Thursday, May 28, 2015

How family court judges can enforce contracts

I have mentioned high-profile legal disputes over frozen zygotes and circumcision, and both involve a family court judge being asked to enforce or negate a previous agreement on medical matters.

Here is a case from England:
A devout mother made a legally binding promise, backed up with the threat of criminal sanctions, never to talk to her son about her religion, take him to church or even say grace at meals in a doomed attempt to stop him being taken into care, amid claims that she was “indoctrinating” him, a judge has disclosed.

The seven-year-old boy, who cannot be named, has been placed with foster carers because of fears that his mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, was causing him emotional harm by “immersing” him in her beliefs.

The child, who teachers described as “troubled, angry and confused”, rejected his own father because he said he “could not be with people who didn’t believe in Jehovah”.
In the USA, I don't think a mom could be forced to keep quiet about her religion, but the dad could certainly have gotten custody for reason of alienation. (Putting the kid in foster case because the judge disapproves of a religious opinion is extreme.)

A reader asks what authority judges have to order performance under a contract? In regular civil court, judges rarely order specific performance to obey a contract. Instead, they just order someone to pay liquidated damages.

He also asks why any parents should be obligated to these contracts anyway. In the above cases, a woman changed her mind about having a baby, and another woman joined an anti-circumcision cult. Women change their minds all the time, on matters from hair color to walking out of a marriage. If women had written the Constitution, there would be a clause in there about an inalienable right to change her mind.

And judges force changes all the time. A judge with throw out a marriage or a parenting plan because of the supposed best interest of the child.

In family court, judges have almost unlimited discretion to award child custody based on his own personal prejudices about the BIOTCh. That is the mechanism that lets judges force whatever they please.

If the judge really wants the boy to get a circumcision, all he has to do is to grant temporary sole legal and physical child custody to the parent who wants the circumcision. Then that parents gets it done, and there can be no more dispute about it.

Nick Loeb has just figured out that's the trick to getting his frozen zygotes. He has now changed his legal complaint to a dispute over custody of the zygotes, as if they legal children. Now he just has to convince a judge that being thawed is in the best interest of a frozen zygote.

That may sound crazy, but not much crazier than what is done already. Los Angelos family court often requires appointment of an attorney to represent the interest of a developing embryo, because of the possibility that the embryo might have a different interest from the birth mom. This is not done in abortion cases, because the mom has a constitutional right to kill the embryo. But otherwise, there are sometimes family court cases involving embryos.

I have not heard that the embryo lawyer persuaded a judge against the interests of the adult parties, but I guess it is possible.

The odds are still stacked against Loeb, because winning would complicate matters for the IVF clinics. As it is, they have to get assurances that the legalities are in order for the procedures to be done. If a family court judge and change custody of a zygote, then the clinics would need additional assurance that the paperwork properly reflects the legal custody.

My personal opinion is that Rule of Law should apply to disputes like this. That is, the issues should not be up to the discretion of judges or psychologists. On a subject like circumcision, where there are valid arguments for and against, the law can simple require 1-parent or 2-parent approval. I would even be okay with the dad having the final say about male circumcision and the mom having the final say about female circumcision, but I think most forms of female circumcision are illegal in the USA. There is no need to have one set of rules for regular parents, and another set for parents under the jurisdiction of the family court. And no need for anyone to be bound to a decision made years previously.

The IVF industry is based on the concept of informed consent of competent adults. The clinics do not who controls the zygotes. They just want to paperwork to properly reflect the agreements and legal rights, so they do not get sued. Perhaps Loeb should have checked the box that says that either parent can have the zygote if the other does not want it. If the zygotes were really property like furniture, then Loeb and Vergara could each get one of the zygotes.

A dirty little secret of the IVF industry is that it has about a million human zygotes sitting in its freezers. Either they were extra, or saved for later use and not used, or the parents do not know what to do with them. Occasionally they get donated to infertile couples or to stem cell research, but that is awkward and requires legal papers. If you think of these as lives that have already been created, as Loeb says, then it is a little
spooky to think of all those million zygotes.

BTW, I am using the term "zygote" because I believe that is the correct term. A zygote become an embryo only have the cells start differentiating, and that is unlikely to have happened. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Florida parents fight over circumcision

Some people argue that joint child custody can never work, unless both parents agree on everything, or some legal authority micromanages their lives. I believe this is false, but I welcome difficult examples.

One of the biggest examples in the news is the decision to circumcise a boy. This is one of those issues that some people attach great importance to. Apparently there are women who feel very strongly about it, altho I don't know why any woman would care, just as I don't know why men would care about female circumcision.

