Thursday, January 31, 2008

Judge sends list of shrinks

I just got this from the local court:
I have just received notification that Dr. Elizabeth Lee will be unable to serve as appointed by the court. Enclosed is a four page listing including professionals qualified to conduct a psychological/custody evaluation. The list includes a number of individuals in Santa Clara County.

You are urged to agree upon a professional promptly so the process can begin. Please advise the Court by letter when you have reached agreement.

Thank you.
Very truly yours,
Superior Court Commissioner
There are only three in our county, but a lot in the next county. The list is headed by this paragraph:
Attached is a list of mental health professionals who have completed the basic domestic violence training required of individuals who want to conduct custody evaluations or assessments. The individuals on this list have indicated that they do custody evaluations, assessments, or counseling for families and children in separating families. Those marked with the symbol (A) also attended a seminar on private assessments and those with an (S) have indicated that they are willing to take cases on a sliding fee basis. The Santa Clara County Superior Court maintains this list for information purposes only. Litigants and attorneys are responsible for interviewing potential evaluators or assessors regarding their qualifications, including updates on the domestic violence training as required by rule. The superior Court neither approves nor recommends the services provided by any person on this list.
So I guess that's what qualifies these folks to micromanage people's lives -- they completed some basic domestic violence training and maybe attended a seminar on private assessments. It sounds pitiful to me.

The document is from 2004 and it says that an updated list is kept here, but that web site has been abandoned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paying the court-appointed lawyer

I just paid James M. Ritchey's final bill. What a bozo he turned out to be. Comm. Joseph had appointed him to be a lawyer for the kids, and ordered my ex-wife and me to pay him $2,000. For that, he never familiarized himself with the facts of the case, never even talked to the kids about the issues of the case, and did not even bother to show up for the court trial. He billed at a rate of $240 per hour for himself, and $90 per hour for his secretary Debra Hess.

All he really did for his money was to write a terse two-page in which he recommended that the court continue doing whatever it was doing. I guess that Comm. Joseph just appointed him to offer evidence for what the court had already done, but he really didn't come up with any evidence for anything.

Being a court-appointed lawyer must be easy work. He has no accountability to the client. He does not have to make any factual or legal determinations. He does not have to justify his pay. He just has to suck up to the judge, and watch the money roll in.

I guess it could be worse. The AP reports today:
LOS ANGELES — Actress Anne Heche and her estranged husband will each be allowed $240,000 from the sale of their home to pay legal fees in their divorce battle, a judge ruled Tuesday. ...

Heche, star of TV's "Men in Trees," is under a court order to pay attorney's fees for Laffoon.

The judge ordered money from the home's sale released to the couple's attorneys but reserved authority to determine how much should be paid out to them, said Melvin S. Goldsman, attorney for Laffoon.

Daniel J. Jaffe, an attorney for Heche, said he was pleased with the decision ...

Laffoon is seeking $22,000 a month in spousal support for himself and the couple's 5-year-old son, Homer.
Yes, of course the attorney is happy that the assets are being plundered for the sake of his outrageous fees.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Psychologist notifies the judge

I just got this letter:
Dear Commissioner Joseph:

Thank you for referring the above case to me for a custody evaluation. After being informed of your referral, I spoke with the parties by phone regarding the evaluation.

I regret to say that I will not perform the evaluation of this case.

Thank you very much for referring this case to me for evaluation. I feel very strongly the compliment that you pay by choosing to recommend my services to the parties, and I regret that I am unable to accommodate you and the parties on this occasion.

Elizabeth K. Lee, Psy.D.
I am glad to see that she sent me and my ex-wife the same notice that she sent to the court. That is as it should be.

I don't know what Comm. Joseph will do now. He didn't just "recommend" Lee's services, he ordered it. But he never explained the purpose of the evaluation, or what he wanted to get out of it, or what to do if Lee does not do it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Theory for the late secrecy order

A reader suggests that Comm. Joseph has falsified the record in order to evade appellate court jurisdiction.

