by Attorney David Grossack –
Neely Blanchard appears no different from any other woman of her age. She is 28, highly intelligent, well-spoken, attractive, and clearly a thoughtful and refined woman.
But she is at grave risk for being a martyr for her Christian faith, facing up to 5 years in prison for arranging to have Christian literature sent to her daughter and her former boyfriend’s mother. Not in Iran, not in North Korea, but in South Carolina! Ms. Blanchard is one of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of non-custodial parents around America, virtually all of whom face limitations on parenting.
Unfortunately, Ms. Blanchard’s restrictions are really severe. She cannot visit or communicate with her daughter, her former boyfriend, or her former boyfriend’s mother, who was awarded custody of Ms. Blanchard’s daughter in a trial that did no credit to the courts of South Carolina. Notwithstanding that defeat, Ms. Blanchard is continuing to seek custody of her daughter McKenzie in the South Carolina court system.
Now, somewhere in Berkeley County, in the Palmetto state, a judge will decide whether Ms. Blanchard is in criminal contempt of the no contact order and what her punishment will be. Being on probation, she is truly at risk for a long sentence.
Ms. Blanchard was given shared physical custody of her child in an agreement entered into with her ex-boyfriend while the ex-boyfriend’s mother, retained legal custody. After Ms. Blanchard took the child to Florida, in the midst of disputed allegations of molestation against the ex-boyfriend, Ms. Blanchard found herself sitting in a jail cell, and soon to lose all custody and visitation.
There she decided the Christian thing to do was to forgive those who wronged her and wrote to a ministry in her home state of Kentucky to send out the tracts.
So she’s accused now of contempt. Meredith Griffin, a member of the Journey Church in Summerville, South Carolina, is the grandmother who is bringing the contempt charge. Ms. Griffin is also reportedly a Sunday school teacher.
Judge Michael Holt, who took custody away from Ms. Blanchard in the first place, will have the chance to decide who is really contemptible.
I’m not a Christian, but more than one Christian has told me that their faith is one of total love.
I remember there was a line in a song by the Beach Boys, “sometimes I have a weird way of showing my love.”
In South Carolina, having once seceded from the Union, they are apparently seceding a second time… from the Bible Belt.
David Grossack is a constitutional consultant, practicing lawyer, writer and founder of the Citizens Justice Association. He is General Counsel of the National Writers Syndicate.