Harsh Judgment

An epic child-custody case, pitting California against Texas, takes another twist when an appeals court labels the proceedings "nonsense"

"There are just mistakes in the opinion that the court issued," he says. "I don't know where they got their information."

Hutchins believes that Saavedra should have custody of the children, though the decision is ultimately up to a judge in whichever state finally winds up with jurisdiction. Saavedra, he says, has been wronged.

"They keep throwing up this 'he's a registered sex offender thing' ... well, that's going to end come August [Saavedra is eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation 10 years after his conviction, which would mean he no longer has to register as a sex offender. The decision is up to a court]. He's led an honorable life from 1992 to present. I've met him many times. He's got a steady job. He's paid the price. He's done what was asked. He deserves his certificate of rehabilitation.

"[The children's placement] is up to the court, but I think he would be a very good father and he would be very caring to these kids, and I don't see anything that would put these kids at risk. He's living with a girlfriend who has a daughter who is 10 years old living in the house, and he's been seeing [the girlfriend] for about five or six years. There's nothing to indicate that he would ever do this again."

Hutchins also remains undeterred in his pursuit. Debra Schmidt is due back in Alameda County Court for a hearing on the new charges of child concealment. Though she's already been convicted of, and served time for, the same crime, Hutchins argues that child concealment is a continuous crime, and, therefore, he will continue to prosecute Schmidt for it, until she delivers her daughters.

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