Case, already many times delayed, moved to Thursday

Jan. 16, 2014 @ 08:39 PM

The case of five children taken from a single father in Vance County has been scheduled for a Thursday hearing, to be set apart from normal domestic family court business scheduled Wednesday.

DSS Attorney Caroline Burnette moved a motion for remaining domestic court cases to be closed to the public. Judge Henry Banks granted the closure for protection of the possibility juvenile records could be made public.

Robert Orr Jr. has sought help from the Justice for All coalition, an advocacy group riled by the actions of many social services departments in North Carolina.

Orr’s children are ages 3-10. But he says his case has had no review, hearing on probable cause or discussion on matters of progress in more than four months since his children have been kept by DSS.

“That man deserves justice,” said Jeff Gerber, the founder of Justice for All. “He has gotten the run-around, and he has not received proper treatment by his county DSS.”

Orr worries the Thursday date will interrupt the day he gets to visit with his children. He’s also concerned about the courtroom change.

“I haven’t heard about this happening before,” Orr said. “I had been told that my children would be brought to a location for my visitation to take place, then transported afterward. That’s on the same day. I don’t know how that will all work out.”

He has taken a stand to speak out, only to be told it was not appropriate for him to have any input at all as his case received one continuance after another.

“I have learned that it’s not what you say, it’s about what they allow to be said,” Orr said.

Orr’s court-appointed attorney, Jerry Stainback, said he must abide by statutory provisions for continuing hearings, even though the goal had been set at seven and 90 days.

“Why didn’t they hear it?” said Jeremy Bess, who works with the coalition. “We just can’t figure out why this seven-day hearing keeps getting put off. They call that a great re-unification program? If it was involving just adults it would be a joke. This involves kids, and that makes it horrific.”

Bess said numerous federal laws have been violated against Orr.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.