“How are you, what terrors are you going through? Hiding it from the Abuser, the One you ran from, and are now imprisoned in his home..”

A YouTube video with absolutely no sound leaves an impression even more powerful than the mighty roar of a lion… “Silent Child” by Family Court Abuse is a narrative/poem about the pain, grief and fear a parent experiences after their child has been placed in the custody of an abuser by an unjust order of the family court.  As a result of the ruling, the parent has been forced out of the life of their child, and can only speak through the stark black and white images of this silent video. 

The video description reads: “This is about Family Court decisions to seperate children and mothers who are victims of domestic abuse/violence, giving custody to an abusive father, how they are broken and silenced by courtroom tactics, and the painful silent space left in the home of the child and heart of the mother (and child). The lack of training in domestic abuse for Judges and Cafcass is a strong influence on decisions to force children into damaging and traumatic situations with an abuser.

What is portrayed in “Silent Child” is REAL and happening to parents in the United States, U.K. and all over the world…. family courts are awarding custody to abusive or unfit parents at alarming rates, and punishing the parent who is trying to protect the child from harm.

Studies have been conducted on the intersection of family court and domestic violence and revealed a consistent pattern in the court’s failure to protect children from harm by granting custody and/or unsupervised visitation with abusive parents:

** The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that: “…in all contested custody cases, 84% of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79% of the cases. In 26% of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children.” Are “Good Enough” Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners? (Leadership Council)

** “Only 10% of children alleging incest are adequately protected from their identified perpetrators by family courts through long-term supervised visitation orders or no-contact orders. The remaining 90% of children disclosing abuse receive no protection, with 70% continuing in shared custody and visitation arrangements without any supervision, and 20% being placed in the custody of the parent they accused of the sexual abuse, and losing unsupervised or all contact with the parent who sought to protect them.” FACT SHEET CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES (Child Abuse Solutions, Inc.)

** “… A history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the batterer will seek custody…In one recent study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38 percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children, despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reportLosed to have abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and continued to do so after separation..” “One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts” by Mary Przekop

** “My own survey of the case law in 2001 identified 38 appellate state court decisions concerning custody and domestic violence. The survey found that 36 of the 38 trial courts had awarded joint or sole custody to alleged and adjudicated batterers. Two-thirds of these decisions were reversed on appeal. –  Joan S. Meier, Esq., Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and Child Protection: RATES AT WHICH ACCUSED AND ADJUDICATED BATTERERS RECEIVE SOLE OR JOINT CUSTODY (Compiled by Joan S. Meier, Esq).

The tragic result of family court failures is that children are being abused and have absolutely no avenue for help or legal protection because the abuser is being protected by the legal system (not the child), and the child has become silenced. As parents and professionals we have a responsibility to protect our children.. and when systems fail, it is our responsibility to fight for justice so these silenced children can finally have a voice. 

 

 

 

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March 2015, PA: Police Chief David Souchick (of Edwardsville) was fired for ditching the duties of his job to rendezvous with his mistress. Souchick is a 28-year veteran of the force who was chief since July 2007.

Former Chief Souchick

The Citizens’ Voice obtained a termination letter through a Right-to-Know request. According to the Citizen’s Voice, The termination letter accused Souchick of traveling 10 minutes away from the borough for hour-long visits to the woman’s home about 30 times in 2013 and 2014. Souchick never notified 911 or other borough police officers where he was during the trips, the letter says.” On several occasions, Souchick also ignored emergency dispatches from Luzerne County 911.

Sleazy Souchick also sent racy messages to the mistress on duty using his work email and a borough computer, the termination letter says. Souchick called and texted the mistress from two phones — one phone he kept secret from his wife and the other was personal cellphone used for work, the letter says. Messages also indicated that Souchick threatened to kill himself to get sympathy and attention from the mistress.

Borough council voted 6-1 last week to fire Souchick for “inefficiency, neglect, intemperance, immorality, disobedience of others or conduct unbecoming of a police officer. The Fraternal Order of Police, Wyoming Valley Lodge 36, plans to fight Souchick’s firing.

Officials: Fired Edwardsville police chief left borough to meet mistress – News – Citizens' Voice.

