Sunday, June 29, 2008

Junk Justice Joseph on intentional acts

The Sally Mitchell CPS report against me said:
Text omitted by Oct. 24, 2008 order of Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph, Santa Cruz Family Court.
When she testified on the witness stand, I asked her just what I was intentionally doing. She answered that I was doing things like asking the kids to do their homework, help with the dishes, and wake up in time to goto school.

Afterwards, Commissioner Irwin Joseph gave this speech:
Frequently during this hearing, the word "intentionally" came up. And the interpretation of intentionally to the Court, I suspect, is different than Father's interpretation and maybe Mother's as well. If one intends to do the act, whatever the act is, then usually it's the case that they're responsible for the consequence, even if they didn't intend the consequence. When one intends to strike a match, there is a resulting fire. Obviously, the person didn't intend to set the room on fire, but they did intend to strike the match. So a whole series of questions was -- were posed -- series was posed to Sally Mitchell and Mr. AngryDad about intentional. And they sort of miss the mark in large measure because they focus on the consequence of intend as opposed to did you do this intentionally or negligently or accidentally, which is really the alternative, the poles to be discussed.

So whether he likes to acknowledge it or not, Father did most of what he did intentionally. He intended that these things occur. That is the issue that the Court finds to be truthful and accurate and persuasive.
I readily acknowledged on the witness stand that I asked my kids to help with household chores, and do homework and other such tasks. I absolutely denied that my purpose was to irritate, frustrate, separate, or demean them, or that they ever suffered any adverse consequence from my actions.

Comm. Joseph then tries to address the fact that no one could find any evidence of harm:
If my deputy goes to someone and puts her gun at their temple and just stands there for a moment and then puts the gun back in the holster -- not that she would ever do that. But if she were to do that, one could say no harm occurred. She put the gun back in the holster. But how was the person made to feel? When the alarm clock is set, no harm is done. They're at school on time. But how are the kids made to feel? ... When they want to buy food besides Costco food, but Dad shops at Costco every Monday for the week, how are they made to feel? When they're enrolled in a contest that they know is for people that are older than they even though they might win the contest -- and no one is arguing about the virtue of children being ahead of their grade level in mathematics. But how are they made to feel?
So Comm. Joseph was speculating that the kids might have been irritated by me setting the alarm to wake them up for school, or by buying groceries, and therefore I was intentionally irritating the kids.

For idiotic rants like this, Comm. Joseph is known as Junk Justice Joseph.

Friday, June 27, 2008

CPS filed a secret legal brief

In the court record I found a legal brief in support of confidentiality from a CPS (aka HRA) lawyer. I had never received a copy. It includes goofy requests like this:
If the Court holds an in camera review and determines that all or part of the information should be disclosed to the requesting party, then the Court is requested to order the following: ...

7. That at the conclusion of t his case, all counsel be required to destroy whatever documents were released to them or return their copy to HRA's attorney of record (OFFICE OF SANTA CRUZ COLNTY COLNSEL, Attention: SHANNON M. SULLIVAN, Assistant County Counsel, 701 Ocean Street, Room 505, Santa Cruz,
California 95060).
I guess this is how they try to shelter themselves from criticism. They file secret legal briefs with the court asking for a secret review of the papers and an order to destroy copies!

No, there isn't much chance I will be destroying the documents. The document proves bad conduct on the part of Sally Mitchell and others at CPS. I have posted excerpts on this blog already, and I will be posting more to the extent that the law allows.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Florida allows blogs to criticize judges

A Miami Florida newspaper reports:
The Florida Supreme Court has intervened in a proposed settlement between The Florida Bar and a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney facing discipline for calling a Broward judge an "evil, unfair witch" on a courthouse blog.

Accused of violating Bar rules by impugning the judge's qualifications or integrity, Sean Conway, 37, had agreed to resolve the case by accepting a public reprimand.

The state's high court on Monday ordered the two sides to submit briefs on whether Conway's comments are "protected speech under the First Amendment."

It cited a case that says an attorney's comments "play an important role in exposing valid problems within the judicial system" and gave both sides until July 14 to provide additional information.

"It reassures my faith in the system to know that the Supreme Court would take time out of its busy schedule to protect the First Amendment when The Florida Bar doesn't appear to find it as important," Conway said Tuesday.
It is extremely rare for the court to intervene in a settlement like this. The Florida Supreme Court must have felt very strongly that attorneys have a First Amendment right to criticize judges on their blogs, no matter what Bar Assn rules say.

Received the transcript

I finally got my court transcripts, so the record should be complete for my appeal to a higher court. I am checking it now. So far, I have found some errors and some missing pages. I am not sure what to do about them. If they are not critical, I may just ignore them. I will post more from the papers when I get the chance.

Update: I just confirmed that the appeal court also received the record. The next step is for me to file my opening brief.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Parents rights group meets

The National Coalition for Family Justice West is meeting at 7pm this evening at Pedro's in Los Gatos California. They swap info on dealing with the court system.

Update: I went, and met some nice folks with some good ideas for protesting unfair court actions. Charles H. Wittman, director of Advocates for Children and Families, was there. He is not a lawyer, but he has successful court actions. He has even stopped CPS in federal court.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No free speech in Singapore

Silicon Valley lawyer Gopalan Nair said:
I made it clear on my blog that the judge was biased and had prostituted herself by acting as if she were an employee of Lee. I didn’t mean she was a prostitute, but in her actions she was abusing her authority. That’s the correct use of prostituting oneself, right?
Yeah, that's right, but now Nair is sitting in a Singapore jail for “insulting a public servant in a judicial proceeding.”

Another crooked shrink

I just got a callback from a Monterey psychologist who does custody evaluations. I told her a little about my case. She said that she would not be satisfied with the court testimony. She would require me to sign a waiver so that she could call CPS and secretly get stuff that CPS might not have been willing to say in court. She said that is how she always does evaluations.

This was yet another demonstration of how crooked the system is. There is no legitimate justification for an out-of-court interview of a witness when that witness testified in full under oath. What would the reasoning be? That the out-of-court interview is going to be more truthful than the testimony under oath? That the psychologist's impression of the CPS social worker is somehow more important than the judge's?

The funny thing about these forensic psychologists is that when they say something that is contrary to common sense or legal practice, they often follow it up with a little speech about how professional ethics require it. And then they are dead wrong about their professional ethics. Here is the APA Code of Ethics. It does not require a forensic psychologist to do secret interviews, or anything so foolish.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Court reporter still delinquent

I still don't have all my transcripts, because the court reporter is months overdue and has used up all her extensions. She is now at risk of being found in contempt of court. She does not have very much to do -- I wish that she would just do it so I could get on with my appeal.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summarizing the appeal process

Since I am working on an appeal, here is a brief outline of what is involved.

The family court is not supposed to be the last word on anything. If you are dissatisfied with an order, you have one appeal as a matter of right.

Figure out if the order is appealable. You want to make sure that it is a final order, and you have all your evidence on the record. If there is any possibility of getting what you want in the court you're in, you should try that first.

If you have a lawyer, ask him to explain the appealability of any order that goes against you. Even if he does not do appeals himself, he should know what is appealable and be able to refer you someone who does the appeal.

Here is some advice for family court lawyers to help make a case ready for appeal. Unfortunately, many family court lawyers don't know these things, and ruin your chances on appeal.

File a notice of appeal, within 60 days of the order. Then you have to designate the record, within 15 days after that. The record consists of two bound volumes. One has court pleadings and orders. The other has transcripts. You have to pay court reporters to produce the transcripts.

Once the court of appeals has the record, you file a 50-page brief. There are some silly rules about format and copies.

Your opponent will file an opposition brief, and you get a chance to file a reply brief.

Once the court gets all the briefs, it schedules oral arguments. The decision comes in the mail about two months later.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Scary doodles send man to prison

I was trying to learn about forensic psychologists when I ran into this story about a man who went to prison for murder largely on the testimony of a prosecution psychologist who did some bizarre theorizing. One of his chief arguments was that the above doodle especially incriminating. The accused, Tim Masters, was eventually cleared and released after serving nine years in prison.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Father doesn't know best, court rules

A Toronto Canada newspaper reports:
First, the father banned his 12-year-old daughter from going online after she posted photos of herself on a dating site. Then she allegedly had a row with her stepmother, so the father said his girl couldn't go on a school trip.

