Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No court reporter in court

The local newspaper reports:
SANTA CRUZ -- A half-dozen lawyers arrived in Judge Timothy Volkmann's courtroom Tuesday to argue a hotly contested question about the right for UC Santa Cruz to request increased city water service for expanded campus housing.

But one vital person wasn't there -- the court reporter, whose recording of the proceedings would be critical to any potential future appeal. The absence caused a week's delay in the matter -- a nanosecond in the world of criminal justice -- but it pointed out a larger problem the court system is facing as it adjusts to a wave of layoffs.

Six reporters were among 20 court employees, including a commissioner, who lost their jobs Friday as part of cuts to shore up an anticipated $2.3 million shortfall. ...

"In the beginning phase, there will be a transition period where we are getting used to not having the luxury of having a recorder in every courtroom for every case," Newman said. "There will be some impact at first, but it will smooth out over time."
That commissioner got his pink slip last month, but I assumed that today was his last day. Apparently he was dismissed last Friday.

Of course it is completely ridiculous to cancel a court hearing because of the lack of a court reporter. The courts are all equipped with microphones and recording equipment. All they have to do is to push a button and get an audio recording. My guess is that the court reporters union would object, but the union should not have the final say.

Trying to exclude the deposition

My ex-wife just filed some more papers against me, including this:
I am filing a cross motion herewith requesting the Court to order George to pay Dr. Kenneth B. Perlmutter's (the Court Appointed Evaluator) deposition fee for the deposition noticed and taken by George on June 7, 2010, within five days of this hearing, and to exclude from the record all mention of the contents of the deposition testimony unless I am provided an opportunity to ask Dr. Perlmutter questions, or Dr. Perlmutter appears in Court to testify.

After subpoenaing Dr. Perlmutter to appear on June 7, 2010 for a deposition, and having agreed in advance to the fees due, George took Dr. Perlmutter's deposition on
June 7, 2010. George would not pay Dr. Perlmutter at the conclusion of the deposition. (See Exhibit "C", Letter memorializing George's refusal to pay").

I believe that George is withholding payment of Dr. Perlmutter's fees to discourage Dr. Perlmutter from further involvement in our case and as punishment for the unfavorable outcome of the Evaluation Report. I am promptly submitting this outstanding issue to the Court for resolution.

Further, I was not given sufficient opportunity during the deposition to question Dr. Perlmutter. I was given only 5-10 minutes at the end of the 4 1/2 hour deposition to ask any questions. I selected and asked two of the questions that I would like to have had answered. George had indicated in email prior to the deposition and at the deposition that he was going to continue the deposition to another day, as he had several hours left of questions to ask Dr. Perlmutter. However, at the end of the deposition, after the Court Reporter put away his materials, George did not schedule another deposition date and George did not pay Dr. Perlmutter's fees.

I respectfully request the Court to exclude from the record all mention of the contents of the deposition testimony unless I am provided an opportunity to ask Dr. Perlmutter questions, or Dr. Perlmutter appears in Court to testify.
She wants to rely on Perlmutter's report, but also to exclude what he said in the deposition.

I am surprised that she did not complain that I was discouraging Perlmutter's "further involvement in our case" by pointing out his idiotic opinions on this blog.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

French nagging law passed

I mentioned this before, but I doubted that such a kooky law would actually pass. Now it has. The NY Times reports:
PARIS — The French parliament gave final and unanimous approval on Tuesday to a law that makes “psychological violence” a criminal offense as part of a law intended to help victims of physical violence and abuse, especially in the home. ...

Those found guilty face up to three years in jail and a fine of 75,000 euros, or about $90,000. ...

The law defines mental violence as “repeated acts that could be constituted by words,” including insults or repeated text messages that “degrade one’s quality of life and cause a change to one’s mental or physical state.”

The law also authorizes a three-year experiment with an electronic ankle bracelet designed to keep an abuser away from a victim.
The same paper also reports:
The artificial intelligence technology that has moved furthest into the mainstream is computer understanding of what humans are saying. People increasingly talk to their cellphones to find things, instead of typing. Both Google’s and Microsoft’s search services now respond to voice commands. More drivers are asking their cars to do things like find directions or play music. ...

“It’s unbelievably better than it was five years ago,” said Dr. Michael A. Lee, a pediatrician in Norwood, Mass., who now routinely uses transcription software.
In a couple of more years, we will have the technology for men to wear ankle bracelets that deliver a painful electric shock if he makes any rude or insulting comments. That is where France is heading. You read it here first.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Who am I to judge?

The judge in the cartoon looks a lot like the commissioner who is known locally as Junk Justice Joseph.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baby with Bong Picture Sparks Outrage

Be careful about posting funny toddler pictures, or you might get the attention of CPS. Here is the latest bad mother media outrage:
Hats off to the Florida mother who posted a picture of her baby "smoking" out of a bong on Facebook.

