As supporters picketed outside the Cleburne County Courthouse a week ago, a couple whose son had been taken from them in October, while mother and the son were still in the hospital, were informed by their attorney that the hearing scheduled for that day, Dec. 20, had been cancelled, a family friend said Monday.
Cleburne County District Judge Melody Walker had recused herself from the case involving Christian and Danielle Holm, said Jonathan Payton, a friend of the couple.
Payton met the couple after reading their story online. He came to Heflin to meet them in person on Thanksgiving Day while the couple was protesting.
“You can see when you talk to them directly that they are very loving and caring people,” Payton said. “That’s what really hit home.”
About three weeks ago he started a group on social media dedicated to publicizing the Holms’ efforts to regain custody of their son and informing other parents in the same circumstances of their rights, Payton said. The Facebook group, called #freebabyholm, already has nearly 2,500 members, a testament to how the story resonates with people, Payton said.
The Holms have previously said theywalked from Montgomery to Cheaha State Park on a mission to live biblically and were camping at the park when labor started in October. They got a ride to Regional Medical Center in Anniston and Danielle gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
The next day, the Cleburne County Department of Human Resources took their baby from them and told the couple there was a hearing scheduled the following Thursday to determine if they would be able to regain custody of their child. The couple said at the time their baby was taken because of their beliefs.
Walker placed a gag order on the case during the first hearing in October and the couple declined to talk Monday, but referred questions to Payton.
Walker was supposed to rule on the case last week, Payton said. He didn’t understand why after two months the judge suddenly decided to step away from the case.
“Why draw it out this far?” he asked. “Two months basically she’s drug it out with the baby not being with his parents, and at the end of the day decided not to make a decision.”
Although the couple declined to speak in person, Christian Holm has an active Facebook page that they use to keep people apprised of their situation.
“As a mother, I am grieving. I am exhausted mentally and physically,” Danielle posted a few days before Christmas. “For the last couple of weeks we have been strapped from dawn to dusk meeting with lawyers, going to court, crying (mostly me), running around, mailing legal documents to people all over the world pleading to get our baby back, crying some more.”
Attempts to reach Judge Walker and DHR for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.