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Constitutional Law Keyed to Maggs
DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services
Citation:489 U.S. 189 (1989)
Notwithstanding indications of child abuse by his father, state officials declined to remove Joshua DeShaney from his father’s custody. In 1984, the father beat 4-year-old Joshua so severely that he fell into a life-threatening coma. Emergency brain surgery revealed a series of hemorrhages caused by traumatic injuries to the head inflicted over a long period of time. Joshua did not die, but he suffered brain damage so severely that he is expected to spend the rest of his life confined to an institution for the profoundly retarded. His father was subsequently tried and convicted of child abuse. Joshua and his mother brought an action against respondents Winnebago County alleging that respondents had deprived Joshua of his liberty without due process of law by failing to intervene to protect him against a risk of violence at his father’s hands of which they knew.
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