Press coverage on family court rally

The rally in front of the Department of Justice on Friday, Oct. 1 was covered by Ch 9 news:

Mothers demand changes in family courts

 http://www.wusa9.com/video/default.aspx?aid=94535&storyid=113776#/WUSA%2DNews/Mothers+Demand+Changes+In+Family+Courts/46371336001/45927990001/622782249001

http://www.wusa9.com/video/default.aspx?aid=94535&storyid=113776#/WUSA%2DNews/Mothers+Demand+Changes+In+Family+Courts/46371336001/45927990001/622782249001

DC rally and press conference on family court corruption

Please attend if you’re in the area!

Protective Parents

Friday, October 1st at 11:00 AM

US Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC

We will assemble to demand an investigation of family court corruption across the nation, which places our children in the custody of batterers and molesters. 

After an hour long rally and press conference, we will march at noon to the Senate Hart and Senate Russell Buildings to meet with Senate staff. We will insist that they reschedule 1994 Congressional hearings on the abject failures of family court and child protection systems to protect children from physical and sexual abuse, and the systematic attack on victims and mandated reporters of child sexual abuse.

We’ll finish the march at the Sewall-Belmont House at 144 Constitution Ave, headquarters of the Suffragists.

Bring your white Tshirts with “Mothers of Lost Children” on the front. Wear white skirts or pants if you have them. Take a look at the signs carried by the Suffragists. Make signs like those, so everyone will understand that we are marching to keep children safe from violence and rape.

Contact us to connect with others in your region who plan to come. 

www.mothers

oflostchildren.com

Press release

For Immediate Release:                                                         Contact: Kathleen Russell
August 4, 2010                                                                              Cell: 415-250-1180
 
Outraged Parents Take Action Against Janelle Burrill
 
Criminal Complaints Against Custody Evaluator to be Filed at 10AM Thursday, Followed By 11:30AM Picket at Her Office
 
 — PHOTO OPPORTUNITY —
 
SACRAMENTO- A number of local parents who have lost custody of their children during local divorce proceedings are seeking an official criminal investigation of the professional that they claim is responsible. Multiple parents will file criminal complaints against custody evaluator Janelle Burrillthis Thursday August 5th at 10am at the Sacramento Police Department (5770 Freeport Blvd) followed by an 11:30am picket at Burrill’s 915 University Ave office.
 
The California State Auditor is currently investigating the Sacramento Family Court’s use of court appointees such as Burrill in divorce proceedings. As we understand it, Janelle Burrill is also currently under investigation by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences because of multiple, longstanding complaints against her. We have also seen written confirmation that her board certification was revoked by the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work this past Spring for failing to report an existing complaint against her.
 
Parents allege that Burrill has engaged in serious misconduct during the course of her investigations, which in one case reportedly led to the handcuffing, hospitalization and drugging of a gifted 14-year-old boy because he allegedly refused to visit with his mother.
 
Parents have also raised questions about the veracity of Ms. Burrill’s pr imary psychological and legal credentials, given the unaccredited status of some of the educational institutions she reportedly graduated from, and her non-listing with the California State Bar Association. She is reportedly also unlicensed by the California Board of Psychology.
 
“If these claims are true, then the children of Sacramento deserve a proper investigation. Appointees like Burrill make life-altering recommendations to the courts, which are often routinely accepted by the courts. The welfare of children and the rights of parents to parent their children are often literally in the hands of appointees like Burrill. We are aware of reported negative allegations about Burrill that date back years. These parents deserve to have a formal investigation of their claims, to determine whether state laws have been broken and codes of professional ethics violated,” said Kathleen Russell, the Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Excellence.
 
“If laws have been broken, then appropriate action must be taken,” Russell said.
 
A growing frustration with family court appointees who violate state laws and codes of professional conduct around the country has led to recent arrests and lawsuits against court appointees, which is a relatively new occurrence for a once untouchable and politically powerful industry.
 
