Thursday, September 30, 2010

Video on parental alienation

Somebody sent me a short video on parental alienation, in YouTube and hi quality versions. It is apparently from Italy, with English captions.

I usually assume that other countries could not possibly be as screwed up as American family courts. But maybe they have the same problems over in Italy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shrinks like empathy buzzword

I had a court psychologist, Ken Perlmutter, do a $20k child custody evaluation. For that, he said that I lacked empathy. He did not even seem to know what the word meant, and just used it as a buzzword whenever he wanted to criticize me.

He also said that he does not understand why I would dislike being falsely labeled a child abuser. If anyone lacks empathy, it is Perlmutter.

Meanwhile, a common criticism of President Barack Obama is that he lacks empathy. For example, today's Doonesbury cartoon ridicules him for that. I wonder how Obama would survive a child custody evaluation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Petition to reform CPS

Here is a good petition to reform CPS.

It all sounds like common sense. You may read it and wonder how the suggestions differ from current practice. But these suggestions would radically improve CPS. I suggest signing it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Replace court reporters with bots

The last time I was in court, there was no court reporter. The judge blamed it on budget cuts. There was no indication about when we would get the court reporters back.

This is inexcusable. We need to have records of court proceedings.

The court reporters are an anachronism anyway. The court is wired for audio recordings, with microphones for the judge, witness, and each party. The cost of digital storage is about a dollar for a month of recording. There are cheap services like VoiceBase, which will host and transcribe the recordings.

There are many more transcription errors than a real court reporter, but you would have the original audio to fix it yourself. Court reporters make errors also, and you cannot get those fixed. The court reporters are also slow, expensive, and unreliable.

I think the court reporters' union is impeding progress. Or maybe the judges don't want to give up the control, because now they can manipulate what the reporters do. But the court reporters do not make any economic sense anymore.

When we do not even get a court reporter, we should certain get an automated audio recording system. There is no excuse for leaving us with no record of the court proceedings.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Electing judges

A reader send this NY Times story:
Around the country, judicial elections that were designed to be as apolitical as possible are suddenly as contentious as any another race.
The article fails to mention the Nevada issue:
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor continued her push Wednesday to change the way Nevada selects its district judges and Supreme Court justices.

O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, is backing Ballot Question 1, which would end Nevada's system of electing judges and replace it with a system where judges would first be appointed by the governor after a review by a judicial committee.
Elections for judges seem to be useless because there is almost never any serious public debate of the legal issues, and the incumbent judges almost always win re-election. But that's politics. You could say similar things about other elections.

I am all in favor of holding judges accountable somehow. If some judges lose elections this years, along with the Congressmen who are losing elections, then maybe more judges will feel pressured to do a better job.

We need better ways to remove bad judges. Commissioner Irwin Joseph was eventually fired, but he would have been removed a lot earlier if those who saw him in court had any say about it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kafka's The Trial

The NY Times magazine has a long article on Franz Kafka's papers:
Bornstein was alluding to the famous parable in “The Trial” about a man who comes before the law but is turned away by the doorkeeper. The man asks if he will be allowed to enter later. “It’s possible, but not now,” says the doorkeeper, explaining that he is only the first in a series of increasingly powerful and terrifying doorkeepers (“The mere sight of the third is more than even I can bear”). The man sits next to the entrance for hours, days, years, waiting to be admitted to the law. In his dying breath, he asks the guard a question: Since the law is open to everyone, why has nobody else approached it in all these years? “This entrance was meant solely for you,” the guard says. “I’m going to go and shut it now.” Like many of Kafka’s stories, it carries the dreamlike impact of a great revelation, while nonetheless not making much immediately apparent sense.
In the book, the man never finds out why he is being put on trial.

I thought that Kafka's book was some sort of nightmare that could only be dreamed by someone in Eastern Europe. In America, you would always be notified of the charges against you, at a minimum.

