Monday, January 18, 2016

Please, Give Us, "Access to Justice"!

This week the Maine Bar is hosting their annual meeting. This year the Bar is promoting the idea of Access To Justice (A2J). Their idea of what Access To Justice is different than what we would consider a consumers Access To Justice. Presented here is our letter to the Maine Bar regarding this very sensitive issue of Justice and how consumers are able to access this service:

Stephen D Nelson, Esq.
President
Maine Bar Association

Dear Mr Nelson:

Many members of the public are pleased to learn that the Maine Bar Association has chosen as this year's convention theme, "Access to Justice".  We hope that this uplifting theme inspires your membership to address the growing "Access To Justice" problem of self-representation in Maine courts.  In family courts, the statistic that 75% are 'pro se' means that the 'pro se' litigants outnumber lawyers by a wide margin, and family courts ought to be renamed, 'pro se' courts. The "new normal" in these courts is 'pro se'. Though 'pro se' litigants are the majority in family courts, one would never know it from the power dynamics as attempts to preserve the old ways prevail. And 'pro se' litigants receive 2nd class services (or worse).

I present the following extracts from actual cases for illustrative purposes. They are intended as examples that illustrate the human aspect of "Access To Justice". With a 75% statistic, there are literally hundreds of additional "access to justice" human problems. It needs action from the bar, unless the bar is to limit its legal practice in family courts to those with access to "money". No money, no service - except for limited 'pro bono' charity, which, though worthwhile, doesn't seem to reduce the 75% numbers.

Herewith samples that put a human dimension on the 'pro se'  problems:

1.)  Access to Justice: for many 'pro se' this means inaccessibility of access to 'pro bono"? A case example: one of many.

On several occasions, I sought out legal services that were pro bono, or 'a la carte,' or, in one instance, an hour consult to prepare for a 'pro se' two hour trial in which both myself and my former husband were to be 'pro se', I was told by attorney after attorney that neither pro bono, nor  "a la carte" was an option (not even a FREE one hour consultation).

One highly regarded law office was so bold as to point blank state, Attorney ******* will not meet with you because it would not be "cost effective for her". Cost effective?

2.)  Does "Access To Justice" have to mean bankrupting  clients?

"Once a post-judgement plaintiff and / or defendant has spent every last bit of savings - including all retirement funds- and has liquidated all material assets (as in my case: a home that was once the primary home for our two minor children, all home furnishings, etc....), there will no longer be "access to justice"?

3.)  Does Judicial Role Distortion in 'pro se' cases mean "access to justice"?  Or does judicial improvisation signal the collapse of courts as we have known them?

"In our last trial - as both parties were  'pro se' - the judge did all the questioning. I was unable to cross examine. The defendant told untruths and because the judge did not know the truth from Adam, he had no idea when to challenge a response from the defendant. If I had an attorney, I would have been allowed to challenge the untruths.

A few times I objected and attempted to shed light on what was spoken as truths as being untrue BUT I was not given the benefit to explain the "objections" without presenting as "difficult". Being 'pro se' and without being able to counter defendants claims - there was no access to justice on that day in court. In our first trial - with an attorney present on both sides - "no hear-say was permitted in court."

4.)  Attorney intimidation limits access to justice even for clients who can pay for a lawyer.

'Sua sponte' disciplinary complaints to the Overseers, if an attorney provides too robust a defense, is another factor limiting a client's "Access To Justice". Even those family court defendants who can afford a lawyer may find that their lawyer is intimidated by threats of sanction if a defense is perceived as too robust. In a family court system that is 75% 'pro se', an over-scrupulous concern about how things get done, seems misplaced.  What indeed are the legal standards for a 'pro se' court? Are there any? Selective scrupulosity, using "old normal", standard tools in a "new normal" situation seriously limits "Access To Justice" for clients who can pay, and, looks like a variant of the approach used to control lawyers in Boston in the heyday of the Catholic Church scandals.

Our proposal to the Maine Bar:

We would propose that the Maine state bar seek a legislative mandate to take immediate legal representation responsibility for all 'pro se' litigants in all civil courts, such as the 75% 'pro se' litigants, and that the bar make an equal, fair division of all 'pro se' litigants, to be allocated amongst all licensed bar members, as a condition of receiving a license to practice law in Maine. It would solve the 'pro se'  problem pronto (and the human hardship therein), while research goes on. Alternatively, the bar might decide to turn family courts entirely over to the 75% 'pro se', and establish a separate court for the wealthy, full paying parties.  It is rapidly reaching that point of inflection anyway.

