Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reason for custody change

A reader asks whether my Nov. 2004 temporary custody order was based on a custody evaluator recommendation.

I don't know. The judge (Kelsay) did have such a recommendation in hand, but he did not say that he was relying on it. Instead, he gave other reasons and did not connect his order to any allegations or opinions in the evaluator report. The evaluator recommended a 2-weekend-a-month visitation schedule. Judge Kelsay ordered such a schedule. Family court judges all over the country commonly order such schedules. I don’t know why they do it. I just know what they say. I am be pretty sure that it was not based on the best interest of the child because he didn’t even identify any interests of the children. I can only assume that if Judge Kelsay had a sound reason for what he did, then he would have said so. He did not.

Dads become slave labor

Virginia wants to turn deadbeat dads into slave labor:
Richmond jail inmates could be helping the city clean up blight soon.

The City Council last night approved a plan to have nonviolent inmate volunteers work to repair code violations that property owners refuse to fix, ranging from fixing broken windows to clearing away piles of trash to mowing overgrown grass.

The sheriff's office expects about five to eight low-risk inmates - mainly men in jail for failing to pay child support - to do the work, said Capt. Gary Sink. The volunteers would be paid $10 to $20 a week, or have a chance to earn "good-time" credit to reduce their stay in jail. ...

"I think it's a great idea," said Councilwoman Kathy C. Graziano.
I have a better idea. Let them out of jail so they can work to support their families.

Deadbeat dad goes on rampage

Missouri story:
ST. LOUIS - A clerical error caused the state to assess a man who went on a shooting rampage last week five times more per month in child support than he actually owed, state officials acknowledged.

Herbert L. Chalmers, who shot four people to death before killing himself last week, told a sometime girlfriend he raped during the rampage that he was upset about his child support obligations. One of the victims was the mother of some of his children.

An error in data entry, made when more than 400,000 child support files were converted to a new computer database in 1998, increased Chalmers' monthly child support more than fivefold, said Deborah Scott, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services. ...

"Rape and murder are not rational responses to resolving one's concerns over child support obligations," Scott told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On April 18, when Chalmers went on his rampage, the department was garnisheeing 50 percent of his paycheck - the state's top limit - for back support, Scott said.
There is no excuse for this. The bureaucrats should realize that there are limits to how much they can punish dads.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Increasing joint custody

Poll news:
In a recent poll of its national membership concerning child custody trends throughout the past five years, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has announced that an overwhelming 61% of respondents have seen a growing shift towards joint legal custody.

"In many ways these results reflect trends within our own society," said Cheryl Lynn Hepfer, president of the AAML. "As both parents increasingly share the day to day responsibilities of child rearing, the court system is a striking a more balanced tone on this issue by helping to address a growing demand for joint legal custody."
I thought that the trend was towards joint physical custody.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

British tolerance for Mohammedans

Here is British news:
A BANGLADESHI woman who shook a baby boy so violently that he suffered brain damage walked free from court yesterday because a judge conceded that she did not know how to behave in the West.

Rahella Khanom, 24, caused the five-month-old boy in her care to suffer fractures to his breast bone and ribs as she tried to rid him of evil spirits, Southwark Crown Court was told.

The injuries inflicted on the child over several weeks had caused one side of his brain to shrink. It was believed that the boy would have been screaming in agony for eight weeks because his injuries went untreated. ...

Judge Rodney McKinnon told Khanom: "Normal and right-minded people will be horrified by this. Everybody must recognise how serious it is to treat children in this way and to use violence." But the judge said that Khanom's strong cultural and religious beliefs, and the fact that she had been forced by her husband to live in isolation since coming to Britain from Bangladesh, meant that there were exceptional circumstances in her case. ...

[Her lawyer] said: "She now knows that this was not an appropriate way to deal with her belief in manifestation of spirit."
It is amazing how the father always gets blamed.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Richards v Sheen

A reader sends this Hollywood gossip:
(April 21) -- TMZ has learned that Denise Richards' lawyer went to court Friday, alleging that her estranged husband Charlie Sheen has threatened her and that his alleged pornography and prostitution habits have put their children at risk. Sheen has specifically denied most of Richards' allegations.
The article has links to the actual Richards and Sheen sordid declarations. Richards is upset that Sheen cut a wedding picture in half, punched the bed headboard, and various vices. Most of it really doesn't have much to do with their actual custody dispute.

