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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

UK divorce court study

The London UK Times newspaper reports:
The study, by the Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy, looked at the perception that often the parent with whom the child is not living, usually the father, is awarded little or no contact for insubstantial reasons.

Bridget Prentice, the Justice Minister, said: “The wellbeing of children is at the heart of the family justice system. Courts should be the last resort for people involved in contact disputes, as mediation can be quicker and less stressful.” ...

Simon Clayton, a father who has fought in the courts for the right to contact and who is a member of the campaigning group Families Need Fathers, said that though contact was welcome, what fathers wanted was the law to be changed to create a presumption – if geography allowed – of “shared care”, unless there were evidence that this would be unsafe. ...

The study concluded that courts are not biased against nonresidential parents but it accepted that the residential parent - who had care of the child - started from a position of strength. The main obstacle to parents winning contact was usually the “resistance” of the parent with care of the child, not the courts, it said.
I guess the study authors were eager to blame the parents. If the law had a strong presumption of joint custody, and acted in a predictable way, then it would be easier for those parents to negotiate something equitable outside of court.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Horses for divorces

UK BBC news:
A divorcee has been awarded £50,000 a year maintenance - to keep her horses in the manner to which they have become accustomed. ...

As most divorce cases settle long before a judge gets to give his or her final word, the case law has been silent as to how the courts will treat the costs of maintaining horses and other pets upon divorce.

Typically, if a couple separates and one party wishes to keep the family pony, detailed schedules as to the income needs of the parties are drafted. They set out not only the cost of council tax and the annual food budget, but also the costs of keeping the animals, which in some cases could include the market rate of a good groom.

The obligation of one party to meet these costs comes broadly within the statutory framework as to the standard of living enjoyed by the parties before the breakdown of the marriage. There are no specific provisions with the statute relating to horses or any other animal.

Recently the issue of ongoing maintenance to support a keen horsewoman's lifestyle and her horses was addressed directly in a divorce battle.
This article sounds like a parody, but it is not. The courts have no business getting involved in such issues.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Junk Justice Joseph doubles my ordered payments

I just got out of family court before Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph again. This time my ex-wife was asking for increased child support because she has the kids all the time. I argued that the only reason she has them all the time is because she has disobeyed court orders and refused to let me visit my kids. There is a hearing on her refusal to obey the court order scheduled for Oct. 8.

I pointed out that the Jan. 11 child support order is currently being contested on appeal, and that he has no jurisdiction to hear an issue that is before the appeal court. Cmr Joseph conceded that was correct, but said that he could change the support orders based on a significant change in circumstances. I pointed out that there has been no such change since his Jan. 11 order. He said that I was wrong, and that the change was that I have not visited the kids.

He also granted my ex-wife's request to perpetuate the mortgage deviation. That is where I pay her an extra $1062 per month because I do not have a mortgage on my house. I reminded him that I reversed him on appeal once on that issue, and a second reversal is pending. He said he was making his order contingent on that second appeal, so that if he is wrong, I do not have to get him reversed on appeal a third time.

My ex-wife also tried to get extra money for private school and dance lessons, but that is already included in the child support I am already paying.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Appeal court ready for oral argument

I just got this from the appeals court:
The court has reviewed the records and briefs in the above-entitled case. If oral argument is desired by any party, a written request for oral argument must be filed with the clerk of the court and a copy thereof served upon all other interested parties, within ten days from the date of this notice. A "Request for Oral Argument" form is provided for your convenience. The case will then be placed upon the calendar of this court for oral argument.
I will be requesting oral argument. I would bring my kids, if I could. These judges should see who is being affected by their ruling.
In order to avoid unnecessary expenditure of court time in the determination of this appeal, counsel are requested to advise the court immediately if settlement negotiations are in progress or if any other action will be taken which might result in the request for dismissal of the appeal.
That's a laugh. My ex-wife has a scorched earth policy, and is unwilling to settle anything.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Actor tells family court story

Actor Alec Balwin was on ABC 20/20 last night telling his story.
In his new book (in stores on Tuesday), "A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce," Baldwin chronicles his journey for other fathers who are seeking custody and struggling for justice in family court. He says it's time to do something about the business of divorce in America and, in typical Baldwin fashion, he doesn't mince words.

