Saturday, December 31, 2011

More info on new judge

A reader sends info on the new Santa Cruz family court judge:
George, I read your recent blog updating the county court assignments, and I found this article reporting on a controversial ruling the new family court judge Jeff Almquist made on a local murder case. In May 2008, Almquist reduced the murder charges of Mateo Tiago Marquis to voluntary manslaughter; the victim's father expressed outrage over that. Eventually, Marquis pled guilty and by the end of the year was sentenced (by another judge) to 7 years. Marquis, then age 20, was arrested in June 2007 after killing a teenager from Arizona during a fight at a beach. Anyway I'm sorry for you and outraged at what the court did to you and your kids and regarding Almquist hope this info is helpful. You can also search his name in the Santa Cruz Sentinel archives ( or the regular for info on cases he's presided over.

Almquist was also a county supervisor. As supervisor he was involved in opposing a water rake hike of some sort in 2002.
I am cautiously optimistic. He has probably never been a family court judge, and may still be under the delusion that he will be able to hear the parties fairly, and follow the rule of law. Having been a local politician, he may have some sense of being accountable to the public.

Therapists revolt against psychiatry’s bible

Salon magazine
The most surprising critic of the DSM is a one-time pillar of the psychiatric establishment. Allen Frances, professor emeritus at Duke University, chaired the task force that created the DSM-4. Now he’s railing against both the process and proposed content of the new DSM in blogs on the website for Psychology Today that blast the new revision as “untested” and “unscientific.”

Psychiatric diagnoses are loose enough already, Frances told me, and that laxity has led to “epidemics of over-diagnosis in child psychiatry” causing huge numbers of children to be unnecessarily labeled with attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder and treated with medications.
The new DSM-5 will be designed for one main purpose -- facilitating drug prescriptions.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fingerprint evidence

NewScientist reports:
FINGERPRINTS were once the cornerstone of forensic identification. Now a report into a miscarriage of justice has renewed pressure on print examiners to improve their methods, while two new studies reveal the extent of their fallibility. The results could change the fingerprint profession worldwide.

The Fingerprint Inquiry was launched by the Scottish government after detective Shirley McKie was acquitted of perjury. Flawed fingerprint analysis was the only evidence against her. The report, published on 14 December, concludes that human error was to blame and voices serious concerns about how fingerprint analysts report matches. It recommends that they no longer report conclusions with 100 per cent certainty, and develop a process for analysing complex, partial or smudged prints involving at least three independent examiners who fully document their findings.

The recommendations lay bare fundamental problems which have demanded attention for decades, says Jim Fraser, a forensic scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK.
Yes, fingerprint evidence is fallible. It is not 100% certain. Just like all other expert evidence.

FBI fingerprint experts have always testified that their matches are 100% certain. They are not. They are lying every time.

A basic requirement of any expert witness is to describe how often he is wrong. If he does not know how likely his opinion is to be wrong, then his opinion is worthless.

Family court psychologists and other expert witnesses are orders of magnitude worse than the fingerprint experts. The psychologists are never able to say anything about the reliability of their opinions about child custody and visitation. That alone is reason to reject their testimony.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Santa Cruz judge

Santa Cruz California announces its just assignments at the beginning of each year:
Judicial Assignments - Effective January 3, 2012


Department A: Judge Denine J. Guy

Department B: Judge Heather D. Morse
Delinquency/Truancy/Small Claims/Civil Limited

Department C: Judge Jeff Almquist
Family Law

Department D: Commissioner Stephen S. Siegel
Family Law/Domestic Violence/Family Preservation Court/Family Law Pro Per Court

Department D: Commissioner Jana Kast-Davids
Child Support
I don't know much about Almquist, but it is hard to see how he could be any worse than Morse.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Apologizing for being men

This video of men apologizing for being men circulated a few months ago. You have to see it to believe how shrinks are neutering the modern man. Here is a sample of the transcript:
A Manifesto for Conscious Men

Dear Woman:

I come to you today as a man committed to becoming more conscious in every way. I feel deep love, great respect and a growing sense of worship for the gifts of the feminine. I also feel deep sorrow about the destructive actions of the unconscious masculine in the past and present. I want to apologize to you and make amends for those actions, in order to bring forth a new era of co-creation with you. ...

I honor your intuition and your profound capacity for feeling. As men, we have often devalued feeling and intuition in favor of a view dominated by data and logic. This way of being seemed necessary to move humanity beyond superstition and animalism, but in the process we lost much of the heart of life. ...

As a conscious man I am willing to feel those hurts fully within myself and release them. I forgive you for any ways you may have acted unconsciously, as I forgive myself and my gender for our own waking sleep.
I am not sorry to be a man, and there is nothing wrong with masculine thinking. It seems to imply that only effeminate men are conscious. That is crazy. Effeminate men are the least conscious about the world.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Someone just sent me this:
Top 10 Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Psychiatrists
Lobotomy Tool Travel Set
Beautifully crafted 14 piece tuck-and-go lobotomy travel set includes all the essentials needed for a successful lobotomy on the go. It’s every psychosurgeon’s dream! Opt for a personalized monogram to make the gift even more special. Set comes in a leather case with surgical stainless tools. Anesthesia not included. Monogram extra.
There are some other such funny things on the blog, if you can laugh on Christmas about evil psychiatrists giving lobotomies.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Petty tyrant judge gets booted

Sometimes public scrutiny can finally get the better of a judge. The NY Times reports:
ATLANTA — In her courtroom in Brunswick, Ga., Judge Amanda F. Williams told lawyers to “sit down and shut up.” She once jailed a defendant for using the words “baby momma.” And she detained offenders “indefinitely” without access to lawyers, state judicial investigators say.

