Judge halts investigation into Baby Richard case

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Chicago (AP) - The Illinois Supreme Court yesterday put the brakes on an investigation into the home life of the child known as Baby Richard, halting lower-court action in the case of the six-year-old who was the focus of a marathon custody fight.

An order signed by Chief Justice Michael Bilandic also ordered Circuit Judge Gay-Lloyd Lott to explain why he ordered the investigation, in effect reopening a case that was supposed to have been settled two years ago.

The high court put off any further action in the case until next Friday.

The Supreme Court's action came one day after Mr Lott ordered an investigation into how the youngster is being treated at home.

The boy, now named Daniel Kirchner but long known as Baby Richard, was taken from his adoptive parents, Robert and Kimberly Warburton, two years ago after a four-year custody battle.

The boy was returned to his biological parents, Otakar and Daniela Kirchner. They were not married at the time he was born, and his mother had signed away her rights to the boy and led Mr Kirchner to believe the boy had died. But they later reconciled and got married.

The courts eventually held that because of the deception, Mr Kirchner had not consented to the adoption and was deprived of his parental rights.

The US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, and Mr Kirchner now has sole legal rights to the boy.

The situation became complicated when the Kirchners separated after several years of marriage and Mrs Kirchner, who has no legal custody, continued to raise the boy. She went to court last month to reclaim her parental status, then sought to withdraw that request on Monday.

But Mr Lott would not allow her to withdraw her request and instead ordered an investigation of the boy's home life, in effect reopening the case that supposedly was settled in 1995.