1 lawyer named for 7 Dollar children

Date: 2005-03-03

St. Petersburg Times

Seven of the Dollar children will be represented by one court-appointed attorney, despite a local law firm's request to represent one of the children, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Attorneys for all sides, including the lawyer defending John and Linda Dollar against felony charges, came before Circuit Judge Barbara Gurrola at 8 a.m. Bill Grant and Bo Samargya, the attorneys who represent the oldest of the Dollar children, told the judge they now wanted to add a second Dollar child as a client: the Dollar's 17-year-old daughter. The girl is known publicly as "A.D."

Gurrola ruled that "A.D." does not have the right to retain her own attorney because she is a minor.

All seven Dollar children in foster care will be represented by attorney Jack Moring, she said.

"The concern that the court has is that we not create any more problems for these children than they already have," Gurrola said.

"A.D." is among the children authorities say were favored by the Dollars and not subject to torture. In court, Grant hinted that investigators accused the girl of participating in the abuse of her siblings, but she has not been formally accused of any of the abuses, which include starvation and locking children in closets and bathrooms for long periods.

Several lawyers opposed the request by Grant and Samargya. Among them: Department of Children and Families attorney Joyce Miller, Guardian ad Litem attorney Grace Fagan and Michael Manning, one of John and Linda Dollar's attorneys.

John and Linda Dollar, who each face five charges of aggravated child abuse, were also in the courtroom. The Dollars' parental rights have not been terminated, and they sat near the front of the courtroom in red jailhouse jumpsuits, listening to the debate.

They did not want to see the 17-year-old girl represented by Grant and Samargya, their attorney said.

Harsh words were traded among the attorneys at the hearing, which lasted close to an hour. DCF accused Grant and Samargya of elbowing their way into the Dollar case. The attorneys now represent the Dollars' oldest child, Shanda Rae Shelton, 25, of New Port Richey without charge.

Shelton was adopted by Mrs. Dollar when she was an infant. She left the Dollars' home when she was 22. Last month, Circuit Judge Ric Howard denied her request to visit her siblings.

Now, the DCF says, Grant and Samargya are working to represent Shelton's adopted siblings, too.

"(Grant) has solicited those children in foster care," Miller said.

Several other motions filed by attorneys in the case will be addressed at a 9 a.m. hearing on March 22.

A hearing to decide whether to terminate the Dollars' parental rights is scheduled for April 19.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 860-7312 or vansickle@sptimes.com.


Pound Pup Legacy