David Goldman Judge Delays Custody Ruling

U.S. David Goldman, right, talks to members of the media in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009. Goldman, a father who is having a legal fight to regain custody of his 9-year-old son living in Brazil with his grandparents after his Brazilian mother died, hopes to bring the boy to New Jersey in time for Christmas. Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday delayed the return of the boy to his father. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) AP Photo/Felipe Dana

Updated at 5:25 p.m. Eastern time

CBS News reports that there will be no decision Monday by the Brazilian Supreme Court in the custody battle over a 9-year old boy.

David Goldman of Tinton Falls, N.J., hoped a Supreme Court justice would give him custody of his son in time to celebrate the holidays together in the United States.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes was analyzing the case, but it was not clear whether a decision would come Monday or Tuesday, said a court official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Earlier Monday, a spokesman for the court told CBS News that Chief Justice Mendes "is at this moment reviewing the case's documents in his office, while working on his opinion ... and there's always the chance of this being pushed to tomorrow."

Mendes' spokeswoman said that Mendes will decide the case today, and if he sides with Goldman, the boy could be returned right away. However, Sean Goldman's Brazilian family will appeal to the Superior Tribunal, the nation's highest appeal's court, to have the case heard by the Supreme Court next year, delaying the boy's possible return to his father.

Mendes has been under intense pressure from both parties for the past hours, reportedly torn between wanting to please American authorities for the sake of foreign relations and ruling against his colleague's earlier decision of having the court look at the case in February.

The wait is agonizing for David Goldman, who has pledged to fight for his son Sean as long as it takes.

"I'm hopeful. I hope and I pray that we can leave," Goldman told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Mendes will rule on appeals made by Goldman and Brazil's attorney general seeking to lift a stay on a lower court's order that Sean be handed over to his father.

If Mendes lifts the stay, lawyers in both camps said Sean's Brazilian relatives may still appeal to the nation's highest appeals court - but it was questionable whether that court would be willing to review the case if the Supreme Court backs a lower federal court ruling awarding custody to Goldman.

New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, in Brazil to support Goldman, expressed optimism ahead of the ruling.

"I think it is only a matter of 'when' and not 'if,' and we are hoping that the abductors will convey this young boy ... as soon as the chief justice renders his decision," the Republican congressman said.

Goldman, 42, launched his case in U.S. and Brazilian courts after Sean was brought by his mother in 2004 to her native Brazil, where she then divorced Goldman and remarried. She died last year in childbirth, and the boy has lived with his stepfather since.

The lawyer for the boy's Brazilian family offered to negotiate a settlement, and the family also invited Goldman to spend Christmas with them. Goldman did not say whether he would accept the invitation if the case was not resolved this week.

Asked if Sean's Brazilian family would be able to visit the boy, Goldman said yes. "I will not do to them what they've done to Sean and me," he said.

The case has affected diplomatic ties between Brazil and the U.S., reaching talks between President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. A U.S. senator, reacting to the case, has blocked the renewal of a $2.75 billion trade deal that would lift tariffs on some Brazilian exports.

The U.S. State Department pressed for the boy to be returned. But a Brazilian Supreme Court justice on Thursday stayed a lower court decision ordering Sean to be turned over to his father.

Goldman and Brazil's attorney general both filed appeals Friday asking the Supreme Court to overturn the justice's decision to block Sean's return while the court considers hearing direct testimony from the boy.

The Brazilian family's lawyer, Sergio Tostes, told the AP he would like to see a negotiated settlement, saying he wanted to end the damage being done to Sean and to U.S.-Brazil relations.

"We're raising the white flag and saying: 'Let's get together, let's talk. We're the adults, we have responsibilities, so let's start to have a constructive conversation,"' Tostes said.

Goldman, however, was in no mood to negotiate.

"This isn't about a shared custody - I'm his dad, I'm his only parent," Goldman said. "This isn't a custody case - it's an abduction case."
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