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State’s highest court affirms parental rights of imprisoned Pamelia man

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The state’s highest court has affirmed two lower courts’ ruling that a town of Pamelia man has visitation rights with his son while in prison.

Shawn G. Granger, 40, is serving an 8-year sentence imposed in Jefferson County Court in May 2010 after pleading guilty to 32 counts, including cocaine possession and assault on a police officer. He is incarcerated at Clinton County Correctional Facility, Dannemora.

In December 2011, Surrogate Court Judge Peter A. Schwerzmann granted Mr. Granger’s Family Court petition seeking visitation with his then-3-year-old son, allowing periodic four-hour visits with Mr. Granger in prison.

However, according to court documents, the boy’s mother appealed the decision to the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Rochester, which affirmed the Family Court ruling in June.

The boy’s mother then appealed to the Court of Appeals, which, in a decision released Tuesday, affirmed the appellate court’s ruling.

The court cited several cases that determined, among other things, that a parent does not forfeit his visitation rights because he is incarcerated, although the rights can be denied if it is determined there will be a harmful effect on the child.

The court, echoing the lower courts’ rulings, noted that Mr. Granger has made an effort to establish a relationship with the child, both before and after his incarceration, and that the child would benefit from a relationship with his father, with no harmful effects evident.

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