Slate summarizes:
When Hironimus [mom] refused to allow the procedure to go forward, Nebus [dad] took her to court to enforce the contract she had signed. A state court sided with Nebus, noting that their parenting plan “clearly and unambiguously provides” that Chase would be circumcised. An appeals court unanimously affirmed the ruling, and a judge ordered Hironimus to turn Chase over to Nebus so he could schedule the procedure. Hironimus instead disappeared with her son. The judge then issued a warrant for her arrest for interfering with child custody. For weeks Hironimus escaped arrest by hiding with Chase in a domestic violence shelter. (Hironimus has not claimed that she was abused.) While hiding out, Hironimus filed a federal lawsuit against Nebus, asserting that, by having Chase circumcised, Nebus would violate his son’s constitutional rights. Eventually, the police discovered Hironimus’ whereabouts, took her into custody, and turned Chase over to Nebus.

A tenacious community of intactivists seized upon Hironimus’ plight as both a crusade and a publicity stunt.
From her jail cell, Hironimus filed an emergency motion in federal court to prevent Nebus from having Chase circumcised. When a federal judge essentially laughed Hironimus out of court, she withdrew her federal suit. A state judge ruled that Hironimus will remain in jail until she signs the consent form for Chase to be circumcised. On Friday a weeping Hironimus signed the form. She still faces criminal charges for absconding with Chase in violation of her custody agreement.
I do not even think that this should have anything to do with child custody. State law requires parental consent for a child medical operation. Some laws require one-parent consent. Some require two-parent consent. I have no idea about circumcision, but even if two-parent consent is required, the dad could argue that the mom has already given it.

There are some troubling aspects to this story, such as:
For a brief time early Friday, it appeared Hironimus had no intention of approving the circumcision, even if the refusal meant being kept behind bars indefinitely.
That is not consent. That is the opposite of consent. No one should be satisfied with such a signature. I would hope that the surgeon would refuse it, altho he might accept a judge's order that the earlier consent applies.

Sometimes family court apologists deny that judges micro-manage anyone, because usually everyone consents to the orders. They have a very funny idea of consent. Cases settle based on what is likely to be ordered, not what the parties want.

Also, there is no value to a shrink opinion:
In a telephone interview with Local10.com, attorney Thomas Hunker said he recently began representing Hironimus after her previous lawyer, Taryn Sinatra, withdrew.

Hunker said he filed a motion to have a court-appointed guardian ad litem for the boy and is seeking to have a mental health professional evaluate the boy's "emotional state" to determine if circumcision is "something that would be advisable." He said the goal is to make sure the child "has an independent voice" and isn't caught up in his parents' squabble.

"It's the boy who's really going to have to live the rest of his life with the decision," Hunker said.
There are pros and cons to circumcision, but having a psychologist talk to a 4-year-old is just family court silliness. There can be no objective evaluation of BIOTCh in a case like this. I think that the American Academy of Pediatrics has gone back and forth on this issue a couple of times.

A reader writes:
Since marriage contracts are not enforceable, but may be unilaterally broken by one party for any reason or no reason, it's unclear why an "agreed parenting plan" between unmarried partners is binding and enforceable against one party who changes her mind for whatever reason.
That is a good point, and it seems stupid that our law requires a court-approved parenting plan from unmarried parents, but not married parents.

All I can say is that a set of legal and cultural shifts have redefined marriage. When two people get married, they are not agreeing to a permanent relationship, or any binding obligations. They are agreeing to let a family court judge micro-manage their lives if one party requests it. Gay marriage is just a part of this shift.

I don't know why anyone agreed to this shift. It is destroying our society. I have documented the evils on this blog.

A legal site says:
What if I My Spouse and I Disagree on Consent?

This is a highly contentious area of the law, and your options vary from state to state. Most states only require the consent of a single parent to perform a circumcision. HOWEVER, although the law is not very established on this subject, a parent or guardian who feels that circumcision will not be in the best interests of the child may file an injunction to prevent the operation.

For the most part, very very few doctors will perform a circumcision if one parent objects to the procedure, usually out of fear of a lawsuit. You should make your objection very clear to all doctors involved, to prevent any misunderstandings (an attorney can also provide you with a "non-circumcision notification form" that will put the hospital on notice).
So the dad probably could have legally had the circumcision done on his own time, if the surgeon agreed to do it. So I doubt that the surgeon would be any more likely to do it, knowing that the mom only signed the form to get out of jail.

Here is a obgyn Newborn Circumcision Consent Form (Msft doc), and there is only one signature line. I am guessing that physicians normally accept the instructions of one parent.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Using social media against anti-freedom lobbyists

A Santa Cruz Sentinel editorial complains:
The debate over Senate Bill 277, which would make vaccinations compulsory for schoolchildren, has taken an ugly turn. Although we understand the rights of opponents to express themselves, their tactics have gone way too far.

A group of opponents have taken to social media — and not merely to state their views. Instead, they’ve been sharing not only personal information about the bill’s lobbyists, but they’ve also decided to publish photos online of their whereabouts.

There is a big difference between activism and harassment.