But on Monday, Judge Williams, the chief judge of the Superior Court of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit — a powerful, controversial figure who gained national exposure when the public radio program “This American Life” devoted an hourlong episode to her — announced that she was leaving the bench after 21 years.

Judge Williams, 64, who said she would resign on Jan. 2., faced wide-ranging misconduct accusations. She vowed not to seek another judgeship, and, as a result, those complaints will be dropped, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission said. She could still face criminal charges related to her conduct.
She probably thought that she was doing a good job for 20 years, because no one ever reprimanded her. Judges are good at rationalizing what they do. But family court judges like Irwin Joseph and Heather Morse would be run out of town if there were more public scrutiny over what they do. Well, there is a public record on what they have done, and it will follow them forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Corrupt forensic psychology

Criticism of forensic psychology is not new. A famous 1880 novel said this:
In the trial scene from Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky, speaking through the lips of the defense attorney, issued a stern warning to the legal profession:

Profound as psychology is, it's a knife that cuts both ways.... You can prove anything by it. I am speaking of the abuse of psychology, gentlemen.
The 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street is shown often at Christmastime every year. It is about a psychologist who gives an evaluation to Santa Claus, and then tries to get him committed to a mental hospital. The corrupt judge finds an excuse to avoid the unfavorable publicity. There is also a single mom with no faith. It is actually an excellent feel-good movie that is much better than its remakes.

Critics who take this movie too seriously have accused it of bad law and bad logic. But at the time the movie was made, it really was possible to commit a man to a mental institution based on a psychiatrist saying that he was delusional. Nowadays, there has to be evidence that the man is a serious threat to harm himself or others. So I guess that the field of forensic psychiatry has made some progress. The field has gotten worse in other ways, such as forcing dangerous psychotropic drugs.

Here are more examples of using bogus psychology for political purposes. Wikipedia explains:
In the Soviet Union, systematic political abuse of psychiatry took place. Soviet psychiatric hospitals were used by the authorities as prisons in order to isolate hundreds or thousands of political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally. This method was also employed against religious prisoners and most especially against well-educated former atheists who adopted a religion. In such cases their religious faith was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured. Formerly highly classified extant documents from “Special file” of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union published after the dissolution of the Soviet Union demonstrate that the authorities of the country quite consciously used psychiatry as a tool to suppress dissent.
Kevin MacDonald argues:
A major theme of The Culture of Critique is that several Jewish-dominated intellectual movements developed theories in which ethnocentrism by Whites (and only Whites) was an indication of psychiatric disorder. This was true not only of the Frankfurt School, perhaps the main offender, but also Richard Hofstadter’s diagnosis of “status anxiety” for Whites concerned about their displacement and Erich Fromm’s analysis in terms of “sado-masochistic reaction formations” (see here, p. 195ff). All of these movements were facilitated by psychoanalysis, an infinitely plastic bit of anti-science that was able to get any desired result.

We are now seeing a trend for psychiatric diagnoses to be given to Whites who are angry about the massive invasion of non-Whites that are destroying the traditional cultures and threatening the status of the traditional populations of White countries. Anders Breivik was recently diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic for his rampage, mainly against young activists and the children of the leftist Norwegian elite he viewed as responsible for the immigration assault on Norway. This despite the fact that his operation was well-planned and despite the fact that his manifesto shows that he is quite intelligent and has read widely on the ongoing disaster of the Muslim invasion of Europe.
Apparently Norway authorities have some sort of purpose in declaring Berwick insane. My guess is that it is either to discredit his ideas or to keep him locked up without trial or both. Either way, the psychiatrist is a dishonest tool of the govt. (Berwick ought to be kept locked up for his murders, of course, but they don't need crooked psychiatrists to do it.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Economic Effects On Marriage

NPR radio is always complaining about some sort of economic hardship that the govt should be remedying, and now it is that we would have more divorces if the filing fee was lower. NPR news reports:
"I couldn't afford to get divorced. It wasn't an option because I didn't have the money," she says.

Reynolds finally saved up enough to file for divorce in 2009. The divorce came through this year. She says she's more stable now, but her experience perfectly illustrates new research that finds the bad economy has had two effects on many marriages. ...

So losing a job makes many couples unhappy, and when people find themselves out of work, it becomes harder to get divorced. Experts say there is strong historical precedent for these effects.
I don't know where NPR find people for these stories. It is ridiculous. It goes on:
"If I were able to stand on my own economic feet at this time, I would divorce him," she says. The woman told NPR she's worried her ex may be unstable; he seems depressed. "He's trying to break his thumb. [It] is his thing right now — he keeps trying to injure himself."

She also worries about her safety and that of her kids.

"There have been absolutely no threats, emotional or physical," she says. "But if he's trying to hurt himself and he's being vocal about it, you know, I'm not sure what else he'd be capable of doing if he slipped further into his depression."

