Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bloggers being prosecuted for harassment

UCLA Law prof E. Volokh has written a law review article in response to bloggers being prosecuted for harassment, such as this recent story. He thinks that some of these are First Amendment violations.

I certainly believe that I am free to criticize the family court and other officials on this blog. I guess I'll have to read these cases to be sure.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Custody opinion hit a nerve

I mentioned a NY Times op-ed on child custody over a week ago, and some critical letters. Now, 9 days later, the column is still the most emailed story on the NY Times site.

The column is stupid, but so is our current policy. Apparently it hit a nerve, and is being privately debate. Good, we need more discussion of child custody policies.

Also, here is the photo that did in the San Fran CA sheriff. It was released a few months ago, but I missed. His career is still in doubt.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Manual for prescribing drugs

A reader sends the DSM-5 news:
Controversy continues to swell around the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, better known as DSM-5. A new study suggests the 900-page bible of mental health, scheduled for publication in May 2013, is ripe with financial conflicts of interest.

The manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, details the diagnostic criteria and recommended treatments — many of which are pharmacological — for each and every psychiatric disorder. After the 1994 release of DSM-4, the APA instituted a policy requiring expert advisors to disclose drug industry ties. But the move toward transparency did little to cut down on conflicts, with nearly 70 percent of DSM-5 task force members reporting financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies — .
The story is also here.

If the field were scientific, the conflicts of interest would not matter. Their diagnoses would be grounded in objective research. But there is not much chance of that.

The DSM-5 will be like a cookbook for prescribing psychoactive drugs. You can count on that.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pope speaks up for dads

A Catholic paper announces:
Vatican City, May 23, 2012 / 11:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dads who are absent from their family make it more difficult for their children to understand God as a loving father, Pope Benedict XVI said on May 23. ...

He underscored that the “the problem of a father not present in the life of the child is a big problem of our time” because it can become difficult for those children “to understand in its depth what it means to us that God is Father.”

In the U.S., over one-third of all children live apart from their biological father.
Yes, that is a big problem of our time. For many reasons.

Clear and present danger to the children

The NY Times article mentioned below drew this comment:
Caf Dowlah, New York
The problem is not with the parents who are fighting for custody. Barring some parents who want to exploit rich spouses by gaining custody of children, it is usual for a parents to seek custody of their children. The problem is precisely with the Courts. I spent four years in a custody battle at Queens Family Court (QFC) of New York without expecting justice or fairness even for a day. The NY Court officials, at all levels, know it. When I was looking for a lawyer, many lawyers told me point blank, the QFC judges will not give custody to a father, unless mother is a murderer and even drug-addiction wouldn't disqualify a mother from custody. And the so-called experts! It is their way of making a living. They will file false reports and give false testimony in order to tow the line of the judges--otherwise they will lose business. Then B18 lawyers? They get appointed by the judges, and their service is at the disposal of judges--they know what side of bread to butter. It is my experience that children's interests never matters in custody decisions unless the parents are extremely rich and powerful. Ordinary folks see justice in textbooks, newspapers or televisions, not in their own lives. Family Courts, in my humble opinion, are clear and present danger to the children, to the American Constitution, and to the commitment of American people to Rule of Law.
That is also my humble opinion.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

An accuser recants

A law blog reports:
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has reversed the 2002 rape and kidnapping conviction of former Long Beach Poly football standout Brian Banks.

Banks, now 26, was wrongly convicted of the charges based on the testimony of Wanetta Gibson, an acquaintance.

According to documents in the case, she met with Banks and said she had lied; there had been was no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record.

But she subsequently refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.
There are many things wrong here. He should not have been charged without some hard evidence. He should have gotten a jury trial, with the jury being told that the accuser was going to make a million bucks on the deal. The taxpayers/school should not be liable for an isolated incident with one student. She should goto prison and pay the money back for ruining the man's life.

But of course she would not have recanted if she knew that she would be held responsible for what she did. So I guess that is a reason to let her off easy. But our justice system should not be dependent on the whim of some flaky girl who is abusing the system.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Support not linked to visitation

Yesterday's stupid newspaper advice column says:
Dear Girlfriend: Since your boyfriend is still paying child support, he may be entitled to regularly enforced visitation with his son. Also, some courts are beginning to recognize and address parental alienation. Please suggest to your boyfriend that he discuss his options with a lawyer who has experience in this area.
I am not including the original letter because it has contradictory facts. An online comment correctly points out:
And, Annies, PLEASE stop saying that child support and visitation rights are somehow tied together. Paying child support does not entitle you to visitation, having a child of whom you are not the custodial parent (with certain exceptions) does. Not paying child support is not a legal reason for your ex-spouse to withhold visitation, either. Child support and visitation with the non-custodial parent are the rights of the child, and you can't use one to enforce the other.
Yes, I pay child support, and I do not get to see my kids. That is the system. I occasionally meet someone who says, "How could you not get visitation? Just hold up the child support check until you get to see your kids." Nope. It does not work that way.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bad to put 7yo in charge

I mentioned below a goofy NY Times proposal to decide child custody cases. It drew these letters, explaining the foolishness better than I did:
Re “In Whose Best Interests?” (Sunday Review, May 20):

Ruth Bettelheim advocates a mandated review of child custody plans every two years, including a recorded interview of the child speaking privately with a mediator-lawyer who will report his or her concerns. This is meant to advance children’s rights, helping children who are powerless to voice their changing needs without fear or guilt.