I doubt that, but Comm. Joseph's recent order is hard to explain. Sally Mitchell testified on Jan. 4 in open court, and nobody said anything about any of it being confidential at the time. After Ms. Mitchell left, he said that her report was confidential, but said nothing about her testimony. On Jan. 11, Comm. Joseph issued his final judgment in the matter, and he again said nothing about her testimony being confidential. On Jan. 23, I filed a notice of appeal, removing jurisdiction over the case to a higher court. Then on Jan. 25, his clerk sent out the new Jan. 11 minutes with the "off the record" order sealing the Ms. Mitchell testimony transcript.

It seems to me that as of Jan. 23, Ms. Mitchell's transcript was under the jurisdiction of the appellate court and Comm. Joseph then had no authority over it. By backdating his order to Jan. 11, he makes it appear as if he issued the order while he still had jurisdiction over the matter.

I think that the order is incorrect, whether it is dated Jan. 11 or 25, so it probably does not make any difference. Still, I don't think that Comm. Joseph should be issuing orders in response to my notice of appeal. Once I appeal, he should just let the appeals court handle it and not try to interfere.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Judge issued secrecy order after the hearing

I just got this order from Comm. Joseph. (The spelling and grammar mistakes are in the original; I didn't change anything.)
The case is regularly called for hearing.
Both parties are sworn and examined.
The parties address the issues now before the Court.

The Court recites its findings for the record. The Court notes the transcript of the orders made today shall be free of charge to Petitioner.


The Court finds Respondent has engaged in emotionally abusive behavior and conduct. Respondent has shown an inablitliy to discern and take responsibility for his own participation in such abusive conduct. The minor's are not to continue to be exposed to such conduct.

The parties shall particiate is a psychological evalution with Dr. Elizabeth Lee, The Court signs the Order Appointing Child Custody Assessor/Evaluator.

The parties shall share in the cost for Dr. Lee's fees. The Court reserves jurisdiction to realocate said fees.

The requirement for the parties to participate in Co parenting counseling shall be at the recommendation of Dr. Lee if she feels it is appropriate.

Visitation shall remain professionally or non professionally supervised and shall be modified to include up to two hours of unsupervised time once the minors have been interviewed by an evaluator. The evaluator is requested to recommend appropriate increases in the unsupervised time between the supervised hours.

Respondent shall commense counseling as recommended by Dr. Johnson.

SUPPORT: Respondent to pay child support in the amount of $1,748.00 per month for the period of 01/01/06 through 01/22/06. Respondent is ordered to pay child care costs in the amount of $250.00 per month. Support based on attached DissoMaster

Respondent to pay child support in the amount of $2,692.00 per month for the period of 01/23/06 through 02/06/06. Said support is based on the Court diviating from the guideline amount pursuant to FC Section 4057 b(5)(b). Support based on attached DissoMaster

Respondent to pay child support in the amount of $2,208.00 per month for the period of 02/06/06 through 12/31/06. Said support is based on the Court deviating from the guidline amount pursuant to FC Section 4057 b(5)(b). Support based on attached DissoMaster

Respondent is ordered to pay child support in the amount of $1,601.00 per month effective 01/01/07. Said support is based on the Court deviating from the guideline amount pursuant to FC Section 4057 b(5)(b). Support based on attached DissoMaster

NEXT COURT DATE: This matter is set for Trial Setting and Financial Issues on 03/21/08 at 8:31 in Department 4.

Both parties are directed to file and serve Status Conference Statements 5 days prior to the next hearing.

Petitioner is directed to prepare the order pursuant to Rule 3.1312.