Filings are also at The Smoking Gun.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Her reason for divorce

People ask what caused our divorce. My ex-wife's most recent explanation is this:
12. ... I never anticipated divorcing Mr. AngryDad. Ironically, it was 'for the children' that I found it necessary to divorce Mr. AngryDad ...

Simply put, Mr. AngryDad would not stop behaving in a way that put the children at risk. Mr. AngryDad has a predictably unpredictable manner about him; and despite his desire to have his children within his care, I knew that about five to ten percent the time he spent parenting, Mr. AngryDad consciously exposed our children to an unacceptably high risk of danger (as per anyone else's standards other than Mr. AngryDad's) I realized that my presence alone could no longer buffer the children from Mr. AngryDad's conduct. With this realization, I also inwardly acknowledged that by doing nothing about Mr. AngryDad's inevitable conduct towards our children, even if I would have been an unwilling participant had I been present, I would be complicit in the adverse consequences resulting from his predictably unpredictable tendency to expose our children to unacceptably dangerous situations. I strongly believe that I was and am obligated, as their mother, to protect them from those situations which I know to be potentially injurious to their health and welfare. Mr. AngryDad was that very real situation, albeit five to ten percent of his time with the children. He has always been, and is still insistent upon doing things his way.

13. Despite the seemingly enjoyable prospect of continuing to live in a multi-million dollar home as a stay-at-home mom, with all mine and the children's financial worries taken care of, and our children experiencing an incredibly high standard of living with a multitude of expensive lessons and private schooling, it all would not matter if the children are dead from what others would consider an unfortunate accident, but I would know to be purposeful ignorance of the Mr. AngryDad's predictable tendency to expose our children to unacceptably high risks. In my mind, this was not an even trade-off or acceptable risk to take -- hoping that nothing would come of Mr. AngryDad's conduct, so we all could continue to enjoy the life we were leading.

14. Consequently, I filed for divorce, and moved out, doing what I could, considering with whom I was negotiating, to protect our children in the wake of my decision. This meant signing a Marital Settlement Agreement that was completely one sided ... [April 3, 2006 declaration]
The Marital Settlement Agreement was based on a form from a Nolo Press self-help book, and included a parenting plan for 50-50 custody. The kids were with me half the time.

Here was the reply that I recently filed with the court:
Previously, AngryMom gave other reasons for the divorce to this Court. It is funny how she never mentions her boyfriend when she gives these stories. At any rate, it is wildly implausible that she could think that filing for divorce, moving out of the house, and agreeing to a 50-50 custody settlement was somehow necessary for the safety of the kids.
She was arguing that the agreement should be voided. I would have been really disappointed if the court had accepted her argument.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bad California move-away bill

Glenn Sacks writes:
A new bill has been introduced into the California Senate which will make it more difficult for children of divorce to retain the loving bonds they share with both parents. The bill's backers made a sweeping, last minute amendment to the bill in order to slip it through before opponents had a chance to organize.

I want all of you to write the Judiciary Committee members in opposition to SB 1482 by clicking here.
I submitted my name to the cause.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Survived another trial

We were supposed to have another trial this afternoon. We had a hearing, but not too much happened. Commissioner Joseph presided. He seemed to be in a good mood. Neither of us had a lawyer.

The trial was supposed to clean up the remaining financial issues. My ex-wife is demanding huge attorney fees, but she rescheduled that motion for May 18. I don't know why.

Most of her other arguments hinged on breaking our Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) that we signed in Nov. 2003. She rambled that it should be broken because she didn't know what she was signing, because of some formality involving my asset disclosure not being on the right form, because she was in a hurry to divorce me, because she was under duress from thinking about the safety of the children, because she wouldn't have signed if she had realized how much she could screw me in court, etc. Some of arguments didn't make any sense. If I were really endangering the kids as she claimed, then it is hard to see how she could have thought that she was making them safer by moving out and signing an MSA that leaves me with the kids half the time.

She admitted that she got legal advice before signing, but complained that she only got $100 of advice.

At one point, the judge asked her where she got her law degree, and then asked whether it was in a community property state. She said that it was not. I guess he was trying to determine whether she knew what she was doing. I pointed out that she did take a class in law school on community property. The judge was surprised, and said to me, "How would you know that?" I explained that I talked to her about her classes.

The judge refused to void the MSA. He did allow my ex-wife to re-open discovery in order to pursue some claims that I deceived her or hid assets. So I guess that I'll have to give her all my financial papers again, and let her go on another fishing expedition.

