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Courts fail Ballard, Reynolds families

It’s been a month since I’ve seen my son – his smile, that quirky little grin, his angelic appearance as he slept in his crib, a month since I’ve held him or heard him call me “da da.” It’s been a month since I’ve seen my daughter playing and singing with him, a month since I’ve seen my daughter go to sleep without crying. It’s been a month since I’ve seen my wife’s face without pain, grief and sorrow, and a month since I’ve felt anything at all.

It’s been a month since we handed our son, Nathaniel, over to his biological father, never to know if we will see him again, a month since Nathaniel was ripped away from the only Mommy, Daddy and Sissy he’s ever known. Yet somehow, Judge Carl Bryan believed this was best.

It’s been a month since Drew Reynolds was with his wife and children, a month since he was able to hug his kids or kiss his wife. It’s been a month since he drove his UPS truck, doing his job and making the lives of others happier.



It’s been a month since Scott Krause crashed a stolen truck into a UPS van, needlessly taking the life of a wonderful person, a month since his family and friends said their goodbyes to the one they love, knowing they will not see him again until they are joined in heaven. Yet somehow, District Attorney Michael Ferguson wants to blame the voters for Drew’s death and Grass Valley’s Police Chief John Foster simply wants to defend his department’s inaction.

Judge Carl Bryan determined that it was best to transfer Nathaniel to his birth father, a man Nathaniel had never known, with two recent felonies, an admitted abuse of drugs and alcohol, no home of his own, no assets and no known parenting skills.




District Attorney Michael Ferguson, and those in the criminal justice system, determined it was best that Scott Krause be allowed to remain free; a man with a criminal past, with a known drug and alcohol addiction and who repeatedly violated his probation.

I am devastated at the loss of my son, and I am saddened for the family of Drew Reynolds and for their loss of a loving husband, father and friend. But I am deeply disappointed at those in authority who could have done something, but chose instead to do nothing. Our stories are not “unavoidable tragedies” as I’ve heard some suggest. An unavoidable tragedy, by definition, is one that could not be prevented. This is not the case with either Drew’s death or the loss of our son, Nathaniel.

To protect an 11-month-old child, Judge Carl Bryan had it within his judicial discretion to call the birth father’s probation officer and ask if there were any known concerns, to allow supervised visits to insure Nathaniel was bonding with the man that would become his only parent, to provide a longer transition that would make it easier for Nathaniel to become familiar with this unfamiliar man, and to listen to the experts that testified as to the detriment this was going to cause to an innocent, helpless baby boy.

When the birth father admitted, in court, to an everyday use of drugs and alcohol, Judge Bryan had the judicial responsibility to protect the welfare of our son by simply asking for a current drug test. Instead, Judge Bryan chose to do less instead of more and denied all of these safeguards.

To protect the safety of those who live in Nevada County, District Attorney Michael Ferguson had it within his power to keep a dangerous man behind bars, to punish him accordingly when he violated his probation. Instead, Michael Ferguson decided to do less instead of more, and blamed the death of Drew on the voters and Proposition 36 rather than to except some responsibility.

People will blame the system. The truth is, everyone involved in these cases could have, should have, done more.

When these elected official come up for re-election, will we remember what they did, or more appropriately, what they didn’t do? Will we remember what they could have done, or more accurately, what they should have done? But most importantly, when these officials come up for re-election, will we remember Drew and Baby Nate, and the joy they should still be bringing to so many lives?

Brad Ballard lives in Nevada City. His Web site is http://www.babynate.org.


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