Controversial Judge Orders Baby Removed from Same-Sex Parents and Placed with Heterosexual Family

by Jen Hayden –

judge scott johansen

Judge Johansen issues heartbreaking order to separate a Utah family

April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce have been fostering a Utah infant for three months. With the approval of the infant’s biological mother and a recommendation of the foster care caseworker, they were seeking to permanently adopt the child. Instead, a Utah judge ordered the baby removed from their home and placed in a home with heterosexual parents:

The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS, said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.

“It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong,” said April.

Worse yet, when Judge Scott Johansen was asked in court to share the studies he was referencing, he refused:

Attorney Mandie Torgerson, who represents the baby’s biological mother, said Johansen did not cite the research he referenced in court saying only that there are “a myriad” of studies that support his order.

Needless to say, the family will appeal. Although the caseworkers have to follow the law, Brent Platt, director of the state’s Division of Child and Family Services, says that he will ask their attorneys to review the judge’s order to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws by removing the child.

For what it’s worth, Judge Scott Johansen has a long history of very controversial orders and actions:

But that wasn’t the first time the judge had inflicted serious punishment on a child for a minor offense. In 1997 he was reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission for “demeaning the judicial office” by slapping a 16-year-old boy during a meeting at the Price courthouse.

And just last month, Johansen made national headlines when he ordered a Carbon County mother to cut off her 13-year-old daughter’s ponytail in public court. The girl was being punished for cutting the hair of a 3-year-old.

He ordered another juvenile into detention over a bad report card, rather than identifying whether the boy had learning disabilities. His parents say that decision sent their son into a spiral and changed their son forever:

Passarella’s father believes that initial incarceration was a turning point in his son’s life, and did not turn him away from crime. He has since been convicted of seven misdemeanors and two felonies and will be in a rehabilitation facility at least until he turns 19.

Nevertheless, a 2014 commission recommended Judge Johansen be retained, citing his bold style and fairness:

With more than two decades of judicial experience, Judge Scott Johansen has a
bold, no-nonsense style that prompted mixed reviews from survey respondents.
While respondents most frequently described Judge Johansen as knowledgeable,
confident, and intelligent, a minority perceived him as arrogant and impatient.
Judge Johansen received lower than average survey scores for procedural fairness, separation of his personal beliefs from his legal rulings, and fair and respectful treatment of courtroom participants.

See an interview the heartbroken mothers from KUTV:

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos