Friday, July 31, 2009

Back in Cmr. Joseph's court

My ex-wife and I were back in Commissioner Irwin Joseph's court yesterday, just before he moves to juvenile delinquency court. There were several issues pending. For the most part, he rejected the motions and left us in limbo. He refused to address any of the obvious ongoing injustices.

The only motion he granted was to seal the reports from the gay shrink, the inkblot tester, and the AWOL court lawyer. The first one said that I was unorthodox, but recommended 50-50 custody anyway. The second had computer-generated Rorschach inkblot analyses. The third was just a short statement from a court-appointed lawyer endorsing the court doing whatever it was going to do. I don't know what is so secret about any of this stuff, except that it embarrasses the court that it would make decisions based on such superficial, biased, and indefensible opinions.

The oddest part of the hearing was when Cmr. Joseph rejected AngryMom's motion to order certain reports from the next evaluation. She wanted to use the reports favorable to her, and to exclude the reports favorable to me. Cmr. Joseph just couldn't bring himself to issue an order that was so obviously and transparently biased, but he couldn't seem to be able to say that he was rejecting the motion either.

So instead he recited statutes and rules for evaluations, and babbled about how a couple of the reports were evaluations of me only, and therefore would not have met the requirements of a court-ordered evaluation of both of us. He also said that we are to provide only those reports that are requested by the evaluator, and to give copies to the other party. Then he announced that he was finished ruling on the matter.

But he had not ruled on the motion, so I asked, "So if the evaluator asks for the reports on me, am I prohibited from giving them or not?"

Then the Commissioner said, "He won't know about them unless you tell him about them. ... I am sure you are going to find a way to give these reports to the evaluator, if that is what you really want to do. What you should not do is misrepresent those reports as something that they are not."

I don't know why he would say something so silly. It is not a matter of me finding a way to give the reports. The way these evaluations work, the first think the shrink asks for is copies of previous reports. Always. If you do not provide every single previous report, then he gets suspicious and writes you up as uncooperative. The Commissioner was writing the order for how the evaluation is to be done. If he did not want certain reports to be considered, then all he has to do is to put that in the order. He did not. As it is, I will have to disclose the reports whether I like it or not.

I also have no power to misrepresent the reports, even if I wanted to. The reports themselves say who and what was being evaluated, and why. I could not possibly pretend that an evaluation report of just me was really an evaluation of both of us. Each report is completely obvious for what it is. I don't see any reason to explain any of them. They are self-explanatory.

Unfortunately, the psychologist is now unhappy with the wording of the court order for an evaluation. He says that it does not make any sense. But there is not much we can do about it. I have made repeated attempts to get clarifications from the court, without success, and now my ex-wife has also. The Commissioner insists on just using the boilerplate form with a few confusing checkboxes checked. He does not seem to even understand why no one can make sense out of it. The three local psychologists in town are able to do evaluations without even looking at the order, so he doesn't see how the order could be defective.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I can appeal while reconsideration is pending

I filed this with the appeal court:
Opposition to AngryMom’s Motion to dismiss

AngryMom argues that the Feb. 2009 “statement of decision” was just a tentative decision. The court did not say that it was a tentative decision.

I was just trying to follow Rule 8.104 and Rule 8.108. Those rules say that a motion to reconsider extends the filing deadline for a notice of appeal, but delays can still cause the motion to be heard after the deadline.

Neff v Ernst (1957) 48 C.2d 628 said that it is not inconsistent or improper to simultaneously file a notice of appeal and a motion for a new trial.

AngryMom also argues that she is disadvantaged because the record is not complete. The motion for reconsideration was delayed for reasons outside my control, but that motion is scheduled to be heard on July 30th. Even under AngryMom’s reasoning, the case is likely to be final by the time you process this motion.
Unfortunately I only mailed one copy to the court, and the rules require four copies. I am mailing three more copies today.

One problem here is that only final decisions are appealable, and the family court never says whether or not a decision is final. Another problem is that my appeal rights can expire while the lower court is sitting on the case.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Local court loses my check

I got a notice from the local court clerk that my appeal was in default because I never filed a designation of the record with the required payment. I mailed it in three weeks ago, and could not understand it. So I sent the paperwork in again with another check.

