Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Connecticut To Review Nominations Tomorrow - Act NOW

The Judiciary Committee in Connecticut meets tomorrow to consider the renomination of several judges.

Public comments, which are limited to 5 pages, may be submitted to: Judtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Anything you submit will be public and indexed by search engines. Testimony may be submitted anonymously - but in doing so the testimony may be given less weight.

Absent a Committee vote to the contrary, the judges will likely be considered in the order specified in the Agenda below. Note that Bozutto is second, Suarez is ninth and Adelman is tenth.
The CT Constitution requires judges be renominated after 8 years. For some judges (Not sure which ones), the 8 years expires as early as January 20th. Thus in all likelihood:
(i) the Judiciary Committee will vote to approve all of the judges listed below tomorrow night; and
(ii) the House and Senate will vote next week to approve all of these judges.

Thus, NOW is the time to contact your legislator about these judges.

Judiciary Committee
300 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
10:00 AM in Room 2C of the LOB


NOMINATIONS FOR REVIEW


I. To be a Judge of the Superior Court

1. The Honorable Salvatore C. Agati of Watertown
2. The Honorable Elizabeth A. Bozzuto of Watertown
3. The Honorable Mary-Margaret D. Burgdorff of West Hartford
4. The Honorable Robert J. Devlin, Jr. of Shelton
5. The Honorable Kevin G. Dubay of Hartford
6. `The Honorable Bruce P. Hudock of Old Greenwich
7. The Honorable Corinne L. Klatt of Meriden
8. The Honorable Douglas C. Mintz of Redding
9. The Honorable Jose´ A. Suarez of Chester

II. To be a State Referee

1. The Honorable Gerard I. Adelman of Meriden
2. The Honorable Joseph P. Flynn of Derby
3. The Honorable Richard P. Gilardi of Stratford
4. The Honorable Flemming L. Norcott, Jr. of New Haven
5. The Honorable William J. Sullivan of Waterbury

Thank you goes out to Peter and Monica Szymonik for the Facebook post and letting us all know. For additional third party data visit - The Robing Room


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Pro se Civil Rights Abuse not Important Enough for Senator Susan Collins

In 2015 NaGAL approached Senator Susan Collins office for help in supporting the civil rights of Pro se parents who are being systematically abused by the justice system. It was pointed out that across the country over 50% of the "Family Court" cases are Pro se. Maine has the distinction of having 75% of court cases being Pro se.

As a Pro se litigant you are going into battle often knowing little or nothing about the rules of engagement. You are a caveman against a modern day soldier.

In June 2015 the process was started and in September of 2015 her office agreed to help and make inquires into this issue.

Almost two years later we are still being told that the office is working on the issue with the Department of Justice and that something maybe happening next month. This was the same canned answer given a month or so ago and the time before that. For all we know nothing has happened in the past two years other than being told that something maybe happening.

When pushed recently as to why Senator Collins did not go directly to Attorney General Loretta Lynch the staff person replied that the Senator only does that for "IMPORTANT" issues. Otherwise it is low level staff member to low level staff member for issues like ours. We asked if this meant that Senator Collins doesn't consider Maine and other families whose civil rights are being abused in Pro se "Family Court" cases as being important - we were told "Oh No. Every constituent is important! Everyone!".

Yeah sure they are Senator Collins.

That is why something is always going to happen "next" month.

NaGAL encourages you to contact Senator Collins to ask her why Pro se litigants whose civil rights are routinely abused by the system of Justice that should be protecting them. Why is this not important enough for her to pay attention to?

NaGAL is a grass root organization that is working for "Family Court" change and the management and oversight of court vendors like Guardians ad litem. If you are having a "Family Court" issue we encourage you to contact us at NationalGALalert@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.


Senator Susan Collins may be contacted by filling out this form


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Call, e-mail your Maine State Representative on the following two appointments

Tomorrow Maine's Representatives vote for State Treasurer and Attorney General tomorrow. We urge you to contact your Representative about the following two:

For State Treasurer - Guardian ad litem Terry Hayes is a name that many in Maine should and will recognize. Call or email your Representative asking him/ her not to vote for GAL Terry Hayes.

