Family Law

Law Student Charged with Contempt for Exposing Daughter to Christianity


A Chicago law student who took his 3-year-old daughter to Holy Name Cathedral as a television news crew recorded the event has been arraigned on charges of violating a court order.

The unusual order, issued in a bitter custody battle, barred 35-year-old Joseph Reyes from exposing his daughter to any religion other than Judaism, ABC News reports. Reyes, a 2L at John Marshall Law School, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to a charge of indirect criminal contempt.

Reyes converted to Judaism after his daughter was born, but he says he decided to expose his daughter to the Catholicism he practices after he separated from his wife, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. In his view, the case is about freedom of religion.

Reyes’ wife, Rebecca, had sought a temporary restraining order after her husband sent her photos of their daughter’s baptism in November. The couple had married in 2004 and separated about four years later; their divorce battle continues, the Chicago Tribune reports. She claims in a sworn statement that Joseph Reyes had agreed their daughter would be raised exclusively in the Jewish faith, an allegation he denies.

Rebecca Reyes’ lawyers sought the contempt charge after Joseph Reyes took the girl to Holy Name.

University of Chicago law professor Emily Buss told the Tribune that the order limiting the child to exposure to Judaism is unusual. “Even if [one] parent has more authority in the form of more custody, the other parent can [usually] … still expose the child to his or her religion even if it was not the religious practices within the family when it was intact,” she said.

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