Today the clerk tells me that she just got my orginal paperwork and check! She said that it was inexplicably bounced around different court offices for three weeks. Apparently they don't have good procedures for handling appeal paperwork.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Judge says biological dad has no rights

I expect to see a lot more homosexual custody battles.The latest is from Florida:
Two dads face off against two moms. It's perhaps the most unique custody battle in recent Florida history and maybe the most radical verdict. Katherine Alicea and her eight-year partner, Ana Sobrino, decided to have a baby about a half-decade ago. Again and again, they tried using sperm from anonymous donors. But Katherine — a driven real estate agent then in her late 30s — couldn't get pregnant.

Enter their close friend, Ray Janssen, a handsome, gay Air Force veteran.

After some casual negotiation, he donated and Katherine conceived. In August 2006, a sweet and burbling baby whom we'll call Austin was born. Katherine put Ray's name on the birth certificate because she wanted the child to know his dad's identity. ...

After considering arguments from both sides, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Leon Firtel on June 3 found Ray was nothing more than a sperm donor. Because there was no contract before birth, he had "no rights."
What gets me about this is that the family court is always saying that it is acting in the Best Interests Of The Child (BIOTCH), and yet the judge gives no consideration whatsoever to the right of the boy to have his own father in his life. And no, I don't count some lesbian man wannabe who is going to teach the boy to urinate sitting down.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When the dad is absent in a boy's life

A Florida appeal court ruled:
The father [petitioned] for modification of the final [custody] judgment, requesting primary residential custody of their [15-year-old] son.... the trial court based its ruling on evidence that the father was more likely to ensure the child was engaged in productive, normal, and healthy extracurricular activities, and the child would benefit from a greater male influence in his life. The trial court concluded that the child's development was "disturbingly retarded." It went on to find that the child possessed unreasonable fears for his age, and had "unmanlike" toilet behavior.

Footnote: The child would sit to urinate and was self-conscious about urinating in the woods during excursions with the father.
So the trial court favored letting the dad teach the boy to urinate like a man, but the appeal court did not agree with "the father's or trial court's perception of manliness." It ruled against the dad.

Sometimes I think that these courts have no common sense. What should the dad have done, introduce evidence to the court that men normally urinate standing up? That a boy has had a severely skewed upbringing if he never learned to urinate standing up?

A dad is important in a child's life. That should be obvious, without descending into a discussion of toilet functions.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Federal incentives destroy families

The NY Times reports:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After her daughter and a daughter-in-law were each jailed on drug charges last fall, Sylvia Kimble, 46, poor and with a deeply troubled history of her own, struggled to care for six grandchildren.

Only a few years ago, officials here say, the safest path would have been to split up the children in foster care. Yet here they are, rambunctious children wrestling in her living room, Ms. Kimble encouraging her daughter’s out-patient drug rehabilitation while also arranging for summer camp and a family trip to a water park.

Ms. Kimble hardly seemed like an ideal anchor for the children, three of whom have psychological problems. She had spent 20 years on the streets herself, using drugs and without receiving treatment for bipolar disorder. Clean for 11 years now, she nonetheless admitted she had little experience with parenting, having left her own children in her mother’s care.

But Florida’s radical transformation of its child-welfare system, marked by a wholesale shift in spending, allowed officials to take a chance on Ms. Kimble. Instead of spending large sums for foster care, it provided in-home counseling, therapy for the children and cash aid to help the makeshift family stay intact and even thrive.

While the focus on preserving families has taken hold in several states, here it has been backed by a federal waiver that allows the state to use foster care financing for prevention and mental health, an approach that advocates of the program hope will become standard nationwide.
So the authorities had every reason to take her kids away, but they did not.

Meanwhile, no one has been able to find anything that I have done wrong, or detected any harm or threat of harm to my kids, and yet I cannot even see my kids.

Eight evaluations said that I don't have any psychological problems, drug problems, or anything like that. My kids are straight-A students, and everyone says that they were doing fine with me.

Apparently, part of the problem is that the feds pay money to bust up families:
In addition, Florida in 2006 was the only state to take full advantage of an experimental waiver offered by the Bush administration. Ordinarily, federal aid is determined by how many children are in custody. Florida asked to receive a flat fee that it could spend on counseling and other aid instead of foster care when it wished. The shift was seen as fiscally risky — an increase in foster children would not bring more money — but it has paid off.
Let's hope that other states learn from this. There should be no federal financial incentives to destroy families.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Court tries censor complaints about family court

Rhode Island news:
WARWICK -- A child custody case has spawned a case about free speech and just who is allowed to talk about the intricate details of court proceedings and where.

