Monday, August 30, 2010

Judge avoids us

I appeared in Judge Heather Morse's court again this morning. I think that she already hates our case.

The last time my ex-wife were there for an 8:30 motion, she repeatedly skipped over us again and again. She even called cases two or three times, while ignoring us. Finally, when there was no one left in the courtroom but us, she said that she was adjourning for lunch. We had to come back at 1:30.

It was the same story this morning. Except that when she got to us at noon, she did not want to see us after lunch. She told us to come back on Nov. 1. Obviously this is not coincidence. Either the judge does not like us, or does not like our case, or is afraid of our case, or does not want others to see our case, or something. Not sure what.

She will have to face our issues at the Nov. trial.

I had to sit thru a lot of other cases. The judge patiently listened to a lot of silly arguments. I found one thing striking -- all of the bad custody cases involved mixed marriages and/or foreigners. I am not sure what to conclude from this. I did not see a scientific sample, so I do not want to generalize. But the pattern was the same as the last several times that I have been in court. Has anyone done a study on just who is clogging up our family courts? I get the impression that this subject is too sensitive for most people. Yes, this is one of the few societies in history that condones marriage outside one's culture. But maybe people would benefit from spending a day in family court before they make the leap.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In support of father custody

The Thinking Housewife writes:
Today, in an age when mothers are overwhelmingly favored for legal custody of children, this seems unimaginable. But given the vast system of abuses perpetrated by family courts, the epidemic of female abandonment of husbands, the arrests and restraining orders against fathers, and the general decline of marriage, the old way more and more makes urgent sense. Children, when in dispute, should automatically go with their fathers, not their mothers, as is commonly assumed. A father, as head of the household, should have the right to award custody to a mother. But no court should usurp his powers and authority over his own children.

Some of the greatest injustices in the modern world are committed against fathers. Their basic rights must be restored. State-imposed destruction of the institution of fatherhood is nothing less than tyrannical and benefits women not at all.
Not all women are infected by feminism.

She adds More on Paternal Custody:
WESTERN SOCIETY is steadily reverting to matriarchy and witnessing the progressive erosion of democracy. The two go hand-in-hand because it is impossible to maintain democracy with large numbers of female-headed households. Formal recognition of paternal authority is necessary to reverse this trend. Men should have primary custody of their biological children, as was commonplace in Western democracies two hundred years ago. This is one of the most basic means of checking the expansion of socialist government and the decline of the family.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ten million is enough

AP reports:
LOS ANGELES – A jury on Thursday rejected a claim by billionaire real estate mogul Donald Bren's two adult children for $134 million in retroactive child support.

The unusual case was a high-stakes contest between one of the nation's richest men and the children he fathered during a 13-year affair with Jennifer McKay Gold, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of her children when they were minors.

Christie Bren, 22, and her brother, David Bren, 18, pursued the case when they became adults.

Jurors deliberated two hours before siding with the 78-year-old Irvine Co. chairman, whose attorney argued that no family court would have given the children more than the millions he already paid. ...

Four contracts were created involving child support each time Gold became pregnant and after the children were born. The accords, beginning in 1988, rose from $3,500 a month to $18,000 a month between 1992 and 2002. ...

His lawyers have claimed he paid $10 million in support over the years, including the educations.
For some women, no amount of money is ever enough. No matter how much they get, they act as if they are entitled to more.

There is still no word on much money Mrs. Tiger Woods got in the divorce. She seems like a real gold-digger. As far as I know, she never even bothered to show up at his golf tournaments. I never saw her on TV, anyway. And now she is taking her money, whining to People magazine, and running. She now denies the rumors that she hit Tiger in the mouth with a golf club, after refusing to comment earlier.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bad research on happy marriages

Steve Landsburg writes:
Robin Hanson reports that success in marriage is quite uncorrelated with the match between your personality traits and your partner’s. Your traits matter (it pays to be happy, for example) and so do your partner’s, but the combination makes no difference. ...

NO!!!! That’s not the right conclusion at all, and it’s worth understanding why not. Suppose we lived in a world where personality matches had a huge effect on the success of marriages. In that world, why would two people with clashing personalities ever choose to marry? Presumably because there’s some special value in the match — like, say, an extraordinary mutual attraction — that overrides the personality clash. ...
The point is that correlation does not imply causation. A lot of social science research mixes up cause and effect, and draws faulty conclusions.