A Review: “Reforming Family Court: Getting It Right between Rhetoric and Reality”
Author: Prof. Jane M. Spinak, Edward Ross Aranow Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Journal of Law & Policy: Reforming Family Court: Getting It Right between Rhetoric and Reality

“Reforming Family Court” is a in depth article that insists reform should move from the idea that Family Court is needed to “help” a family, or use it’s power to fix a family, but instead, should begin with “What value does a Family Court Add When it Intervenes in a Family’s Life?”

This article began with inner conflict–loyalty vs. the harsh reality. Jane M Spinak, a respected law professor, was asked to write a commentary on family court reforms initiated by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye (New York) at her retirement. Spinak was torn because as hard as the Chief Justice worked during her career to reform family court, much work still needs to be done: “On the one hand, I wanted to give Judge Kaye credit for her deep commitment to reforming family court; on the other hand, I had to ask myself who was to blame—including perhaps Judge Kaye herself —for failing to achieve significant reform despite enormous effort.”

“Reforming Family Court” is a fearless launch into the history of Family Court, its failures and what can be done to initiate meaningful reforms while preserving the rights of families.

1) The History of Family Court – Why Failures Persist

 

Family Court was created at the turn of the 20th century by social reformers to address a variety of social and family issues. The creators imagined compassionate, experienced public servants and judges would work together to help solve the problems of children and families. The role of the judge in this era was of a kindly, paternal figure guiding wayward or troubled families (it was assumed everyone in family court had fallen short of societal norms in some way) into a better life.

By mid century, a new generation of reformers was exposing corruption and abuses of power in family court that was damaging children and families–to such an extent that family court was doing more harm than good.
Many of the problems Spinak mentioned as occurring during this time seem to be unresolved, they are the complaints of many in Family Court today: “..inappropriate state intervention into family decision making, inadequate services to support families, untrained and under resourced social service
systems, children placed in dangerous and inappropriate institutions,and court proceedings that failed to provide even a semblance of due process…”

State and Federal Courts then began to define the rights of children and families to create procedural rules for the court, to establish the rights of litigants and set stricter evidenciary standards in child welfare cases. Family Court was still looked on as a place to solve problems but now viewed not as a kindly intervener but more as an authority reaching into the private lives of families, and the future of children.

Spinak disagrees that the Court is a place for families to get “help” (as it was created to be) and believes that the Court is, in reality, a last resort for struggling families to resolve complex issues. Rarely are these issues solved in a manner that actually empowers families,But whether families come for general help or a legally binding decision, they currently get neither. Throughout the country, family courts have become clogged with cases that take months or years to reach resolution..”
I personally believe… If Ever! Sometimes the damage Family Court creates lasts a life time or permanently severs families.

The power of “Reforming Family Court” begins with Spinak asking the following questions that turn Family Court upside down by asking us to consider:

Why are these cases in court at all?
Why do child protective agencies and juvenile prosecutors flood courts with cases?
Why do we use courts as ongoing arbiters in family disputes?

Spinak believes that current reforms in Family Court are creating more problems, and beliefs behind these reforms are equally as damaging. Modern reforms driven by the belief that Family Court should have the power to solve family conflicts, and is the authority on what that help should be creates challenges that sabotages families. Specifically, reforms give Courts and judges too much power over individuals and families, and often put the judge in the role as a leader or expert instead of encouraging families to seek help and support from experienced professionals who may be able to resolve the issues with less intrusion on their lives, and their parental rights.

Spinak states the Court must do more than assume the role of an authority or helper to families but must also protect the due process rights of parents, “The court‘s role is to protect both parents right to raise their children as they choose and children‘s right to grow up with their families. The United States Constitution prohibits states from intervening in family life without establishing that a family is unable to protect a child from harm,neglect, abuse, or trouble. If the family affirmatively seeks the assistance of the court, these requests must not automatically trigger additional court intervention without clear proof of harm…unless a legally defined harm can be established, the courtcannot function as a problem solver no matter what positive consequence results“.

Spinak is very clear that families should be able to seek help elsewhere, not from the courts alone, and that Family Court should use its “coercive power” over families only as a last resort. Other sources of help a family may utilize could include: education, faith based support, social welfare, community resources, etc

2) The Myth of Family Court – Why Meaningful Reform is Obscured

Spinak believes that stories, rhetoric and myths surrounding Family Court, and its role in society contribute to inability to pass needed reform or make real change, (Spinak) “.. we need to be very careful about heralding courts as problem solvers without sufficient proof of their problem solving abilities.”