Michelle Bouthillier Langlois, 41, has opinions about her brother Michael Bouthillier's child custody case with his ex-wife. And lately, she'd taken to sharing her thoughts via status updates on Facebook. Like this one:

"Court postponed to May 27. Another month Michael not allowed to see nor speak with his children. More time for children to forget their biological dad and bond with step-father. So much for the Judicial System! Michael has seen his children about five times and spoke to them maybe 10 since November 25th!!!!!!" ...

In June, Judge Michael Forte agreed with Martin, issuing a court order restraining Langlois from posting details about Martin’s children, and the pending Family Court case, on the Internet. ...

That’s a clear violation of Langlois’ First Amendment rights, said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Every person has the right to comment on public court proceedings, and the court order that prevents Ms. Langlois from doing so on the Internet is precisely the sort of prior restraining on speech that the First Amendment was designed to protect against,” Brown said in the statement. “Ms. Langlois should no more be barred from speaking out about this case than should a reporter seeking to post information about it on a newspaper Web site.”
It appears that some family courts really hate to have public scrutiny of their evil actions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why it matters that the reports were court-ordered

A reader wrote to explain to me why my ex-wife is so eager to claim that certain previous reports were not court-ordered.

He has his own story, which I hope he will post someday. He says that he got sent to a court-ordered evaluator, and discovered that the evaluator had phony credentials and a fake web page. He is another angry dad.

He points out that if the evaluations were really scientific, then there were be some set of standards that the evaluators would have to follow. But there aren't. It is completely subjective. The evaluators are crooks, and they give whatever conclusions they are supposed to give, regardless of the facts.

He says that the evaluators always real all the previous reports. That is how they know what to say. They just regurgitate what has been said before. If the court wanted a more objective result, it could have separate evaluations done independently, and then compare the results. If the evaluations really had some evidenciary validity, then different evaluations should be likely to agree. But they don't, unless the outcome has been prearranged.

I have had eight evaluations done on me. They did not all say the same thing. My reader says that this is a problem for the next evaluator, because he won't know which of the eight to plagiarize.

That is why my ex-wife is so desperate to label the reports that she likes as "court-ordered", and to denigrate the other reports as not court-ordered. He says that the crooked evaluators will know that they are expected to back up the court-ordered reports, and ignore the others. That is what is going to keep them on the court gravy train, he says.

I am not sure if he is right or not, but I do know that I have called dozens of court evaluators, and they nearly always ask who did the previous evaluations. Apparently they want to know whose crooked evaluation will be expected to be upheld. I cannot think of any other explanation. If I sent a blood test to a lab, the lab does not ask if a previous lab has done the blood test.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sent to anger management class

Here is today's Dilbert.

Evaluator did what ex-wife requested

The really odd part of my ex-wife's motion (see below) is that she keeps complaining that the 2005 report was not court-ordered. Judge Kelly did indeed order this report, and he did it at my ex-wife’s request. Through her lawyer, she presented the court on March 25, 2005 with a list of five names. She argued that the court should order me to be evaluated by one of the five. Judge Kelly ordered it over my objections. Judge Kelly specifically asked that the evaluator provide assurances that things are going well with the kids, and that is exactly what she did. Here is an excerpt from the transcript:
THE COURT: Right, with one of these these people will help me get a sense of you more than I can get from just an hour on the stand or something. These are really skilled people. They're there to help their clients. They're not there to snitch to the Court for returning fees. These people are really good. That's why they're on the list and they will have a sense of you that they can communicate back to me that might give Mother, give me the assurance that we can go right to D and get you guys back on a fifty fifty time line here. So that's what I need to see is something from those therapists, something from a co parent counselor and the counseling classes. And that's the recipe here to for you to get what you would want and for Mother to have what she wants, which is the peace of mind and assurance that things are going well with the kids.
Now she complains that the evaluation was of just me, with no input from her. Of course that is what happened, because that is exactly what she requested. She could have been part of the evaluation if she wanted.