"I don't care if the judges and the lawyers die of heart attacks in the process of getting their job done. They are corrupt, inefficient, lazy, stupid -- they're the most God-awful people."
He is right about the family court judges. His worst offense seems to be that he once left a rude phone message.

There are people who tried to talk him out of writing his book, because of that rude phone message. But if we really had a public consensus that fathers should lose their parental rights based on one rude message, then we would have a law to that effect. We don't. Instead we have evil judges.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Court reporter fails to supply transcript

I just got this, from court reporter Carol J. Jordan:
From a Judgment of the Superior Court
For the County of Santa Cruz
November 16, 2004

In response to a request for augmentation of the record for this date in this case, after review of my files for this date, I am not able to locate any additional proceedings on the record for this date other than what was submitted in Volume 1 of 9, Pages 1 though 8/250.
Her transcript was obviously not complete. She only supplied about 10% of it.

I really don't see how she could possibly be telling the truth. Don't court reporters have backups? Doesn't the court keep backups?

I formally requested the transcript on Jan. 29. Why does it take 7.5 months for her to say this?

The missing transcript has Judge William Kelsay giving a truly idiotic speech on child custody. He was substituting for the regular family court judge that day, and he knew nothing about the case. He admitted that he had not read any of the papers. He babbled about how time-share makes no difference, and then ordered a change in time-share. He bragged about how many child custody trial he had presided over, and then admitted that he had made a mess of every single one of them.

I think that the court personnel are covering up for Judge Kelsay's incompetence.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Opposition to AngryMom’s child support motion

My ex-wife has made a motion for increased support payments, to be heard on Monday. I filed this in response:
This court has no jurisdiction to hear an issue under appeal
AngryMom is seeking to modify the Jan. 11, 2008 child support order. That order has been appealed to the Sixth District, as Case H 032525. Info about the appeal is on the web at If AngryMom has some disagreement with the order, then she should tell it to the court that actually has jurisdiction over the order. This court cannot act on an order while it is being reviewed by a higher court.

Comm. Joseph cannot hear this motion
If this court considers the merits of AngryMom’s motion, then Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph must disqualify himself under CCP 170.1 and 170.6. He has ruled on this very issue, and has had that ruling reversed on appeal once already. In re Marriage of AngryDad. He is likely to get reversed again in the pending appeal. I should not have to get him reversed a third time on the same issue.

There is no change since the last order
AngryMom does not claim that there has been any change to the facts, laws, or circumstances since the Jan. 11, 2008 order. She got what she asked for on that date. She does not claim that the Jan. order was mistaken. Therefore, she has no cause for seeking a new order.

AngryMom's request is based on conflicting facts
AngryMom asks for an increase in child support payments based on two things: applying guideline to her having 100% custody of our kids, and and requesting a guideline deviation under FC 4057(b)(5)(B). But that section only applies to “Cases in which both parents have substantially equal time-sharing of the children". It cannot be used to modify a guideline based on one parent having sole custody.

AngryMom's motion has no merit whatsoever. It should be denied.
Cmr Joseph refused to recuse himself this week, so I doubt that he will recuse himself next week either. But he is really acting outside his authority if he rules on this motion.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another money trial with nothing decided

We had another trial before Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph today. This concerns how I paid certain bills ten years ago. That's right, ten years ago. We've been in divorce court for five years, and the court is still listening to my ex-wife's complaints about things from ten years ago.

We started off on a bad foot when I presented a trial brief with this:
Cmr Joseph should disqualify himself Commissioner Irwin Joseph wrote an Aug. 28 letter that said that he has collected out-of-court hearsay on matters that were not under dispute in this case, and that he has acted on that hearsay to encourage court actions against me. He has acted like a prosecutor, not a judge. I contend that he is prejudiced against me, and should disqualify himself.
Cmr Joseph claimed to not understand it, and asked me to explain. Then he claimed that what I said was false. He denied passing on any information about my website.

