Several attorneys and guardians ad litem with cases in Hilow's courtroom told the Plain Dealer she often makes unilateral decisions to remove children from parents or caregivers, forcing them into the county's custody without sufficient, or any, evidence being presented during a hearing.
Then Dissell dug further, and found this:
Hilow and her judge, Thomas F. O'Malley, drew more appeals than any other pair – 28 out of a total of 120. They also had more full or partial reversals. On cases they decided since 2011, the typical judge/magistrate pair drew fewer than two reversals. O'Malley and Hilow drew 9. That was more than a quarter of the roughly 30 reversals for the entire local juvenile court. The next closest pair had five reversals. More than once, appeals court judges used unusually direct language in reversing Hilow's rulings. They did not question her motivations, but, like some lawyers who have practiced in her court, they said that her rulings exceeded both her discretion and her authority.
And unfortunately, not all of the bad decisions have been overturned – at least not yet. Again, from the story:
Hilow decided that a newborn, born with methadone in his system, should be placed in the emergency custody of the county. A county worker and addiction professional testified that Dara Gibson and her baby could stay safely in a treatment center. But Hilow, according to her decision, was skeptical. There was nothing to prevent Gibson from fleeing the center with the baby, who at only about 2 months old, couldn't fend for himself. He's now in a foster home.