And yet I am facing a trial in a couple of months. There is no accusation of wrongdoing against me. There is a witness who will testify against me. I know that because I have to pay him $6,500. For that money, he will say that his opinion is that I am not in the best interest of my kids. But he is unable to find any imperfect parenting on my part, and he denies that he has any responsibility to do that. My only hope is that the judge is not in on the conspiracy, and she is able to see what a charlatan he is.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Health consequence of sole custody decisions

Here is new medical research:
A girl whose biological father does not live in her household has a higher chance of entering puberty earlier than her peers, say researchers from the University of California, Berkeley ...

The age at which girls are reaching puberty has been trending downward in recent decades, but much of the attention has focused on increased body weight as the primary culprit. While overweight and obesity alter the timing of girls' puberty, those factors don't explain all of the variance in pubertal timing. The results from our study suggest that familial and contextual factors - independent of body mass index - have an important effect on girls' pubertal timing.
The full study is here.

I should also note that there is another view about this research:
But in the end, the epidemic of earlier and earlier puberty is a myth that the media love and certain researchers continue to propagate. The tale's promotion doesn't always depend on data. Instead, worries about earlier physical maturation in girls sublimate and propel concerns about society's sexualization of young girls, whether by provocative dance routines or revealing clothing.
Here is another medical news study that says that new moms suffer depression at about three times the rate of new dads. Dads are psychologically and emotionally stabilizing influences. This one should be obvious. A lot of new moms are mentally unstable.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More psychologist-lawyer criticism

I previously criticized a psychologist affidavit, but I don't think that I covered how bad it is.

Suppose a heart surgeon wrote an affidavit to force someone to have open-heart surgery. It would be inadequate to just say, "I've done 100 open-heart surgeries and the patient had some symptoms of a bad heart 5 years ago."

Such an affidavit would be obviously defective because everyone understands that surgery is dangerous, and that opinions differ on the necessity of such surgeries.

The affidavit does not even include minimal info necessary to make an informed decision. It does not even say whether any of those 100 patients even survived the surgery! It does not even acknowledge the risk of surgery, or the risk of a bad diagnosis, or possibility of good reasons for avoiding the surgery. It does not even say that there is any likelihood that the patient will live any longer with the surgery.

The psychologist affidavit below has all of these problems and more. There is nothing in it that presents any likelihood that the requested court order is going to make anyone better off. It babbles about hokey tests and vaguely hints about some hypothetical harms, but there is nothing specific.

If the family court took affidavits from chiropractors, they would probably recommend that spinal manipulation be ordered, hinting that otherwise the parent could get back pain and then be a less effective parent. That would make as much sense as this psychologist affidavit.

The problem is not just that this affidavit is sloppily written. The author is a very experienced psychologist and lawyer, and his affidavit is probably as good as any others in the county for the purpose. The problem is that the goal is so completely bogus.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Prohibited from expressing opinions

A free-speech law prof reports:
“Respondent May NOT Use Internet in Any Manner to Communicate About Petitioner Ever Again”

That’s the order that a Wisconsin court issued in telling an ex-wife that she may not speak online about her ex-husband (emphasis in original). A similar order (though only for four years, and not “ever again”) was issued barring the ex-wife from speaking online about her ex-husband’s lawyer.

The ex-wife apparently violated the order, and is now being prosecuted for violating the injunction, because she kept posting things about the ex-husband and his lawyer. ...

The injunctions strike me as patently and vastly overbroad, and therefore clearly unconstitutional.
You would think that judges would have a clear understanding of free speech rights.

My ex-wife complains endlessly about this blog, but I don't even use to tell bad stories about her. The purpose of this blog is to complain about the family court, not her.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Four parents needed down under

Australia news:
THEY set out together to create a much-wanted child. But when ''baby E'' was born, his lesbian parents, and the gay couple who donated their sperm, were unprepared for the ''flood of emotions'' that hit them.

Although the four had discussed parental responsibilities and visiting arrangements at a ''baby summit'' before E's conception, the Family Court heard that in the struggle for ''ownership'' of the child after his birth, the women stopped the men from seeing him.

Justice Linda Dessau had to determine what was in two-year-old E's best interests.