Regulating parenting in this way would amount to an unjustified intrusion on family life. It’s also misguided, sure to backfire.

Can there be anything more damaging to children already affected by divorce than forcing them to talk about it with an official, one with authority over the child’s family?

Although couched in terms that would allow a child to decline, something like a Miranda warning, there’s no guarantee that preteenage children or adolescents would understand or exercise that option. The potential damage to children outweighs the possible benefit of any complaints they might make about the schedule imposed by a custody agreement.

There’s no shortage of serious issues facing children and families that wind up in the legal system; let overburdened courts focus on them.

New York, May 20, 2012

The writer is a lawyer concentrating in education and family law.

To the Editor:

It’s hard to know where to start disagreeing with Ruth Bettelheim’s idea of letting kids as young as 7 redesign their custody arrangements every two years.

Is it the creation of a new legal bureaucracy that attempts to discern the wishes of millions of children? Is it the emotional abuse of forcing kids to decide whom they love better — Mommy or Daddy — every two years? Is it the fact that every disciplinary act would carry the threat of a child choosing the more permissive parent the next time around?

Dr. Bettelheim says 7-year-olds are the “ultimate experts” on their own lives. Perhaps we should let them decide if they want to go to school, too?

San Marino, Calif., May 21, 2012
We need to put an end to govt official and supposed experts micromanaging families.

Update: There are more comments here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Signs Your Child Is a Psychopath

The Sunday NY Times had a long article on diagnosing a misbehaving 9-year-old kid as a psychopath:
Over the last six years, Michael’s parents have taken him to eight different therapists and received a proliferating number of diagnoses. “We’ve had so many people tell us so many different things,” Anne said. “Oh, it’s A.D.D. — oh, it’s not. It’s depression — or it’s not. You could open the DSM and point to a random thing, and chances are he has elements of it. He’s got characteristics of O.C.D. He’s got characteristics of sensory-integration disorder. Nobody knows what the predominant feature is, in terms of treating him. Which is the frustrating part.”

Then last spring, the psychologist treating Michael referred his parents to Dan Waschbusch, a researcher at Florida International University. Following a battery of evaluations, Anne and Miguel were presented with another possible diagnosis: their son Michael might be a psychopath.
The evidence looks pretty lame to me. That dragon drawing looks normal. A psychiatrist ridicules the story.

This all sounds like idle speculation, but it will not be long before CPS, shrink, and other supposed experts are drugging or imprisoning kids because of an analysis of a dragon drawing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CPS puts toddler on drugs

A reader sent this video from last year about a CPS case. CPS was trying to terminate the parents' rights, because they got caught with some minor recreational drug use. So CPS seized the 3-year-old, and put her on Risperdal! The video is shocking. It is complete with cruel CPS policies, spineless judge, suffering parents, and incompetent case workers. Watch this, and you will wonder why anyone would ever think that CPS is better able to handle a child than the natural parents.

Some people call it irony when CPS puts a child on drugs as part of an effort to shelter her from drugs. That is way too nice of a word for those evil creeps.

I notice that all of the CPS case workers were obese women. I may be prejudiced, but it seems to me that if a woman cannot even manage her own food intake, then she should not be telling others how to run their lives. She cannot even run her own.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Whose Best Interests?

Sometimes I think that parents are stupid, but then I see how much worse shrinks are. Child therapist Ruth Bettelheim writes in a NY Times opinion column:
Although the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have a right to meaningful participation in decisions affecting them, adults, from some misguided notion of protection, often seek to keep children from making choices in custody matters. ...

Once children have reached the age of reason — generally agreed to be about 7 — they should be recognized as the ultimate experts on their own lives. ...

To remedy this, all parenting plans should be subjected to mandatory binding review every two years. The review should include a forum for children to speak privately with a mediation-trained lawyer. ...

The lawyer should meet with all family members, individually and as a group, to ensure that the child’s wishes are respected in the next two-year parenting plan. Children’s wishes should be decisive, in place of those of experts and judges, as long as at least one parent agrees with them. ...

New York became the last state to adopt no-fault divorce. But children’s rights are still routinely ignored.

Wow, a 7-year-old child should tell his parents what to do because of a UN declaration of child rights? And because NY now has no-fault divorce? But it is all okay because some lawyer is going to supervise those decisions? She displays the naïveté of a 7-year-old child herself.