The girl took the matter to the court - and won what lawyers say was an unprecedented judgment.

Madam Justice Suzanne Tessier of the Quebec Superior Court ruled on Friday that the father couldn't discipline his daughter by barring her from the school trip. ...

Even though the school trip is now over, the father is appealing the ruling because his moral authority over his child had been undercut by the court, said his lawyer, Kim Beaudoin. "He is stunned by this situation. He feels like he's lost his daughter," Ms. Beaudoin said in an interview.

"My client wants to appeal so no other parents will live through the same thing."

Lucie Fortin, the lawyer representing the 12-year-old, said the judge found that depriving the girl of the school trip was an excessive punishment. ...

Before Judge Tessier, she cited Sections 159 and 604 of the Quebec Civil Code, which allow minors in some circumstances to initiate court proceedings relating to the exercise of parental authority.

Ms. Beaudoin said Section 159 is normally used in extreme circumstances, for example when a child wants to be removed from negligent parents.
Wow. I thought that there were some limits to judges' willingness to micro-manage parental decisions.

The school trip required parental permission. That means that the parents have the discretion to give permission, or withhold permission. No judge can possibly know whether the father was being reasonable. By undercutting his authority, there is likely to be trouble ahead for that girl.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My transcript is overdue

The deadline is now past for the court reporter (Linda Parks) to turn in her transcript for my case on appeal. She got a couple of extensions already, but they have now expired. If she hasn't done it by now, she is supposed to be held in contempt of court. She has delayed my appeal a couple of months already. I hope she turned in the transcript.

Update: An order went out to show cause as to why she should not be held in contempt of court. The court reporter then promised to do the transcript real soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Paranoid psychologists

I called some psychologists this morning. They are a strange group. One thing I learned is that a lot of them are paranoid about their professional licenses. They don't want to be accused of doing anything unethical, because then their license might be challenged and they might never make the big bucks again.

Many psychologists believe that it is unethical to ever make custody recommendations to the court, as is commonly done in custody evaluations. So they refuse to do them. Others will only do them if they are named in a court order, because they believe that the court then shelters them from professional liability.

If a psychologist does an evaluation, he often says that he has an ethical obligation to apply his professional expertise, even if it is irrelevant to the case. Usually, this means giving psychological tests like inkblot tests. Sometimes, he will even say that he has to do the tests himself, and not rely on the results of others. Other psychologists prefer to get the test results of others.

Delivering a report to the court seems to really scare these folks. Even those with a lot of court experience are intimidated by it. They seem to be afraid that the report will be questioned, and they will not be able to defend what they wrote.

I do not know any other professionals that are so afraid to put their opinions in writing. I think that the core of the problem is that know that what they are doing is dishonest and unethical, and they do it anyway. And they make a lot of money doing it, and they could not make it elsewhere.

Obama slams black fathers

Senator Barack Obama gave this father's day speech:
In an address Sunday that was striking for its bluntness and where the candidate chose to give it, Obama directly addressed one of the most delicate topics confronting black leaders: whether absent fathers bore responsibility for some of the intractable problems afflicting black Americans. Obama noted that "more than half of all black children live in single-parent households," a number that he said had doubled since his own childhood.

Too many fathers are "missing from too many lives and too many homes," Obama said to a chorus of approving murmurs from the audience. "They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."
I think that this speech is offensive. Yes, Obama's African father abandoned him, but Obama had a white mom and a privileged upbringing that has little in common with black Americans.

Obama puts all the blame on the black fathers, but there should be just as much blame on the black mothers who are having illegitimate babies, on the welfare system that encourages illegitimacy, and on the courts for a bunch of anti-father policies.

Obama is a phony who is trying to pander to whites by showing that he is willing to criticize black men. At the same time, he tries to portray himself as a black man who overcame a fatherless family. I don't buy it. If he really wanted to fight fatherlessness, he would propose something constructive.

The Half Sigma blog writes:

The NY Times headline says that Obama is assailing absentee black fathers. Some people will be snookered into thinking that this sounds vaguely conservative because he’s blaming someone besides whitey. But it takes two people to have a baby. Someone needs to blame black women for the problem. Black women are more responsible than the black men. A black woman who wants to get pregnant will be able to find some man to unwittingly help her.

