FROM JOHNSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE JANIE MCKENZIE-WELLS,
JUDGE ACTION NO. 07-J-00186
FOR APPELLANT: James Baldwin, pro se Northpoint Training
Center Burgin, Kentucky
BRIEF FOR APPELLEE
BEFORE: KRAMER, CHIEF JUDGE; CLAYTON AND TAYLOR, JUDGES.
Baldwin, pro se, appeals the Johnson Family
Court's order denying him visitation with his children.
No reply brief was filed on behalf of the Mollettes in this
action. After careful review, we reverse and remand.
Baldwin is the father of K.P.M., a daughter, whose date of
birth is June 13, 2007, and K.M.B., a son, whose date of
birth is January 29, 2011. The children's mother is
Kristian Mollette. Both parents have an extensive history
involving the abuse of drugs. Because of the mother's
substance abuse, the children were removed from the custody
of the mother. At that time, the family court placed the
children in the custody of the maternal grandparents, James
and Debbie Mollette, who were named permanent custodians.
action commenced on September 9, 2016, when the father filed
a motion for access and visitation with the children. In the
motion, he described access to the children as the ability to
telephone and email them as well as receive photographs. The
father planned to use the J-Pay system at the prison for the
exchange of photos, emails, and telephonic communication with
family court held a hearing on October 13, 2016. The
Mollettes appeared pro se. Because of the
father's incarceration, he was available by telephone
during the hearing. The family court also appointed him an
attorney, who was present at the hearing. The father is
serving a fifteen-year sentence at the North Point Training
Center. His earliest possibility for parole would be in
September 2017. He testified that he had not seen the
children in three years. But the father claimed that he has
tried to call the Mollettes and speak to the children, but
they do not answer the phone. He acknowledged that he had not
completed the classes which Social Services had required
during the pendency of the juvenile action.
testifying at the hearing was Shawn Mollette, the
children's uncle. He appeared for James Mollette because
he has James's power of attorney. James is a contractor
working in Afghanistan. Shawn testified that he is
uncomfortable with the father having visitation. The little
boy does know his father, and the little girl has not spoken
to her father in years. The father made no effort to contact
the children until now. Further, Shawn explained that the
father did not complete any tasks required by social services
during the juvenile action. The father has been in and out of
jail for years. Finally, Shawn did not believe visits to the
penitentiary would be healthy for the children.
Mollette testified next. In addition to the above
information, she added that the father had promised to see
the children on numerous occasions and did not show up. She
disputed the father's contention that he called from
Northpoint to inquire about the children. Additionally,
Debbie believes that his daughter is terrified and wants no
communication with her father. Debbie observed that the child
was used as a shield during a domestic violence incident. And
she pointed out that the little girl has been hurt because
her father did not show up for scheduled visitations. Debbie
noted that his son does not know him. Further, the father has
paid no child support. Finally, Debbie alleged that on one
occasion, he was high when he visited his six-week-old son.
next witness was the mother. Before the father went to jail,
the mother obtained a domestic violence order against him. In
addition, when she did arrange visitation with the children,
he failed to see the children. Her daughter is very confused
because she thinks her father has chosen not to love her. The
little boy has not seen his father since he was an infant.
The mother averred that the father has walked away from the
children numerous times. Nonetheless, the mother is agreeable
to the children having visitation with him if they want to
see their father.
family court entered an order on October 21, 2016. In the
order, it noted that the father did not complete any required
treatment with social services during the pendency of the
juvenile case, plus these services are not available in the
jail. The family court looked at the visitation history of
the father. It observed that the father failed to appear at
scheduled visitations when he could have. Lastly, the ...