The current system is so crazy that I guess I should encourage anyone who wants to change it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Man has 11 different baby mamas

Here is an extreme case:
Desmond Hatchett of Tennessee is pleading with the state to help him pay for child support he simply cannot afford. Hatchett, 33, has 11 different "baby mamas" and the state of Tennessee says there is nothing that they can do to limit him from having more children.
The state can jail him again, but he has no money. This is why we have a welfare system. So women can get inseminated by him, and collect welfare.

Meanwhile, for another view, Nojma Muhammad writes:

( Last week, on my facebook page, A Sister asked me if I am “for” or “against” child support. I posted a picture, of a Black woman holding a wheelbarrow full of money, and the words above the picture said “Child Support, Way Better Than A Dad”, then I proceeded to answer the question. What I am “for” is choosing wisely ... What I am “against” is women hustling their wombs SPECIFICALLY for the sole purpose of collecting a child support check. What I am “against” is child support being limited or perceived as just financial assistance. Child support means to support your child mentally, emotionally, spiritually, being there for events, listening to them, encouraging them, showing them love and teaching them lessons so they won’t have to learn lessons in the streets.

What I am “against” is Black Men not even given a chance to WILLINGLY give, contribute and add to the life of their child or children, before the Mother of his child (or children) runs down to the overseer to handcuff him with a child support order. I am “against” Brothers being violated in such a system that  was designed to destroy the Black Family and children being treated as assets and property of the Mother, with no regard to the Father.

What I am “against” is the Bitter Mama Syndrome. ...

I agree that the system was designed to destroy the Black Family.

Update: The LA Times says "Some of the mothers of Hatchett's children get only $1.49 a month".

Friday, May 18, 2012

Voting on VAWA

The hottest political issue in Congress right now is the Violence Against Women Act. W.F. Price explains:
In the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, House Republicans removed parts of provisions granting immigrants who gain residence on the basis of marriage the right to claim abuse and then file for permanent residence status without cooperation from their spouses. Ordinarily, if you marry an American and want to become a resident, you have to go through a process that proves your marriage was not simply for the purposes of gaining residence, but actually a bona-fide marriage. The entire process takes a few years, and involves interviews, forms, and other bureaucratic hurdles. Your husband or wife has to cooperate, so if the marriage falls apart quickly, you could face loss of legal residence status and have to leave the US.

However, VAWA provides a loophole. A spouse can claim abuse, and if she has any evidence, such as a police report or medical records, she may be able to leave their husband and still become a permanent resident. Given how easy it is to have American men arrested (all it takes is a phone call and an allegation, and false accusations of domestic violence are rarely if ever punished), this provision is an invitation to make a creative accusation. Additionally, making a police report is a simple matter, and one can say just about anything to the cops. However, what makes it even worse is that the process is confidential. What this means is that a foreign wife can accuse the husband without him even knowing that she is doing so, leaving him no opportunity to defend himself. Furthermore, he cannot access any of the information submitted to the federal government in an effort to defend himself in civil or criminal court, nor can he submit evidence to the Department of Homeland Security, which leaves the alleged victim free to say whatever she wants, whether it is consistent with local court affidavits or not. This setup stacks the deck so heavily against the accused that it’s practically asking immigrant women to accuse their husbands of domestic violence.

Republican politicians can be very annoying, but President Obama and the Democrats are actively trying to destroy America.

Right to record cops

I am pleased to see that the US DoJ agrees:
The U.S. Justice Department opined May 14 that the First Amendment does secure such a right, reaffirming a January letter that I had missed. “Recording governmental officers engaged in public duties,” the letter reasons, “is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers.”

The letter, addressed to the Baltimore Police Department based on the Department’s past interference with such recording, is consistent with the Seventh Circuit’s May 8 decision in ACLU v. Alvarez (which it doesn’t cite) and the First Circuit’s decision in Glik v. Cunliffe (which it does cite, together with some other cases).

Some people record their noisy neighbors in order to embarrass them. I don't go that far. But govt officials on the job seem fair game to me. Many cops now record what they do anyway, to preserve evidence and to protect themselves from false accusations.

Worse than greed

I have readers who suggest that greed is sufficient to explain the irresponsible and destructive behavior of court officials. I do not accept that. A famous movie speech said greed is good:
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.
The character who says that is a bad guy, and the movie is intended to ridicule this view, but it has become a capialist motto anyway. The seven deadly sins are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. These sins are not really that deadly by themselves. They are vices that lead people into temptation to do greater evils. Those greater evils are the real sins. The court officials and parasite are not just greedy. They are actively destroying lives. Maybe greed tempted them to sell their souls to the devils. Now they are ideologically committed to doing evil.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fire chief is deadbeat mom

The San Fran newspaper reports:
A judge has declared San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White a deadbeat divorcee and ordered the city to start garnisheeing $3,300 a month from her paycheck for spousal support to her ex-husband.

Hayes-White says she stopped paying support about 14 months ago, after an incident in which her ex-hubby, Robert "Sean" White, grabbed and choked one of their sons while in a booze-fueled rage.