'Divorce Provides A Safety Valve'

Historian Coontz says she's seen the same patterns over and over again in the last century. During the Great Depression, the divorce rate went down and domestic violence went up. In the 1970s, when states began to permit no-fault divorces, it had an immediate effect on domestic violence.
NPR finds a domestic violence story even where there are no threats of any kind. My guess is that the wife is delusional for thinking that her husband is trying to break his thumb.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Texas has counseling for over-prescribers

A Dallas News editorial says:
All eyes in the U.S. Senate committee room were fixed on the star witness as he carefully read his testimony from prepared text. Senators leaned forward, and cameras recorded the moment from all angles. Mom sat in the next chair for moral support.

Ke’onte Cook, 12, a seventh-grader from McKinney, had a story to tell that was as heartbreaking as it was uplifting.

He was invited to share his experiences as a former foster child who was kept on different regimens involving 20 mind-altering medications for more than four years, at times reaching five drugs at once, changing through a series of homes and mental hospitals. Ke’onte said he was sometimes in a falling-down stupor, irritable, with an aching stomach and no appetite. ...

The issue is a financial one, since Medicaid paid for more than $200 million in psychotropic drugs for children in Texas alone in 2008. Senators also made clear that the issue is one of child welfare, and they bored in on a new, five-state study, including Texas, showing that foster children are prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates far beyond those in the general population of Medicaid children.
This story has gotten a lot of press, including on this blog, but it turns out to be an old story:
The trend line in Texas, however, is a positive one. Even as the number of foster kids continues to climb — from 27,000 to 47,000 over the past 10 years — the rate of medicating these children has been declining. In 2003, nearly 30 percent of all foster children in Texas were on a mind-altering drug; that number fell to less than 20 percent this year. The potentially risky practice of putting kids on multiple drugs has been curtailed as well.

Credit a multi-agency network in Texas that tracks tax-paid drug prescriptions and triggers added scrutiny when a physician’s use of mind-altering medications strays from statistical bounds. That doctor may have his or her practices reviewed and may receive counseling. The state has also mapped out and circulated clear drug-use guidelines for medical professionals to consult.
So Texas recognized that this foster child drug problem was out of control in 2003, and took systematic steps to curtail it. They tracked the over-prescribing doctors and threatened to force them to get counseling!

Wow, I had no idea that a state agency could be so competent. But the system still seems corrupt to me. In 8 years, they only reduced the drug use from 30% to 20%. My guess is that they are effectively giving license to physicians to give bogus drugs to foster kids, as long as the rate stays below 20%.

Still, I am encouraged that there is at least some accountability in the Texas foster care system.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Autopsies Now Scarce At U.S. Hospitals

I believe that the problems with the family court, CPS, and other govt officials will not be fixed until those officials are held more accountable for what they do. Unfortunately the trend is in the opposite direction.

NPR radio reports:
When a loved one dies unexpectedly in the hospital, getting answers to how and why isn't as easy as it was 50 years ago.

Back then, doctors would often order a clinical autopsy. But an investigation published today by ProPublica shows that hospital autopsies have become a rarity:

"A half-century ago, an autopsy would have been routine. Autopsies, sometimes called the ultimate medical audit, were an integral part of American health care, performed on roughly half of all patients who died in hospitals. Today, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, they are conducted on about 5 percent of such patients."

The findings are part of Post Mortem, a reporting partnership by NPR News Investigations, ProPublica and PBS Frontline, about deep flaws in the U.S. death investigation system.

Over the past year, the series has uncovered the lack of skilled forensic pathologists who can perform autopsies, wrongful convictions among child death cases, and disputes among the medical and legal communities.

Today's ProPublica report details "hospitals' powerful financial incentives to avoid autopsies" and explains that without information from these procedures, diagnostic errors are often missed. This gap not only leads to lost opportunities for improved medical treatment, but skews health care statistics.
Maybe social service screwups should be followed by live autopsies, where some sort of objective social science pathologist writes a report on what happened.

Of course medical schools train pathologists to do autopsies, and the profession is not completely corrupt. I don't know to find someone with the competence to evaluate CPS screwups. It is just an idea. Could it work?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Expanding CPS power

I am afraid that CPS is going to get more power as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. I agree with this:
JILL FARRIS writes the following in regard to Senate Bill 1877, which would require all adults to report any suspected child abuse

Our social services system is only interested in “saving” a child when there is money to be made in the effort. Always follow the money trail. I believe that our social services system and Child Protection Services constitute one of the greatest evils unleashed on our land.

Teachers, physicians and others in authority are already required to report any suspicion of abuse resulting in many false accusations and ruined lives. After all, it’s easier to report it “just in case” than to be held liable for not reporting it if it turns out to be abuse. Remember, the psychologists, social workers and judges define abuse in any way that will cause a child to need their assistance because there is great financial gain to be had by doing so.

A friend of mine was falsely reported to CPS by a neighbor who had a drug problem and a felony record. She was interrogated by police and the CPS worker (and yes, I am not overusing the word “interrogate”) and she was spied on regularly by a woman in an unmarked van from social services. Reasonable people would consider the source of the complaint but social workers (and their ilk) are not reasonable. Studies have shown (by the NCCPR -see below) that social work attracts people with “issues” and many have a vendetta. They see abusive families behind every bush.

