iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — All three people on board a corporate jet have died after the plane crashed in a rural, wooded area of southern Indiana, the Indiana State Police said Friday.The crash took place shortly before 11:30 a.m. local time in Clark County, just north of Louisville, Kentucky.The Clark County Airport in Sellersburg, Indiana, said the plane had three people, including the pilot, on board when it took off at 11:24 a.m., according to police.The jet was headed to Chicago’s Midway International Airport when it fell from air traffic radar, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Chicago office told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV.The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating. The NTSB identified the plane as a Cessna Citation.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Sherry Smith/iStock(SUNLAND PARK, N.M.) — The leader of a militia operating along the southern border has been arrested by the FBI days after the armed group detained over 200 migrants who had just illegally crossed into New Mexico.Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, of Flora Vista, New Mexico, was arrested Saturday on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the FBI Albuquerque office said. Hopkins was arrested in Sunland Park, New Mexico, which lies right on the border with Mexico and is just 8 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas. “This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement. “Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, and not armed vigilantes.”The spokesperson for the group attacked Balderas and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for the arrest.“I am confident that Mr. Hopkins will get though this, will fare well,” the militia’s spokesperson, Jim Benvie, told El Paso ABC affiliate KVIA-TV, while wearing a red “Trump 2020” hat. “The [New Mexico] AG has declared war on American citizens at the order of the ACLU, instructing the governor, in a sense, to effectively find a reason to remove private citizens from assisting and documenting a crisis on the border. It’s really sad that she can’t use the resources of the National Guard or even the FBI, if they had to, to help protect the border. Instead, they had to infiltrate and set up our camp, and we’re confident about our position with this.“We’re not worried about it. It doesn’t change anything,” he added.Hopkins was convicted of impersonating an officer and felony gun possession in 2006, according to The Daily Beast.He leads a group called The United Constitutional Patriots, which states on its Facebook page that its mission is “to uphold the Constitution of The United States of America.”“We uphold this cause against all enemies both foreign and domestic which shall infringe upon the rights of the citizens given by the Constitution,” it says. “We are here to serve in time of need at the local and state level and if necessary for our country.”Benvie regularly uploads videos to his Facebook page showing the group’s actions detaining migrants.The group gained attention on Tuesday when it detained over 200 migrants at gunpoint after they crossed into the U.S. near Sunland Park. The group was held by the militia until U.S. Border Patrol agents responded and took them into custody.A spokesperson for the group told KVIA-TV that the group never points a gun at migrants and they weren’t forced to stay.The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately came out against the action, and blamed it on the rhetoric of the president.“The Trump administration’s vile racism has emboldened white nationalists and fascists to flagrantly violate the law,” the ACLU said in a statement Friday. “This has no place in our state: we cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum.”Mexico’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on behalf of the government expressing “profound concern about the activities of intimidation and extortion of migrants by groups of militias on the New Mexico border.”The group wrote Friday on its Facebook page that Paypal had permanently suspended its fundraising account.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Akabei/iStockBy SAM SWEENEY, ABC News(ATLANTA) — Despite an explosion in COVID-19 cases nationwide and warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than four million people have passed through TSA screening checkpoints in the four days since last Friday.According to TSA data, this is the busiest stretch of travel since the pandemic began in March, but air travel is still down nearly 60% compared to last year.AAA predicts 84.5 million Americans will travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, a 29% decrease from last year.“While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent gathering with friends and family, the year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.”If you are traveling, the CDC has a new search tool that allows users to enter a zip code and find destination-specific information.The site shows local quarantine rules, testing requirements, and the operating status of local businesses.“Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” a CDC advisory explained. “You and your travel companions (including children) may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends, and community after travel.”President-elect Joe Biden has repeatedly advised Americans against traveling during the holidays.Travel app Hopper says the top destinations this year for Americans are Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Austin, and Columbus, Ohio.American Airlines says its December schedule is approximately 50% smaller than the same time-period last year.The carrier expects the busiest travel days to be Dec. 21 through Dec. 23, Dec. 27 through the Dec. 30, and the first weekend of 2021.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge Joins AG Hill In Leading 20-State Brief Filed With U.S. Supreme CourtAttorney General Curtis Hill on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Louisiana law requiring all ambulatory surgical centers, including abortion clinics, to hold admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Abortion providers have challenged the law, claiming it interferes with abortion access.“This commonsense measure to protect women’s health is entirely compatible with the Constitution,” Attorney General Hill said. “There is no good reason to exempt abortion clinics from the same health and safety standards applied to other medical facilities.”In trial testimony, even abortion doctors opposed to Louisiana’s law have conceded that admitting privileges at local hospitals carry distinct benefits. One abortion doctor testified that he used his own admitting privileges to get a patient to surgery after he accidentally punctured her uterus during an abortion.“Advocates for the abortion industry often claim to care about women’s reproductive health,” Attorney General Hill said. “Debate over this law, however, has demonstrated that many of them care a lot more about the abortion industry’s profits.”In challenging Louisiana’s law, attorneys for abortion providers have asserted the rights of hypothetical abortion patients who would purchase their services. Indiana’s experience with abortion clinics, however, has shown that abortion providers often follow practices that run counter to the interests of the patients they serve.In the brief filed Thursday, Attorney General Hill cites the example of Indiana’s recent investigation into the late Dr. Ulrich Klopfer. In 2016, Dr. Klopfer lost his Indiana medical license after investigators uncovered repeated violations at his clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend. Violations included such offenses as failing to report abortions on patients as young as 13, as required by Indiana law, and failing to provide appropriate anesthesia to patients. After Dr. Klopfer’s death, investigators discovered the medically preserved remains of 2,411 human fetuses among his personal belongings.“We are asking the Supreme Court to rule that abortion practitioners cannot assert the rights of hypothetical abortion patients in legal proceedings,” Attorney General Hill said. “In the interest of justice and transparency, these businesses should be required to stand on their own substantive merits or lack thereof.”Attorney General Hill joined Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is leading the 20-state brief filed Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court. “Women deserve to know all medical procedures are performed in the safest way possible,” Attorney General Rutledge said.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
The Atlantic City Blackjacks prepare for a tough matchup against the Albany Empire. (Photo courtesy Atlantic City Blackjacks Facebook page) The Atlantic City Blackjacks will have quite the test in Week 5. The league-leading Albany Empire come to town Saturday as the only undefeated Arena Football League team remaining this season.Led by veteran quarterback Tommy Grady and star wide receiver Malachi Jones, the Empire are a complete team all around. Playing against an undefeated team, the Blackjacks look to play their most complete game yet and hope to hand the Empire their first loss of the season.“There is a reason why Albany is undefeated at this juncture in the season,” said Ron James, head coach of the Blackjacks. “They are an exceptionally talented football team and are excellent in every facet of the game. We look forward to facing the league’s best team this weekend.” The game will be played in Atlantic City at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday. Ticket information is available at ACBlackjacks.com or by calling (609) 609-783-9494.Fans can watch live on NBCSP+ and ESPN 3 or listen to the call on 97.3 ESPN on Saturday at 7 p.m.The biggest and most obvious matchup to watch is Grady against the Blackjacks defense. Grady leads the league is passing touchdowns with 23 and in quarterback rating with 127.6. His average of 5.8 touchdowns per game is the best in the league along with his completion percentage of 70.2 percent. It’s going to take a collective effort with everyone