In December, he pleaded no contest in San Mateo County Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of child endangerment and cruelty. He is serving his sentence on a county sheriff's work detail and living in a rehab house.

Last week, White went to San Francisco Superior Court demanding that the chief resume the spousal support she was ordered to pay when the couple divorced in 2009.

On Friday, Judge Ron Albers signed an order to start deducting the payments from her $302,000 annual salary, though it does not appear to cover the more than $40,000 in backlogged payments.
San Francisco is famous for flakes of various sorts, and there are always crazy stories about its politicians. Dan White is famous for his Twinkie defense for killing the mayor, which ended up making Diane Feinstein's career. The craziness goes on:
The support scuffle is the latest twist in the couple's family drama.

In 2005, White - a first cousin of the late Dan White - called 911 and accused his wife of hitting him on the head twice with a pint glass in their kitchen in San Francisco. Hayes-White denied the accusations, and he recanted.

(No charges were ever filed - something supporters of suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have pointed to in arguing that prosecutors overreached in charging him for what they see as a similar set of circumstances.)

After a long separation, the couple divorced in 2009, but shared custody of their three children until last year, when Hayes-White obtained a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting her or the two children who were still minors.

In an interview, Hayes-White said she had stopped making the spousal payments because of the growing costs she has incurred raising their children.

"This is not about being vindictive," she said. "Everything just went on pause" after last year's attack on the couple's son.
I usually sympathize with parents facing family court orders, but I am having a hard time in this case. She makes $302k + benefits from the city, but she complains about paying her bills. She got her husband arrested and convicted of a crime, but she complains that he is not earning money while he serves her sentence. And she complains about child care duties after cutting off her husband from joint custody.

San Francisco should have found a man to be fire chief. I am sure that she was an affirmative action appointment, and probably does not know how to put out a fire.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dosing Kids with Psychiatric Meds

SciAm writer John Horgan lists ugly experiments:
Are the days of ugly research over? If only. In the past two decades, American psychiatrists have been carrying out what is in effect an enormous clinical trial involving millions of children. Physicians are medicating children with stimulants such as Ritalin, antidepressants such as Prozac, anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax, bipolar drugs such as lithium and antipsychotics such as Risperdal. “It’s really to some extent an experiment, trying medications in these children of this age,” child psychiatrist Patrick Bacon told producers of the 2008 PBS documentary “The Medicated Child.” “It’s a gamble. And I tell parents there’s no way to know what’s going to work.” As of 2009, more than 500,000 American adolescents and children, including toddlers younger than two, were taking antipsychotics, which “may pose grave risks to development of both their fast-growing brains and their bodies,” according to The New York Times. In Anatomy of an Epidemic (Crown, 2010), which I have written about previously, journalist Robert Whitaker presents evidence that psychiatric drugs may be hurting more children than they help. Since 1987, he reports, while prescriptions for children have soared, the number of patients under 18 receiving federal disability payments for mental illness has multiplied by a factor of 35. By this measure, the experiment does not seem to be working.
We should first agree that it is a giant and dangerous experiment, and second, agree on some measure for deciding whether it is a success or a failure.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tracking the DSM-5

A NY Times op-ed says:
The fourth edition of the manual, released in 1994, tried to contain the diagnostic inflation that followed earlier editions. It succeeded on the adult side, but failed to anticipate or control the faddish over-diagnosis of autism, attention deficit disorders and bipolar disorder in children that has since occurred.

Indeed, the D.S.M. is the victim of its own success and is accorded the authority of a bible in areas well beyond its competence. It has become the arbiter of who is ill and who is not — and often the primary determinant of treatment decisions, insurance eligibility, disability payments and who gets special school services. D.S.M. drives the direction of research and the approval of new drugs. It is widely used (and misused) in the courts.

Yes, this book creates disorders out of normal behavior, and is misused by the courts. But bad as the DSM-IV is, it would be much better if courts required psychologists to give their testimony according to DSM-IV guidelines, or the new DSM-5 when it is published. It would limit the arbitrariness of they opinions, and force them to follow accepted standards.

Monday, May 14, 2012

20 years for domestic dispute

CNN reports:
(CNN) -- Saying he had no discretion under state law, a judge sentenced a Jacksonville, Florida, woman to 20 years in prison Friday for firing a warning shot in an effort to scare off her abusive husband.

Marissa Alexander unsuccessfully tried to use Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law to derail the prosecution, but a jury in March convicted her of aggravated assault after just 12 minutes of deliberation.

The case, which was prosecuted by the same state attorney who is handling the Trayvon Martin case, has gained the attention of civil rights leaders who say the African-American woman was persecuted because of her race.

This is a can of worms. The CNN article is incomplete. There are many things wrong with this case.

Over-prosecution. This is the same prosecutor who charged 2nd degree murder in the Trayvon Martin case, when all the evidence says it was self-defense.

It is dubious whether anything is ever gained by prosecuting domestic violence when no one is hurt.