Not only has she managed to outrage mothers all over the world, she has also gotten the attention of the Florida Department of Children and Families who have in turn launched an investigation into her parenting skills - or lack thereof - reports Sky News.

The 19-year-old mother from Keystone Heights, northwest of Gainesville, is defending the photo. She claims it was taken as a joke and posted on Facebook so that she could show one of her friends.
Here is typical TV news coverage.

Just what is the CPS concern? Bongs are usually used for smoking marijuana, and marijuana is illegal. But that baby in the picture is not smoking. You could not teach a baby to smoke even if you tried.

The real problem here is that a teenaged girl is trying to rear a baby without a father. But CPS ignores that, of course.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tips for Parents

I mentioned before that Pres. Obama had a Fathers Day message that referred people to That site provides these tips:
Take Time to Be a Dad Today Tips
Experience the joy of reading without the cost of buying books. Visit your community library and get a card for each member of your family. Help your children select a variety of age-appropriate books you can borrow and read together.

Watch a game on television with your children. Cheer for your favorite team and chat about the plays. Mute the commercials and use those minutes to talk about what’s going on in your lives. ...

Bake a cake, cupcakes, or cookies with your children. Following directions and measuring ingredients help improve children’s reading and math skills. What a sweet way for children to learn while spending time with you.

Green Dads Tips
Turn off the water while you brush your teeth in the morning and before bedtime. You can save up to eight gallons of water a day.

Many electronic devices and appliances use power even when they're switched off or not in use. You can save money and energy by unplugging items when they aren’t being used. ...

Buy compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs, which last about 5 years and use less energy. Switching just one standard bulb to a CFL can help you reduce your electricity bill by as much as 75 cents per month.
I hope this web site helps someone, but it seems like a big joke to me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Children are not property

A reader comments:
I have walked out of court many times in tears because the best interest of the children are not at the heart of the decision making process.
Has anything else ever happened? In 6 years of watching the family court, I have never seen it put the best interest of the children at the heart of the decision making process. Not even once. I doubt that it ever happens.
I was also surprised by the comment in the article "That's when it really hits home, when you realize your daughter really isn't yours anymore." Children are not property they are people, individuals who need to be treated with respect and love, child support is meant to provide them a life that is not at poverty level, a life similar to what they had prior to the divorce.
Children are not property, but nearly ever civilization has allowed parents to make the child-rearing decisions. I don't think that any good has ever come from judges making such decisions.

You description of child support is not correct. If it were, then child support would be ordered based on what is necessary to be above the poverty level. But the California formula does not use the poverty level at level. Even wealthy parents receive child support. And there is no obligation to spend the money on the kids.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rating the psychologist evaluator

The Yelp reviews of Kenneth B. Perlmutter are terrible. He has the lowest possible rating, one star. What I did not notice at first is that there are a bunch of other one-star ratings that do not show because they have been filtered or removed. There are no ratings higher than one star. Here are the filtered ratings.

Alyssa C. writes:
I can't really give away any personal information about myself, but I am a teenager and I can say this: Dr. Perlmutter ruined my life. When I was in first grade, Dr. Perlmutter made a recommendation to the court that it was in my best interests to switch custody to my father. I had been living with my mother since birth. Today, I live with my father and am currently dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, and trauma, on top of being a teenager and all the troubles that come with that. My mom isn't a bad person; she doesn't do drugs, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't have a criminal record, never abandoned or abused her kids, physically or emotionally, and is a wonderful and loving mother. My father, on the other hand, I can't say is even close to this. He is in-compassionate, has no love for children or women, freely insults people, is hypocritical, and criticizes those less fortunate than him. He is also an alcoholic and frequents the bars, has been arrested, and is currently cheating on his wife. And it disgusts me. Might I add my mother Asian, and my father White.
This is my world, my living hell, and it's all thanks to Dr. Perlmutter. His words alone gave me this burden. If you actually love your children, unlike my father, and don't want them to face depression and lose their path in life, like I did, then don't go to Dr. Perlmutter. If someone refers you to him, stop and think about your child. If you don't care about your child, and only seek a diagnosis based on sexist and racial biase, go ahead and go to Dr. Perlmutter. And believe me, I am doing this of my own free will. I just hope to save other kids from this terrible nightmare, and to give them a chance to love and be loved.
Martin B. writes:
I agree with the other reviews posted. He is manipulative and power hungry. He does not consider children at all, intimidating them throughout "his process." He has absolutely no understanding of the affects alcoholism has on a family (shameful for a psychologist!), and minimizes the damage done by a parent out of control abusing alcohol and drugs. To say he needs education on the subject is an understatement. His poorly written, contradictory report included mistakes, inaccuracies, and downright lies that he drummed up to meet his very subjective "objective." He is in this to churn fees.
and this:
Agreed. Probably the most unethical person I have encountered through the whole divorce procedure. His report was a form letter which arrived months late and was thousands over budget. His recommendation referred us to his co-worker "Dr Sullivan". Dr Sullivan milked the case for a year, tried to get his wife on the payroll, then referred us back to Perl for another evaluation! By then the wonky tower of arrogance had already collected money from the ex for "independent psychotherapy". The really sad part is how they hurt the children. If you're just getting started, go somewhere else. If the same thing happened to you and you're interested in pursuing licensing complaints against Dr. S or Dr P, please call me at 650 305-0113.
and this:
This man is incredibly unprofessional and rude. We ended up with an inaccurate report that was thousands of dollars over budget and months late. In comparing the "evaluation" with others from his office, similarities were obvious. Perlmutter sold us a form letter. The good doctor ordered forced psychotherapy and "treatment" from his associate, Dr. Sullivan. Dr. Sullian then milked us for thousands more before recommending we go back to Perlmutter for another round. By that time, Perlmutter had violated professional ethics by "performing individual psychotherapy" and starting a second evaluation without a signed agreement. The court then discarded Perlmutter's recommendation and started fresh. I wish I could say we were only robbed of cash. Perlmutter's greed and sloppy work really hurt our children.