The California Medical Association, a supporter of compulsory vaccination, has complained about a video by California Chiropractic Association President Brian Stenzler in which he urges an SB 277 foe to follow them “all day long — follow them to a T,” according to an account in the Sacramento Bee. ...

Apparently, however, some opponents aren’t so restrained. Some of the activists are taking to the Internet and social media to track the activities of supporters. Doing so crosses the line.

We acknowledge that we support the idea of compulsory vaccination. To us, the science is clear, that the vaccination of children is necessary to avoid the spread of diseases like pertussis, measles and more.

Despite that stand, we understand that some people are going to push back, and that the idea of compulsory vaccination is a tough pill to swallow for some advocates of free choice.
This complaint seems a little premature, as it appears that no one has been harassed.

Here is the offending video. Maybe I am misinterpreting it, but I don't see any advocacy of harassment. He mentions the name of a lobbying on his side, to distinguish her from two other lobbyists on the other side. He says to follow them, but in the sense of "follow the money". Maybe he just wanted to identify the financial interests wanting to force vaccines.

Here is Democrat state senator Pan assuring the public that they will have a choice, and then introducing a law to eliminate that choice.

I wonder why there are not more social media attacks on public officials. Obviously some parents get very upset at laws that force medical injections of marginal value. Parents also get upset at public officials who try to take their kids away, especially when they act out of corruption, maliciousness, or incompetence. I do not favor any harassment, but I certainly think that public officials should be exposed when they are acting against the public interest.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ireland just abolished family rights

Michael Brendan Dougherty writes in The Week:
Closer to home, in Kansas two years ago, another parent put a baby in a shopping bag, so to speak. In 2009, William Marotta answered a Craigslist ad posted by a lesbian couple seeking sperm. He donated a few cups of the stuff. In 2014, a Kansas court ordered him to pay child support. "I donated genetic material, and that was it for me," he said in his defense.

How you feel about Marotta's case is probably a good indicator of which side you land on in the culture war. If you think the state is right to make him pay child support, you are likely on the side of the old dispensation — of the "natural family." If you think it is an outrage that some responsibility for the child should be assigned to its biological father, you likely fall on the side of the age that is coming into being — the age of the contractual family, one appointed by authorities.
No, the old school view is not in favor of saying that a family is a baby, a lesbian, and a Craigslist sperm donor.

For details on what I think of this Kansas case, see my comments here, here, and here.

Ireland just passed same-sex marriage, as widely reported, but what they really did was to redefine the family to make same-sex family rights superior to all other laws:
This Friday, Ireland will have a national referendum to amend its constitution to include same-sex couples in the definition of a family. Those campaigning for a "No" vote have settled on the slogan that every child deserves a mother and father. That has inspired some predictable consternation over there. The "Yes" campaigners are frustrated that a debate about equal treatment under the law is being diverted into debates about surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and the donation of "genetic material" like eggs and sperm.

Fintan O'Toole says that the "No" campaigners are offending many more people than gays and lesbians, and surely they are. The same conflict between the Natural and the Contracted family are at play everywhere in the advanced world, but they have been drawn especially sharply in Ireland.

The reason is that the proposed change is to the family section of the Irish Constitution, which relates not to marriage only but "the family." The Irish Constitution states: "The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law."

The "No" campaign makes a subtle but profound argument. This section of the Constitution has been found by Irish courts to include the right to procreate, and so the "No" campaigners say that artificial reproductive techniques will insert an ideological understanding of parentage, rather than biology, into the heart of Irish jurisprudence. The word "natural" will have to take on a new meaning.

And rather than the state "recognizing" an antecedent and natural institution of the family whose claims trump those of the state, it will have to take the new commercial understanding of parentage into its hand as it usurps the power to assign legal parentage regardless of biology. The intent of the contracting parties now trumps nature.
This is the most radical step any country has taken. I am amazed that the Catholic Church could not stop this nonsense. Ireland only just barely legalized divorce in 1995.

Where previously the Irish family was "possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights ... as the primary and fundamental unit group of Society", this so-called equality will use BIOTCh to turn them into slaves of the state.
Because the Irish state recently and hastily arrogated itself tremendous new powers to act in the "best interests of the child," and because the consideration of biological parentage in family law court cases would give an unequal advantage to opposite sex partnerships, the legal force of biological parentage will be eroded.

In fact, guaranteeing the right to procreate to same-sex couples practically demands the erasure of biological parenthood, as same-sex couples cannot have children without involving a member of the opposite sex, somehow. And equality demands even more. To create the equal experience of full parenthood for both, the child's curiosity (or claims) on his or her biological parents must be obviated and denied, whatever the heartbreak.

Equality before the law will be achieved when all natural parents are in the same legal position as sperm and egg donors, or those who contract for them. The entire social, psychological, historical, legal, and spiritual status of motherhood is thus reduced to mere incubation, and fatherhood to the provision of "genetic material." Instead of the state recognizing the "natural" claims of the family that precede the state, it will appoint them in the "best interests of the child," without counting biological relationships.
As this article show, Ireland has adopted "truly an entirely new conception of the family", and it necessarily requires state supervision of the best interest of the child.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gay political study was bogus

Could bogus psychology and social science research be used to promote LGBTQIA politics? Of course.