Are children being abused and killed? Yes, not just by their parents or step parents but by foster parents. Yes, I know there are wonderful foster parents but why are we not calling the psychologists and social workers and judges into account for the babies and children who die in foster care? There are thousands (do a search for the children who die in foster care). How hard is this to stop?

In the name of “Child Protection” we are losing our rights. Family courts do not operate under constitutional law and many states have closed courts where no outside witnesses are allowed to be present. A site I highly recommend for further information on the subject is that of the . This article addresses false reports of abuse. If you are not convinced that false reporting is a problem, do a quick web search with the word “false allegations” and be afraid…be very afraid.
The Penn State hysteria is out of control. Last Friday, NBC TV Dateline had show on
The Case of the Missing D.A.:
Disturbing news out of Penn State put a cold case back in the spotlight. A decade ago, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, a tiny town just a few short miles away from the Penn State campus, the accusation that Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused a child, first came to the attention of Ray Gricar, the local district attorney.

Then, seven years ago Gricar went missing. Investigators uncovered his laptop but the hard drive was unreadable. The question being asked now is – could there be a link between Gricar’s disappearance and the Sandusky scandal? Lester Holt reports.
The Gricar disappearance is mysterious, but the obvious explanation is that he was killed by some gangster or someone else angry about one of his prosecutions. The only connection to Sandusky is that Gricar decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him in 1998. I guess that they were hinting that maybe Sandusky murdered Gricar, but no one could explain how Sandusky would have anything to gain by that.

This is a witch-hunt. Sandusky will not get a fair trial. He is being demonized, and used as an excuse to expand the power of evil people who are out to destroy the American family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Domestic violence scare statistics

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) from the US CDC has gotten a lot of publicity. It says:
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, based on a survey conducted in 2010. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story—more than 1 million women are raped in a year and over 6 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year. These findings emphasize that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are important and widespread public health problems in the United States.
These numbers keep going up, mainly because of expanding definitions. It was recently announced:
The FBI’s definition of “rape” is about to get a long-awaited update, for the first time since 1929.

The revamped description will be broader, pleasing activists who say the current definition leads to the low-balling of sexual assault cases, and also discourages victims to come forward. ...

The new definition, which will more closely match the ones that police departments around the country already use, will remove the word “forcible,” along with several other amendments.

Rape will now include sex attacks by relatives, and include non-traditional penetration.

According to the FBI’s website, the proposed new definition is “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

These changes are crucial, according to women’s rights advocates.
The CDC study defined sexual violence to include "non-contact unwanted sexual experiences" and "stalking, including the use of newer technologies such as text messages". So I guess many women have gotten unwanted suggestions or text messages. Hasn't everyone? Soon these surveys will be reporting incidence rates of 100%. But as reported before, the actual violence rates have been going down for 40 years.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

People Defend Unjust, Inept, and Corrupt Systems

The Association for Psychological Science reports:
Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in -- a government, company, or marriage -- even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust? A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, illuminates the conditions under which we're motivated to defend the status quo -- a process called "system justification." ...

When we feel we can't escape a system, we adapt. That includes feeling okay about things we might otherwise consider undesirable. ... "You'd think that when people are stuck with a system, they'd want to change it more," says Kay. But in fact, the more stuck they are, the more likely are they to explain away its shortcomings. Finally, a related phenomenon: The less control people feel over their own lives, the more they endorse systems and leaders that offer a sense of order.

The research on system justification can enlighten those who are frustrated when people don't rise up in what would seem their own best interests. Says Kay: "If you want to understand how to get social change to happen, you need to understand the conditions that make people resist change and what makes them open to acknowledging that change might be a necessity."
Yes I am frustrated that people do not rise up against the family court and its corrupt network of shrinks. So I guess I need to understand why they resist the change that I think is necessary.

In other psych news, an article claims to tell How to spot a liar in 20 seconds flat. Life would be simpler if that were really true. I think a big problem is people who think that they can spot liars when they cannot. I would like to spot them in 20 seconds.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Parents often disagree

One of the arguments against shared custody is that the parents may not agree on everything. Parents should agree on everything, they say.

I find this argument bewildering. Did all these people really grow up with parents who agreed on everything? When I quiz them, they always admit that their parents often disagreed on things, but they nevertheless argue that everyone should have parents who agree on everything.

Comedian Louis C.K. was on the NBC Tonight Show with Jay Leno Wednesday night, and he addressed this issue with some funny stories:
I had my kids this week. I share custody of my kids with my ex-wife. So I had to get them to school ... [funny story]

Me and the kids have great times together. Being a single parent is a little easier, because you don't
have to agree with the other parent. That's the hardest part of being a parent is the other parent, because you have to agree on everything. No two grown-ups ever agree on anything. Just one of them goes "Fine!". That's all that ever happens.

So, anyway, when you are a single parent, you can just say, "Let's go camping." I just said it in June, "Let's go camping." So we just put a bunch of stuff in the car, and we drove down to Maryland. That's where we went. We went to a little state park, and it was beautiful. We walked around. We borrowed marshmellows from neighboring campers. You can do that when you have kids because they are like little ambassadors.
He is right. It was much easier to do something like camping after my divorce. Disagreements often make shared parenting easier, not harder. The mom can do what she wants on her time, and the dad can do what he wants on his time.

