Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hospital seizes baby

A parental rights advocate
Their baby, whom I will call “Annie,” was born in the ambulance in the parking lot of the Hershey Medical Center—a state-affiliated hospital in Pennsylvania. Hospital personnel arrived very quickly and took charge of both baby and mom.

As any mother would do, Jodi immediately began to ask the nurses and attendants how her baby was doing. The hospital staff was utterly unresponsive. When they started to give Jodi an injection, she asked what it was and what it was for. They gave her vague answers like, “It’s just to help.” Only after giving her the injection of oxytocin did they tell her what it was and then asked, “You aren’t allergic to that are you?” ...

Late in the afternoon, a government social worker named Angelica Lopez-Heagy came into Jodi’s room announcing that she was there to conduct an investigation. Jodi asked to know the allegations. The social worker claimed that it would be against the law for her to show Jodi the allegations.

Jodi replied that she would not be comfortable answering the questions if she couldn’t know the allegations. Immediately the social worker proclaimed, “Since you’re not going to cooperate, I’ll just go and call the police and we can take custody of the baby.” ...

The social worker left the room and called the police. Without a court order they took custody of Annie, immediately claiming that she was suffering from illness or injury — a patently false claim.

The social worker consented to the administration of the Hepatitis B shot even though no blood test had been done.

The police made Jodi Ferris get up out of her hospital bed and escorted her to the entrance—they were expelling her from the hospital because she had not signed the “safety plan.” ...

The next morning a judicial officer held a shelter care hearing. After hearing the evidence, the officer immediately returned custody of Annie to her parents.
It is not clear what exactly the new mom did to alienate the hospital staff. But regardless, the social worker has too much power and had no business intervening.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Boston push for reform

Massachussetts in the most Democrat state in the USA, and has one of the worst family courts. A Boston Globe editorial says:
FEW MATTERS can be as contentious and emotional as post-divorce child custody arrangements, and in recent years that acrimony has spilled over into Massachusetts politics. Several times, a bill calling for what is known as “shared parenting’’ — which would create a legal presumption for joint custody — has been introduced in the Legislature, and failed.

The debate has often been passionate, as divorce proceedings can be, and it has sometimes turned ugly. Some proponents of the bill, who claim that the family court system is biased against fathers, have launched ad hominem attacks against opponents. Unsurprisingly, this hasn’t created a receptiveness to compromise. ...

Advocates for custody reform aren’t going away; they are among the loudest and most persistent constituencies to lobby state government today. Their passion bespeaks a genuine need to examine the workings of family courts, and to determine whether some complaints about bias have merit. ...

The task force should not be another forum for fathers’-rights supporters to push a shared parenting bill that would deprive judges of the necessary discretion to determine the best interests of the child.
That last sentence reflects the liberal Democrat mindset -- they deny individual rights and want to put govt bureaucrats in charge of your lives. One letter responded:
Nation watches Bay State in seeking justice in custody courts
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | Letters | a push for shared parenting
March 21, 2012

RE “AFTER success with alimony laws, task force should review custody’’ (Editorial, March 19): The country is watching Massachusetts as it strives to bring justice to custody courts. I know of no other state that treats divorced fathers so undeservedly harshly. And there may be no other state that has so many caring and intelligent men and women trying to correct this situation.

Concern must be given to the children who are often ordered to live apart from a fit and loving father. I agree with the Globe that either the Legislature or the Patrick administration should convene a task force to review antiquated custody laws. Kids need both parents, even children of divorce.

Don Mathis
Maybe we will see more progress in the states where the family court abuses are most apparent.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Georgia law may favor innocent parents

Fox News reports:
For 13 years, a Georgia woman has lived under the shadow of a child abuse investigation, though police cleared her of any wrongdoing.

The welts and bruises on her daughter's body turned out to be an allergic reaction to antibiotics. But the investigation showed up on criminal background checks, restricting her access to jobs, housing and even her daughter's school.

"I used to have to call ahead and let them know I was coming," said Theresa, who asked to keep her last name unpublished. "I always had to get a clearance if I wanted to participate in certain activities."

Late last year, Theresa was able to remove the investigation from public criminal records with the help of Ashley Deadwyler, an attorney with the Georgia Justice Project, a non-profit advocacy group that provides criminal defense for the indigent.

Lawmakers are now trying to ensure other Georgians don't have to go through the same ordeal, with a piece of legislation that advanced Tuesday in the Capitol. ...

Republican state Rep. Jay Neal sponsored legislation in the Georgia House to restrict law enforcement from disclosing records of dismissed charges to employers and other non-police entities. He said the measure would eliminate a double standard.

"In the United States, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty," Rep. Neal said. "But when it comes to seeking employment, that presumption goes away upon arrest."
I am in a similar situation. So are maybe 100,000 other parents. My ex-wife, attorney Julie Travers, called CPS and accused me of emotionally abusing our kids. The court-appointed psychologist determined that her accusation had no merit, and the court did not find any wrongdoing on my part. The family court did make some unfavorable temporary custody decisions pending further investigations, but those investigations did not find anything wrong with anything I ever did.

Nevertheless, I am on the California registry of suspected child abusers, and I have no due process for getting removed. It does not matter that the accusations were never substantiated. It is not a registry of convicted criminals, like the sex offender registry. The whole point of the registry is to keep a list of (possible unsubstantiated) accusations so that employers can be notified of the accusations.

This being the internet, my anonymity on thie blog does me little good. My ex-wife has put her accusations on the public record anyway, so my current and future employers know about them. Still, it is un-American for the state to go around warning employers about accusations, when those accusations were never substantiated. As Neal says about, we should be innocent until proven guilty, here in the USA.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Indian school girl forced to beg

A reader sends this story from Bangalore India:
Police in the southern Indian city of Mysore have arrested a wealthy man for allegedly making his daughter beg as a punishment for poor school grades.