A Dec. 2014 NY Times story said:
Gay political canvassers can soften the opinions of voters opposed to same-sex marriage by having a brief face-to-face discussion about the issue, researchers reported Thursday. The findings could have implications for activists and issues across the political spectrum, experts said.

Psychologists have long suspected that direct interaction, like working together, can reduce mutual hostility and prejudice between differing groups, whether blacks and whites or Christians and Muslims. But there is little evidence that the thaw in attitudes is a lasting one.

The study, published Thursday by the journal Science, suggests that a 20-minute conversation about a controversial and personal issue — in this case a gay person talking to voters about same-sex marriage — can induce a change in attitude that not only lasts, but may also help shift the views of others living in the same household. In other words, the change may be contagious. Researchers have published similar findings previously, but nothing quite as rigorous has highlighted the importance of the messenger, as well as the message.

“I am very impressed with this paper,” said Todd Rogers, an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a founding director of the Analyst Institute, a voter research group that helps Democratic candidates.
Now it says:
Editors’ Note: May 20, 2015

An article on Dec. 12, 2014, reported on a study published by the journal Science that said gay political canvassers could change conservative voters’ views on gay marriage by having a brief face-to-face discussion about the issue. The editor in chief of the journal said on Wednesday that the senior author of the study had now asked that the report be retracted because of the failure of his fellow author to produce data supporting the findings.
That is an understatement, as the study was completely faked:
The survey firm claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for. The firm also denied having the capabilities to perform many aspects of the recruitment procedures described in LaCour and Green (2014).
This study got a lot of publicity, and gave a lot of hope to leftist political activists.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pope values parents over so-called experts

The Vatican does not seem to have much influence anymore, as it cannot even persuade Ireland to stop same-sex marriage:
The overall result, of course, is most important. With opinion polls suggesting the Yes side will win comfortably, Ireland looks poised to become the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage via a nationwide vote.
The Pope has said and done some goofy things, but I am glad to see him stick up for parents over so-called experts:
(Vatican Radio) In his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis focused on the role of parents in the education of their children, which he called “an essential characteristic” of the family.

The Holy Father noted the many difficulties facing parents today, especially those who find themselves in difficult situations. He spoke especially about the difficulties of separated couples, calling on them to “never, never, never take the children hostage!”

He spoke out strongly against “intellectual critics” who have “silenced” parents in order to defend younger generations from real or imagined harm. This has opened up a fracture between families and societies, leading to a crisis in the relationship between families and society. So-called experts have often taken the place of parents, depriving them of their proper place in the education of their own children, “even in the most delicate and personal aspects of their lives.” Parents often are afraid to correct their children, leaving it instead to experts.
That neatly summarizes a major theme of this blog.

A hot issue in California is mandatory vaccines. Most of the experts recommend the vaccines. At least 95% of the kids get the vaccines, and maybe 1% get a medical exemption. A new law is going to force nearly everyone to get the vaccines.

The risk from the vaccines is very small, but the risk of getting the diseases if you are unvaccinated is also very small. So the benefit of the vaccines is debatable.

There was a measles outbreak in Disneyland, but it was a few dozen adults catching it from a Filipino visitor. A stricter vaccine policy on American schoolkids would not have made a difference.

Nearly all parents are doing what the experts say, and there is little or no harm in others not going along, so what is the problem? Who cares?

I think that it is simply a power play in a plan to eliminate parental rights and informed consent. More of this will come, and parents will not have the authority to rear their kids according to their own beliefs.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby Veronica dad speaks out

I posted about Baby Veronica, and the London Daily Mail reports:
A father who lost custody of his biological daughter after a controversial Supreme Court ruling is speaking out for the first time since the incident.

Dusten Brown has remained silent since 2013 when he lost his fight to keep custody of Baby Veronica, the daughter his ex gave up for adoption without his knowledge while he was serving in Iraq.

Now he has come forward to talk about the need for adoption reform.

Brown, who recently welcomed a baby boy with his wife Robin, said in a statement; 'Nothing will ever replace her presence in our home. Veronica has a new little brother that we hope she will meet one day and have a relationship with.'

A Cherokee Nation citizen, Brown had used the Indian Child Welfare Act to try to regain custody of Veronica.

Brown also commented on a proposed federal regulation set to end adoption disputes like the one he went through with Veronica,

'Hopefully, these regulations keep other Indian children, families and tribes from suffering the heartbreak that we experienced over the last five and a half years,' said Brown according to Tulsa World.
Men are sometimes deluded into thinking that if they get a full airing of their case before a sufficiently high authority, then no one could endorse the system.