For Maine State Attorney General - Josh Tardy Esq. was nominated for the position. Josh is no friend of the 'Family Court' system and parents abused. Last year he spoke on behalf of Judge Patricia Worth and and Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz. Both of who were re-appointed despite efforts made by parents and concerned citizens. These reappointments were the result of superb lobbying efforts of Josh Tardy Esq. in selling damaged goods.

Please email, call your Representative by tomorrow morning and ask them to not vote either in.


For backup on Josh Tardy and Terry Hayes GAL:

http://stateandcapitol.bangordailynews.com/2016/12/05/maine-treasurer-ag-to-face-challenges-from-democratic-lawmaker-gop-lobbyist/


MeGAL

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Is It Okay for an Officer of the Court to Falsify Reports?

As an officer of the court, a vendor providing services to consumers, you come into your job with certain protections that are supposed to allow you to do your job. Immunity is given to these vendors in the course of providing their service.

What happens though if these vendors fair to do their job in a judicial way. If information they present to the court has been falsified or manufactured? In every state there is a process that one can use to file a complaint - not a process that we would recommend but that is another story.

In 2001 Preslie Hardwick did just that because the social workers working for the state fabricated evidence which when presented to the courts allowed the children to be kept from their mother without cause. In addition false reports were submitted to the court in an effort to keep mother and daughters separated. This was a violation of Ms Hardwick's Constitutional right to familial association.

16 years after the defendants allegedly violated parental rights the case came before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California to be hear. The segment presented here is between the Judges and the attorney representing the defendants Pancy Lin Esq. It is a little over 2min in length but well worth watching. Pancy Lin Esq is having a very hard time giving reasons for her clients committing perjury.




While this video segment does not involve a GAL vendor for the court the issues involved could happen. With no active control a Guardian ad litem will operate as she/he sees fit knowing that immunity will protect their lives against any wrong doing. MeGAL participates actively in changing "Family" Court through educational services. If you would like to become involved we encourage you to contact us either through Facebook or by emailing us at MeGALalert@gmail.com

For the full court proceedings please follow this link: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Call to Action This November

Want to make a difference?

This coming November you will have an opportunity to elect state senators and reps who will work for "family" court and Guardian ad litem (GAL) change.

Ask your candidates what their stance on these issues are.

If you do not know who is running call or visit your town office to find out.

Get involved - It is in the best interest of your child.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

CT - The Court of Public Opinion and Connecticut’s Broken “Family” Court System

Social media exploded this week with public outrage over the Brock Turner rape case and the horrific ruling made by Judge Aaron Pesky, who has been harshly criticized for his far too lenient sentencing. Over 1,000,000 people nationwide have signed an online petition demanding this judge resign. In addition, prospective jurors being called by the court system are refusing to serve this judge on his cases.

We need this same kind of outrage focused on our state's very troubling “family” court system and the people who operate it.

"Family" court judges in this state, showing complete disregard for the complaints from thousands of parents, legislators, mental health professionals and attorneys calling for reform - continue to operate one of the most dysfunctional, inefficient, ineffective, costly, damaging and yes, corrupt “family” court systems in the country.

Connecticut remains dead last when it comes to enacting much needed operational and other reforms. As a reflection of this, over 85% of all parents in our “family” courts now appearing Pro Se and without proper legal representation. This as their cases continue to be allowed to drag on for months and even years, due to solely judicial negligence and their very troubling and concerning judicial orders and rulings.

This dysfunction, lack of any oversight, and failure to address judicial and attorney misconduct, causes over 11,500 cases to be returned to the “family” courts each year – when there are only 3,400 new custody cases filed in this state each year ( - Chief State Justice Rogers.) This reflects a critical and terminal operational dysfunction on the part of our Judiciary – not a problem with “a small number of disgruntled litigants” as some have tried to portray.