The man, named only as Prakash, was arrested under the juvenile misuse act after the girl was seen begging outside a temple in her convent school uniform.

He says he did not physically punish her but wanted her to see "how tough life is without proper education".

The 12-year-old girl has been placed in a government child-welfare centre.

When asked by passersby why she was begging, she pointed to her father who was sitting nearby in his car.

An angry crowd gathered and took the man to a nearby police station.

Mysore's deputy commissioner of police, Basvaraj Malagatti, quoted the man as saying: "I have not beaten her or punished her physically.

"I just wanted her to realise how tough life is without proper education."
India has a caste system where people are not supposed to enter into activities outside the social. I assume that it would be okay for a poor child to beg, but not a wealthy child.

But an angry crowd took the dad to the police?!

This shows that there are busybodies all over the world who will try to tell parents how to rear their kids.

The dad was trying to teach his child a lesson. He was not violating any law. I don't think anyone else is in a position to say whether he was using good judgment or not. Even if you agree with the crowd that it would have been better to teach the lesson in some other way, what do you want the cops to do? Put the dad in jail? Send a social worker to micro-manage his family?

Update: A reader points out that begging is illegal in parts of India, so my assumption was incorrect.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Evidence of Innocence

CBS TV 60 Minutes showed this last night:
"I did not do this," Michael Morton said as he was led away in handcuffs, convicted of murdering his wife in 1987. Hardly anyone believed him. Now, after twenty five years in prison, Morton has been proven right and freed based on DNA tests. Morton and his lawyers say they recently discovered something astonishing: sitting in his prosecutor's file all those years was evidence that could have established Morton's innocence during his trial. Lara Logan reports.

It's not every day that a convicted murderer clears his name and then returns to court to argue that his prosecutor should be prosecuted. But that's what happened recently in a high-profile case in Texas that raises broader questions about the power prosecutors have and what happens when they're accused of misusing it. At the center of this story is a man named Michael Morton. He was once an ordinary citizen with a wife, a child, a job, and no criminal record whatsoever. But then he was sent to prison for life.

In 1987 in a very public trial, Michael Morton was convicted of brutally murdering his wife. As he was led away to prison, he insisted he was innocent.
In order to get out of the Texas prison, he needed to prove the prosecutor withheld an eyewitness account that someone else committed the crime, get a DNA test on some bloody evidence, show that his DNA did not match, find someone else who matched the DNA, and prove that the other guy had committed a similar crime. Why all that? Because the judicial system never admits to a mistake, if possible.
Barry Scheck: Sitting in the prosecutor's file and sitting in the sheriff's file there was a set of documents which, if they had been revealed, and the defense had seen them, Michael Morton would have been acquitted.

Ken Anderson went on to be named prosecutor of the year in Texas and since 2002 he's been a district judge in the same court where Michael Morton was convicted. All those years, Morton languished in prison.
Anderson is now a judge.
The one thing he told us that sustained him was the thought of his son. He was allowed to see Eric for two hours, once every six months.

Lara Logan: When he was about 12 or 13 years old, he wrote to you and said he didn't wanna come and see you anymore. Was your heart broken?

Michael Morton: Can't really limit to your heart.

Lara Logan: Everything?

Michael Morton: It's just-- when your child says they no longer want to come see you.

Lara Logan: And then when he turned 18, what did he do?

Michael Morton: I got notice in the mail that he was going to be adopted by my sister-in-law and her husband, both good folks. And he was gonna change his name.

Lara Logan: And what did that do to you?

Michael Morton: That was when I hit rock bottom. That was the end of it. That's when I had nothing left.
He would still be in prison, but for some DNA evidence that caught the real murderer.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

African men used for juju

Here is strange news from S. Africa:
Susan Dhliwayo was stunned when she pulled her car over recently to pick up a group of male hitchhikers and they refused to get in. The reason? They feared being raped.

Sensational reports of gangs of beautiful women picking up male travellers to have sex and harvest their sperm in condoms have gripped Zimbabwe in a dizzying mix of taboos, rituals and downright bizarre.

"Now, men fear women. They said: 'we can't go with you because we don't trust you'," 19-year-old Dhliwayo recounted.

Local media have reported victims of the highway prowlers being drugged, subdued at gun or knife point - even with a live snake in one case - given a sexual stimulant and forced into repeated sex before being dumped on the roadside.

The sperm hunters first surfaced in the local press in 2009 but police have only arrested three women, found with a plastic bag of 31 used condoms in October. The attacks have continued since they were nabbed for allegedly violating 17 men.

"We do not have the exact number of confirmed cases," said national police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena.

"These cases occurred mostly when the victims were hitchhiking and boarded private vehicles. We encourage people to use public transport."

The sperm's exact use is not clear but is thought to be intended for "juju" or traditional rituals to bring luck - anything from enhancing good fortune, boosting business or preventing a criminal from being detected.

It is also not known why the semen is taken forcibly from strangers.

"It's really an issue which is mind boggling," said University of Zimbabwe sociologist Watch Ruparanganda, who believes it is a lucrative business. "It's quite a big mystery. Obviously we know [it is] being used for rituals."

Ruparanganda said he was astonished to discover seven years ago that semen appeared to have become a tradable commodity, while doing research for his doctoral thesis among Harare street youth who told him that businessmen would take them to hotels, give them new clothes and ply them with booze.

They were then told to pick a prostitute and to hand over the used condom after sex. ...

The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association slams the practice.