The biggest potential disagreements are in where to live and where to attend school. Almost everything else is trivial.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Michigan mom gets kid back

I mentioned in August this story of CPS-forced drug use, and NaturalNews has this update:
The horrific saga of Maryanne Godboldo's battle with domestic terrorists in the government of her home state of Michigan appear to finally be coming to an end. The Detroit Free Press reports that two higher courts have confirmed the ruling of a lower court several months ago that Godboldo's refusal to administer the dangerous Risperdal drug to her daughter was fully legal, and that all charges and actions taken against her by the state were unwarranted.

In case you missed the story, Child Protective Services (CPS) in Michigan sent a SWAT team and tank to Godboldo's Detroit home back in April after the mother refused to keep giving her 13-year-old daughter Risperdal (risperidone), a dangerous schizophrenia drug that had been causing her daughter to experience severe adverse reactions. Godboldo's doctor had recommended that she discontinue use of the drug, but CPS felt otherwise, and decided to launch a full-scale terrorist raid on the woman's home, where they proceeded to illegally kidnap her daughter.

For months, these domestic terrorists held Godboldo's daughter, Ariana, in captivity at a CPS facility in Northville, Mich., until finally, after a long and grueling court battle, it was determined that Godboldo's choice in taking her daughter off the dangerous drug was fully legal. In fact, when she first began administering Risperdal to Ariana, it was plainly stated in the consent document she signed that Ariana was free to "stop taking it at any time".
It is rare that a court will directly order a psychotropic or other drug. The spineless bureaucrats will not take responsibility for that. Instead they will just threaten to take the kid away if the drugs are not taken. Most people are easily intimidated, when CPS threatens to put the child in foster care.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saved by a cellphone camera

Here is a story of a dad in a custody dispute who was nearly killed by his mother-in-law, and nearly framed for attempted murder. He would probably be in jail today, except for a cellphone that recorded the incident. The Smoking Gun has the
Anticipating a “confrontation” when he went to pick up his son Wednesday afternoon at his mother-in-law’s residence, a Florida man activated his iPhone’s video camera to record the handover of his three-year-old child.

As it turned out, Salvatore Miglino’s premonition proved to be accurate, as he was shot twice by Cheryl Hepner, the 66-year-old mother of Miglino’s wife (whom he is in the midst of divorcing). Miglino, 39, was shot in the shoulder and rib cage by a .22 Beretta brandished by Hepner, according to a probable cause affidavit. ...

In a 911 call after the shooting, Hepner claimed that Miglino tried to kill her. “Somebody just shot at me,” she told a police operator. She described her alleged assailant as a “son of a bitch” who was involved in a “horrible divorce” with her daughter.
The video camera just got the audio, but that was enough. Maybe all contentious child handoffs should be videorecorded.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cameras in the Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court has scheduled 5.5 hours of oral argument on the constitutionality of Obamacare, including whether the tax law can be used to force individuals to buy health insurance. Now Congress is considering forcing the court to televise the hearing:
A proposed law ordering the US Supreme Court to provide live television coverage of its public proceedings threatens to spark a constitutional showdown pitting Congress against the nation’s highest court, legal experts warned members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The experts were asked to analyze the Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011, which, if passed, would require television coverage of all open sessions at the high court.
The committee hearing was broadcast on C-SPAN on Saturday, and can be viewed here.

The Senators have no sympathy for the court, since they broadcast their own proceedings on C-SPAN.

The main argument against televising was that the Supreme Court justices are in a better position to know what is in the interests of the court, and a majority of them are against video. Justice Souter once said that video clips of him in his previous position on the state court sometimes showed up on the evening news, and he always looked like a fool.

So far, Congress has not had the nerve to force cameras, but they want the Supreme Court to accept cameras voluntarily. There are state supreme courts and federal appeals courts with video cameras, and no harm has resulted.

To me, this is a simple case of judges being afraid to be held accountable for what they do. This Obamacare decision could affect us all, and we citizens have a right to see the process. The more govt officials are held accountable, the better.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

State shrink fakes her own rape

AP reports:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Authorities allege a woman was so determined to convince her husband of a need to move to a safer neighborhood that she faked being raped.

She split her own lip with a pin, scraped her knuckles with sandpaper, had her friend punch her in the face, and even wet her pants to give the appearance she had been knocked unconscious, authorities said Friday. ...

It didn’t work. Instead, the couple filed for divorce six weeks after the April 10 incident, according to court records. ...

In reality, the items were all at the home of her friend, Nicole April Snyder, authorities allege. Investigators say Martinez had Snyder punch her in the face with boxing gloves they bought for that purpose.

Martinez began crying hysterically when police arrived, according to court papers.
Wondering what kind of low-life would pull a stunt like this? Here is the best part -- she is a California prison psychologist!
Martinez, 36, a psychologist for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, reported she had come home that day to find a stranger in her kitchen, authorities said.
I am happy to say that she is not Jewish. No Jewish psychologist would do anything so stupid.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Psychologist sued for implanting memories

Here is another story about a corrupt psychologist:
US psychologist, Mark Schwartz, has been accused of carelessly hypnotizing a patient, Lisa Nasseff, 41, in order to keep her there long-term and run up a bill that eventually reached $650,000, while she was seeking treatment for anorexia at the Castlewood Treatment Centre in St Louis, Missouri.