On Friday, Mr. Obama announced that he would be a co-sponsor of a bill with Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, that his campaign said would address the “national epidemic of absentee fathers.” If passed, the legislation would increase the enforcement of child support payments and strengthen domestic violence prevention services.
The message here is that if a black woman has a baby out of wedlock, someone else (either the government or the unfortunate sperm donor) will pay for it. States have already been rigorously going after fathers for child support, and it has been a disaster. The men who impregnate welfare mothers tend to be too poor to pay any child support. And the lives of innocent men have been ruined. Read this excellent Reason Magazine article. And read these real facts about deadbeat dads from a prosecutor who has prosecuted countless cases against them.

Obama’s solution to our nation’s problems is to federalize a really bad state policy.
Glenn Sacks also slams Obama for this speech.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Local group opposes Commissioner Joseph

There is a local group that is collecting info on how the county's only family court judge, Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph, is not doing his job properly. I just attended one of their meetings. They told me some amazing stories of ignorance and incompetence on his part. They are planning a web site, and I will post a link when the site is available.

Their goal is to get someone better in the family court, and to reform some of the particularly harmful court practices.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No free speech in Canada

Here is some news from Canada:
WINNIPEG - A case of two youngsters seized from a couple suspected of being racist has raised the question of how far parents can go in teaching their children what they think is right.

"I think it's really a tough issue," Harvey Frankel, a professor of social work at the University of Manitoba, said Monday.

"I'm not aware of the courts giving a whole lot of guidance here in (this) area of child welfare." ...

Manitoba guidelines allow child welfare workers to investigate any situation where there is concern for the safety or well-being of a child, including cases involving "religious or political practices ... if those practices could be harmful to the child," said Nadine Delisle, communications co-ordinator for Family Services and Housing.

Whether a judge would permanently remove kids from parents with racist beliefs could be a different matter, according to Frankel.
Unfortunately, there is no free speech in Canada. A professor was recently ordered:
That Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further, they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about Dr. Lund or Dr. Lund’s witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further, all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current web sites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.
The above custody case is not a tough call at all. If you believe in free speech, then no parent should ever lose his kids because of political views. The next time you hear a Canadian support same-sex marriage or something like that, just remember that he might just be saying that because he does not want the government to take his kids away.

An article in tomorrow's NY Times explains:
“In much of the developed world, one uses racial epithets at one’s legal peril, one displays Nazi regalia and the other trappings of ethnic hatred at significant legal risk, and one urges discrimination against religious minorities under threat of fine or imprisonment,” Frederick Schauer, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, wrote in a recent essay called “The Exceptional First Amendment.”

“But in the United States,” Professor Schauer continued, “all such speech remains constitutionally protected.”
This article is supposedly hate speech in Canada. It is actually a quite sensible article about Islam.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blog attacks Irwin Joseph

A local blog writes:
Many in Santa Cruz, California refer to Commissioner, Irwin H. Joseph as, “Junk Justice Joseph.” On a local forum his many errors, omissions and habits are discussed, the details striking the reader as simple sloppiness.

Those who complain about the rulings coming from Joseph also note that he seems completely ignorant of the Constitution, ignoring the rights secured to individuals through the documents that, presumably, every American should understand. ...

Irwin Joseph is only a Commissioner. The role of commissioner has been described by one judge slightly south of Santa Cruz as, “a rent a cop; sort of like comparing real police to the guy who walks around the parking lot.” Additionally, Irwin Joseph, formerly a real estate attorney, has no oath on file at the Courthouse, unlike those elected to judgeships.
If Comm. Joseph were just sloppy and ignorant, he would not be so bad. He is far worse than that. He is malicious and vindictive.

In separate news, the governor passed over appointing Comm. Joseph to being a real judge again. Two Santa Cruz lawyers, Timothy Volkmann and Jacqueline M. Arroyo were just appointed to be superior court judges. Comm. Joseph has been begging for one of those appointments for three years, but it doesn't look like he is going to get one.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Domestic violence myths debunked

The Commission on Domestic Violence (CODV) of the American Bar Association has published a list of 19 claims about domestic violence in divorce cases, an finds that 17 of the 19 are false.

