Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Investigating judicial misconduct

A reader writes:
I have managed to find and buy a copy of the California Judicial Conduct Handbook. It will be handy to be able to identify unethical actions and behaviors by our favorite judges and commissioners! The Judicial Code of Ethics is so vague you could drive a Mack Truck through it and not hit a thing.

The next best thing is the New Mexico Handbook, which is online at

Cheers and Happy New Year
Another reader writes:
I saw on your web page that Judge Atack responded to your formal complaint about Com. Joseph and he wasn't going to go any further with it. I just wanted to inform you (if you didn't already know) you have 30 days from his response to you to file a formal complaint with the Judicial Performance Review Board, here is some info.
The sites says that in 2007, there were 148 complaints against California subordinate judicial officers, and two of them were reprimanded.

I am not very optimistic about my complaint against Commissioner Irwin Joseph. It appears as if they look for any excuse to do nothing.

My complaint against Cmr. Joseph was that he violated court rules in order to collect out-of-court evidence against me, improperly suggested that my ex-wife initiate a legal action against me, and then presided over that action himself. See my letter to Judge Atack.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UK woman on NY abuse register

The UK BBC reports:
A mother whose daughters went to an orphanage when she became ill in New York wants her name removed from a US abuse register.

Yvonne Bray from Appledore, Devon was taken to hospital with pneumonia during a post-Christmas shopping trip in New York last December.

Gemma, 16, and Katie, 14, were kept in a children's home for nearly two days.

The US Administration for Children's Services (ACS) has denied there is an ongoing case.

After returning home to Devon, the ACS wrote to Ms Bray saying she was the "subject of a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment received by the New York State Child Abuse Maltreatment Register".

The letter went on: "This means that you have been identified as the person who is responsible for causing or allowing to be inflicted injury, abuse, or maltreatment to children."

A spokesman for the welfare agency said the letter was a standard legal requirement.
She cares because she cannot be a foster parent in England as long as she is on the abuse register, and there is no way for her to prove her innocence and get off the register.

These abuse registers are really a bad idea. The NY Post also has the story.

I am on the California abuse register myself, and it is because Julie Travers made a bogus complaint against me. There is no due process for getting off the list. Maybe there should be a registry of people who make unfounded accusations.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Kids, if you are reading this, I hope that you are having a fun trip, whereever you are. I hope that 2009 is a better year, and that you are able to come home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Court rejects my petition

The California Supreme Court just rejected my writ petition. I am now the only person in history to be punished for quoting the open-court testimony of a govt agent, and the California appellate courts have refused to hear my case.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

San Jose DA conceals evidence disproving child abuse

The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Amid the discovery of videotapes from thousands of medical examinations of children in sex-abuse cases that had been withheld for years, the nurse who conducted those examinations has testified under oath that local prosecutors have long known she was taping the procedures.

Her former boss, the doctor who oversaw the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center unit, agrees the videotaping was no secret. He said he made the decision to keep the tapes from defense attorneys, at least in part, because they could have hampered prosecutions by "muddying" the evidence.
This is a followup to this story. Yes, it muddies the evidence when videotapes show that the parents are innocent of child abuse. It makes it harder for the prosecutors to take the kids away.

Not only did the DAs conceal the videotapes, they are still trying to conceal news about their misbehavior:
Last week, officials in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office denied Ritter's contention. Chief Assistant District Attorney Marc Buller at one point called a reporter to insist that the deposition of Ritter was supposed to be confidential and that the reporter potentially faced jail for writing about the deposition. But no protective order, which would be needed to make the deposition confidential, was ever issued.
Apparently these goons are so used to avoiding scrutiny for their misdeeds that they thought that they could bully a newspaper reporter into silence.

The jail threat sounds pretty crazy, but I was convicted of contempt of court in a similar situation. I reported on this blog about testimony that was given without any protective order or any other claim of confidentiality. The only reason to keep quiet about the testimony was to avoid embarrassment for govt officials who were taking kids away without just cause or due process. And yet I was found in contempt, and I am scheduled to be sentenced next month to up to five days in jail.

Dinosaur dads played active role in raising young

The LA Times reports:
Dinosaur dads played an active role in raising their young and often served as single parents, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science.

The researchers examined bones belonging to eight dinosaurs that were fossilized in "brooding postures" near clutches of eggs. None of them included medullary bone, a form of bone tissue found in female birds and some female dinosaurs that is mined for calcium when they lay eggs, the researchers reported. ...

Dino daddies may have evolved as active parents because the moms were preoccupied with laying eggs, the researchers wrote.
There were no family courts during the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Judge blocks 8th-grade algebra testing in Calif.

The AP reports:
A judge on Friday blocked a plan to make California the first state in the nation to require algebra testing for all eighth-graders.

The ruling sidelines an ambitious mandate approved by the state Board of Education in July after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended it over the concerns of California's school superintendent and education groups. ...

About half of California eighth-graders receive full algebra instruction, but only about a quarter of those who take it score proficient or above on standardized tests. The rate is even lower for black, Hispanic and poor students.

Critics say pushing students into higher-level math too early could increase the dropout rate, but Mitchell said the ruling was a "roadblock to higher academic achievement in California." ...

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Camille Anderson said the governor still believes in algebra testing for all eighth-graders.
I thought that Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph was the only California judge who equated teaching math with child abuse. At my child abuse trial, one of the main complaints against me was that I taught my girls that was more advanced that what they were learning in the local public school. According to the testimony of Sally Mitchell, the CPS agent, I might do this for as much as two hours a week.

Ms. Mitchell wrote a report in which she complained five times about girls having to learn math. I would quote directly from her report, but Cmr. Joseph has threatened me with five days in jail if I do.

In Cmr. Joseph's final judgment in Jan. 2008, he said this about me entering my kids in a math contest:
He does not understand how it makes them feel when he proposes that one enter a contest that she is unqualified because of her age or grade level to enter and she knows it, but Dad insists that she do it anyway.
Of course Cmr. Joseph doesn't know how they feel either, as he never met the kids and no one testified about how they feel. He just assumes that it must be abusive to ask a girl to take a challenging math test.

Now another California judge has wiped out algebra testing for 8th graders in the whole state! What is with these judges who think that taking a challenging math test is a terrible thing?

A couple of months ago I met a woman who moved here from Brazil with her 8th grade son. She said that her kid sat in Santa Cruz public school classrooms for three whole years before he learned something that he had not already learned in Brazil.

My kids are in schools where the teachers hate math. They only teach what they absolutely have to. The level is below the rest of the world. I was only trying to teach them at a level that is taught for their age in other countries. Now, thanks to Cmr. Joseph, I am prohibited from teaching them. Thanks to another California judge, every 8th grader in the state is prohibited from taking an algebra test.

Friday, December 19, 2008

London family courts become more open

A UK Guardian newspaper columnist writes:
The secrecy of the family courts – in which nearly 95,000 cases are heard in private each year – is to end under reforms just announced by Jack Straw, the justice secretary. The media will be allowed access to all levels of the system – except for final adoption proceedings. ...

If the interests of the child are genuinely to come first then, as of next year, the truths revealed in the newly transparent family courts should confirm that some children are cruelly robbed of a loving family by social workers, following a trail of accident, innuendo, pseudo medical "certainties" and false assumptions. ...

Transparency and openness in the family courts will at least mean that evidence and counter-evidence can be examined and exposed to public scrutiny. And, as a result, the complexity and difficulty of arriving at a decision to take a child away from its parent or parents, may be better understood. It's a gamble whether, as a result, the tide constantly running against social workers, may turn.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Right to a rebuttal witness

A reader sends the New York case of In re Fatima M.
In 2000, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) investigated the home of parents Rashad M. and Bernadine M. ... The appellate court objected to the fact that the father had not been allowed to present his own expert to counter his daughter's accusations.

In its ruling, the appellate court stated: "While petitioner and the law guardian were allowed to present their own experts, who opined that the twin girls had been subject to sexual abuse by their father, respondent father himself was not allowed to have an expert. By not allowing respondent father to present an expert, he was effectively precluded from fully exploring the possibility that Aquellah's accusations were a manifestation of her psychiatric problems. As such, his ability to present a defense was severely curtailed. While we are not insensitive to the effect on the children here, there was no evidence that this additional interview would traumatize either child. ..."
My trial was even more egregious than this. I was not even asking for permission to have an expert interview my kids. I just asked to present a witness who had already been appointed by the court and who had already interviewed the kids. But Cmr. Irwin Joseph refused to allow her to testify, arguing that there was no specific law authorizing her to comment on CPS testimony. The case is being appealed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another pro-father research study

Glenn Sacks report on another research study:
Objective: This systematic review aims to describe longitudinal evidence on the effects of father involvement on children's developmental outcomes.

