LINCOLN, Neb. — A man whose lawyer filed a paternity claim in the wrong court cannot gain custody of his daughter, who was adopted without his consent, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled.
The court on Friday upheld a state law that set a 30-day deadline for filing paternity claims. Luke Armour's lawyer filed the petition in time, but in district court instead of county court.
The district court dismissed the case. Armour and his new attorney, Michael Synek, then challenged the 30-day deadline, saying it was too restrictive and unconstitutional because it denies fathers due process.
The Legislature set the deadline after the national uproar in the so-called "Baby Jessica" case involving an Iowa couple who successfully undid the adoption of their baby in 1993.
Armour was 18 when his ex-girlfriend gave birth in 1998. When he was told she planned to put the baby up for adoption, he filed a legal notice to claim paternity and custody.
In Friday's ruling, the high court said the adoption could not be voided.
"Ignorance of the law cannot be a sufficient reason for criticizing the law itself," Judge William Connolly said. "Armour failed to make further attempts to comply with" the law.
Synek did not immediately return a telephone call to his office seeking comment.
Sally Rasmussen, the lawyer for the couple, said they are elated with the decision.
"However, they are not insensitive to the fact that a victory for them means a loss for Mr. Armour, and they fully appreciate the magnitude of that loss," Rasmussen said.