Judge Craig considers removing himself from child custody case

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The child custody case the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed and remanded - and that we investigated - was back before Judge Daniel Craig Tuesday in Augusta.

"I have no legal grounds to ask this court to recuse itself," said Kathy Portnoy, attorney for the mother. "But I am asking you on your own motion to do that."

Fireworks in the courtroom, after the attorney for the mom asked Judge Craig to voluntarily remove himself from the case altogether after an appeals court reversed his original decision based upon what they called erroneous views of the law.

"The matter was remanded back for this court to reconsider, it's ordered based upon the errors that were found by the appellate court," Craig said.

The appeals court said those errors include Craig using a Department of Children Family Services report and information gleaned from that in reaching his verdict. But it was never entered into evidence nor did anyone from the agency testify, according to the court of appeals ruling. They said Craig erred in considering matters outside the record.

The court of appeals also took issue with Craig denying the mother's request for access to the report, and said Georgia statute requires she be provided with it when being used in determining the issues before the court.

"I'm glad she had appealed this, and thinks it is a significant point of law, but truthfully, these records, in or out, are generally irrelevant to the decision this court would make in this case," said Beth Ann Smith, attorney for the father.

Tuesday in court, Craig said he will consider the request to voluntarily recuse himself. He also ordered a new guardian ad litem onto the case and asked that the kids be kept in the mother's care in Augusta for the next month. Craig also asked the father to pay a small fraction of the mother's attorney fees.

The case isn't over yet. We'll keep following it for you and let you know what happens next.

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