Father engagement reduces the frequency of behavioural problems in boys and psychological problems in young women; it also enhances cognitive development while decreasing criminality and economic disadvantage in low SES families.
There are now many studies on the importance of fathers in their kids' lives.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

San Jose has new CPS policies

The San Jose Mercury News continues to report on bad lawyering in the local juvenile dependency court:
Santa Clara County's dependency system handles about 2,500 cases a year.

In the vast majority, poor children have been removed following a social worker's determination of neglect due to parental drug use. In court, lawyers represent the children, their parents and social workers. Judges decide whether families should reunite following treatment and services. In recent years, the process has been harried and slapdash, and complaints abound that judges can't possibly make consistently good decisions to reunite families.

Now, new guidelines emphasize the court's expectations that children will return home as soon as safely possible, even in some cases where family reunification may have been earlier ruled out.
The paper is apparently referring to this statement:
Question #46: What is the court’s general philosophy with regard to dependency cases?

Answer #46: The dependency population consists largely of people with drug and alcohol problems. There are a disproportionate number of people of color in the dependency system, and almost all the families are poor. The court’s values are that every child should be at home, when it is safe. The court is an extremely collaborative court; stakeholders and community providers are encouraged to participate in activities that lead to the best outcomes for all children. Our preference is to heal families – we prefer family wellness, as opposed to separation.
Collaborative? It uses court-appointed prosecutors to bring lawsuits against poor folks with their own court-appointed lawyers. Your tax dollars are paying for all the lawyers, judges, CPS agents, and foster parents. I would like to believe that the new guidelines will improve things.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oral argument scheduled

The California appellate court has just scheduled oral arguments for my appeal. It will be at 9:30 am, Jan. 15, 2009.

After that, I will get a decision within three months, because of this:
SEC. 19. The Legislature shall prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record.
A judge of a court of record may not receive the salary for the judicial office held by the judge while any cause before the judge remains pending and undetermined for 90 days after it has been submitted for decision.
That is, the judges can delay the case up until oral argument where it formally becomes a submitted case. After that, they have to decide it on schedule or they will not get their paychecks. I am sure that they will decide it on schedule.

I am scheduled to be sentenced for contempt of court the next day. I will be sure to remind the appellate court that I could be sent to jail for five days for exercising my free speech.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chinese Whistle-Blowers Sent to Mental Hospital

The NY Times reports from Peking:
BEIJING — Local officials in Shandong Province have apparently found a cost-effective way to deal with gadflies, whistle-blowers and all manner of muckraking citizens who dare to challenge the authorities: dispatch them to the local psychiatric hospital.

In an investigative report published Monday by a state-owned newspaper, public security officials in the city of Xintai in Shandong Province were said to have been institutionalizing residents who persist in their personal campaigns to expose corruption or the unfair seizure of their property. Some people said they were committed for up to two years, and several of those interviewed said they were forcibly medicated.

The article, in The Beijing News, said most inmates were released after they agreed to give up their causes. ...

In recent years practitioners of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement, have complained of what they call coerced hospitalizations. One of China’s best-known dissidents, Wang Wanxing, spent 13 years in a police-run psychiatric institution under conditions he later described as abusive.
Several years ago I would have said that only the commies would use shrinks as a punishment for activities that annoy the govt authorities.

Here is what I got from Bret Johnson, a gay shrink who works for the court, in Nov. 2004:
Father shall participate in a minimum of six months of thrice monthly individual counseling with a licensed therapist ... and shall continue as needed thereafter or until released.
On Jan. 11 of this year, Cmr. Joseph ordered:
No. 6, Father will commence counseling pursuant to the recommendation of Dr. Johnson.
The order is purely punitive, because no one has claimed that I have any psychological disorder or any clinical need for counseling or anything like that. I have have five different psychological evaluations done for the court, and none of them said that I have any sort of disorder.

Family Code §3190 provides for a counseling order of less than one year if the court finds that some dispute that “poses a substantial danger to the best interest of the child.” But there is no such danger than anyone has identified. And I have already spent over a year of seeing various counselors in attempts to comply with the court, so the statutory limit has already been exceeded.

Family Code §3191 requires that the counseling be “specifically designed” to facilitate communication, reduce conflict, and improve parenting skills. But Comm. Joseph’s order is not directed at any of those things.

I cannot see any authority in the law, or any justification from the evidence, for Cmr. Joseph to issue his order. It appears to be just maliciousness and vindictiveness on his part. Like those Chinese officials, Cmr. Joseph has apparently found a cost-effective way to deal with gadflies and whistle-blowers.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

California abuse registry remains uncorrected

The LA Times reports:
Child Abuse Central Index offers no way out, even for the innocent

Accused of child abuse by a vindictive ex-girlfriend 22 years ago, Bakersfield stockbroker Scott Whyte ceased contact with their son for years, fearing that another allegation would land him in prison, before a court cleared him.

Craig and Wendy Humphries went to jail after a rebellious teenage daughter fled to Utah and told police there that her father and stepmother had abused her. While the Valencia couple were locked up in Los Angeles County on charges eventually ruled groundless, their two younger children were placed in foster care.

Esther Boynton, a Beverly Hills lawyer who helped Whyte and the Humphrieses fight to clear their names, had her own hellish experience getting off the state's Child Abuse Central Index, a database containing 819,000 names from which even a judgment of innocence isn't enough to secure removal.

Unlike the better-known database created by Megan's Law, which registers and tracks 63,000 named sex offenders, the child abuse index is neither actively managed by the state nor periodically purged of erroneous or unsubstantiated entries -- despite efforts by the wrongly included to escape its shameful stain.

The California Department of Justice has been ordered in at least three court decisions in recent years to create a standard way to remove from the index the names of those exonerated by courts or social service investigations.

But in response to the latest judgment, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month that the Humphrieses' privacy rights had been violated, the Office of the Attorney General plans another appeal in defense of the state's handling of the database. ...

"The Humphries have taken advantage of every procedure available to them, including the California courts," Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the 9th Circuit Court opinion. "They went to the dependency court, which found that the allegations were 'not true' and returned their children to them. They went to the prosecutor, who dropped all the charges against them. They went to the criminal court, which declared them 'factually innocent' and sealed their arrest records. None of this had any effect on their CACI listing."
The paper could add me to the list of those falsely accused. I am on the CACI abuse registry because of unfounded allegations from Julie Travers and Sally Mitchell. They both presented lies against me in court. When I refuted their lies in court, Cmr. Irwin Joseph announced that he was not relying on the testimony, but that the abuse must stop anyway. (Yes, I know that last part doesn't make any sense, and I have appealed.)

But CPS has arbitrary control over the registry, and there is no way to force them to remove an innocent person. It doesn't matter to them if the accusations were bogus or malicious. CPS takes the position that the registry is just a list of suspects, and it is up to others to determine whether the suspects are guilty of abuse or not.

I am glad to see that the LA Times and the federal courts have recognized the fundamental unfairness of the CACI. It should be abolished. It is just a way for CPS to abuse people without due process.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bogus child support case to be investigated

A Penn. newspaper reports:
DA begins probe of mistaken identity child-support case

Dauphin County President Judge Richard A. Lewis has ordered a criminal investigation into the case of a Philadelphia man who was forced to pay more than $12,000 in support for another man's child.

Lewis reviewed the case of Walter Andre Sharpe Jr., who was jailed four times for not keeping up with the payments, after reading about his plight in The Patriot-News last month.

He referred the case to Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. Marsico said his office has begun looking into the case and there are no specific targets of the investigation.

Dauphin County Domestic Relations has said in court papers that it determined Walter Sharpe was the father "after reasonable investigation."

It took The Patriot-News less than a hour to find the real father, who said he had custody of the child Sharpe had been supporting.

Walter Sharpe and his attorney, Tabetha Tanner, claim that domestic relations "stole his identity" by replacing his personal information with that of the real father.
I reported this mistaken identity story last month.

I am glad that the publicity has forced the authorities to investigate this outrageous abuse, but it appears to me that they are just looking for a low-level scapegoat. The real problem is with the court.

Before being sentenced to jail, Sharpe should have gotten a fair trial in which he had an opportunity to confront the evidence against him. The mom should have testified, in court and under oath, that Sharpe was the father. A DNA test should have confirmed it. Instead, the judge sent him to jail four times based only on hearsay.

It should be impossible for a judge to jail someone based on hearsay. Hearsay is not even supposed to be admissable as evidence in court. With current DNA technology, there is no excuse for the court to ever make paternity mistakes.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Prosecutors conceal evidence in child abuse cases

The San Jose Mercury Newspaper has this as its top page 1 story today:
Hospital videotapes may jeopardize child sex abuse convictions

Santa Clara County prosecutors have learned of the existence of an estimated 3,000 videotapes of medical examinations in child sex-abuse cases dating to 1991 that never were provided to defense attorneys — evidence that in many of the cases could provide a basis to challenge convictions.