This guy got his case all the way to the US Supreme Court, but still had to give up his biological daughter to adoptive parents because of a twisted anti-parent reading of the law, and a peculiar BIOTCh analysis.

Some day that girl will learn that she was reared by child stealers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eyewitness testimony is often quite wrong

A NY Times story demonstrates how eyewitness testimony can be completely wrong:
Contrary to what Mr. O’Grady said, the man who was shot had not been trying to get away from the officers; he was actually chasing an officer from the sidewalk onto Eighth Avenue, swinging a hammer at her head. Behind both was the officer’s partner, who shot the man, David Baril.

And Ms. Khalsa did not see Mr. Baril being shot while in handcuffs; he is, as the video and still photographs show, freely swinging the hammer, then lying on the ground with his arms at his side. He was handcuffed a few moments later, well after he had been shot.

There is no evidence that the mistaken accounts of either person were malicious or intentionally false. Studies of memories of traumatic events consistently show how common it is for errors to creep into confidently recalled accounts, according to cognitive psychologists.

“It’s pretty normal,” said Deryn Strange, an associate psychology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “That’s the hard thing to get our heads around. It’s frightening how easy it is to build in a false memory.”

In one study, Dr. Strange showed people a film of a car accident in which five people, including a baby, were killed. The film was edited to remove segments of the accident. Then she tested the subjects 24 hours later on what they recalled. People were able to accurately describe what they had, in fact, seen, Dr. Strange said, but a significant number — 36 percent — also professed to have strong memories of parts of the crash that had actually not been shown to them.

“They are more likely to do that when they are upset about the event — if they are getting intrusive thoughts about it, or talking to other people about it,” she said.

A leading researcher in the field of witness memory, Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, said there was ample evidence that people found ways to plug holes in their recollections.

“If someone has gaps in their narrative, they can fill it in with lots of things,” she said. “Often they fill it with their own expectations, and certainly what they may hear from others.”

These are not the knowingly untrue or devious statements of people who are deliberately lying. False memories can be as persuasive as genuine ones, Dr. Loftus said: “When someone expresses it with detail and confidence and emotion, people are going to believe it.”

Said Dr. Strange, “It is surprising to the average person how quickly memories can be distorted.”

That was certainly Ms. Khalsa’s response.

“I feel totally embarrassed,” she said on Thursday, after having seen the video.
In family court, wives often lie to bring bogus charges. This shows that they can be wrong even when they are trying to tell the truth.

Monday, May 18, 2015

California treats all accused parents as guilty

I just found http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/cab1417.pdf on the official California court site. It is obviously part of some informative booklet for kids who are subjected to being put in foster care.



Note the presumption that the parents are guilty. A juvenile dependency case is defined by the county CPS agency making an accusation of parental abuse or neglect, and it is up to the judge or the appeals court to accept or dismiss the accusation.

This shows that county agents will tell a kid that his parents are guilty of abuse when there is only an unproved accusation.

This is laughable:



No, this is like telling a criminal defendant that the police are there to keep you safe. Yes, we have police to make a safer society, but once you are charged with a crime, the police work for the prosecution, and their goal is to help put you in jail.
It is the judge’s job to listen to what everyone says in court. The judge knows what the law is and decides what needs to happen to keep kids safe. If the judge asks you a question, it is very important for you to tell the truth. The judge needs to know the truth to make the best decision for you.
This is pretty crazy advice. According to a recent federal case, juvenile dependency court judges in some areas spend less than 5 minutes per case, and often less than 60 seconds. No such judge will ever make the best decision for a child, and the child could be sentencing himself to a disastrous foster home by cooperating.

I could not find the rest of this booklet, or instructions on using it, but it illustrates the guilty-until-proven-innocent mentality of govt agents that I often complain about. Actually it is worse than that, because there is no mention of any possibility of being proven innocent. To CPS, an accusation is just the same as a guilty verdict.

I often mention people who are presumed guilty, and here is a list of egregious 2014 cases.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Threatened by surrogacy

A Euro group complains:
Surrogacy often depends on the exploitation of poorer women. In many cases, it is the poor who have to sell and the rich who can afford to buy. These unequal transactions result in consent that is under informed if not uninformed, low payment, coercion, poor health care, and severe risks to the short- and long-term health of women who carry surrogate pregnancies.
You could make these complaints about any transaction. Any time there is a buyer and a seller, you could claim that the buyer would not buy if he did not have the money, and the seller would not sell if she did not want the money.

In the USA, the carriers are probably much better informed, and have better health care, than the typical pregnant woman.
Children born of assisted reproductive technologies, which are usually employed in surrogacy, also face known health risks
Yes, there are health risks, but probably less than in other pregnancies, because of all the screening, testing, and monitoring.

I am not sure what is driving this opposition to surrogacy, because it cannot be these health concerns. The Catholic Church opposes, for reasons related to their opposition to abortion and birth control. But this is from European countries where abortion is widely accepted. Some of the signers to the statement are abortion rights activists.