There is some good news: There are intelligent, professional evaluators in the valley. Michael Kerner is one.

My advice: Shop around for someone other than Perlmutter. Children go through enough grief in a divorce. Don't let this man hurt your children.
Melanie J. writes:
Dr. Perlmutter should be avoided at all costs to you and your children!

My youngest child will turn 18 this week so now I'll finally be free of his complete lack of compassion and professional ability to help families in crisis heal.

My husband wanted out of the marriage, we developed a parenting plan that we both agreed to and were sent to Dr. Perlmutter to mediate some of the few points we had not yet resolved.

We didn't hate each other upon entering his office, but we certainly left his office with a new loathing for each other. His questioning of how we had come to our agreement proved that he was committed to having us accept HIS very unreasonable and unworkable policies for our children, who were only 3 and 5 years old at the time.

Here is just one example -- as parents we agreed to dividing Christmas like this: one year I would have the children through Christmas Eve until 8 PM, I'd then take them to their father's house, and he'd have them through New Year's Eve. The next year we would reverse this schedule.

Dr. Perlmutter wouldn't have it. He insisted that we exchange the children at noon on Christmas. What did this accomplish? That every Christmas the kids woke up in one parent's home, we had to rush to open presents and eat our holiday meal, then pack them up and drive to the other parent's home who then had to re-create Christmas that afternoon at their home.

I'm a religious person. I wanted to attend services on Christmas Eve with my children after we had opened presents every other year. Their dad had agreed, but not Dr. Perlmutter. Why on earth would he object to what we had already agreed to and thought was best for our children?

This is just one of dozens of ways in which he fanned the flames of discord in our divorce and parenting plan.

And if I ever meet him in person again I will tell him to his face that I've never met a less compassionate person! He is paid to allegedly ensure that children's interests come first, rather he is allowed a forum for infinite malice and for bloating his own ego.

Beg your attorneys to never send you or your worst enemy to Ken Perlmutter in Palo Alto!
Elizabeth F. writes:
This man is dangerous! Please beware! He has built himself up to be the "authority" of custody evaluations, and has deceived many people into thinking that he is THE custody evaluator. I would agree that he is biased, and more than arrogant! He is supposed to be a psychologist, but spends most of his time ruining families! Find someone else to do your evaluation.... PLEASE! Better yet... find another alternative to courts, evaluations, and all of that and work this out on your own. These people don't give a damn about you or your family -- they all want a "piece of the pie."
I added my own:
Ken Perlmutter is a horrible child custody evaluator. He charged me $20,000 to do an evaluation, and he recommended that my ex-wife get sole legal and physical custody and that I be reduced to two hours of supervised visitation per month. This was after four years of successful joint custody in which there was not a single allegation of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, drug use, harm to the kids, or anything like that. His main explanation was that my ex-wife had brought unfounded charges of emotional abuse, and he thought that our kids might be upset if I told them the truth. For more info, google his name with "angry dad".
Wow. This guy is a menace. His court testimony should be public so everyone can see how bad he is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fathers Day message

Pres. Barack Obama put out this Fathers Day message:
And while no government program can fill the role that fathers play for our children, what we can do is try to support fathers who are willing to step up and fulfill their responsibilities as parents, partners and providers. That's why last year I started a nationwide dialogue on fatherhood to tackle the challenge of father absence head on. ... You can learn more at
This looks like a big smokescreen to me. I could not find anything substantial to help fathers. If the feds really wanted to help, they could start by repealing the Bradley Amendment.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The End of Men

The Atlantic Monthly magazine celebrates the end of men:
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way -— and its vast cultural consequences
There is much that is right, and much that is wrong, with this article. I may post some comments later. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New motion for custody

I just got another motion to the court from my ex-wife. It turns out that she does
not want to pay the psychologist either!