Prosecutors said the trove of tapes came to light after medical experts hired by two convicted defendants belatedly discovered videotapes in their cases and concluded they contradicted medical findings that sexual abuse had occurred.
If child abuse were really treated as a serious crime, then investigators would document everything. They would record interviews and exams. The tapes could prove innocence as well as guilt. Prosecutors don't like tapes because the current system lets them convict whomever they want.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

CPS presents lies in court

When CPS agent Sally Mitchell testified at my child custody trial, she told an assortment of lies about me. So I asked her, in court, whether she had verified any of the accusations with any adult.

She admitted, under oath, that she had only confirmed one accusation. The one thing that she confirmed was that I had been banned from the classrooms at my kids' school. She said that the school had confirmed it.

The allegation was a total lie. I had never been banned from the classrooms. The school principal issued a statement to the court saying that I had just as much right to be in the classrooms as any other parent.

I would include here the exactly quotes where Ms. Mitchell told these lies in court, but Cmr. Irwin Joseph has prohibited me from posting the quotes. He is protecting Ms. Mitchell by abusing his authority as a judge. However he has admitted that he has no power to stop me from describing her testimony here.

Ms. Mitchell is a disgrace. Her investigation should have included trying to determine whether the accusations were true or false. She never even consulted any adults to find out. I guess she decided that it would sound bad if she admitted that she never confirmed anything, so she told a false story in court about the school classrooms. She should be fired.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Man charged with criminal libel

An AP story from Colorado reports:
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A man accused of making unflattering online comments about his former lover and her attorney on Craigslist has been charged with two counts of criminal libel.

"It's not a charge you see a lot of," Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said of the 1800s-era state law that can put people in jail for the content of their speech or writing.

Abrahamson charged J.P. Weichel, 40, of Loveland, in October over posts he allegedly made on Craigslist's "Rants and Rave" section.

The case began when a woman told Loveland police in December 2007 about postings made about her between November and December 2007. Court records show posts that suggested she traded sexual acts for legal services from her attorney and mentioned a visit from child services because of an injury to her child.
The stories in the local Colorado paper are here and here.

I figured that I was safe with this blog, because I don't make any out-of-court accusation. I mainly comment on public news stories, like this one, and on actual court documents and actions in my personal case. Nearly everything I say about my personal case can be verified from the court records.

I was wrong. I was prosecuted for quoting testimony from open court. It was not libel, because no one could dispute the truth of what I said. I was prosecuted for contempt of court by Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph.

Update: A law prof suggests that the criminal libel ought to be unconstitional here. There is now an LA Times article.

In my case, Cmr. Joseph initiated the case, and I tried to get him removed from the case, but he ruled on the case himself anyway. Yes, he acted as prosecutor and judge.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Court has confusing writ rules

My ex-wife informs me that she was unable to file a response to my petition before the Calif. Supreme Court. I guess that means that no amicus letters will be permitted either, unless the court actually agrees to hear the case.

The problem seems to be that the court accepts petitions for four kinds of writs: habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus, and prohibition. There is some overlap in the meaning of these writs, so you are allowed to ask for more than one kind in a petition. But the court is not used to someone asking for a habeas corpus writ as well as another kind of writ, because habeas corpus petitions usually come from criminal cases, and the others usually come from civil cases.

The Calif. Supreme Court seems to be considering my petition as just a habeas corpus petition. That is too bad, as its purpose is not just to keep me out of jail. I wish the court would at least be a little clearer about what it is doing, so maybe I could file separate petitions for the other kinds of writs if necessary.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Writing an amicus letter to the court

A little-known policy of the California Supreme Court is that it will accept ordinary letters from anyone in support of pending petitions and writs. You don't have to be a lawyer or to follow obscure rules. According to Rule 8.500(g):
(g) Amicus curiae letters

(1)Any person or entity wanting to support or oppose a petition for review or for an original writ must serve on all parties and send to the Supreme Court an amicus curiae letter rather than a brief.
Rule 8.520(f) similarly allows such letters after the court has decided to grant review of a case. For example, the court has taken a bunch of letters on Prop. 8, the recent same-sex marriage initiative. As you can see, these can read like formal legal briefs, or informal arguments in letter form.

As the rule says, the letter should be served on all parties. That means that you mail a copy to the California Supreme Court, the Sixth District, the Santa Cruz Superior Court, my ex-wife, and myself. You should also add a signed statement at the end of your letter listing these parties and addresses, certifying that you have mailed a copy to each. You don't have to use a professional process server or get it notarized or anything like that.

If you are interested in writing a letter to the court, send me an email, and I will send a link to my petition. It has the necessary addresses.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Study shows benefits to paternal involvement

Another research study has shown that kids are more intelligent and reach higher education levels if they spend more time with their dads.

The data came from a huge cohort of 17k British kids who have been tracked since 1958. The study controlled for socioeconomic status (SES) and found that high-SES dads make more of a positive difference to their kids than low-SES dads. It says:
Paternal involvement does not just have a temporary effect in early life. Instead, cohort members who had received high paternal involvement were more upwardly mobile than those receiving low involvement, and the difference was still detectable at age 42.
The research article is in the latest issue of an academic journal. Nettle, D. (2008). Why do some dads get more involved than others? Evidence from a large British cohort. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29, 416-423. Available from the author's web page.

There are many studies like this. Those who prevent fathers from seeing their kids are doing measurable harm to those kids.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Confidential complaint

I just got an envelope marked "confidential" from the California
Commission on Judicial Performance. It said:
This letter is to acknowledge receipt of your recent complaint against a court commissioner. We are presently reviewing this information and you will be advised in writing, at a later date, of the Commission's action in this matter.

Very truly yours,
Amy Ladine

Confidential under California Constitution,
Article VI, Section 18, and Commission Rule 102

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Supreme court issues

Here are the issues I presented to the California Supreme Court:
May a Superior (Family) Court apply juvenile court procedures to restrict access to evidence, when there is no showing of any necessity for confidentiality? May the Court then jail someone for violating those procedures?

After evidence has been presented in open court with members of the public present, may a Superior (Family) Court seal that evidence and order that it cannot be shown to my lawyer, used by my rebuttal witness, quoted on my blog, or posted on a web site supporting my appeal? Can I be found in contempt of court for publicly rebutting the evidence that was presented publicly against me?

May a Superior (Family) Court delegate child visitation and supervision decision-making to a psychologist after a custody trial? May the Court then deny visitation to a parent when no psychologist is willing to take such a role?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where are my free speech rights?

I am wondering whether I am the only one to be convicted of disclosing the evidence presented against me in open court.

CPS agent Sally Mitchell testified in my divorce case. The court was open to the public, and no one said anything about it being confidential. A court-approved summary of her testimony is here. No one said that there was any harm in releasing the testimony, and there was no motion to seal the testimony.

Nevertheless, I was convicted for quoting the testimony. Cmr. Irwin Joseph recited a crazy theory that the CPS testimony had to be secret because CPS agents sometimes testify in juvenile court and juvenile court records are usually kept secret.

I petitioned the appellate court for review under the only procedure available, and my petition was denied. Apparently the appellate court thinks that it is okay that I spend five days in jail for quoting the public testimony of a govt agent in open court.

Do we have free speech rights in this country, or not? If I don't have free speech rights to quote govt testimony against me, what free speech rights do I have? And yet the appellate court has approved of me being punished for quoting testimony against me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hanging judge on the appellate court

A lawyer tells me that I had bad luck in drawing appellate judges. There are seven judges on the court, and each case gets three at random. I got Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, Nathan D. Mihara, and Richard J. McAdams. Bamattre-Manoukian almost never grants any relief to anyone, unless the petition is actually endorsed by the prosecutor.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Petition to Calif supreme court

I filed a petition with the California Supreme Court today.

I discovered that if I wanted to ask the California Supreme Court to review the lower appellate court's denial of my writ petition, then I only have ten days. The deadline was today, so I drove up to the Supreme Court in San Francisco to file my petition.

The court employs clerks to look for silly reasons to reject a document for some formality. This clerk got out a little pad of paper to list all the deficiencies. For each item, I had to convince her that my petition was acceptable. Sometimes she had to go discuss the matter with her supervisor.

One of her objections was that I was supposed to prove that my filing was within the time limit. Eventually she admitted that she could just check it on the web site herself. So she printed a page, and attached it to my filing.

Then she said that my original was okay, but she needed 13 additional copies. So I pumped a few more quarters in the parking meter, found a copy shop a few blocks away, and made the necessary copies.

I thought that I was all done, and went back to my car to prepare to mail some documents. Then the clerk tracked me down, and was in a panic about another problem! I don't know how she found me. There was some sort of confusion about whether my case was civil or criminal. Her supervisor eventually brought me a black pen and some white-out and insisted that I made some minor changes to my cover page, and to all 13 copies.