I would even assert that these stories are passed on by those working within family court, or holding positions of power who need to perpetuate these myths to keep their own power or privilege. I have also seen a Court covering up its mistakes or corruption by asserting its power, using intimidation or silencing the litigants.

Spinak says we need systematic analysis–not stories–to determine the success of court reforms, and address the real issues involved, “We must be willing to subjectour ideas and models to rigorous analysis rather than relying on anecdotal stories. We must commit to collecting information and analyzing it.”

Emotional attachment to the myth of family court is another reason why reforms fail. The idea of a problem solving court that uses its power to help people generates strong emotion that often prevents people from seeing the reality of the courts challenges and failures.

I would like to go one step further and state those who point out problems in the Court or blow the whistle with their own stories of being victimized by the court are often not believed, not taken seriously because those holding onto these strong emotions cannot face reality. So they simply blame the victims, who often experience retaliation or are forced into silence either by social pressure or judicial order (gag orders, jail time, fines, threats of punishment etc).

Further, reforms in family court are also limited by the way they are framed. A common notion is that family court can be fixed with more money or more judges, more lawyers, “more everything”. This framework keeps people from seeing alternative solutions, and insists the Court can fix its own problems. If the resources disappear, reform does not happen.

I would also like to add that limited framework happens when those initiating reform work withing family court or legal circles, and when there is no accountability or measure for punishing corrupt officials. Meaningful reform can only happen when the Court is held accountable to the community, its litigants and society as a whole. There has to be assurance, and trust that reform is really taking place. This can only happen when an outside authority working together with those invested in the Court (the community/people) participate in reform, and are able to give input without fear of retaliation.

3) Accountability

According to Spinak, accountability is when we can accept responsibility for the success or failure for the reforms. Spinak says current accountability in the court fails because it lacks “systematic knowledge” which gives an explanation that more than one person can witness, and that explanation appeals to logic, and can apply correctly “from one situation to another”.

Or, in a nutshell (Spinak), “In the realm of family court reform, common sense, lack of skepticism, and traditional framing have limited the ability to objectively examine the effectiveness of
our reform efforts. For fifteen years we have been engaged in a nationwide effort to reform
family court without bringing to that reform a critical eye.”


Spinak then analyzes the various efforts at reform, which was a bit lengthy so I did not cover it here but you can read more at: http://web.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/microsites/30-years-family-advocacy/files/Spinak-Rhetoric-Reality.pdf

An Idea for Reform – Limiting the Court’s Power, Strengthening Families

Spinak argues that limiting the Court’s power is better for the family.

A Court that guarantees due process of litigants would better balance the needs of the family and the role of the Court. Parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the care, custody and control of their children. Giving more power to the Court to make those decisions, ultimately, takes away from the power–and legal rights–of the parent. Reforms that enforce the notion the the Court or the Judge is a helper or a needed authority, and expand its power often create more problems because the family is stripped of these inherent rights (and such help or support could be better met through alternate resources, relying on the Court only in this manner as a last result).

Two models for reform are analyzed. In one, Spinak proposes that providing more lawyers in family court would help–not just any lawyer but a lawyer willing to work as a team in shared offices with social workers and parent advocates. In Spinak’s theory, the team would assist the family outside of court, and if problem could not be solved, they would go to court together–with the goal of resolution (not as adversaries). The parent would have confidentiality working with this team through all phases of the legal process–filing to appeal. In this way the family is not relying on the court to solve problems but is using an experienced team of professionals to address the issues by using skills in “law, social services, and life”. This model would be tested by comparing outcomes using this model to those who did not; if the outcomes were better, the program could be expanded.


CONCLUSION – Failed Courts Fail Families

In conclusion, Family Court is in desperate need of reform, its failures greatly impact the families and children, often with devastating results.

Spinak has outlined the history of Family Court and its attempts at reform, and effectively outlined the reasons why reform has failed. She has also given ideas for testing the reforms, and possible measures that may help. Her experience in the legal profession, and as a law professor, offer valuable insight..and demand action. Attempts at Family Court reform should not stop with the hope that things will work but should be met with rigorous testing and analysis to determine that these reforms actually work. The Court should not be relied on a sole source of authority and help, but rather other resources and professionals should be employed so that the families involved so that the families involved maintain their rights to the control and care of their children. Efforts need to continue until families are fairly represented in Court, and given the protection they deserve.