I pointed that that he admitted doing exactly that in his letter. Then he claimed that he had an obligation to do it! He refused to disqualify himself.

I really don't see how a judge could have an obligation to pass on hearsay in order to provoke a legal dispute.

We were sworn in for the trial. There were no other witnesses. My ex-wife went into a rambling monologue about how she did not know that I was earning money during our marriage, and that I should be financially penalized for withholding this info.

Never mind that she signed a marital settlement agreement in 2003 and it was upheld in 2006. There seems to be no limit to the willingness of Junk Justice Joseph to re-litigate old issues.

Cmr Joseph ended up saying that he would have another trial on the subject on Nov. 10. There are two motions scheduled for next month, and he agreed to consolidate them on Oct. 8. Julie had submitted a letter to him about one of those motions, and I gave him a response letter today. He complained about that. He said that the clerks put the letters on the left side of the file instead of the right side where the pleadings belong.

We ended with my ex-wife saying that we also have a hearing next week for her request for increased child support. He said that he would be happy to do that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

UK takes kids in secret courts

The UK now has secret courts to take kids:
Secret family courts continue to forcibly remove hundreds of children from their parents throughout the UK every year. The children are then put up for adoption and prevented from seeing their biological parents, many of whom have not committed any abuse. ...

Freeing for adoption was first introduced in England and Wales under the Adoption Act 1976, following the Report of the Departmental Committee on the Adoption of Children chaired by Sir William Houghton in 1972. The Children Act 2004 later established secret family courts to oversee the removal of children from their birth parents. These courts use contempt of court laws to prevent parents going public with their stories.

In addition to the thousands of children removed from their parents every year, the family courts also send parents to prison for contempt of court because of breaching a contact order. A Parliamentary question last year revealed that the judges in family courts regularly send more than 200 people a year to prison, in strict secrecy with no public hearing at all.

The secrecy of the family courts means that if an MP does his democratic duty to check out a constituents’ heart-rending tale of social service child-snatching, he will be held in contempt of court, as would the parent approaching their MP for help.
The secrecy allows the authorities to abuse parents and children, and ought to be ended.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Working towards family court reform

There is local group called SCORE that is working towards reform of the Santa Cruz family court, and it now has a web site. It meets once a month. There is a related group that meets in Santa Clara county (covering San Jose and Silicon Valley).

From this group, I learned about the Elkins Task Force and how it is supposed to be working towards fairer rules for California family courts.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ex-wife complains about shrink order

My ex-wife just wrote a letter to Cmr Irwin Joseph that includes this:
I think that Mr. AngryDad does not understand or has deliberately misconstrued the order in place and I hope that the Court may clarify this to his satisfaction to avoid wasting the court's time and resources on October 15, 2008.

On May 28, 2008, the court had the following interaction with Mr. AngryDad regarding the order in place:
MR. Angry Dad: There are a number of problems. For one, there is no well­-defined purpose and scope to the evaluation.

THE COURT: Sure, there is. There is a copy of an order that I gave to each of you that was directed to Elizabeth Lee before she declined and I intend to issue that same order as soon as the two of you agree on someone to replace her. And that has, I don't know, 15 checked boxes.
That's funny. Cmr Joseph said that it is a well-defined order because it has 15 checked boxes!

So I got a psychologist to do an evaluation based on those checked boxes, and my ex-wife is unhappy with it. Now she is the one claiming that the order was not well-defined, and she is the one asking Cmr Joseph to clarify it.

I think that she is going to have the same problem I did. Cmr Joseph doesn't have the foggiest idea what psychologists do, or even what he is required to say in an order for a psychological evaluation.