The wife is probably lying about the abuse, because her lawyer has advised her that is the surest way to make excuses for a wife's bad conduct.

The jury probably did not know about the 20 mandatory sentence. IMO, if a conviction carries a mandatory sentence, then the jury should be told of the sentence.

The prosecutor's excuse: "Corey said she had offered Alexander a plea bargain that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence, but Alexander chose to take the case to a jury trial"

We are losing our right to a fair trial in thie country, because if you fail to plead guilty, the prosecutor can throw the book at you, making the trial an incredible risk.

I wonder whether the husband made the criminal complaint, and whether they are still married. My guess is that even if they have reconciled, the authorities would be determined to bust up the marriage anyway. Maybe they should have never had kids in the first place, but our society has no way to enforce that. Update: The prosecutor claimed that the shot was not a warning shot. If so, then maybe it was attempted murder, and reckless endangerment of the kids as well.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brewington still in jail

Fellow angry dad Dan Brewington is still in jail:
The Indiana Appellate Court denied Dan's motion for bail pending appeal. Disappointed but not surprised. The appeal that was first submitted has to be refiled because the Court denied a motion to file an oversized brief. Now the attorneys will have to cut 6,000 words from their very excellent (in my opinion) brief. We will let you know what happens next.
I said before that the fix is in. He has been jailed for his criticism of the family court on his blog. Apparently he crossed some sort of line. If this happened in China, then maybe Amnesty International would consider him a political prisoner and our State Dept. would be working for his release. I am not surprised that his brief was rejected for being too long. He probably quoted extensively from trial transcripts, and the appeals judges don't want to be bothered with the details of his trial. They just want an excuse to rubber-stamp his conviction.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Watsonville courthouse swarmed after child custody hearing

Monterey TV KSBW reports:
WATSONVILLE, Calif. - A 47-year-old man caused police and sheriff's deputies to swarm the Watsonville courthouse when he threatened to shoot people following a child custody hearing Thursday.

Brian Funk, of Santa Cruz, was calm during a child custody hearing, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies said. But about an hour later, at noon, he called his child's foster mother.

He told the foster mother that he had hidden a gun in the bushes outside the courthouse on Second Street, according to deputies. Funk threatened that he was going to retrieve the gun and shoot someone.

All streets around the courthouse were shut down and law enforcement officers surrounded the area, which is packed with schools, libraries, and other public service buildings.

Police officers said they found Funk trying to leave Watsonville on a metro bus less than an hour later. Funk was taken into custody and his mental health is being evaluated.
I don't know anything about this case, but it appears that this man was frustrated that his kid was foster care and the court was blocking him from seeing his child, so he made a foolish empty threat. There was no gun and he did not attempt to shoot anyone.

I am not condoning the threat, but I would order a mental health evaluation of the Watsonville court officials. I think that they are all mentally defective. I also would not necessarily believe the foster mom. Maybe she made up the story in order to keep the child, and to keep getting the monthly payments for having the child.

This article tells a somewhat different story, and says that Funk was arrested on a minor drug charge in March.

Update: A reader writes:
I saw the article on "Angry Dad" about "Dad Threatens Gun Violence After Custody Battle," i.e., "Watsonville courthouse swarmed after child custody hearing." I was initially surprised that it was NOT a "Mexican-American" since there are so many in the area and their family values are different from those typically found in the U.S. (see attached article, The Myth of Hispanic Family Values)

I had always heard that in the U.S., but have been unable to prove, that metal detectors were first introduced in Family Law Courts, not Criminal Law courts. If true, it speaks volumes about the laws and the "just-us" that is practiced therein. I have read emails from fathers who were planning on introducing violence to the courtroom of their child custody hearing, child support hearing etc. In fact, I believe, but once again don't have proof, that THE reason for the introduction of metal detectors was the unusually high number of Family Law Court Justices who were shot and killed after the radically changed Child Support Laws of 1994.
Yes, Watsonville is mostly Mexican. The city of Santa Cruz is most white liberals advocate open immigration but try to keep the Watsonville Mexicans a safe distance away.

The Santa Cruz county courthouse has always been in the city of Santa Cruz, but a branch courthouse was opened in Watsonville several years ago. It handles juvenile delinquents, family court, child abuse, and other problems common to Mexican-Americans. It has the family court judge for the whole county, so that is where my hearing are as well.

The metal detectors in both courts were indeed installed because of the family court, not the criminal court. I have forgotten the details, but there was a shooting in front of the Santa Cruz court in the 1990s, where a parent shot the lawyer of the other parent. The courthouse had a nice design making it very open to the public, but the entrances were all locked in order to route everyone thru a metal detector. There has never been a problem with the criminal court, as far as I know.

The fact that metal detectors were put in for the family court, not the criminal court, should tell you all you need to know. People understand that we need a criminal court, and their operations have broad acceptance of the public (with the possible exception of certain drug crimes). Much of what the family court does seems unnecessary, irrational, and cruel.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Boycott Mother’s Day

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and a model has organized a boycott, according to this video:
“I will choose to disappear and forgo the one day dedicated to me,” intone two mothers in the organization’s film clip, which was directed by Turlington Burns’ filmmaker husband, Ed Burns.

