Malawi's Chief Justice Takes Over Madonna Adoption Appeal

04/29/2009 at 03:00 PM EDT

Malawi's Chief Justice Takes Over Madonna Adoption Appeal
Madonna
Michelly Rall/Getty

Madonna

Madonna

The head of the judiciary in Malawi will lead a three-judge panel in an appeal case in which Madonna wants to overturn the southern African country's High Court decision to reject her application to adopt a 3-year-old girl.

The hearing before Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo and two other judges is set for May 4. "Since this involves an infant it will be heard in chambers," said High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal spokesman Joseph Chigona. "This is an important case; that's why the chief justice himself has taken special interest."

Madonna, 50, is not required to attend the hearing although she may if she wishes.

Attorney Objects to Ruling

The appeal follows High Court Judge Esme Chombo's dismissal of the singer's application to adopt Mercy Chifundo James on the premise the entertainer does not have a permanent residence in Malawi. Madonna, who last year successfully completed her adoption of another Malawian toddler, David Banda, also 3, has visited Malawi three times.

Madonna's Malawian lawyer Alan Chinula appealed Chombo's ruling, calling it "erroneous." Chinula contended the judge relied on an "archaic law" of more than 50 years ago. "We are hopeful the Supreme Court of Appeal will overturn Justice Chombo's ruling," he said.

Madonna found Mercy at Kondanani Children's Village in the town of Bvumbwe when she first visited Malawi in October 2006, the same time she found David Banda at a different orphanage. Mercy was placed at Children's Village following the death of her teenage mother.

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