"We believe that this is a form of witchcraft. So we are totally against the idea," said spokesperson George Kandiyero.

"It has really frightened people," he said. "It has really brought in a bit of shock because normally it was the other way round, normally we know of men raping women, not women raping men."

Kandiyero suggested that one reason why the harvesters don't solicit sperm from their loved ones is the belief that sperm used in "jujus" could bring on trouble for the man.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Earth, politician got into trouble for some rare common sense:
State Rep. Alan Dick, Republican from Nenana, made himself a little bit famous this week on the Internet. ...

Simon had referred to "a woman and her pregnancy," Dick said. But if a woman gets pregnant and decides to have the baby, he said, then the guy is on the hook for paying for it for 18 years.

"Yet if the woman chooses not to carry the child all of a sudden it's her individual personal choice," he said. "...I don't think it's really her pregnancy because it's their pregnancy. And if anything the decision to have an abortion should be made not only by the woman but the man who is also involved."

He asked Simon what she thought of that. Simon replied that Planned Parenthood encourages partners to be involved, but sometimes communication doesn't always work that way.

Dick went on.

"Double standards always bothered me and if I thought that a man's signature was required in order for a woman to have an abortion I'd have a little more peace about it..."
The double standard is that men are responsible for child support, but have no say in the abortion decision.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Let VAWA expire

US News and World Report has a debate on renewing the Violence Against Women Act. Laura Wood writes:
Rename it the Violence Against Democracy Act or the Violence Against America Act, but let's end the charade that the act serves the cause of justice or reduces domestic violence. The Violence Against Women Act violates the spirit of American democracy. Indeed, it is totalitarian in nature, an accusation fully justified by its frequent denial of basic civil liberties to those accused of domestic violence. Relentless feminist propaganda and the ordinary person's lack of firsthand contact with the battered women industry serve to keep the myths surrounding this bill alive.
She's right. Too bad we don't have politicians with the guts to stand up to feminists.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SF sheriff fight continues

I have posted below about this domestic violence saga. Now a San Fran newspaper editorial urges:
Time for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to quit gracefully

Perhaps it was pride, or the arrogance for which he is seeking counseling, that kept Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from meeting Mayor Ed Lee's deadline to resign by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Mirkarimi still has the opportunity to do the right thing and spare himself, his family, the sheriff's department and the city the indignity of a prolonged, ugly process to oust him for official misconduct.

The mayor should be commended for laying down the law to a "lawman" who has demonstrated so little regard for it. The case for Mirkarimi's ouster goes beyond his plea-bargained conviction for false imprisonment in connection with a domestic-violence incident.

From the moment the allegations surfaced, Mirkarimi's response has been laced with an aggressiveness and obliviousness that showed a disturbing lack of appreciation for the gravity of the crime or law enforcement's pursuit of the truth.

He initially tried to wave off the abuse allegations as "a private matter, a family matter." He hinted darkly about "forces at work that want to stop me from becoming sheriff." Neither he nor his wife, Eliana Lopez, cooperated with investigators.
The mayor has suspended the sheriff, and is expected to appoint a replacement today.

I do not think that Mirkarimi has done anything wrong. He has not been allow to see his wife for 9 weeks, and he only gets supervised visits with his toddler son. Our society has gone mad. Gravity of the crime? He grabbed his wife's arm, and she has not made any complaint about it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Georgia bloggers lose libel cases

A reader sends this story:
Bloggers aiming to subject their enemies to flaming rhetoric should take note of three six-figure verdicts from Georgia courts in the past 15 months for plaintiffs who said they were defamed on the internet.

The latest occurred Feb. 24, when a jury in Gwinnett Superior Court in the state said a Snellville, Ga., woman should pay $900,000 to a couple she had claimed were responsible for the actions of convicted murderer Gary Michael Hilton.
I suppose he is trying to warn me about criticizing psychologist Ken Perlmutter and others for their evil practices. I have posted details about why I think that they are corrupt, unethical, and incompetent.

The Georgia cases are newsworthy because they are unusual. They are man bites dog stories.

It is sometimes said that an opinion cannot be libel, and you can say anything you want on the net. But that is not quite right, as the above story shows, you cannot call someone a murderer and automatically escape libel action by saying that it is an opinion. More precisely, the law says that a statement which is based on publicly disclosed information is not actionable.

For example, you could call O.J. Simpson a murderer if that is your opinion based on the TV trial, even tho the jury said otherwise. You could possibly run into trouble if you claimed to have some inside info (not presented in court or to the public) that shows him to be a murderer. (Even in that case, OJ would have a lot of trouble suing you, for various other reasons.)

Here is how a a federal appeals court explained how opinions are not defamatory:
Of course, the fact that a statement is an opinion does not automatically shield it from a defamation claim. After all, "expressions of 'opinion' may often imply an assertion of objective fact." Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1, 18 (1990); Dulgarian, 420 Mass. at 849. Thus, a cause of action for defamation may still be sustained where an opinion "implies the allegation of undisclosed defamatory facts as the basis for the opinion." Nat'l Ass'n of Gov't Employees, Inc. v. Central Broad. Corp., 379 Mass. 220, 227-28 (1979). Chief May's opinion, however, was based on disclosed nondefamatory facts. As the district court correctly noted, May "makes clear that the information was derived from witness statements, and qualifies his recitation of facts with phrases like 'according to witnesses' ... and 'it was reported.'" Yohe v. May, 2002 WL 924225 at *1. Since the articles establish that May's opinion was based on witness statements and reports he received, the "logical nexus between the facts and the opinion sufficiently apparent to render unreasonable any inference that the derogatory opinion was must have been based on undisclosed facts." Dulgarian, 420 Mass. at 850-51, quoting Lyons, 415 Mass. at 266. An "expression of opinion based on disclosed or assumed nondefamatory facts is not itself sufficient for an action of defamation, no matter how unjustified or unreasonable the opinion may be or how derogatory it is." Id. Consequently, Chief May's opinion about Yohe's mental state is not actionable.