See links below for related stories on this subject:
 
Therapist’s arrest may mean a review of cases
http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Therapist-s-arrest-may-mean-a-review-of-cases-556589.php
 
Custody Evaluator’s Credentials Questioned In Lawsuit
Dr. Stephen Doyne Has Been Involved In 3,000 To 4,000 San Diego Custody Cases http://www.10news.com/news/19985926/detail.html
http://10newsblogs.com/iteam/?p=657
 
Teen sues county for placing her in custody of sex offender grandfather http://www.whas11.com/news/Teen-sues-county-for-placing-her-in-custody-of-sex-offender-grandfather-90358309.html
 
Questions surround methods, credentials of drug screener
Family Court relies on Robert Bennett’s findings to decide crucial issues of custody and divorcehttp://www.truthinjustice.org/drug-screener.htm
 
Mothers Interrupted These women entered mediation in family court thinking they would retain primary custody of their children. Mediator Janelle Burrill thought otherwise.http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=11355

Custody catastrophes

Remember the case involving 9-month-old baby Wyatt? His mother Katie Tagle was denied a restraining order 3 times. The 3rd judge, Judge Lemkau, called Katie a liar and handed the infant over to the ex-husband. Ten days later, both were found dead. Here’s an article by Cara Tabachnick about judges’ virtual impunity:

Disciplining the judge

Advocates contend that many family court judges are not properly trained or ignore abuse guidelines.  And such judges tend to view protective mothers as not trustworthy and overwrought, making biased decisions on which they have no true recourse, according to Darby Mangen , chapter president of the San Bernardino National Organization of Women (NOW). “No matter how exiguous the case there is no help for the victim,” added Mangen, who was active in the campaign to remove Judge Lemkau.

Furthermore, since so much of the decision making in custody cases relies on the judge’s discretion, litigants are fearful of bringing any motions against the judge.

“Family judges have so much power over cases that you can not afford to challenge the judge,” says Tony Tanke, a former senior judicial staff attorney for the Chief  Justice of the California Supreme Court, who advises on family court cases pro-bono.

Moreover, the often tight relationships between local bar associations and judges make it difficult to find an attorney who wants to take on a complaint against a powerful judge, according to Tanke. Indeed, in the Lemkau v. Hoskings election, Lemkau received endorsements from the local Family Law Bar association and other area attorneys, who supported his decision in baby Wyatt’s case

The result:  parties who feel victimized by a judge’s biased decision are left with nowhere to turn.

Read the rest of Cara’s article to find out about the appeals process and court watch programs. We need the media to highlight these cases, as well, in order to raise awareness and reform the courts.

Custody catastrophes

In the Custody Catastrophes department, we have a father convicted of child sexual abuse. I’m sure if this story involved a mother, it would have made national news. The father got visitation rights (which indicates the mother must have made allegations if he didn’t get shared parenting). He sexually abused the baby girl the first visitation he got. He dumped the baby in the woods and reported that she was snatched while he wasn’t looking. Luckily, she was found and taken to a hospital. This story could have had a worse ending – and all because women’s claims are not taken seriously – and abuse could have been prevented in the first place – if she was believed and he was given supervised visitation.  

Clark gets 50 years to life for attempted murder, sexual assault on his child
Cory Clarke was sentenced to 50 years to life Friday for sexually abusing his 7-month old daughter and then leaving her in the woods to die on July 4.

Clark was convicted in March of attempted murder, first-degree predatory sexual abuse on a child, incest and other first-degree felony sex crimes.

Clarke reported the baby missing to a Walmart employee. He maintained that the baby was snatched while he was changing her brother in a bathroom.

In Australia, they’re having the same problems in their Family Court system. Women’s claims of abuse go unheeded. Here is an article about a recent study from Sydney University called “No way to Live.” The study interviews 22 women.

Act aids abusive fathers, imperils children

Here’s the report, No Way to Live

And to give you an example of the misogynist Fathers Righters, here’s a link I got when I searched for the report. I’m unable to open it though.

Malicious mothers demanding changes to Australia’s Shared

Jun 24, 2010 The study, No Way to Live, will add pressure to the federal Attorney-General, Blog Directory for Sydney, New South Wales
http://www.fathers4equality-australia.org/…/law-fails-children-exposed-to-harm?…AustraliaCached

76…and counting

Check out this recent post on Dastardly Dads – http://dastardlydads.blogspot.com/2010/02/76-killer-dads-fathers-who-ended-their.html She’s counted 76 cases of Dads murdering their children during visitation or custody. According to the Leadership Council on Child Abuse over 58,000 children go into unsupervised visitation or custody each year. These days family courts hand over the kids because, well, parental rights trump safety, don’t they? When women allege abuse, courts think they’re being ‘manipulative’ in order to get a favorable decision. They turn their backs on these women and readily hand over the kids–to abusers and murderers.

