Attorney(s) appearing for the Case
Clara S. Licata , Designated Counsel, argued the cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender Parental Representation, attorney; Ms. Licata, Beatrix W. Shear and T. Gary Mitchell , Deputy Public Defenders, of counsel and on the briefs).
James D. Harris , Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent New Jersey Department of Children & Families, Division of Youth and Family Services ( Jeffrey S. Chiesa , Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney; Andrea M. Silkowitz and Melissa H. Raksa , Assistant Attorneys General, of counsel).
Noel C. Devlin , Assistant Deputy Public Defender, Law Guardian, argued the cause for Respondents T.L & A.D. ( Joseph E. Krakora , Public Defender, attorney).
Jeyanthi C. Rajaraman argued the cause for amicus curiae Legal Services of New Jersey ( Melville D. Miller, Jr. , President, attorney; Ms. Rajaraman , Mr. Miller and Mary M. McManus-Smith , on the brief).
Lawrence S. Lustberg argued the cause for amici curiae Experts and Advocates in Maternal and Fetal Health, Child Welfare, Public Health and Drug Treatment ( Gibbons , attorneys; Mr. Lustberg and Emma S. Ketteringham , a member of the New York bar, on the briefs).
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Chief Justice RABNER delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is a case of statutory interpretation. The question presented is whether a court can find "abuse" or "neglect" of a child under Title 9 if an expectant mother uses drugs during pregnancy but there is no evidence of actual harm when the baby is born. To determine the answer, we do not start with a clean slate. Instead, we interpret a comprehensive legislative scheme relating to child welfare and look to...
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