The ABA propaganda is certainly wrong, but I don't know if there is good data for some issues. For example, what is the incidence of domestic violence in disputed custody cases? Just from my experience sitting in on family court, I would say that most of the cases have a bogus domestic violence accusation. Often the accusation is about some event that took place a couple of years earlier, with no witness, no injury, and no police report. I would bet that most of these accusations are bogus. Disgruntled moms make this stuff up in order to win custody. Often the story is not even plausible. Even when the mom gets caught in a lie, she suffers no penalty for lying.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The domestic relations exception

A reader explains why federal courts don't hear cases like mine:
The federal courts have never considered a case involving the allocation of child custody (or other parental rights) between the child's two parents. In all federal cases involving parental rights, either the child had only one surviving parent, or the two parents were on the same side and were asserting the same right and remedy.

This is because all federal courts recognize a "domestic relations exception" to federal jurisdiction. The exception was first announced in 1859 when the Supreme Court declared federal courts may not hear any cases involving divorce or alimony. In 1890 the Supreme Court extended the exception to cases involving child custody as well. The exception was reaffirmed in this 1992 case, which summarized the history.
On further research, it turns out that federal judges dismiss cases unless there is something called federal jurisdiction. Back in 1859, almost all the federal cases were pleaded on the basis of 28 USC 1332, "diversity of citizenship" (plaintiff and defendant were citizens of different states). Nowadays, most federal cases are based on some alleged violation of federal law, as stated in 28 USC 1331.

The 9th Circuit federal appeals court (for a region including California) just ruled in Atwood v Fort Peck Tribal Court (Jan. 2008) that:
We hold that the "domestic relations exception," a doctrine divesting the federal courts of jurisdiction, applies only to the diversity jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and that the district court erred by applying the domestic relations exception because federal question jurisdiction exists in this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. We affirm the district court's dismissal nonetheless, because Plaintiff failed to exhaust tribal court remedies.
The reader responded:
This is an encouraging development, but you're still confronted with a now 150-year-old principle that federal courts will not entertain lawsuits involving domestic relations, divorce, alimony, or child custody.

I previously noted that the domestic relations exception was originally created for "diversity" cases, and to my knowledge was never extended to "federal question" cases. Nevertheless, as this case shows, federal courts will likely find some other reason to dismiss domestic relations cases - such as the need to exhaust non-federal remedies. They just don't want to hear these cases!
Yeah, judges don't want to hear these cases. Deep down I think that they realize that meddling judges usually make things worse.

But federal jurisdiction is defined by Congress, and the law says that the federal courts do have jurisdiction over denials of constitutional rights. In my opinion, Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has denied me my constitutional rights. If I cannot get the matter corrected, I will eventually ask a federal judge to rule on the matter.

Friday, June 06, 2008

W.Va, court says dads are innocent until proven guilty

From a WV newspaper:
West Virginia legislators violated state and national constitutions when they forced fathers facing felony child support charges to prove they couldn't pay, the Supreme Court of Appeals decided May 23.

The Justices unanimously erased a law stating that in child support prosecutions "the defendant's alleged inability to reasonably provide the required support may be raised only as an affirmative defense, after reasonable notice to the State."

The law "unconstitutionally shifts to a defendant the burden of disproving an element of the offense," Justice Robin Davis wrote. "We have previously observed that it is a foundation of criminal law that the State must prove all the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

The law violates due process under Article III of the West Virginia Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, she wrote.

The Justices granted a new trial to Gabriel Stamm in Harrison County after Circuit Judge James Matish sentenced him to prison for a year to three years.
The poor dad should not have had to appeal to the state supreme court to get such an obvious statement of the law.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Impeach the bad judges

WorldNetDaily reports:

An Internet campaign has been launched calling for the impeachment of the Texas judge who ordered hundreds of children at the compound owned by the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church taken into state custody.

The online campaign, found at, targets Texas District Judge Barbara Walther, whose rulings later were overturned.

The more than 400 children taken from the polygamist sect's ranch two months ago were being returned to their parents this week, after the state Supreme Court ruled the seizure was not justified.

Walther submitted to the Supreme Court ruling by issuing an order that cleared the children to be released from the state's foster care program, where they had been since the law enforcement raid on the compound.

I don't know whether it will do any good, but I added my name to the petition. The bad judges should be identified, and kicked out of office.