Actor describes parental alienation

The New Yorker mag profiles Alec Baldwin:
Some mental-health professionals employ the term Parental Alienation Syndrome to describe a condition in children damaged by one parent’s propaganda about the other. (It’s not formally recognized as a psychiatric disorder.) But “parental alienation” is also used in a looser, less clinical way -— as Baldwin uses it -— to refer to the mere daily flow of parental undermining. “Parental alienation is about people who narcissistically project their whole reality onto a child: ‘I don’t need you, so the child doesn’t need you,’ ” he said. “And what you ultimately realize is the clock that they’ve been running out is childhood itself. The kid goes from five to six to eight. Kids have school, they have friends; the next thing—my daughter is twelve. They have no use for either of their parents when they’re twelve. And you’ve missed everything. You’ve gotten only these little time-lapse things. The goal of the alienating parent is to kill contiguous time. People need reliability. They need regularity. And I’ve been a victim of a campaign to kill all that. You wind up being more an uncle than a father.” Sometimes, in order to have lunch with Ireland, Baldwin flew to California in the morning and flew back overnight, to be at a rehearsal the next day.
You sometimes hear anti-father lobbyists claim that Parental Alienation Syndrome does not exist. The psychologists are currently debating whether to designate it as an official disorder. But whether or not it should be called a disorder, there is no doubt that parental alienation exists, and is very destructive.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More papers from ex-wife

I just got another batch of documents from my ex-wife. They are mostly boring financial papers. At least she has finally written down a legal theory for her position at the trial next Monday. The essence is that she wants my house because of some sort of breach of my fiduciary duty while I was building it ten years ago.

She sue for divorce five years ago. I think that it is a little late to be making these claims. The claims have no merit. Monday's trial should extinguish these claims once and for all.

I hope so, anyway. She ends her brief by saying that she requests the Court to reserve jurisdiction for more property issues that she might want to raise in the future. Sigh. There does not seem to be any end to her claims. We have had five years of court battles already, and no end is in sight.

A reader asked how it was that court issues were still pending when we got divorced so long ago, and was frustrated by my inability to give him a good answer. There is no good reason for a divorce case to last so long. It appears that the family court judges are willing to entertain demands from my ex-wife for as long as she wants to submit complaints about me. I don't know why.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Filed papers against ex-wife

I just filed a motion with the local family court to force my ex-wife to allow me visitation with my kids. Commissioner Irwin Joseph had issued an order on Jan. 11 to allow me supervised and unsupervised visitation with my kids. My ex-wife as always refused to comply.

Cmr Joseph happened to pass me in the hallway in the courthouse today. He recognized me and said, "hi". I responded "hi". I was actually waiting to see the official court file. The clerk said that she could not find it because the case was on appeal. I don't know what the appeal clerk would be doing with the file.

Cmr Joseph had previously refused to do anything because I did not have a psychologist-approved visitation plan. I now have such a plan. I attempted to get my ex-wife to comply outside of court, but she refused.

I thought that my ex-wife had a lot of nerve to claim that I have not been obeying court orders. Her motion to shut down this blog will be heard on Oct. 8. My motion to compel her to comply with with the psychologist's recommendation will be heard on Oct. 15. We also have two scheduled hearings on financial matters this month.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Court complaints about this blog

In her motion to have me held in contempt of court, my ex-wife submitted about 50 pages of printouts from this blog. She claims that these postings are violations of a court order:
a. December 3, 2007 quote
b. December 13, 2007 description
c. January 8, 2008 description
d. January 9, 2 008 description
e. January 27, 2008 description
f. February 7, 2008 descniption
g. February 25, 2008 description
h. June 29, 2008 quote and description
i. July 30, 2008 description
J. August 8, 2008 link to angry-dad.corn
k. August 24, 2008 refers to
a. Picture of the minors under title, "About George, the Angry Dad"
For example, I put the objectionable part of the Jan. 27 post in bold:
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 fail to see what would be so confidential about the above. My ex-wife has been bombarding the public court record for years with much worse stuff.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Alaska court does not seal records

The Smoking Gun has a failed motion to seal divorce records by an associate of Sarah Palin. Apparently the National Enquirer was digging for dirt on the VP nominee. Court records are normally public, and it takes some extraordinary reasons to seal them.