Efforts to reform Family Court have been hindered by beliefs about the role of the Court that has proven to be damaging to families, and by emotional ties that deflect the idea of change. Attempts for reform that expand the Courts power, infringe on the rights on parents, or simply throw money at the Court for more resources, staff, etc have also been tried–but never formally examined or tested to determine their success. Society has largely been placated by the idea of “reform” without actually accomplishing anything. The voice of the victims of Family Court failures are drown out in the cry for reform, or used to pass ineffective measures–without any real steps taken to making improvements, or holding the Court accountable when its actions hurt those it should be protecting. There is no justice in failed reforms, failed policies, and failed courts.

Thank you Jane M Spinak for your sharing your experiences and insight. I also hope we can work towards meaningful reform in Family Court, and a system that better protects families while safeguarding the rights of parents and children. — EJ

Shariatpur, Bangladesh: After 14 year old Hena Begum was raped by a 40 year old cousin, she was convicted of “adultery” by a council of elders and Muslim clerics who practice Sharia law. Hena was sentenced to 100 lashes, and publicly flogged. In the middle of the grueling punishment she collapsed and was taken to a hospital where she died six days later.
 
Young Hena had suffered horribly. First she had been raped by a 40 year old married cousin, whose family members beat her up then accused her of “adultery”. She was brutalized then humiliated in a public trial, where the rapist was exonerated and the shem the victim, found guilty by order of a fatwa (religious ruling). Hena endured an estimated 80 lashes before collapsing. If that’s not bad enough, her father, Dorbesh Khan, was fined $700.
 
Bangladesh’s court has declared Sharia punishment illegal 8 months ago. Since this incident 4 people have been arrested in connection with Hena’s death, and police are searching for 14 more suspects.
We need to take a stand against child abuse and laws that condone child abuse. It is appalling that an entire village witnessed Hena being flogged–her body lashed over and over again, her flesh torn and bleeding, her screams ringing through the crowd. And no one did anything to stop the flogging; if Hena had lived who would demand justice? And why is a rape victim being brought up on charges while the rapist goes free? This is a horrific failure of justice–which will likely continue until Sharia is abolished, and government officials actively work to end its practice. In addition, people need to learn God’s truth, rather than blindly follow a law out of fear or archaic loyalty.
 
 
Hena’s death was ordered under the guise of religion but let there be no mistake, this act of brutality is the work of the devil.
Here is the TRUTH: Scripture tells us that our children are an inheritance from the Lord, a blessing (Psalms 127:3). This beautiful child’s was given life by God, the Creator. Hena was wonderfully made (Psalms 139), her name was written on the palms of God (Isaiah 49:16), she is a jewel in the crown of the King (Zechariah 9:16).  God’s law instructs us to love and protect our children, and condemns violence and brutality.
 
My prayers go out to Hena’s family and friends, God hears your cries and will wipe away every tear. May precious Hena rest in peace.
 
Hena Begum (BBC News)
 
Sources:
 
AOL News, “Rape Victim, 14 Dies After Public Flogging in Bangladesh”. Feb, 3, 2011: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/03/bangladeshi-girl-dies-after-public-flogging/?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-n%7Cdl3%7Csec3_lnk2%7C199168
 
BBC News, “Four arrested after Bangladesh girl ‘lashed to death”. by Anbarasan Ethirajan. Feb. 2, 2011:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12344959

The outcome of my custody case was based solely on the party who had the money to afford an attorney. — An attorney who was familiar with the county and befriended the court officers. An attorney who knew the laws well enough to find loopholes and create legal manipulations. An attorney who was adept at character assasination, and could laugh at an abused women because she “acts like she is afraid he will kill her!”. An attorney who could portray the ugliest things about his client in the limelight of an errant rockstar (maybe flawed but still likeable, even trustworthy). That is to say telling the truth and hoping for justice does not get you far in Family Court, especially when proceedings are complicated and can drag on for years–an abuser will use every opportunity to make things even more complicated in an effort to exhaust or manipulate the system to his advantage. If the abuser has an attorney he is likely to win custody over a protective mom who is facing multiple challenges in an already biased court system, and may not have the resources to obtain proper legal assistance.