She also complains that I paid for these evaluations. Yes, I paid for all of the evaluations. I even paid for her lawyer. I had to pay because she asked the judge to order me to pay. And now she complains about it!

Publishing the Rorschach inkblot test

The NY Times reports:
Yet in the last few months, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been engulfed in a furious debate involving psychologists who are angry that the 10 original Rorschach plates are reproduced online, along with common responses for each. For them, the Wikipedia page is the equivalent of posting an answer sheet to next year’s SAT.
So now that the NY Times has reported on the controversy in Wikipedia, the Wikipedia article can report on the controversy also. That is how Wikipedia works.

The Wikipedia article is not the first to publish the Rorschach test. The black and white images have long been available here, and an interactive test is here. (Whoops, that latter one is a joke.) Anyone can find the test with Google, whether Wikipedia publishes it or not. You might have thought that the Rorschach inkblot test was obsolete, but Wikipedia says that it is still used by about 80% of psychologists and schools doing assessments.

My concern about these tests is that they are used for child custody evaluations for the court. The American justice system is based on parties to a case being able to examine and challenge all of the court evidence. If a super-secret psychological test is used for child custody decision, then how can the parties challenge the evidence? A psychologist would be able to give arbitrary or biased recommendations, and hide behind a secret bogus test.

The psychologists say that it is unethical for a psychologist to disclose the test to the public. They want to protect the test and their research, they say. But the truth is that there is no research showing that these tests have any applicability to child custody decisions anyway.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ex-wife wants to supress previous reports

I finally got my ex-wife's objections to the court-ordered child custody evaluation. She has just brought a motion to block the evaluator from seeing the reports that she does not like. Here is the meat of her brief:
There exist at least four documents that George has been describing as "Court ordered" that are in fact not Court ordered, Court solicited, or even Court order compliant. I believe that George intends to submit these documents to a child custody evaluator as "Court ordered". I respectfully assert that these documents should be excluded from consideration by a child custody evaluator. Not only do these documents fail to meet the description of "reports" as described in the current Court Order for a child custody evaluation, shown in Exhibit "C" of the Opposition to OSC, but the prejudicial effect of these documents outweighs their probative value. ...

The common factor of all four documents is that each was NOT solicited by the Court, NOT in compliance with any Court orders, and was written with only input provided directly and/or indirectly from George. Additionally, the documents build on each other. ...

The current Court never asked or ordered George to hire experts to determine his parenting style, parenting capacity, parenting perspectives, and to highlight the beauty of his parenting mannerisms. The Court had already made its determinations in 2005 and again in 2008. A child custody evaluation had already been performed and written (November 3, 2004), a trial held, (February and March of 2005), a CPS investigation undertaken and completed (November of 2007), and another trial held (January of 2008). ...

Simply put, Dr. Gxxxx, Ms. Nxxxxxxxxx, Dr. Fxxxxxx and Dr. Sxxxxxx were not appointed by the Court. Therefore, the assessor/evaluator does not have the authority to contact these people.

In conclusion, since these documents were generated independently of being solicited by the Court, their prejudicial effect outweighs any probative value, and they do not fall within the ambit of the current Court Order, I respectfully request that these documents be specifically excluded from consideration by a child custody evaluator.
This is so ridiculous that I should not have to even respond. She is saying that only those owned by the court should be able to express an opinion, because an outside opinion might disagree with what the court did. No kidding.

In other words, this case has been fixed, but George somehow got reports written by experts who were not in on the fix, and that cannot be permitted.

I thought that the purpose of the evaluation was to get an outside opinion, not to just rubber stamp a subset of the opinions that the court already collected. If the evaluator is going to be limited to my ex-wife's side of the story, what is the point?

Cmr. Irwin H. Joseph is going to hear this motion, and I have no confidence in him, but he is not this crooked.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Innocent non-dad jailed for a year

I sometimes post stories about men who are jailed without a trial.

The Atlanta newspaper reports:
Frank Hatley has languished in a South Georgia jail for more than a year.

The reason? He failed to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his “son” received over the past two decades.

The problem? Hatley is not the biological father -- and a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew it but jailed Hatley anyway.

“I feel bad for the man,” Cook County Sheriff Johnny Daughtrey said Tuesday. “Put yourself in that man’s shoes: If it wasn’t your child, would you want to be paying child support for him?” ...