Check out these RECENT cases:

Stephen Garcia-

http://hidesertstar.com/articles/2010/02/09/news/doc4b6d247ecb7a5449445741.txt

Nicholas Bacon-

http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/Police-Man-kills-baby-then-self-83886922.html

Jesus Roman Fuentes-

http://www.hesperiastar.com/news/son-3182-shoots-san.html

Timothy Frazier-

http://www.wlky.com/news/22370318/detail.html

Murder-suicide of 7-year-old boy in Greece, NY-

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20100213/NEWS01/100213001

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/201002140500/NEWS01/2140327

Danielle Horvat/David Aguilar

http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2010/01/23/news/doc4b5a726799a99802477841.txt

Press Release: Family courts implicated in infants’ deaths

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Contacts: Rita Smith 303-839-1852 ext. 105

February 10, 2010                 Kathleen Russell 415-250-1180

 Family Courts Implicated in Infants’ Murders

Two Young Boys Killed by Two Divorcing Dads in Past 10 Days

Points to Massive System Failure

 SAN RAFAEL- National and local advocacy groups are expressing outrage over what has become a disturbing national trend of divorcing Dads killing their children and themselves. 8-month-old baby Bekm was shot and killed by his father, Nicholas Bacon, in Meridian, Idaho just 48 hours ago, while 9-month-old baby Wyatt was killed by his father Stephen Garcia just ten days ago in San Bernardino County. Details are still emerging about the tragic Idaho murder-suicide of baby Bekm on Monday night.

 In the Garcia case, three different judges refused multiple requests by the child’s mother for restraining orders to protect her child, despite police reports and documented death threats by the father in text messages and on Facebook.

 “The system failed Wyatt Garcia and Katie Tagle,’’ said California Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr., the lead sponsor of Assembly Bill 612, which aims to prevent the use of non-scientific theories in California family courts. “Wyatt’s tragic death was completely avoidable.

”

 Numerous sources report a significant spike in murder suicides across the country by violent fathers who kill their children and themselves, frequently after mothers’ requests for protection of their children are denied by family court judges. In addition, the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence estimates that more than 58,000 children per year in America are ordered by family courts into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce.

 “The time has come for us as a society to speak out and put a stop to this growing national body count. Across the country, women and children are being killed because of judges’ personal biases and junk science that tells them to disbelieve women’s legitimate claims and evidence of abuse,” said Rita Smith, the Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

 According to court transcripts and eyewitness accounts, judges reacted with disbelief when mother Katie Tagle presented them with evidence of death threats against her son by the father.

 Judge David Mazurek stated, “I get concerned when there’s a pending child custody and visitation issue and in between that, one party or the other claims that there’s some violence in between. It raises the court’s eyebrows because based on my experience, it’s a way for one party to try to gain an advantage over the other,” he said.

 “This attitude permeates the courts, that women are lying about the danger they are in,” said Kathleen Russell from the Center for Judicial Excellence. “This attitude causes judges to ignore tangible evidence of death threats and abuse. The abusers’ lobby has convinced judges that shared custody is always the answer, and sadly, this case points out how deadly that approach can be,” she said.

 According to a family member who was in the courtroom when Ms. Tagle last sought protection for her son, the judge reportedly said, “One of you is lying, and I think it’s you,” while pointing at Katie. Transcripts from this hearing are not yet available.

 The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Center for Judicial Excellence are part of a growing national advocacy movement to educate the public as well as litigants, lawmakers, judges, and social service providers about the need for comprehensive family court reform. The Center for Judicial Excellence and their allies worked with California State Senator Mark Leno and others to pass an audit request through the state legislature last July. The California State Auditor is currently investigating the use of court appointees in family courts because of growing evidence that children are being harmed there. The California Legislature is slated to consider additional family court reform bills being presented by the Center and the California Protective Parents Association in the coming months.

 “We must assess what’s happening in our family courts, and that’s why I’ve requested a state audit to take a hard look at the performance and effectiveness of the family court system,’’ said Assemblymember Beall.

 The State Auditor’s report about the California Family Courts has an expected release date of June 2010.

 ***************

NCADV – The Mission of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is to organize for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking and leadership of communities and individuals working to end the violence in our lives. 

 CJE – The Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) was established to improve the judiciary’s public accountability and strengthen and maintain the integrity of the courts. CJE has made a special commitment to protect the rights of children and other vulnerable populations in the courts.

 ##

The high price of family court

High costs of family courts

The I-Team found one example out of Northern California in which an 11-year-old boy, Coby, was the center of a custody dispute. His mother was ordered to pay $2,200 upfront to a custody evaluator. In the ruling, the judge wrote, “If mother does not pay the fees … primary custody shall be changed.”

 The mother did not come up with the money and she lost custody. She told the I-Team she didn’t have the money and the boy’s father had missed child support payments. 