George was ordered to front the money for the comprehensive child custody evaluation with Dr. Perlmutter, while both parties are ultimately equally responsible for payment. I respectfully request, based on the history that led up to the evaluation, the outcome of the evaluation, and our differences in asset level and expenses, that George be ordered to be solely financially responsible for the cost of the comprehensive child custody evaluation.

In November 2007, Child Welfare Service (hereinafter, "CWS") investigated a substantiated emotional abuse [after a third party (other than myself) made a report CWS]. A trial held in January of 2008 found Roger to have been emotionally abusive our children. A full child custody evaluation was ordered at the conclusion of the trial. The outcome of the exhaustive full child custody evaluation further supports the contention that George is responsible for creating this reality and should be responsible for the cost of the evaluation itself.

This evaluation process, as it stands, has been a financial burden on myself (I paid close to $700 in preparing copies of Court documents to be sent to Dr. Perlmutter for his review) and has cost me many work days and much stress.

Therefore, I respectfully request the Court to order that the financial obligations for paying for evaluation fall solely on George.
Separately, she asks the court to order Perlmutter's recommendation for sole legal custody. She neglects to mention that she lied to him about already having sole legal custody, and that he regretted those recommendations in his deposition.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family courts violate First Amendment

Law prof and blogger Eugene Volokh writes:
In December, a New York appellate court held that Daniel should be allowed supervised visitation after his parole expires this summer. But the court also upheld, in the name of “the best interest of the children”, the trial court’s order that Daniel not discuss with the children “any issues pertaining to his religion”. ...

In fact, a wide range of parental speech has been prohibited by family courts, all in the name of the child’s supposed best interests. One parent was enjoined from making any racial slurs in a child’s presence. Another parent whose ex was a lesbian was ordered to “make sure that there is nothing in the religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to that can be considered homophobic”. A different court barred a father from taking his children to “any social, religious or educational functions sponsored by or which otherwise promote homosexual lifestyle”.
He lists some outrageous examples of free speech violations, but my own court case is even more outrageous than any of them.

Commissioner Irwin Joseph held me in contempt of court for quoting testimony that was given against me in open court.

Psychologist Kenneth Perlmutter recommended that I be reduced to two hours of supervised visitation per month with my kids because of the possibility that I might tell them that I was falsely accused of abuse. He agreed that the accusations were unfounded, but argued that my kids might find that information upsetting.

Cmr. Joseph ordered Perlmutter's recommendations without any due process. I would quote the sections in Perlmutter's report, but Cmr. Joseph has ordered me not to show it to anyone, not even my own lawyer.

There is no way to reconcile these free speech abridgments with the US Supreme Court precedents. Sooner or later, all these orders will be found unconstitutional.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Psychologist wants more money

I just got this letter from Kenneth B. Perlmutter:
The purpose of this letter is to memorialize that on June 7 after completion of my 4.5 hour deposition you refused to pay my fees for the deposition and you did not then and have not since then paid the total fees due of $1800.

You noticed my deposition with a Deposition Subpoena dated May 18. I accepted the subpoena on May 20. We agreed to set the time for June 6 to start at 12:30 p.m. and to end at 5:00 p.m. (or possibly later if you needed more time) I told you I would wait until the end of the deposition to receive your payment. I addressed all of this and the fees that would be required that day in my June 2 e-mail. I showed you the courtesy of not requiring that you pay me before the deposition commenced. In my June 2 e-mail I specifically stated my policy regarding fees for the deposition appearance and how I charge for travel. You did not question my policy either in advance of June 6 or prior to starting the deposition on June 6.

My understanding of the Deposition Subpoena is that you are legally required to pay the fees for the deposition. I await your payment. In the event you determine to not pay these fees I will not schedule a second deposition. Further any future depositions will be paid for in advance.
I am sending this reply:
I received your letter dated June 9, 2010.

Your fee policy is not the law. You are a witness to a court case, and you are required to provide your testimony to the court pursuant to a subpoena.

Let me remind you of the facts. You billed me for $19,350 to write your report, even though the order said that [my ex-wife] was liable for half. You sent the report to Cmr. Irwin Joseph, even though you knew that he was no longer the family court judge, and you had the opinion that he had mishandled the case. You recommended that he eliminate my joint legal custody, even though you had never heard of that ever happening before. He ordered your recommendation, without any due process.

I have a right under the law to get an explanation of the order that binds me. I can only get that by deposing you. In your June 7 deposition, you refused to answer about a dozen important and legitimate questions. You offered no legal justification for your refusals. Your refusals were particularly irresponsible considering that you wrote the current court order.

Your letter arrogantly brags about your continued refusal to answer those questions. The subpoena compels you to answer, under the authority of the court. I don't know where you got the idea that you could write court orders and then not answer questions about them. I demand that you continue the deposition, and that you answer all pertinent questions about your report and order.