This as citizens and parents across the state continue to be routinely jailed by Judge Bozzuto and her “family” court judges for committing no crime. This as Judge Bozzuto and her “family” court judges operate as private debt collectors for a very small group of well-connected divorce attorneys and Guardian ad Litems. This as she and her “family” court judges continue to ignore all due process and basic civil, Constitutional and parental rights.

Her “family” court judges continue to fail the state, fail its citizens, and fail the best interests of the public, families and children – by failing to rule quickly and effectively. They instead prolong cases and ignore ongoing abuse and neglect of children by improperly outsourcing their judicial authority to a small group of well-connected Guardian ad Litems taking hundreds of millions of dollars from parents with complete immunity, with no oversight of any kind, and with no accountability of any kind, while offering no positive or beneficial outcome, of any kind.

“Family” court judges, who under Judge Bozzuto’s watch, Chief Court Administrator Carroll’s watch, and Chief State Justice Rogers’ watch and approval from their silence – continue to operate well-orchestrated "Kids for Cash" and "Pay Per View Parenting" programs designed to prolong custody cases solely to enrich a very small group of attorneys, best interests of families and children and THE PUBLIC be damned.

Judge Bozzuto and her “family” court judges continue to operate de facto and unlawful Debtor’s Prisons, by SHACKLING and JAILING PARENTS for committing no crime other and for not being able to afford to pay the small armies of “court appointed experts” Judge Bozzuto and her “family” court judges force onto custody cases for no valid reason or cause.

Who are these attorneys? Their names can be readily found by looking at the membership of the now disbanded AFCC in this state, and among the select group of private attorneys who have been invited to the highly secretive annual Judge’s Meeting coming up on June 24th.

We encourage as many legislators as possible to attend this annual gathering of judges and to ask them some very hard questions in regards to how and why our “family” courts continue to operate in this manner.

“Family” court judges who routinely look away, ignore, and often encourage the abuse and neglect of children, by refusing to enforce their own parenting orders, by denying access to justice by improperly requiring the filing of “Motions for Request for Leave” in “family” court cases – even on Emergency Ex Parte motions filed to protect children, and by routinely and diligently separating children from their fit and proper parents for no valid reason or cause, especially if a parent dares ask why they can’t have equal access and time with their child. And most notably, targeting parents with children who have autism or other special needs and disabilities.

If the Brock Turner case were before a Connecticut “family" court judge, the judge would have labelled both Brock and his victim as being "high conflict" even though only Brock committed a crime.

The judge would have then ordered his rape victim to attend "conflict management" sessions with Brock at $250-$500/hour so an “evaluator” could try and "resolve any differences" she may have with her attacker.

If they had a child, the “family” court judge and GAL would assign custody to Brock because of "his stable background" and force the mother and victim to spend thousands of dollars to fight to protect her child from him and to a parent in her child’s life. This would cost her tens of thousands of dollars and years in court – with no proper outcome or resolution.

She, as a victim, would become one of the 11,500 custody cases returned each year to our broken and dysfunctional “family” courts, and be attacked and prevented from filings motions by Judge Bozzuto’s “family” court judges for daring to come back to the court and to ask for the court to do the right thing.

Such is the actual state of affairs and “justice” in our state’s broken and dysfunctional “family” courts. And this is not exaggerated in any way.

This happens each and every day in our state's "family" courtrooms. If any of you doubt me and the thousands of parents who have been subjected to this and witnessed this firsthand – please, go sit in on any custody case in any “family courthouse and just watch.

All of this as Chief State Justice Rogers, Governor Malloy, and the Judiciary Committee continue to just look the other way at what Judge Bozzuto and her "family" judges engage in and practice - because there is money to be made and federal dollars are involved.

Social media exploded this week as the court of public opinion chimed in on the Brock Turner case. The same focus and social media attention is being brought on our state’s broken and dysfunctional “family” courts – as we the PUBLIC, will and can no longer accept or tolerate the status quo in our state’s broken “family” courts, and as this movement is growing very quickly nationwide, and in fact, internationally.

We demand far better. Our children and families and state – deserve far better.