Hatley’s lawyer, Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said two independent DNA tests -- one nine years ago and one just a few days ago -- prove he is not the biological father. ...

It may be difficult for Hatley to get out from under the court order, said Atlanta family lawyer Randall Kessler, who is not associated with the case. “It’s definitely unfair,” Kessler said. “But at the same time, he’s dealing with a valid court order.”

Russ Willard, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said if Hatley can show at the hearing that he is indigent, the state will not oppose his release.
So here are the facts, as I see them. The man is not the father. The child's mom is on welfare. The mom falsely named the man as the dad. The welfare agency made him money to the welfare agency, in lieu of child support. When the man ran out of money, the judge put him in jail. When the case got into the newspapers, the prosecutor agreed that he would not oppose the man's release if he could prove that he had no money. Everyone agrees that the man is on the wrong side of the law, and his only hope is to beg for mercy.

Get that? The man is not the child's dad. The man has no money. None of his money was going to be going to the child or the child's mom in any case. The man was jailed for year without a trial. The authorities say that the system is working properly in this case.

This is just crazy. It is wrong legally, morally, any other way you want to figure it. The system is evil.

Update: A reader reports that the man was released:
A South Georgia man who had been jailed for more than a year for not paying child support — even though he was not the biological father — was released from custody on Wednesday.
I still object to calling it "child support". There is no child of his involved, and there is no support involved. He was jailed for not making payments to a state welfare agency that had a record of paying welfare to a woman who had a child.

And while he is out of jail, he cannot escape the debt. It may plague him for the rest of his life, because the Bradley Amendment says that no such debt can be modified by a court, no matter how wrong it is.

Remember this story the next time you hear about some punitive measure being applied to some "deadbeat dad".

Update: A reader sends this amazing fact:
At the time of this story, there were 140 people in the Cook County Jail jail, which is licensed to hold 125 people. Of the 140 people, one-third (32 men and 13 women) were being held for child support.
Got that? The jail is overcrowded, and one third are in there for being unable to pay a child support debt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Motion to withhold evidence

My ex-wife has just given me notice that she will be going into court with an emergency ex-parte request to the family court on Thursday. She is asking Judge Salazar to let her bring a motion before Commissioner Joseph on the 30th.

Here is the issue. Cmr. Joseph issued an order for a child custody evaluation a year and a half ago, and my ex-wife has been stalling. I have been evaluated eight times previously for the court. My ex-wife apparently intends to ask Cmr. Joseph to modify his order so that the evaluator will be forbidden to look at the four reports that were the most favorable to me. Usually the evaluator looks at all of the previous reports.

My ex-wife particularly wants Cmr. Joseph to hear her motion, because the regular family court judge, Judge Salazar, will never understand her efforts to bury the evidence.

As biased as Cmr. Joseph is, I do not think that he will issue such as obviously biased order for an evaluation. What is he going to say, "The psychologist shall only consider evidence against George, and not any evidence that he might actually be a good father"?

I have no confidence in Cmr. Joseph making a reasonable decision, but I doubt that he even knows what the psychologist even does with an order to do an evaluation. The court just issues boilerplate orders. Cmr. Joseph just checks some checkboxes. When I've asked for a clarification in the past, all he could say was that he checked some checkboxes and he doesn't need to do any more than that. There is no checkbox for "Only consider evidence against the father". So I am not sure that he would even know how to issue such an order.

Man doubts moon landing

The NY Times reports:
Mr. Sibrel, who sells his films online, has hounded Apollo astronauts with a Bible, insisting that they swear on camera they had walked on the Moon. ...

In an interview, Mr. Sibrel said that his efforts to prove that men never walked on the Moon has cost him dearly. “I have suffered only persecution and financial loss,” he said. “I’ve lost visitation with my son. I’ve been expelled from churches. All because I believe the Moon landings are fraudulent.”
He is wrong, of course, but why is some family court taking a stand on the facts of the moon landing?

Is there some law somewhere that says that boy cannot see his dad if the dad subscribes to some discredited conspiracy theory?

I live in a goofy New Age California beach town, and I estimate that about 9 out of 10 women here believe in some wacky and false idea that is as silly as the moon landing being a hoax. About 7 out of 10 men also have such beliefs.

