darrin Plumlee of Folsom, New Jersey repeatedly stabbed to death his 30-year-old fiancé as their toddler daughter, Addison, slept in the next room. Plumlee was soon arrested, and he pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in exchange for a 24-year prison sentence. But he refused to give up his parental rights to his daughter, Addison.

As the three-year old “Addi” was sent off to North Carolina to begin living the rest of her childhood with her maternal grandparents, the incarcerated Mr. Plumlee – hoping to have telephone access or perhaps win his freedom early for good behavior – asked to have pictures and letters from his daughter.

Should Mr. Plumlee have any parental rights at all?

The answer would be no – absolutely not – under a recently proposed New Jersey law, introduced by Assemblyman David P. Rible (R-Monmouth).

Under “Addi’s Law,” now pending in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, if the parent of a child has been found by a criminal court to have committed murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of the child’s other parent, to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit the murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter, or to have committed, or attempted to commit, an assault or similarly serious act which resulted, or could have resulted, in the death or significant bodily injury to the child’s other parent, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) in the Department of Children and Families would be required to file a petition to terminate the parent’s parental rights.

Currently, the law only requires DCPP to file a petition to terminate the parental rights of a parent who has been found by a criminal court to have committed murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of another child of the parent, to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit the murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of the child or another child of the parent, or to have committed, or attempted to commit, an assault or similarly serious act which resulted, or could have resulted, in the death or significant bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent, but not if the offenses were committed against the child’s other parent.

THE SELF-DEFENSE EXCEPTION.

Under the provisions of the proposed Assembly Bill A3764, Addi’s Law, prior to filing or seeking to join as a party to a petition for the termination of parental rights of the parent of a child who has been found to have committed murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of the child’s other parent, or to have aided and abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit the murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter, or to have committed, or attempted to commit, an assault or similarly serious act which resulted, or could have resulted, in the death or significant bodily injury of the child’s other parent, DCPP would be permitted to take into account whether the parent, at the time the offenses were committed, was a victim of domestic violence or reasonably believed that the parent was protecting himself or herself or the parent’s children against the use of unlawful force by the other parent.

Current law requires DCPP to file or to seek to be joined as a party to a petition for termination of parental rights as soon as any of the circumstances set forth in the law are established, unless DCPP establishes an exception to the requirement to seek termination of parental rights in accordance with section 31 of 36 P.L.1999, c.53 (C.30:4C-15.3). The law does not require DCPP, at any time during the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights, to take into account whether the parent was a victim of domestic violence or believed that the parent was acting in self- defense or in defense of the parent’s children.

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