For example, taking aspirin is correlated with having headaches. But that fact alone does not tell you whether the headaches are causing the aspirin, or the aspirin is causing the headaches.

A reader adds:
An example from Dr Phil where he explains to a couple that open marriages don’t work because in a professional setting he often sees couples in an open marriage with marriage troubles. I rolled my eyes when I heard that.
I mention this because psychologists and family court employees often have bizarre ideas about child rearing and parental disputes. They have years of experiences noticing certain types of complaints in their practice and in court papers, but they are very confused about what is causing the problems, and what is curing them. And they don't see cases where both parents are doing well, so they have no idea what works and what doesn't.

For example, a court psychologist might say that parents should never talk to their kids about money. If you ask why, he might say that in his many years of experience, he has seen many complaints from bitter ex-spouses about money discussions. So he infers that talking about money is bad.

Can you see the flaw in this logic? Yes, if you do not talk about money then there should be no complaint about how you talk about money. That is true in the same sense that if you do not go to the beach, then you will not complain about sand in your toes. If you don't take the bus, then you won't complain about the bus. It is the same reasoning. No sensible person would take advice from anyone who reasons that way. You should not rear your kids on advice from court personnel any more than you should choose a mate based on the above sloppy research on happy marriages.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

These Boots Were Made For Divorcing

The Citizen Renegade blog writes:
As it is, our society is at a fork in the road. We can go one of two ways if an end to the divorce industrial complex is your goal:

1. Rescind feminism.

Basically, turn back the clock on the so-called “improvements” in divorce litigation. Put divorce lawyers out of business. Custody of children would be split evenly, half the time with mom and half the time with dad, unless solid evidence of extenuating fault could be found, such as pedophilia or physical abuse. End all affirmative action and favoritism, explicit or implicit, for women. This means no more maternal leave or sexual harassment workshops. Return shame to its rightful place as a molder of human behavior.

2. Follow feminism to its logical conclusion.

Completely gut the traditional notion of marriage by legally establishing polygamy and assorted polyamorous relationships as equally valid unions. (Should be easier now that there is legal justification for gay marriage.) Make divorce as easy as buying a gallon of milk. Reform marriage so that it better reflects the evolutionary disposition of people to fall out of love after seven years (or approximately the time the kids are old enough to function without constant parental supervision.) If we are biologically designed by evolution to weary of our partners after seven to ten years, then why is marriage not arranged in such a way that acknowledges this reality? After all, we don’t force gay men against their biological disposition to marry or screw women.
He favors the second option, because of the greater availability of beautiful women for the alpha males to seduce and discard.

He is right. It is odd that there is so little discussion of these long-term trends, as they have the potential to remake our society.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Georgia judges being dismissed

The Atlanta newspaper reports:
One sent a message over Facebook to a criminal defendant, saying he’d give her behind-the-scenes advice on her case. Another was caught having sex in a parked car with the public defender assigned to his courtroom. Another inappropriately touched a prosecutor and investigator after they sat in his lap posing for a photo.

These were not defendants. All three were chief judges in their circuits with decades on the bench.

Since 2008, at least 16 judges across the state have resigned under duress, most recently two veteran chief judges from Cobb and Fulton counties. Some stepped down under a cloud of suspicion. Others left amid scandal or even outright criminality.

Allegations include sexual improprieties, harassment, voter fraud, giving state computers to family members and gross intemperance on the bench.
I doubt that there is really a rash of bad behavior among Georgia judges. It is more likely that the state just started taking complaints seriously.

Here is another Georgia judge in the news:
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A Superior Court judge shot and killed a masked burglar inside his Augusta home early Friday after being awakened by the sound of someone smashing through a door.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronald Strength said investigators were still searching for a second burglary suspect Friday after the break-in at the home of Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet.

Overstreet, 65, was awakened at about 4 a.m. Friday when burglars used a large rock to break glass panes in a French door at the judge's home, the sheriff said.
He said the judge grabbed his gun after hearing voices and left his bedroom to investigate.

"The suspect, wearing a bandanna over his face and socks covering both hands, was coming down the stairs toward Overstreet," Strength told reporters Friday. "Overstreet fired one time at the suspect, hitting him in the chest."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sell a child and get her back

The Monterey California newspaper reports:
For a 10-month-old girl known as "Stormie," those parents are Samantha Tomasini, 20, and Patrick Fousek, 38.

The Salinas couple are accused of trying to sell their daughter to strangers for $25 on June 22. They were found with the baby later that night in their squalid apartment, allegedly high on methamphetamine.