Emphasising that the case was not about the socio-politics of single-sex parents or the definition of a nuclear family, she ruled that the boy should spend time with all four adults.
I have heard of cases like this requiring three parents. Giving parental rights to four adults is a new one to me. There does not seem to be any limit to the idiocy of "best interests" court reasoning.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Diagnosing the crazy woman

A reader disagrees with me:
There are some severe personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder (BPD), that are not easy to detect. Most BPs are very good at hiding their disorder form judges, mediators, evaluators, etc. They will even hide it from their own therapists and psychiatrists if they feel it's in their best interests. They can put on a mask to hide it when they want.

The problem is that once they are comfortable, in their own homes, and they don't feel it's necessary to hide it, the true personality comes out and it is very damaging to children... both emotionally and physically, depending on the degree. ...

I know it's not medical proof, but check out the movie "The 3 Faces of Eve" sometime... even though it deals with multiple personality disorder, it was very similar to what some of us see when dealing with someone with another personality disorder.
The movie is based on a book that supposedly told a true story of a woman with a split personality. Such a condition is very rare.
It is nothing to do with schizophrenia, which is the preferred term for someone who is crazy.

I think that BPD was originally meant to be a term to describe people who on the border between being crazy and normal, and who do not necessarily need treatment. Now it has its own definition.

The movie was uncritically accepted as truthful, until it was recently debunked:
Then in 1998, several publications exposed the case as a sham. Robert Rieber at John Jay College of Criminal Justice listened to the Sybil tapes and concluded that Wilbur had induced the personalities in the patient. Her sessions included hypnosis and sodium pentothal and her technique was to name different emotional states as personalities. She would not allow Sybil to protest. Rieber realized that no evidence for the reported abuse had been found.

Then Peter Swales, a historian of psychoanalysis, discovered Sybil's true identity and located her. He discovered she bore little resemblance to the patient presented in the book. "It was the case," said Swales, "that Shirley was only a multiple personality in the full-blown sense in the psychoanalytic setting." Newsweek and The New Yorker followed up these revelations with startling stories.
I guess that I've given my reader some hope of smoking out his wife as a BPD. But it just sounds like a medieval witch-hunt to me. When he says that "BPs are very good at hiding their disorder", it just sounds like a medieval prosecutor saying that witches are good at concealing their pact with the devil.

I don't doubt that there are a lot of crazy moms out there. I do doubt that they can be smoked out by some silly issuing a court order for the mom to take a 175-question true/false questionnaire.

If BPs are so harmful, and if these psychologists can reliably screen them out, then why don't we just give this test to everyone in the adult population? While we are at it, we could give them lie detector tests, diabetes tests, and whatever else some highly-paid professionals can lobby for.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's wrong with the psych test

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory test is psychological test consisting of 175 true-false questions. It was developed on patients in psychiatric hospitals, and was never intended to be given to normal people in the general population. That is, your answers are scored by comparing them to crazy people.

While the test may have some utility in diagnosing psychological disorders, nobody has ever been able to show that the test has anything to with identifying good parents. The test does not attempt to measure any parenting abilities or disabilities.

Family court evaluators like to use these psychological tests to give their evaluations a veneer of science. But the tests are just voodoo, and the so-called experts who rely on them are quacks.

The declaration by the psychologist below is as ridiculous as saying:
I am a nurse and I have drawn blood samples 1000 times. The mom had a medical checkup 5 years ago, but was not tested for diabetes. I have reviewed her medical history, and I found she eats too many sweets, so she could be at risk for diabetes. If she has diabetes, then the disease could possibly have a negative impact on her parenting abilities. I recommended that she give a blood sample so that she can be tested for diabetes, and that she be not allowed to see her son until she does.
I suppose that there is some theoretical possibility that an undiagnosed case of diabetes could have some negative effect on the child, but how likely is that? And how does that compare to the obvious harm in the child not being able to see his mom?

