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Judge won’t keep unvaccinated mom from seeing her son

A different judge had said Rebecca Firlit could not see her 11-year-old son until she had received the COVID-19 vaccine. But that judge later rescinded that order, then recused himself from the case. The attorney for the boy’s father then sought to have the order reinstated.

A Cook County judge will not reinstate an order that a mother can’t see her son until she is vaccinated against COVID-19.
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A Cook County Judge on Wednesday refused to consider an emergency motion filed by a father in a domestic relations case that sought to bar the man’s ex-wife from seeing their 11-year-old son because she has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Judge Gregory Ahern was assigned to the case to replace Judge James Shapiro, who ruled on Aug. 11 that the child’s mother — Rebecca Firlit — could not see her son until she received the vaccine. Shapiro on Monday reversed that ruling before recusing himself from the case.

Shapiro made the following statement in court Monday, according to Mary Wisniewski, director of communications for Chief Judge Timothy Evans of Cook County Circuit Court:

“Although I believe I can be fair and impartial, the Canons of Judicial Ethics speak to the perception of fairness and impartiality as well as fairness and impartiality itself. Public perception may be that I can’t be fair and impartial. Therefore, I am going to recuse myself from further proceedings in this case.”

On Wednesday, Ahern said “the counts on not taking the COVID shot and not masking are not an emergency and not being considered by me.”

Asked by a reporter at the conclusion of the hearing if the COVID-19 vaccine question is now a dead issue, Ahern replied: “Correct.”

However, the judge also ruled the mother’s visitation must be supervised for now because of allegations by her 11-year-old son.

In the emergency motion filed by Jeffery Leving, attorney for Firlit’s ex-husband, Matthew Duiven, it was alleged the boy told his father he was thinking about hurting himself because Firlit was yelling at him.

Michael Bender, a guardian ad litem appointed to the case beginning in 2019, also testified Wednesday that the boy told him last Friday that he recently considered cutting or burning himself to escape his mother yelling at him and berating him for loving his father.

Firlit denied the claims, but Ahern said he found them to be “credible.”

A status hearing was scheduled for Sept. 28.