playing their best to slow Grady down. The Blackjacks defense had a great game in Week 4 with Kiante Northington getting two interceptions, Nick Haag forcing a fumble and Marvin Ross getting seven tackles. They will need to replicate this performance and improve on it to stop the Empire offense.The other big threat is Grady’s main target, Malachi Jones, who leads the league in receptions with 33, receiving yards with 529 and is tied for first with eight receiving touchdowns. He was the Rookie of the Year and Wide Receiver of the Year last season and is showing no signs of a sophomore slump.Besides Jones, the other weapon Grady will utilize is Quentin Sims. Sims has seven touchdowns with 158 receiving yards so the Blackjacks will have to cover multiple threats on the field on Saturday night. The next task will be to stop the Empire defensive line and backs led by Joe Sykes, Jeramie Richardson, and Tevin Homer. Sykes took home the Defensive Player of the Year award last year and continues to be a force. Sykes has 1.5 sacks this year, which is good for second in the league. Richardson has two forced fumbles, which is tied for first in the league.Homer sits in second behind league leader Arthur Hobbs in tackles with 26 and has one interception on the year. With Cornelius Lewis missing last week’s game due to injury, Atlantic City quarterback Randy Hippeard was sacked twice in Week 4, something the Blackjacks will need to fix leading up to Albany. Hippeard also threw two more interceptions in Week 4 and will need to be on target to avoid giving Albany extra possessions. The final matchup to watch for will be how the Blackjacks receivers can get open and give Hippeard good looks. LaMark Brown continues to produce through the first four weeks and Kendrick Ings has produced more and more every week.Brown pitched in with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown in Week 4. Ings had two receiving touchdowns, 91 receiving yards and 77 kick return yards in Week 4. Antwane Grant had another six receptions for 54 yards. If Ings can give Hippeard and the offense good field position with his returns and Brown continues to score touchdowns, this game has the potential to end in a very high score. Fans can secure their season tickets for the Atlantic City Blackjacks now with a $50 deposit per seat ($75 for VIP seats) by calling 609-783-9494 or by going to ACBlackjacks.com.
In the wake of the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, VA last weekend, countless artists and public figures have spoken up to voice their opposition to the hateful alt-right agenda at the center of the conflict. One of the most vocal groups has, appropriately, been Dave Matthews Band, who have called the Virgina college town home for decades. The local heroes issued an official statement via the Dave Matthews Band’s Facebook page condemning the hateful violence. You can read the full statement below:“Dave Matthews Band is heartbroken and disgusted by the acts of racism, violence, and domestic terrorism in our hometown this weekend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families of these hateful acts. This is not the Charlottesville we know and love; we will work hard, hand-in-hand with our community to help us all heal from this sickening display of hate. Hate speech disguised as free speech is cowardly and shameful. Such speech gives permission to the hateful acts we witnessed today; there is nothing pure or acceptable, or philosophical about Nazism and racism masked as heritage or cultural purity. The multicultural tapestry of America need to come together, acknowledge our difficult history and set out to move directly away from it toward an inclusive, kinder, more intelligent future.”INTERVIEW: Pete Shapiro On Charlottesville And How Nearby Lockn’ Festival Hopes To Change The Narrative Next WeekYesterday, amid the frustration with President Trump’s apparent hesitation to entirely condemn White Supremacy and Nazism, DMB violinist Boyd Tinsley appeared on CNN to discuss his reactions to the unsettling situation and affirm that such hateful behavior is not what Charlottesville, VA is truly about. You can read some excerpts from Boyd’s CNN spot below:On the true, diverse, tolerant nature of Charlottesville: “I have been upset, like, since it happened. I was coming back to Charlottesville, and I was at the airport, and just watching it going on, on TV, I was in absolute shock, you know? So, I wanted to say something to my Twitter followers, but I said I just had to digest this thing before I can even write anything about it. But I can’t believe it. I have never seen anything like this before, and this is like the most, I mean, unlikely places to have something like this, because Charlottesville’s such a diverse community. People here just love each other. I mean, everywhere you go, people are waving at you, saying hello. There’s so much going on in this city that, to see all this ugliness and hatred, like right here in the middle of my town, was like, you know — that really that really got me. And that just — it got me angry, and it’s gotten everybody in this community angry, and I think around the nation and probably even around the world.”On his surprise at such a show of hate in his hometown:“I honestly had no idea that that were that many of them, so I don’t think anybody had that idea that there would be so many of them. I mean, they sort of had four or three demonstrations in the past…They came to this park in the dead of night one time holding torches in this sort of–I don’t know what they call it–‘protest.’ And then they came back again for a Klan rally, which, you know, wasn’t as huge as this but still a traumatic thing on this city. And then they went to the University of Virginia last Friday night, you know, my alma mater, and they’re walking around there spreading hate, and then they come here to this park on Saturday. I don’t think anybody expected…that amount of hatred. We don’t believe in this. And all the people that came down to this, they were not from here. None of those people were from here. And, you know, so this is not Charlottesville. This is not what we’re about…This is a close-knit community here, and people…look out for each other. And to see something like this, people are compelled to come down and say, no, you cannot be here. This is our city.”You can watch Boyd Tinsley’s entire conversation with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin below, via YouTube user Regina Rizzo:[h/t – CNN]While Dave Matthews Band continues their temporary live hiatus, fans can still catch Dave with guitarist Tim Reynolds at Dave and Tim Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive Mexican resort destination event set to take place January 12-14, 2018 in Riviera Maya, MX. The three concerts will take place at the Barceló Maya Beach Resort, sitting on a mile-long stretch of white sandy beach that features breathtaking landscapes and pools scattered throughout the property.For more information, or to purchase tickets, head to the event website.
Carolyn Abbate, one of the world’s most accomplished and admired music historians, has been named to become a University Professor, Harvard’s highest honor for a faculty member. Her appointment as the Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser University Professor will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.An influential scholar of exceptional originality, Abbate has focused her research principally on opera as it has evolved over the past four centuries, with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Her work ranges widely, drawing on diverse arts and humanities disciplines, including cultural history, sound and film studies, and philosophy.“Carolyn Abbate’s imagination and sense of intellectual adventure have changed the course of musicology,” said President Drew Faust. “With its original and highly interdisciplinary outlook, her work helps us to see the many disparate elements of opera each in relation to the other, as part of a polyphonic whole, and to see great works in their social and cultural contexts. And by illuminating such considerations as the intentions of the composer, the technical challenges facing performers, and the subjective experiences of audience members, she enlarges and enlivens our understanding not just of opera but of music more generally.”A stimulating teacher and mentor of both undergraduate and graduate students, Abbate has taught courses across the range of her expertise, including music history surveys, freshman seminars, and graduate seminars on topics ranging from Mozart and automata in the Enlightenment, to opera and politics in the 19th century, to the evolution of film sound technology. Beyond her academic work, Abbate is herself a talented performer, and she has been active in staging musical and operatic works, including serving as a dramaturg for productions at the Metropolitan Opera.Abbate’s work has implications for scholarship on a wide range of musical periods and genres, in its exploration of issues such as the concept of “voice,” layers of communication in opera and instrumental music, the ontology of ephemeral art, and sound technology’s influence on the perception of musical meaning. Her work also illuminates the interplay of opera with its cultural and historical contexts, while opening the field toward a more open perspective on music as experience and performance.“This is a tremendous honor, and I cannot adequately express how grateful I am,” Abbate said. “For someone who has always been listening to what can be heard outside the world of music, being at Harvard — where there are extraordinary conversations in so many fields — is a very great privilege. Harvard students can stop you in your tracks with their imagination, and I have the good fortune to be surrounded by faculty colleagues whose intellectual verve is a similar source of delight. The University Professorships recognize crossing boundaries; I will do all I can to be worthy of the challenge inherent in that vision.”Abbate graduated from Yale College in 1977 and earned her Ph.D. from Princeton in 1984. She joined the Princeton faculty that same year, and she was named a full professor and published her