I don't know why I couldn't just email my petition to the court. The whole procedure seemed ridiculous.

I am sure that the California Supreme Court rejects the vast majority of these petitions. Currently it is preoccupied with same-sex marriage. It just got reversed by the voters, and it is not used to that. I may not hear anything for months.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Man pays for county's mistake

A Pennsylvania newspaper reports:
When Walter Andre Sharpe Jr. signed for a certified letter from Dauphin County Domestic Relations in 2001, he didn't know he was signing on for a seven-year nightmare. Since then, the Philadelphia man has been thrown in jail four times, lost his job, become estranged from his four children and spent more than $12,000 to support the child of another man.

It finally stopped in May 2007 when a judge reversed a finding that he was the father. But the same judge has since ruled that Sharpe is not entitled to any compensation, not even the money he was forced to pay to support the child.

Sharpe's attorney, Tabetha Tanner, said the county Domestic Relations office "stole" Sharpe's identity by exchanging his date of birth, address and Social Security number for that of the father.

The agency fought Sharpe's attempts to have DNA testing and said it determined he was the father "after reasonable investigation."

Yet it took The Patriot-News less than an hour to track down the real father, Andre Sharpe, who said the girl that Walter Sharpe has been paying support for has been living with him for the last four years.
Men are guilty until proven innocent. Someone should have been jailed for fraud.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The whole basis of family law would be undermined

The 2002 movie Evelyn was just on TV. When the Irish angry dad talks about suing to get his kids back from an orphanage, he hears this line:
You'll lose, because if you were to win this case, the whole basis of family law would be undermined. And believe me, gentlemen, that will not be allowed to happen.
A couple of months ago, a court psychologist said something similar about my appeal, with less hyperbole:
[George's appeal brief] reiterates the major points of this extended case and questions the legality of some common procedures in child custody litigation.
Yes, I am questioning the legality of some common procedures. I guess I hope that the appellate court thinks that I am undermining the whole basis of family law, or else they may not want to allow that to happen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Writ denied

The court of appeals just denied my petition for a writ. I had asked for an emergency intervention in my case. No explanation was given.

I still have a regular appeal pending, the appellate court will have to explain itself when it rules on that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Court punishes dad when mom is the abuser

Here is one of those rare appeals from the California juvenile dependency court.
LA v DE ruled:
In October 2007, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition on behalf of then six-year-old A.E. and three-year-old H.E. The father, D.E., and the mother, who is not a party to this appeal, were in the process of divorcing after an eight-year marriage. The parents shared legal custody of the children; mother had primary physical custody and father had visitation rights. DCFS’s petition was sparked by A.E.’s complaint to father that mother struck H.E. with a spatula hard enough to leave a black bruise, a matter that mother admitted. Father, in turn, reported this to the police in a 911 call.

So DCFS (aka CPS) took the kids away based on these concerns:
First, mother on several occasions struck both children with hard objects, violently enough to leave black and blue bruises. This was so even though mother had participated in counseling and anger management classes. ... Fourth, while at the inception of the proceedings in the fall of 2007 father had voiced understandable concerns about mother’s boyfriend who had a prior conviction for having sex with a minor and who also spoke disparagingly about father to the children, ...

The fifth incident is perhaps the one to cause the most concern. At the close of the hearing on February 20, 2008, father volunteered the observation that there really was “no abuse of the children” and that “[i]t’s a nonissue.”
So the dad ultimately regretted getting CPS involved, and for that, he had to be punished. The dad was ordered to attend anger management classes!

The appellate court jusitified punishing the dad because:
We disagree with father’s claim that there is no evidence that supports the counseling order because “[father] was non-offending; the issues in the case involved the mother’s inappropriate physical discipline of the girls.” The point is that D.E., as the father, is responsible for the children’s safety and well-being and must therefore unequivocally oppose harsh and unsuitable corporal punishment. But, rather than stating unequivocally that he was opposed to beating the children with hard objects, on February 20, 2008, father denied that there had been any abuse and stated that he would never again report such beatings to the authorities.
This is crazy. It was the mom who was convicted of physical abuse. The mom has custody of the kids, and the dad just has visitation rights. And yet somehow the dad "is responsible for the children’s safety".

To CPS, there is just one thing that is worse than a child-abusing parent, and that is a parent who is not sufficiently subservient to the CPS authorities. The mom beat a 3-year-old black and blue with a spatula. And yet the dad is worse in their eyes just because he expressed regret about calling 911.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I offered full disclosure

The biggest issue at my hearing yesterday was whether I had made adequate financial disclosure several years ago. The opposing lawyer, Jennifer Gray, acknowledged getting this email from me in Nov. 2004:
I just received your letter about your document request. I offered you the documents on the date and time you requested, and you refused.

As an alternative, I am offering them again at my house this Friday, from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, for inspection and copying.

As another alternative, I can arrange for Julie to inspect all my documents at her convenience, and for her to take to you what she really needs.
Ms. Gray refused my offer, and later used it as evidence to the court about how unreasonable I was! Now I am being accused of concealing financial info.

In fact I have repeatedly offered all of my financial documents to my ex-wife and her attorney. I supplied tax returns, bank statements, and everything else requested. I was deposed, and cross-examined in court. And I did this in 2004-2005.

I really do not see how my ex-wife can claim that I withheld anything. She had access to all the same documents that I had.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boring money trial today

I just got out of another day in court before Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph. At least I am not in jail.

We were scheduled for a 1:30 trial on money issues, but first we had to sit thru another case with a custody dispute. The mom was there with lawyer, Madeleine Boriss, and the dad's lawyer Traci Pickering was there. They appeared to be recently separated, and fighting over a couple of kids aged 10 and 11 or so.

The mom's lawyer's biggest issue was whether the mom should have to use force to put the kids in the car. She wanted Cmr. Joseph to issue some sort of order allowing the mom to cancel the dad's visitation if she has to use force to put the kids in the car. I would have told her that if she cannot cope with putting the kids in the car, then maybe she should not have custody.

Cmr. Joseph shipped them off to a psychologist for $7,000 to $10,000 child custody evaluation. They had to choose between the three local shrinks. They agreed on Greg Katz. The second choice was Elizabeth Lee, because everyone agreed that Jay Muccilli had a bad reputation for getting evaluations finished in a timely way. I hate to think what those bozos are going to say about how a parent should put a 10-year-old kid into a car.

Then our case was called. It lasted all afternoon. You would think that Cmr. Joseph would be sick of us by now. This was a trial over some money issues. There were no lawyers (other than my ex-wife) and no witnesses.

First, Cmr. Joseph postponed sentencing me. I don't think that he has the nerve to send me to jail. He may never sentence me. I think that he just wants me to know that he has the power to jail me at any time I come to court.

After a couple of hours of boring financial arguments, Cmr. Joseph scheduled a continuation to another trial in a couple of months. There never seems to be any end to any of these issues in family court.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Court lawyer has his own problems

I happened to look up James M. Ritchey, the court-appointed lawyer for my kids, in the court computer. It turns out that he is a party to about 20 other lawsuits! Weird.

I don't just mean cases where he is a lawyer representing a party. I mean he himself appears to be suing or being sued by all sorts of people, including his relatives.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Junk Justice Joseph may retire

I just heard a rumor that Cmr. Joseph is being forced into retirement, effective next July, and he will be moving to Florida. I had assumed that he was still angling for a real judgeship. I guess that he has given up on that.

It will be a happy day in Santa Cruz when Cmr. Joseph is no longer actively trying to ruin peoples' lives in the Santa Cruz family court. The sooner he moves to Florida, the better.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Slandering the accredited professionals

A reader complains about me:
he's deliberately slandering his ex-wife and accredited professionals such as Commissioner Joseph, Bret Johnson and Sally Mitchell. He needs to be in jail as do all men who ...
I am not slandering anyone. I just describe what they say and do in open court. Bret Johnson and Sally Mitchell were served with subpoenas, and asked for their credentials in court. Mr. Johnson's only credential was a self-help book that he wrote on getting gay men out of the closet. He drew on his personal experiences. Ms. Mitchell did not present any credentials. Cmr. Joseph is not even a real judge.

Cmr. Joseph, Mr. Johnson, and Ms. Mitchell have never had any training in child custody recommendation or decisions as far as I know. None of them has ever claimed to have any special expertise, or cited any expert knowledge in the area. Not one of them has quoted any professional literature, or shown any knowledge of any such literature. Not in my case or in any other case that I have witnessed.

Yes, I think that they are all charlatans. Not only are they grossly unfit for the their jobs, they act in ways that I regard as unethical.