Yours for seeking solutions to 'pro se' "outside of the box"!

MeGAL has been working for Guardian ad litem and court reform. Access to Justice (A2J) is another part of the problem with our Courts where over 50% of the population who consume judicial services are doing so on their own. The Maine Bar Association is having their annual meeting and the theme for this year is Access to Justice. Or is it? If you have had issues with the courts, as a Pro se litigant, represented by a lawyer who fears the courts - we ask that you contact us with your story. We can be reached at MeGALalert@gmail.com or find us on Facebook

Further resources:

A2J Canada - Canadian Bar

Canadian Forum on Civil Justice

2013-08-13 Access to justice in Canada ‘abysmal’: CBA Report

2014-02-05 Access to Justice: Help coming for people headed to Canada’s civil and family courts

National Center for Access to Justice ( NCAJ )

Department of Justice - Access To Justice

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Because my ex abused my son/ daughter, this stranger (GAL) is deemed a more capable parent than me"

Parents 'prescribed' court ordered anger management.

Is it any wonder then why any parent when faced with a similar situation would feel anger towards a custody situation they find themselves in? Court vendors (Guardians ad litem, Parental Coordinators and other court experts) have been “prescribing” courses in anger management for quite some time. One Senior GAL is on record for recommending this because one of the parents was “caustic and controlling”. Are these parent(s) who are given these “prescriptions” by court vendors really in need of anger management? Or is this the “prescribers” attempt to control (and need to punish) the parent(s) as a result of an unfriendly or hostile interpersonal situation? The courts and court vendors appear not to have given much thought or “prescriptive” precision in recommending “anger management”.

Anger is an emotion and is not recognized as a diagnosable form of mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Anger is not a primary condition but is a secondary emotion and is a part of many situations. The courts order and or prescribe “anger management” without the knowledge, skill or professional experience to know what they are doing with this alleged tool. The courts and their vendors(GALs, Parental Coordinators and Special Masters) are not clinicians trained to “prescribe” anything, they are reporters to the courts. In making these 'prescriptions' the courts and officers of the courts never describe the anger as being mild, severe, appropriate, inappropriate, controlled or out of control. If it is secondary to psychosis, drugs or alcohol or whether the anger is threatening the safety of others. In 'prescribing' therapy the courts and vendors of the courts do not set goals or an end point to 'anger management'.

So are the courts helping the parent(s) that are 'prescribed' treatment or are they delving into an area that they have no business being involved in? Causing more harm to the parent(s) in an attempt to control and manipulate them. It appears that the courts in 'prescribing' 'anger management' are doing nothing more than playing witch doctor in their pseudo-psychological, court 'prescribed' punishment for what is perceived as bad behavior. The reality is that the parent(s) are showing their frustration with a process that is so twisted and warped that it is devoid of any reality.

If you have fallen victim to court 'prescribed' therapy please contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com for support or like us on Facebook for up to date information.

https://www.facebook.com/National-Guardian-ad-litem-alert-NationalGALalert-264309573636074/

Your voice and opinion matters - please take a moment to take our anonymous survey on the state of Family Court [LINK].

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Speak Out - 2015 Survey on the State of our Family Courts

As a consumer of Judicial Services rarely have you ever been given the opportunity to provide feedback to your Family Court system on how they are doing. There is no exit survey on the experience you just had. As a result our Family Court system has no idea on how well (or badly) it is doing.

Until now.

We want to know what your experience has been as a consumer, lawyer, judge or Guardian ad litem (and other court vendors) within this system. The data collected will be used and provided to our representatives as well as the Judicial Branch and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The survey on the state of our Family Courts asks 13 questions anonymously and provides you an opportunity to expand on any and all of the topics.

In January 2016 we will be publishing the results of this survey.

2015 State of Family Courts [ LINK ]


Saturday, December 12, 2015

It is High Time for Court Reform - Current Process Invites Problems

In his recent "Maine Voices" opinion piece, Portland attorney, Peter Murray, has written a thoughtful, serious analysis of troubling symptoms coming from Maine's probate courts, along with a call for reform and his thoughts about how to do probate reform. In so doing, he appears to use as inspiration the recently reported symptoms of the Biddeford Probate Court and Judge Nadeau. It is encouraging for members of the public to hear a distinguished lawyer "thinking out loud" about any form of court reform, and Mr. Murray is to be congratulated for his courage and public spirited effort.  However, in our view, there is a great need for a much broader, more extensive public "conversation" about court reform, a conversation not limited to just probate courts, nor limited in participation to the "legal guild" talking to itself.