If the family courts inquired into such beliefs, then they would have to put most of the kids into foster care. Except that the judges probably have their own wacky beliefs, and may not be able to recognize a wacky belief when they see one.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Man wrongfully serves 14 years

AP reports:
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania lawyer was released from prison on Friday after serving what was believed to be the longest imprisonment on a civil contempt charge in United States history.

The lawyer, H. Beatty Chadwick, was released from a county prison in suburban Philadelphia more than 14 years after he was jailed for refusing to turn over millions of dollars in a bitter divorce battle. The case prompted dozens of appeals to county, state and federal courts, twice reaching the Supreme Court.

Mr. Chadwick, 73, was jailed in April 1995, accused of hiding $2.5 million from his ex-wife during divorce proceedings. Mr. Chadwick maintained that he lost the money in bad investments.
I don't know whether he owed the money, or hid the money, or lost the money, or whatever. What happened here was wrong regardless.

I believe that a man should be innocent until proven guilty. Chadwick was never charged with a crime. He never had a jury trial.

I also do not believe in debtors prison. He should not be jailed for owing a debt. If they could prove that he has the money, then they could just seize it. If he does not have the money, then he has no power to comply. Either way, jail is not appropriate.

Millions of people have debts that they cannot pay. Either they have a bad mortgage, or they have too much credit card debt. The penalties are foreclosure, bankruptcy, and bad credit scores. Not jail. No man should be jailed for a bad debt.

Two stories of false abuse charges

The Seattle Wash. Times reports:
VANCOUVER, Wash. — The two adult children of former Vancouver police officer Clyde Ray Spencer, who spent nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of molesting them, testified in court Friday the abuse never happened.

A 33-year-old son recalled how, at age 9, he was repeatedly questioned, alone, by now-retired Detective Sharon Krause of the Clark County Sheriff's Office. He said after months of questioning, he said he was abused to get Krause to leave him alone.

A 30-year-old daughter said she doesn't remember what she told Krause at age 5, but recalled Krause bought her ice cream.

Both children, who live in Sacramento, Calif., said that while growing up in California they were told by their mother, who divorced Spencer before Spencer was charged, that they were blocking out the memory of the abuse.

They said they realized as adults the abuse never happened, and they came forward because it was the right thing to do.
As a commenter says, the ex-wife should have to do 20 years. It is easy to pressure a 5-year-old girl to lie, if you buy her ice cream.

In another case, a UK newspaper reports:
This week, after 74 separate court hearings over two harrowing years, the family finally lost their fight to have Jenny returned to them.

The Court of Appeal in London ruled that their daughter must be given up for adoption. If and when she is, they may never see her again.

Jenny was five when she was taken away, and seven now. Before we examine the peculiarly troubling details of this case, it is worth considering the comments of the family's MP, Charles Hendry.

He says: 'This case has concerned me more than any other in my 13 years as a member of Parliament.' And, he went on to describe Jenny's mother and father as 'devoted parents'. ...

But over the past few weeks, our reporters have come to know the family. And one thing seems undeniable - their love for their daughter, and her love for them. ...

Her husband Richard, 32, runs a dog breeding business from their home. They have been married for 13 years.

They were just a normal, happy family, it seems, until the RSPCA, backed up by 18 police officers, arrived at their house early one April morning in 2007, following a tip-off that dogs were being mistreated, and that there might be guns in the house.

No guns were ever found. No criminal charges were brought, nor does Richard have a criminal record.

He was later, however, convicted of docking the tails of his puppies. But the raid was to have far more catastrophic consequences.

Both Richard and Susan were arrested for failing to cooperate with officers. By the time they were released from custody later that day, Jenny was the subject of an emergency protection order.
I cannot figure out why the authorities were out to get this couple, but I do know that it does not take 74 court hearings to prove their case. Obviously they have no proof of harm to the girl.

The couple and their friends were not even allowed to protest:
They are not lone voices: more than 200 local people, including neighbours, friends and members of the couple's church, planned to take part in a march through their village shortly after the family's ordeal began in April 2007.

Posters were printed, which read 'Social Services Have Kidnapped Our Daughter. Please Help The Fight To Get Her Back Where She Belongs.' Above the words was a picture of Jenny.

Of course, you won't have read about the protest, because it never took place. The march was just about to begin when the police, acting on the advice of social services, stepped in.

