Deemed abusive for leaving sleeping tot in car, NJ mom getting another day in court

A New Jersey woman is getting another chance to argue she didn’t abuse or neglect her son.

The woman identified in court filings as EDO left her sleeping 19-month-old in a locked car with the engine running and windows slightly open while she went into a South Plainfield store for a few minutes in 2009. The boy was not harmed.

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled the Division of Child Protection should have referred her appeal of its neglect determination to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing.

“We are pleased that the court recognized that not all parenting mistakes are child abuse and that the Division must consider the totality of the circumstances on a case-by-case basis,” said Sean Marotta, the woman’s attorney.

Her lapse of judgment does not warrant being labeled as a child abuser for life. Marotta said.

Melville Miller, the president of Legal Services of New Jersey, says the decision will have widespread effect.

“This instruction really to adjudicators that they’ve got to make the kind of inquiry that looks at all of the facts and circumstances around the conduct of the person and around the future risk,” Miller said. “You’ve got to look at all of the facts on an individual-case basis.”

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