I would have very much preferred if my divorce case were not public. I did everything I could to settle it out of court. But my ex-wife has relentlessly tried to put everything she can on the public record to embarrass me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Response from state task force

I just got this email response to my comment, posted earlier:
Thank you for taking the time to share your public comments and experiences with the Elkins Family Law Task Force.

Please feel free to e-mail any specific suggestions for improving the family court process or any additional comments you wish to share with the task force at: 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. For more information, please see the Elkins Family Law Task Force web page at where proposed proposals and recommendations will be posted in the future along with any other updates:

We greatly appreciate your interest and efforts in helping to improve our family court process.

Staff for the Center for Families, Children & the Courts
Judicial Council of California - Administrative Office of the Courts
"Serving the courts for the benefit of all Californians"
I suggest that others send comments. If I get additional info about the task force, I will post it.

Appeals court seals testimony

The court of appeal in San Jose has just granted my ex-wife's motion to seal the testimony of CPS agent Sally Mitchell.

The testimony was presented in open court, and the gist of it has been described on this blog. Much of it was proved to be false and incompetent. Sealing the testimony only serves to shelter her and other govt officials from embarrassment.

The appeal court has not given any explanation, as far as I know. It will have to rule on the issue again when it gets to the merits of the appeal.

Ex-wife tries to suppress public evidence

I just got some confusing legal papers from my ex-wife. The first is a motion to seal a record, to be heard on Oct. 15. She attached a declaration of her income and expenses, but that is not what she wants to seal. She asks to seal a CPS narrative report and Sally Mitchell's testimony.

She also sent an order to show cause and affidavit for comptempt, to be heard Oct. 8. The contempt of court would be for revealing that CPS report and testimony.

What seems strange is that the hearing for contempt is before the hearing to seal the documents. Wouldn't she want to get her order in place before accusing me of violating it? It makes no sense to me.

She attaches numerous printouts from this blog. I guess that she is claiming that this blog is illegal somehow.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Comment to state court task force

I just sent this email:
I am pleased to learn that the Elkins Task Force is considering measures to promote fairness in California family courts. Perhaps I can assist you by telling you my personal horror story.

The Santa Cruz family court took my kids away in an ex parte motion last fall, while a CPS investigation was pending. The CPS social worker never recommended any court action, and did not confirm any act of abuse or neglect. CPS released a non-confidential report on the matter to me and the court.

I eventually got a hearing before Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph, and I presented an expert witness to rebut the testimony against me. But Comm. Joseph dismissed my witness because he said that she had no authorization to read the CPS report. He even claimed that I was not allowed to show the report to my own attorney.

That was in Jan. 2008, and Comm. Joseph has still not allowed me to see my kids. I am appealing his decision and you can read all the details at:

Are you accepting public comment on your proposals? Please tell me how others can comment on your draft proposals and contribute to your goals.
I will post any response I get.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Response to presiding judge

Because the family court commissioner wrote a letter attacking me to the presiding judge, I just sent this reply:
Dear Judge Atack:

Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph recently sent you a copy of a letter to me and my ex-wife. We have had a case in his court for the last three years. As you can see from the letter:
(1) The California Judges Association advised him not to view the “Angry Dad” website, but he took action anyway based on his staff viewing the site.
(2) He invited County Counsel to take action against me.
(3) He invited my ex-wife to file a motion to hold me in contempt of court.
(4) He claims that County Counsel has respected his request to exclude him from communications regarding the issue, but in fact Shannon M. Sullivan responded with a letter dated Aug. 4, 2008, and he put it in my court case file.

I vigorously object to this sort of behavior. Comm. Joseph is an acting judge, and his job is just to resolve disputes that are brought before him. It is not to initiate new legal actions or to engage in barratry. It is certainly not to send out private letters with libelous accusations. If my ex-wife had some complaint about my website, then she could bring a complaint on her own. She has spent the last five years bombarding the family court with complaints about me. A judge should not go around fishing for evidence and writing letters urging people to take legal action against me.