 

                                                                         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The I-Team confirmed that low income families, even those with documented conflict, are not ordered to get the custody evaluations because there is nobody to pay for it. The reports are only used for families with financial means.

 

 

What’s a mother to do?

Here’s an article from the UK that sums up the “raw deal” (a term used by fathers righters) mothers face in family court:

Inside the family courts: A raw deal for mums?

After years of high-profile stunts by pressure groups such as Fathers4Justice, many people assume that men still systematically fare badly in family courts. But in the wake of a recent spate of stories highlighting the treatment of mothers considered “too stupid” or disruptive or too busy working to look after, or even be allowed contact with, their children, some question if the pendulum has begun to swing the other way.

I hear the stories of mothers whose experiences have convinced them of it. Isabel is a former teacher, aged 40, now living in the northeast of England. Her voice trembles as she tells of a lengthy legal battle with her wealthy ex-husband for custody of her son. “He left me when I was pregnant and showed little interest in our son at first. But as soon as he got a new girlfriend with children of her own, he wanted to impress her by playing the family man, and applied for contact and eventually full custody,” she says. Her ex-husband, a prominent businessman, Isabel says, is a bully who intimidated social workers into writing negative reports about her mothering abilities. She tried to challenge them in court, only to be told, she says, by the judge who granted her son’s father increased contact: “Any more from you and you will never see your son again.”

“It was all about control as far as my ex was concerned,” she says, “and because he had a cousin in the legal profession, he knew how to play the system. I began to be treated like some sort of criminal and entered a living hell.”

You could hand them over:

Icelandic woman forced to give up children to USA

An Icelandic woman received a court order to return to the United States with her two children before the next coming Sunday. Borghildur Gudmundsdottir had the two children with an American soldier who wants to have custody over the children in the United States. Gudmundsdottir told Morgunbladid she wonders if it is considered alright to throw Icelanders out from their own country “like throwing out old rags”. She continued, asking who has the right to kick two children out of a country and strip all security and safety from their mother. Her children are aged 10 and five and are said to be doing well in school and life in Iceland.

 

You might be forced to have visitation:

Police arrest man after park incident

He allegedly pointed a loaded gun at his former girlfriend, Calah Trostel, 25, of Medford, at about 4:17 p.m. at the park along Holmes Avenue in southwest Medford just three hours after a Jackson County Circuit Court judge denied Trostel’s petition for a restraining order against Breaux and temporary custody of their son.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Trostel said. “If I had gotten that restraining order none of this would have happened.”

Breaux and Trostel, who was accompanied by relatives and friends, met at the park so that Breaux could visit their 3-year-old son shortly before the fight ensued at about 4:17 p.m., said police Lt. Tim Doney.

Trostel said if she had been granted a restraining order and temporary custody, she could have sent a relative to bring their son for the visit.

Without the restraining order, she said, she had to accompany the toddler. Otherwise, Breaux would have had the legal right to take him from anyone who isn’t the boy’s mother, she said.

“At some point, he started taking the child to his vehicle,” Doney said. Some of Trostel’s relatives and friends intervened to stop him, Doney said. Breaux then went to his vehicle and pulled into the South Holly Street parking lot where Trostel, her son, her 11-year-old niece and her 7-year-old nephew were getting into a parked vehicle, Trostel said. Breaux allegedly blocked the vehicle from leaving and pointed a loaded semi-automatic handgun at Trostel, Doney said.

Well, you could sue:

Mother sues over baby’s murder 

The mother of a baby murdered by his father is now suing over his death.
Candice Dempsey filed a federal lawsuit Thursday morning against the city of Lawrenceburg and two police officers, Chris Atkins and Nathan Doty.
Dempsey says the officers took 21-month old Cole Frazier from her back in May and gave him to his father, Timothy Frazier. Frazier shot and killed the toddler and then committed suicide at his Nelson County home back in May.
Dempsey claims the officers didn’t have authority to remove the baby from her custody. She says they took the baby because they didn’t read an emergency protection order properly.

You could also appeal:

Breaking news: Mother regains custody after appeal

After years of litigation a little boy is returned to the legal custody of his mother after the New York Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Department, in the case of Larkin v. White, Appeal Number 2009-00143 overturned the New York Family Court Decision, docket numbers V-09582-07 and V-9760/07 granting custody to the Father. The decision deals with Judical custody and is published on line at http://www.courts.state.ny.us, and at http://www.nycdivorcelawyer.net. New York divorce attorney Lisa Beth Older represented the Mother.

 

But, really folks, does it have to come to this? Stop punishing women. Start listening to women and children. Take allegations of abuse seriously.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?