News that county officials had initiated "reunification services" for the parents recently sparked a local television report that Fousek and Tomasini might get back their baby. ...

The highly controlled process is required under state law, which mandates the preferred placement for a child, if possible, is with its parent or a relative. The process is overseen by a judge who sets benchmarks and a case plan for the parents, Robinson said.

A team of professionals that includes social workers and psychologists works with the parents to meet their goals. The process is managed through a nationally acclaimed program at Door to Hope called MCSTART, Monterey County Screening Team for Assessment, Referral and Treatment.

Parents are allowed visitation, but have limited time to show they are making progress. If they fail, reunification will be denied and the child will placed in a legal guardianship or adoption.

In the case of an infant, Robinson said, parents have six months, possibly 12, to show they are worthy.
So the law says that they can get their kid back if they get off the drugs, and satisfy the social workers that they are making progress over the next 6 months.

By contrast, armed cops seized my kids at our home in 2007. No one ever worked with me to meet my goals or measure my progress. No one has ever even been able to identify anything that I have done wrong. No one ever recommended counseling, as no one has ever even said that it is possible to do better than I have done.

And yet I have lost legal and physical custody of my kids.

The couple is this story seems to have plenty of problems:
Fousek was arrested again Aug. 6 after neighbors reported a domestic dispute at the East Romie Lane apartment he shares with Tomasini. Police have intervened in similar disturbances at the apartment many times.

According to Salinas police, Fousek did not respond to officers' repeated knocking and when they tried to use a manager's key to enter, he continued to relock the door. Police eventually broke down the door and found Fousek alone. They said Tomasini fled during the delay.

Fousek was arrested on suspicion of resisting or delaying a peace officer. He was arraigned Aug. 13 and pleaded not guilty.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, a deputy had to intervene in another loud argument between the pair. Fousek, who told the deputy he "broke up" with Tomasini, was angrily demanding the keys to his car. The distraught Tomasini was refusing, saying she was "miserable." The pair eventually left together.
And yet they will get a better chance to get their kid back than I ever got.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jailed for friending ex-wife

FoxNews reports:
It's not a crime to make friends on Facebook, but one Florida man found that the rules are a bit different when the person you're trying to "friend" has a protective order against you.

The man, 54-year-old Harry Bruder, was arrested for allegedly sending his soon to be ex-wife requests to "friend" him on Facebook, which police said violated the protective order, reported.

A police report posted on shows Bruder admitting he contacted his wife twice last month on the popular social networking site ...
I get spammers from around the world sending me email for making Facebook friend requests. Facebook makes it very easy to block someone that you want to avoid.

No court order should ever forbid a Facebook friend request, when it is so trivial for any user to restrict to whomever she likes. And no one should be jailed for anything so completely harmless.

This is another example of how the courts create problems, instead of solve them. Most of these restraining orders serve no useful function except to satisfy some bitter woman's craving to punish her ex.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stewardess seizes toddler on flight

AP reports:
Police say a Southwest Airlines flight attendant took a baby from her parents on a flight from Dallas to Albuquerque after the mother slapped the crying child.

The flight attendant told Albuquerque International Sunport aviation police she removed the 13-month-old after she saw the mother slap the girl and passengers complained.

Airport spokesman Daniel Jiron says paramedics checked the baby when the flight landed Monday.

Aviation police returned the child to her parents after speaking to the couple, the flight attendant and other witnesses. The parents were not cited.
The airline is way out of line. It should not be seizing kids on a flight, just because someone disapproves of a disciplinary method.

Update: This story is getting a lot of publicity. It is amazing how many people think that they ought to be interjecting themselves into how others rear their kids. We have a society of busybodies. And the ones with the worst child-rearing opinions are usually the worst busybodies.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bristol and Levi agreement

The marriage is off, but they made this deal:
Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have committed to one thing: Not talking bad about one another.

That's one of the provisions of a new custody agreement proposed by the off-again, on-again couple. Their son, Tripp, is former Gov. Sarah Palin's first grandchild. He turns 2 in December.

