Oklahoma Bar Journal
CASA of Canadian County: Michelle's Story
Michelle was only 12 years old when she told her doctor her stepfather abused her sexually. At the time, her mother had no idea, and her stepfather denied her claims. Michelle’s testimony and physical evidence, however, were undeniable, so she was removed from the home and placed with her grandmother. Michelle was then assigned to a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer named Laurie. Laurie met with Michelle several times a month, and soon they became very close. Michelle often called when she was upset or had flashbacks, and Laurie helped her process the trauma and calm down.
Laurie worked with the Department of Human Services to get Michelle into counseling and on an individualized education program at school. She also helped Michelle obtain a victims protective order against her stepfather so that he could legally no longer have contact with her. At each stage of the court process, Laurie made sure Michelle was involved and understood what was happening.
During this time, Michelle’s mother took the appropriate steps to create a new relationship with her daughter, including divorcing Michelle’s stepfather and attending individual counseling sessions and parenting classes. Laurie supervised visits between Michelle and her mother until Michelle felt safe with her mom again. Laurie helped them start family counseling to process what they had been through. After almost a year of many hardships and difficult conversations, Michelle was excited to go home and live with her mother. Laurie still checks in with Michelle, and Michelle calls Laurie anytime she needs to talk.
CASA volunteers talk to children, foster parents, service providers, educators, parents and relatives. All the information they gather through these contacts is compiled into a report that is presented to the judge presiding over the case. CASA volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court outside of the courtroom. Children say CASA volunteers:
- Listen to them
- Care about them
- Understand them
They give children a voice while representing their best interests.
The Oklahoma Bar Foundation is currently funding six CASA organizations serving the following Oklahoma counties: Canadian, Carter, Kay, Logan, Payne, Rogers, Delaware, Washington, Oklahoma, Beckham, Custer, Washita, Muskogee, Osage and Tulsa.
OBF COURT GRANT RECIPIENTS
|Comanche County District Court||Audio backup system for seven courtrooms and steno machines for four courtrooms||
|Tulsa County Court||Sound systems for four courtrooms||$30,000|
The Comanche County District Court is thrilled with our new equipment. It will be a great addition to the processing of cases and the record. There has been a backlog of cases due to many things, one of which is the ability to have a record because of the lack of court reporters as well as the ability to make a record due to old, non-functioning equipment. The court wants to thank the Oklahoma Bar Foundation for its generosity and assistance. From left Beverly Lohrey, CSR, Judge Emmit Tayloe, Jaime Bracher, CSR, and Michelle Muldowney, CSR.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 95 Vol 6 (August 2023)
Statements or opinions expressed in the Oklahoma Bar Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Oklahoma Bar Association, its officers, Board of Governors, Board of Editors or staff.