The Court recognizes that pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Sec. 827, the content of the testimony of Sally Mitchell on 1/4/08 should be kept confidential. The Court should have closed the session including her testimony to the public. Therefore the Court makes the following orders:

The transcript of the testimony of Sally Mitchell on 1/4/08 shall be deemed confidential. It may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without Court order. The original transcript shall be sealed. Distribution of the transcript is prohibited. The transcript may be used for any legitimate appellate purpose.
The surprise is the two paragraphs at the end. Comm. Joseph did not say that in court, and apparently added it at some later date. There is no good reason for Sally Mitchell's testimony to be confidential, that I can see, except to cover up incompetence and maliciousness. She testified that she did not know of any specific act of abuse on my part. Comm. Joseph accuses me of child abuse, but he doesn't want anyone to know how flimsy the evidence against me is. I would post the transcript if I could.

Section 827 doesn't say anything about court testimony or transcripts. It merely says that parents, lawyers, court personnel, CPS, and others have access to juvenile court case files. There was no such case file that was ever even discussed. Ms. Mitchell just testified about dogs, alarm clocks, dishes, homework, and other such matters.

I would like to publicly defend myself against the charges that have been made publicly against me. Comm. Joseph is trying to forbid me from doing that. He says that I have "engaged in emotionally abusive behavior and conduct", but he forbids me from saying what that behavior and conduct was. Well, there was no emotionally abusive behavior and conduct, and Ms. Mitchell's transcript proves it. His order is just an attempt to stop me from showing how wrong his order is. It appears that I have to appeal his order just to get my hands on the transcript.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What the shrink tells the judge

A reader asks what the psychologist told the judge.

I don't know. If it were a real court, then there would be no secret communications to the judge. My ex-wife told Comm. Joseph in court that Elizabeth Lee would do a custody evaluation if she were named in the order. So he named her in the order. Then she told me that she would not do it. Since she makes a lot of money off of court referrals, I bet that she tells the court something.

The problem arises when she tells the court, my ex-wife, and me three different things. If she were professional and above-board about it, then she would only contact the court in writing, with copies to my ex-wife and me. If so, I'd probably have a letter in my mailbox by now. I doubt it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Notice of appeal

I just filed a notice of appeal in my case. It sure seems to me that what Comm. Joseph did was illegal for about ten different reasons. An appeal is a long and laborious process, but I will eventually get a panel of three higher-level judges to look at the case.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Must use some sort of adjective

Comm. Joseph gave me this lecture a couple of years ago:
THE COURT: one other thing, sir. I'm a strong believer in civility. when I talk about someone in moving papers or read about someone in moving papers, I expect a "Mr." or "Ms." or attorney or counselor. when you just throw someone's name at me for the purposes of getting effect, that's not appropriate. It's not polite. okay. so next time you file something, would you please in front Of Miss Gray's name put some sort of adjective. okay?

I don't know what effect he thought that I was trying to get. I was just referring to her by name.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Child custody evaluator backs out

I just got a call from Elizabeth Lee, the court-appointed child custody evaluator. On Jan. 11, Comm. Joseph had ordered my ex-wife and me to get an evaluation from her. She was all set to charge us $7,000 and get started. My ex-wife warned her about this blog, and she said that she would check it out herself.

Ms. Lee said that I have an absolute free speech right to post on my blog, and she believes in free speech and she didn't want to do anything to discourage me. But she said that she didn't want any part of it, and she was going to notify the court that she was declining to do the evaluation.

There are two other local psychologists who do top-dollar child custody evaluations, Gregory Katz and Jay E Muccilli. The judge had also said that we could agree on someone else. The evaluator would make recommendations about legal custody, physical custody, supervision, visitation, counseling, coparenting, schedule, child exchange, and probably anything else to run our lives. Maybe he would even advise us about dogs and alarm clocks, I don't know. I am not sure why the judge is doing this, so we will probably have to go back to court for more instruction.

Three Judicial Biases About Moms, Dads and Children

I just stumbled across this excellent essay by Warren Farrell:
Why does two parent stability trump geographical stability? ...

First, the job of a child growing up is to discover who it is. Who is it? It is half mom and half dad. It is not the better parent. It is both parents. Warts and all. So we are not talking here about fathers' rights, mothers' rights or even the child's right to both parents. We are talking about a new paradigm: the child's right to both halves of itself.