first book, “Unsung Voices,” in 1991. “Unsung Voices” remains a seminal text, a rich resource of fact, method, and analysis that changed the way scholars think about music and language by interrogating the truism of music as narrative. Her second book, “In Search of Opera,” investigated opera through the perspective of its performance networks, exploring the relationship between musical works and their material realizations, highlighting uncanny views of singers and performers, from the 1760s to the 1920s, as mediums, channels, or machines. Her most recent book is “A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years,” published in 2012 with Roger Parker. She and her co-author take on the entire lifespan of opera from its invention to its present-day incarnations, leaving opera’s absurdities intact while tracing the historical evolution of libretti, musical forms, operatic voices, and opera in literary and mass culture. The book was named Best Classical Music Book of the Year by The Sunday Times and has been translated into several languages. Abbate has been awarded the Dent Medal by the United Kingdom Royal Musical Association as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship.In 2005, she came to Harvard as the Fanny Peabody Professor of Music and served as the first Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She became the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, and returned to Harvard earlier this year.The University Professorships were established in 1935 to recognize individuals whose work on the frontiers of knowledge crosses the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines. University Professors can teach and pursue research at any of Harvard’s Schools.The Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser University Professorship was established by Paul A. Buttenwieser ’60, M.D. ’64, and his wife, Catherine, in 1997. Paul Buttenwieser is a Cambridge-based psychiatrist, novelist, musician, and philanthropist, and he was a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers from 2001 to 2007. In addition, he has served on numerous committees and boards across the University, currently including the Committee on University Resources, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Boston Major Gifts Committee, and the board of the American Repertory Theater. At the 2010 Commencement Exercises he was awarded the Harvard Medal. The Buttenwiesers also founded the Family-to-Family Project to address family homelessness.
The Harvard Art Museums has appointed Soyoung Lee, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as its new chief curator, effective Sept. 24.Over the course of a distinguished 15-year career, Lee has served Met as curator, associate curator, and assistant curator in the department of Asian art. She joined the museum in 2003 as its first curator for Korean art, and has organized a number of critically acclaimed international loan exhibitions, each with an accompanying publication.“We are welcoming Soyoung to our staff at an exciting time, as we further establish our dual role as a premier teaching institution and one of the major public art museums in the dynamic Boston cultural landscape,” said Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums. “We are thrilled to have such a well-respected and gifted art historian join our curatorial team. Her experience as both a leader and scholar will be great assets as we continue to develop distinctive exhibition, publishing, and interpretive programs that leverage the wide-ranging nature of the museums’ remarkable collections.”In 2016–17, Lee served as chair of the Metropolitan Museum’s Forum of Curators, Conservators, and Scientists — the Met’s academic body, comprised of more than 200 members — and as the forum’s delegate to the Board of Trustees a year later. She was a member of the museum’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee to the President. She was also a trustee-at-large for the Association of Art Museum Curators and one of 12 fellows in the Center for Curatorial Leadership’s 2018 cohort.Lee has received numerous fellowships and grants, including the Met’s Theodore Rousseau Memorial Travel Grant in summer 2006 and March 2010, the Jane and Morgan Whitney Art History Fellowship in 2001–02, and the Columbia University President’s Fellowship in 2000–01.