A Message for the Judge

Below, Kentucky CASA volunteer Michael Bright shares the story of Jacob, a young boy whose future was uncertain until a judge appointed a CASA volunteer to his case.

Michael Bright CASA volunteerJacob had a bruise.

He wouldn’t show me where it was and he wouldn’t tell me how it happened, although I could tell he wanted to. After a few minutes, he said he’d forgotten how he got it.

Jacob had been in and out of the child welfare system for years when I met him. He had significant educational, developmental, emotional and medical needs. When those needs were met, he was a typical happy kid. When they were not, he would fall apart emotionally. He even showed me how he would choke himself when he was unhappy.

In the custody of his father, Jacob was certainly being neglected. He’d recently been forced to accompany his dad as they walked up and down a busy highway in 90-degree heat while his father looked for a car to buy. With asthma and psychological issues that made such ventures extremely difficult for him, Jacob had an emotional meltdown that day – along with blisters on his feet. It was clear to me that his father could not or would not meet his son’s considerable needs. And I also feared for Jacob’s safety.

So that’s what I intended to testify to in court. It was time to return Jacob to his mother, who had turned her troubled life around so she could care for her little boy. I asked Jacob if he had any messages that I could tell the judge on his behalf.

“Tell the judge hello.”

“Tell the judge I want my mother back.”

“Tell the judge I have a bruise.”

Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Jacob's mother was crying. “It’s been years,” she said as she hugged me, “but Jacob finally had a voice in court today.”

The judge awarded custody of Jacob to his mom. And they’re doing just fine today.


*"Jacob" is a pseudonym, and his picture is not featured in this story.


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