The family court has to decide whether the risk in the mom visiting her son somehow outweighs the benefits. The psychologist declaration says nothing to address that issue at all. The court should disregard his declaration.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shrink demands disorder test

Here is the declaration that led to the order mentioned below. I have changed the names to protect the innocent.

I, FEIGN ACHES, PH.D., declare:

1. I have personal knowledge of the facts contained in this Declaratlon, and if called as a witness I could and would competently testify as indicated herein.

2. I am a practicing psychologist licensed in the state of California (CA lic. #Psy xxxx}. My business address is [omitted].

3. I have conducted more than a thousand evaluations including psychological and child custody evaluations for Family Court in Santa Clara County. My current curriculum vitae is attached to this Declaration.

4. I am familiar with the California statutes; rules, and professional standards that regulate conducting psychological and child custody evaluations.

5. I have reviewed and considered documents relating to the matter of Choosy and Badass (Santa Clara county Superior Court Case No. xxxxx) provided to me by Buster Badass through his attorney Dolly Molly and subsequently by Mr. Badass as pro se counsel relevant to the best interests of minor child Mike Badass (D0B xx/xx/01), including:
[list of documents omitted]

6. Based upon the information reviewed and considered, in my professional opinion the bases of Ms. See-the-son's recommendations are incomplete because an updated psychological evaluation of Olbe Choosy was not conducted. Ms. See-the-son did not have adequate information to determine if the Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
(with Borderline, Narcissistic and Dependent features) diagnosed by Dr. Pushy nearly five years ago had ameliorated and/or no longer remained problematic for Ms. Choosy's ability to parent.

7. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - Edition IV (DSM-IV) defines a personality disorder as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable overtime, and leads to distress or impairment. Borderline Personality Disorder is a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and is characterized by marked impulsivity. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. Dependent Personality Disorder is a pattern of submissive and clinging behavior related to an excessive need to be taken care of.

8. Personality Disorders do not typically ameliorate merely with time. Often intensive psychotherapy over a prolonged course of care is necessary to effectively treat these conditions. I have reviewed no information that indicates that Ms. Choosy has engaged in such treatment efforts or that her Personality Disorder has ameliorated.

9. Personality Disorders can negatively impact an individual's ability to appropriately and effectively parent a child or children. Personality Disorder features such as those identified by Dr. Pushy, including instability in relationships, marked impulsivity, grandiosity, lack of empathy, and excessive need to be taken care of can significantly impair parent-child relationships and raise the potential of health and safety issues. Such features can negatively impact a parent's ability to promote positive psychological development for a child.

10. There remains evidence to suggest that Personality Disorder continues to be an appropriate diagnosis for Ms. Choosy in that she demonstrated problems accepting supervision provided by Ms. Bitchy Bagboy of TLC.

11. Lack of an updated psychological evaluation with findings ruling out the presence of a Personality Disorder remains problematic towards gaining a full understanding of Ms. Choosy's current functioning and ability to parent without supervision and for more time.

12. Ms. See-the-son's recommendations appear flawed in that no provision is made for assessing and addressing the adequacy of Ms. Choosy's parenting once supervision is eliminated. Rather, Ms. See-the-son simply recommends time points at which supervision will be eliminated and parent-child visitation time will increase. These changes apparently would occur regardless of the reactions or adjustments of the child. Should the child experience adverse reactions to the changes, there is nothing in Ms. See-the-son's recommendations that permits for a determination as to what corrections should be implemented. A therapist is recommended to work with the "family", but no plan is detailed as to how to alter the course of visitation should problems occur. This arrangement seems to involve the child in a visitation experiment without proper precautions and means of adjustment.

