Judge Who Forbid Unvaccinated Mother From Seeing Son Before Reversing Decision Recuses Himself From Case

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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An Illinois judge recused himself Tuesday from a child support case in which he initially prohibited an unvaccinated mother from seeing her son and then reversed the order after the case garnered media attention.

“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,” Cook County Judge James Shapiro said in a statement distributed by a court spokesman, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“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,” he continued.

During an Aug. 10 hearing in the child support case, Shapiro asked Rebecca Firlit whether she is vaccinated against COVID-19. After she responded that she wasn’t for a medical reason, Shapiro issued an order banning her from seeing her 11-year-old son until she was vaccinated. (RELATED: Supreme Court Declines To Block Indiana University’s Vaccine Requirement)

Firlit and her ex-husband, Matthew Duiven, had shared custody of their child for seven years, her attorney, Annete Fernholz, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Duiven had not asked the judge to consider Firlit’s vaccination status.

“In this case you have a judge, without any matter before him regarding the parenting time with the child deciding ‘Oh, you’re not vaccinated. You don’t get to see your child until you are vaccinated.’ That kind of exceeds his jurisdiction,” Fernholz told Fox 32.

Shapiro issued a new order Monday without elaboration and after the case received considerable media attention, revoking the previous order that kept Firlit from seeing her son, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Shapiro had asked parents about their vaccination status in at least two different child support hearings in July, and admitted to ordering some parents and children to be vaccinated, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I’m extremely happy, I’m going to see my son right now,” Firlit told the outlet Monday. She added, “I know that they are going to say that I’m an endangerment to my son. This isn’t over for me.”