They warned Jenny's parents they risked being jailed, as they had broken the law by identifying their daughter on the placards.
I have heard of China suppressing political protests, but I did not know that England could suppress parents protesting the taking of their own daughter.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mall shopping called child neglect

Judith Warner, the whining Jewish mom of the NY Times, writes:
Two years ago in June, Bridget Kevane, a professor of Latin American and Latino literature at Montana State University, drove her three kids and two of their friends — two 12-year-old girls, and three younger kids, age 8, 7 and 3 — to a mall near their home in Bozeman. She put the 12-year-olds in charge, and told them not to leave the younger kids alone. She ordered that the 3-year-old remain in her stroller. She told them to call her on their cell phone if they needed her.

And then she drove home for some rest.

About an hour later, she was summoned back to the mall by the police, who charged her with endangering the welfare of her children. ...

The children were fine — “smiling, eating candy” — or were, at least, until the police decided to make an example of their mom. ...

(Paradox of paradoxes, as part of her deferred prosecution agreement, she was sentenced to even more education: in the form of a parenting class.)

The hatred of women — in all its archaic, phantasmagoric forms — is still alive and well in our society, and when directed at well-educated women, it’s socially acceptable, too.
Our society has a socially acceptable hatred of well-educated women? Is she nuts?

No, it is usually the lower class women who are the targets of these do-gooders. Just look at the story below about the mom who was arrested in her own home for being drunk.

And dads get it much worse than women. If you don't believe it, then drop in on your local parenting class. You won't find the educated and affluent women that Warner claims are being targeted. You'll find men who are trying to satisfy a never-ending list of requirements for them to see their own kids.

Update: Robert Franklin writes a broader attack:
I have to wonder what Warner thinks happens to the 95% of people who don't occupy her socio-economic level. Does she honestly believe that if, instead of Kevane, the woman who left her kids at the mall had been poor, and black or hispanic, she'd have been treated better? What about a poor, white male? I can see arrests and the children placed in foster care while the parents fight, with money they don't have, to get them back. By any stretch of the imagination, Kevane got off lucky.
He particularly objects to Warner saying:
...our country’s resentment, and even hatred, of well-educated, apparently affluent women is spiraling out of control.
Something is spiraling out of control. She got that much right.

His uncooperativeness with us put the children at risk

The Wikipedia article on CPS has this example of a CPS action:
Another notable recent case is the family of Gary and Melissa Gates in Texas. According to a report by the local CBS Channel 42 Investigates special; the local school where their children had been attending had discovered one of the children had pinned a bag of food wrappers inside the shirt of one of the children caught stealing. The Gates had included a two page explanation as well as a list of phone numbers of who to call if the school wanted to ask more questions regarding any specific matter. Instead, the school called the local CPS and requested the Child Protective Services forcibly remove all thirteen of the Gates children and take them to foster homes. It was done without a court order under what is called Emergency Removal. The law allows it only when there is clear evidence of danger to the physical health & safety of the child and the need for protection is necessary. However, later on in the case in court, the local CPS gave the explanation that they felt, quote, "Mr. Gates was uncooperative and his uncooperativeness with us put the children at risk."
You would think that once a CPS agent got caught saying something so ridiculous, the CPS agent would be fired.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Physicist fights to get kids back from Nebraska

The San Jose Calif newspaper reports:
A Stanford University physicist and his wife, whose kids have been held in a Nebraska foster home for more than a month after an ugly family altercation, will appear this morning in a courtroom outside Omaha, hoping to persuade a judge to let their children come back home.

The bizarre chain of events began when the couple — Suwen Wang, a visiting scholar at Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, and his wife, paralegal Charlotte Fu — traveled to Nebraska last month so their 12-year-old daughter, Alice, could be honored in an international art competition. On June 6, a witness told police the parents had hit their son, 13, while their car was parked on a road outside Omaha. ...

Nelson suggested that the parents' ethnicity may be playing a role in the case. "The parents and children are all U.S. citizens," said their attorney. But the court-appointed guardian for the children is trying to take away their passports.
Yes, they are American citizens, but they probably came to the USA because it was the Land of the Free. Now they are learning the sad truth -- that a billion people in China have the freedom to rear their kids according to their own best judgment, and without being constantly second-guess by strangers and meddlesome govt agents. Those kids would be better off in China than in a Nebraska foster home.