Our observation is that there are troubling symptoms pouring forth from other types of courts, as well that merit public conversation. We are aware of widespread, public dissatisfaction with Maine's family courts. There are also "noises" calling for reform of criminal justice systems. While not claiming expertise in these matters - to us (and many others) there appears to be considerable symptomatic "smoke" in these various court sub-systems. Is there also "fire"? In this connection, it should also be noted that Maine courts seem to get consistently low grades (F) in national surveys, and also that a numerical grade of 43% (out of 100%) is not a brilliant grade. These outside evaluations suggest that we have no cause to be smug about the functional quality of our Maine courts. What to do and how to do it is a conundrum. Who is to take charge?  Who is to investigate, what is the nature of the problem(s) and who is to take responsibility for systemic repairs or remodeling?

To many, there is a problem with simply correcting a symptom. As an approach, it often ignores other fault lines in a total system and is inadequate for any complex systemic problem-solving. There is also another problem-solving danger for court reform: that of attempted "solutions" to such problems getting trapped by the perspective of a particular professional culture. An outside evaluation of the entire system and how it is working for client users, the public, is needed. We would ask the decidedly, populist question: who owns the court system (probate and otherwise)? For whose benefit are they working?  How do taxpayers fit into making the change-decisions involved in court reform? Many people today will feel that a "guild knows best" approach is elitist, exclusionary and wrong. These comments are not intended to be disrespectful of Mr. Murray. As we move forward, there will be more and more populist questions asked by a consumer-oriented public that is used to the open systems of media.  Paternalistic, professional answers by themselves will not suffice.

In this regard, Mr. Murray's remark that voting invites "problems for judges", comes across as distinctly exclusionary. With all due respect, it is "tone deaf" for populist times. No question but voting for judges does invite problems. The "root" problem he proposes to avoid is called "democracy". Democracy is a messy business. However, many would say: so is the current process admired by Murray for the selection of district and superior court judges. It operates below the public's radar:  Behind closed doors, oligarchic bar grandees select judicial nominees, these are then privately sold to the governor and then rubber-stamped by the legislature that is presented a near 'fait accompli' the tidal movement of which is difficult (nearly impossible) to reverse. The current judicial appointment process doesn't inspire awe or respect in the public who "consume" court service. The potential for cronyism and patronage in the current opaque process is nearly unlimited.

We would suggest to Mr. Murray et al that there is a serious need for an in-depth look at the total court system, that there is a need for a thoughtful, careful analysis by outside consultants who are experienced in advising on the rehabilitation and repair of large government systems. Some of the consulting resources of a Harvard Business School might come to mind- just as an example. To us, Mr. Murray appears to be prescribing a "band- aid" to cover probate courts. The public wants and deserves much more.

Mr. Murray has made a brave beginning to a much needed court reform "conversation" in "Maine Voices" of the PPH.  For this he deserves our thanks. However, this "conversation" needs to continue and expand bringing in those "civilians" who use (and pay for the courts) while being denied the input of normal ownership. Those "who pay the piper" ought to have something to say about the "tunes" that get played. We all - "civilians" and legal professionals alike - need technical help from out of state consultants in how best to get our arms around the problem and how to set direction for the best interests of the public. 

We'd sincerely ask that the Portland Press Herald continue this much needed "conversation" about Maine court reform.

MeGAL has been working towards reforming Family Court vendors (Guardians ad litem and the use of 'court experts') as well as Family Courts. We can be contacted at MeGALalert@gmail.com or finding us on Facebook.

Maine received an ( F ) recently in many aspects of our state government. Regarding Judicial Accountability Maine received a score of 43 ( F ). This is not the first time Maine has received an ( F ). For further information about Maine and other states follow this [ LINK ].

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Judicial Branch - Your Complaint has been filed -



The question is will it be filed between "It sucks to be you" and "We really don't care what you think"? Or will they give it the attention you feel it deserves?

In researching complaints and the complaint process you should be aware that very few consumers of judicial services are successful. Out of thousands of complaints that we have seen those who have had any success can be counted on one hand. Set your expectations low – very low.

There are things which you can do to make your complaint stand out and have some bearing on the quality assurance process.

In talking with consumers of judicial services about why there is something wrong with their case I often hear every detail – in detail and how it relates to them. It is like they have a machine gun and just unloaded the clip. They feel the courts should know everything. The courts do not need to be presented with everything. Why? In telling the courts everything you are also showing your hand to the person you are filing the complaint on. In the end you have nothing left to play when it will count.