Under hypnosis, Ms. Nasseff was led to believe she had multiple personality disorder (20 different personalities),she had been sexually abused and raped multiple times and had participated in various criminal and horrific acts of abuse. She was led into believing she had once eaten babies as part of a satanic cult.
The article calls Schwartz "careless", but that is not the right word. I am sure Schwartz knew exactly what he was doing. I could be wrong, but I think that Schwartz is a Jewish name and Nasseff is an Arab name.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Incompetence, greed, or ideology

A recurring theme on this blog is whether the enemy of the family court justice we seek is incompetence, greed, or ideology. It is all three. The question is what to emphasize. My opinion on this has shifted in the past few months.

One argument says that if judges, shrinks, and social workers were competent, and had wisdom about the BIOTCh (Best Interest Of The Child), then they would make reasonable decisions that we would all accept and appreciate. If so, then we should advocate better training for the govt officials.

Another argument is that the love of money is root of all evil. The corruption and bad decisions are fueled by financial biases. If so, we should work to cut off the money.

The third argument is that official are driven by faulty ideologies, and they will continue to do evil no matter how much training they get, and no matter how much their financial conflicts of interest are removed.

I have recently posted some of my beliefs, such as rule of law, confronting witnesses, not using psychotropic drugs for misbehaving kids, restricting experts to their expertise, and avoiding therapists. And most of all, I frequently argue that family autonomy should not be subject to some govt official's opinion of the BIOTCh.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me. Maybe even most people, I don't know. And they disagree for ideological reasons. I thought that everyone agreed that our Bill of Rights guaranteed us the right to confront witnesses against us, but this right is hanging on by a thread in the US Supreme Court.

The arguments before the supreme court this week cannot be explained by incompetence or greed. Both sides were articulate and well-reasoned. The justices are split 5-4 on the issue. It is an ideological dispute that goes to the core of what fairness and justice mean. It is not exactly a Right-Left dispute, as conservative ex-prosecutors and statist liberals have lined up in favor of rules that fail to hold govt experts fully accountable in court for their work.

I can attack incompetence and greed on this blog, and everyone agrees with me. But when I attack the ideologies that seek to destroy family relationships, then I offend some people. I have become convinced that it is necessary to attack ideology to get at the root of the problem. Because if Judge Morse were more competent, she would do more damage.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Witness case argued in supreme court

One of the corrupt practices of the family court is the way they use experts to sneak in inadmissible evidence. The court may ask a psychologist to give an opinion, and give him wide leeway in his testimony because he is an expert. But his opinion is based on a lot of hearsay and dubious allegations, and he does not necessarily apply any psychological expertise at all. It is just a crooked way for the court to turn gossip into legally-accepted facts.

The US Bill of Rights was written to forbid this sort of thing, as explained below, where a pending Supreme Court case is discussed. The NY Times reports on the oral argument:
Justice Antonin Scalia, who has led a movement to breathe new life into the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause, said that expert testimony may not be used to smuggle evidence into a criminal trial without testimony from those who created it. The clause gives a criminal defendant the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” ...

The controversy in the case concerns the material recovered from the assault. It was analyzed by Cellmark Diagnostic Laboratory in Maryland, but the lab’s report was not entered into evidence at trial and no one from that lab appeared to testify about it. But an expert witness for the prosecution was allowed to offer her opinion that the two profiles matched. ...

“We have a confrontation clause, which requires that the witnesses against the defendant appear and testify personally, and the crucial evidence here is the testing of the semen found on the swab,” he said. “That’s the crux of this evidence, and you’re telling me that this confrontation clause allows you to simply say, Well, we’re not going to bring in the person who did the test; we are simply going to say, ‘This is a reliable lab.’ ” Mr. Dreeben replied, “The confrontation clause, Justice Scalia, does not obligate the state to present a strong case.”
This seems analogous to the family court saying, "This is a reliable psychologist; do what he says." It should be obvious that only a kangaroo court would let experts testify with conclusions about inadmissible evidence.

I was amused by this paragraph:
“In Bullcoming, at least you had an expert say how the laboratory works,” Justice Kennedy said, in a tone approaching exasperation. “Here, you don’t even have that. You have less here with reference to Cellmark than you did in Bullcoming.”
Kennedy is saying that the sperm testimony did not meet the Bullcoming standard. That happened to be the name of the defendant in the previous supreme court case. I don't know how the lawyers will keep a straight face if that becomes the rulel. The briefs for the current case are here.

Power corrupts, and the psychologists are not reliable. I got a Palo Alto psychologist named Ken Perlmutter and he gave testimony that would never be admissible in a real court. He did not apply any psychological expertise at all, and just gave an incompetent opinion. I have detailed his incompetence and bias on this blog. Maybe someday the legal system will recognize that a crook like Perlmutter should never testify in court.

Update: Canada has a related issue:
The Supreme Court of Canada will attempt to balance Islamic beliefs against the bedrock elements of a fair trial on Thursday in major clash of constitutional rights.

At the centre of the case is a sexual assault complainant known as N.S., who does not want to testify against two men accused of raping her unless her face is obscured by a religious veil, or niqab.

