News & Events

Related Attorneys

Media Contact

Diana L. Courson

First Case of Legal Aid Society Appellate Project Argued Before DC Court of Appeals

June 23, 2004

On June 23, 2004, David A. Reiser will argue the first case briefed by the new Legal Aid Society Appellate Project before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The case presents the question whether anyone other than a parent may sue a parent for custody in a private civil action, and, if so, what the standards governing such a custody action should be.

That issue has surfaced in a number of District of Columbia decisions, but it has not been squarely addressed. The lower court ruled that the non-parent (the mother's ex-husband but not the child's father) could not satisfy the standard for custody, ruling that continuing to separate the child from his mother was not in his best interests. It did not decide the threshold standing question. The Appellate Project represents the mother on the ex-husband's appeal from the order denying custody.

The project is supported by the DC Bar Foundation as well as by Zuckerman Spaeder. Its goal is to provide the highest quality appellate representation in civil matters to poor people in the District of Columbia. The project is led jointly by David Reiser of Zuckerman Spaeder and Barbara McDowell, who recently left the Office of the Solicitor General at the Department of Justice to become the in-house appellate attorney at Legal Aid.