Keep it short and to the point – you are playing by their rules and it is their game. You need to be able to relate to the way the courts think and talk. Writing a 20 – 30 page complaint about the lies and abuse you went through in story form will fall on deaf ears. I can tell you from personal experience that it is hard to read through and make sense of what someone is complaining about in this format. The first complaint I filed with the judge about the Guardian ad litem (GAL) was in this format. Looking back at what I wrote – it was terrible – even though the points being made were valid then and still are. On the other hand the second complaint to the courts and the one to the licensing board were written in a way that could be understood by the person(s) reading it. It was short – maybe three pages or so and they referenced statutes, laws and/ or rules and why the GAL had malpracticed as it related.

Another issue is a sense of urgency in filing a complaint. Gotta have it in tomorrow! You have time. As the SOS band sang “Take your time do it right”. Time is on your side and use it to your advantage. Write your complaint then return a day or two later – reread it. Read it out loud - you will pick up on awkward lines and thoughts. Have a family member read it or someone you trust. The more eyes that  see it and offer an opinion the better for you in making your complaint understood.

In filing a complaint you are providing the judicial branch the quality control which their system lacks. Keep in mind that there is a high probability that your complaint will go nowhere. With that being said it will be part of the record and can be used at some point in the future when the courts become more consumer oriented as opposed to the current mind set of stakeholder oriented.

One other thing – while we tend to think in terms of our reality – 21st century mindset on consumer issues and relations. Our courts are woefully behind the times lagging behind society by decades and in some cases centuries. It is also a closed group with its own lingo and customs which can be frustrating to no end. Part of their process is keeping issues compartmentalized. Don't. Let others know what it is that you are complaining about. Educate your representatives before filing. Educate your family and friends but do it with grace not as a child. In letting others know what your complaint is about it becomes harder for the courts to sweep the issue under a rug.

MeGAL is a grassroots organization trying to bring sanity to an insane system. We can be reached through email at MeGALalert@gmail.com or finding us on Facebook.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Parents "What do I owe?" - Family Court "How much you got?"

Mr. Craig Kelly appears to be a politician whom the Guardian ad litem/ Court reform movement could use. He recently gave a speech earlier this month regarding the use of a court appointed expert who by all appearances took advantage of the situation he was in by gouging the divorcing family. This issue is quite common in our Family Court system where judges grant a monopoly to Guardians ad litem and other court 'experts'. We must educate our politicians to the problems within our court systems -


FAMILY COURT RORTS – Speech in Parliament (November 2015);

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (11:18): Deputy Speaker, this morning I would like to talk about a rort — a rort that is going on in the Family Courts of Australia.

It is a rort that involves excessive fees, price gouging and virtual extortion; it is nothing other than a scam.

I am not going to name names today, but I put those on notice involved in this rort. If necessary, I will name names in this parliament.

Now Deputy Speaker, in a truly competitive market, I have no objection to anyone charging what the market will bear. In our free market, capitalist society, they are entitled to charge as much as the customer will FREELY pay.

However, where we have a situation where the Family Court orders a so-called ‘single expert” to do what is called a 'report' or an 'analysis', the court is granting them a monopoly.

And these people should not be allowed to exploit that monopoly position granted to them by the Family Court, by price gouge and charge excessive fees.

This is an area which should have government regulation where we set and regulate the fees where the Court does grant them a monopoly.

Deputy Speaker, I would like to give you an example of one of the current practices. I have a Family Court order in front of me, and it states that the participants in the Family Court, the father and the mother, should attend a particular ‘Mr X’ (name withheld) on a certain date for a further ‘single expert report’.

It goes on that the cost of ‘Mr X's’ report will be borne equally by the parties and that they will pay the sum of $8,000 each.

So Mr X is entitled to a sum of $16,000. (And parent of the child is unable to pay, they will be denied the right to even see their child, so the child is a victim of this rort as well)

When it was asked how this is calculated, it worked out at a fee of $700 per hour. That’s right Deputy Speaker; $700 per hour.

Now this is for a psychiatrist. If I look at the Australian Psychological Society's national schedule of recommended fees—the recommended fee schedule in place from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016—it sets out the recommended level of fees for an hour of consultation at $238.

So, because the courts are giving this particular individual a monopoly position—

(debate interrupted - Proceedings suspended from 11:21am to 11:34am) (debate resumed 11.34am)

- I will continue where I left off.

