Parents find heartbreak in Family Court delays

Posted at: 04/05/2008 6:41 AM | Updated at: 08/09/2013 8:46 PM
By: Eyewitness News 4

Cory Crosby-Lockwood says she is missing important moments in her child's life because of delays in Family Court

Some families and advocate groups say an Albuquerque judge is putting children in danger because she is afraid to make a ruling. They say her cases drag on from months into years, and it is causing them frustration and sorrow.

Critics say judicial feet-dragging is common in Family Court, but one judge in particular is receiving extra attention.

"The one judge that has been constant through times as having lots of complaints is Judge Angela Jewell," advocate Leslie Cumiford said.

Family Court often deals with custody issues between parents, deciding which home a child should live in. But some say a troubling trend has developed recently.

"I am seeing judges that are not ruling on their cases. They are deferring to counselors, their so-called experts," Family Court attorney Michelle Cortez said.

Judge Jewell, critics allege, has strung out cases before her, sometimes delaying for months the time when parents can gain custody of their children.

The Center for Family Justice says they can list plenty of cases where Judge Jewell was indecisive. Cortez says her client is a prime example.

Five months after Cory Crosby-Lockwood's child was taken from her and temporarily given to the father, the mother says Judge Jewell has still not made a definitive decision regarding custody of the girl.

"Do I find that difficult? Do I want to reach out and hug my baby," Crosby-Lockwood said. "I was not even the first person to hear her say the word mama."

Crosby-Lockwood's attorney says it is difficult for her to watch the toll a protracted custody battle is having on her client.

"It's frustrating for me. It keeps me awake at night, but my heart breaks for this mother," Cortez said.

Eyewitness News 4 called Judge Jewell, but could not get a hold of her. We also called CYFD, which works with Family Court on a regular basis. They told us their experiences with Family Court and Judge Jewell have always been positive.

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