Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CPS seizes kid for lemonade

CPS put a kid in foster care for a couple of days because the dad tried to buy him lemonade:
If you watch much television, you've probably heard of a product called Mike's Hard Lemonade.

And if you ask Christopher Ratte and his wife how they lost custody of their 7-year-old son, the short version is that nobody in the Ratte family watches much television.

The way police and child protection workers figure it, Ratte should have known that what a Comerica Park vendor handed over when Ratte ordered a lemonade for his boy three Saturdays ago contained alcohol, and Ratte's ignorance justified placing young Leo in foster care until his dad got up to speed on the commercial beverage industry.
A blood test showed no alcohol in the boy's blood.

There are more comments here. The dad had to stay in a hotel for a few days. It is very unusual that the parents got the kid back so quickly -- the dad happened to have a buddy who was a Univ. of Michigan law professor, and it took only 5 days to get the action reversed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Parental Alienation

Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day, according to resolutions in a bunch of states.
Parental alienation is a group of behaviors that are damaging to children's mental and emotional well-being, and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.

These behaviors whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated or bullied into believing a loving parent is the cause of all their problems, and/or the enemy, to be feared, hated, disrespected and/or avoided.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ACLU criticizes Texas raid

News about the Texas FLDS raid will continue for months. I am glad to see some people questioning how the state busted up this cult. Here is the ACLU:
SAN ANGELO, Texas - The ACLU of Texas has joined the debate over the removal of 416 children from a polygamous sect's ranch more than two weeks ago. ...

In a statement released Friday, the Texas ACLU said the situation has raised "serious and difficult issues regarding the sometimes competing rights of children and their parents." The organization made the statement after listening to some testimony but before the judge issued an order continuing state custody of the children. ...

Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said officials may have violated the U.S. Constitution and state laws in how they conducted the raid and the subsequent custody hearing.

"The government must ensure that each mother and each child in its custody receives due process of law in determining the placement of the children and other matters regarding the children's care," she said in the statement.
I hope that the fathers also receive due process.

A reader responds:
How disingenuous! Why should these people be afforded more rights than they recognized in their own community? These 416 children were being reared in common. None of them knew who was their real mother and real father. The concept of estoppel should prevent these alleged mothers and fathers from now deciding to claim custody of children who had not previously known them as such.

Official ACLU policy is that the practice of plural marriage is protected by the First Amendment and that the Supreme Court decision holding otherwise (U.S. v. Reynolds, 1879) should be overturned.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My appeal is delayed

The transcripts for my appeal were supposed to be done last week, but they were not. Slow court reporters, I guess. At this point, I'd probably rather skip whatever transcripts are not available, but it is not my choice. Maybe they will be done next month at this time.

The whole court system of transcripts is archaic. It would be a lot simpler and quicker and easier and quicker for everyone involved to just use voice recordings. Not much of the transcripts is really needed, and we could just transcribe those parts. They just don't want to make it easy for people to appeal rulings.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Divorce blogs get publicity

The NY Times has an article about the increasing popularity of divorce blogs, where one ex-spouse will say nasty things about the others. Court attempts to stop such blogs have failed.

The purpose of this blog has never been to air dirty laundry, or to get revenge on my ex-wife, or anything like that. I do not make personal attacks on her, or discuss private matters. I tried my best to keep my divorce private. I only use this blog to defend myself against bogus attacks that she has chosen to make against me publicly in open court, and to inform the public about how the family court system works. I mainly blame the family courts, because it is the courts that are really causing many of the problems in our society.

Friday, April 18, 2008

416 kids seized at Texas cult

People keep asking me what I think about what is surely the biggest child custody dispute in history. I am still waiting for hard evidence. I think that they had better find some rock-solid proof of statutory rape really fast, or I will think that is a hoax. If bad stuff is really happening on that scale, then there has to be some proof.

If the case as treated as a non-criminal case with hundreds of court-appointed lawyers arguing about what is in the best interest of the children, then it will be a travesty.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rich wife complains on YouTube

A New York AP story reports:
NEW YORK (AP)  -- We're the YouTube Generation, living in the YouTube Era, in a YouTube World. And now we apparently have a YouTube Divorce.