I disclosed everything to my ex-wife, so I think that this will all be a big waste of time. The next big issue is attorney fees. If my ex-wife can get enough attorney fees to get an attorney back on the case, then this case could drag on for another year.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Woman jailed for contempt

Here is a long story about Dyandria Darel:
In October 2002, Manhattan Family Court Judge Helen Sturm sentenced Darel to three years in jail for contempt, finding she had violated those orders. Darel sat behind bars at Rikers Island for 28 months before her release, in February 2005.
She didn't even get a jury trial. That is supposed to be impossible in our system.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Her response to my papers

I just got my ex-wife's response to my court papers. Here is one of her main points:

Respondent's payment during their first year of marriage of Petitioner's law school loans was a gift. This payment was never made conditional upon Petitioner's working and paying off this debt to the community's benefit. Petitioner was caring for their baby and continued to care for their children full time for the next seven years. Petitioner did not pursue a career in law, nor did she have plans to do so anytime in the near future. Petitioner's full time job was to care for the children. Had Petitioner not been caring for these children, over a span of seven years, Respondent would have had to pay at least this amount and much more for day care, and a full time nanny.

Furthermore, Respondent and the community benefited from Petitioner's law degree. Respondent had been involved in several court battles throughout their marriage, both in Federal court and in the Santa Cruz court system. Respondent utilized Petitioner's legal skills throughout these battles; Petitioner was a law clerk, a legal secretary, and an errand girl for Respondent. Petitioner was never compensated for these services.
So I got the benefit of her law school education because I got some legal advice from her, and if she had refused to help take care of the kids, then I would have had to hire a nanny, and that would have cost more than her law school.

This is all intended to justify me paying her lawyer big bucks in order to write up complaints about how I took care of the kids during our marriage.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I deny any fault in this case

I filed a response to my ex-wife's court papers, and I included this:
I deny any fault in this case

AngryMom continues to accuse me of an assortment of sins, including neglecting the kids, violating court orders, impeding discovery, etc. None of these allegations have any merit. This Court has not found me to be at fault about anything.

I never put our children in any danger, and there is no court finding that I did. No one even expressed the opinion that AngryMom was any better parent than I was. While there are hundreds of pages of allegations against me, there is not one single example of any incident where any judge or court expert said what I did wrong or expressed the opinion that it was even possible for me to be a better parent than I have been. (There were a couple of negative opinions about co-parenting, but neither said that I was individually responsible for any problems.)

The Court did order a temporary change in time-share in Nov. 2004, but that was not based on any evidence, testimony, or expert recommendation for immediate intervention because there was none at that time. Judge Kelsay justified it by giving us a lecture on how he believes that time-share does not matter. He also said that he had presided over many custody trials and he thought that they all went badly. His order was ultimately reversed after a custody trial.

AngryMom tries to buttress her case by claiming that I violated court orders and other required procedures. These claims are based on events that occurred while she was represented by Miss Gray and Miss Gray was billing for $57,598.79 in legal work. I am sure that Miss Gray would have known what to do about it if AngryMom's claims had any merit. They do not.
My ex-wife wants to penalize me for my supposed bad behavior, but she has never shown that I have done anything wrong.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More attorney fees demands

I just got another big stack of papers from my ex-wife demanding more attorney fees at a May 18 hearing. She has already scheduled hearing on her attorney fee demands on April 17 and April 28. She keeps asking for the same attorney fees over and over. Maybe she figures that if she asks enough times, she might get more money.

I don't know why she even cares so much. The money would just go to her ex-attorney anyway. It is very unlikely that my ex-wife would have to pay for the work that Jennifer Gray did.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Playing the game

Pirate Aggro writes:
A judge is supposed to be impartial of course. But I have seen enough judges in my time who like their power and don't like anyone that challenges what they have to say even if its wrong. I'm a social worker (I'm sure we aren't your favorite people right now either) but I actually work with people in your situation. I tell the people I work with all the time "listen, its unfair, I know, but just play the game the way they want you to play it now. There will be plenty of time for talk when its all over." I know that sounds chickensh*t and goes contrary to what we hear about standing up for ourselves etc. Unfortunately as far as the law goes, especially when you are on the side you are on, the cards are in the judges hand.
I've gotten other advice from people who are connected with the family court system, and some of them say worse things that what I have said here. Some say that judges and court experts decide who they like or don't like based on various personal prejudices, that they invent phony excuses for punishing the people they don't like, and that they have so much power that there is nothing that I can do except to go along with whatever they say and to hope that they like me.