No emails. No phone calls. No Facebook updates. Or at least that’s the goal.
I don't really get it. It has something to do with a minor complication that she had during childbirth. The placenta was not expelled, and had to be fished out. Looks like just a stupid publicity stunt to me, but I thought that I would pass it on.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Religious Jews oppose reporting abuse

The NY Times reports in a long article:
There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases. Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said. ... “There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.” The New York City area is home to an estimated 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews — the largest such community outside of Israel, and one that is growing rapidly because of its high birthrate. The community is concentrated in Brooklyn, where many of the ultra-Orthodox are Hasidim, followers of a fervent spiritual movement that began in 18th-century Europe and applies Jewish law to every aspect of life. Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.
Weird. I don't know what to make of this. I am surprised to see the NY Times call them "ultra-Orthodox", bbut I guess that is to distringuish them from the non-religious Jews who are the main constituenccy of the paper. The article seems to be about real abuse, and not just meddling CPS agents. It is not even talking about punishing those who fail to report suspected abuse under mandated reporter laws. This community does not believe in reporting real abuse. Or so the article says.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Coping With Parental Alienation Syndrome

This is a guest post. I offer it as is.

A divorce or separation can be a bitter experience. Many fathers have to fight every inch of the way to keep contact with their children, which may involve expensive court proceedings, mediation and many months of angst and heartache. All this happens against a backdrop of other turmoil too, with estranged partners having to cope with financial difficulties and other personal problems, such as having to find a new place to live, often with circumstances less than ideal for approaching mortgage providers. The angst doesn’t end after the legal battles either. Even if a court has granted a parent regular contact with his or her children, parental alienation syndrome commonly rears its head, resulting in loss of contact due to the children claiming they no longer want to see their father.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is only recognized in a few states in America (and not acknowledged at all in the UK); however, it is very real and is one of the reasons why so many absent fathers lose permanent contact with their children, which is both emotionally damaging to the parent and the children.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is when one, or sometimes both parents, alienates the other by continuous and relentless poisoning of the children’s mind. At its simplest, PAS is a type of brainwashing, but it can also be classed as child abuse as PAS plays havoc with children’s emotions.

PAS can take many forms, it can be as blatant as constant verbal denigration of the parent’s character to more subtle methods such as disposing of birthday or Christmas presents and telling the child nothing was sent. Here are some of the most common ways a parent tries to alienate the other parent:

* Last minute refusal of contact, claiming the child is ill or doesn’t want to see the parent

* Telling lies about the parent

* Making false allegations of abuse against the parent

* Refusing to a allow the parent to speak to the children on the phone

* Continuous badmouthing of the parent either to the child or in front of the child

* Bombarding the child with the message that the other parent is no longer needed

PAS can be extremely damaging both emotionally to the child and to their relationship with the parent, and if left unchecked, PAS can lead to irreparable damage and even lead to permanent loss of contact.

Dealing with PAS

When parents first separate, it can be very easy for the absent parent to become paranoid that the other parent is trying to alienate them. This in turn can lead to tensions that generate PAS, so it is important not to make assumptions. Often, by maintaining a cordial relationship with the other parent, as difficult as this may be, PAS may not occur. However, when PAS does start, it is normally abundantly clear and it is then time to take measures to limit the problem and prevent it from escalating.

The first thing to remember is no matter how difficult it becomes, always make sure you are keeping your contact appointments. Even if every time you turn up, the door is slammed in your face, missing an appointment can lead the other parent to claim you are not interested. When it comes to birthdays and Christmases, even if your gifts are being returned, or you believe they are not being given to the child, continue to send them. Keep any gifts or letters that are returned to you, as there will probably be an opportunity in the future to give them the child, which may help the child realise what has been going on. If the parent refuses to allow the child to speak to you over the phone, keep trying, but avoid any actions that the other parent could claim amounts to harassment.

Keeping a journal of your contact experiences can help if you have to return to court. Make a note of every attempt that you make to contact the child and log every time you are refused access. Make a note of the things the child may say that could indicate that the other parent is trying to alienate you. Ask the child where he or she heard such a thing, but be careful not to retaliate with your own attempts at badmouthing the other parent; this will not help matters.

Never take any attempts at alienation out on the child. The last thing a child needs is for you to shout at them because they are relaying something they heard about you. Just calmly and reasonably explain it is not true, and always reinforce the point that you still love the child and they are important in your life. Even if a child says hurtful things or is trying to avoid you, or treats you with disdain, it is not their fault, so never take it out on them, just write everything down.