Some prominent New York divorce lawyers couldn't think of another case where a spouse -- in this instance, the wife of a major Broadway theater operator -- had taken to YouTube to spill the secrets of a marriage in an apparent effort to gain leverage and humiliate the other side.

Watch the Video (YouTube)

``This is absolutely a new step, and I think it's scary,'' said Bonnie Rabin, a divorce lawyer who has handled high-profile cases. ``People used to worry about getting on Page Six (the gossip page of the New York Post.) But this? It brings the concept of humiliation to a whole new level.''

In a tearful and furious YouTube video with close to 150,000 hits to date, former actress and playwright (``Bonkers'') Tricia Walsh-Smith lashes out against her husband, Philip Smith, president of the Shubert Organization, the largest theater owner on Broadway. ...

``I don't think it's the kind of thing people should be doing, and it's the kind of thing judges frown upon,'' said Norman Sheresky, a partner in the matrimonial law firm Sheresky Aronson Mayesfsky & Sloan, which Walsh-Smith mentions in her video.
As well as I can figure out, her biggest complaint is that she regrets signing a prenuptial agreement that only leaves her $750,000. She had married a rich man who was 25 years older, and now she wants more money. Also, she complains that she did not get enough sex.

I think that last comment from the divorce lawyer is a little strange. Divorce lawyers commonly do everything they can to publicly embarrass the other spouse in open court, and judges do everything to encourage it. When my ex-wife was represented by Jennifer Gray, a lawyer at the local firm Bosso Williams, she filed all sorts of personal and embarrassing public accusations with the court, including gripes about our sex life. Many of the accusations served no legal purpose at all, except to attempt to humiliate me. Ms. Gray even told me that she was going to make the complaints public unless I paid her a whole bunch of money.

No family court judge ever expressed any disapproval of her making these public and irrelevant accusations.

The divorce lawyer in the story seems to be suggesting that the family court judge is going to watch the YouTube video, be annoyed that the wife is telling her story outside of court, and punish her financially for the video. If so, that judge would be violating several ethical rules. Judges are supposed to rule based on evidence presented in court, not YouTube videos. Even if the judge had some personal disapproval of the wife telling her story on YouTube, he has no authority to punish her for it. She has a right to tell her story. The whole idea that some judge would try to punish some woman for telling her story is offensive. It is just more evidence that family court judges have too much power, and exercise that power too arbitrarily.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little kids sometimes like to sleep with parents

Someone just told me a theory for how Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph rules in family court. The theory is that Comm. Joseph really has a sick and perverted mind.

In my case, Comm. Joseph conceded that there is no accusation of sexual abuse, and yet in his decision to take my kids away, he cited a 2004 Bret Johnson report that said this about my kids who were then aged 7 and 5:
They sometimes go to bed and sleep with Father or wake up and it is fun to come to sleep with him.
Comm. Joseph did not explain what he thought was wrong with this. If he
really thought that it was a legitimate issue for some reason, he could have asked me about when I was on the witness stand. He did not. No one else made an issue out of it. Even that 2004 report did not say that there was anything bad or unusual about it.

I do think that Comm. Joseph has a sick, twisted, and perverted mind. I cannot see any other explanation for using such an innocuous statement to support such a radical custody change. He is the kind of person who should never have any say about what happens to children. If there were any justice, he would be fired for the child abuse that he regularly commits in his courtroom.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Transcipts supposed to be done

Today is the day that my trial transcripts are supposed to be done. I need them for my appeal. I don't know if the court reporters do these on time or not. I guess that I should hear in a few days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Parents fight over gang colors

I sometimes post stories about parents taking some silly dispute to family court, and some overreaching judge trying to make some decision that he is ill-equipped to make. But this Colorado story tops them all.
When Mom wears one set of gang colors and Dad wears another, conflict over how to raise the baby can cause irreconcilable differences.

At least that's what happened for one Commerce City couple.

Commerce City police were called to a disturbance Saturday at a Hollywood Video on East 64th Street, where a man reportedly was harassing his ex-girlfriend, who was working there.

The man knocked over a computer and a magazine stand and yelled obscenities at her, witnesses said.

He left the store before police arrived.

