Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Investigating judicial misconduct

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UK woman on NY abuse register

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Court rejects my petition

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

San Jose DA conceals evidence disproving child abuse

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

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

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

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

Dinosaur dads played active role in raising young

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

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

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Judge blocks 8th-grade algebra testing in Calif.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

London family courts become more open

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Right to a rebuttal witness

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another pro-father research study

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

San Jose has new CPS policies

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oral argument scheduled

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chinese Whistle-Blowers Sent to Mental Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

California abuse registry remains uncorrected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bogus child support case to be investigated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Prosecutors conceal evidence in child abuse cases

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

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

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

Saturday, December 06, 2008

CPS presents lies in court

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Man charged with criminal libel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2008

Court has confusing writ rules

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

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

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