13. For these reasons, I offer the following opinions:

a. Ms. Choosy should undergo an updated psychological evaluation to be conducted by Dr. Press (or another qualified mental health professional, if Dr. Pushy is unavailable) in order to determine whether Ms. Choosy still suffers from a Personality Disorder and if so, whether that illness could negatively impact the child's health and safety and positive psychological development.

b. The professional conducting the updated psychological evaluation offer further treatment recommendations as may be appropriate.

c. It is suggested that the professional who conducts the updated psychological evaluation consider administering the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III along with the other test instruments as used in the original evaluation. The Millon is noted for being especially useful in assessing Personality Disorders, characteristics, and traits.

d. Updated psychological evaluation of Mr. Badass does not appear indicated because no significant psychological problems were identified in Dr. Pushy's evaluation from nearly five years ago and there is no evidence that any have emerged since that time.

e. If the Court finds that problems associated with a Personality Disorder might negatively impact Ms. Choosy's ability to effectively care for her son and otherwise promote his positive psychological development, the Court may wish to consider continued supervision of mother-son visitation.

f. If supervision of mother-son visitation is eliminated, provisions be implemented to regularly assess the adjustment of the child to time spent with Ms. Choosy in the absence of supervision and for longer periods of time than previously permitted and to alter the visitation arrangement as needed in the best interests of the child.

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed On May 13, 2010, at Campbell, California.

Feign Aches, Ph.D.
Calif Licensed Psychologist
California license #PSY xxxx
This is probably considered a strong declaration, but I believe that it is incompetent and irresponsible.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How single moms think

This is from The family courts are not this bad yet. Some of the questions are surely jokes, but they are funny anyway.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Obstruction to visits not otherwise specified

A reader writes that her visitation of her son has been delayed because of an order that she get a psychological test called the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III. Santa Clara county has been ordered to pay the cost, up to $1500. The order says:
The purpose of said testing is to assist the Court in determining whether or not it is in the best interests of the minor child(ren) to determine emotional stability and ego functioning, mental disorders and personality issues plus recommendations for improved functioning.
The paperwork asking for this order included a declaration from a lawyer-psychologist who claimed that the mom may have a personality disorder, because of a report from a psychologist five years ago supposedly included a diagnosis for personality disorder not otherwise specified.

Of the moms I know, I would say that about 90% of them have a personality disorder not otherwise specified. If all moms had to get certified by a psychologist before they could see their kids, then we would be a nation of orphans.

There are several things wrong with this, and it may take several posts to explain them. First of all, what kind of quack relies on a diagnosis of something "not otherwise specified"? This means that she has "an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it." But this pattern does not match the specifications of any generally-accepted diagnosable disorder. Even a family court judge should be able to see that this label is bogus, and it does not, by itself, have any bearing on whether she should be able to see her son.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two divorce movies

I happened to watch two big divorce movies on cable TV channels last week, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

These movies must have been made by people who experienced a nasty divorce. Otherwise, the stories are not very plausible. Particularly hard to take, in both movies, is the attitude of the wife/mother in seeking child custody, and the action of the family court in ignoring the merits of the father's case.

In both movies, the dads are not just average dads. They are heroic in what they do for their kids. They do wonderful things and they have no significant negative qualities. Furthermore, they are able to prove it in court. And yet they lose anyway.

If I had been asked to review either of these scripts, and if I had never been in family court, I would have said that the courtroom scenes don't make any sense. They show the dad winning the trial but losing the judgment.

In one movie, the mom wants to hire an outside nanny to babysit the kids after school. The dad has rock-solid proof that he would be better than any nanny that the mom could hire, and wants to take care of the them after school himself. And yet the court sides with the mom, and the dad gets shut out.

The court action is illogical, destructive, and cruel. And yet it has happened to me, and I have seen it happen to others. I will always believe that family courts are evil, as long as they do this.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finding psychiatric care a joke in this county

A letter to the Santa Cruz California newpaper says:
Last June, I was diagnosed with panic disorder and tried to see a psychiatrist in Santa Cruz. My insurance list yielded 10 doctors in Santa Cruz County. Two have sanctions against them. Three have multiple negative reviews on them on One is moonlighting a practice out of their basement. Four are not taking patients or returning calls. It was a similar story going out of network, but I would have to pay out of pocket.