If things become too bad, make a claim in court. It may well be that if you can prove the other parent is trying to alienate you, the judge may grant a change of custody, but if even if this doesn’t happen, having documented evidence of what is going on may help your case and lead to the other parent being censured for their actions. The court may also appoint a mediator or counsellor to speak to both parents and the child, which will go some way to convince the child you are not the monster the other parent has been making you out to be.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Wife has strange hallucinations

Ever wonder what happens when a woman starts to lose her grip on reality? Lorie Mink writes in a newspaper story:
Nothing spectacular happened while washing the dishes, but when I went to take the drain plug out, it wouldn’t budge. It was stuck in there. In a flash, I had what I can only now call a hallucination. I could see me reaching into the dirty, cloudy water where dish detergent soap scum rode the waves made by my plunging hand. The only lights in the house were the florescent light above and the flickering of the television in the other room, which made the water seem more sinister. Finally tugging the plug out, I could feel something pulling against my hand. For a sick instant, I thought something in the drain had grabbed me. And when my hand came free from the force, I imagined only pulling back a nub where my hand had been. Relief flooded me when my hand, still perfectly attached to my body, came out of the murk with nothing more than soap bubbles marking the surface. ...

About three weeks later, I had another Stephen King moment.

She is lucky that she has a husband. A lot of women are prone to getting these crazy ideas in their heads, and they need a man to settle them down.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Bronzed NJ mom is charged

AP reports:
NEWARK, N.J. -- A deeply tanned New Jersey mother accused of causing skin burns to her young daughter by taking her into a tanning booth pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a child endangerment charge, and the tanning salon's owner appeared to corroborate her story.

Patricia Krentcil faces a second-degree child endangerment charge. Through her attorney, she pleaded not guilty in Newark Municipal Court on Wednesday morning. Krentcil is free on $2,500 cash bond.

Before Wednesday's court hearing, Krentcil, whose skin has a deep bronze color from regular visits to the tanning salon, called the accusation a lie. ...

The owner of City Tropics Salon in Nutley, who only identified himself as Anthony, said employees who were there on the day in question told him the girl remained outside with her father and brother and didn't go into the tanning booth while Krentcil was inside.

He said a sign is posted in the salon that refers to New Jersey state law barring anyone under 14 from using a tanning salon.
I am siding with this freaky mom.

A recurring theme on this blog is that it is wrong and destructive for CPS, cops, teachers, and others to get involved 2nd-guessing parents when there are already laws addressing the matter.

In this case, there is apparently a law against putting a 5yo girl in a tanning booth. If that law were violated, the appropriate remedy is to shut down the tanning salon. My guess is that the salon does not dare risk its license by tanning a 5yo girl.

So why was this mom arrested? Why was this a national news story?

There is no mention of a father. (Correction: A comment below says the husband defends his wife.) If it were me, I wouldn't want my wife or my daughter going to one of those tanning salons. The woman looks like a monster. But the NJ legislature has decided that it is okay for kids over 14, and illegal under 14. I have no idea what considerations went into that age cutoff, but that's the law. Beyond that, it is nobody's business. It is not up to CPS agents, prosecutors, or anyone else to decide what appropriate tanning is.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Misha's special space

The Mercury News reports:
SAN JOSE -- Misha Byrne wants to spend his final moments in his special room, among his video game heroes and kittens.

After battling leukemia for four years, doctors told his parents earlier this month that their 10-year-old has just weeks, maybe months, to live. A bone-marrow transplant three years ago put his cancer into remission, but it returned in October 2010 and has slowly taken its toll.
For the past seven months, Misha has found comfort in the dream bedroom he received from Special Spaces Bay Area, a San Ramon-based nonprofit that remakes bedrooms for children with life-threatening illnesses. Misha was the chapter's first project.
He has told his parents he wants to die there, said his dad, Brendan Byrne. ...

The room has been bittersweet for Misha's parents. They are happy he has his special room to retreat to, and that he no longer is in and out of the hospital, but they wish there were more options for Misha.

Bittersweet for Misha's parents??! Is this some kind of sick joke?

The article fails to mention that Misha only gets to see his mom in supervised visits.
Before the leukemia was diagnosed, the mom was accused of child abuse based on some bruises, and the boy was taken away from her. What they apparently did not realize was that excessive bruising is a common symptom of leukemia.

When the diagnosis was made, no one was willing to admit the erroneous accusation. Instead they doubled down. They got a schlock lawyer-psychologist to write a bogus affidavit:

3. I have conducted more than a thousand evaluations including psychological and child custody evaluations for Family Court in Santa Clara County. ...

6. ... 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. ...

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.

The mom is a Russian immigrant who reared her son from birth, and she does have problems accepting the malicious limits on her seeing her dying son. She has spent all of her time, money, and energy for the last 5 years trying to see her boy, and all she gets is supervised visits.

The above lawyer-psychologist is not Jewish, as far as I know, and as one of my persistent commenters will probably point out. He prefers to call these people "just greedy court personnel, who may happen to be of certain faiths, and occupations." No, I say that the term "just greedy court personnel" is insufficient. That is like describing a serial killer as a scofflaw who just happens to kill people.