In sum, the statements challenged by Yohe all fall into one of three categories: (1) unrefuted statements of fact; (2) statements which -- although likely false -- could not reasonably be considered offensive to the average person in the community; and (3) statements of opinion based upon disclosed facts. As none of these types of statements provides a basis for a defamation cause of action, Yohe's defamation claim against Chief May fails. [Yohe v Nugent et al, 1st Cir (Boston), 2003]
A 9th Circuit (federal appeals court for California) decision said the same thing in Standing Committee on Discipline v Yagman (1995).

You might think that Perlmutter might sue anyway, in order to tie me up in court and intimidate me. But that would be a SLAPP lawsuit, and it is forbidden under California law, which broadly protects speaking out on any public issue. I could hire this firm:
Since 1993, the California Anti-SLAPP Project (CASP) has been providing legal assistance and representation to individuals and organizations being sued in California for exercising their First Amendment rights of free speech and petition. CASP has earned a reputation as one of the leading anti-SLAPP firms in the state and exclusively represents defendants who have been SLAPPed, allowing us to offer unique, focused expertise to our clients.
The best part is that I would not even have to pay the law firm, because California anti-SLAPP law says that the SLAPP plaintiff has to pay attorney fees.

I post this info in the hope that other whistleblowers are not intimidated by the legal system. As long as you are reporting publicly available facts, expressing opinions based on those facts, and attempting to influence public policy with your First Amendment rights, then you are in no danger whatsoever. You are doing what our Bill of Rights was written to protect, and the courts will back you up.

You can still be hassled by Chicago cops:
When police showed up, reporters with NBC Chicago claim they respected their request to move across the street and into a median, away from the public sidewalk in front of the facility.

But that was not good enough for one officer, who argued with reporters in the road’s median, telling them that they must move. When they refused, he insisted: “Your First Amendment right can be terminated if you’re creating a scene or whatever.”

Challenged by reporters that they had not created a scene, the officer replied: “Your presence is creating a scene.”

One of the reporters’ responds: “But this is what we do for a living! What we do for a living is creating a scene?” Another reporter adds: “You’ve got a lawsuit coming.”

“I don’t care about no damn lawsuit!” the officer answers. “F*ck a lawsuit. Just ’cause you sue doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”

He then promptly arrested Donte Williams, a photographer, and Dan Ponce, a reporter for WGN-TV Chicago. Both journalists were detained for approximately 10 minutes and then released without charge.
That's funny. Jounalists arrested in Chicago for "creating a scene or whatever.” The cop is right about one thing -- they won't win a lawsuit against the city of Chicago.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Do not help teen girls

Here is more evidence that our society has gone mad with paranoia. I did not know that it was a crime to offer a kid a ride in a car. I was offered rides many times when I was a kid. CBS News reports:
BARRINGTON, Ill. (CBS) – Two 13-year-old suburban girls are being credited with helping police catch a man who offered them a ride home.

Barrington police say the teens were alarmed and disturbed by the offer and took down the man’s license plate. But as CBS 2′s Mai Martinez reports, the man says he was only trying to help the girls, not harm them.

“This is a good deed gone wrong,” Rodney Peterson says.

During a March 2 snowstorm, he saw two teen girls leave a Shell station while he was pumping gas.

“I just noticed these girls, that they had no umbrella, no coats or hood or something of that nature and I just felt like I should help,” Peterson says.

When he drove off, he saw them a short distance away on Prospect Avenue near Waverly.

“I just pulled up and said ‘How far do you have to walk?’ And one of the girls just replied, ‘We’re OK,’ and waved me on.”

Peterson says he drove off and thought nothing of it until Barrington police showed up at his home three days later.

The married father of three, who has a fourth child due in June, listened in disbelief as police told him the girls reported the encounter and he was being charged with disorderly conduct.
It is silly enough that the cops visited him, but why did they charge him? Do they have a "must arrest" policy?

Here is another crazy prosecution:
A Missouri mother confronted her son's alleged drug dealer and allegedly attacked him with an aluminum baseball bat after her efforts to help her heroin-using son failed.

Sherrie Gavan of Imperial, Mo., had switched her 18-year-old son's school, sent him to live with relatives, had him tested for drugs frequently and confiscated his cellphone, but noting stopped him from using heroin for long, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Her last resort, she said, was to confront her son's alleged drug dealer, Joshua Loyd, 21.

"Naturally, my mother's instinct took over and I got paranoid," she told the Post-Dispatch. "I had no idea what to do because we had asked the father to please keep his son [Loyd] away from us, which obviously did not get relayed."
It seems to me that a parent ought to be able to use a baseball bat to chase away her son's heroin dealer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Excessive imputed child support

Law prof E. Volokh writes:
Child support law generally requires a parent to pay child support based partly on the amount of income that the parent could reasonably earn (your “imputed income”) — not just the amount the parent is actually earning. So if you could earn $100,000/year, of which you’d have to pay $20,000/year in child support under the standard child support guideline, you can’t lower this child support payment by just quitting work and going to art school, or joining a monastery, or going to work for a nonprofit that only pays you $40,000/year. Your obligations to your child, the theory goes, should be based on what you could earn and not just on what you do earn.
Then he tells of a current case where a US Army soldier had to pay child support based on an imputed income of $136,791, even tho his salary was only $20,000.