I told you at the deposition that I would pay you whatever I am legally obligated to pay. But I will not pay you for what you plainly did not do.
I hope that he consults a lawyer about his legal obligations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Massachusetts shared parenting bill

Massachusetts is considering a shared parenting bill, but the Boston Globe opposes it:
No one can argue against the goal of giving fathers a large presence in their children’s lives. The question is how to ensure that, when unmarried or divorcing parents cannot agree on child-custody arrangements, men get a fair hearing in family court. Fathers’ rights advocates in Massachusetts argue that custody orders generally favor mothers and are pinning their hopes on House Bill 1400, which promotes the concept of “shared parenting.’’ But the bill, now before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, is too broad an approach to a challenging issue that demands nuanced, case-by-case decisions based on the best interests of the child.

House Bill 1400 would create a legal presumption for joint custody in situations where there is no evidence of child abuse or neglect. ...

The “shared parenting’’ bill would only affect a small portion of broken families: those in which parents are unable to reach a settlement on their own. Those cases, marked by acrimony and poor communication, seem the ones that would benefit most from a judge’s insight — not to mention a judge’s ability to tailor arrangements to children’s age, location, and particular needs.
Robert Franklin explains the fallacy of this argument:
That statement demonstrates a remarkable ignorance of how settlements in legal matter occur. Settlements, or indeed their lack, don't occur in a vacuum. Settlements are made or not made in the context - and on the basis of - what the law is. What the law is tells litigants who's likely to prevail in case of a trial. Parties then make their decisions about whether or not to settle based on the facts of the case and what they know the law to be. Simple.

A presumption of equally shared parenting would change the law. It would therefore change people's behavior regarding settlements. The presumption would almost certainly reduce litigation and increase the number of settled cases. Fathers would no longer need to battle for custody, or for that smidgen more of visitation than the standard practice. Mothers would know from the outset that, unless they could show abuse, neglect, violence or something equally bad on the dad's part, they'd best not fight and just let equal parenting take its course.
Franklin is correct. The Globe's argument is nuts. Let me give an analogy. Suppose the law required banks to give 60 days notice for a foreclosure. Would the Globe oppose such a law because foreclosure occur in a small portion of cases where there is acrimony and where the parties would benefit from a judge's insight? No, it seems obvious that a more vague foreclosure law would only increase the acrimony and uncertainty.

Just visit your local family court and tell me whether you see any "nuanced, case-by-case decisions based on the best interests of the child." I have yet to see one case that benefited from that so-called judge's insight.

Monday, June 14, 2010

California amends no-fault divorce

AP reports
The wife of a Southern California police detective, distraught because she had lost custody of her children, tries to hire a hit man from the Vagos motorcycle gang to kill him.

Instead, gang members alert police, who disguise themselves as biker thugs and secretly tape a conversation with her, leading to the wife's arrest and ultimate conviction for solicitation of murder.

But later on, in divorce court, she is awarded half the couple's property, even though she tried to have her husband whacked. He then calls Sacramento, determined to change the divorce law.

A bill scheduled to be heard Tuesday in a state legislative committee seeks to close what its author says is a loophole in the state's no-fault divorce code. In part, the legislation will specify that spouses who solicit the murder of their husband or wife are not entitled to collect financial rewards in divorce proceedings.
Unfortunately, it will still be legal for an ex-spouse to collect financial rewards as a result of unfounded abuse accusations, as my ex-wife has done.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Defining a psychopath

The NY Times reports:
Academic disputes usually flare out in the safety of obscure journals, raising no more than a few tempers, if not voices. But a paper published this week by the American Psychological Association has managed to raise questions of censorship, academic fraud, fair play and criminal sentencing — and all them well before the report ever became public.

The paper is a critique of a rating scale that is widely used in criminal courts to determine whether a person is a psychopath and likely to commit acts of violence. ...

Dr. Hare’s clinical scale, called the Psychopathy Checklist, Revised, is one of the few, if not the only, psychological measures in forensic science with any scientific backing.
In other words, there is only one psychological measure with any credibility in court, and even that one is probably bogus.

There are no reputable psychological measures that are used in the family court. The forensic psychologists in family court are nearly all quacks.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Filed a new motion

My situation sounds bleak, but it is actually not hopeless. I just filed a new motion, and we have a new judge in town. The only final child custody order has been for 50-50 joint custody. Changing that requires a hearing, as I understand the law, and I have not gotten that hearing yet. I am demanding a hearing.

Here is what I said about the report:
Perlmutter's report is inconclusive

The May 2010 Perlmutter report recommended a range of temporary options. None of them resolve any of the pending issues, and the report does not recommend any plan towards a permanent order. I object to the report being used as evidence of anything, and to Mr. Perlmutter being considered as an expert.

As AngryMom will point out, the report is a damning document. On p.7 the report says that he does not understand why I was not charged with criminal emotional abuse, and on p.20 it says that my "insight and level of maturity" is less than that of my kids. On p.32 it says that I have a "superficial and not well developed understanding of some aspects of appropriate parenting." But it does not give any evidence that Julie is any better parent than I am, and it does not justify the continuing court supervision of our family that it recommends.

