The Latest: Calls continue for investigation of Utah judge

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Posted: Nov 16, 2015 7:59 PM
The Latest: Calls continue for investigation of Utah judge

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The latest on the custody of a Utah baby who had been ordered taken from her lesbian foster parents (all times local):

5:55 p.m.

Two groups say they still want an investigation and impeachment of a judge who has removed himself from a case in which he initially ordered that a baby be taken from lesbian foster parents because of their sexual orientation.

Representatives of the Human Rights Campaign and the Alliance for a Better Utah said separately that Judge Scott Johansen's actions should come under increased scrutiny by state lawmakers and judicial authorities.

Johansen reversed his decision to take the child from the women before removing himself from the case altogether on Monday.

Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow says the judge needlessly harmed a family that state child welfare officials had determined were qualified to be foster parents of the 9-month-old girl.

The campaign has filed a complaint with the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission.

The Alliance for a Better Utah called for state lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against Johansen.

4:40 p.m.

A lesbian couple says they're thankful that a Utah judge who had ordered their 9-month-old foster daughter taken from their home has removed himself from the case.

April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce said in a statement Monday that they're grateful their family is being treated equally under the law. They also say they appreciate the support they've received from across the country.

The married couple says their biggest concern now is taking care of the baby girl.

Judge Scott Johansen recused himself from the case Monday, nearly a week after he ordered the baby removed from the couple's home and placed with a heterosexual couple instead.

He reversed the order amid widespread criticism, but there had been concerns he could still have the child removed at a later custody hearing.

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4:25 p.m.

Utah child welfare officials say they're pleased that a baby can stay in a stable home with lesbian foster parents after a judge who had ordered the child placed with a heterosexual couple took himself off the case.

Ashley Sumner, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, said Monday that the married couple are very capable foster parents, and the state supports stability for 9-month-old girl.

Sumner says a custody hearing set for Dec. 4 will no longer be necessary after Judge Scott Johansen recused himself at the request of the foster family Monday afternoon.

He initially ordered the baby removed Nov. 10, saying the child would be better off with a heterosexual couple. Johansen reversed that decision last week amid widespread criticism from gay rights groups, the Republican governor and others.

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3:20 p.m.

A Utah judge who had ordered a baby taken away from lesbian foster parents and placed with a heterosexual couple is removing himself from the case.

Judge Scott Johansen reversed that decision last week amid widespread criticism, but there were concerns he could still have the baby removed from the married couple's home during a custody hearing set for Dec. 4.

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce asked that the judge be disqualified. In an order released Monday, Johansen writes that while the couple don't have legal standing, he's nevertheless stepping aside.

When Johansen ordered the 9-month-old baby taken away Nov. 10, he mentioned research showing children do better when raised by heterosexual families.

But the American Psychological Association has said there's no scientific basis for believing that gay couples are unfit parents based on sexual orientation.