Maybe they believe that the nuclear family with natural parents is best, but I doubt it.

Surrogacy is rare enuf that there is no reason for most people to care one way or the other.

I think that some people feel threatened by surrogracy. Not sure why.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Studies used to influence high court

Among the arguments over same-sex marriage before the US Supreme Court are those saying that kids do worse or as well as normal families. Eg, see Mark Regnerus and his critics. No one has a large sample of kids fully reared by same-sex couples, so there is a debate over how to count women who had a kid in a regular marriage, and then went lesbian. I have mentioned the controversy.

I doubt that any of this will matter. The liberal justices will want to strike a blow for leftist social justice, regardless of the consequences.

Here is a simple example of how a study can get distorted. Philip Greenspun notes:
“Mom: The Designated Worrier” is a Mother’s Day gift from the New York Times, an example of “tall poppy syndrome” in which the best way to build up mothers is to point out how useless fathers are.

Here’s a representative quote:
Half of the men surveyed in a Families and Work Institute study from 2008 said they were either the responsible parent or shared the role equally with their spouse, while two-thirds of the women said they were the one in charge. This suggests that either men overestimate their contribution or women define the work differently.
Apparently neither the writer nor the editors of the New York Times thought that it was possible for a woman to overestimate her contributions as a parent.
Good point. I am all for credit moms on Mothers Day, but this one is just another husband belittling nut.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CPS takes kid without parental wrongdoing

This is a disturbing case:
The state can remove an out-of-control child from the custody of a parent even if the mother or father is not to blame for the child's behavior, a California appeals court said Thursday.

If children face substantial risk of harming themselves, it doesn't matter whether the parent did anything intentional to put them in that position, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled.

"When a child thereby faces a substantial risk of serious physical harm, a parent's inability to supervise or protect a child is enough by itself to invoke the juvenile court's dependency jurisdiction," the court said in its 3-0 ruling.

The court disagreed with another state appellate court that ruled in 2010 that a parent had to be shown to be culpable for a failure or inability to supervise or protect a child. Such conflicts between appeals courts are often resolved by the state Supreme Court.

Thursday's ruling goes against the commonly accepted understanding that a court has to find the parents did something wrong to remove the child, said Dan Mayfield, a San Jose attorney who specializes in juvenile law.

"It broadens the government's power," he said.

The ruling came in the case of a Los Angeles County mother whose teen daughter repeatedly ran away from home and had a child at the age of 15. The appellate court said the girl remained incorrigible despite her mother's best efforts, which included looking for her each time she left home, sending her to live with her grandparents and calling the police and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for help. The mother was identified in court documents only as "Lisa E." and her daughter as "R.T."

"(The) mother in this case was neither neglectful nor blameworthy in being unable to supervise or protect her daughter," the court said.

But state law is clear that children can still be taken if they have suffered or are at substantial risk of suffering serious harm that a parent is unable to stop, Associate Justice Brian Hoffstadt wrote.
Here is the court opinion (pdf). As long as there is an appellate conflict, this only applies in LA County.

I do not understand this case, because the parent put the kid with a relative, and this court ruling upheld the court putting the kid with the same relative. So I do not see how CPS can blame the parent for doing that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Safe to leave kid in car

The NJ supreme court has agreed to hear a case where a mom was accused of doing something unsafe, but the court refused to look at safety evidence. The Free Range Mom reports:
A mom left her son in the car for what everyone agrees was under 10 minutes to run an errand. The toddler slept through the whole “ordeal,” but the mom was found guilty of neglect, even upon appeal, when the three appellate judges ruled that they didn’t have to list the “parade of horribles” that COULD have happened to the child.
.
Which is, of course, fantasy as policy again: Just because the judges could imagine a kidnapping, or carjacking, or a big bad wolf, doesn’t mean that these are at all likely. They aren’t. As the Washington Post just wrote: There’s never been a safer time to be a kid in America. What’s more, my own book cites the stat that if for some reason you WANTED your kid to be abducted by a stranger, the amount of time you’d have to leave him outside, unattended, for this to be statistically likely to happen is 600,000 years.
A lawyer explains in a newspaper op-ed:
Child-safety orthodoxy ignores the fact that protecting your child from one risk almost always exposes him to another. Keeping children safely indoors promotes inactivity and obesity. Taking them with you to the store, instead of leaving them home alone, exposes them to accidents, the No. 1 cause of death of American children. “Free-range” parents argue that coddling and overprotecting children interferes with development and their ability to become responsible and self-sufficient.

Most disturbing about the New Jersey case, however, is that the court condemned the mother’s action without ever weighing the actual risk of genuine harm. The court ruled the mother wasn’t entitled to present evidence on either the likelihood or severity of harm to the child. The court said the imagined dangers spoke for themselves: “We need not describe at any length the parade of horribles that could have attended (this) neglect.”
Judges, social workers, and psychologists talk about safety a lot, but they almost never consider realistic data on what is safe or risky. Safety is just a buzzword for their superstitions and prejudices.