In his deposition, Mr. Perlmutter explained that his criticism of me is based on a couple of disagreements that he has with me. He disapproves of certain info that I have posted on the internet, and he believes that I should only explain my innocence to my kids in the presence of a therapist. He admitted that these opinions are not based on any generally accepted psychological knowledge, and he does not know whether anyone else shares these opinions. He felt very strongly about his opinions, but he testified that he did not recommend that they be ordered directly because he did not think that such an order would be legal. His only reason for recommending the visitation supervision was to circumvent the law and prevent me from directly telling the truth to my own kids about my own efforts to do things for them. He also recommended that Julie get sole legal custody so that she would have some power over what I post on the internet.

Whatever the merits of Mr. Perlmutter's personal opinions, they are not the law or the public policy of this state. It is wrong for this order to use a draconian child custody order to enforce indirectly what cannot be lawfully ordered directly.

Mr. Perlmutter admitted that his $19,350 investigation failed to find any evidence that I ever emotionally abused my kids, or that I harmed them in any way, or that my kids suffered under my care, or that I was any worse parent than anyone else, or that there were even any substantive allegations of any of those things. On p.38 he said, "A key and incontrovertible finding in this evaluation is that these children love and want a relationship with their father." He admitted that he does not know of any good that has ever come out of the court intervening in a situation like ours and that his opinion is not supported by anything that would qualify as admissible evidence.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Losing legal custody

My ex-wife has been seeking sole legal custody of our two kids since 2004. She has repeatedly petitioned the court for it, and the court has always made it unmistakably clear that she would not get it even if all of her allegations were true. It is extremely rare for a father to lose joint legal custody unless he voluntarily relinquishes it or he commits some horrible crime.

On May 21, she finally got temporary sole legal custody of our kids. Here is how it happened.

She persuaded a crooked Palo Alto California psychologist named Ken Perlmutter (pictured on the right) that she deserved sole legal custody, and he sent a letter with a recommendation to Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph of Santa Cruz county. Perlmutter knew that Cmr. Joseph was not the family court judge but he also knew that Cmr. Joseph was prejudiced against me and has acted unfairly against me in the past. On the day that Cmr. Joseph got his pink slip, he signed Perlmutter's proposed order to terminate my joint legal custody. There was no hearing or court appearance.

I have never heard of anything like this happening before. I once asked a lawyer about whether a judge could act on a psychologist's recommendations, and I was told that unless there was some sort of emergency, the court would have to hold a full court hearing with witnesses. Since then I've seen judges order psychologist recommendations temporarily at a court status conference without any emergency, but only if a trial was immediately scheduled. I've never seen a parent lose joint legal custody except by failing to show up for multiple court appearances.

Here is the chain of events that is so wrong.

My ex-wife tells Perlmutter that she has sole legal custody, even tho the court has denied it every time.
Perlmutter confronts me on this point, and I show him the court papers that prove that I have joint legal custody.
Perlmutter writes in his report that he checked the court orders, and my ex-wife has sole legal custody.
His report accuses me of falsely claiming to have joint legal custody.
His report says that he very much disagrees with how Cmr. Joseph had acted against me.
His report recommends that my ex-wife "continue to have temporary sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor children."
He sends the report to Cmr. Joseph, who has not been the family court judge for 1.5 years.
Cmr. Joseph rubber-stamps the recommendation as an order, without any due process.

Perlmutter does not even claim any legal or psychological justification for terminating my joint legal custody. His position seemed to be that Cmr. Joseph wanted to terminate my parental rights, but did not have an excuse to do it. It was Cmr. Joseph's order that put $20k into his bank account, so he was going to give Cmr. Joseph the dagger to stab me in the back.

I think that Ken Perlmutter is dishonest, incompetent, crooked, and despicable. He should lose his psychologist license at the least.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Crawford lost

Phil Crawford was running for judge, but came in second in yesterday's election. Usually candidates for judge are unwilling to take any stands on any real issues, except to say that they are against crime and to cite personal endorsements.

Crawford actually had some experience working for the family court in another county, and took a stand against the reliance on bogus shrink reports, as I quoted yesterday. He might have helped reform the local family court. I hope that his candidacy drew some attention to the problem. Good luck to him.

Alienating mom is jailed

Here is a NY story:
In a decision that will surely generate controversy and fuel gender wars and the ongoing debate over parental alienation, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge, Robert Ross, has sentenced a woman to six weekends in jail for alienating her children from their father.

The court went into great detail describing the mother's behavior toward her ex-husband, the defendant in Lauren R. V Ted R. The mother's behavior reached a crescendo, according to Judge Ross, when she made a false report of sexual abuse against the father to Child Protective Services.
There is more info here.

She is even worse than my ex-wife, but I am not sure that this is the correct remedy. If she filed a false CPS report, that ought to be a crime in itself, with regular criminal penalties.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Vote for Crawford

I just voted for Philip Crawford for Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge.