I was giving an example of the current practice of this rort whereby the scheduled fee recommended by the professional association is around $238 an hour (that’s $9,520 for a 40hr week – nice work if you can get it).

But in this case because the so-called expert involved has a court-ordered monopoly, they are able to charge what they like.

And they are charging 200% ABOVE the scheduled fee recommended by their professional association — a charge, including GST, of up to $700 an hour.

Deputy Speaker, I have no objection if in a fair, free and open competitive market if they want to charge $7,000 an hour, and someone is willing to pay this of their own free will.

But where the court compulsory orders a participant in the court proceedings to see an ‘single expert’ thereby granting such an individual a monopoly, and they charge such an excessive fee — a 200 % uplift, a $500 per hour UPLIFT (on the scheduled fee recommended by the professional association) — it is nothing other than an absolutely rort.

Deputy Speaker, I am not one for excessive government regulation,however we should have legislation that sets a maximum schedule of fees for these 'single experts' if they are to be given a court ordered monopoly.

For the current situation is very similar to what I remember in an old Chevy Chase movie, 'National Lampoon's Vacation', where Clark W. Griswall (played by Chevy Chase) crashed his car and had to get his car repaired. He pulls out this wallet and asks, ‘What do I owe you?'

And the repairer said, 'How much you got?' And when Clark complains about such price gouging, the repair pulls out this sheriff’s badge.

Deputy Speaker, his is akin to the same situation that we have going on in our Family Court today, and it is totally unacceptable.

Secondly, I have great concerns over some of the secrecy provisions in the Family Court. I would like to quote one Mr J Robert Oppenheimer from the 1950s. He said, which well applies to our Family Court today:

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism … We know that the wages of secrecy are corruption. We know that in secrecy error, undetected, will flourish and subvert.”

We need to end a few practices in our Family Court. We need to end the practice of secrecy.

We need to shine a bright light on the practices that are currently going on in our Family Court.

If we are going to continue to have the practice of single experts, a practice which I am greatly concerned about, we must have a schedule of professional fees they can charge. which must be reasonable.

And Deputy Speaker, regarding the current practices—these current rorts that I have outlined — I am putting these people on notice that they are being watched. This parliament is going to shine a light on their activities. (time expired).


If you have been involved in a case which has turned sour or just does not make sense we ask that you contact us at MeGALalaert@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Halloween - The New Complaint Process – Are Parents on the Highway to Hell?



And you thought that Halloween was scary just wait until you try and file a complaint against a Guardian ad litem (GAL). September 1, 2015 consumers of judicial services in Maine's Family Courts were faced with changes in the GAL complaint process. 

Could Parents end up singing?

"I'm goin' down
All the way
I'm on the highway to hell" ( AC/DC – Highway To Hell )

Are the new rules and complaint process better for you the consumer of judicial services? Prior to September 1, 2015 we had a set of rules which came in at around 12 pages of fairly easy to understand process. The complaint process was easy to comprehend, almost intuitive. After September 1, 2015 we are faced with a whopping 60 pages of rules which the complaint process comprises a staggering 40 pages+ of process. Comments on Facebook suggest that the new complaint process if good for parents.

Or is it?

While the rules are for the most part remain the same as they were prior to September 1, 2015 the way in which a parent files a complaint has dramatically changed. For the better – we don’t think so – but you be the judge.

Here is a “simple” compare and contrast of the complaint process:

Pre-September 1, 2015 

The old rules had a fairly easy to understand process and procedure for filing a complaint if you felt the GAL on your case was or had malpracticed in his/ her role.

1    If the case was ongoing a complaint could be filed with the presiding judge. This was usually done as a Motion. The complaint would sit until after the case was decided.

2    If your case was over the next level was to file a complaint with the Head Judge.
While this process was flawed in so many ways it was a process which anyone could easily understand.

Post-September 1, 2015

Parents/ consumers of judicial services are faced with a process that is multi layered – and takes on the appearance of court room proceedings.