 I went to court alone. I could not afford legal help. I was ignorant of my rights.  I didn’t know how to wage an effective legal strategy, let alone understand the laws being used against me were actually designed to protect me. And I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress after years of abuse. I fought valiantly for my children: I presented evidence, I cited laws at statutes when relevant, I pointed out patterns of behavior that endangered my children in the care of their father and I petitioned for a new Guardian ad Litem (was denied). I was a Mom with a “squeaky clean” background, I taught Sunday school and volunteered in my community. I held steady employment and after being homeless (due to abuse), I secured housing in a good neighborhood. Again, none of that seemed to matter.

The court even ignored glaring red flags with my ex–his criminal history and outstanding arrest warrants, his association  with a man convicted of a sexual assault against a child (my children refer to him as “Uncle”), that my child had attempted to run away from dad’s home several times–and my ex’s refusal to get help for my son (who was disclosing abuse in therapy) until crisis ensued. The Guardian ad Litem refused to speak to witnesses or look into multiple allegations of abuse.  The judge BFF the GAL and during the hearings, praised her work while rejecting my valid, documented concerns. After escaping abuse to seek a better life for my family, I lost custody of my children to an abuser and was allowed only supervised visitation (without no evidence to show I had done anything to hurt or endanger my children).

The one, strange comfort I have is that despite this, I was able to confront the man who raped me, threatened me, attacked me and made my life a living hell without tears, without breaking down. I made it through the worst day of my life while somehow being able to keep my head up. I saved the tears for later, and the nightmares and flashbacks would come in the days to follow.

But for one moment my abuser saw me as strongI take comfort in knowing that one day my children will know the whole story of what has happened. More important than the abuse or the horror of family court we endured, my children will see that their mother, though vulnerable and unarmed, was stronger than anything against me because I spoke the truth, and never gave up on fighting to give them a better life.

~ EJ Perth, November 2010

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Protective Moms who go to Family Court without legal representation are likely to lose custody:

“…because most assessment tools used in custody evaluations were never developed to take into account the effects of domestic violence on victims, the tools distort the results to incorrectly show that most frightened victims have psychiatric disorders..Without experts able to refute the faulty diagnoses (and few battered women have the money to pay for such experts, even if any are available who are willing to criticize their colleagues), battered women and mothers of children who have been abused risk being assessed as incompetent mothers, and so lose custody…” Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation: Denial and Complicity In the Family Courts by by Joan Zorza, Esq. http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/info/custody-abuse/overview/batterer-manipulation-and-retaliation-denial-and-complicity-in-the-family-courts

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May 2010: “Battered women who have lost custody of children to spouses pleaded for legal help at a demonstration Friday in front of the Passaic County Courthouse…

A nearby demonstrator, Kelly DePaola of West Milford, ‘A lot of us are [legally] untrained; they leave you without alimony, evicted from where you live,’ she said. ‘You are desolate and completely vulnerable and homeless. You don’t have an attorney, but your ex does and they can say anything about you and get custody. You can’t win.’

..Administrators of social and legal agencies confirm it’s almost impossible for a woman without resources to get publicly provided legal representation in a custody case. And now, with major budget cuts to state-funded Legal Services, the chance is even more remote.

John Fitzgerald, director of Northeast New Jersey Legal Services programs in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties, said custody cases can be ‘very complicated.’  ‘You can go to court, file on your own without an attorney for custody and visitation, but often one side is in a better financial position, usually the man, to hire an attorney,’ he said. ‘Men are the people with access to funds as well as higher-paying jobs. Women are at a definite disadvantage.’” Battered women call for legal aid in custody battles. Friday, May 7, 2010 BY ELAINE D’AURIZIO, The Record, STAFF WRITE. Retrieved 11/19/2010, NorthJersey.com: http://www.northjersey.com/news/politics/050710_Battered_women_call_for_legal_aid_in_custody_battles.html?c=y&page=1

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“Yes, there has been a tragic trend in our family court system to take parental rights away from good mothers and give it to sociopathic abusive fathers…There are several reasons good Mothers lose custody and the top of the list is the unfortunate reality of financial status. Fathers that have the money to take a custody battle into the family court system for several years, usually (approximately 80% of the time), wins full custody and the Mother, not only loses her 50% physical custody, but loses her parental rights, as well. This is a devastating and difficult situation for the mother as well as the children…If the father wants to fight and has the financial resources to do so, if you cannot meet or exceed his financial resources, the likelihood of the father getting custody and the mother losing parental rights is extremely high…this is the very real and very sad reality of our nation’s family court system.” Tragic Discrimination by our Family Court System of Good Mothers while our Children Pay the Price by Irene Watson, M.A.:
 
