Saturday, May 07, 2011

Complaint to State Board

I just mailed this complaint:
To: California Board of Psychology.
This is a complaint against Kenneth B. Perlmutter.

This complaint concerns a court-ordered child custody evaluation. I was not a patient and I did not receive diagnosis or treatment. I am using this letter instead of the official consumer complaint form, because I think this is more appropriate.

Background
My ex-wife filed for divorce in 2003, and we signed an agreement for joint custody of our two kids. We had several evaluations for the family court and a full child custody trial in 2005, resulting in a final and permanent judicial determination of 50-50 joint legal and physical custody. In Nov. 2007, she alleged emotional abuse to CPS and the court, and asked for temporary legal and physical custody. The court granted temporary sole physical custody pending a psychological evaluation, and denied the sole legal custody request. Ken Perlmutter was appointed to do the psychological evaluation, and to make child custody recommendations.

Perlmutter was paid $27,900 for his evaluation, report, and testimony. He only made a temporary recommendation for the next 6-9 months, and suggested going back to him for an update to get instructions on what to do after that. His recommendation reduced me to only a once-a-month supervised visits. He mailed his recommendation to a juvenile delinquency court commissioner who issued the recommendation as an order in May 2010, without any notice or hearing. Perlmutter testified in deposition in June 2010, and in court in Dec. 2010.

Perlmutter admitted, under oath, that he brought no psychological or legal expertise to bear on his recommendations, that I am just as good a parent as my ex-wife, that there is no example of a substandard parenting practice on my part, that he has no suggestion as to how I could improve my parenting, and that there is no example of such extreme recommendations doing any good in a case like mine. He explained his decision as one where the court had acted wrongly, and he was just continuing the injustice, in order to support the expectations of the court.

Perlmutter also admitted, under oath, that he did not know how emotional abuse was defined, and therefore was incompetent to express an opinion on those allegations. He admitted that he wrongly said that I had lost legal custody, and that his first recommendation that “Mother shall continue to have temporary sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor children” was based on that wrong premise. He said that his recommended order was “insane”, but he refused to send any correction to the court.

Here is his June 2010 testimony about the court order that he wrote:
10 A. How can you comply with it? There's nothing
11 in the order as it's filed with the court that is
12 compliable. It's absolutely insane. You can quote me
13 on that. It's on the record. It makes no sense to me
14 that my recommendations are a court order because there
15 are contradictory things in the court order.
Nevertheless, I have had to try to comply with his order for the last year.

In April 2011, Perlmutter notified the court that he was refusing to do the update he promised, saying, “I cannot guarantee my neutrality and objectivity and thus it would not be appropriate for me to accept further assignments in this matter. Therefore at this time and in the future I will not be able to serve in any capacity for this family.”

Discussion
Perlmutter may say that his job was made more difficult by the lengthy legal history of the divorce case, or the absence of lawyer, or my blog where I have discussed public court actions. However, I disagree. The lengthy legal history shows that many issues were already resolved. For example, he did not have to do any psychological testing because he relied on previous evaluations that determined that there were no disorders present. Lawyers are not allowed to be involved in an evaluation anyway.

I do have an “angry dad” blog where I express my dissatisfaction with the family court. I do believe in publicly defending myself and my kids against those who attack us with false and defamatory allegations in public court. Perlmutter knew about my blog when he agreed to do an evaluation, and he said in writing that he had no objection to it.

You may assume that my perspective is skewed by my dissatisfaction with the family court. Perlmutter said that my “children's insight and level of maturity surpasses their father's.” They were aged 12 and 10 at the time. Referring to an allegation that it was emotional abuse for me to set an alarm clock for 7:00 to wake up for school and to take my kids to a county math contest, he said that “it is unclear why no criminal charges were filed” against me. [both quotes from his May 2010 report] The judge said that I was “physically incapable of perceiving why he was being prevented from having unsupervised time with his children.” [April 2011 decision] But regardless of whatever physical and mental disabilities I might have, it was Perlmutter’s responsibility to explain how the issues of the case could be addressed using generally accepted psychological knowledge. His report said, “A key and incontrovertible finding in this evaluation is that these children love and want a relationship with their father.” But he refused to make any recommendation for how such a relationship could be achieved.

It is not clear why my criticisms should have anything to do with Perlmutter’s neutrality and objectivity. He had to know that I would be dissatisfied with his report. Even if he didn’t, he had an obligation to find out. I did post a negative review of him on Yelp.com in June 2010, but so did others. At that time, there were ten other Yelp reviews of him, and every one of them gave him the lowest possible rating.

Perhaps Perlmutter is upset that there are complaints about him on the internet. I would have very much preferred to keep my private life private. However, he asked me to sign an agreement saying that I “understand that essentially there is no confidentiality in this matter”. Furthermore, he chose to put his recommendations on the public court record, without any opportunity for me to object, negotiate, or even for me to request corrections. That document falsely and publicly accuses me of having lost joint legal custody of my kids as a result of emotional abuse. I believe that I have a right and a duty to publicly defend myself and my kids against such public accusations against me.

Perlmutter gives “June 2010” as the date for reading the online criticisms that caused his loss of neutrality and objectivity. But he testified against me in Dec. 2010 anyway, without notifying the court that he had lost his neutrality and objectivity. It is not clear how he could possibly justify testifying that I should lose custody pending an update from him, and then refusing to do that update because he had previously had lost his neutrality and objectivity.

My current situation is that my kids have not seen me in two months, and Perlmutter’s irresponsible actions have left me with no prospects for improvement. The current court order forbids me from even filing a motion to see my kids until I get an update from Perlmutter, and he refuses to do it. Even if I could get the attention of the court, I would probably have to start all over with a new evaluation from a new psychologist. It took three years and $28k to get one from Perlmutter.

