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DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services

"undeniably Tragic", Who Was Protecting Joshua?, Impact, The Custody Battle, Further Readings

Petitioner

Melody DeShaney for her son, Joshua DeShaney

Respondant

Winnebago County Department of Social Services

Petitioner's Claim

That the social workers and the county had violated Joshua DeShaney's right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment by its failure to intervene to protect Joshua from his father's violence.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Donald J. Sullivan

Chief Lawyer for Respondant

Mark J. Mingo

Justices for the Court

Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist (writing for the Court), Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall

Place

Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

22 February 1989

Decision

That Winnebago County Department of Social Services was not responsible for Joshua's severe beating, even though they had ample evidence that abuse was occurring and did nothing to prevent it.

Significance

That the state could not be held liable for child abuse, even if they knew that abuse was occurring and did nothing to prevent it.

Related Cases

  • Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976).
  • Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651 (1977).
  • Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307 (1982).

Sources

Hancock, LynNell and Judith Regan. "Putting Working Moms in Custody." Newsweek, 13 March 1995.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994