Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Free to criticize meddlesome lawyer

Here is a New Mexico case where a family court ordered a dad to stop criticizing a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). The appeals court ruled that the order infringed his constitutional free speech:
Because the district court did not make factual findings regarding defamation but rather simply restrained Father’s publication based on a constitutionally impermissible rationale, we must reverse. We remand for the district court to consider the GAL’s arguments and evidence regarding defamation in light of the facts of this case, should Father wish to persist in his publication efforts.
This is a victory for free speech, but not a clean one, because of the defamation issue.

A Guardian Ad Litem is a lawyer appointed by the court and serves only to meddle in the lives of parents. Some lawyer, who may know nothing about kids or your kid or your parenting style or anything relevant, gets paid to file legal motions against the parents. Some NM dad didn't like it and criticized her.

I don't see that it is any business of the family court to try to prevent defamation. If the lawyer thinks that she is being defamed, she can file an ordinary civil libel lawsuit. The family court only got involved to protect itself from publicity about its bad decisions.

Some parents get suckered into thinking that a Guardian Ad Litem might be a neutral help to a case. It is nearly always a bad idea. I once had a local bozo named James M. Ritchey named to represent my kids in court. He was irresponsible, cruel, and greedy. I posted info about him that I am sure that he thought was damaging to his reputation. He could have sued me, but truth is a defense and he would lose. At least Cmr. Irwin Joseph did not try to stop me from commenting on him.

On the subject of freedom, I just heard an anti-smoking advocate say:
In three fourths of the states we have court orders prohibiting smoking in the homes where child custody is at issue. In 12 states they ban smoking in homes where they have foster children. Increasingly they are also banning smoking in cars. There is no right to smoke in the home. [Tibor Machan, Chapman U. professor, Fox News Stossel, July 12]
I don't care about the right to smoke, but I do care about parents being second-class citizens if they are in the family court. It is grossly unjust to say that parents somehow lose the right to criticize a lawyer or smoke in his home just because he has joint custody of a child.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

calling martin a child is stupid. we have 17yos in the army. we do not have child soldiers.