I sent Perlmutter a letter on April 25 explaining how he made his work worthless, and demanding a return of his fees. He has ignored my request.

Complaint
I believe that Perlmutter’s behavior and performance has been unethical, unprofessional, grossly negligent, and incompetent for the following reasons.

  1. Failure to recognize to major legal points of the case. Perlmutter either did not understand or did not accept any of the case legal history. He claimed to not understand the outcome of the 2005 custody trial, and he wrongly claimed that I lost joint legal custody in 2007. This is in spite of the fact that we gave him the documents, and I personally explained them to him.
  2. Failure to consider the emotional abuse allegation. We had 50-50 joint legal custody, and there was only one contrary allegation: emotional abuse. There was no alcohol or drug use, domestic violence, child neglect, or anything like that. There were no significant facts in dispute. The whole purpose of his appointment was to evaluate the emotional abuse allegation, and he admitted that he did not even bother to find out how emotional abuse is defined.
  3. Failure to base his opinion on expert knowledge. Perlmutter testified as an expert witness, which means his opinion should be based on some generally accepted expert knowledge that might not be known to the court. But he admitted, under oath, that he did not rely on any such knowledge.
  4. Refusal to correct his errors. Even when I proved to him that he had written a court order based on a incorrect reading of the existing custody situation, he refused to notify the court of his mistake.
  5. Excessive fees. Failure to refund any of it when his own actions made his work worthless.
  6. Failure to resolve anything. Perlmutter made no attempt to resolve any dispute, and even admitted, under oath, that he could not have caused greater conflict even if he had been trying to do so.
  7. Testifying in favor of a dead plan. His Dec. 2010 court testimony was in favor of his May 2010 plan, and that plan required an update from him after 6-9 months. We had already been on the plan for 7 months, so we were going to need that update in only a couple of months. He had apparently already decided that he was refusing to do that update.
  8. Refusal to finish the job. He has personally caused us about two years of extra litigation, and forced my kids to live without a father, because he has refused to make the recommendations for which he was paid $28k.
  9. Bias. He admits that his neutrality and objectivity were compromised in June 2010 after reading my disagreements with his testimony. But he continued to testify against me in Dec. 2010 anyway.
  10. Leaving my kids and me in an impossible situation. He received the April 2011 order specifying that his promised update was essential to the court process of restoring custody and visitation, and he still refused to do it.


Documents
I have put some relevant documents online. These include his appointment order, his recommended custody plan, his letter refusing to do an update, and the online postings that apparently annoyed him. I will put more there on request. I am unable to sign a release for my kids, because Perlmutter’s error has taken away my legal custody. There may be legal obstacles to releasing some of the documents. However, I believe that I can quote from these documents as necessary, if Perlmutter disputes anything I say.

I hereby authorize use of these documents to process this complaint, and also for the similar use of any other documents on the court record.
I am not very optimistic about this. The guy has done 650 evaluations, and he has not lost his license yet. But I think that I have a duty to file a complaint anyway. Maybe when the Board gets a hundred complaints like this, it might do something.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your complaint to the California Board of Psychology is exceedingly well documented and clear. Any reasonable person should find that Perlmutter’s behavior and performance are unethical, unprofessional, grossly negligent, and incompetent.

It's difficult to understand how Perlmutter could be considered one of the top child custody evaluators in the South SF Bay area especially when he testified under oath that he did not know how emotional abuse was defined!

It also doesn't appear that having a judge who states that you were “physically incapable of perceiving why he was being prevented from having unsupervised time with his children.” How can someone be "PHYSICALLY incapable of perceiving?" Is that newspeak for a thoughtcrime? Your situation is full of examples of "Catch 22" with doublethink.

I hope that you will continue with your efforts. Hopefully, it will inspire others to file complaints about Perlmutter and others where they are deserved.

Marta

Anonymous said...

Your complaint to the California Board of Psychology is exceedingly well documented and clear. Any reasonable person should find that Perlmutter’s behavior and performance are unethical, unprofessional, grossly negligent, and incompetent.

It's difficult to understand how Perlmutter could be considered one of the top child custody evaluators in the South SF Bay area especially when he testified under oath that he did not know how emotional abuse was defined!

It also doesn't appear that having a judge who states that you were “physically incapable of perceiving why he was being prevented from having unsupervised time with his children.” How can someone be "PHYSICALLY incapable of perceiving?" Is that newspeak for a thoughtcrime? Your situation is full of examples of "Catch 22" with doublethink.

I hope that you will continue with your efforts. Hopefully, it will inspire others to file complaints about Perlmutter and others where they are deserved.

Marta

Anonymous said...

I wonder where you stand on this custody ruling. http://www.blogher.com/alaina-giordanos-battles-cancer-child-custody-and-court-precedents

George said...

I favor joint custody. The cancer should not be a consideration.

The article does not tell the full story. If the mom had primary custody previously, then I would probably disagree with that also. The court's reasoning is not given.

Anonymous said...

Click on the link to his name and read some of the reviews people have left regarding his services----hard to believe this guy is still allowed to practice! Arrogance-thy name is Ken Perlmutter.

Anonymous said...

Did anything ever come of your complaint?

James Rinkevich said...

You should file a motion with the court to vacate its decision, strike Perlmutter's testimony based on his lack of expertege which he admitted to, and restore custody to the prior orders.

Anonymous said...

That guys dick should be cut off for doing that to you and on top charging almost $30,000. These court vendors slither around the courts and destroy good families and the judges are sick old men that need to go freaking die.