The appeals court said that the family court judge should reconsider the imputation because it is much more than the dad could be reasonably assumed to earn outside the military. But the appeals court fails to say the obvious -- that a soldier should only pay ex-wife support based on his actual salary, not what he might be making if acquired a law license and got a job as a high-paid lawyer.

A lawyer writes:
Most child support guidelines are based upon academic surveys of the amounts parents of different income levels spend to support their children, in intact families in which the parents live together. ... So the whole system is deliberately based upon the results of objective studies.
I don't know how anyone could say anything so ridiculous. This man was ordered to pay more than he makes. There is no objective academic surveying saying anything of the kind. The guidelines were based on consultant recommendations who cited bogus research.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Study on what makes couples happy

Some new psych research has gotten a lot of publicity:
Men like to know when their wife or girlfriend is happy while women really want the man in their life to know when they are upset, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association. ...

Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men’s ability to read their female partner’s positive emotions correctly. However, contrary to the researchers’ expectations, women who correctly understood that their partners were upset during the videotaped incident were much more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than if they correctly understood that their partner was happy. Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not. The authors suggest that being empathetic to a partner’s negative emotions may feel threatening to the relationship for men but not for women.
Here is the full paper (pdf).

The psychologists seem to be over-analyzing with the empathy conclusions. All the study found was that men liked hearing that their wives were happy, and wives liked hearing their husbands say that they were upset about something. Maybe the women are just drama queens who feed on personal drama. Just look at soap operas and Lifetime movies that are so popular with women. The husbands tire of the nagging and bitching, and are just happy to hear their wives being happy about something.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Innocent men could have been convicted

I mentioned below the absurd case against the San Fran sheriff, and now he has agreed to a plea bargain:
While San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Monday ended the domestic violence case against him by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge, Mayor Ed Lee said today the sheriff's political future is anything but settled.

Mirkarimi, 50, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor false imprisonment in a deal with prosecutors, who agreed to drop three other charges stemming from a Dec. 31 incident in which he allegedly grabbed the arm of his wife during an argument. Mirkarimi will be sentenced next Monday to three years' probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, 100 hours of community service and a $400 domestic violence fine, and will be required to attend family counseling, prosecutors said. ...

Under the City Charter, the mayor has the option to suspend the sheriff for official misconduct.
I think that it is crazy to ruin the marriage and career of a man because "he allegedly grabbed the arm of his wife during an argument", even if the allegations are true. But he knows the system, and I can only assume that he had a serious chance of being convicted.

He is still forbidden to see his wife and child.

I also wrote about the bizarre and implausible rape accusations against the French banker DSK, and now a famous Harvard law professor tells Newsweek that a jury might have convicted DSK:
Before Dershowitz started with his mock-court lesson, though, he needed to set a few predicates for his students, now acting as the jurors. First, Dershowitz would tell the jury they had every right to doubt the accuser. Second, Dershowitz would seek to get entered into evidence a picture of Strauss-Kahn’s naked body, possibly from the police forensic exam after his arrest. If that failed, Dershowitz would have to help jurors picture in their imagination a naked 62-year-old DSK — overweight and slightly hunched, his chest sunken and his skin sagging from the natural progression of age. With the ground rules established, Dershowitz took center stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he started, “we have enough evidence to convict this man beyond a reasonable doubt even if you don’t believe the accuser. In fact, we are prepared to concede that based on statements she’s made in other contexts, you would be within your right to have some suspicions about her credibility.”
If I were on the jury, the picture of a naked, short, fat, elderly, Jewish politician banker would make me doubt that he was capable of forcibly raping a 6-foot, 30-year-old, African hotel maid. But maybe that is just my prejudices. There is also evidence that DSK was framed by his political enemies.

I conclude from all this that men do not get fair trials when accused of some sex-related crimes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Antipsychotic drugs grow more popular

Antipsychotic drugs are the latest fad, and you don't have to have a mental illness to have them prescribed. The Wash. Post reports:
exemplify a trend that alarms medical experts, policymakers and patient advocates: the skyrocketing increase in the off-label use of an expensive class of drugs called atypical antipsychotics. Until the past decade these 11 drugs, most approved in the 1990s, had been reserved for the approximately 3 percent of Americans with the most disabling mental illnesses, chiefly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; more recently a few have been approved to treat severe depression.

But these days atypical antipsychotics — the most popular are Seroquel, Zyprexa and Abilify — are being prescribed by psychiatrists and primary-care doctors to treat a panoply of conditions for which they have not been approved, including anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, sleep difficulties, behavioral problems in toddlers and dementia. These new drugs account for more than 90 percent of the market and have eclipsed an older generation of antipsychotics. Two recent reports have found that youths in foster care, some less than a year old, are taking more psychotropic drugs than other children, including those with the severest forms of mental illness.

In 2010 antipsychotic drugs racked up more than $16 billion in sales, according to IMS Health, a firm that tracks drug trends for the health-care industry. For the past three years they have ranked near or at the top of the best-selling classes of drugs, outstripping antidepressants and sometimes cholesterol medicines.
It is all about money. Or control. Or evil. I'm still not sure.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CPS blocks newspaper coverage

There have only been a handful of cases of prior restraint of press publication in the entire history of the USA. One was the Pentagon Papers, involving classified Vietnam War intelligence. Another involved nuclear bomb secrets. In each case, the courts have eventually ruled that the press cannot be restrained, not even temporarily. A newspaper could be sued for libel, or even criminally punished in some cases, but publication cannot be stopped because of the First Amendment freedom of the press.

Now there is a new case of prior restraint. A law prof reports:
The Indiana Court of Appeals granted a request Friday that prevents The Tribune from publishing records the newspaper obtained from the Department of Child Services.