Second, children with minimal exposure to one parent seem to feel abandoned, often psychologically rudderless.

Third, dads and moms, like Republicans and Democrats, provide checks and balances. Moms tend to overstress protection; dads may overstress risk-taking. There has to be a balance of power for the child to absorb a balance of both parents' values. One parent dominating tends to leave the child with a stereotyped and biased perspective of the values of the minority parent, and ultimately a lack of appreciation for that part of itself.
The whole essay makes the point concisely. He has a book on the subject with greater detail.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Custody evaluations have no scientific basis

A reader comments:
You are absolutely right when you say: "There is no legal, factual, or psychological justification for the current custody arrangement" That is because there is little scientific basis for child custody evaluations (see recent story on NPR). I am familiar with a Christopher Lane in the DC Metro area, who charged well over $10,000 for bunch of tests that had no scientific basis and then acted like he was a hired gun for one side of the case. It is a business and it should be recognized as that...and it is making money off of children's futures.
That was a surprisingly good NPR segment. I will post the audio if anyone has trouble getting it from the NPR site. It said that court-ordered child custody evaluations should be abolished.

Some of those psychological tests do have some scientific basis as screening tools for various disorders like schizophrenia. But such screening is useful in less than 5% of custody cases. The rest of the time, the tests have no scientific basis for saying one parent is any better than other parent, or anything like that.

Yes, of course the child custody evaluator acted like a hired gun for one side. There is no other role for the evaluator, as far as I know. Mediators look for compromises that might be acceptable to both parties, but the child custody evaluator's job is just to generate evidence that might be used by one party in a custody trial.

I now have a court-appointed child custody evaluator, but it is not yet clear whether she is going to do the evaluation or not.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Judge tries to suppress report

I just got the minute order for Comm. Joseph's Jan. 4 hearing:

Comm. Joseph has no authority to issue such an order. I can see no justification for such an order, except as just an attempt to cover up incompetence and maliciousness.

The CPS report was released to me with no restrictions. It was not marked confidential. No law restricts me from posting it on this web site, as far as I know. The report was used against me in open court and on the public record. I have a right to defend myself against accusations of abuse. It is absurd to say that I need to get Comm. Joseph's permission to get legal advice on the report.

I am still trying to make a determination that I can post the report legally. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Forcing boy to be a Packers fan

A reader sends this story of emotional abuse:
Matthew Kowald was arrested Monday on tentative felony charges of causing mental harm to a child and false imprisonment, but was issued only a disorderly conduct citation for the incident.

Kowald reportedly forced a Packers sweatshirt on the boy, who told his father he refused to root for the Packers and was told by Kowald that anyone who said that would be grounded. ...

"He wanted the juvenile to be a Packers fan, and I would suggest he went about it the wrong way," Smith said.
The boy is 7 years old. The cop must have been a Seattle fan. The story goes on:
Kowald was arrested after the boy's mother, Kowald's wife, told authorities about the incident. ... Kowald's wife also filed a restraining order on Wednesday, Smith said, adding that other domestic issues have surfaced, though he wouldn't elaborate.
No surprise there. There was no harm to the boy, but the real motivation for the complaint was those "other domestic issues". Maybe the wife should just get counseling for her domestic issues, and not waste police and court time.

Blogging about the child custody evaluation

My ex-wife complained to the judge that a private child custody evaluator might not want to take the case after finding out about this blog. Comm. Joseph said that he cannot do anything about it.

I am not sure what anyone could reasonably expect me to do about this, if true. I have been accused of child abuse publicly in open court, and I have lost my kids as a result.

I contend that the accusations are entirely unfounded, malicious, and destructive. Surely no one would dispute my right to publicly respond to the public accusations against me. If I did not defend myself, then people would conclude that I was guilty.

Now suppose I get interviewed by a court-appointed child custody evaluator, and that evaluator ends up (falsely) testifying in open court that I am a child abuser. Would anyone really suggest that I might have some obligation to avoid publicly defending myself?

