Tuesday, April 29, 2014
An Open Letter to Our Representatives from Sen David Dutremble
Parents, family members and friends are outraged over the recent "promotion" of Hon Jeffrey Moskowtz to Deputy Chief Judge. Senator David Dutremble recently wrote to all of Maine's representatives, Gov. Paul LePage and the Judicial Branch concerning this "promotion". Both Sen David Dutremble and Rep Lisa Villa in questioning this promotion are doing what they were elected for. To represent the interest of you the constituent and not special interest like we see in the divorce industry (MEGALI - comes to mind as an example). They are both questioning the reasoning of this promotion as are many people who have been hurt.
We are publishing the letter from Sen David Dutremble to our representatives below as we feel it is a powerful letter which raises some serious questions. The email address of those who were CCed have been removed for the purposes of this post:
From: Senator David E. Dutremble
Date: Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 10:47 PM
Subject: Re: communications from Lori Handrahan - Justice
To: Lisa Villa
Hi Lisa and all attached,
The recent string of emails raises enough concerns with the way things are run in the family courts. It puzzles me why the entire legislature does not jump on board and ask for audits of the system(s). Does it really puzzle me though? Not really, there are many who tend to lose substantial gains if we allow a full audit. We need more people like Lisa standing up for the people of Maine and I am continuing to be by her side and do what is right for the people of Maine.
I have been watching the string of emails between Lisa, some high ranking officials and our constituents who many have been victimized in the family courts. Lisa and I know there is an ongoing problem within the court system because we have been fighting it and we have lived it. This is the reason I write this email so thousands of others do not have to go through the same process that us and many others have gone through.
I have heard legislators say, "there are winners and losers in family court and the only reason you're upset is because you lost". My first reaction is, this is a person who has never had to use the family court system! I would invite everyone to go spend some time in the family court system for a day, I think it would horrify you! Why would it horrify you? Because of a term commonly used in the courts "the best interest of the child" yet this term has never been defined with a true meaning. When a divorce takes place and the parents cannot agree on the custody of the child. The court appoints a GAL "guardian ad litem" to oversee the child's best interest. I ask, How does this complete STRANGER know what the best interest of my child is? When a court rules and says you can no longer see you child, it does change you! It changed me! At first it made me mad! Really mad! I wanted everyone in the system to pay for not being able to be with my kids half the time. As a matter of fact, I almost killed myself because I thought it would be easier then to continue the fight for my kids. My attorney told me the longer I try to fight in court, the longer it will take and the cost will be astronomical and they will break the bank, it's just how the system works. If you think this is only affecting a small amount of people who are disgruntled, I would ask you to watch a movie called "Divorce Corp". It took me three times to get through the whole movie because it's so upsetting. Family Court is a problem throughout the United States and this movie will open your eyes. I am no longer disgruntled at the system for my divorce because I was able to work out an arrangement without the court or the guardian. As a matter of fact as soon as the lawyers, guardians and the courts were out of the picture, I was able to do more with regards to seeing my children and currently my daughter is away at college but I have my son week on and week off.
There has been a lot of questions around the recent appointment of Judge Moskowitz to oversee Guardian ad Litem work. Several people have raised concerns with this appointment and have had less then favorable outcomes in the family court that was overseen by Judge Moskowitz. So one must ask, Is it truly people who are disgruntled or is it truly a problem within his court? I have my suspicions from what I had been through but I won't judge the judge. Instead like the court system, I will ask OPEGA to be our Guardian ad Litem! Let them do the inquire why so many people have had complaints about Judge Moskowitz and the Family Courts.
A friend of mine from Maine Guardian ad Litem Alert, wrote the following inquire and I think it's a reasonable set of questions that should be answered prior to Judge Moskowitz overseeing the Guardian Ad Litem program. Many of you will say, there's those disgruntled people again, etc., etc. That's what we hear all the time. I also hear, If I get one more email from them I swear!
However, I would ask these questions!
Why is this organization growing? Why am I getting emails everyday about the system and how it has failed the many people we represent?
I am writing you at the request of many of our friends associated with Maine Guardian ad litem Alert, who have been dismayed by the news of the recent promotion of Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz to be Deputy Chief Judge of the Maine Districts Courts. The appointment comes as a shock to many members of the public, who consider Judge Moskowitz the least likely candidate for appointment to this very important, pivotal office within the Judicial Branch operations. We ask who was party to making this decision? Why was he chosen over other candidates? What was the objective basis for choosing him in terms of knowledge, skill and experience leading to this decision?
