Thursday, February 26, 2009

Paper exposes CPS

A California newspaper brags:
The Sacramento Bee has won two awards for its scrutiny of Sacramento County's Child Protective Services agency from the Northern California section of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The series of stories exposed bad work and policies like this:
Her work was described by top CPS management as "shoddy" and "totally inadequate," according to internal e-mails obtained by The Bee.

But those documents and recent interviews reveal a broader failure of the county's child protection system that reached into CPS management ranks – before and after the boy's July 21 death.

CPS officials, responding to questions from The Bee, recently acknowledged that a supervisor of social worker Adriane Miles did not scrutinize Miles' work in June as required, even though the original abuse complaint involving the boy was classified as an emergency.

The supervisor did not review any case documentation until the boy was dead – five weeks after the emergency referral.

And, at least two CPS supervisors went into the boy's case file after his death and altered the records before they were publicly released, a violation of the government code and Child Protective Services' written policy.
I think that CPS is thoroughly corrupt.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Domestic violence is a gimmick

The Boston Globe reports:
"There are a lot of women who use (domestic violence) as a gimmick in divorce proceedings," Selectman Crow Dickinson said in explaining his vote. "All they have to do is call the police and get the person thrown out. If I call the police and say you're abusing me, they'd have to believe me. I wish people would split up and be more polite about it." ...

"I think comments like that are blatantly based on Neanderthal thinking," she said. "I think it's a shame our legislators don't understand the value of a program such as Starting Point."
He understands the value, and he is correct. Note that his opponents cannot refute him; they just call him a Neanderthal instead.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CPS investigates octuplets mom

I am waiting to see what Child Protective Services will do about Nadya Suleman, the octuplet mom. She has a legal obligation to take care of her kids, but she has no husband, no job, no home of her own, and no ability to care for her kids even before the octuplets. Her only money came from welfare fraud, as she lied about being disabled.

There has been a complaint filed, and CPS is required to investigate it. They can charge her with child neglect, and put the kids up for adoption in real families. If CPS can decide that setting an alarm clock is child abuse, then they can certainly act against Suleman.

Update: Here is the lastest:
Octomom Nadya Suleman and her 14 kids are soon to be homeless.

Extra has obtained documents stating that Suleman’s mother, Angela Suleman, has fallen 10 months behind in payments for her 3-bedroom home in Whittier, California and owes the mortgage company $23,225!

In 2006, Angela borrowed $453,750 from IndyMac Bank, agreeing to make monthly payments on her loan, but last May she stopped making the payments. In 2008, Angela filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, claiming she has between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in liabilities.

Monday, February 16, 2009

San Jose adopts court reforms

The San Jose newspaper reports:
Local court officials are halting their controversial practice of relying on prosecutors to represent abused and neglected children, completing a virtual top-to-bottom overhaul of the county's dependency courts in the year following the Mercury News series, "Broken Families, Broken Courts."

Beginning July 1, a San Jose nonprofit corporation will take over the job of providing lawyers to local children in Juvenile Dependency Court, which decides the fate of families who have been separated after allegations of parental abuse or neglect.
I am not sure why hiring a nonprofit law firm is a reform. The print article says that attorney salaries will grow by 30 percent.

The county is abolishing the use of commissioner to decide juvenile dependency cases. Santa Cruz county still uses a commissioner instead of a real judge to decide all the family law cases. I hear that he is being replaced in June.

Judges going to jail

The NY Times reports:
the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. ...

If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar.
So what should happen to judges who take kids away from parents without clear and convincing evidence? I think that they are all criminals.

If our courts were working properly, it would be impossible for a crooked judge to do so much damage. All of those judge's decisions were supposed to be appealable to a three-judge panel at a higher court. Didn't anyone appeal? Didn't anyone notice a pattern of appellate reversals?

My guess is that it is too difficult and expensive to appeal. And when someone does, the appeals court just rubber-stamps the lower court decision. Yes, the judge was corrupt, but everyone above him should share some responsibility for allowing to issue so many bad decisions over such a long period of time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It was never about the money

A UK paper reports:
Eddie Murphy and ex-Spice Girl Melanie Brown have ended their bitter legal battle with the Hollywood actor being forced to pay out millions of pounds' of child support to their daughter Angel Iris.

Murphy has been ordered to pay £35,000 a month until the 22-month-old girl reaches 18 - a total of about £7million. ...

But a friend of the singer told the News of the World: 'Mel is delighted that the case is over as she just wanted what was right for the girl.