And it is simply unacceptable on for any reason or on any level that our Legislature’s Judiciary Committee has not presented a single piece of much needed reform legislation in now two sessions. You should all be ashamed.

If not now, when; if not us, who.

- Peter T. Szymonik, the CT Coalition for Family Court Reform

Peter Szymonik is involved with "Family" Court reform in the state of Connecticut. We have known and worked with Peter for years often exchanging ideas on the issues relating to "Family" Court. While Peter is writing to those in his state of Connecticut what he is writing about can be applied to any state. If you have been involved in a case where the court system has failed we encourage you to become involved. Contact your representatives and educate them and others as to what the issues are. If you live in Connecticut you can help with reform by contacting Connecticut Family Court Reform (on Facebook). Or you may contact us at MeGAL to put you in touch with others in your state.


Additional Resources:
Biographies of Supreme Court Justices Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers

2015-04-10 Rogers Pledges Court Improvements As Critics Express Displeasure

Connecticut Family Court Reform

FB - Coalition for Connecticut Family Court Reform

CT - Family Matters

Ct Judge Bozzuto retaliates Pay GAL $9,600 or go to jail

.
If you would like to Judge your "Judge" - The Robing Room

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lawyers shall not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice

There are two high sounding, phrases that stand as sentinels guarding the probity of the adjudicative process. We are told that lawyers must:

… avoid conduct that undermines the integrity of the adjudicative process….

And

…. not engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice….

For the public there is a problem in translating what these phrases mean. Specifically, how much are these ideas a matter of opinion, and what are examples of a lawyer's activities that might "prejudice the administration of justice" or undermine "the integrity of the adjudicative process".

Some components of these 'dicta' are obvious even to casual readers. No one would argue that it is a bad thing to try bribing a judge, to present false evidence in court, to lie or to encourage a client to lie, or to doctor evidence "etc. Less obvious to the public is that the erstwhile professional sins of "moral turpitude" are mostly thrown out. The legal profession seems to view the notion of sleazy behavior, or "turpitude" as old fashioned and poorly reflective of the diverse values of a diverse, multicultural society. There are also more nebulous concepts having to do with how vigorously a lawyer may represent a client. How "vigorous" is "too vigorous"? We'd ask, in addition, how does one measure "not vigorous enough"?  From what we read - apart from "psychotic" behavioral manifestations directed at a judge, "vigorous", in this context, seems hard to define and appears mostly subjective. There is another equally nebulous issue - that of protecting officers of the court, which to non-lawyers seems like the first step on a very slippery slope. Protection of them from what? One can understand a need to protect their professional dignity, to protect their person, to protect them from slander or ungrounded verbal assault. Beyond these considerations how are unpleasant facts, if presented honestly with civility to be considered?  If they are protectively excluded, isn't there a danger to the integrity (or the reality) of justice? Should court officers be protected from themselves? It renders any notion of accountability a charade.

When a judge makes an error of judgement, when a judge makes an error in law, when a judge abandons civil behavior, when a judge ignores the malfunctioning of a "court officer" and takes no corrective action, when a judge fails to accept evidence and acts in ways that favor one party, should everyone involved in the case "protect" the judge?  As citizens, we hope not, or justice is in integrity free fall. Yet the evidence that these issues get any real correction is scant at best, as far as pubic awareness is concerned

There are formal, professional avenues for complaining about these kinds of judicial mischief. In the opinion of many they are all "protective" of court officers. While they accept complaints from the public, they largely protect the "court officer" from any widespread vulgar public view during a review and judgement about the complaint. They are without the kind of public transparency that one would see for similar legal complaints about politicians, religious leaders, doctors and most other professions. The "court of public opinion" is firmly, politely excluded. Some would say that these officially approved avenues for making a complaint about an officer of the court are ultra protective of "court officers". The bottom line proof of protectiveness can be read in the numbers. Look at statistical outcome measurements. Judges are virtually never found guilty of any form of judicial malfunctioning. Either they are paragons, or the system is "rigged", and an "imperfect" court officer is rendered "perfect" by the complaint procedure itself. Likewise, Guardians ad litem who receive public complaints are virtual "saints in the church". The numbers alone tell the story. A low incidence of complaints from the public and virtually total exoneration of all complaints is used by the judiciary to claim "no problem". But consumers know "officers of the court" are far from perfect.  It is near universal public belief that the "deck is stacked"; a complaint will go nowhere, and the time and money spent in pursuing a complaint is a waste. Worse than a waste. A "court officer" who goes through the standard complaint protocol and comes out "squeaky clean" is vindicated. The alleged malfunctioning never happened (or had no merit) and the one filing a complaint is perceived as a "crank".