This NJ case is unusual because the appeals court considered behavior that was obviously safe, and claimed that it was unsafe with no evidence required. It was as stupid as saying, "you can tell the defendant is guilty by just looking at him."

I assume that the NJ supreme court will say that some evidence is required, unless the legislature has passed a law against the behavior.

Today has a Cracked article on 5 Things Your Parents Did (They'd Be Arrested For Today). Yes, leaving a kid in a car in one of them, along with letting your kid walk places alone, play outside, hear swearing, and go naked.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Judicial discretion means money for women

Jeff Landers describes himself "as a divorce financial professional who works exclusively with women", and writes in Forbes:
I’ve written before about alimony reform and how new laws eliminating lifelong alimony and reducing judicial discretion can pose real financial hardship to divorcing women. Unfortunately, there’s another legislative trend sweeping the nation that’s just as concerning. According to The Wall Street Journal, some 20 states are considering laws that would substantially change the way child custody is decided in divorce.

As with alimony reform, much of the proposed “shared parenting” legislation targets judicial discretion. Rather than evaluate individual cases based on their circumstances, judges will be strongly encouraged, or even mandated, to enact custody arrangements that are as close to 50-50 as possible. In some states, including Colorado, New York, and Washington, the proposed laws make that the mandatory default. To make a different arrangement, it must be proven that the child would not be best served by spending substantially equal time with each parent.

Such legislative changes have been proposed by men who feel they’ve been treated unfairly by a system that has, for many reasons over the years, favored mothers as custodial parents. I understand that. As a father myself, I can absolutely imagine how painful it would be to be unfairly denied time with my children.

But here’s the thing: that’s what judicial discretion is for! Experienced, knowledgeable judges are empowered to evaluate the circumstances of each case before them, and direct the litigants to the fairest possible solution to their individual case. The proposed laws remove or severely limit that flexibility. To my mind, that’s the wrong solution.
Yes, judicial discretion is for circumventing the rule of law.

Imagine if anything else in our society worked that way. Suppose every month, when you pay rent, some judge says what you should pay. Or on April 15, instead of using tax returns, some IRS agent uses his discretion on what you ought to be paying.
And of course, some cases are not just nuanced, but dangerous. Critics of the proposed child custody laws rightly contend that insisting on a 50/50 custody arrangement gives undue influence to abusive husbands, and wrongly places the burden on the spouse in the weaker position – usually the wife – to have to prove that the arrangement is not right. Furthermore, say the critics, the vast majority of custody cases are settled out of court. The ones that go to litigation are the ugliest and most contentious cases – arguably the ones for which shared custody, an arrangement requiring maturity and cooperation, is least likely to succeed.
No, this is all backwards. Women are in the stronger position. Cases are settled on an expectation of what the court will do. The most contentious cases are the ones needing 50/50 custody the most, as those need the forced involvement of both parents.
Child support, too, is undergoing “reform.” The New York Times recently reported about a demoralizing cycle in which men who can’t afford to make payments are jailed for failure to pay, then lose their jobs, then get deeper in arrears with child support payments, and so on. This is certainly a problem. Reform advocates claim that the current practice of calculating child support on the basis of imputed income (what a person is expected to earn) instead of actual income is unfair and unrealistic when jobs are hard to find and making payments is just not possible. The federal government is reportedly proposing to use actual income to calculate child support and also to consider that the noncustodial parent must have enough to live on himself.

At first glance, this seems reasonable, and even good – so why do I find it troubling? Well, as a divorce financial professional who works exclusively with women, I can tell you that such legislation could have many unintended consequences.
IRS taxes, Obamacare, and food stamps are based on actual income, not what some bureaucrat thinks that you ought to be making.

Landers' arguments seem stupid to me, but he is speaking for the financial interests of a lot of ex-wives, so I am pessimistic that legislatures will pass meaningful reforms.

NPO has more criticism of Landers, and here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Free Range Day

NPR Radio reports today:
A Maryland couple made national headlines after Child Protective Services investigated them for letting their children walk home from a park alone. Now, other parents are staging a defiant protest in support.
It discusses the Meitive case, which I have posted about.

The Colorado supreme court is hearing a case of a biological dad against the "psychological parents" who, with the cooperation of the mom, essentially kidnapped the kid for several years. This is a serious attack on parental rights, using BIOTCh argument, and another encroachment of psychobabble. We will want to keep an eye on this case.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Abolish the family for social justice

Here is the anti-family leftoid mind at work:
The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’
Swift also says:
“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”
Another Swift once proposed that poor Irish sell their babies to the rich for food.