The officials in this case are evil and destructive. Even if we assume that the mom might have a personality that could include "instability in relationships, marked impulsivity, grandiosity, lack of empathy, and excessive need to be taken care of", how does that justify preventing her from seeing her dying son? It takes much more than greed to write an affidavit like that. It takes a callous and anti-family ideologue with an almost-criminal disregard for human life.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Slut's boyfriend gets court-ordered counseling

Here is yesterday's bad advice:
Dear Annie: Our daughter is 42 years old and divorced. For the past two years, she has been seeing "Matt." We accepted him and welcomed him at our numerous family gatherings.

Several weeks ago, our daughter drank too much at a party and ended up in bed with another man. Needless to say, Matt became quite angry. But he went into a rampage. He threw bricks through her car windows, punched her in the eye and showed up at our doorstep to cuss her out. He also confronted her kids.

We strongly advised her to end the relationship. But after Matt calmed down, he apologized, went for court-ordered counseling and now attends AA. So our daughter has started seeing him again.

... How should we handle this? — Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned: ... Please urge your daughter to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for information (, and to give Matt plenty of time to prove himself before she becomes too entangled. Her life may depend on it.

I was going to urge Matt to contact the National Dump Sluts Hotline, and to make the daughter prove herself be he becomes too entangled with a whore.

In another age, the daughter would be sent to church-ordered spiritual counseling and not allowed to drink with strange men. She would be ashamed at the the poor example that she is setting for her kids. Her community would tell her that she must behave better if she wants to keep a man. The court would give her kids back to the father because the mom is leading an immoral lifestyle.

I suppose I should be happy that modern feminism has duped women into believing that they are entitled to sexual freedom. It means that there is a never-ending supply of divorced women who can be seduced by buying them a couple of drinks. Even women with boyfriends are sexually available.

If my seduction destroys a marriage or relationship, no one will blame me. If anyone talks to the authorities, the court will issue a restraining order to further destroy the marriage or relationship.

I am just describing social trends that are destroying the family. I am not trying to justify domestic violence, but this women probably had no one else to tell her that she was doing wrong. Deep down, she is probably glad that Matt said what no one else would tell her, and she desperately wants a man who cares about her. She probably also regrets leaving her husband, even tho all her feminist friends cheered her for gaining the autonomy of a single mom. No one encourages her to date Matt.

W.F. Price writes in an essay on the popular Spearhead blog:

Marriage rates dropping precipitously, men taking path of least resistance and dropping out, illegitimacy skyrocketing, class divisions hardening, children growing up fatherless and with fewer options. For most of us, it’s been quite negative.

I wish I could say there was a solution to the problem, but it looks pretty hopeless. The alternative to what used to be seen as bad sex – marriage – has been all but destroyed by the liberation of female sexuality and the redefinition of marriage as little more than a federal tax status; a sort of very risky corporation with arbitrary rules. The result is that for men, there is really no such thing as “good sex,” that is, socially-approved sex — it’s a risk no matter what. Furthermore, a society in which the overwhelming majority of women are fornicators gives men no choice; you just aren’t getting a wife in the traditional sense of the word, so why bother with marriage?

He is right. Ultimately, women will learn that they have made a great mistake, but that lesson may take decades.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Anti-SLAPP limitations

I have posted before about California protections against Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) lawsuits, and one of my faithful readers cautions:
Hi, George! Just wanted to let you know - and pass on to your readers - that anti-SLAPP lawsuits have to be filed within six months of the filing of a SLAPP suit. Unfortunately, mine was was too old.
The real advantage of the anti-SLAPP law is to stop a lawsuit against you in progress. Some people get sued just because they have been writing letters to the newspaper editor, posting opinions on blogs, and otherwise engaging in public policy debates on important issues. Usually they are intimidated by the legal system, and unwilling to pay expensive lawyers. The anti-SLAPP law gives them a way to get rid of such lawsuits.

Here is a new N. Carolina case where a judge is being allowed to sue a blogger for libel.
The blogger accused the judge of "dirty politics" and violating the Code of Judicial Conduct, by campaigning for another judge. The judge notified the blogger than the Code had an exception for such endorsement, and the blogger ignored it.

The case illustrates the line between expressing an opinion that someone is wrong or unethical (usually safe), and saying that someone has violated a law or professional code (dangerous). Also, it shows that it is risky to pick on a judge, because a lawsuit will be heard before other judges.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Long term effects of divorce

The UK Daily Mail
We all know divorce is hell for children. But what no one says is that the trauma gets WORSE as you grow up - and your warring parents grow old and lonely

Upsetting: Children are known to suffer badly when their parents go through a divorce. But little has been said about the difficulties a divorce poses for children as they grow older

The article has stories about long-term ramifications of divorce.

I wonder if the judges, shrinks, and others are even aware of the persistent animosity they cause with their rules and procedures. When the kids turn 18, the court disclaims responsibility, but the damage caused by the court will continue.