On November 10, there was a permanency hearing to decide custody of a nine-month-old girl from Price, Utah. The child had been in the temporary foster care of April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, a married same-sex couple, for three months prior to the hearing.
The couple reported that Judge Scott Johansen ordered at the hearing that the child be removed from their care within one week based upon their marriage as a same-sex couple. However, per Judge Johansen’s order obtained by ETV 10 News on Friday, such removal was temporary pending a hearing set for Dec. 4, 2015, which would determine actual custody of the child. The December hearing was scheduled after a Nov. 25 hearing to determine the biological parents’ rights.
The case garnered national attention with many groups calling for the resignation of Judge Johansen and for immediate appeal of the order. However, the actual order was not out and the case was pending the other two hearings, so the actual permanent placement of the child had not been determined despite what some news outlets had represented.
Judge Johansen has now amended the order. The subsequent hearings are still scheduled as stated above, but the child is not to be removed immediately pending those hearings. The actual custody of the child has always depended on the outcome of the Dec. 4 hearing.
ETV 10 News will continue to follow the case and has reached out to April Hoagland, but has not received comment from her. Judge Johansen has received wide criticism from national gay rights groups and from Utah Governor Gary Herbert, among others. Judge Johansen and the court staff are precluded from discussing pending cases.