Sunday, December 31, 2006

Asking the victim for child support

News of the Weird:
Kimberly Baker, 22, sought child support in Warrensburg, Va., in October from the father of her daughter. However, when officials realized that the father, now 16, would have been 13 when the child was conceived, that made him a rape victim under state law, and thus, they arrested Baker.
There is a good chance the boy will have to pay mom support (aka child support) anyway. I don't think most states have any sort of exception for statutory rape victims.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Waiting for appeal

I haven't posted much about my case lately, because I am waiting for some action from the California appellate court. I was expecting to have heard a schedule for oral argument by now.

Meanwhile, I ran into this story about the California appeals court. A trial judge made an offhand comment that, "You can’t offend the kangaroos up there in kangaroo court." The appeals judge was offended by this, and wrote:
In making his "kangaroo court" remark, on the record in open court, Judge Saiers violated Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, which provides as pertinent: "A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY. ...

Reading a little between the lines, it appears that Judge Saiers’s "kangaroo court" remark was provoked by his frustration not being able to dispose of a pending case in a way he thought sensible. It would appear that, in his eyes, this court was a naive, ivory-tower, obstructionist, oblivious to the real-world problems of trial courts faced with staggering caseloads.
The page also describes a Mississippi man who went to jail for ten days in 1997 for telling the judge he had a "kangaroo court". Also:
Miss. Bar v. Lumumba, 912 So. 2d 871, 875 (Miss. 2005). The attorney was suspended from practice for 6 months after telling a newspaper reporter that the judge had "the judicial temperament of a barbarian."
I am not an attorney, and as far as I know, there is no law or rule against me calling the judge a barbarian or the court a kangaroo court on this blog.

I am inclined to believe that the appeals court is a kangaroo court. I will be reporting here as soon as I have some first-hand experience.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Piling on Judith Regan

Cathy Young comments on Judith Regan's firing:
A few champions of embattled mothers, such as publishing hotshot Judith Regan (herself embroiled in a custody fight), openly advocated discirmination against fathers: "Women are simply better equipped biologically for parenting young children." ...

When the show was over and I was walking off the set past La Regan's desk, my gracious host told me once again that I was grievously wrong to think that father absence was often not the fault of fathers. "Then why is it that it's mothers who initiate divorces two-thirds of the time?" I asked. In response, Regan shrieked, "Because all those men are pigs! And I hope that some day, you marry a guy who chokes you and gives you a black eye!" (as she alleged her ex had done to her). ...

A friend who used to work for HarperCollins, not directly for Regan but with a few people who had direct contact with her, told me that she was famous for referring to the father of her children as "the sperm donor."
Regan is mainly famous for publishing trashy books; I didn't know that she was so anti-father.

Monday, December 25, 2006

TV's Judge Judy

I just tuned in TV's Judge Judy Sheindlin ranting on CNN Larry King Live against people dress improperly to court:
If for instance this was a custody case in the family court and someone came in saying "screw the justice system" on their t-shirt -- would that give me some indication that this is not a person I would entrust children with? Absolutely.
Be sure and suck up to her if you appear in her court. I do think that there are people in the family court system who are truly evil, and not deserving of any respect. I had a judge (Kelsay) who even admitted that he made a mess out of every child custody trial he had. He seemed determined to continue to make messes out of every case.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Supreme Court may hear child custody issue

Joanna Grossman writes:
In 2000, the Supreme Court handed down an important family law opinion, Troxel v. Granville. There, it held the State of Washington state's third-party visitation law unconstitutional as applied to the case before the Court. (I wrote at length about the case in a prior column.)

At the time, many predicted the demise of parallel laws in other states. But now, six years later, more state statutes have withstood challenge than have not, and courts are once again facing claims that grandparents have a right to seek visitation with a grandchild, even over the objection of the grandchild's parents.

Indeed, recently the highest courts of Pennsylvania and Utah upheld their states' laws with respect to grandparent visitation against a constitutional challenge based on Troxel.
The US Supreme Court said that parents have fundamental constitutional rights over the custody of their children, but a lot of states have gone ahead and awarded visitation to non-parents on the flimsiest of justifications. The Supreme Court may have to hear the same issue again.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Contested divorces can share parenting

A feminist blogger writes:
the proponents of shared parenting initiatives refuse to consider the following facts:

1. families who divorce amicably usually come up with their own custody arrangements;
2. many families who don't divorce amicably still end up settling on an agreed order;
3. the small percentage of contested cases that end up in the courts which would force undue burdens of proof on litigants to avoid shared parenting are families in which abuse has more often occurred. There are the very families for whom shared parenting is completely inappropriate.
The argument here is that we should have shared parenting for settled cases, but not adjudicated cases. The argument is repeated a lot, and rarely refuted, but it is totally idiotic.