The defendants assert that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees them the right to confront their accuser and observe her facial nuances as she testifies.
Witness have to show their faces in American courts, with rare exceptions involving children.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Driver of increasing income inequality

Nick Schulz writes in an LA Times op-ed about Occupy Wall Street:
A third dynamic widening income disparities is in some ways the most inconvenient of all: the collapse of intact families. The explosion of out-of-wedlock births and of children living outside of two-parent households has widened economic disparities of all kinds, including income.

The reason is straightforward. The role that human and social capital plays in helping a person generate income in an advanced economy has increased over the last half a century. And over that same time, the primary institution for inculcating human and social capital has badly weakened.

Social scientists routinely find that individuals raised in intact families are generally better equipped to thrive in the economy. Today's 99% is teeming with tens of millions of Americans who were not raised in a stable home environment, and their earnings potential is compromised as a result.

The problem of family breakdown doesn't lend itself to easy fixes. And its cultural roots run quite deep at this point. But it's a safe bet that in the several months they occupied Zuccotti Park and other public spaces, not one new idea was raised by Occupiers that would help arrest this driver of increasing income inequality.
It is not that hard. If we had the political will, then we would start by shutting down all the govt programs contributing to family breakdown. A good step would be to abolish CPS, the family court, and welfare programs that favor single moms.

The Occupy protesters don't go around saying that we should have more competent bankers. It is tempting to say that the banking panic of 2008 was caused by incompetent bankers who were unprepared for a housing crash. No, it was caused by structural problems that allowed bankers and others to profit from bad loans.

The Occupy folks are driven by the bigger picture. They have a conviction that there is a financial elite that is running our economy to the detriment of the other 99%. The banking system is just a tool of the elite.

I believe that the welfare system, CPS, family court, and even the public schools are just tools of the people who are breaking down our social structure.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Expert evidence requirements

The family court relies on experts in ways that would never be acceptable in a real court that followed rules of evidence. The Federal rules of evidence say:
Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
First, the expert must be qualified. Having a PhD in psychology is not a qualification unless there is some issue in dispute where the psychologist has specialized training. For example, if the mom is accused of having a borderline personality disorder, and the psychologist is trained at making a DSM-IV diagnosis, then he would be qualified to give an opinion on that. But if he is trained to advise men on coming out of the closet and the court issue involves setting an alarm clock, then he is not qualified.

Next, the purpose of the testimony is to help the judge understand the evidence, and not to draw conclusions about the outcome of the case. So if the mom says that her manic episodes are controlled by drugs, an expert might explain the practical meaning of that.

The expert testimony should be all about how generally accepted principles and methods apply to the facts of the case. The expert should be explaining, not drawing conclusions or writing orders.

The expert does not necessarily have to determine the facts. If some key fact is under dispute, he can simply state his assumptions, and explain how his analysis would differ depending on whether his assumption is correct. Eg, an expert might say that the blood on the crime scence does not match the defendant, assuming that the samples were collected properly. The defendant is free to argue that the assumption is invalid, in which case it should be obvious how that affects the expert's opinion.

Most states have adopted the federal rule for expert evidence. California has not, and still uses and older rule. The difference is not significant to my points here. I cite the newer rule because it is more clearly written, as it has been refined several times over the last 20 years.

When you get an expert forensic report, the first things to look for are the assumptions, the principles and methods, and the explanations of how those principles and methods were applied to the facts. Everything else in the report is just inadmissible fluff.

I have yet to see a family court report that even satisfies these bare-bones requirements for admissibility as evidence. Have you? For those of you who have had the misfortune of being subjected to one of these reports, what percentage of the report contained admissible evidence?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Argument for confronting witnesses

I mentioned below that the US Supreme Court was hearing another case on the right to confront witnesses. The leader in this subject, law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher explains it:
ON Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Williams v. Illinois, the latest in a string of cases addressing whether the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause — which gives the accused in a criminal case the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” — applies to forensic analysts who produce reports for law enforcement. In other words, should an analyst responsible for, say, a fingerprint report have to show up at trial to face questions about the report?

A logical application of the law produces an easy answer: Yes. The court has defined a “witness against” a defendant as a person who provides information to law enforcement to aid a criminal investigation. That is exactly what forensic analysts do.

Subjecting forensic analysts to cross-examination is also good policy. ...

Despite all this, the Supreme Court has been sharply divided on the issue. In similar cases in 2009 and earlier this year, in which I represented the defendants, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. accepted claims by state governments that, simply put, confrontation in this context costs too much. It is far more efficient, these justices contend, to let analysts simply mail their reports to court. Having to appear at trials pulls them away from their labs, and only occasionally proves more revealing than their written testimony. Hence, these justices maintain, “scarce state resources” are better committed elsewhere.
It is distressing that four justices could give such a ridiculous argument. They could just look the famil court to see the folly of letting experts just mail in their reports.

I reported on a local court expert with a mail-order degree who wrote a court-order requiring a psychotropic drug for a child. Such a witness would be out of business if she were held accountable with vigorous cross-examination. Someone would ask: What his your expertise on this drug? Who have you ever treated? Why does your university have an address in the Cayman Islands? How would you recognize adverse side-effects of the drug?

