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Monday
Feb062012

Deputies sue mother for custody

By David Jaques

Roseburg, OR- It hasn’t even been a full month since Ajay Pichette got her daughter Nakota (Kota) back home, following a four year battle with Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS).

Kota is settling in nicely to her new routine, according to her Mother, after begin taken from her at only seven weeks old.

Kimberly Root, Photo: FacebooThe case has been to the Oregon Court of appeals twice, and in October of 2011 the court terminated all jurisdiction of the state. This would normally been followed by an immediate return to mother, but the state, this time joined by foster parents Mike and Kim Root, both Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies, filed yet another petition to keep Nakota from her family.

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Wednesday
Jan182012

A Mother and Child Reunion

The Nightmare may finally be over

By David Jaques

AJ Pichette with daughter Nakota, and son Liam - Beacon Staff PhotoRoseburg, OR-The new year promises to be the best ever for Roseburg mother, AJ Pichette, who for over four years has been battling with the state of Oregon and Douglas County to get her daughter back.

Sunday afternoon, January 15, at about 2:00 p.m., four year old Nakota, was finally returned to her mother after four years of court battles and hearings that would ultimately determine her fate. Bright eyed, precocious, “Kota”, as her mother calls her, couldn’t possibly know how fierce the battle was, nor how many state agency case workers and lawyers were involved, nor could she possibly grasp the amount spent on legal costs, estimated to be in excess of $100,000, in an effort to keep the child from her from

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Thursday
Dec292011

Commissioner Cop

Roseburg, OR-After being motioned to pull over by the driver of an unmarked police car, Eugene Hall of Roseburg was surprised to see a Douglas County Commissioner step out from behind the wheel of that car.  Commissioner Laurance - Photo STAFF/Beacon

On Monday, December 19, Hall, who had been travelling on Harvard Avenue, noticed a dark blue sedan drifting into his lane. The driver, he said, was “apparently preoccupied with something on the passenger seat”. Hall said he tapped his horn to alert the driver but the car kept heading towards him, at which point, he said, “I hit the horn again”, convinced that if he hadn’t the sedan would have struck the passenger side of his pickup.

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Wednesday
Nov232011

“All I want for Christmas is my Daughter back"

By David Jaques

Roseburg, OR- The plight of a young single mother, and her efforts to recover her daughter from the clutches of the state, began nearly four years ago to the day, when uniformed police, not Child Protective Services, first removed then seven-week-old Nakota Ruth Eckel from her mother’s arms.

After four years of a virtual tug-of-war between AJ (Eckel) Pichette, who gave birth to Nakota, and her state appointed foster parents, Kim and Mike Root, both Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies, it looks as though a happy ending for Nakota and her mother may be in sight.

On November 15, 2011, AJ and her court appointed attorney, Kareen LaValley, again faced a formidable array of state workers from the Department of Human Services including Ryan Loosli the Roseburg office manager, as well as Attorneys for Mike and Kim Root, Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Robin Vogel-Smith, and four-year-old Nakota’s state appointed Attorney, Jim Arneson.

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Wednesday
Apr132011

County pays off on same-sex marriage case

Update: April 13, 2011 Kathy L. Slater v. Douglas County

On April 13, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to pay Kathy Slater, a former Douglas County Clerk employee, $145,000 to settle a lawsuit against Douglas County.

Slater filed the suit after she was fired for requesting to be excused from processing same sex marriage applications which she said is against her religious beliefs.

The settlement came on the heels of a ruling by the ninth circuit that the county did not even explore options to accommodate Slater’s request. They also ruled that Douglas County only received 37 applications over a two year period, with each taking approximately 10 minutes, and that allowing her to exchange work to accommodate her religious rights would not have been a hardship to the county or other employees. They then forwarded the case to a jury trial.

The parties settled the Lawsuit during a judicial settlement conference with United States Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke on February 1, 2011 pending approval by the Commissioners. Slater will receive two checks. The first for $25,438 will cover her lost wages, and a second for $70,254 “for damages for the alleged violation of her rights and her alleged emotional distress and pain and suffering”.

The third payment of $49,308 will be paid to Brian L. Pocock, Slater’s attorney.

The county also agreed to amend Slater’s personnel file to show that her employment with Douglas County ended due to a reduction in work force and that she is eligible for rehire.