"The parties agree that the child shall receive positive reinforcement about each party and that the child has the right to be free of negative comments by one parent about the other. The parties agree that neither party will speak badly about the other parent in front of the child," the agreement says. "Furthermore, neither parent will, to the best of their abilities, allow anyone else to speak badly about the other parent or members of their family in front of the child."
At the beginning of my divorce case, I decided to unilaterally avoid badmouthing my ex-wife. I do not write about her parenting practices or personal life here. The one exception is when she publicly makes false and unfounded accusations against, as when she accused me of emotional abuse. I defend myself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The truth revealed by feminism

A blogger discovered this pearl of wisdom:
I have often said that nothing good has come out of feminism--nothing. Laura Wood, who agrees with the general point, has found an exception, sort of:
If any good has come from feminism it is a dawning appreciation of female sexual desire and its potential to destroy. The monogamous instincts of women have been vastly exaggerated in the popular imagination, even by Darwinian realists who pride themselves on their clear-eyed appraisals of human nature. Sexual liberation has revealed the full extent of feminine waywardness and disloyalty.

At least two-thirds of divorces in this country are initiated by women. Women are more eager than men to get married; once married they are more eager to get out of marriage. In many of these divorces, women act as if their husbands have disappointed or offended them when the truth is these women desire another man or the possibility of new romance. Economic power for women and divorce laws that guarantee maternal custody or joint custody have unmasked the truth about female sex drives: Women are not innately faithful nor do all women naturally put the interests of their children above their own.
Jane S. writes:
Exactly. There's a reason why the serpent had Eve pegged as the one more likely to willingly disobey God and bring sin into the world. It isn't just that he bumped into her first.
A lot of people mistakenly think that if women are the ones who are more likely to want to get married, then men would be the ones more likely to want a divorce. That is a gross misunderstanding of human nature. Even when the man files for the divorce, it is usually in response to his wife being dissatisfied with the marriage. Polls of both men and women give the same results.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shrink demands more money

I just got this letter from the court-appointed evaluator:
August 10, 2010
Dear AngryMom and AngryDad,

This letter responds to AngryMom's letter of August 6 asking for information for my appearance at trial on November 30.

First you would need to ask me to hold the day. Once you do that I hold it with no fees due until November 1. On November 1 I would need to receive full payment for all the fees due for that appearance as follows:
-round trip travel: 3 hours (on mapquest it is about 1.25 hours each way to the Watsonville courthouse)
-the full day (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.): 8 hours
-case file and review: 4 hours (it will take this long to review the report and file given that over seven months will have passed since I did any work on your matter)

Total time: 15 hours at $300/hr: $4500

In the event of a change or cancellation I must receive notice by November 23. Please note that the week before November 30 is a holiday week and I will need that much notice in order to avoid a charge. Also I expect to do the review during the week of November 15 and will charge for that time if you don't proceed with the trial.

I will not appear if the fees are not paid in advance.

It is up to you to if you wish to issue a subpoena. I will cooperate in the receipt of any subpoena.

Please let me know if you have other questions.
As you know my office will be closed August 16 to September 7.

Kenneth B. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
The greediness of this quack continues to surprise. He is legally obligated to obey a subpoena, and he is in no position to make all these demands.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rating the courts

Amy Bach writes in the NY Times
A “justice index” would allow communities to better assess which local courts are working and which ones need reform. ...

This lack of data has a corrosive effect: without public awareness of a court system’s strengths and weaknesses, inefficiencies and civil liberties violations are never remedied.

That’s why America needs a “justice index” to show how the essential aspects of our local courts are working. The index, compiled according to national standards, would function roughly like college rankings, ...

The information would be analyzed by a nonprofit organization, then posted to a Web site in a ranked order and in terms clear enough for the public to understand.
If applied to family courts, many communities might decide that their courts need reform.

The family court does a lot of things that it really does not have to do, such as order psychological evaluations, intervene in child custody issues and issue restraining orders. If these things are really beneficial, then there ought to be some way to measure the benefits.

My guess is that there is no measurable benefit to these court actions, and that the court actions make everyone worse off, on average.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Politician has joint custody

The Wall Street Journal writes about a leading New York politician having joint custody of his 3 kids:
Mariah, Cara and Michaela: Andrew Cuomo's daughters are the female fixtures on his campaign trail, ...

Not having a wife by his side during such events, Mr. Cuomo has taken to using his daughters as substitute stumpers, softening his brazen image as well as polishing it with a measure of Kennedy clout. The children—Cara, her twin sister Mariah and 12-year-old Michaela—are the product of Mr. Cuomo's marriage to Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. That union ended in a messy divorce in 2003 amid allegations that Ms. Kennedy had an extramarital affair. ...