To the best of my knowledge, I am not violating any law or court order. Ms. Sullivan raised some concerns, but I addressed them in writing, and apparently to her satisfaction. There are also some related issues that are pending in the appellate court. They are not Comm. Joseph's concerns.

Comm. Joseph seems to be carrying out some sort of vendetta against me. He has prevented me from seeing my kids, even though he could not identify any act of abuse. The case is currently on appeal, and I understand that you cannot do anything about issues that have been decided or that are on appeal. But perhaps you could assign some other judge to our case. We have two hearings scheduled before Comm. Joseph this month. One of them concerns a matter where he has already been reversed on appeal. Neither involves child custody or the website, so there could be additional motions on those issues. My kids and I should not have to suffer a family court judge or commissioner who is so obviously prejudiced against me.
I believe that Judge Atack does have the power to remove Cmr. Joseph from the family court. I suggest that other people also send in their complaints.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Others don't like the commissioner either

I found this tirade against Junk Justice Joseph. I do not know if that stuff is true or not, but I do know that Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has no respect for basic fairness in his courtroom. I comment here regularly on what he does in court.

A reader also points out that Comm. Joseph does not have an active Calif. Bar Assn. membership. He would have to complete some education requirements if he wanted to go back to being a real estate lawyer.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Commissioner appointed to state task force

I just learned that Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has been appointed to a state panel:
San Francisco—William C. Vickrey, Administrative Director of the Courts, today announced the appointment of members to the Elkins Family Law Task Force, a new statewide panel that will strive to improve efficiency and fairness in family law proceedings.

To be chaired by Associate Justice Laurie D. Zelon of the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (Los Angeles), the task force will conduct a comprehensive review of family law proceedings and recommend changes to increase access to justice, ensure due process, and provide for more effective and consistent rules, policies, and procedures. ...

The task force was appointed in response to a California Supreme Court opinion, Elkins v. Superior Court, 41 Cal.4th 1337, filed August 6, 2007. Authored by Chief Justice George, the unanimous opinion held that marital dissolution trials should proceed under the same general rules of procedure that govern other civil trials.

Members of the legal community and public who wish to share ideas with the Elkins Task Force may do so by writing this e-mail:
Wow. Appointing Comm. Joseph to this is like appointing OJ Simpson to a task force on domestic violence.

I cited the Elkins case in my appeal brief, because Comm. violated its holding several times. I would think that if he sits on the Elkins task force, then he would at least know what the Elkins decisions said.

The Aug. 28 meeting of the Elkins task force told this story:
One parent who was present had been subjected to supervised visitation for 9 years, and when she finally got access to her FCS [Family Court Services] file, she discovered the psychologist in her case had incorrectly believed this parent had been arrested. The psychologist wrote her a letter, apologizing for her mistake -- but she'd already missed her child's life. She needed the information a lot earlier. ...

We support the opposite approach: Just as Justice George said in Elkins that the regular rules of evidence apply to family court, so do the rules of civil procedure and discovery. The idea that attorneys and parents cannot have copies of the most important piece of evidence in the case results in wholesale denial of due process of law, as people cannot prepare their case. They cannot send copies of the report to their own experts for counter opinions, thus weighting the trial in favor of adopting the recommendation regardless of its merits or demerits.
At my trial, Comm. Joseph was adamant that my attorney and my expert witness could not have access to the CPS report written against me. He is still on the warpath against me for sharing that report, and wants to hold me in contempt of court.

The task force also said:
We strongly request a rule giving litigants permission to taperecord hearings. Particularly in counties, like Santa Clara, where court reporters are used instead of any type of recording, the transcripts are so often full of inaccuracies that it greatly decreases respect for the court system. Particularly when key phrases are omitted, for example, this gives an extremely bad impression to the litigants, and without a recording, there is no realistic way to have the transcript corrected.
The Santa Cruz County transcripts are also filled with errors. It would be better if everyone recorded every hearing.

I wonder whether Comm. Joseph was even awake during the recent Elkins Task Force meeting. He was not persuaded by my arguments in his court last January, but he should have taken notice when his fellow judges and lawyers on the task force all say the same thing.