I can see where the custody evaluator might not like being discussed on this blog. She probably figures that she is going to collect some confidential information, and write a confidential report that may make me and/or my ex-wife unhappy. We may voluntarily agree to her recommendations, and there would never be any need to break any confidences. That is probably how her evaluations usually go.

But our case is not going to be anything like that. First, there is no confidential info. My ex-wife has already put all of her accusations out in open court, and there is nothing that I can do about it. Second, she is demanding sole legal custody and I am asking for 50-50 custody, not leaving possibility of compromise. Third, she is accusing me of child abuse, and I adamantly deny it.

The evaluation will likely be just ammunition for another public custody trial. If the evaluator does it with professionalism and transparency, then it will illuminate the evidence and allegations in the case, and show how generally accepted psychological wisdom can be brought to bear on the matter. That could be a good thing. If she does it right, then no one will accuse her of bias because she will detail all of the premises, facts, and analysis leading to her conclusions.

I am anticipating that there will be some press coverage of this case. Apparently this case is unusual enough to be newsworthy. A reporter might very well get a copy of the evaluation, and ask me for my comment to put in a published story. I hope that the evaluator does a thoroughly professional job, and is not afraid to put her reputation behind her report.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Understanding my kids

A reader asks whether I have made a real effort to learn parenting skills and understand my kids.

I have taken every suggestion seriously. The CPS social worker, Sally Mitchell, said in her report that I am "unwilling to consider any other parenting methods". When I asked her about this under oath, she admitted that she knew of no example of me being unwilling to consider another parenting method. In other words, she lied.

Comm. Joseph suggested that I shop more often, and at different stores. Is that a parenting skill that I should be learning?

It is remarkable that these folks act as if they know my kids better than I do. I understand my kids better than anyone, except possibly my ex-wife. The comments by Comm. Joseph, Sally Mitchell, and Jim Ritchey are so far off the mark that they show a serious lack of understanding. It is just not possible for someone to collect a couple of trivial anecdotes and then understand a child better than the parent.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Starting another custody evaluation

I called the child custody evaluator today. My ex-wife had requested Comm. Joseph to order another psychologist to do a child custody evaluation. Comm. Joseph ordered one on Friday, and said that they cost up to $7,000, and we would have to split the cost. My ex-wife said she did not want to pay, and Comm. Joseph said that the evaluators are likely to have flexible payment plans. Nope. It looks like I'll probably have to front the whole $7,000, after my ex-wife goes complaining to the judge.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rhode Island blog gets attention of family court

Here is another story about a family court acting on a blog:
But a retired minister began a blog that blasted the state Department of Children, Youth and Families and others involved in the case, saying they’d used a "bogus theory" to take a mother's two daughters from her and to send one of the sisters to live with the father -- after the father had been accused of sexually abusing the girl.

At DCYF's request, a Family Court judge ordered the state agency to "advise" the Rev. Anne Grant to stop publishing the blog "as it pertains" to the two children.
I'd say that the agency is using a bogus theory to shut down a blog. I never heard of a state agency asking a judge to order it to give someone advice. It appears that the agency knows that it can't do anything about the blog, but it doesn't like the criticism, and it is trying to intimidate the blogger anyway.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Trying to explain the judge

People keep telling me that Comm. Joseph must personally hate me, or that he must be trying to teach me a lesson for having this blog, or that he has some other reason for being malicious. I am not so sure. One guy told me that Comm. Joseph is in over his head. He wants to be a real judge, but he was passed over for the last three vacancies. Comm. Joseph thinks that he needs a strong endorsement from CPS to get that appointment, so he is afraid to ever go against CPS in court. That is why, the guy says, Comm. Joseph blocked my witness to rebut CPS, and keeps me on supervised visitation. I don't know whether the guy is right or not, as there may also be some other explanations.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Issuing silly restraining orders

I wonder whether the family courts ever do anything constructive. While waiting for my case to come up this past week, I had to listen to a couple of other cases with relatively minor disputes. Both had restraining orders, and had to ask the judge about performing necessary communications when the spouses were forbidden to telephone or send email to each other. The judge told them to communicate thru third parties.