But you can make up your own mind. I post what they say and do, and you can decide for yourself. I am temporarily blocked from quoting Ms. Mitchell, because of jail threats from Julie Travers and Cmr. Joseph, but I will put the quotes back up as soon as I can do so legally. They are trying to block the quotes out of their personal vindictiveness, and to cover up their own bad behavior.

SCORE meeting on Saturday

There is a small group called SCORE that is trying to reform the Santa Cruz family court. It meets this Saturday at 10:00. There is more info at the site.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Elkins meeting to improve the family courts

The Elkins Family Law Task Force was created by the California courts in order to hold meetings to recommend improvements to the family courts. Strangely, it does not even have the schedule of future meeting on its web site. I asked about the next meeting, and I just got this reply:
The next Elkins Family Law Task Force meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at the Administrative Office of the Courts, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Third Floor, San Francisco, California. The public comment portion of the meeting will be from 4:45 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

You may find additional information on how to contact or address the Elkins Family Law Task Force at:

The Elkins Family Law Task Force welcomes your comments by e-mail, fax, or regular mail. Your correspondence will be made available to the task force at subsequent meetings, which are open to the public; therefore, your correspondence to the task force will not be considered confidential in nature. The task force will give the same consideration to all correspondence. Please be advised that the task force will not respond directly to correspondence from the general public.

If you are interested in providing public comment, please consider the following methods:

1) e-mail or send your written suggestion or comments at any time to or the address below; OR

2) e-mail or send your written comments on recommendations posted under Invitation to Comment related to the Elkins Family Law Task Force at: that will be circulated for public comment in the latter part of 2009, OR

3) comment in person at public hearings to be scheduled in the latter part of 2009 to provide feedback on proposed recommendations, OR

4) comment in person at task force meetings as time permits, where members of the public may present their suggestions to the Task Force. The time for your testimony will be 3 minutes or less, depending on the number of individuals appearing. Please feel free to e-mail, send, or fax your written statement in advance. You may not discuss or request comment on specific cases or any individual.

The next Elkins Family Law Task Force meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at the Administrative Office of the Courts, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Third Floor, San Francisco, California. The public comment portion of the meeting will be from 4:45 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

If you would like to address the task force during this time, please submit your request to or the address or fax below at least 4 business days before the meeting. Please include the following information in your request:

Presenter's name (Your name)
Title/position (i.e., Party, Attorney, Mediator, etc.)
Contact information (i.e., address, telephone number, e-mail, etc.),
County of residence;
Organization or affiliation, if any (i.e., Are speaking for yourself and/or an organization?)
Brief description of presentation (i.e., What are you suggesting?)
If you have a pending family law case in any California court, please specify which court(s).
The Task Force cannot hear comments on specific cases so please do not include your court case number, court department, names of any parties, attorneys, court staff, judicial officers, mediators, or any individual names or references to the specifics in your case.

You may address the task force for up to 3 minutes, as time permits. Please feel free to e-mail, send, or fax your proposed comments and suggestions in advance to:

Elkins Family Law Task Force
Administrative Office of the Courts 455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102
Fax: 415-865-7217

Staff for the Center for Families, Children & the Courts
Judicial Council of California - Administrative Office of the Courts

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Family court judge is fired

New York state just removed family court judge David F. Jung, in this decision:
Petitioner, a Judge of the Family Court, Fulton County, commenced this
proceeding to review a determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that sustained five charges of misconduct against him and imposed the sanction of removal from judicial office. Upon our plenary review of the record, we accept the determined sanction. ...

Plainly, even the Appellate Division precedents failed to impress the importance of these due process rights upon petitioner in any meaningful way. ...

It is apparent from the record as a whole that petitioner continues to believe that his actions were a permissible exercise of the "wide discretion" given Family Court judges "for dealing with the complexities of family life" (Family Court Act § 141). He fails to grasp that with such discretion comes grave responsibilities to the litigants before him as well as to their children. While we recognize that petitioner has well served youth in his court and through his extensive involvement in community service, part and parcel of effecting the "best interests" of a child is affording that child's parent the rights inherent in the parental bond. We acknowledge that removal from office is an "extreme sanction" that is imposed only "in the event of truly egregious circumstances" (Matter of Cunningham v Comm. on Judicial Conduct, 57 NY2d 270, 275 [1982]). We conclude that petitioner's steadfast adherence to longstanding policies that have seriously compromised the due process rights of litigants justifies removal.
It appears that this judge would throw a parent he didn't like in jail, and then try him or her in absentia. The judge claimed that when someone sits in jail, he automatically waives his right to appear in court.

These cases got the appellate court's attention when the jailed parents had to file for writs of habeas corpus to get out of jail. Maybe Cmr. Joseph will have a similar fate if the appellate court has to issue a writ of habeas corpus to get me out of jail.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Explaining child support

A reader questioned whether I am paying child support for my kids' schooling. The question shows a misunderstand of how child support works.

Most people think that child support involves paying a couple of hundred bucks a months in order to cover basic necessities for the kid. That is not how it works anymore.

In the 1990s, the child support system became more of a taxation and welfare system. If the mom has custody of the kid, and she goes on welfare, then the welfare agency seeks reimbursement from the dad. If she is not on welfare, then she can get paid directly from the dad, based on his income and unrelated to any needs of the kid. To the dad, it is just another income tax. To the mom, it is just like welfare money that she can spend however she wishes. It does not have to be spent on the kid.

In California, if they have two kids, the dad has to pay the mom 40% of his after-tax income. That is called "guideline child support". It is not alimony; if there is alimony then that is in addition. The money is tax-free for the mom.

The family courts are not supposed to even look at costs like housing, clothing, food, schooling, etc. The govt authorities decided that would complicate the welfare system too much. The guidelines are based on a belief that the mom herself should have a standard of living similar to the dad. If the mom wants to just put the money in the bank, that is her privilege.

So I pay 40% of my after-tax income to my ex-wife, tax-free. She has remarried, so she also gets 50% of her husband's pre-tax income. That is California law. All other states also have official child support formulas, but the exact percentages vary from state to state.

So yes, I am paying for schooling and everything else. My ex-wife has the discretion in how to spend it. I also pay property taxes that fund the public schools.

The family court judge is obligated to follow the child support guideline in nearly all cases, under federal law. The federal welfare system requires it. The judge can only deviate from the guideline if the facts prove that there are extraordinary circumstances that would make the guideline unjust.

Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has deviated from guideline in three ways, based on what he claims are extraordinary circumstances. First, he claims that I could have invested my savings differently, and earned more income. So I have to pay 40% of that income that I am not really making. Second, I have one daughter who takes a lot of dance classes, and he ordered me to pay an extra $250 per month to pay for dance classes. Third, he claims that my house is bigger than it needs to be since the kids moved out, and I have equity in the house, so he ordered me to pay an extra $1062 per month to compensate my ex-wife. I have never figured out the logic to that one. I already got the appeals court to reverse him on this point, but he keeps making me pay it anyway.

So I am actually paying much more than 40% of my after-tax income to my ex-wife. It must be nice for her to have two men who are each paying half their income to her. She is also a lawyer, and can earn a good salary herself. I really do not believe that she is being financially mistreated.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Response from presiding judge

I just got this letter from the presiding judge:
I am in receipt of your letter dated September 3, 2008. 1 have made an investigation of your complaint regarding Commissioner Joseph and determined that there is no basis for further inquiry. All judicial officers of the Superior Court have equal authority under the law and no supervising judge may alter or modify the rulings or decisions of another judicial officer or assign another bench officer to hear a case pending before a court officer unless an appropriate motion is filed and granted.

If you are dissatisfied with the Court's action on your complaint, you have the right to request the Commission on Judicial Performance to review this matter under its discretionary jurisdiction to oversee the discipline of subordinate judicial officers. No further action will be taken on your complaint unless the Commission receives your written request within 30 days after the date this notice was mailed. The commission's address is:

Commission on Judicial Performance
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
San Francisco, California 94102 3660

Very truly yours

Presiding Judge of the Superior Court


Cc: Alex Calvo
Commissioner Irwin Joseph
He was responding to this letter. Cmr. Joseph had written a letter to my ex-wife in which he offered her a deal to find me in contempt of court.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Response to a reader

A reader commented:
Perhaps all of the experts might know more about what is best for the children than you. ... You need to take a long, hard look at your life and ask yourself why would the courts rule against you again and again. These people have years or training and education ...
We have been to about ten experts in connection with this divorce case, and not one of them ever suggested that I should be separated from my kids. Only Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has ever said that.

They did not all have training and education either. CPS social worker Sally Mitchell did not testify that she had any special training or education. She never went to college, as far as I know. Bret K. Johnson did have some sort of education as a psychologist, but his only expertise was in talking to gay men about getting out of the closet. Neither of them presented any credentials when they testified.