As a taxpayer, I tried the county mental health building. I waited several hours to be treated like a junkie, asked what drug I was coming off, then lectured about how lucky I am that I have health insurance. This program is for people who don't have insurance. Luckily, we live in a town where alternative health care is widely spread because finding a good psychiatrist will likely cause you more anxiety.
Yes, we have plenty of unlicensed therapists, alternative medicine practitioners, and other quacks. Of course I think that most of the licensed psychiatrists and psychologists are quacks are crooks also. Many of them will make you worse off. You would probably be better off going to the public library and reading a self-help book.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Family court meeting

A local Santa Cruz SCORE family court self-help group is meeting today at 3pm in Scotts Valley, California. Everyone is welcome. Free.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Children Raised by Grandparents

The Wash. Post reports:
The number of children being raised by their grandparents has risen sharply since the start of the recession in 2007, according to a new Pew Research Center study that found one in 10 children in the U.S. now lives with a grandparent.

The trend was most noticeable among whites, Pew said in its analysis of census data. Those whites who were primary caregivers for their grandchildren rose 9 percent from 2007 to 2008, compared with a 2 percent increase among black grandparents and no change among Hispanics. In all, 2.9 million children are being raised mainly by at least one grandparent, or 4 percent of all children.
This is a little confusing because there are often parents and grandparents in the same household. Check the Pew report for details.

I wonder how many of these are single moms who used the family court to win sole custody and cut off the dad, but then turned the kids over to the grandparents to rear.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Don't create a national child abuse registry

So says an editorial in Iowa's biggest newspaper:
Washington lawmakers give life to some well-intentioned but dangerous ideas. Among the worst in recent history: a national child abuse registry.

In 2006, they required the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a national database of abusers. Most states maintain such registries, but Congress wanted a central database so states could more easily share information about those who may be a threat to children.

That may sound like a good step, but it's not. And we know that because the same Congress also ordered a feasibility study for the registry, which has yet to actually be created. That study identified numerous problems - problems that never occurred to lawmakers when they were writing the law.

Child abuse databases are a mess at the state level and would be an even bigger mess at the national level. The entire idea should be abandoned, and states should be questioning the value and constitutionality of their own lists of abusers.

The Register's editorial board has expressed many concerns about Iowa's child abuse registry over the past year. People lack due process rights ...

State-based registries are riddled with troubles. The last thing anyone needs is a bigger, national list.
Well said. These lists should be abolished, or limited to those who have actually been convicted. As it is, it is just a govt-sponsored list for malicious rumors.

Update: If the above link goes bad, the editorial may also be found here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Domestic Violence Fairytales

Carey Roberts writes:
Like everything in the law, the problem begins with definitions. The Violence Against Women Act, passed during the first term of the Clinton administration, includes a definition of domestic violence that is so wide you could drive a Mack truck through it.

States picked up on the loophole, and now most states include within their definitions of abuse, actions like making your partner “annoyed” or “distressed.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) likewise followed suit. The CDC’s Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements declares that partner violence includes “getting annoyed if the victim disagrees,” “withholding information from the victim,” and even “disregarding what the victim wants.”
Remember this, the next time you hear a domestic violence allegation.

There are dozens of comments, and some of them are amazing.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Hold experts accountable

One of the problems of the family court is the use of experts who are not accountable for their bad opinions. As the WSJ reports, such thinking contributed to the 2008 financial crisis:
The government's anointed judges of credit risk -— S&P, Moody's and Fitch -— had handed out triple-A ratings to thousands of bundles of home loans that increasingly were going unpaid. ...

To avoid legal liability, the Big Three have consistently emphasized that their ratings are merely opinions, akin to the ones on this page, and not "expert" judgments like those rendered by accountants or attorneys. In practice, this meant that while mortgage fraud skyrocketed during the housing boom, the credit-raters weren't checking any individual mortgages in the pools they were rating. Mr. Kroll sums up their business model: "Pay me a lot of money for an opinion, but don't hold me accountable if I'm wrong."
The article is about a tough-guy private detective who is taking on those rating agencies. Apparently nothing scares him except the family court:
'I want to go where there's a mess," says Jules Kroll, founder of the corporate detective agency that bears his name. The man who became famous tracking down the ill-gotten wealth of deposed dictators has embarked on a new mission ...