“It is a tremendous honor to join the Harvard Art Museums, an institution with such incredible collections, history, and creativity. I am delighted to work alongside Martha and the museums’ stellar staff and am excited by the opportunities to collaborate across this extraordinary university,” said Lee. “While at the Met, I was fortunate to have been nurtured by a wealth of talented and generous colleagues. I look forward to bringing that experience to Harvard, to cultivate in the next generation the kind of passion for art and knowledge that can transform one’s life.”At the Harvard Art Museums, Lee will be a key member of the senior leadership team. She will oversee the museums’ three curatorial divisions (division of Asian and Mediterranean art, division of European and American art, and division of modern and contemporary art), an active exhibition program, and the stewardship and development of Harvard’s world-class collections, among the largest in the U.S.Working closely with the Department of Academic and Public Programs and the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Lee will build on the museums’ legacy as a premier training and teaching institution, facilitating curatorial collaborations with faculty and students across disciplines and fostering the internship and postgraduate fellowship programs. She will also play a critical role in the museums’ efforts to partner with campus organizations in highlighting contemporary art and current issues through exhibitions, programs, and other projects with living artists.Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Lee has lived in Stockholm, London, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Tokyo in addition to her current home in New York. She earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. Her dissertation examined the influence of 15th- and 16th-century Korean ceramics on key ceramic industries in Kyushu, Japan, and subsequent Japanese reinterpretations. Her research interests encompass cross-cultural exchanges in East Asian art and culture.
Judge’s passion is making adoptions happen Gooding helped whittle down 414 kids available for adoption last year to 258 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor When David Gooding was a boy, he heard his father on the phone with law enforcement officers, saying, “Well, bring them to our house.”This was back in the ’50s and ’60s when Marion Gooding was Duval County’s only juvenile court judge, and there was a delinquency shelter for kids who broke the law, but no place for abused and neglected children picked up in emergencies on the weekend.The youngest of six children would gladly share hand-me-down clothes and toys and build forts out of blankets draped over card tables with his sleepover buddies. Spared the details of their ravaged lives, little David Gooding just thought it was fun to have extra playmates for the weekend.Now that he is a Fourth Judicial Circuit judge handling dependency cases, David Gooding knows all too well about crack babies and splintered bones and broken homes, and all the tragic details that lead to severing parental rights.A year ago, more than 400 children in the Jacksonville area continued to languish in foster care, even though they were available for adoption. Judge Gooding vowed to do something about it.The end result is that adoptions have nearly tripled, thanks to a collaborative effort between judges, the Guardian ad Litem’s Permanency Project that recruited 38 pro bono attorneys, and social service agencies sharpening the focus on finding kids those “forever families.”“We have changed the culture of complacency,” Judge Gooding said.As a judge, he says there is no more significant order than a final order of adoption, and he sees his mission as “dealing with matters of eternal consequence.”“The government is a poor substitute for a parent. Children need loving, permanent families. Children need arms to hold them, ears to listen to them, and hearts to love them,” Gooding said. Red Tape Shredding JudgeWhen Judge Gooding explains how he helped whittle down 414 children available for adoption in March 2005, to 258 by the end of the year — including a whopping 52 adoptions in a single December day called “Family First Fridays” — he says it was “basically through good old-fashioned case management.”In short, Judge Gooding has mastered the art of cutting through red tape by holding people accountable and going straight to the person who can take care of business, rather than allowing cases to languish in the limbo of bureaucratic process.If the adoptive parent hasn’t finished the application paperwork and background information, he summons both the caseworker and adoptive parent to court to explain the holdup. Then he arranges for space in a conference room and gives the adoptive parent help in filling out the paperwork right then and there.If “preadoptive” parents have had the child for more than a year and say they aren’t sure they want to adopt, Judge Gooding will say: “If you don‘t want to adopt tell me why not, or why this child shouldn’t go to someone who wants to adopt.”“I don’t think anyone would be as direct as Judge Gooding,” says Richard Komando, director of the Fourth Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program.Gooding has even fired off friendly letters to governors of other states to enlist their help in cases where he has no jurisdiction.He chuckles when he tells about the letter he sent to New York Gov. George Pataki asking for help in getting a home study overdue for two years. Three days later, the home study was complete.