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Judge will rule on Justina Pelletier case this week

Lou Pelletier (left), Justina Pelletier's  father, signaled to protesters supporting his right to the custody of his daughter outside the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse  in Boston.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Lou Pelletier (left), Justina Pelletier's father, signaled to protesters supporting his right to the custody of his daughter outside the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston.

The juvenile court judge in the long-running custody case of Justina Pelletier said in court Monday that he will rule by the end of the week on a proposal by lawyers for the Connecticut teenager and her parents to return the girl home with certain conditions.

A signed agreement was presented to Judge Joseph Johnston by the court-appointed lawyer for Justina and by the lawyers for her parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier of West Hartford, Conn. It would allow her to return home from a Framingham residential facility, as long as she gets proper medical care and schooling.

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But lawyers for the Massachusetts Department of Families and Children, which has had legal custody of the 15-year-old since February 2013, said it opposed the plan, and urged the judge to reject it.

The state took custody of Pelletier after a diagnostic dispute arose between doctors at Tufts Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital over the causes of her medical problems, including difficulty eating and walking. Tufts doctors were treating her for mitochondrial disease, but physicians at Children’s said her symptoms were largely psychiatric in origin.

The girls’ parents rejected that diagnosis, and when they attempted to have Justina moved from Children’s to Tufts, the Children’s medical team notified the state that they suspected the parents of medical child abuse.

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Pelletier remained at Children’s for almost a year, most of the time in a locked psychiatric ward, and the case gained national attention.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Julie Miller of Sudbury prayed at a protest.

Also on Monday, the girl’s lawyer, Nancy Hathaway, opposed a request by the parents to have an out-of-state lawyer, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, enter the case on their behalf. The judge said he would rule on that issue by Friday as well. The judge did accept the parents’ request to change their local lawyer.

Neil Swidey can be reached at neil.swidey@globe.com.
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