I don't see why a judge would ever issue a restraining order to stop telephone calls or email. Millions of people get dozens of spam messages every day, and no court can do anything about it. If you are getting unwanted emails, then just delete them or get a spam blocker. If you are getting unwanted telephone calls, then get Caller ID or an answering machine. The problem is trivial.

So why do judges issue these silly restraining orders? Do they just like imposing orders on people? Are they trying to be punitive? Do they really think that some good comes from the orders? I don't know.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lost the case

I just had a family court judge accuse me of child abuse.

Comm. Irwin H. Joseph made his ruling today, and he came down on me hard. He said that he found me guilty of emotional abuse. He admitted that there was no individual act of wrongdoing that anyone could find, but he said that there are a lot of complaints so he thinks that the kids are in distress. He said that I had an inability to take responsibility for the kids' distress, and they should not have to continue with me. He restricted me to a limited amount of supervised visitation.

Comm. Joseph didn't cite much in the way of specifics. He did castigate me for entering my 8-year-old daughter in a math contest that was intended for 10-year-olds. He implied that there was some sort of technical violation of the contest rules by doing that, and claimed that I was not sufficiently sensitive to the feelings that she might have had when her mother told her that she should not have been in the contest. I had testified that the contest was a worthwhile experience, and I am amazed that anyone would object to it.

Comm. Joseph said that he searched thru the court file, and found some comments on me by Bret Johnson three years ago. Johnson is a gay shrink who wrote a book about helping gay men get out of the closet. Comm. Joseph said Dr. Johnson was "prophetic", and quoted him as saying that I was "unorthodox" and "liked to do things my own way". This was all supposed to support his finding that I was a child abuser who was unfit to care for my own kids.

Comm. Joseph also issued new child support orders. When I pointed out that his new orders were directly contrary to what the appellate court said that he could do, and explained that the statute required certain factfinding, he just quickly swore us in, asked a couple of irrelevant questions, and declared that he had done the factfinding and ordered me to pay the same amount anyway. (Maybe I'll explain in greater detail later.)

Comm. Joseph also sent us out for a psychological evaluation. I've already had about five of them, so I am not sure what is the the point. He also ordered me to do the things that Dr. Johnson recommended three years ago, even tho they were rejected by the court at the time.

There was a maliciousness to Comm. Joseph's tone that I had not seen before. He acted as if he wanted to teach me a lesson, and he was going to stick it to me as hard as he possibly could under the law. He sounded as if he was going to terminate my parental rights entirely, but he needs a couple of more psych reports before he can do that. He didn't even mention the usual mumbo-jumbo about the best interest of the children. He just wanted to punish me to the maximum, regardless of any consequences.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Divorce court violates free speech rights

The NY Times reports:
BOSTON — Normally, Garrido v. Krasnansky, a divorce case playing out in Vermont family court, would be of little interest to anyone but the couple involved. But the court has ordered the husband to stop posting blog items about his wife and their crumbled marriage, possibly turning an ordinary divorce into a much broader battle over free speech on the Internet. ...

The order has surprised some experts in First Amendment law, who say it constitutes a prior restraint and appears too broad to be constitutional, especially since no hearing or trial has been held.
In my case, the judge has asked about this blog, but has not said that there is anything wrong with it. He did seem to think that there was something wrong with calling the CPS social worker an idiot. Maybe incompetent or evil or malicious would have been a better term.

The judge in my case was also strangely preoccupied on whether anyone in the courtroom was recording the proceedings. He kept checking for recording devices. There is no legitimate reason for him to care, as far as I can see. The court hearing was open to the public, and I don't that there is any law against recording it. I will be ordering an official transcript, so I will have the public record. I can even order an official recording on an audio cassette, if I want one. Then I could broadcast the audio on the internet. Maybe he is worried that someone will undercut the profits of the court reporter, I don't know.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Second day of trial

My child abuse trial continued for a few more hours today.