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2008: “…In a report released  by the (New York-based) Voices of Women Organizing Project, family courts retraumatize battered women by forcing them to confront men they fear and granting custody to abusers 37 percent of the time despite the women’s roles as primary caregivers…All the women interviewed for the report identified themselves as victims of abuse and were involved in family court cases in 2005 or 2006. ..Nearly a quarter, 23 percent, of the women did not have attorneys, and 90 percent of those who did had court-appointed lawyers. (The authors did not report how many male counterparties had attorneys.) Sixty-seven percent of the women could not afford copies of court transcripts, leaving them unsure of how accurately the official records reflected the proceedings. About 15 percent said transcripts were not accurate. Women were advised, sometimes by lawyers, not to mention domestic violence in one-quarter of cases, and not to challenge custody for fear of worsening the situation...When they appear in court, battered mothers, still fearful of their abusers and suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, often provide a weak portrait to courts of how they juggle stresses, the report concluded.” Dangerous Trends, Innovative Responses Pt. 20, “Report: Abused Women See Danger in Family Court”. By Alison Bowen, WeNews, May 8, 2008:

A rally of more than 50 people gathered in Newwark to protect bias, abuse and injustice in the family court system. The protestors argued that there is a crisis in family court that perpetuates abuse, and puts children in harm’s way by denying mothers of their legal rights and awarding custody to violent, abusive fathers

Source: New Jersey Real Time News, http://www.nj.com/

Paul Brubacker/The Star Ledger

Web Address: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/newark_protesters_rally_agains.html#post

Date: April 27, 2009

A rally of more than 50 people gathered in front of the Wilentz Justice Complex on Washington Street (Newark) to protect bias, abuse and injustice in the family court system. The protestors argued that there is a crisis in family court that perpetuates abuse, and puts children in harm’s way by denying mothers of their legal rights and awarding custody to violent, abusive fathers. The protestors further argued that the custody decisions are based on bias, and often ignore or dismiss entirely allegations of abuse.

  Evan Stark, a professor at Rutgers University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration comments that, “In the last 30 years, every institution in this society has changed its views toward domestic violence…Only in the family court do the obsolete beliefs that were discredited everywhere else in society still prevail.”

Supporters of the family court system contend the system is fair, and that judges do their best to make fair rulings, often involving tough decisions, when parents cannot agree on who will raise the children.

Personally, I believe the truth is evident within the court proceedings themselves. The treatment of both parties by family court staff, the way the evidence is handled, and the logic behind the court’s conclusions speak volumes about what is really happening.

Take Action! Leave a comment about your experiences with famiy court, or your concerns for your children, at the bottom of this article

FACT (Families Against Court Travesties):The parent with the most money, power, and influence is somehow able to convince judges that only their side need be heard in order to make a decision…To make matters worse, throughout the country, women are losing custody of their children to men with histories of child abuse and domestic violence. These men know how to manipulate the judicial system.”

NOW developed FACTS, a Court Watch system with volunteers who observe courtroom proceedings, review the behavior of the judges and attorneys, and plan actions to address this crisis.  Visit online to see how you can help: http://www.factscourtwatch.org/

 

“In family court, the standard of proof is on a balance of probabilities, which means that one person’s story is more likely to be true than the other person’s story…Unfortunately many of the people involved in family law and court — judges, lawyers, court clerks, mediators and others — have no appropriate training in violence against women, so they do not always recognize it or know the best way to respond. The law and processes also do not reflect the realities and needs of women from marginalized communities as well.”,  Family Law Overview by Pamela Cross LLB.  Springtide Resources Legal Fact Sheet: http://www.springtideresources.org/resources/show.cfm?id=218

