Saturday, July 28, 2012

When is Burning a Child with a Cigarette Okay?

There is a case in Maine that has run its course through the system. The case is a perversion of Justice and the father has been put through the wringer by the Guardian ad litem.

The father recently filed a complaint with the head Judge – Judge LaVerdiere – in which he complained about the Guardian ad litem and the neglect this woman showed for the case and the child. This father was and still is upset with the medieval process that he and others have to go though with the Guardians ad litem assigned to their case. There is a shopping list of why this Guardian ad litem practiced neglect and bias – throwing any shred of common sense out the window and not looking out for this child's best interest.

1. This Guardian ad litem neglected the child’s safety. Several years ago in July it was brought to the GALs attention that his son was burned – it appeared that the burns were caused by cigarettes. In addition there were several large bruises on his shoulders that his son complained about. The father sought treatment for his son as any good parent would do. He also complained to the Guardian ad litem.

According to the rules for Guardians ad litem if a GAL knows that a child has been abused he/ she must make an immediate report to DHHS. In this case the GAL did not report and dismissed the fathers concern. In addition the father was accused of causing trouble – which could be true if a parents concern for their child is causing trouble.

2. Despite the fact that the father has no history of drug or alcohol use or mental illness he was forced to have mental evaluations done so that he may have limited supervised visits with his child. These visits are limited to once a week for a few hours. In addition he was forced to have an assessment done for anger management because the Guardian ad litem felt the father had issues in controlling his anger. This father did what any parent would do when faced with the threat at losing contact with their child. He complied. The Dr. doing the evaluation pointed out that the fathers perceived anger was justified considering the harassment he was getting from the Guardian ad litem. The Guardian ad litem chose to ignore the findings of this Dr – thus disrespecting the opinion of a professional and making a diagnosis of the problem. This Guardian ad litem (and this would also apply for any Guardian ad litem) has no authority to make a diagnosis – never. This Guardian ad litem under rule 3, 3.2, 12(a) is supposed to work with other professionals involved in the assessment or treatment of the parties involved. She clearly did not.

3. This Guardian ad litem showed bias against the father. In addition to the assessments the father was forced to take – this despite the fact he had no history of violence, mental illness or alcohol and drug use – the mother was never asked to do the same. The mother as part of her daily regimen of coping with life is on a mix of ten plus drugs that includes - Vicodin, Oxycontin, Ativan, Neurotin, Phenergin and Medicinal Marijuana. The child was placed under the mothers care despite the knowledge the mother was often incapacitated by these drugs. Is it any wonder the father may have shown frustration towards the Guardian ad litem's recommendations?

The Judgment of this Guardian ad litem is clouded. Both the rules and standards state that a Guardian ad litem must make well reasoned and defensible recommendation regarding the best interest of the child and be an independent voice, free of bias. In all three points it is questionable whether the child’s safety was taken into consideration. Certainly the 'best interest of the child' was ignored. These points and others were cited in the complaint to Head Judge LaVerdiere. He went through and weighed the rights and wrongs – and in the end decided, upon consultation with the Guardian ad litem, that this Guardian ad litem did nothing wrong. Well at least nothing that would warrant even the light slaps on the wrist that Maine's Judiciary has doled out to their GALs. You be the Judge and let us know if the Guardian ad litem was right or wrong.


For more information on the rules and standards please follow these links:

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