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.

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