There is also another potential escape from accountability - an unsubstantiated claim of diminished professional responsibility caused by mental illness, medication side effects, alcoholism on the part of a wrong-doer. This is an "escape hatch" used by politicians finding themselves in trouble, but lawyers can use it too. After accolades for "courage" in self-diagnosis, there is a quick round of counseling and all is forgiven. Not to say that "officers of the court" are immune to the afflictions of alcohol, drugs and mental illness, but how does the public know about the nature and validity of such claims?  And…. even with valid claims and valid treatment, who determines "fitness for (professional) duty" after treatment? Is alcoholism (according to AA) ever truly cured? What about recurrences of a major mental illness? Are public 'caveats' ever forthcoming about damaged legal professionals who may exit a remission while continuing to work?
 
At the present time, the public has the impression that the system of oversight for "officers of the court" described above is very shaky indeed. It is totally counter-culture to what Americans demand for the policing of other major professions. Its archaic privilege is increasingly questioned and increasingly difficult to justify. The numerical growth of 'pro se' litigants, who are under none of the  professional conventions to handle "officers of the court" protectively, may be the catalyst that cracks open the system, while oversight groups like the overseers struggle to hold onto conventions. Two tracks: "do it yourself" and "follow the guild". One has protective standards; one has none. One has conventions; one has none. Two systems of justice - how  does this impact justice - and the adjudicative process?


MeGAL is working to bring reform to the Guardian ad litem and Family Court systems. We do this through education and legislative process. If you would like to get involved we encourage you to contact us, your state representative or find us on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ME - Open Letter to Hon Andrew Mead and the Justice Action Group

Hon. Andrew Mead
Chair
Maine Justice Action Group

Dear Justice Mead,

I was very pleased to be able to speak with you briefly, Tuesday, and to hear your presentation to members of the Legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Your presentation was helpful in getting a brief, general overview of your group's work in seeking "justice for all".

I think everyone agrees with the title of your "Maine Voices" contribution to the Portland Press Herald in 2014: "To ensure that justice truly is for all in Maine". My questions are about just how the Justice Action Group is doing this. You kindly encouraged me to forward questions for consideration by members of the Justice Action Group and herewith are my concerns and questions:

1. Has the committee set any numerical goals for measuring an improvement in Maine's access to justice, year by year? 75% using Maine family courts are widely reported to be 'pro se' litigants. This, on its face, suggests an access to justice problem for these people. It also suggests that, with no lawyer to represent them, they are a disadvantaged class in court. From state figures for 2015, 75%" equals about 17,065 self-representing Mainers, or over 1% of the state population. Does the committee hope its planned programmatic "interventions" will reduce these figures in a calculable way? Say, from 75% to 70%, or 65% in 1-5 years (or in some other specific time period)? As we know, these statistical numbers are not static. Older cases without service accumulate, many cases remain active for more than a year. New cases keep coming in at various rates. Without working statistics, statistical targets and a population-oriented approach, it is hard to measure the effectiveness of various types of interventions aimed at reducing the numerical size of the problem.