I would tell you exactly what Sally Mitchell said, but Cmr. Joseph and Julie Travers made an out-of-court deal to prosecute me if I did. I will tell you when the appellate court reverses Cmr. Joseph's orders.

My writ petition

Here is an excerpt from my petition, filed yesterday:
I respectfully petition this Court for writs of habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus, and prohibition. I have been convicted of contempt by the Santa Cruz family court, and I await sentencing. A gag order has imposed a prior restraint on my free speech. I have also been denied access to my kids for nearly a year.

I believe that I am the first person in the entire history of the United States to be convicted for copying evidence that was publicly presented against me in open court. I also believe that I have been denied access to my kids for the most trivial reasons in history.

The evidence at issue was the Jan. 4, 2008, testimony of Santa Cruz County (CPS) social worker Sally Mitchell who admitted during cross-examination that I had not committed any single act of abuse, that my kids were not subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, and that the worst thing I ever did to my kids was to reset the alarm clock for 7:00 so that they may get ready for school. She also testified that she disapproved of the “sum total” of my parenting practices. This testimony was used to take my kids away from me, and I have not seen them since. (I am not quoting full sentences out of fear that I could get punished with an extra five days in jail.)

My petition is based on my Santa Cruz family court. Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph issued child custody, confidentiality, and child support orders in Jan. 2008. I have contested the legality of those orders before the California 6th Appellate District. The case has been fully briefed and is awaiting oral argument.

While I continue to maintain that those Jan. 2008 orders were illegal for all the reasons stated in my appeal, this petition is not primarily concerned with that. This petition concerns my attempts to obey those Jan. 2008 orders, and how the lower court has reneged on them, and even punished me and my kids for obeying them.
I don't see how Cmr. Joseph and my ex-wife can possibly justify what they have done.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Petitioned for writ

I just filed a petition for a writ with the California appeals court. The process is similar to an appeal. Basically, it is a complaint to a higher court that a trial court did something wrong.

In this case, my complaint is that Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has denied my free speech rights, and denied my right to see my kids. It is a complaint against Cmr. Joseph, rather than my ex-wife.

I am not sure what happens next. If the appeals court takes my petition seriously, then I think it will ask for more written or oral arguments. The court is supposed to consider my petition, and act on it quickly if appropriate. It sometimes acts in a week or so. I hope it is faster than the appeal I filed in January, because I am still waiting on oral arguments for that.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Censoring this blog

I am purging this blog of all text that was censored by Cmr. Joseph's order on Friday. If I understand him correctly, it just affects the postings on Dec. 3 and June 29.

My ex-wife also complained about these pictures and the postings on Dec. 13, Jan. 8, Jan. 9, Jan. 27, Feb. 7, Feb. 25, July 30, Aug. 8, and Aug. 24. Cmr. Joseph said that I do not have to remove these.

Julie, please let me know if I have made any mistakes.

Cmr. Joseph himself says that he is not allowed to view my blog, but he has admitted that he has an employee who has reported to him about it. So whoever you are, please tell me directly if you think that I have failed to censor anything that your boss wants censored.

Also on Friday, this blog and other Blogger blogs were banned in Turkey by a Turkish judge. No relation to Cmr. Joseph, as far as I know.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Elkins Task Force

I have commented before that the Elkins task force has the potential to recommend some useful reforms to the family court. Someone just forwarded this to me:
As part of the statewide Elkins Family Law Task Force the Santa Cruz Superior Court has been asked to participate in two Family Law Focus groups, one in English and one in Spanish to take place at the Watsonville Public Library the first week of November during the noon hour. The litigants participating can be represented or self represented litigants. Litigants will be asked about their overall experience with family law proceedings therefore the focus groups need litigants who are at least half way through their court process (for instance a divorce). The only family law case types that can not participate are DV only cases and adoptions. Each litigant will received a $75 gift card. Attached are brochures regarding this project, English and Spanish.

If you have any clients interested please have them contact the focus group consultant directly, e-mail is preferable. The consultant will screen for eligibility and give the specific dates of the focus group. Her name and contact information is:

Christine Kalinowski
(310) 339 3969
This appears to be an opportunity for public input.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Found in contempt and awaiting sentencing

I am now the first person in American history to be found in contempt for disclosing the evidence that was presented against me publicly in open court.

Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph seemed to regret that he let Tuesday's trial get out of control, and today he just wanted my ex-wife to testify that she downloaded the CPS testimony from my website, and to interrogate me under oath.

After confirming that the case against me had finished being presented, I made a motion to dismiss the charges. I gave a list of facts that were not under dispute, and then explained how there is no way to convict me under those facts.

I got into a little argument with Cmr. Joseph over whether I had to testify. At first, he refused to rule on my motion until I committed myself to telling him whether I was going to testify. If I was going to testify, then he did not want to rule on my motion until I finished testifying. I told him that I was undecided on whether to testify, and I would tell him after he rules on my motion. He eventually relented, and ruled against my motion.

I then declined to testify, and he found me guilty of one count of contempt of court.

I expected him to sentence right then to five days in jail, but he announced that he was supposed to wait a minimum of six hours and a maximum of five days before sentencing. We already had court appearances scheduled for Nov. 5 and 10 on other matters, but those were not within the allowable time frame. So we would have to make an extra trip into court for sentencing, unless I waived the time limits. I asked him whether he would have the bailiff immediately handcuff me and throw me in jail if I waived the time limits, and he said no, that only happens in the movies.

So I waived the time limits. Cmr. Joseph then indicated that he was in no hurry to sentence me, and may not sentence me for months. In the meantime, I have to purge this blog of quotes from the CPS agent.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Judge wants to redo the trial

I just got a call from Cmr. Joseph's office at 8:05 this morning. The caller identified herself as Janet, and she was calling to see if I can come into court tomorrow! She would only say that it was to continue the contempt hearing.

I thought that the trial was over. I thought that Cmr. Joseph said that he collected all the evidence he needed, and he would issue a ruling based on some legal research. I thought that the US Constitution said that I cannot be put in double jeopardy for the same offense.

I said that I could show up tomorrow. Janet said that she had to confirm a time with my ex-wife, and called back a few minutes later to say that we were scheduled for 10:30 in Watsonville.

I don't know what is going on. My best guess is that Cmr. Joseph realizes that he screwed up the trial and wants to do it over again. Or maybe it is just a trick to get me into court so he can handcuff and jail me. I don't know.

Meanwhile, here is an amusing case where a suburban mayor was just put in double jeopardy:
Suburban NYC cop tickets his own mayor - twice

MAMARONECK, N.Y. - Can you beat City Hall?

The question is pending for a police officer who ticketed his mayor.

In March, Officer Michael Petrillo pulled over Mayor Kathleen Savolt in the bedroom community of Mamaroneck, just outside of New York City, for using her cellphone while driving.

The mayor argued the incoming call was an emergency and she was in an area where she couldn't pull over.

A judge agreed and dismissed the case Sept. 15, but Petrillo wasn't done.

That night, he rang Savolt's doorbell and issued a second ticket, saying he thought the judge's decision was wrong.

"He said to me, 'I think the ticket was unfairly dismissed, so I'm issuing a duplicate ticket,"' Savolt said Tuesday. "So then, once I was issued a second ticket, clearly in some people's minds it's not a legal ticket because the case had been closed."

Savolt's next court date had not yet been scheduled.

Police Chief Steven Anderson wouldn't comment.
Now there is a cop with a lot of nerve. I suggest transferring him to New York City where they have some real crimes, and let him channel some of that aggression against gangsters and drug dealers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I could still get jail

Three people attended my contempt trial yesterday. Two were friends of mine, and one was a reporter whom I had never met before. Cmr. Joseph confronted the reporter about having an audio recording device, and she identified herself as a reporter and admitted having a recording device. Cmr. Joseph mumbled something about her not having notified the court about recording. I don't know whether she recorded the hearing or not.

To my surprise, the three attendees were of the opinion that I would be sentenced to jail when Cmr. Joseph issues his opinion next week. I did not get an opportunity to present my case; the judge objected to most of my questions; I spent most of my time arguing with the judge; the judge said that my legal arguments were wrong; the evidence is on the website; and the judge had his mind made up. Or so they said. I thought that I argued for my innocence as best as I could.

The reporter even went so far as to say that I did a terrible job, and that I should hire a lawyer.

We will see. I could not deny what was posted to the website, and Cmr. Joseph was already committed to the position that I was in contempt of court for posting it. I did explain that it was entirely legal to do what I did. I expected to get sentenced to ten days in jail yesterday.

Now, I don't think so. Cmr. Joseph wanted to aggressively teach me a lesson, but he lost his nerve. At the end of the trial, he sheepishly declared that the matter hinged on a technical legal dispute that would require some further research.