The appeals court’s ruling came three days after a local judge ordered the release of phone records from DCS’s child abuse hotline related to 10-year-old Tramelle Sturgis and his family …. The records include four audio recordings of hotline calls and accompanying transcripts related to Tramelle, who was found tortured and killed in his home Nov. 4.
In other words, CPS sought this order in an attempt to cover up its own complicity in someone's death.

The professor notes that this is being reversed, but it is nevertheless startling and revealing that CPS lawyers and judges would go so far to protect CPS from criticism. I am convinced that CPS is corrupt to the core, and that it will always be corrupt until everything it does is exposed to the public.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Manosphere attacked by leftist hate group

The libertarian Reason magazine reports:
The Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971 as a civil rights law firm, has released its latest "Intelligence Report" on hate groups in the United States. This year's report contains a new category: the Manosphere.
The reportsays:
The so-called “manosphere” is peopled with hundreds of websites, blogs and forums dedicated to savaging feminists in particular and women, very typically American women, in general. Although some of the sites make an attempt at civility and try to back their arguments with facts, they are almost all thick with misogynistic attacks ...

The Spearhead is an online magazine that features a range of “voices in defense of ourselves, our families and our fellow men.” One post calls the recently released American version of the movie thriller “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” “hate porn for feminists” and describes its strong female lead as “like a kind of dyke junkie.”
I have cited The Spearhead before, and I had no idea that anyone would consider it a hate site. I do think that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hate porn for feminists. The movie was made from a Swedish book titled, "men who hate women". Yes, it is a sick movie designed to appeal to man-haters.

Calling the Southern Poverty Law Center a "civil rights law firm" is being charitable. I don't know too much about the SPLC except that it is an extreme leftist political organization that promotes ethnic animosities at every opportunity, and it uses name-calling and lawsuits in efforts to intimidates its enemies into silence. A typical SPLC attack is to accuse a religious leader of being a bigot because he criticizes a rival religion.

The Spearhead has lots of opinions on it, and I am sure that it has some with which I would disagree. But for the SPLC to label it a hate site because of an opinion about a fictional movie?! The SPLC is the hate site, and it should not be allowed to intimidate the manosphere.

Carol Swain is a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, and she became a political target of the SPLC. Watch her response in this video, or read this. She is African-American with impeccable credentials. If she can be an SPLC target, then anyone can.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

President kills without due process

Attorney General Eric Holder explains that due process does not mean judicial process:
An American-born Islamic cleric, Anwar al Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen in late September. Some civil liberties groups condemned the attack. Others, including members of Congress, called for a more complete explanation of how such a targeted killing of an American civilian was consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

The Fifth Amendment provides that no one can be "deprived of life" without due process of law. But that due process, Holder said, doesn't necessarily come from a court.

"Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process," the attorney general said.
Okay, I guess that I can live with ignoring due process if the President says that sending a drone to kill an American citizen is important for national security. But why don't we have constitutional due process with CPS and the family court?

Friday, March 09, 2012

Joint custody and vaccinations

UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh reports:
What happens when divorced parents with joint legal custody disagree about whether their child should be given the routine childhood immunizations? That’s the issue in Grzyb v. Grzyb (Va. Cir. Ct.), decided in mid-2009 but just uploaded to Westlaw a day or two ago.

The Grzybs were the divorced parents of a 3-year-old girl, with “joint legal custody of the child, which implicitly included joint decision-making regarding the child’s medical and health care.” The father wanted the daughter immunized, but the mother had a religious objection to the immunization
The judge tried to rule based on the BIOTCh, and got hopelessly confused by conflicting and irrelevant considerations. Volokh cannot figure out what he would do either, but starts with these faulty premises:
since joint custody presupposes an ability to agree — and one parent should be given sole custody as to medical matters. But which parent? ... there has to be one decision made on the child’s behalf, so it makes sense that the court would need to decide which parent is most fit to make that decision.
This is where he goes wrong. There is no necessity for one parent to make all the medical decisions. Once you go down the rabbit hole of a judge second-guessing minor parental decisions, there there is no end to the conundrums like this case.

Saying that the mom is more fit to make a vaccination decision just because she has spent more time on the matter is absurd. She may have spent most of that time praying, and her church does not even agree with her religious objection. The other considerations are also intrusions into parental rights.

There is just no reason for the court to get involved. The parents can each do what they want on their own time. Maybe they would use different pediatricians, and make different decisions. There are some scenarios in which a medical treatment might require the cooperation of the other parent, but this is not one. The dad could get the vaccination, and the mom's interests will not be harmed in any tangible way.

This is all based on vaccinations being within the range of decisions that parents are normally allowed to make. Some people feel very strong about vaccination, one way or the other, but it is very unlikely that the decision will make any noticeable difference. If there is some compelling medical necessity, then this case would be different.

I have several comments on the above blog, where I argue with lawyer-types who want to use courts to overrule parents. The funny thing is that the blog is fairly libertarian on other issues, and is frequently promoting free speech, gun rights, and marijuana legalization. But they don't seem to understand that the family court is a massive invasion of civil liberties.

I have refrained from discussing the medical problems of my own kids, but I can say that making one parent solely responsible for medical decisions has been a disaster. It is nearly always better for both parents to be involved, even if they disagree. Letting a judge make the decision is worst of all. In the above case, the judge decided that the dad had the more valid opinion, but let the mom make the decision anyway.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Never report porn

The UK BBC reports:
A man who informed police when he found child abuse images on his computer has not been allowed to be alone with his daughter for four months.

Nigel Robinson from Hull said he called police after trying to download music but instead finding pornographic images on his laptop last November.

As a result social services said he "should not have unsupervised access with his own or other children".