In a joint custody arrangement, Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Kennedy split weekdays and trade weekends with the girls. Mr. Cuomo lives with Ms. Lee in a home that is less than five miles from Ms. Kennedy's Mount Kisco residence.
This type of arrangement is increasingly common among divorced parents.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Father's Rights

A new movie, A Father's Rights, is being sold for $20:
"A Father’s Rights" is based upon a real life story. It depicts the situation of an unwed father and his child’s struggle with the legal system predominant in American society today.

"A Father’s Rights" is hard hitting, factual, and potentially embarrassing to some in high places. It is meant to expose the system that treats children differently across this country and the world: a system that needs to change. We should all be looking at and working for one thing, getting equal rights for our children.
I have not seen it yet. The previews are very professional. The producer is dedicated to the cause. I talked to him on the phone a couple of times. I have not seen the movie yet.

One preview seems to show a dad getting a jury trial for the custody of his child. I wish that I could get a jury trial. Only Texas offers jury trials for child custody.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

NJ couple gets kid back

A year ago, this made news:
A New Jersey woman, known only as V. M. in court papers, refused to consent to a cesarean section on April 16, 2006 and gave birth the same day to a child, known only as J. M. G in court documents, by normal vaginal delivery. Even though the child was delivered safely and had no problems due to the birth, Child Protective Services, known in New Jersey as the Division of Youth and Family Services, took baby J. M. G. because the mother had refused a cesarean section.

On July 16, 2009, the appellate division of the New Jersey Superior Court agreed with DYFS and a lower court's decision that Ms. V. M. had neglected and abused her child and the DYFS was correct in taking custody and terminating Ms. V. M.'s parental rights. In the appellate court's decision, the judges said that refusal of a cesarean section alone was not enough to constitute child neglect or abuse, but they based their decision on other factors, including the woman's behavior in the four days following the child's birth and the state of the mother's mental health. V. M. had been under the care of a psychiatrist for twelve years.
They could not take the child away for refusing the cesarian, because there is no law against a woman harming her own unborn baby before birth. So they had to phrase their reasons as based on what happened after birth. So their excuse was a bunch of vague and subjective charges, such as

In the hospital records, V.M. is described as "combative," "uncooperative," "erratic," "noncompliant," "irrational" and "inappropriate."
Even more outrageously, the baby was taken away from the father as well. There was no serious complaint against him.

Now the NJ appeals court has reversed itself, and decided to let the parents have their child. The pdf opinion is here, and the link is on Unpublished Appellate Opinions for 8/6/2010. There is some more info on the National Advocates for Pregnant Women blog.

I am glad the appeals court finally had some sense. This seemed like a case where evil govt and hospital workers were retaliating at a mom for not following medical advice. It was an abuse of power. CPS should be concerned with rescuing kids who are suffering serious harm, not punishing parents who make a harmless decision that happened to be contrary to advice.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Do not name your kid Adolf

NBC News reports:
A New Jersey state appeals court has determined that a couple who gave their children Nazi-inspired names should not regain custody of them.

Heath and Deborah Campbell's three small children were removed from their Holland Township home by the state in January 2009 after they asked a grocery store in Greenwich, N.J. to write “Adolf Hitler” on their son’s birthday cake.

While a local Wal-Mart honored the birthday cake request, Adolf Hitler Campbell and siblings JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell have been in foster care ever since.
These are terrible names, and the parents are probably morons. But we have no laws allowing kids to be taken away for those reasons. If we did, then the authorities could have acted right after birth, when they got the birth certificate.

So the appeals court pretended to ignore the Hitler issue, and say that the parents lose custody because of some minor domestic violence allegations many years earlier.

The appeals court also seemed to want to punish the parents for violating a gag order, and publicly defending themselves. These CPS officials and judges really hate it when parents decide to defend themselves.

The court opinion, and some legal comments, may be found here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Baskerville on the end of men

I promised to comment on an Atlantic magazine article on the end of men. Now Stephen Baskerville has an article:
Fathers have been marginalized, and their lives are ever more directly administered by the state. They are not simply “absent,” as Rosin writes—they are increasingly likely to be under the control of the judicial and penal systems. Rosin’s article provides a telling example of a particularly state-feminist form of punishment now meted out to men: therapy.
None of the 30 or so men sitting in a classroom at a downtown Kansas City school have come for voluntary adult enrichment. Having failed to pay their child support, they were given the choice by a judge to go to jail or attend a weekly class on fathering…. This week’s lesson…involve[d] writing a letter to a hypothetical estranged 14-year-old daughter named Crystal, whose father left her…
What is clear from Rosin’s account is that the therapy, like the penal system, has been designed less to punish the alleged crime than to psychologically recondition men. ...