I am not a lawyer. Is he really going to send me to jail for not knowing some legal fine point that he does not even know himself? I don't think so. That is not the purpose of contempt penalties. He can only find me in contempt of court if I intentionally violate some valid court order. He has now admitted that he does not even know whether his order was valid. And because he wasted most of the trial arguing with me, he does not have any evidence on the record that I violated the order anyway.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Commissioner Joseph blinks

Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has spent the last three months trying to build a case of contempt of court against me for this blog. He wrote letters, threatened me with ten days in jail, and bragged that no facts were in dispute. Today was the trial.

I disputed the facts. I denied that I violated any law or court order. Cmr. Joseph seemed completely bewildered that I was not willing to admit my guilt. He told me that I had a constitutional right to remain silent, but forced me to be sworn in, and repeatedly asked me questions in violation of those Fifth Amendment rights.

Eventually Julie Travers had to take the witness stand to present some actual evidence, and I insisted on the right to cross-examine her. I asked her some direct questions about her evidence, but Cmr. Joseph kept interrupting and claiming that her testimony was irrelevant if I would only confess.

For each of my questions, he launched into an argument about the question being irrelevant. I think she only answered 6 or 8 questions. The rest of the hour was spent arguing.

I kept telling Cmr. Joseph that I would be happy to testify, and tell my whole story, but I need to first find out what the charges against me are. He said that I have no such right.

In the end, Cmr. Joseph had no firm evidence of me doing anything contrary to his orders, and he claimed that the dispute boiling down to a legal disagreement about whether a parent can publish the evidence against him without violating section 827 of the Welfare Code. I vehemently disagreed, but he said that he would research the matter and rule within a week.

So I am still a free man. I guess he could still rule against me, but he has no evidence and it is hard to see how he can blame me for not understanding sect. 827 when he does not understand it himself.

I am really surprised that he did not rule against me anyway today. It is true that I gave legal rebuttals to all his arguments, but I've done that before, and that only seemed to increase his threats to put me in jail. I think that he has now lost his nerve. I will not be going to jail.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Welcome Commissioner Joseph

Tomorrow I go on trial before Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph for info posted on this blog. He says that he is prohibited from looking at the blog until we are in open court and I am on trial. If he is telling the truth, then he will see this blog for the first time tomorrow.

Cmr. Joseph has also threatened me with ten days in jail, and said that I am not entitled to any depositions because there are no facts in dispute. His mind is made up. So I guess that he will jail me, unless he loses his nerve.

I will post the outcome tomorrow, if I am not in jail.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I have a right to discuss my trial

Next Tuesday, I go on trial for reporting on this blog the evidence that was presented against me publicly in open court. Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has already said that there are no facts in my defense, and that he intends to sentence me to ten days in jail.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the appellate court decided a similar issue. A newspaper was a defendant in a civil trial, and the trial court judge ordered it not to report on the testimony of witnesses in the case. The order was overruled:
Like all gag orders, the trial court’s order restricting The Register’s ability to report on the upcoming trial is presumptively invalid. A prior restraint is the “most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.” Such an order is a “most extraordinary remedy” that may be used “only in ‘exceptional cases’ ... where the evil that would result from the reportage is both great and certain and cannot be militated by less intrusive measures.”

The United States Supreme Court has offered two examples of the sort of “exceptional” situations in which a prior restraint might be justified: to prevent the dissemination of information about troop movements during wartime or to “suppress[] information that would set in motion a nuclear holocaust.”

The same result obtains under the California Constitution, which “provides an even broader guarantee of the right of free speech and the press than does the First Amendment.” Because we conclude the order preventing The Register from reporting on trial testimony is unconstitutional under both the United States and California Constitutions, it must immediately fall. “[E]very moment’s continuance of [a prior restraint] amounts to a flagrant, indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment.” [citations omitted]
All I did here was to report on the witness against me, CPS agent Sally Mitchell, who testified that the worst thing that I ever did was to set the alarm clock for 7:00 so that my kids could wake up in time for school.

For that, Cmr. Joseph and Julie Travers want to jail me. If they win, then the USA will have three exceptions to free speech: troop movements during wartime, triggers for a nuclear holocaust, and alarm clocks for school attendance.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why it is hard to settle divorce cases

Someone suggest that I settle my divorce case. He gave an abstract argument about how all litigants are better off settling than going to trial. Better than going to jail, he said.

I think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding here. Family court issues cannot be settled. Every single issue between my ex-wife and me has already been settled at least once. But apparently the settlements are not binding. The law even forbids binding settlements of child custody, visitation, and support issues. That is the way family court works.

My ex-wife is a lawyer with a lot of free time on her hands. Maybe she thinks that filing legal motions is good practice for her. Maybe this is how she deals with unresolved guilt and bitterness. Maybe she is just crazy. Regardless, she has peppered the court with complaints about me for five years, and no end is in sight. As long as the family court permits her to renege on settlements, there is no possibility of settling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Judge lets ex-wife seal evidence

I had to show up in court today to oppose my ex-wife's motion to seal CPS testimony. I argued that if the testimony is subject to the confidentiality requirement of the Welfare Code, then an order of the juvenile court is required. Otherwise, he must comply with Rule 2.550.

He refused to comply with Rule 2.550, and refused to accept the necessity of the juvenile court either. In the end, he said that the motion was unnecessary because he can seal whatever testimony he feels like sealing anyway.

Cmr Joseph said that he was taking the latest psych report out of the public file, and putting it in one of the confidential manila envelopes. I complained that the clerk does not let me see the contents of those manila envelopes. He said that he previously gave me permission. I guess he never told the clerk about it. He said that next time the clerk will let me see the confidential envelopes. I guess that he put some sort of marking on the file indicating his permission. He explained that sometimes those envelopes will have the street address of a parent, and the other parent may not be allowed to see that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just served with more papers

A process server just delivered some more legal papers from my ex-wife. There appears to be no end to her demands.

Meanwhile, I have to appear in family court tomorrow morning. Here is what I filed with the court:
Opposition to sealing records

I oppose Julie’s motion to seal the Sally Mitchell testimony, for all the reasons that were stated in my brief for the Oct. 8 hearing, as well as in my currently pending appeal.

If this court considers sealing the records, then I request a hearing under California Rule 2.550 in order to comply with that rule, to make the necessary factual determinations, and to determine which pages must be included in the public file.

If confidentiality of the records is already required by WI §827, as Julie claims, then it is under the authority of the juvenile court. Julie should be required to produce whatever order from the juvenile court allowed her to file these records with the family court, and demonstrate whatever restrictions came with that other. This court has no jurisdiction over that matter.
This relates to my trial next week. I guess she has to get the records sealed before I can be jailed for disclosing them.

Local lawyers fear Cmr Joseph

I tried contacting some lawyers for my upcoming trial before Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph, and I've now had two lawyers tell me that defending me would be a bad career move. They said that Cmr Joseph is known for being vindictive, and that he retaliates against lawyers who challenge him in court.

One of the lawyers seemed to know all about my case. He said, "I don't know what you did to piss him off, but he is out to destroy you now. I have other clients to worry about. He won't like it if I take your case. I suggest that you get a lawyer from another county."

It is amazing how Cmr Joseph has bullied these lawyers into submission. A lawyer is supposed to be a vigorous advocate for his client. And a lawyer certainly should not have to worry that defending one client will damage the interests of other clients.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Math Skills Suffer in U.S.

The NY Times reports:
The United States is failing to develop the math skills of both girls and boys, especially among those who could excel at the highest levels, a new study asserts, and girls who do succeed in the field are almost all immigrants or the daughters of immigrants from countries where mathematics is more highly valued.

The study suggests that while many girls have exceptional talent in math — the talent to become top math researchers, scientists and engineers — they are rarely identified in the United States. A major reason, according to the study, is that American culture does not highly value talent in math, and so discourages girls — and boys, for that matter — from excelling in the field.
You might think that this is crazy, and that no one really discourages girls in math. Unfortunately, it happens.

When CPS social worker Sally Mitchell investigated me, one of her main complaints
was that I was teaching math to my daughters. When Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph took my girls away from me in January, he ruled that it was abuse for me to enter my daughter in a county math contest that was above her grade level. He said that this abuse must stop, and I haven't been able to see my kids since.

The article mentions a bunch of girls who have excelled in math. They all entered in contests at above grade level.

Now Cmr Joseph does not want anyone to hear this story. He has threatened to jail me for ten days just for disclosing Ms. Mitchell's testimony. I go on trial at 11:00
on Oct. 21.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My appeal brief

My appeal case is now fully briefed, and I am waiting for the appeal court to schedule oral arguments.