A good rule of thumb is to be against anything that social justice warriors want.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Anonymous accusations and deflategate

QA law professor writes in the Wash. Post:
The recent media obsession with “free range” parenting has illuminated a policy issue which rarely affects parents who debate free range parenting: the exploitation of child abuse reporting hotlines.

Each year, about 3.4 million calls are made to these state-run phone lines. Tragically, only a fraction of these calls are made by trained professionals reporting actual abuse or neglect. The others are made, often anonymously, by people who don’t know what constitutes abuse (or, more nefariously, by those who want to punish the parent). But because child protective service agencies are required to act, these calls can result in innocent parents losing their kids, tangling families in a complicated system.

The anonymous reporting was a terrible idea. Even worse, our society has become one to convict people on the flimsiest of evidence. Here is the latest example, from pro football:
The Deflategate report is out! And it’s not even 5 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day!

Read it here.

Anyway, the gist of the report is that the NFL’s investigation, spearheaded by attorney Ted Wells, found that “it is more probable than not” that two Patriots equipment managers — Jim McNally, the attendant for the officials’ locker room at Gillette Stadium, and John Jastremski, a team equipment assistant — “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were tested by the game officials” during the AFC championship game in January.

The report also found that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

The NFL’s findings hinge on incriminating text messages sent between McNally and Jastremski. And boy, are they incriminating. And hilarious. ...

What seems to be something of a smoking gun, when McNally calls himself “the deflator” and mentions taking the story to ESPN, came on May 9, 2014, before the start of the season.
Got that? They spent months investigating, and wrote a 243-page report, and all they can say is that there is a 51% a couple of low-level equipment managers did something improper? And maybe Brady had some awareness? And the smoking gun is the word "deflator" in a message a year ago?!

The balls are supposed to be between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. Brady prefers them closer to 12.5 while others prefer higher inflation.

I am surprised that the NFL wants to make an issue out of this, when (1) the air pressure had no effect on the game, (2) its own official screwed up by not testing the balls, (3) the game has been over for months, and (4) it only has a 51% case of wrongdoing by low-level employees.

There is no reason for anyone to care about this. I just point out how our twisted society wants to make these reckless accusations against people.

Another sports superstar who has been accused of being a cheater is Barry Bonds. But after 12 years of federal felony prosecutions, he now stands acquitted of all the charges. I think that the feds just did not like him breaking Babe Ruth's records.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Custody evaluators have no reliable research

Philip Greenspun trashes the forensic psychologists who do child custody evaluations:
Lawyers and judges whom we interviewed were skeptical regarding the value of court-appointed psychologists. Here was a typical litigator’s perspective: “They have no reliable research. They have no long-term research. There is no proof that psychology and psychiatric professionals are any better predictors of parenting than lay judges. [divorce psychology/custody/GAL work] is a wildly expensive industry that has grown up based mostly on hocus pocus. ‘Best interest of the child’ is a legal term, not a psychological term yet we are turning to psychologists to tell the court what is best for a child.” Psychologists who got paid to testify in court spoke confidently of their ability to deliver value. Psychologists who were not being paid to do this work spoke scornfully of their colleagues who were. Linda Nielsen, professor at Wake Forest: “”Anyone who tells you that they’ve checked their biases at the door is an idiot. Evaluators have their own prejudices.” Joyanna Silberg, who has written extensively on child abuse: “Psychologists have sold their souls. I will not do custody evaluations. It is ridiculous to look into which parent is feeding sugared cereals. I will not pretend that I have divine power.”
This quackery reflects badly on the whole profession.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Men get blamed for divorce

Wash. Post writer Darlena Cunha has an article titled: Men are to blame for the high divorce rate among America’s poor.
Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women, according to Bill Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. In the 1960s and ’70s, he said, highly educated mothers got divorced at about the same rate of less educated mothers.

In the last decade or two, these two groups of women have been moving in opposite directions: fewer divorces for graduates, more divorces for non-graduates. In intricate lifetime marriage and divorce studies that span decades, done by Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, 29 percent of married, college-educated couples have ever divorced. In contrast, those studies show that nearly 50 percent of married couples not holding college degrees have divorced.

Doherty theorizes that the reason for this has something to do with the changing expectations women have for their partners.
The explanation is that an unemployed husband is a huge liability for the poor mom, because unless he is bringing in a lot of money, she can do much better with the welfare benefits for single moms. Hence she gets a divorce.

A number of comments there say the obvious.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Scaring people with 700 kids a day

A viral video scares parents into not letting their kids talk to strangers Over 700 Children are Abducted a Day. The Free-Range Mom points out that there haven't been that many abductions in the last 5 years, total.

I was in the local park yesterday, and a bunch boys and girls of age 5-6 or so kept asking me to lift them up to pick fruit out of a tree. I tried to convince them that the fruit might be poisonous, but they assured me that they ate it last week and no one died. One girl insisted on sitting on my shoulders. These kids were not worried about being abducted. I was the one worried about an accusation of improper behavior.