I do not know what motivates the judges and court experts. If there had been a way to play their game and still be a father to my kids, I would have done it. There was not. I know because I tried. I only got my kids back by refusing to be railroaded.

I had one hour to go along with Bret Johnson. I practically begged him for a chance to explain myself. He refused to hear it. His mind was made up, and he was going to stick it to me. I am not going to sit back quietly and let people like that abuse their positions and punish me and my kids. I am going to describe what they do. If they are doing their jobs fairly and properly, then they should not mind the description.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Justifying $55k in legal fees

My ex-wife submitted this affidavit:
I, JENNIFER J. GRAY, do hereby declare:

1. I was the attorney of record for PETITIONER Ms. [name] AngryDad. If called upon to testify as to the facts contained herein, I could do so competently.

2. On May 10th, 2005, I executed the "DECLARATION OF JENNIFER J. GRAY IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONER'S REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES", for the May 13, 2005 hearing.

3. Nature and Complexity of the Litigation: This is a complex family law case involving contested issues of the following: physical and legal custody of the two minor children, and division of assets. Mr. AngryDad has challenged every decision and procedure in this case, resulting in excessively time consuming mediation attempts and litigation efforts.

4. Examples of the nature and the complexity of the litigation include the following: an August 30, 2004 financial hearing on support issues; a May 13, 2005 hearing on custody issues, involving the examination and cross examination of Mr. AngryDad, Ms. AngryDad, Dr. Bret Johnson, and four witnesses (additional declarations were prepared for other witnesses); deposition of Mr. AngryDad; research pertaining to experts retained by Mr. AngryDad; motion to compel the production of documents; motion for an expedited hearing; and a motion to continue a hearing date.

5. Amount Involved: The amount of the attorney's fees Ms. AngryDad still owes our law firm is $25,073.89, out of a total of $54,892.54 billed. This amount was for over 247 hours of legal work done by my assistants and myself.

6. The Skill Required and Empployed in Handling the Litigation involved the following activities:

a. Drafting: Declarations for my client in support of OSC; OSC Notices; Income and Expense Declaration; Status Conference Statements (at least two times); Declaration in Support of Motion to Seal Court Records; Points and Authorities re: Motion to Seal; Reply Declaration; Reply Brief, Level II Investigation packet; Findings and Order After Hearing (at least nine times); Form interrogatories; Meet and confer letter; Notice to exchange expert witness list; Ex parte application; Motion to compel responses to discovery; Motion to compel responses to form interrogatories; Motion to compel responses to request for production of documents; Declarations in support of motion to compel; Motion to continue trial and supporting declaration; Ex parte motion to continue and request for order shortening time; Drafting witness examination questions for Deposition of Mr. AngryDad; Schedule of Assets and Debts; Drafting witness examination questions for expert Dr. Johnson; Drafting Client's declaration for status hearing; Drafting declaration regarding attorney's fees; Memorandum of points and authorities regarding fees issue; Response and status report regarding safety and parenting issues.

b. Court Appearances Regarding: Status Conference (several); Custody and Support hearing; Child and Spousal Support Hearing; Support issues; Mediation/Dr. Berrenge and Dr. Johnson; Review Hearing on Support and Custody Issues; Review Hearing; Custody Evaluation; Ex. parte hearing for order to shorten time; Motion to continue and motion to compel; Motion to compel and setting of continued evidentiary hearing; Custody hearing Evidentiary hearing regarding custody and visitation issues; Review hearing on custody, visitation, support and attorney's fees; Review hearing regarding the psychological evaluations report for both my client and Mr. AngryDad.

c. Discovery: Deposition of Mr. AngryDad; Examination of supporting witnesses; Cross-examination of Mr. AngryDad's witnesses;

7. Attention Given to Case: I worked on this case with Ms. AngryDad for over two years. As outlined in the attached billing statements, I did not bill for seventeen hours worth of work, equivalent to $3,825.00. Further, I worked, at a minimum, an additional twenty hours on this case, at no cost to Ms. AngryDad.

8. Success of My Efforts: Every court action concluded in Ms. AngryDad's favor.

9. Attorney's Professional Standing and Reputation: I have been in the practice of law, specifically litigation, for over twelve years. I have been in the practice of family law for almost five years at Bosso Williams, one of the larger law firms in Santa Cruz County.