Comm. Irwin H. Joseph presided, and he started by dismissing his court-appointed lawyer, James Ritchey. The lawyer had not shown up for the first half of the trial, and the judge politely told him that he was not needed for the rest of the trial.

The first witness was the owner of the dog that I supposedly run over. He testified that I never ran over his dog, and that I could not do what I was accused of doing.

Next was a letter from the school superintendent. The CPS social worker, Sally Mitchell, had testified that she had only gotten adult confirmation of one accusation in her report, and that was the allegation that the school had decided that I was not allowed in the classroom. The school letter said that was false, and that I was allowed in the classroom just the same as any other parent.

I was on the witness stand most of the rest of the day. I was asked about a long assortment of incidents. None of it was of any major consequence.

The judge asked me if I really called Sally Mitchell an "idiot". I said that I wasn't sure, but that I do have a low opinion of her.

The judge also asked me what the kids are going to think when they read this blog some day. I told him that I hoped that they would learn that their father is not really a child abuser. I was tempted to explain that they will learn that Julie Travers, Sally Mitchell, and Irwin Joseph dishonestly and maliciously conspired to ruin their lives.

At the end of the trial, the judge said that he didn't know what to do, and called for a 15-minute break so that he could collect his thoughts. When we resumed, he said that the case was unique and that he was still trying to figure out a way to rule against me and to force us all into counseling. He admitted that the story about me running over the dog is probably false, but said that I should be sufficiently sensitive to the kids' feelings that I should have taken the kids to play with the dog so that they would understand that the dog is not mad at us for running over the dog. He also said that Ms. Mitchell was clear that the kids are bothered by having to help with the dishes and the laundry. He also complained that I set the kids' alarm clock for them, that I do most of my grocery shopping in a once-per-week trip, and that I once enrolled a kid in a math contest that was above her grade level.

He said that he was still deciding between an oral and written ruling, and he would tell us on Friday. His ruling will almost certainly be against me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The gist of the case against me

On cross-examination last Friday, CPS social worker Sally Mitchell admitted that I had never done one single thing that was abusive. She could only name two things that she said were outside the norms of good parenting.

First, she testified that there is a small dog that sometimes lies in the middle of the road where I live, and I have a habit of driving over the dog. I straddle the dog between my tires so that the dog is unharmed, she said. She said that the kids find this upsetting. She acknowledged that I explained to her why that was impossible, but she said that she believes it anyway.

Second, she testified that I set the kids' alarm clock for them to get up on school mornings. Her report said that I made them late for school, but she retracted that, and admitted that they were never late for school. She said that it was acceptable for me to tell them when to go to bed, but not acceptable for me to tell them when to wake up. If they want to wake up at 5:00 am, then I should let them set the alarm for 5:00 am, she said.

Her report has a number of other wacky allegations, but she admitted that she was never able to substantiate a single one of them.

That's it. That is why I am on the California child abuse registry. That is why I have not been able to see my kids for 7.5 weeks. That is why my ex-wife says that I can only see them if it is supervised by a PhD in psychology.

Somebody is nuts here, and it is not me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Filed declaration to rebut CPS

I just filed court papers for hearings on Wednesday and Friday this week. For Wed., I said:
I continue to contend that the accusations against me are unfounded in their entirety, and I intend to testify to that effect. I submit this declaration in advance of the hearing, so that [AngryMom] can verify the accuracy with the kids.
Then I have a declaration that rebuts what the CPS social worker said on the witness stand. I hope that my ex-wife does verify the facts with the kids.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Judge issues protective order

Yesterday's hearing ended with a spirited discussion of the confidentiality of the evidence against me. Comm. Irwin H. Joseph said that he was going to issue a protective order forbidding me from disseminating some of the evidence against me. Until I see the actual order, I have to be a little cautious about what I say on this blog.

