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Ropes & Gray Appellate Team Wins in DC Court of Appeals On Behalf of Adoptive Mother

Practices: Appellate & Supreme Court

A Ropes & Gray appellate team successfully defended to the DC Court of Appeals its 2010 trial victory on behalf of an adoptive mother who had sought to adopt her foster child. In a written decision dated April 12, 2012, the Court of Appeals upheld a decision by an Associate Judge of the DC Superior Court, which itself upheld a Magistrate Judge’s trial finding that the adoption was in the child’s best interests.

This case came to our firm as a simple uncontested adoption. But prior to granting our client’s adoption petition, the District of Columbia successfully located the child’s biological father, who was not previously involved in the child's life. After paternity test results came back positive, the biological father contested the adoption. Several months of procedural wrangling ensued, followed by a combined show-cause hearing and adoption trial.

We won at trial after presenting a succession of social workers and an expert who supported the adoption. The biological father filed an intra-Superior Court Motion for Review. We opposed the motion, and the reviewing Associate Judge upheld the Magistrate Judge’s decision.

The biological father appealed to the DC Court of Appeals. Associate Tony Biagioli argued the case on behalf of our client. Upon hearing of the Court of Appeals’ decision, our client communicated her happiness and thanks on behalf of her family and stated that her new daughter continues to thrive in her adoptive home.

The Ropes & Gray DC-based appellate team consisted of associate Tony Biagioli, with the support of paralegal Sophia Antzoulatos. Also active behind the scenes and during earlier court proceedings were partners Peter Brody and Doug Hallward-Driemeier; and associate Danna Kivell.

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