Mr. Kroll reports today that every one of his adversaries from the Queens Democratic machine of that era wound up in prison, with one exception. Donald Manes, the Queens borough president, was facing a kickback scandal in 1986 when he killed himself with a kitchen knife to the heart.

In all the years managing his investigations firm (he sold it in 2004 and left in 2008), Mr. Kroll reports that he was only personally threatened twice, by people who were "mentally disturbed." He believes the incidents had nothing to do with his line of work. He says that there are "far more dangerous" ways to earn a living, such as "in all seriousness ... family law practices. They're brutal. It's the life of a family. It's the break-up of a marriage, the custody of a child."
Family court is so brutal because we have laws that encourage conflict, and so-called experts who are not accountable. Most of the problems could be eliminated by just getting rid of those experts and those conflict-creating laws.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Local boy causes international diplomacy crisis

The local newspaper report:
SANTA CRUZ -- A judge signed a $50,000 arrest warrant Tuesday for a Greek mother who disobeyed a federal court order in June when she failed to return her son to his father, a Watsonville native, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office reported.

Despina Asvesta is wanted for kidnapping Andoni Petroutsas, 5, according to Assistant District Attorney Bill Atkinson.

George Petroutsas, the boy's father and Asvesta's ex-husband, has been locked in a legal battle with Asvesta over custody of the boy since he was a few months old. In April, a judge awarded full custody to the father, but granted Asvesta a final six-week stint with her son at her home in Greece, according to court documents.
I commented on this case before, as one of Judge Kelsay's many screw-ups.

If these judges were trying to cause as much chaos as possible, then I don't know how they could do more damage. The textbooks should call this the Kelsay method -- give sole custody to one parent, and then let the other parent take the kid out of the country. Wait for the parents to do the obvious. Then let the federal judges, prosecutors, ambassadors, and state department officials on two continents try to figure out why the family court did what it did.

Divorce mediation in Santa Cruz

A lawyer asked Judge Morse on Monday about alternative dispute resolution possibilities, and she said that there was a new service at the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz. She said that they have a sliding fee schedule that goes as low as $60 per hour for an initial consultation. She also mentioned Commissioner Joseph and Chip Rose, altho it was not clear to me whether they were connected to this Center.

It is very unlikely that the judge has any idea about the value of a service like this. I doubt that it has much value, but I post it here in case it is useful to someone in Santa Cruz California.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Judge Kelsay screws up another case

I thought that Judge Kelsay retired years ago, but the bad effects of his child custody decisions are still being felt.

In one case on Monday, the mom's lawyer asked for an evaluation from Bret Johnson, a local gay psychologist who does child custody evaluations on the side. Both parents were represented by lawyers who claimed that their clients had no money to pay for the evaluation or the therapists. I think the kid was getting some sort of psychotherapy as well as the parents.

Judge Morse did not understand the case. At one point she asked a question, and the mom's lawyer explained that she had custody until Judge Kelsay abruptly put them on a 5-2-2-5 50-50 schedule from an ex parte motion. The mom was not present and did not have notice, and that is what screwed up the case. The dad's lawyer objected to this description, and said that two different judges agreed on the joint custody. The dad's lawyer countered that the second judge was Commissioner Joseph, and he explicity said in his order that he did not understand Judge Kelsay's order but was going to go along with it anyway.

The mom's lawyer was like the TV character Eddie Haskell, for those who are old enough to remember him. He was such a transparent suck-up that it was uncomfortable. The judge seemed to be eating it up, and was friendly to him. I wonder whether it is really effective to have a lawyer like that.

Meanwhile the dad had dreadlocks down to his waist. The mom and dad looked so strikingly dissimilar that I never would have guessed that they would have anything to do with each other. There has to be a story. If I were doing the evaluation, that would be my first question. In another era, the woman's family would have forbidden her to date a man with dreadlocks. Today, he will be at the mercy of a gay psychologist who has a completely different set of prejudices.