He said he was "totally innocent". No arrests or charges have been made. ...

The police took the laptop away for investigation and said it could be a year before it is returned, Mr Robinson said.

Humberside Police said: "We are conducting an investigation that has resulted in the confiscation of a laptop in order for the relevant enquiries to take place - standard procedure for this type of investigation.
I am disgusted by child porn, but I would never report it. The laws and authorities are just too crazy and irrational about it. About 99% of computers have images in the browser cache that were not deliberately downloaded. If I found child porn in my cache, I would just delete it and not tell anyone. If I were selling a computer, I would erase the cache. Technically you are supposed to report it rather than delete, but you are just asking for trouble if you do.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

BIOTCh contrary to rule of law

The Best Interest Of The Child (BIOTCh) in the family court is fundamentally contrary to the rule of law, as law has been understood since Hammurabi in ancient Babylon. Plato advocated rule by a philosopher king, but his student Aristotle convincingly explained the superiority of rule of law. Western civilization is built on the idea that Aristotle was right.

All American courts are based on rule of law, except that the family court clings to the idea that a judge can act as a philosopher king and decide the best interest of a child. It cannot be done without punishing parents and others for allegations and transgressions that are not contrary to any laws, rules, regulations, or policies that are written anywhere. The idea that a judge or psychologist can read some legal briefs or interview the parties and then make objectively make child-rearing decisions is as ludicrous as Plato's idea.

The main argument against Plato's idea is that the wisdom and objectivity required is unattainable. But even if a judge of infinite wisdom could be found, there are at least two other reasons that such a judge would be unacceptable.

First, if a judge is not ruling based on written rules, then there is necessarily an arbitrariness to his decisions, and we are not free men if we live under such arbitrary rule.

Second, such judicial actions destroy incentives. Eg, even if a judge could be found to assess taxes in a way that wisely and fair redistributes the wealth, then incentives to earn money would be dampened because men could not reliably predict what they could keep.

These same considerations apply to family court. Parents do not have the freedom and authority to be parents if they can always be second-guessed by a family court judge. And court interventions create bad incentives.

Suppose this court finds that a judge an order grandparent visits if there has been a history of such visits and the judge's opinion is that the BIOTCh requires continuing such visits. Other parents may see this, and decide that allowing grandparent visits is dangerous because it exposes the family to court intervention. Thus one BIOTCh order in favor of grandparent visitation may result in other grandparents being refused visits.

The BIOTCh is the core of the problem here. If the law said that all grandparents had a right to visit their grandkids for 2 hours a week, then the arguments in this brief would not apply. The problem occurs when some judge tries to play God and apply the BIOTCh. The BIOTCh is inherently unjusticiable and contrary to legal standards.

Most states make no attempt to define the BIOTCh at all. A couple of states (I only know of Michigan and Florida) list a dozen factors to consider. But the judge has no guidance on how to evaluate or rank the factors. When it comes to a simple question like grandparent visits, the judge must rely on his gut instincts.

Many states rely on psychologists or other so-called experts for recommendations. But even the psychology profession is largely of the opinion that these recommendations are unethical. Their expertise is in treating mental disorders, and they usually have no professional competence or basis for making a decision about grandparent visits.

Our Western civilization is based on the idea that parents will have the autonomy to rear their kids as they believe is best. This principle has served us well for millennia. Maybe an exception should be made to require grandparent visits. This brief does not take a position on that. But such an exception should be carefully considered by the legislative, and be codified as predictable regulations. Requiring such an exception based on some judge's opinion of the BIOTCh is unpredictable, unworkable, and contrary to everything our justice system stands for.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Never a private matter

Updating a previous story, the San Jose Mercury News reports:
When the newly elected San Francisco sheriff was accused of domestic violence against his Venezuelan soap star wife, he uttered a political cliché that has mocked him ever since: It's a "private matter."

The case that goes to trial this week against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has become a public sensation from Caracas to the Castro. And talk about in-your-face -- a support group opposed to domestic abuse erected a billboard in downtown San Francisco declaring: "Domestic Violence is NEVER a private matter." Thousands of dollars to pay for it were raised in mere days through an Internet campaign that went wild.

It's the second Bay Area case in a month -- one in San Francisco, the other in the Hayward Hills -- that exposes rocky relationships between local politicians and their trophy wives. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, 70, is still reeling from the humiliation rendered by his 40-year-old alcoholic wife who had an affair with a meth addict she then accused of beating her up.
I am glad that these cases are getting a lot of publicity out here in the wacky San Fran area, but they illustrate what is wrong with domestic violence law.

It has become leftist-feminist dogma that the state should intervene in private families if someone disapproves of some of their behavior. Just look at that billboard. And they are constantly expanding the definition of domestic violence so that it no longer means physical violence. It can now mean just about anything where the wife feels mistreated.

In this sheriff case, the wife never even made a complaint:
Lopez, 36, is denying she is a victim of her 50-year-old husband, despite crying in front of a neighbor's video camera and saying that her husband grabbed and pulled her during then argument and left a large bruise on her arm. The video, Lopez said in legal documents, was "scripted and directed," by the neighbor, Ivory Madison, and was preceded by the two of them laughing together.

"She's an actress," lawyer Paula Canny said of her client. "She's a soap opera star."

Video shot 'just in case'

According to court documents, the video was apparently intended to be used as an insurance policy of sorts, in case the couple divorced and Lopez needed evidence against him in a custody battle.

"I'm going to use this just in case he wants to take Theo away from me," Lopez said on the video, according to the court records. He had already threatened to do so because he told her "he's very powerful," she said on the tape.