10. I billed Ms. AngryDad at a rate of $225.00 per hour for the work done in 2004, and at a rate of $250.00 per hour for work done in 2005. My assistant's work was billed at a rate of $95 per hour for work done in 2004, and $110 per hour for work done in 2005.

11. Intricacies and Importance of the Litigation: This case involved important contested child custody and visitation issues. The nature of the parties and the contested issues required time beyond the average custody and support matter. Mr. AngryDad chose to contest every issue presented to the court, regardless of whether or not his position was supported by law.

12. Labor and Necessi1y for Skilled Legal Training and Ability In Trying the Case: This case involved a lot of attention to detail and in depth familiarity with the Rules of Civil Procedure. All issues in this case were contested, and involved many court appearances.

13. Litigation Costs Already Incurred and Exvected to be Incurred Tbrough Conclusion of the Case: The litigation costs incurred at the time that Ms. AngryDad substituted herself in as her own attorney were $54,892.54. That was in October of 2005. It is now April of 2006, and this case is scheduled for yet another hearing on financial matters. It is estimated that attorney's fees would have grown to at least another $30,000 owing had I remained on the case.

14. Time Consumed: This case consumed a majority of time over a two year period. In addition to Mr. AngryDad's decision to represent himself, his demands required an unusual amount of time on seemingly routine issues.

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.

Date: Apr 2, 2006 By JENNIFER J. GRAY

It is amazing how she can waste money and lie to the court about it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Akin to Stalking

I just got another stack of papers from my ex-wife via FedEx. Apparently she decided that yesterday's demands for attorney fees (to be heard on April 17) were insufficient, and she filed a motion to ask for $115,147.78 in attorney fees on April 28. Among other things, she wants to shut down this blog:
i. Reprehensible Conduct - Akin to Stalking

Mr. AngryDad created the blog site "" to journal his distorted version of this divorce process. He uses this blog site to try to intimidate witnesses who testify in this case against him, psychologists who examine him, my attorney, and those involved in the court system. Mr. AngryDad uses real names, places, and dates on this site. When these people whom he blogs 'google' their name, they will find references to themselves on "angrydad". "Angrydad" tarnishes people's reputations, in a widespread published forum.

I believe that Mr. AngryDad is using this blog site to try to intimidate me into backing down, giving in, and giving up. It is an attempt to isolate me by scaring away others involved in this action. Following is a list of people and referenced pages (attached hereto as Exhibit "C" are excerpts from the "Angrydad" blog site) representing Mr. AngryDad's reprehensible past time:

Court Personnel
1. Dr. Bret Johnson (Court Evaluator): pages 2,,17
2. Dr. Berrenge (Court Mediator): page 13
3. Judge Tomas E. Kelly (1st Judge): pages 18, 22
4. Judge William Kelsey (2nd Judge): pages 23, 24
5. Judge Irwin H. Joseph (3rd Judge): pages 25, 35
6. Dr. Bruce Bess (psychologist A.K.A. Dr. Igor Inkblot): pages 25, 26, and pages 36-40
7. Alex Calvo: page 41
8. Sarah Wood: page 41

Lawyer, Fiance, Father, Babysitter
1 . Jennifer J. Gray (attorney): pages 27 29, 32, 37, 42, 52
2. Bruce Travers (fiance): pages 48, 53 60
3. Judge Tony L. Eberwein (father): page 50
4. Micahaela (babysitter): page 56
Witnesses Who Testified at Trial
1 . Dr. Jason Camera (witness): pages 61, 62
2. Maria Agnes M. (witness): pages 63, 64
My home
I . Picture of the inside of my apartment: page 65

Examples of "angrydad"'s worst offenses in trying to intimidate those involved into not participating occur on page 2 against Dr. Bret Johnson:
For example, I mentioned the real name of the court appointed psychologist, Bret K. Johnson. He is the most bigoted and malicious person that I have ever met in my life. He decided that he didn't like me for various reasons, and that he was going to break all the rules in order to inflict as much punishment as possible on me and the kids. He voluntarily chose to appear in public court to use his reputation against me.