I sent him this email:
I suggested voting for you to my fellow angry dads. I said you you could not be a worse family court judge that what we have had the last several years. One guy said that he did not want to vote for you because there must be something wrong with anyone who would want to a family court judge!

If you want to send me a paragraph on the family court, I will post it on my blog.
I got this reply:
HI George, the determination of custody matters statewide is flawed by deference to mental health professionals recommendations where there is absolutely no scientific evidence that their predictions about good parenting are any better than non-mental health practitioners.

I am either committed or should be committed for wanting to be a "family court" judge. Best, PHIL
He is absolutely correct. Just read my previous post. The mental health professionals are an evil that should be eradicated from the family court.

Deposing the psychologist

My deposition of Ken Perlmutter, the court-appointed child custody evaluator, was yesterday. Here is what he testified.

I paid him $19,350 and he wrote a 44-page comprehensive report that assessed everything of interest to the family court.

His first recommendation is that I be reduced to two hours of supervised visitation per month. He refused to say whether this was harsh or severe, because he does not know whether anyone has ever made a similar recommendation in the past. In particular, he refused to say whether any or all of his previous 650 evaluations had such extreme recommendations.

There were four years of successful joint custody, and there were never any problems except that my ex-wife had some minor complaints that he was never able to verify.

The case has had no domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, psychological disorders, physical abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, or parent coordination problems.

The kids are doing very well, and have not had any behavior problems or evidence of inferior parenting either now or in the past.

The current court dispute is based entirely on an accusation of emotional abuse by my ex-wife, and the accusation is unfounded as far as he knows. He is not sure because he does not know what emotional abuse is, either legally or psychologically. He said that he is required to report emotional abuse but he has not reported any kind of abuse in many years. If he found out that a parent told a child to stand in the corner for an hour, then he would have to research whether that was reportable emotional abuse.

His evaluation did not bring any psychological or legal knowledge to bear on the situation, and was unscientific. He did not use any methods that meet standards for being admissible in court. He had no substantiation for any of his child-rearing opinions.

The reason for the visitation supervision is that he disapproves of me telling my kids that the abuse charges against me were false, even though that is the truth, as far as he knows. He claims that the information would be harmful to my kids, even though he has never heard of any example of any child being harmed in such a way.

He recommended that I be ordered not to disparage my ex-wife in front of our kids, even though there is no allegation that I have ever done that. He did not recommend that I be ordered not to tell my kids about the court case, because such an order would not be legal.

He admitted that my ex-wife broke the law by withholding school records from me, and that he cooperated with that violation of the law by allowing her to submit those records to him without sending copies to me. He denied any responsibility because he said that he knew that I could subpoena the records from him.

His report trashed previous reports, saying that one was non-scientific and another violated court rules. He admitted that his report was no more scientific, and that he misread the court rules.

He admitted that his evaluation ignored the fact that we had a full child custody trial in 2005, and a final judicial custody determination of 50-50 joint custody. He said that he studied those 2005 court orders, but he is not a lawyer and he could not figure out the outcome of that trial.

His report blamed me for falsely claiming to have joint legal custody. My ex-wife had claimed to have sole legal custody and he said that he checked the court order himself, and confirmed it. On reexamination of that court order during the deposition, he admitted that she had asked for temporary sole legal custody but it was denied.

He asked for $1800 for the deposition. His report blames me for telling my kids that he was doing the evaluation for the money.

He very strongly disapproves of me posting info about my kids on the internet. He admitted that he has heard of, Myspace, and Flikr, but he has no idea whether tens of millions of people are doing similar things.

He said that he was very surprised that his recommendations got ordered without any due process in court, and that Cmr. Irwin Joseph was insane to do that. He said that parts of his recommendation do not make any sense. He said he was more familiar with the Santa Clara and San Mateo county family courts where they cross out the parts that do not make any sense before issuing an order.

His report said that I should give up my fight with the court if I want to see my kids more, but he admitted that I ought to contest the order which rubber-stamped his recommendations.

He admitted that he recommended that my ex-wife get temporary sole legal custody based on his mistaken conclusion that she already had it. As far as he knows, this is the only instance in California history of a father losing joint legal custody on the say-so of a psychologist, without any court appearance or hearing.

He admitted that his report does not resolve anything, and he could not explain how he would done anything differently if his sole purpose had been to maximize litigation and prolong court supervision of my kids.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Criminal investigation of Cmr. Joseph

Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph has received his pink slip, but he is still collecting paychecks until the end of this month. I doubt that incompetence is the sole reason for him getting fired. We've had other incompetent judges, and no one did anything about them. There have to be other reasons why he was abruptly demoted and moved to the Juvenile Delinquency Court, and then fired from that court. He was in the easiest court and had the least public accountability, so how could he screw it up so badly?

I think that there is a criminal investigation of him. He is blatant about violating the rules, and not crafty enough to cover up his misdeeds. The authorities would probably prefer that he disappeared quietly, so that they do not have to revisit the cases that he bungled.