The hearing was a public hearing, and there were friends of mine and my ex-wife present. The CPS social worker, Sally Mitchell, testified against me, and her written report was entered into the record as Exhibit A. She orally summarized the evidence in her written report. All of this was done without me having any say in the matter.

The confidentiality issue arose because I wanted to have a witness testify in my defense, in order to rebut some of the testimony of the CPS social worker against me. My witness was sworn in, and took the witness stand. But then judge found out that I had let the witness see the CPS report. The judge then launched into an attack on me, and claimed that there was no specific statute that authorizes my witness to see the report. Since my witness was somehow contaminated by seeing the evidence against me, the judge refused to let her testify, and dismissed her from the court.

I protested vigorously, as the judge effectively foreclosed any possibility of me using an expert witness to rebut the government expert witness against me. I cited the rules of evidence that specifically allow me to have rebuttal expert witnesses, but the judge said that he was not subject to any rules of evidence.

The judge even went so far as to claim that it would be unlawful for me to show a copy of my CPS report to my own lawyer. That would violate confientiality provisions to protect my children the judge said. He denied that he was blocking my ablility to get legal advice, because he said that I could ask a lawyer for legal advice about the CPS report without actually showing him the report. I mentioned that we had discussed the meat of the report in open court anyway. He said that was only because I had brought a motion to the court. I pointed out that my ex-wife had brought the motion. Then he said that it was still my fault because I had chosen to contest the charges against me. I said that I had given a copy of the report to my mom, and I was incredulous that anyone might think that there was anything wrong with that. He said that I ought to urge her to shred her copy.

I really could not make any sense out of the judge's legal argument. I'll have to wait for his written order, and try to make sense out of that. If I still cannot make sense out of it, I suppose that I could hire a lawyer to explain it to me. That is, I can do that unless his order also protects his own order from being shown to lawyer.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Trial and storm today

Today was the big trial on the CPS charges. We also had the biggest storm of the year, and the electric power was out all morning all over the county. I was expecting the court to close for the day. At 1:30, the court opened up, with battery-powered lanterns on the tables. The judge said that we'd have the trial, but the court reporter only has battery power for about 15 minutes. Luckily the power came on about 10 minutes later. I don't know what would have happened if the court reporter's battery went dead.

The CPS social worker testified for a couple of hours, and we had some arguments on procedural matters. Nothing got decided. My power is still out, and I am writing this on generator power. I will post more details later. The trial will continue next week.

Finally saw my CPS file

I just got my CPS file. There wasn't much in it that I didn't know. There was a log of the silly and baseless accusations. There was a secret judge's order that CPS could share info with the court. I don't know why there would be any necessity for such a secret order. There were a couple of pages about the child abuse registry, and a printout of some laws.

There were also a few pages of printouts from this blog! These folks must not be used to getting any public scrutiny about what they are doing. They bully and abuse people, and they count on the fact that no one has the nerve to stand up to CPS.

I am standing up to them. CPS is evil and destructive. Their work in my case has no merit whatsoever, and I am not going down quietly. I will vigorously defend myself against the bogus accusations.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Court-appointed lawyer bails out

I just got a notice from the court-appointed lawyer, James M. Ritchey, saying that he is not going to show up for Friday's trial because he decided to go on a family trip to Lake Tahoe. Before leaving, he submitted a brief to the court in support of my ex-wife's legal position, and complaining about this blog.

All Mr. Ritchey said about me was that I wanted a return to joint custody, and then he made a snide remark about my "obsessive-compulsive demeanor". I guess that he is trying to imply that wanting a fair hearing is obsessive-compulsive. Mr. Ritchey had told me that his recommendation would not be linked to any facts, and he told the truth about that.

My guess is that Mr. Ritchey is sorry that he took the case, and is trying to get off of it. He showed up in court twice, and said nothing either time. He tried to write up orders for both appearances, but botched up both of them, and nothing came out of it. He never learned even the most basic facts of the case. He supposedly represents the kids, but he never even found out what they want. I've lost count of the number of times he has lied to me and the court. I hope he enjoys his trip to Lake Tahoe.