Bret K. Johnson is a homosexual psychologist who has no understanding of marriage, women, or children. His professional specialty is helping gay men get out of the closet. He actively and publicly goes around ruining people's lives under color of judicial authority. He does not follow the applicable statutes, court precedents, professional ethic rules, social science research, or generally accepted custody evaluation guidelines. He is the legal equivalent of a child molester. To my kids, Johnson's cruelty is the worst thing that has ever happened to them.
On page 1.5, Mr. AngryDad describes how he plans on writing "an essay detailing what was wrong with Dr. Johnson's report. It will be a long essay. It is my opinion that Dr. Johnson should never be allowed to testify in family court, and that he should never be allowed near children." Mr. AngryDad wrote this during the time that we were being evaluated by Dr. Bruce Bess (alias Dr. Igor Inkblot), knowing that Dr. Bess was aware of the blog site. Mr. AngryDad was trying to intimidate Dr. Bess into not writing a negative report, by showing that Mr. AngryDad was willing to go to exorbitant lengths to 'get back'. Mr. AngryDad's blog site behavior is akin to stalking. He journals his version of our divorce story, exposing and misrepresenting Ms. AngryDad's private life and activities for his own purposes. He is trying to make himself feel known, even when he is not around. This is what a stalker does.
Actually, I was not trying to intimidate Dr. Bret Johnson or Dr. Bruce Bess. The above rant against Johnson was written after he had exited from the case. I did write a tirade on this blog against using inkblot tests in family court custody disputes, but I had no idea that we would eventually be ordered to see Dr. Bess or get inkblot tests many months later. I doubt that Dr. Bess would have even known about this web site, except that my ex-wife gave him a printout of everything on the blog.

I am not sure what my ex-wife's point is. Perhaps that she thinks that she can badmouth me publicly in open court, but that I shouldn't be able to defend myself publicly on my blog. Perhaps she thinks that some of those named people are embarrassed about their testimony and actions in the case. Perhaps she just wanted an excuse to mention that her father is a judge. (I hadn't mentioned it.) Perhaps she read on my blog about the Boston court that banned a book about a child custody case, and figured maybe she could get a similar order. Perhaps it is just a ploy to get sympathy from the judge, or to get the judge to dislike me.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dog fight in court

Memphis TN news:
The standard poodle's owners, Lisa and John Roberts, have been unable to agree on who should get custody as the terms of their divorce are finalized.

Two days of mediation didn't help, so an hourlong hearing before Judge Robert Childers decided the issue.
They had no kids. The judge order shared custody of the dog.

Preparing for another trial

I just got a big stack of legal papers from my ex-wife. We are having another trial on April 17. She is asking for an additional $82,573.89 in attorney fees. She has an assortment of new complaints about our marriage, including claiming that I monopolized use of the TV remote control!

She is an attorney herself, and she is not using another attorney. I'll post more on this later. I am still trying to make sense out of it.

No school on Saturday

News of the weird:
A 27-year-old woman was arrested in League City, Texas, in February after police discovered her 6-year-old daughter wandering around her empty school yard on a Saturday morning. The woman said she dropped the kid off, as usual, but that she was distracted and didn't realize it was Saturday.
I don't just defend fathers. I defend all parents who get arrested on silly charges. Sure, this mother did something stupid. She did something that I wouldn't do. It was preventable. She may have a lot of parenting practices with which I might disagree. But she just made a simple mistake, and it should not be treated as a criminal act.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

More on the strip club toddler

A reader writes:
I wanted to respond: I practice law in Alabama, with over half of my practice in family court. To these people who think it is okay to leave a toddler in a vehicle in a parking lot by himself or herself for any length of time, I ask, "you're kidding, right?" I can see at least one reason why you may have lost custody of your child in court! (Although I do not know anything about the other choice for custody.) I remember last year reading the newspaper about a (Georgia?) family court judge (juvenile court, I think) getting in trouble for allegedly leaving her young children home alone one night while she left the house for a few hours. I am not sure what ever happened to her, but the press sure did make a big deal out of it! Most of these stories do not make the news, I guess because of the low regard our culture has for the mundane tasks involved in taking care of children, but throw in a juicy fact, like the father was in a strip club, or the mother was a judge in a juvenile court (or even better, Brittney not putting her baby in a car seat, and the press just snatches it up! Why? It sells advertising!
Yes, the press likes these silly stories because they sell ads. They give excuses to express disapproval of a sleazy pop singer, a strip club patron, or a hypocritical judge.

The newspapers and family courts do indeed show a low regard for the mundane tasks of child rearing when they make a big deal out of isolated minor incidents of no consequence.

This picture shows Britney Spears driving with a baby on her lap. This is an example of a parent who is actually violating a law. Had she been caught by a policeman, she could have been fined $100 or so.