The Judicial Conference is Now in Session
And Why It Will Tolerate Again
The Systematic Dismissal of Complaints Against Judges
by
Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.
The Judicial Con ference of the U.S., the highest policy-making body of the federal judiciary, is meeting at the Supreme Court today, March 17, and may continue its session tomorrow. (Public Information Office: 202-479-3211, Clerk’s Office: 202-479-3011)
Separate meetings of the circuit judges, district judges, and the many specialized committees of the Judicial Conference are scheduled to be held at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C., between Monday, 16, and Wednesday 18. (202-502-2600) http://www.uscourts .gov/ Among those committees is the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, which handles petitions for review concerning any complaint against a federal judge or magistrate for misconduct or disability.
All their meetings are secretive so as to protect judicial unaccountability. What would happen to democracy if the president and all members of Congress were appointed for life, remaining in office regardless of their misconduct or disability, and held all cabinet meetings and sessions behind closed doors followed by no press conference, but merely a short trivial and anodyne press release?
Judicial unaccountability becomes apparent in the pending petition to that Committee concerning a judicial misconduct complaint.
It contains the equivalent of a template that other complainants against judges that engage in misconduct or are disable can adapt to their own petition to the Committee once they have reached that stage in the series of procedural stages. That series is this:
1. You file your judicial complaint with the chief circuit judge of your circuit or the complained-against judge’s, as provided for in the Judicial Con duct and Disability Act. 28 U.S.C. §351(a).
You must also comply with the Rules for Judicial Conduct and Disability Proceedings.
2. The chief circuit judge systematically dismisses it, which in 99.86% of cases –see table and graphs at http://Judicial- Discipline- Reform.org– is without appointment of a special committee and thus, out of hand with no investigation.
3. You petition the respective circuit’s judicial council for review of the chief’s dismissal.
4. The judicial council systematically denies the petition, which the Judicial Council of the Second Circuit has done in 100% of cases in the past 11 years from 1oct96 to 30sep7 –see table with official statistics at the above-mentioned petition, page N:39 (after N:51-N:84)-. The chief circuit judge who dismissed the complaint in the first place is the council’s presiding member and is allowed to review on appeal his or her own dismissal. Cf. 28 U.S.C. §47
5a. You petition for review the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, which is composed of judges, the peers of the complained-against judge. In the 29 years since the enactment of the Misconduct Act in 1980 it has issued only 19 decisions. By contrast, in the 2007-08 term alone, the Supreme Court issued 67 signed opinions and disposed of 72 cases.
5b. You may simultaneously appeal to the 27-judge Judicial Conference itself –see the petition below-, which is composed of the Chief Justice, who is its presiding member, the 14 chief circuit and national court judges, and 12 representative district judges.
Thus, the chief circuit judge who dismissed your complaint in the first place is a member of the Conference too and is also allowed to exercise appellate review over his own appealed dismissal. What are the chances that he will not ask for, expect, and receive deference to his decision to dismiss, from his peers and issue IOUs redeemable when another peer’s dismissal is being challenged? Remember, their meetings are secretive.
From the first stage, that is, the complaint, the emphasis must be placed on setting forth the elements of the judge’s misconduct and/or disability and how either constitutes “conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts”. See the petition, page N:1.
If the misconduct is related to the judge’s decision or ruling, then it must be “alleged to be the result of an improper motive, e.g., a bribe, ex parte contact, racial or ethnic bias, or improper conduct in rendering a decision or ruling, such as personally derogatory remarks irrelevant to the issues”. Rule 3(h)(3)(A)
In due course you reach the stage of petitioning the Committee. There the emphasis must be laid on arguing that the Committee has jurisdiction over the petition based both on the facts of the complaint and its compliance with Rule 21 and 22; and that it should exercise such jurisdiction because of the indisputable fact that by failing to do so it would tolerate its peers’ unlawful and corruptive self-exemption from discipline. The petition serves as a template for doing so.
By then you have spent a lot of money, effort, and time, and have endured or must continue to endure the consequences of the complained-against judge’s misconduct or disability; yet, his or her peers will systematically dismiss your complaint or deny your petition for review, for they must protect the status that they have arrogated to themselves: Judges Above the Law.
The chances that the judges will pay any attention to a complaint against a peer increase from 0% to 0.14% (less that 1 seventh of 1 percent) if you bring it to the attention of the media and the latter shames the judges into taking some action to give the appearance that they are able and willing to discipline themselves…at the risk of the complained-against judge yelling at them, “I know enough about your own wrongdoing. If you bring me down, I take you with me!”
The cover letter with the petition to the Judicial Conference sent to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., as its presiding officer, asks whether he will countenance once more ‘the collegial complicity of judges covering their coordinated wrongdoing’. It requests that he cause the Conference to exercise jurisdiction over the petition and open an investigation of it when the Conference meets on Tuesday, March 17, at the Supreme Court. Could he too be brought down if he took on his peers by trying to discipline judges who misconduct themselves or are disable?
How would your bosses behave if they had no fear of being disciplined at all?
 
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