This current Supreme Court case is an important case. If the defendant loses, we will be on the way to having phony govt experts deciding who get punished in our society.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Angel Adams story

I have posted many times about holding CPS and other govt officials accountable for busting up families.

Here is a video of Angel Adams, who also wants to hold the social service agencies accountable. She says, "Somebody needs to held accountable, and they need to pay." The reporter says DCF, but that is the same as CPS.

Angel has 15 kids by 3 men. They were evicted from a 2-bedroom apartment. She was put in jail for contempt of court because she refused to tell the judge whether she was pregnant. The kids have been in and out of foster care. Watch the 10-minute video, and have all your prejudices confirmed.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Drugging foster kids

I posted a story about over-drugging foster kids on Nov. 22, as well as some other gripes about the local family court ordering the excessive use of psychotropic drugs for kids. This has apparently become a hot topic. Readers posted stories here, here, here, and here. Last night, ABC TV 20/20 had a show on Doctors Put Foster Children at Risk With Mind-Altering Drugs. The site says that you can watch the full episode online.

ABC said that they spent a year investigating this story.
Across America, doctors are putting foster children on powerful, mind-altering drugs at rates up to 13 times that of children in the general population. What's more, doctors are prescribing foster children drugs at doses beyond what the Food and Drug Administration has approved, sometimes in potentially dangerous combinations, according to a new report by the federal Government Accountability Office.
The show gave the impression that the problems might be solved with better shrinks or more loving foster parents. I doubt it.

I have actually looked at some of the research papers that were used to get FDA approval for some of these drugs. The evidence for their effectiveness is very thin. I would not use them for myself, or for my kids. But I would not object to parents who chose to use them to treat their kids. Parents need to have the autonomy to decide what is best. But the whole idea of courts or social service agencies forcing these drugs on kids is truly offensive. This is a conspiracy of corrupt psychiatrists and social workers who have to be doing something to justify their existence.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The new psychiatric bible

The San Fran Chronicle reports:
The "bible" of American psychiatry - a manual of mental health used around the world by doctors, consumers and insurance providers - has come under fire from a growing group of psychologists who worry that proposed revisions will feed into a culture of overdiagnosing, and overtreating, otherwise healthy people.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM, is undergoing its fifth major revision in the more than 60 years since it was first published by the American Psychiatric Association. The last update was in 1994, and the new manual is expected to be released in spring 2013.

Revisions to the DSM are often hotly debated, but after two decades of major, and frequently controversial, shifts in how mental health problems are diagnosed and treated in the United States, this latest update has become especially contentious, many mental health providers say.

Last month a group of psychologists with the Society for Humanistic Psychology posted a petition against many of the suggested DSM revisions, citing what they see as a broadening of the definition of mental health disorders, which, in turn, would lead to overtreatment with drugs. ...

Since the last diagnostic manual update, research has increasingly pointed to biological causes for a wide variety of mental health conditions and, in response, treatment has turned toward pharmacological answers, some psychologists say. Drugs are being used to solve mental health problems that aren't problems at all, they add.

In 2010, 1 in 5 American adults was using some type of mental health medication, a 22 percent increase over the past decade, according to a report released last week by Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy-benefits management company. ...

Grief after the death of a loved one, for example, may be included under the diagnosis of major depressive disorder. That means a person's grief could be labeled a pathological disorder, and not a normal human experience, said psychologist Brent Robbins, a professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and an author of the petition.

"Another diagnosis, dysphoric mood dysregulation disorder, is basically temper tantrums," Robbins said. "Next thing you know, you could have 2-year-olds on psychotropic medications."
If you feel depressed after the death of a loved one, that is not a pathological condition. That is a normal human response. But more and more, people are getting psychotropic pills from non-psychiatrist physicians in order to feel better, without a diagnosis. And the psychologists and other counselors are upset because they cannot prescribe the pills. Only physicians (including psychiatrists) can.

All this talk of "biological causes" is exaggerated. People like to talk about chemical imbalances and brain mis-wiring, but these psychiatric disorders cannot be diagnosed with brain scans or blood tests or anything objective like that.

You can get the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria from Morrison's simplified version. The psychologists made him shut down his website, but the info is available on a Canadian and a Russian website. I will put my own up, if these are lost for any reason.

My guess is that the DSM-5 will invent a bunch of new excuses for prescribing pill, getting counseling, and otherwise promoting the rise of therapism.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

More on NY family courts

The NY Times published a couple of letters in response to its family court secrecy article, including:
I practiced in these courts in the mid-1980s, representing low-income clients in custody, neglect and child-support matters. Back then many Family Court judges routinely got on the bench late, court-appointed lawyers regularly failed to appear, and court officers treated with disdain the litigants who thronged the waiting areas until the late afternoon hoping that their cases would be called.

Important matters, such as child custody cases, were often adjourned multiple times; months, even years, elapsed before decisions were issued. Those who ran the Family Courts then were largely white; the people who mistakenly depended on these institutions for justice and some sensitivity were largely black or brown.

I suspect that little has changed in these Family Courts. That may be why their power structures react with fear to the opening of their doors to reporters or any other interested person. Exposing these enclaves to the light of public scrutiny is the only hope for curing their dysfunction.
Exposing will not be enough. The public must then be convinced that there is a better way.