Our legal system cannot have one favored outcome for settled cases, and another for adjudicated cases. It just cannot work that way. People settle cases based on an expectation on how they will be adjudicated. If the legal system worked smoothly, and a case had no facts in dispute, then the case would settle because no one would have any advantage to spending the time and money on litigation. If facts are in dispute, then court action might be needed to resolve those facts. But the court should never try to punish one side for failing to sign a settlement that the court would never order anyway.

Many feminists and even child custody evaluators take the position that shared parenting is fine if both parents agree, but if they fail to agree, then the court should order primary custody to the mom. The position is illogical. If shared parenting is good when the parents agree, then it is even better when they don't agree. The court should be issuing orders that approximate a desirable agreement, and not giving incentives for disagreement.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are false abuse charges a common tactic?

Cathy Young writes in Reason magazine:
Child custody disputes are some of the bloodiest battlefields in the gender wars -- battlefields upon which allegations of spousal and child abuse are widely regarded as a nuclear weapon. But there are two opposite views of this problem. Fathers" advocates claim abuse allegations are routinely used to deny divorced fathers contact with their children and to poison children’s minds against their fathers, in what the activists and some psychologists call "parental alienation syndrome." Feminists argue that well-founded accusations of abuse are often dismissed and even turned against the accusing mothers.
She goes on to explain that the feminist poster girls for this cause have turned out to be frauds.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Judge Sloop gets fired

Orlando Sentinel reports:
The Florida Supreme Court today ordered Seminole County Judge John Sloop removed from the bench.

Sloop is the judge who ordered 11 people jailed because they went to the wrong courtroom by mistake. ...

Sloop blamed the ordeal, which happened in Sanford Dec. 3, 2004, on an undiagnosed case of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, something two psychiatrists testified that he truly did suffer from. ...

If his only mistake had been locking up those 11 people, the justices might have allowed him to keep his job, the court wrote.

But it also reviewed a video of a hearing a few weeks earlier at which Sloop launched into a long, loud abusive tirade against a woman who hadn't paid a $214 fine for 10 years.

Sloop testified that he hadn't lost his temper with the woman, that it was all an act designed to get her to pay, and it had worked.
I think that it is great to fire a judge for jailing 11 people like that for such a frivolous reason, but that last item is strange. I've seen judges go into abusive tirades over minor matters, and I cannot tell if the judge has lost his temper or not.

I get the impression that judges are sent to training seminars where they are taught to treat adults like misbehaving 4-year-olds. When a 4-year-old runs into the street, a parent will often fake anger in order to make an impression on the kid. Judges can similarly lecture someone over something more trivial than a parking ticket.

It is amusing that he used shrinks to make excuses for him. I wonder how often he accepted such lame excuses as a judge.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Boy arrested for unwrapping gifts early

South Carolina news:
A mother convinced Rock Hill police to arrest her 12-year-old son after he unwrapped a Christmas present early.

The boy's great-grandmother had specifically told him not to open his Nintendo Game Boy Advance, which she had wrapped and placed beneath the Christmas tree, according to a police report.

But on Sunday morning, she found the box of the popular handheld game console unwrapped and opened. When the boy's 27-year-old mother heard about the opened gift, she called police.

"He took it without permission. He wanted it. He just took it," said the 63-year-old great-grandmother.
Needless to say, there is no man in the picture. This only happens with single moms.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Getting a simple opposition brief

I just got my ex-wife's legal brief in opposition to my appeal. Most of it consists of just quoting the transcript from the family court judge, and just stating that the judge acted reasonably.

I expected her to do a little more legal research, and concoct some substantial legal arguments and cases on her side. She is a lawyer. Then I would look up the relevant legal issues and file a Reply Brief, as is my right.

Now I don't think that I'll even bother filing a Reply Brief. I doubt that anything that I would say now would make any difference. The appellate courts like to uphold what the lower courts are doing, so the odds are stacked against me. The appeal judges will decide on their own whether the family court judge acted reasonably, and then decide whether they want to do anything about it.