Some of the communications between Cmr. Joseph and the evaluators he has appointed are really fishy. I wonder if maybe I should bring my evidence to the district attorneys' office, in case they are building a case against him. Does anyone else have evidence?

Last year, two Penn. juvenile delinquency court judges went to prison for taking kickbacks. Eventually, their bad decisions got noticed. Occasionally judges do face justice.

It occurred to me that since a psychologist is a mandated reporter of child abuse, Perlmutter is very unlikely to make such an allegation against me. If he did, it would open himself to the criticism that he has failed to report worse abuses in the past. While I have no way of assembling such evidence, he won't want to say anything under oath that could be used against him later.

Therefore I intend to aggressively question him on whether the allegations against me constituted reportable abuse.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

US Supreme Court refuses domestic violence case

Last week the US Supreme court voted 5-4 to refuse to decide a case, after previous deciding to hear it. There is a substantial dissenting opinion on the refusal, with an unusual conservative-liberal mix. The case had attracted attention from the domestic violence lobby, and several amicus briefs.

I am not sure what to make of this. It appears that some judges are scared of domestic violence issues. The domestic violence industry which feared the outcome of what the Supreme Court might have decided. Elena Kagan signed one of those amicus briefs in support of the domestic violence industry, and she has been nominated to the Supreme Court. But Pres. Obama's other female appointment to that court, Sonia Sotomayor, is on the other side.

These issues are not going away. We will have to study these federal legal issues if we are going to bring a federal case.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Domestic relations exception

A lawyer writes about the possibility of getting a case like mine heard in federal court:
Under the "domestic relations exception" created by the Supreme Court in the 19th Century and reaffirmed in 1992, federal courts have long had a policy of refusing to decide disputes between parents regarding the custody of a child.

There have been a dozen or so Supreme Court cases upholding parental rights (i.e., recognizing that parents are entitled to substantive and procedural due process under the 14th Amendment). None of those cases, however, involved a dispute between parents. In each case the dispute was between a parent or parents versus the state. In most of the cases, the child had only one surviving parent anyway. In the few cases where the child had both parents, there was no dispute between them.

Hence I am surprised to learn, from your blog, that the 9th Circuit has deviated from the above rules to decide cases involving a custody dispute between parents.

James v. Rowlands was decided last week in the 9th Circuit.

In this case, the child was in the physical custody of the mother who was living with her new boyfriend. The child's father had shared legal custody, but only visitation rights. CPS was called after the child said she was molested by her mother's boyfriend's father. CPS arrived, took the child from the mother's home and placed her in foster care, but never told the child's father what happened.

The court ruled that this non-custodial father, whose only state law right was to visit his child, nevertheless had a federal due process right to be informed of this important change so he could seek physical custody of her.

In support of its ruling, the 9th Circuit panel cited three Supreme Court cases (Lassiter, Stanley, Troxel). In my view, these cases are not persuasive because neither they nor any other Supreme Court case has ever said that due process applies to a custody dispute between parents. But the 9th Circuit also cited two other recent 9th Circuit decisions where, it said, the 9th Circuit had previously upheld a federal due process claim by a parent in a custody dispute.

Brittain v. Campbell (2006)

In this case, the father had sole legal and physical custody. The mother had visitation rights even though she did not share legal custody (which I think is quite unusual). There was a dispute when the mother did not get the visitation she thought she was entitled to, and the police were called.

The 9th Circuit ruled: "[W]e therefore hold that non-custodial parents with court-ordered visitation rights have a liberty interest in the companionship, care, custody, and management of their children." Under the 14th Amendment, a "liberty interest" is entitled to due process. The court cited several cases from other circuits which it said ruled likewise.

Burke v. County of Alameda (2009)

In this case, the child's mother had sole physical custody and lived with her new husband. The father had shared legal custody with visitation. Police were called after the child, a 14-year-old girl, ran away with her 19-year-old boyfriend. Police located the girl and placed her in foster care after deciding she was being abused by her stepfather - but never notified the girl's own father.

The court ruled "We therefore extend the holding in Wallis to parents with legal custody, regardless of whether they also possess physical custody of their children." The effect of that was to give federal due process rights the non-custodial father.

Frankly I'm not sure how much to make of these cases. They seem to open the door to federal second-guessing of all custody and visitation decisions involving 30 million kids. In each case the non-custodial parent won an abstract legal victory in the 9th Circuit, but we don't know whether any of them actually gained custody of their kids. I suspect the lawsuits were motivated by attorneys seeking money, not parents seeking custody. Meanwhile, I see no evidence that family courts have changed their modus operandi to reflect potential federal supervision of their decisions.
I thought that the "domestic relations exception" is only an exception to diversity jurisdiction (when the parents live in different states). So it is irrelevant to most domestic disputes.

Of course the federal courts must be kicking out these cases anyway, as I hardly ever hear of anyone winning in federal court. The recent 9th Circuit case is an exception.