2. On the very commendable news about the expansion of legal services for the 'pro se' population, we frequently hear user concerns expressed about financial eligibility for no fee or low fee legal service. People report: I don't understand if I am eligible for services from web information? People we talk with express great difficulty in getting clear, straight answers when they call. We have wondered why these low cost legal services don't post simple, explicit, user-friendly information on their web sites that would enable viewers to see at a glance, if it is worth trying for their service. It shouldn't be "rocket science" for consumers. One spokesperson for low cost legal service told me in a recent phone conversation that their formula was complex, but it essentially boiled down to "food stamp" eligibility. The spokesperson added, "We don't want to be perceived by the bar as competitors for clients." To us it suggested a special interest problem in solving the 'pro se' problem. To what extent are your allowable target populations defined by bar concerns about losing potential clients? Is the bar concerned about "losses" inhibiting more rapid movement by your group? I would also ask about the "match" between geographic spread of the 'pro se' problem across the state and geographic spread/location of services for this population?

3. There is a very old saying, "Beggars shouldn't be choosers"; however, in modern times, a part of any good program management is regular program evaluation. Is there any evaluation of the quality of various legal programs for the poor, or, more recently - for those of "modest means"? Is the professional quality served "the poor" the same as that of full pay legal services, or is there an "economy service"? How do the "consumers" of these services feel about them? Are consumer satisfaction surveys being done?

4. From what I can determine, the Maine Justice Action Group is heavily weighted with members of the legal profession, yet the large majority of "advocacy" in family courts (75%) is being done by 'pro se' litigants. They know the 'pro se' experience, they know their problems with it, they know the things that do and do not work. This population makes up a very sizable majority; only 25% have lawyers. The 'pro se' litigant is the "new normal" in family courts (certainly numerically). Has consideration been given to proportional representation of this population in your access to justice deliberations? It might give the Justice Action Group fresh insights into what the experience feels like from the perspective of a 'pro se' person, and it might provide a healthy challenge to the inherent conservatism of any professionally dominated planning group. It is about taking a more deliberately consumer-friendly  orientation and about  thinking "outside of the professional box". I would also emphasize that there is a difference between "public members" of Judicial Branch committees and actual 'pro se' litigants. It is the latter who need to be heard.

5. Where does Maine fit nationally in the access to justice "spectrum"? Top rank? Middle?  Bottom? Have recommendations for improvements in the Maine program been suggested by the  national group? Are you seeing promising developments in other states that might fit Maine?

ADDENDUM FOR CONSIDERATION: Two more radical concepts have been discussed with us, and both might solve the current stresses of the 'pro se' access to justice problem, while perhaps raising other issues: (a) the Scandinavian approach to divorce seems to remove divorce from the courts altogether except for cases of proven abuse.  (b) divorce is an enormous "profit center" for many lawyers.  Shouldn't this unrepresented divorce population also be a professional bar responsibility for the privilege of a law license? Dividing the 'pro se' population equitably amongst all lawyers in regular office practice might be an amazing catalyst for other changes. It might actually lead to pressure from the divorce bar to adopt the Scandinavian approach to divorce and custody. In a stroke, this would eliminate the 'pro se' build up in divorces. But to move from concept to implementation one would need to alter the "Stakeholder" political dynamic. A large representation of "consumer stakeholders" on the Justice Action Group might alter the group's political dynamic and speed up the accessing of justice.

I offer these questions and thoughts as an outsider to your group, who has been an active observer of the family court 'pro se' problem for 4 1/2 years. I would suggest with all due respect that the access to justice problem is a large one and requires urgent action. As numbers have expanded (75%), there is inevitably an increase of stress, tension and breakage in the system. The "new normal" is not a happy normal by any means, and it is producing an  erosion of how courts function (or don't), It is a very unbalanced,  awkward "new normal" that disrupts grounded professional traditions. Most importantly, along with this damage is the very disturbing loss of public respect for our judicial system.

Please, do not hesitate to call on me if any of my queries are unclear.

Sincerely,

Jerome A Collins, MD
Kennebunkport, Maine

NaGALs mission is bring about reform within the Guardian ad litem (GAL) and Family Court system. We do this though education and legislative process. If you have been hurt by court vendors (GALs) and/of Family Court we encourage you to let your representative know and please contact us. We may be reached at NationalGALalert@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.