Sunday, May 01, 2011

New book about killer mom

There is a new book by famous New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm about a mom who hired a hit man to kill the dad, and the ensuing murder trial:
Three and a half weeks before Malakov’s death, Justice Sidney Strauss of the New York State Supreme Court suddenly awarded him sole custody of Michelle, even though until that point, the girl had lived with her mother and resisted visits with her father. The prosecution’s theory was that Borukhova had killed her husband to avenge this loss. ... Malcolm treats Strauss’s custody ruling as a terrifyingly arbitrary exercise of state power. ... What malevolent fairy had written its surreal script?”

That character turns out to be David Schnall, Michelle’s court-appointed law guardian. As Malcolm explains, law guardians aren’t constrained by the wishes of their child clients. At their worst, they present the child’s best interests to the court in a light that merely reflects their own prejudices. Schnall never talked to Michelle, ...
The parents were both physicians, and Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants. The dad was shot and killed while he was with his daughter. The mom and hit man convicted of murder by the jury, and sentenced to life without parole.

I haven't read the book, but it appears to me that this is another case of destruction caused by family court meddling. The court could have just let the parents have joint custody, and there would have probably been no problems. But the court made a mess of it, and kept making it worse. The court first gave the mom sole custody, then restricted the dad to supervised visits, then allowed the mom to sabotage those visits by alienating the kid, then appointed a guardian ad litem, and then ordered another radical custody change.

I blame the family court. Some day it will be obvious that there is no justification for court meddling in these cases. The court always makes things worse. I don't think that I have even heard of one case where family court meddling did any good at all.

I have never even heard of Bukharan Jews. They come from central Asia. I am making a note not to pick any fights with them. A seemingly civilized physician could have a cousin who is a gangster or a hit man. I get the impression from the above story that a sizable part of the Bukharan Jewish community believes that common family court orders are sufficient justification for murder. The NY Times says that the "trial divided the community". That should be a clue that the NY family court is doing something wrong.

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