The neighbor called police Jan. 4, and despite newspapers reports of the investigation and calls for him to step aside until the case was resolved, Mirkarimi took his oath of office Jan. 8, raising his hand and swearing to uphold the law of the land. His 2-year-old son was at his feet. His wife was by his side. She wore a sleeveless dress. Less than a week later, prosecutors charged him with the trio of misdemeanor counts.

In court filings, Lopez says she feels "betrayed" by her neighbor, who she believed was a lawyer who would keep their conversation confidential. Indeed, Madison had studied to be a lawyer, but never practiced. After Madison's phone call with police -- which Lopez's lawyer said started anonymously -- Madison "ran up to" Lopez and said, "You're going to kill me. I called police and they made me tell them."

In her declaration, Lopez said she was "totally shocked" and "I yelled at Ivory Madison. I said, 'NO. This is wrong. I came to you for legal help. You do not have my permission.'"
There are many things wrong here. If we had laws guaranteeing joint custody, then would have never seen a value in making a video as an "insurance policy". If Madison had really been a friend, she would have kept her mouth shut. If the normal rules of attorney-client privilege applied, then the cops could not have seized the video. If normal criminal law applied, then the DA would have no case unless the wife chose to press charges. If the sheriff were innocent until proven guilty, then he would be able to live in his home and see his family, pending trial.

But the issue is bigger than these legal procedural issue. Let's assume that the facts are as reported, that the leftist San Fran sheriff is a little bossy at times, that the hot-headed Venezuelan drama queen has argued with him, that one evening he gripped her so hard that her arm was bruised, and that she says now that all is forgiven. How is this anyone's business? In the view of leftist-feminists and out-of-control do-gooder govt authorities, there are no limits to how much they will invade the couple's privacy if it has the purpose of busting up their family:
Jury selection is expected to proceed as planned Monday in San Francisco's Hall of Justice. But first, one of Mirkarimi's old girlfriends is expected to slip through a back door of the courthouse to meet privately with lawyers in the judge's chambers. She has her own story to tell about being on the receiving end of Mirkarimi's temper and was once pushed "up against a wall."
How is this relevant? It is an anonymous complaint from many years ago, in which no one was hurt and no one made a complaint at the time.

There is a leftist-feminist campaign to destroy the American family. A generation ago, no one would have favored using the courts to bust up a family like this. Now the leftist-feminist-Democrat mantra is "never a private matter".

Monday, March 05, 2012

Court favors recording cops

Just a couple of states (Mass., Illinois, Maryland, I think) try to criminalize recording police. But the tide of opinion is sharply against those states. Prosecutions have mostly lost in the courts, and here is the latest:
In Cook County today Judge Stanley J. Sacks declared Illinois' eavesdropping law — which is one of the toughest in the nation — unconstitutional in his ruling in the case of Christopher Drew, who was charged with the felony crime in 2009.

The eavesdropping law prohibits citizens from making audio or visual recordings of others without every recorded person's explicit consent. Sixty-year-old artist Drew audio-recorded his interaction with a police officer who was arresting him for selling art patches at the side of the road. A police officer found the tape recorder and Drew found himself with a Class 1 felony charge, which carries up to 15 years in prison. “That's one step below attempted murder,” Drew said in a January interview with the New York Times.
The issue also came up in the recent Zombie Muhammed case:
Perce said [Judge Mark] Martin gave him permission to record the proceedings, although Perce was also warned that releasing the audio could result in him being charged with contempt of court.
The judge wanted to cover up his foolish speech about free speech being a privilege. Govt officials are also trying to suppress animal videos. AP
Iowa became the first state Friday to make it a crime to surreptitiously get into a farming operation to record video of animal abuse.
We would all be better off if judges, CPS agents, cops, and family court shrinks were always video-recorded when performing their official duties. My guess is that psychologists like Kenneth B. Perlmutter would lose 80% of his income because everyone would see what an incompetent crook he is. He was extremely cruel to my kids, and no one would want their kids anywhere near him if they knew what he did to my kids.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Oregon rules against CPS

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh reports on a recent Oregon parental rights case:
Father had four children living with him and his girlfriend: his daughter, D (age 14), his son, R (age 12, D’s full brother), his girlfriend’s son, G (age 5 or 6), and his and his girlfriend’s daughter, S (age less than 2, D’s half-sister). D’s mother is in prison.

D accused father of physically abusing her, and is now in foster care. The father says “D was lying about the physical abuse and was an ‘out of control’ teenager.” The father is awaiting trial on the physical abuse charges.

D wants to visit with her siblings, and the trial court ordered that the father not interfere with that, at least as to R and G (but apparently not the very young S, though that’s unclear). The father objected, claiming this violates his parental rights with regard to R and G.

The Oregon Supreme Court agreed that the father’s parental rights were in play, and remanded for further development of the facts. Exactly what showing the court would find adequate for allowing a restriction of the father’s rights is not clear. But the court did conclude that the trial court cannot order sibling-sibling visitation as a matter of course, and had to consider the father’s rights to control access to those siblings who are still in his custody.
First, the dad is innocent until proven guilty, so for the purposes of this case, it should be assumed that the 14-year-old daughter is making a false accusation. There is not even an allegation that the dad has mistreated the other kids.

CPS was proposing that the Dad not be allowed to see his daughter, but that CPS could force the girl to see her brother. It seems plausible to me that the girl will be a bad influence on the boy, and that the Dad ought to block the visits. The Dad should be allowed to use his judgment.

I wish I could say that this was a victory for parental rights, but it appears to me that CPS only lost because it came to court completely unprepared and admitted that it didn't even know what the Dad wanted to do. The case does illustrate the evil intent of CPS in that it seems to be doing everything it can to destroy this family.