This is not law enforcement. It is government indoctrination. Rosin neglects to mention that none of the men in Kansas City has been convicted of any crime. They have not run afoul of police, prosecutors, and juries through the normal criminal-justice process. Instead, they are subject to welfare officials who exercise quasi-police and quasi-prosecutorial powers.
Yes, therapy is feminist punishment.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Another Judge Kelsay case gone bad

The Santa Cruz California Sentinel reports:
George Petroutsas was expecting the world's best Father's Day present: the return of his 5-year-old son from Greece and the start of a new life together in Woodside. ...

The legal battle between Petroutsas and his then-wife, Despoina Asvesta, started in November 2005, when the couple had been married about two and a half years and Andoni was just an infant. Asvesta went on a three-week trip to visit family in Greece and decided she wouldn't return to the Capitola Village home she shared with Petroutsas. She also told Petroutsas she was keeping their son, he said.

Crying and pleading quickly turned to divorce proceedings. When Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge William Kelsay awarded Petroutsas full custody of Andoni in December 2005, Asvesta refused to give up the boy and Greek courts did nothing to force her to comply, according to Petroutsas.
The kid has bounced back and forth between the USA and Greece. Four courts (Santa Cruz family court, San Jose federal court, Ninth Circuit appeals court, and Greek court) have issued conflicting opinions, and cannot even agree on which court has jurisdiction. Both parents are accused of kidnapping.

I was once in Judge Kelsay's court. He admitted that he had not read any of the papers, but made a custody change ruling anyway. He gave us a big lecture on the horrors of family court. He bragged about having more experience with child custody trials than any other Santa Cruz judge, but every single one of his trials turned out badly.

I believe him. He said that before botching this case, but the Petroutsas-Asvesta trial added to his perfect record. It has turned out very badly. It is now an international incident. There is The Hague Conventions that supposed to require other courts to defer to local family courts, but that assumes that the family courts will adhere to basic standards of due process. No one wants to defer to an irresponsible family court judge like Judge Kelsay.

I tried to get a transcript of Judge Kelsay's speech about his child custody trial record. I paid the court reporter and got part of the transcript for that day, but she said that the part where he talked about child custody was lost and could not be found. I made several attempts, and could not get it.

A reader commented that expertise in child custody matters is based on experience. Judge Kelsay is a counterexample. You only get wisdom from experience if you learn from your mistakes. Judge Kelsay has learned nothing from his mistakes.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Morning in Judge Morse's court

I spent all yesterday morning in Judge Heather D. Morse's court. I thought that the 8:30 am motions had to finish by 10:00, but these motions dragged on and on. My case was not called until 1:30 pm, after lunch.

Judge Morse seems to let the cases with lawyers go first. The first case was a Mexican couple fighting over child support. Both parents had lawyers, and there was a Spanish interpreter as well. The dad said that he worked two restaurant jobs. When asked how long he had these jobs, he said he had one for 25 years and one for 12 years. At one point the mom blurted out "he's lying". The admonished her for being "not helpful", and said that she was sure that each can say bad things about the other. At another point, the mom's lawyer said, "I believe that we filed an income and expense statement." When the judge could not find the statement, the lawyer said, "When I say 'I believe', I mean that I don't know whether we filed it or not."

I am always amazed at how useless these lawyers are. They are supposed to file income and expense statements for a child support motion. If he does not even know whether a statement was filed, what could he possible know about the case? Neither lawyer appeared to know anything about the case. The judge collected the info by asking the parents directly. If a client claims that the other side is lying, then the lawyer should find out what the issue is and contest it. But I don't think that her lawyer even learned what was allegedly the lie. It was not clear that the lawyers and clients even speak the same language.

Considering that the dad's income was long-term wage income, I don't see that there was any legitimate reason to waste the court's time. The only thing that was slightly unusual was that some of the restaurant income was seasonal. But they could have just divided his annual income by twelve.

The next case had a mom with a baby. The judge made a point of saying that the baby was "adorable".

Another case was a child support case, with both sides having doubts about the other's reported income. The mom was a real estate agent, with a lot of home office expenses. The dad was working for his mom's business, and could have been underreporting income. The judge could not cope with any of this. I think that they should just use IRS figures, and avoid these hopeless arguments.