Judge Moskowitz is one of 4 family court judges about whom we consistently hear significant complaints from users of his court, victims of his actions. A few amongst many of the complaints we hear fairly regularly are:
1.) A harsh, abrupt, demeaning manner, lack of courtesy, irritability and impatience with parties; especially those who may not concur with his thinking.
2.) An apparent lack of knowledge of the law, as it applies to Guardians ad litem. He seems to have general knowledge, but seems not to know specifics. It causes one to wonder about his knowledge of the law in other aspects.
3.) 'Pro se' representatives now constitute 74% of those appearing in family courts, a serious "access to justice" problem for the public, the legislature and the Judicial Branch. Reports we consistently receive tell us that Judge Moskowitz is rude and demeaning to 'pro se' representatives, who are usually 'pro se' because they can't afford lawyers' services. They are not there to provoke the judge, and overbearing judicial intimidation does not improve the situation.
4.) There are those who report that Judge Moskowitz conducts family court matters in a manner similar to his conduct of the so-called "drug courts", dogmatically, high-handedly.
5.) His judicial impartiality we are told by informed sources is a problem. A too active expression of views that differ with the judge's is said to prejudice future appearances in that court. The word on the street is, if you don't curry favor with him, don't plan on returning to his court!
6.) By report the drug court operation is reportedly problematic from the perspective of serious concerns expressed about "Constitutional due process" issues, 'ex parte' communication, etc.
The details we hear differ from case to case but there is enough common concern raised to present a picture of a judge, who appears not to be functioning well in the public interest. In our opinion, without further investigation of a formal nature, he does not seem to be suitable for a key, highly influential leadership position in the District Courts.
Moving away from the recent Judicial Appointment, I will move into another area that has gained many email inquires and responses,
I know here it comes, Oh that crazy lady!, she's a nut job, she's mentally unstable, she's off her rocker!
These are just a few of the terms I hear when Lori's name is mentioned.
I my heart I have to ask, why is she fighting? Why doesn't she give up? What drives her?
I know what drove me when I was fighting the court system! MY KIDS! Is this what drives Lori? According to her many emails it is.
I know Lori has made many other complaints against people in Maine from the Attorney General, Chief of Police, Attorneys and Judges now I'm not going to side with Lori because I don't even know her. One does have to ask them self, Why are so many people upset by her allegations? Why has she been banned from the state of Maine? What harm would an internal audit of the system do?
Knowing the fight I had with my divorce and knowing that the system was there for anything but the best interest of the child, it makes one wonder. Was she wronged in her case involving her daughter? There are many people in this state alone that are not allowed to see their children due to some courts ruling stating it was the best interest of the child! It makes me wonder if in fact there was wrong doing within the court system.
Lisa has raised very important issues and I support her efforts whole hearted!
I would also request an audit of the Handrahan case,
I would also request an audit of Judge Moskowitz being promoted to oversee the Guardian ad Litem program and his prior dealings within his court room.
I would also request that the entire Family Court system be reviewed to see if in fact it's fighting for the best interest of the child.
I believe that there is no harm in requesting these audits, and if no wrong doing has occurred it would be a lot easier for me to be able to return to my constituents and say, there was an independent audit done and these were the findings.
Last I would again ask that everyone watch the movie called, "Divorce Corp" and witness first hand the million dollar industry that Family Courts have become!
Senator David E. Dutremble
Senator David E. Dutremble
Representing District Four
Arundel, Biddeford (part)
Kennebunk and Kennebunkport
***Please note that any communications to or from your state senator sent via email could be considered public records and are therefore subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Access Act.***
If you have had issues with a Judge and or Guardian ad litem we would encourage you to contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com of find us on Facebook.
In addition there is a Community Meeting to Discuss - Family Court Judges and GAL oversight on Friday May 2, 2014 from 4 pm - 8 pm at the Maine Community Center, 21 Nelson Rd South Portland.
The State of Maine Judicial Branch says there has never been any complaints about the judges in the Family Court system. This is an opportunity for you to share your concerns about Family Court Judges and Guardians ad litem. The data collected will be used for legislative reform and action.
You do not have to be directly related to the case - you can be a family member or a friend who experienced the Family Court system. You can also testify anonymously if you so choose. Please bring your case/ docket number. Testimony length may be limited based on the amount of people who show.
If you would like to testify but are not able to make it. Please email MeGALalert@gmail your testimony. You are not limited - currently - by time if you decide to email. Emails received by Friday morning - 9 am can be read at the meeting if you so choose to have us read on your behalf. Please indicate in the email that you would like us to do that.