Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photobank
A child actors advocacy group wins a round in court against Nadya Suleman. (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank)
An Orange County judge ruled Friday that an advocacy group for child actors can move forward with its bid to get a guardian appointed to oversee the financial interests of octomom Nadya Suleman's children.
Johnston did not comment on the merits of Petersen's petition, but wrote that California law does not require someone to be an "interested person" or "enjoy any type of relationship with the minor or minors named in the petition."
"As the paramount concern in guardianships is the best interests of children, the Legislature has not restricted the class of individuals who may petition seeking to protect those interests," Johnston's ruling states.
The judge directed the Department of Social Services to investigate and make a recommendation on the guardianship petition. The deadline for the report is Oct. 29.
Suleman's attorney, Jeff Czech, who had argued that Peterson lacked legal standing in the case, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Petersen, who as a child actor was in the cast of the 1958-66 ABC series "The Donna Reed Show," said he was "grateful" for the ruling.
"Given all that we have seen and heard in the last seven months, the appointment of an independent guardian to protect the financial interests of the Suleman octuplets will be a welcome development," Petersen said.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Petersen, said she was "very happy that the court has upheld the law and allowed us to proceed with our case and our efforts to protect Nadya Suleman's octuplets."
"Although it is a victory for us, it is more importantly a victory for Nadya Suleman's octuplets," she said.
Petersen wants an independent guardian appointed because he believes Suleman has a conflict of interest regarding her contract with Eyeworks UK Group Ltd. in connection with a reality show to feature the octuplets and their six older siblings.
When A Minor Consideration won the first round July 27 in Orange County Probate Court, Czech called the decision ``ludicrous.''
"These people have no right to bring this petition," he said.
On July 27, Johnston appointed lawyer Norbert Bunt to serve as guardian over the octuplets' financial affairs. But a state appellate court later stayed the decision, pending today's ruling.
The appellate panel found that the guardianship violated Suleman's constitutional rights because she wasn't given proper notice and said Petersen failed to make the case that Suleman could not represent her children adequately.
Peterson and Allred contend Suleman has exploited her octuplets for financial gain. She has countered that the two are suing just to promote themselves.
In addition to the octuplets she delivered in January, Suleman has six other children who were also the product of in-vitro fertilization treatment. The 34-year-old mom and her brood live in La Habra.