“I used fancy stationery with a big gold seal that made me look like a big shot,” Judge Gooding said.Judge Gooding received the 2005 Adoption Excellence Awards (individual and/or family contributions) from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services , which noted: “Since Judge Gooding has been in dependency court, adoption numbers in Duval County have risen tremendously. His efforts contributed to the overall adoption of 258 ‘special needs’ children in Duval County during fiscal year 2004-05.”Fourth Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace joined Gooding in dependency court in September and helps with the adoption effort.“It’s about actively managing each case,” Judge Wallace said. “It’s created a consciousness among agencies that it’s important to stay on these cases.” Rise to the Challenge Nancy Dreicer, Department of Children and Families District Four administrator, says Judge Gooding puts her case workers on the spot, and that’s OK.“putting pressure on the case workers, they rise up to the challenge,” Dreicer said. “He puts the child first and makes sure those cases go through.”She calls Judge Gooding and Judge Wallace “our secret weapons” in this successful collaboration that has made District Four — Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties — number one in the state in adoptions.Judge Gooding remembers when DCF Secretary Lucy Hadi first came on board and did what he called “a very brave thing.” At a meeting of dependency court judges, Hadi stood with an easel and marker and asked them to list their problems.“That’s courage,” Gooding said. “As an upshot of that, she gave us names and numbers of people in key positions in her administration and invited us to call when there are problems.”And, they do.Dreicer also gives credit to four community care-based partners — Family Support Services in Jacksonsville, Clay-Baker Kids Net, Family Integrity Program run by St. Johns County, and Family Matters in Nassau County.It was Jim Adams, CEO of Family Support Services, who was instrumental in bringing a traveling exhibit of portraits of children hoping to be adopted, called the “Heart Gallery” on display in art galleries and shopping malls.The pictures speak louder than words.“Everyone has their notion of what a foster child looks like,” Dreicer said. “This puts a face on the child. There are brochures and information about the child. Siblings are put together. And, hopefully, we can find a home for all of them.” Pro Bono Attorneys Leverage Action At the Fourth Circuit GAL office, lawyer Helen Spohrer directs the “Permanency Team,” thanks to a $25,000 grant through The Florida Bar Foundation. Administered by Florida Legal Services, the pilot project in Duval County uses pro bono attorneys to make a quick difference in the lives of adoptable children languishing in the system.It’s working.Half of Spohrer’s job is handling her own case load of children and the other half of her time she recruits pro bono lawyers to take adoption cases.She has succeeded in recruiting 38 pro bono attorneys to help what she calls “children caught in red tape” and do what lawyers do best: “communicate and get a case moving!”One pro bono attorney recruited is Paul Cappiello, of Harrell and Harrell, a personal injury law firm in Jacksonville. Cappiello works on brain injury cases and a federal national employment class action case.When Spohrer and Komando came armed with notebooks full of detailed information about what to expect, everyone in the firm agreed to take a case.“It is very satisfying to know that you helped a child find a permanent home.. . . It is exciting to see and even more exciting to be a part of,” Cappiello said.At Albertelli & Halsema, everyone in the Jacksonville firm agreed to participate in the GAL Permanency Project, which Jim Albertelli likens to “a corporate tithe” and work on the adoption cases is counted as billable hours.“Really, we get the best part of the case. You have people excited and ecstatic about building a family, and that’s what we get to be a part of,” said Albertelli. Family First Fridays The culmination of all of this collaboration takes place on the first Friday of the month, called “Family First Fridays,” where Judge Gooding and Judge Wallace hold an open docket for adoptions, modeled after National Adoption Day.The adopting parents must tell the judge why they want to adopt a child, and sometimes the answers are as simple as, “I love her.” The judges explain the proceedings are to make legal what is already true in their hearts. The atmosphere is celebratory with balloons and applause and tears, and Judge Gooding jokes, “It does cost the taxpayers in boxes of Kleenex.”At the December Family First Friday, Karla Grimsley, Fifth Circuit guardian ad litem director, traveled from Ocala to sit in the jury box and watch the action. She was so impressed, she wants to emulate the program in her circuit, where they now hope to do as many adoptions in one year as Duval County has done in one day.“I had never been to a court like this. The air was filled with excitement. Walking through the hallway was just packed wall-to-wall with children. The courtroom was standing room only. It was a court of law, but it had a different atmosphere. It was a happy time. It was good for the families and good for the system,” Grimsley said. March 1, 2006 Regular News Judge’s passion is making adoptions happen