Divorce comic

A reader sends this divorce comic. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Drunken breast-feeding arrest

I also defend moms who face unfounded abuse charges, and here is today's example:
BISMARCK, N.D. - Police responding to a domestic disturbance arrived at Stacey Anvarinia's home to find the mother breast-feeding her 6-week-old baby in front of them. And she was drunk, they said.

Officers arrested the woman, who later pleaded guilty to child neglect and faces up to five years in prison.
I am all in favor of sobriety, but it appears that no one really knows whether drunken breastfeeding is harmful or not:
The breast-feeding advocacy group La Leche League International advises women to nurse their children only when "completely sober."

In published advice to mothers, the group says: "Drinking to the point of intoxication, or binge drinking, by breast-feeding mothers has not been adequately studied. Since all of the risks are not understood, drinking to the point of intoxication is not advised."
If alcohol intoxication were really the issue, the obvious thing to do would have been to measure the alcohol level and compare it to what the experts say is medically safe. But no chance of that:
It's unclear how much Anavarina had to drink. Police never conducted a blood-alcohol test. Investigators believed she was drunk, and her arrest on a charge of child abuse and neglect did not require a test.

"The majority of our problems are caused by alcohol," said Grand Forks Police Capt. Kerwin Kjelstrom. "Our officers handle it so much that it is pretty much a general knowledge thing to know when someone is intoxicated. It's pretty obvious." ...

"This case is more than just the breast-feeding. It was the totality of the circumstances," said Grand Forks Police Lt. Rahn Farder. "It is quite unusual for a mother to be breast-feeding her child as we are conducting an investigation, whether she was intoxicated or not."
In other words, if these cops see something out of the ordinary, they just handcuff someone and blame it on drunkenness. Nobody seems to care much whether some actual crime was committed.

This case has also been criticized by an obstetrician on the Skeptical OB's blog:
Ms. Anvarinia was charged with felony child neglect solely because she was breastfeeding. Since there is no scientific evidence that breastfeeding while intoxicated is harmful to an infant, the officers and prosecutors simply made up the "crime." In that, I suspect, they were influenced by the current American hysteria over what children eat. Not a day passes when Americans aren't bombarded with messages about the "dangers" of childhood obesity, the "dangers" of sugar, the "dangers" of salt, etc.

Moreover, Americans seem chronically unable to understand the concept of risk. They routinely obsess about trivial or even non-existent risks, and they wrongly ascribe far more risk to "dangers" they perceive as uncontrollable (alcohol inadvertently given to a baby through breastmilk) than those over which they think they have control (rolling over and suffocating a baby sleeping in the same bed). Couple that with lack of familiarity with breastfeeding, and suddenly it is a "crime" to breastfeed while intoxicated.

This incident is deeply troubling for another reason. It is an attempt to criminalize mothering if it does not meet entirely arbitrary standards.
Fatherhood has already been criminalized.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Abolish the family courts

A reader directed me to, a San Diego Calif site dedicated to abolishing the family courts. It has stories like this recent one about a child custody evaluator for the San Diego court who had faked his credentials. He also did lousy evaluations, but it appears that courts will accept lousy evaluations, no matter how bad they are.

The site got quoted in this San Diego news video about a family court custody dispute. The mom got put on supervised visitation for kidnapping her kids, and she accuses the dad of abuse. I don't know what to make of these charges. The social worker's complained that the dad bathed his young daughter in a bathing suit. It sounds to me that the dad was anticipating false abuse accusations from the mom.

The site also accuses S.Carolina governor Mark Sanford of abuse because:
Holding a press conference to announce your soul mate is not your wife, but you'd give it the old college try, to try and fall back in love with her is abusive to both your wife and children.
Gov. Sanford's press conference was weird and embarrassing, but why would anyone object to him trying to reconcile with his wife? I think that the web site is abusing the word "abuse". Not everything is abuse.

The site does have some good news story links, and advice like this:
However, if your divorce is not friendly, please read on to learn what your attorney might have failed to mention, such as:

1. Family Court is known as the "Perjury Palace" for a reason. Unfortunately, most don't realize a family court judge is the most invasive form of government most countries have. Family Court judges are quite willing to micro-manage your life, including when, and where you can live, work and parent, for decades.

2. Parental alienation is in epidemic form. ...