When officers questioned the woman, they learned that the two had been together for four years and were the parents of a child.

When police asked the woman why the two had separated, she said they have "different ideas about how the baby should be raised," according to a police report.

When officer Daniel Swift asked the woman what she meant by that, she said that the two belong to different street gangs.

"They could not agree on which gang the baby would claim," Swift said.
There are people who argue that if parents do not agree on some child-rearing issue, then a judge or psychologist must make the decision. I wonder if those folks really think that a judge should make a choice of gang colors for a baby!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Kids now being allowed in court

The San Jose newspaper reports:
After years of being largely left out of proceedings that decide their fates, more children are now joining the flurry of parents, attorneys and social workers churning each weekday through the Santa Clara County Juvenile Dependency Court.

A February memo to social workers titled "Children Have a Right to Attend Court Hearings" - coupled with new efforts by children's lawyers - jogged the local system that decides whether to remove children from their homes following allegations of child abuse and neglect. ...

"Under no circumstances should a social worker tell a child they cannot or should not come to court," states the memo. "... if a child asks to come to court, then the child's request must be honored. One of the major complaints from former dependent children who emancipated from foster care is that they never knew they could come to court and talk to the judge."
Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph never allows kids into his court. My kids even had their own court-appointed lawyer Jim Ritchey, but he never told the kids what their rights are.

This newspaper article is part of a continuing series on corruption in the juvenile dependency court and court-appointed lawyers. The most well-known of the court-appointed lawyers has committed suicide as a result of the articles. The remaining judges and lawyers are just as bad, and I hope public pressure causes them to clean up their acts.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another shrink rejects us

I got rejected by another psychologist.

I called him up, and told him that my ex-wife and I were looking for a child custody evaluator. He asked me a bunch of questions. Eventually he asked why we haven't already found one.

I said that I wasn't sure, but the biggest deal-killers seem to be our lack of lawyers, the extensive previous litigation, the distance, and my blog. He said that he would check out my blog, and get back to me.

He called me back the next day, and said that he did not want the case, and he would only explain it if it were off the record. I promised not to use his name.

He said that child custody evaluations are stressful because they push the limits of what is ethical for psychologists. He would like to stick to psychological issues, but the judges want him to decide legal issues. He has no idea how to preserve the legal rights of the parties, so he really likes to have lawyers to shelter him from those problems. That way, when a parent complains about having to sign an agreement or complains about due process or anything like that, the psychologist can just tell him to talk to his lawyer about it.

Ideally, the psychologist said that he likes to write the evaluation order that the judge signs. The lawyers are often able to arrange that by filing a stipulated request. That way, the psychologist can usually get his recommendations ordered without the parents even seeing his report. When they cannot see his report, they have little ground for complaints. A lot of parents are just unreasonable jerks, he explained, and being forced to follow his recommendation is what is in the best interest of the kids.

The psychologist said that he had never done a case in Santa Cruz county, and after reading my blog, he does not want to start with my case. He said that it took years to build up a good reputation with the Santa Clara courts, and he got that reputation mainly by affirming what the judge had already wanted to do. Only after building up a reputation was he able to occasionally go against some previous court finding.

In my case, he said that it appears that I had really pissed off the judge somehow. Even if my accounts were distorted, there is no way the court's actions could possibly be justified. The psychologist said that twice before he encountered cases where the judge was out to screw someone for some reason. He found it to be a sad and frustrating experience. The judges have so much discretion and authority that they can get away with whatever they want, and the psychologist does not want another case like those. In most cases, he said, the judge does not know what to do and does not care anyway, and those are the cases where a good evaluator can make a positive difference. If I had a case where the judge did not care, then he would be happy to try to start making a reputation in Santa Cruz. But there is no way he is going to plunge into some case that is already a hopeless mess, and where he is not likely to be able to help.

The whole call disgusted me. It seems to me that he should be willing to give his honest opinion, as long as someone is paying him. Curiously, he did not complain about my blog, or tell me to get a lawyer. I got the impression that, from his point of view, he prefers the sort of client who would trust his life to the decisions of lawyers, judges, and shrinks. He was not saying that I ought to do that, but when someone does trust his life to the opinions of others, then the shrink's recommendations are more likely to be accepted.