'It was never about the money ...'
That is over $10 million in child support. The mom was already a multi-millionare. If it was never about the money, then why did she sue for so much? That is far more money that anyone would reasonably need to rear a kid. The money is extortion, not child support.

Lack of adverse evidence in my case

I explained this to the appeals court:
No witness has testified that 50-50 custody would be unsatisfactory.
No witness has testified that I ever committed any single act of abuse.
No witness has testified that there is any physical abuse, sexual abuse, or child neglect.
No witness has testified that I am associated with alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, psychological disorder, or other character defect.
No witness has testified that Julie is any better parent than I am.
No witness has testified that the kids have been harmed in any way.
No witness has testified that the kids have any behavior problems that are attributable to me.
No one has ever explained any better way to treat kids than what I have done.
No one has argued that there has been any change of circumstances since our trial in 2005.
No witness said that I needed counseling, or that more evaluations would do any good.
I think that the appeals court was taken aback by this, and immediately offered my ex-wife a chance to refute it. But she could not.

We had eight expert evaluations. There were a lot of petty gripes about things like how I set the alarm clock, but no one explained what was wrong with how I set the alarm clock or how I could do a better job of setting the alarm clock. No evaluator or witness ever said that there was anything wrong with 50-50 custody of our kids.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

More on the deal with CPS

Several readers have questioned my claim that my ex-wife made a deal with CPS, and asked why I don't do more to prove that there was such a deal.

Deals with CPS are not unusual. People who know CPS much better than me tell me that a case like mine would be impossible without my ex-wife making a deal with CPS.

CPS investigated my kids in Nov. 2007 as a result of complaints from a public school worker and my ex-wife. After my ex-wife met with CPS agent Sally Mitchell and some ex-parte communication with Cmr. Irwin Joseph in the family court, the local cops came to my house and took my kids.

I was stunned by this, and asked a lawyer for an explanation. He said that Cmr. Joseph had made a deal with CPS where he always sends the cops when CPS requests it. The court would not have done it on my ex-wife's request. The lawyer said that my only hope to get my kids back was to go make my own deal with CPS.

So I made an appointment with Sally Mitchell, and offered to do whatever would accommodate her. But she said that she had already made her deal with my ex-wife, and that as far as she is concerned, there is nothing that I could do to get my kids back.

Flabbergasted, I insisted on talking to her boss, her boss's boss, and the department head. They all made it clear that they would back up Ms. Mitchell's deal, and would do nothing to help. They had no interest in the facts of my case. Sally Mitchell ended up testifying as my ex-wife's witness in support of her motion for sole custody.

I considered mentioning the CPS deal in my oral argument before the appeals court, but I ultimately decided that it was just a distraction. If the judges know anything about CPS, then they will know that CPS had to have made a deal with my ex-wife. If they don't know much about CPS, then the CPS agent will be just another lying witness to them. There is plenty of evidence on the record that Sally Mitchell lied under oath, and did an incompetent job in my case. Explaining her deal with my ex-wife was superfluous.

As it turned out, my ex-wife acknowledged her deal with CPS by arguing that she was "obligated" to "back them up and stand firm", and not let me see our kids.

Friday, February 06, 2009

California CJP refuses to act

I had sent this complaint to the state CJP. Cmr. Joseph had written a letter to my ex-wife in which he offered her a deal to find me in contempt of court. I just got this reply:
State of California
Commission on Judicial Performance
433 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14400
San Francisco, CA 94102 3660
(415) 557 1200
FAX (415) 557 1266
Web Site:

February 3, 2009

Dear Mr. [AngryDad]:

Your complaint dated November 13, 2008, about the conduct of a court commissioner was considered by the Commission on Judicial Performance at its January meeting. At that time, the commission determined not to take further action with respect to your complaint.

Section 18.1 of article VI of the California Constitution gives the commission -- together with the superior courts -- the authority to discipline subordinate judicial officers (court commissioners and referees). After reviewing your complaint, it was concluded that there is an insufficient basis to warrant the exercise of the commission's discretionary jurisdiction with regard to the oversight and discipline of subordinate judicial officers. Therefore, no further action will be taken based on the information you have provided.

The commission acknowledges your interest and concern with respect to the situation that gave rise to this matter. We do appreciate your time and effort in bringing this matter to the commission's attention.

Very truly yours,
Charlene M. Drummer
Staff Counsel

Confidential under California Constitution,
Article VI. Section 18, and Commission Rule 102
It does not appear that the commission did any investigation or even seriously considered my complaint. It does not attempt to justify what Cmr. Irwin Joseph did; it just says that the commission chose not to do anything about it.