  1. If the case is ongoing a complaint is filed with the presiding judge. This is done with the filing of a Motion.
  2. If your case has been decided then filing a complaint is submitted to the Review Board through the Review Board’s Central Intake. A form must be filled out that is approved by the board.

a.       Board Counsel receives the complaint
i)                    Investigates the complaint
ii)                   Determines whether the complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the rules and determines whether or not the alleged facts – if true – constitute misconduct by the GAL.
b.      Board Counsel – Determines no misconduct
i)                    Complaint is dismissed
ii)                   Complainant has 21 days to see review of the decision
iii)                 See 2a. After the review has been completed if the Board Counsel determines there was no misconduct then complaint is dismissed and GAL is exonerated.
c.       Board Counsel – Determines misconduct
i)                    Board Counsel refers case to Board Clerk for hearing before Review Board Panel
ii)                   Pre-hearing Procedures
1)      Board Counsel files formal charges with Board Clerk
2)      Board Clerk assigns complaint to 3 member Review Board
3)      Respondent has 21 days to file written answer to Board Clerk and Board Counsel.
4)      21 days (no later than) in advance of hearing Board Clerk serves notice to Board Counsel and respondent of date and time of hearing. Written communication is sent to the complainant.
5)      14 days (at least) before hearing Board Clerk prepares for Board Counsel a statement of disciplinary sanction record.
6)      Discovery – Takes place 21 days after respondent’s answer (see c.ii.3). Information is exchanged
iii)                 Hearing
1)      Nature of the Proceedings – Chair of review Board Panel shall decide pre-hearing motions
2)      Inability to Properly Defend – If the respondent claims to be incapacitated – Board Counsel may recommend that Chief Judge suspend GAL from roster pending determination
iv)                 Review Board Panel Decision
1)      Dismissal
2)      Reprimand
3)      Removal
v)                  Appeal of Review Board Decision

The new process is daunting. In addition to the above there is the question of members being impartial. For instance there are several members rostered as Guardians ad litem and members of MEGALI (the trade organization for Guardians ad litem). MEGALI offers its members such services as a chat room, support and advice for GALs to name a few. Imagine submitting a complaint to the Board of a GAL who is a member of MEGALI. Is there any process in place which would/ will prevent the board members from discussing your complaint in the chat room of MEGALI? To our knowledge there is none. Your complaint could be decided even before it has been formally submitted.

“In America 40, 000 men and women every day”
(Redefine Families)
(Don't Fear) The Reaper Blue Öyster Cult

Is this a better process than what we had? Or is this just a scary Halloween trick thrust upon divorcing families in the state of Maine?

MeGAL is a grassroots organization that is fighting for Family Court and Pro se reform. You may find us on Facebook or you can email us at MeGALalert@gmail.com.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Problems with the Complaint Process - Our reply

To: Mary Ann Lynch, Esq

From: Jerome A Collins, MD

Subject: Your reply to my query.

1.) As you state, there was indeed a very long time period for public (and other) input into the new GAL Rules and the complaint Board. It went on over a period of years. I can safely say that during its extremely lengthy "gestation period", there were numerous public occasions in legislative hearings, in JB committees  and in private conversations with you, in which very strong opposition to the placement of the Board under the management of the Overseers of the Bar was expressed. It was no secret. There was virtually unanimous opposition by our group - and by any and all GAL service consumers - to having the complaint protocol handled by the lawyers' "guild".  So from a consumer/grass-roots/user perspective the Judicial Branch has chosen a lawyer-friendly rather than a consumer friendly approach to GAL  complaint management.

I would add that the most significant problems with the actual Board could not be evident until a Board was appointed, so there was absolutely no way of raising our concerns about the Board composition and membership in advance.

2.) Your refusal to answer the questions in my earlier memo is (to my knowledge) a first for you in all the time I have known you, and admired your incredible (and commendable) work ethic. I asked questions seeking guidance from you on general principles about the particular committee. It struck me and others that Senator Dutremble (or any legislator) would be severely hamstrung in his service to  constituents, if his constituents were to have a GAL complaint. It also seems that Mr Prescott will have extensive external channels of information about GALs from MEGALI members, just by being a member of MEGALI himself, and that his access to this information effectively sabotaged the purity of the screening steps to be conducted by the Overseers' staff. It is not hard to imagine that he will have all sorts of information about "officers of the court" who belong to his "club"  before anyone else on the committee.  Everyone is equal, but some are more equal, as they say.

I regret that you are unwilling to provide guidance as an informational service to those who might consider using the GAL complaint service.  As things stand with the GAL Board, we are tempted to borrow from Ralph Nader's comment about General Motors: "Unsafe at any speed!!"  Not designed for the safety of families and children!

The emails between MeGAL and the Judicial Branch:

2015-10-21 Is the New Maine Guardian ad litem Complaint Process Fair to Parents?

2015-10-30 The Judicial Branch replies on the Complaint Process