Meanwhile, it looks as if I might have to file another appeal. Commissioner Irwin Joseph is refusing to abide by his own order and let me see my kids.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bad day in court

I just got out of Cmr Irwin H. Joseph's court. Usually he handles the more routine cases first, but this time he called us first. My ex-wife and I identified ourselves, the he asked the clerk to swear us in. I asked about the subject matter of the testimony, and Cmr Joseph angrily said that he was swearing us in so that he can ask us questions under oath later, and not be bothered to swear us in later. He said that we had no choice about it.

After being sworn in, the first thing that Cmr Joseph said was that I was being charged with contempt of court, and that I had a right to remain silent! I thought that the right to remain silent meant that I did not have to testify under oath.

Cmr Joseph scheduled Oct. 21, 11am, for a trial on the contempt charges, and he said that I could face 5 days in jail for each count. I asked how many counts there are against me, and he looked confused and asked me if I had seen the paperwork. I had, but it did not say how many counts. After asking several times, he finally said that there were two counts against me.

He asked me if I understood the charges against me. I said that I wasn't sure, and then asked him whether I am accused of violating the Welfare Code or a Rule 2.550 order. He refused to answer, and repeatedly asked me whether I understand the charges. Eventually I had to say that no, I did not understand the charges. He suggested that I get an attorney to explain them to me.

I asked about deposing witnesses. He said that was unnecessary, because there could not possibly be any testimony in my favor. I said that it was my contention that there were some facts under dispute, and that I was entitled to cross-examine witness. He declared that there are no facts under dispute, and refused to discuss the matter any further.

Then we moved on to my motion to force my ex-wife to accept the psychologist's recommendation. Cmr Joseph first complained that the report was confidential but the clerk had put it in the public file. Then he complained that the psychologist did not do some of the things that he had expected to be done.

I pointed out that his Jan. written order did not include any of those things. Furthermore, when I complained about the difficulties getting a psychologist in May, he said that the psychologist only had to do what is in the written order. The actual psychologist report did all the things in his written order.

I explained that his Jan. 11 order said that I was to get visitation of my kids, but that I had not seen my kids since then. I had complied with all the court orders, but my ex-wife had not, and she has not let me see the kids.

Then Cmr Joseph threw a little tantrum about the psychologist report, and declared that the psychologist was unethical to do the report. He claimed that it was somehow my own fault that I had not seen my kids. I tried to tell him that I had done everything I could to comply with his orders, but he would not listen, and he kicked us out of court.

We still have a scheduled court appeared for Wed. of next week, for my ex-wife's motion to seal the CPS testimony. I really don't see why that is necessary. If the testimony is not confidential already, then why am I being found guilty of disclosing it? It makes no sense to me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Ex-wife files ex-parte motion against me

Last week my ex-wife asked for an expedited hearing on support payments that she says I was supposed to pay her 3-4 years ago. She wanted the motion to be heard this Wednesday. I was not present in court when she made this request, so I don't know exactly what was said. But the court calendar shows Nov. 5 being reserved for this motion, so I guess the commissioner told her that she has to wait until then. He probably figured that if she can wait four years, then she can wait another month.

That still leaves two big issues before Cmr Irwin H. Joseph on Wed. Oct. 8:

1. Whether she has to obey the psychologist's recommendation to allow me to visit our kids.
2. Whether I should be held in contempt of court for describing my court situation on this blog.

She argues:
I have sole physical and legal custody of the minors. Mr. AngryDad does not have any percentage of physical and/or legal custody of the minors, despite his statement on page 2, second paragraph.
It is true that she has the kids 100% of the time now, but that is only because she is not complying with the recommendations of the court psychologist. Officially, we still have joint physical and legal custody based on a 2005 custody trial, and nothing has changed that.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The abuse myth

Carey Roberts reports:
In the great majority of cases, women at abuse shelters have suffered no physical injury or harm.

A former worker at the YWCA Emergency Shelter in Enid, Okla. reveals, "In all the time that I volunteered there, I saw one woman who showed signs of physical abuse." Likewise, the former director of a mid-Atlantic shelter reports, "only about one in 10 women had experienced any kind of physical injury."

Recently, researchers at Florida State University interviewed persons residing at abuse shelters in the state. "Medical/health" needs were mentioned only 9% of the time, and these were mostly women who needed to catch up on overdue dental and medical checks.

And the Hawaii Department of Human Services reports only 8% of persons at shelters require emergency medical attention — and emergency care can include non-abuse related problems like getting an abscessed tooth removed.
Usually the main abuse is drug and alcohol abuse that they have done to themselves.

Baldwin's book gets good review

The NY Times reviews the new book by Alex Baldwin, actor and angry dad:
As brilliant an actor as Baldwin can be, his comic acuity may be so keen partly because we associate him in real life with a darker, more dolorous personality. His new book, “A Promise to Ourselves,” is a treatise on how the family law system in America is broken, and why it should be changed. It is a serious book, masquerading as a manifesto but eventually turning into a desperately sad memoir, layered beneath the polemic, about the failure of Baldwin’s marriage and his estrangement from his only child. ...

Baldwin barrels forward, arguing that American family law is a system of lawyers and judges working in cooperation to drain the wallets of divorcing couples — an industry that preys on the vulnerabilities of the already vulnerable. “To be pulled into the American family law system in most states is like being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down a gravel road late at night,” he writes. “No one can hear your cries and complaints, and it is not over until they say it is over.”
As the review says, Baldwin is funny in this video. The review ends:
For all its faults, its creakinesses and almost codger-like crankiness, its occasionally sludgy prose, this book has a point. Divorce is hell. Lawyers are vultures. Children get lost. Baldwin bravely set out to illuminate and change the way divorce is conducted in this country; he also, wittingly or not, offers a candid, unhappy portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.
I think the reviewer might be missing the point. Baldwin is not trying to tell the story of a marriage gone sour, or to say that divorce is hell. His divorce is a small part of the story. This is a book about the evils of the family court.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Official list of visitation supervisors

I got this from the court. I am posting it so that it might be useful to others.

Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance
Weekdays, weekends, evenings
Sliding scale
Bilingual/bicultural staff available
Therapeutic visits available
Supervised exchange services

Ruth Britany Insight
Evenings during the week, some weekends
Approximately $50/hr

Geoffa Gainsburg
Some weekday evenings, alternate weekends
Approximately $50/hr

Jackie Hunt

Rebecca Hughes
Call for availability
$100 per hour/possible sliding scale

Joan Murrin
831-438-4012 Call for availability and fees.

TLC Kids
Possibility of Santa Cruz County visits up to eight hours in length
$50-$95/hour depending on number of children.
Out of area surcharge of $85

San Benito County:
Chamberlain's Mental Health Services
Hollister and Gilroy sites 408-848-6511
Registration fee ($25 as of 6/07)
Hourly fee is $10 to $70 sliding scale
Therapeutic visits are $85/hour

Monterey County
Community Human Services
Seaside Location, call 831-394-4622
Salinas Location, call 757-7915
$40 application fee, sliding scare hourly rate available.

Santa Clara County
Visit and Exchange Solutions
Morgan Hill
Service in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties
$50 registration fee; $55/hour for two children
Fees increase with additional supervisor
I have heard that others have tried to get on the official list, but the court likes to keep a small number of visitation supervisors that it can tightly control. If there were more on the list, then they would not be able to charge $50 per hour for what is really just some easy babysitting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Next Elkins meeting

The next Elkins Family Law Task Force meeting is set for November 19, 2008 in San Francisco. The meetings are supposed to be open to the public, and the purpose is to recommend fairer procedures for family court.

Curiously, this info is not on the web site. Maybe they don't want to make it too easy for the public to participate. I will post more info when I get it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CPS stories

Georgia state senator Nancy Schaefer wrote this rant against CPS:
On my desk are scores of cases of exhausted families and terrified children. It has been beyond me to turn my back on these suffering, crying, and beaten down individuals.

We are mistreating the most innocent. Child Protective Services have become an adult centered business to the detriment of children. No longer is judgment based on what the child needs or who the child wants to be or with whom, or what is really best for the whole family; it is some adult or bureaucrat who makes the decisions, based often on just hearsay, without ever consulting a family member, or just what is convenient, profitable, or less troublesome for the social workers.
I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to so many families that I am not sure if I even believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so.

Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set our children and families free.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy” Proverbs 31:8-9
She explains some of the things wrong with CPS, and has some suggestions. I say it should be shut down.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kicking kids out of court

When I was in court on Monday, the first thing that happened was that the bailiff kicked two teenagers out of court. Apparently Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has a policy of not allowing minors in his court.

That seems wrong to me. If the court proceedings are open to the public, then minors should be allowed. There is no law or rule against it, as far as I know. Sometimes kids are kept out of closed juvenile court hearings, but even that is ending. California is passing a law requiring all kids age ten or older to be told that they can be present in their juvenile court cases.

My kids have been interviewed by court personel, but have not been in the courtroom. Someday they will learn how a cruel and malicious court commissioner tried to ruin their lives. They have a right to know.