It is funny to see the letter say that the matter is "confidential". I have posted all of the relevant paperwork on this blog. I still think that Cmr. Joseph behavior in this matter was completely unethical, illegal, and inappropriate. I cannot see any explanation for it except for personal maliciousness towards me. He should not have been doing his own out-of-court research to initiate an action against me, and then preside as a judge over that action. The action had no legal merit at all.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Why the local shrinks rejected my case

A reader asked why no local psychologist would take my case. A lawyer in town explained it to me this way. Cmr. Irwin H. Joseph is the only family court judge in town, and he maliciously punishes anyone who crosses him. There are three court psychologists in town, and they each make $7,000 per week on court-referred evaluations. They get paid in advance, and it is really easy work. To maintain that income stream, they just have to do two things: maintain their psychologist license in good standing, and do Cmr. Joseph's dirty work for him. They would have been happy to take my $7,000 if they could do Cmr. Joseph's bidding and not risk their licenses.

Al Gore famously quoted Upton Sinclair as saying, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it." It would have been difficult to get a local psychologist to recommend that I see my kids, when it is obvious that Cmr. Joseph is vindictively trying to terminate my parental rights.

Actually, I did end up finding a gutsy psychologist in the next county to take the case. She used to do court-ordered custody evaluations for gangsters in New Jersey, so she was not easily intimidated. But Cmr. Joseph rejected her report because he did not like her conclusions, and I still could not see my kids. Now I am depending on the appeals court to remedy the situation.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Summary of the case against me

Readers have asked me to summarize my pending appellate case.

As a result of complaints from a public school busybody and my ex-wife, CPS social worker Sally Mitchell did an investigation of my two kids in Nov. 2007. My ex-wife made a deal with Ms. Mitchell, and they got a court order for the police to seize the kids from our home, without any notice to me.

Ms. Mitchell submitted a report to the court. It was put on the public record,
but I am forbidden to quote from it. Cmr. Joseph did approve that this summary be posted:
There is a list of unverified allegations from unidentified reporting party. Sally Mitchell’s investigation consisted of three interviews of the kids at school. She could not find any single act that she regarded as abuse. She collected an assortment of kid stories about doing homework and household chores. Only one thing had any adult confirmation (but that was refuted by a letter from the school principal). The worst thing I ever did, according to her, was to reset the alarm clock for 7:00 am. Her report said that the alarm clock setting made the kids late for school, but she admitted in oral testimony that the kids had never been late for school. The only other notable bad thing, that she alleged that I did, was to run over a dog. (But the dog owner testified that it never happened.) She disapproves of the “sum total” of my parenting style, but did not say that it was actionable in court. She did not say that I need counseling or that the kids should not be with me. She did not make a child custody recommendation to the court.
Cmr. Irwin H. Joseph refused to allow me to have a rebuttal witness, and ruled against me at the trial. Here is the core of his reasoning, from the Jan. 11, 2008 official transcript:
This Court is not relying on what Sally Mitchell said. ... The techniques and manners and means that Dad thinks are appropriate are now being met with resistance because of the age of the kids. And I grant you, Mr. [AngryDad], that taken singularly, if you were to come in this court and Ms. Travers were to say, "Dad resets the alarm clock," this would have been a five minute hearing that had a very different result. But that's not the only event. That's an indicative event, a representative event. But the events go on and on and on. I read reread last night the report of Dr. Johnson in this which Father said, quote, nothing bad ever really happened, almost the identical words that I heard in this hearing.
In other words, no one could find any substantive wrongdoing on my part. He does not usually take petty complaints from angry moms, but CPS agreed with this complaint so it is legitimate. The CPS agent got caught lying in court, so he is not officially relying on her. But he is relying on her biggest piece of evidence against me, the alarm clock incident.

My alarm clock policy was that I would set the alarm clock for 7:00 am in order to get ready for school which starts at 8:30 am. No one could explain what was wrong with that policy. Ms. Mitchell did testify that, in her opinion, it was okay for me to tell the kids what time to go to bad, but not what time to wake up. She could not explain why. I challenged my ex-wife to explain it at the appellate court oral argument, but she could not do it.

So because of the alarm clock and similar anecdotes, I was not able to see my kids for a year. Cmr. Joseph had said that I could have some visitation under the direction of a local court psychologist named Elizabeth Lee, but she refused to take the case. So did the other two court psychologists in town, and Cmr. Joseph refused to name a replacement or order any visitation.