Precedent-Setting Case Involves Watertown Man

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A Watertown man is at the center of a precedent-setting child visitation ruling.

The case involves Shawn Granger, who is imprisoned at Clinton Correctional Facility on drug charges.

New York's highest court says Granger and other parents don't lose child visitation rights in prison.

The Court of Appeals ruled Granger is entitled to periodic four-hour prison visits with his 4 year old son.

"It's major. There's been no Court of Appeals ruling on it before," said Melissa Koffs, the lawyer who represented the child.

Granger's attorney sued after the child's mother refused to bring him.

The boy's lawyer said the child didn't want the visits.

"In this case my client did not want to go to jail. His main reason was he hated the long drives, he didn't really know dad, but he just hated the long drives," said Koffs.

A Family Court judge found that Granger was involved in the child's life "in a meaningful way" before.

A unanimous court ruled this week that New York law presumes parental visits are in the child's best interest.

"The burden would be on the custodial parent to show why the visits would be inappropriate," said Granger's lawyer Charles Greenberg.

That can be rebutted with evidence showing a visit would harm the child.

The judges said Granger's subsequent transfer to a prison farther away could be addressed in a petition to Family Court petition to reconsider the visitation schedule.

Granger pleaded guilty in Jefferson County Court in April 2010 to more than 30 criminal counts.

The crimes included criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance, driving while intoxicated, assault and resisting arrest.

Watertown police said Granger, formerly of 25262 Bradley Street Road, led them on a high-speed chase, ran, and then punched an officer.

According to court documents, Granger went as fast as 65 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone.

Police said after Granger got out of the car, he ran and fought with three officers - punching one of them in the face.

Police used pepper spray on Granger after he failed to comply with officers.

Police also seized 13 grams of cocaine from Granger.

See our earlier report
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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