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The Goldman Saga: Now Just "A Simple Enforcement Case"?

Rio de Janeiro --

Now that Brazil's Supreme Federal Court has turned the case back to the federal appeals court in Rio, lawyers for David Goldman say that Goldman and his nine year-old son Sean could be on a flight to New York as early as this afternoon or tonight.

"We are preparing everything before the court here in Rio in order for Sean to travel to the United States as soon as possible," said Ricardo Zamariola, in an interview over breakfast with GlobalPost.

He would not be more specific, but presumably the Goldman side will be seeking a warrant from the appeals court here, which would allow them, accompanied by a court officer or the Brazilian Federal Police, to arrive at the Goldman residence or another location and pick up Sean.

In the lobby of the JW Marriott Hotel along Copacabana Beach, which has become headquarters for the Goldman side, Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey said things had gotten simpler. "Hopefully, this is now just a simple enforcement case," he said.

Sergio Tostes, the attorney for the Brazilian family, did not respond to cell phone calls. He had previously filed an appeal with a Brazilian superior court on the appeals court ruling. Though that is theoretically a separate process from the habeas corpus stay that the supreme court's chief justice overturned, Zamariola said it would be very difficult for a lower court to go against the ruling by the supreme court. In previous days, Tostes has said he would use "all possible legal means" to keep Sean in Brazil.

Tostes has also said that the family would turn over the child to authorities if legally required. But there is always the fear that the family could make a turnover difficult. American officials do not know whether Sean is staying at his home in Rio de Janeiro, though a court order from months ago prohibits his family from taking him out of the city.

The 29-page decision by the Brazilian chief justice, Gilmar Mendes, was extremely strongly worded, and noted that the continuing failure of Brazil not to turn over the child could have "a negative and multiplying effect" on Brazilian families in the future, if it does not comply with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to which the country, and the United States, are signatories.  According to the treaty, international custody cases must be decided in the court system in whose jurisdiction the child lived before the separation. In this case, that would be the New Jersey courts, where David Goldman and his late ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi, lived together until 2004 until she took him to Rio de Janeiro, never to return.  

"There is no way to deny the illicit conduct of maintaining the child in Brazil," the decision states.