The dad did not show up for the next case. The mom had some complaint about getting him to pay for half the medical expenses. The judge suggested getting DCSS help for enforcement, and said that they could take away his drivers license.

A dad wanted his spousal and child support adjusted in the next case, because the mom had just a Social Security award. She is now getting $1032.70 per month for being permanently "totally disabled". The kid is 16 and also gets $516 disability checks. She had no obvious disability. About a half an hour was wasted while the judge tried to figure out how to enter the disability payments into the Dissomaster program. She ended up entering it as "other taxable income" which I don't think is correct. More time was wasted when she exited the program without saving her work. It was painful and tedious.

Then was another case with lawyers arguing about child support. One lawyer admitted that he does not understand how to use the Dissomaster program. It sounded pathetic, but the program really is unnecessarily confusing for a case like his. The parents had three kids. The oldest hates the mom, and lived 100% with the dad. The next one lives with the mom. They had joint custody of the youngest. That was weird, but apparently a court interview of the kids confirmed the matter, and it was not disputed.

With only the slightest justification, the judge lectured them, "neither of you should be talking to your children about the divorce. You are ruining your children, and giving them scars that they don't need." I guess that she feels strongly about that.

At one point the lawyer complained that the dad is supposed to get the kid from 2:30 to 8:00, but the mom usually does not provide the kid until 3:00, so he wanted 3:00 to 8:30. The mom's lawyer mumbled something about working it out out-of-court, and the dad's lawyer dropped the matter. I don't understand why these lawyers are so feeble. He could have just asked for permission to return the kid a half hour late if he gets the kid a half hour late. Such a request would have been likely granted. As it is, he got nothing. Then when the judge announced a 20-minute break, he said, "enjoy your break, your honor".

After the break, the judge joked about needing a ten-year-old to help with computer skills in running the Dissomaster program.

The next couple had some parenting issues about their 16 year old daughter. The mom didn't like the dad asking some nosy questions. The dad caught the girl being somewhere that she was not supposed to be after being grounded for getting busted for smoking. The judge said that the parents need to "address their inability to communicate" and lectured the dad for rolling his eyes. The judge also told the dad that he needs to build a better relationship with the daughter before imposing discipline, and he did not realize how much the girl had grown up. The judge said that the discipline needs to be in a therapeutic setting, and suggested counseling.

This seemed like yet another case where the court was directly causing harm. Lack of paternal discipline is the single biggest cause of teenaged girls becoming juvenile delinquents. The dad has known and loved this girl for 16 years, and knows what to do to set her straight. The judge knows nothing about the situation, and just recites some psycho mumbo jumbo. This girl obviously needs her dad to have more authority over her, not less. Attending parenting classes when the girl is already a 16 year old delinquent is idiotic.

A woman came forward next with a no-fault divorce. She swore that the marriage was irreparable. Her husband was not there. The divorce papers would be final in a couple of months, and the judge said that no further appearance was needed.

Next a mom complained about safety concerns about the dad and their kids, aged 13 and 15. She complained about guns, drugs, and a convicted felon roommate. He denied that there were any guns or drugs in his house, altho he did say that he likely to shoot at the gun range. He said that she was overreacting because of previous hostility. The judge suggested mediation with Chip Rose or Commissioner Joseph. I cannot imagine two worse choices. The couple ended up saying that they would use Michael Scott.

The last big case was former NFL cornerback Reggie Stephens. He played four years in the NFL, and a couple of years of arena football, and has a 6-year-old child with a woman that he was with for 5 years. She did not believe that he was really broke. He made good money playing football, but has not had a steady job since 2007. He sounded very credible, and agreed to supply all his bank statements and other info. At one point, she said "is getting paid under the table legal?" The judge explained that it was not. He said that he sometimes made some extra cash by helping a local high school football coach. The amounts were not large anyway. The mom also complained about music performances, but it did not sound as if he made any money doing that.

My case finally came at 1:30, before some sort of trial. Nothing of consequence was decided. Maybe I will post the details another day. The day was a horrible waste of time, except that I did learn what sort of a judge the new family court judge is.

Out of touch politicians

A Washington Post article reports:
After spending a weekend with his kids alone, one male executive told me, "If every man in Congress had to do this, we'd have some very different laws."
I am not sure what point the guy was making, but I do think that there ought to be some way to force our lawmakers to see the consequences of their laws.