Monday, June 20, 2016

Did Overseers Issue Warning to Lawyers Who Call Attention to Child Abuse?

June 17, 2016

Beth Maloney, Esq.

Dear Beth,

We all understand that after the brutal morning you had to endure today, there was no room for small talk or rehashing or socializing. We did want you to know that you have our deepest respect and admiration, as a person, as a lawyer, as a citizen.

The court and the Maine Bar may have won this battle - they have a monopoly in legal weapons - however, in our opinion, they badly lost the war in the court of public opinion. The display of punitive collaboration between the Maine Supreme Court and the Overseers of the Maine Bar erased all pretense of boundaries between them. In their campaign to make you an example to all Maine lawyers who might fight judges, who enforce the abuse of children and families by a Guardian ad litem, they joined forces.

It was not pretty to watch, and it must have been sheer hell to go through. But the Overseers zeal in adding unprecedented "overkill" touches, like a link to the cases and their restriction of your practice of family law, were advertising to others but exacted from you. In earlier days, bodies were left hanging as a warning to others, "Nota bene"! Let this be a warning to any lawyer who might be tempted to call attention to "child abuse" by "officers of the court". Courtroom child abuse doesn't matter; the dignity of the court (even at its most undignified) is what counts. Image before facts!

Despite the "show trial" in Augusta this morning, we continue to admire your enormous courage, your total integrity and your fearless, total honesty - today and always! It troubled us to watch the unprincipled use of force to bend you to do their will: "Comply, or lose your license". But like the "show trials" in totalitarian countries, those involved lose more than they gain. The public feels disgust, contempt and a deep identification with the victim. Also a deep sense of personal shame, as a citizen, that this is my government in operation, punishing the wrong person.

We wish you well, the very best, even if we are terribly sad that Maine has lost an incredible family court lawyer. Paradoxically, your treatment by the Overseers and the ensuing intimidation of other lawyers may make 'pro se' the best option in Maine's family courts.

Best wishes for the future!


Previous post which are related:
2016-06-18 Did the Overseers of the Bar Protect the Public or Kill the Messenger?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Did the Overseers of the Bar Protect the Public or Kill the Messenger?

"Kill the Messenger" is the message we heard in the complaint before the panel at the Overseers of the Maine Bar in Augusta on June 17th at 9 am.  

As non-lawyers, we have been appalled by the Maine Supreme Court's handling of a lawyer, who tried to appeal lower court abuses in the contentious case of Dalton v. Dalton. To this untrained reader, the Supreme Court's "first team" (Saufley, Mead, Alexander, Gorman), while appearing to keep their own hands clean, wrote a decision, which essentially gave a blueprint to the Board of Overseers of the Maine Bar for a 'sua sponte' complaint against the lawyer in question. To public readers, this decision looks like the Court was giving hand signals to the Overseers to end to this lawyer's career in law. And… counsel for the Overseers, has essentially followed the Court's blueprint. He delivered a "petition" which many readers would say was a call to the Overseer's complaint commission for licensure death.

It is a powerful "shock and awe" move for the judiciary and its affiliates, and a Maine lawyer's career hangs in the balance. What did she do that got her in this powerful judiciary line of fire? What are the charges (crimes?) against her that provoked this kind of "nuclear" response from Maine's highest court and the legal minions at the Overseers? Murder, rape, arson, bomb threats, physical/child abuse, theft, psychotic behavior in court, lies, slander? None of these are in question, or the complaint and request for sanctions would most likely have been less stern. The Overseers claim in their policy statement on their web that their -

"purpose is not punishment, but protection of the public AND THE COURTS from attorneys who have demonstrated by their conduct that they are unable, or likely to be unable, to discharge their professional duties."

Our impression is that this case, both in its own right and in the lessons it carries for the profession, is about protecting the courts - not the public. We would add, in our view, it is about protecting courts from themselves and serious errors in judgement at all levels - bottom to top - in this case.

In a nutshell, the sanctioned attorney challenged (a) a Guardian ad litem's use of flagrant "junk science" in Dalton v Dalton to determine custody (and mandatory treatment of a young child) and (b) the court's unquestioning endorsement of this GAL's primitive clinical voodoo. Two "officers of the court", in effect, used witchcraft to make significant decisions with lasting emotional impact on a mother and child. At issue is the GAL's unlicensed, unauthorized, totally bogus diagnoses of "Post traumatic stress disorder" in a child who was involved in a custody dispute. The Guardian ad litem, a Social Worker by underlying profession made this medical/psychiatric diagnosis without recognizing 2 inconvenient facts: (a) Social Workers don't make medical diagnoses of any kind, and (b) Guardians ad litem at the time she made the diagnosis were not supposed to use their underlying clinical profession in their role as "officers of the court". She compounded her errors by referring the child to a clinical colleague for "scream and hit therapy", a professionally discredited "therapy" that has no scientific recognition. Nowhere in this entire clinical transaction was there a use of a medical clinician qualified to obtain a clinical history, conduct a physical and neurological examination, order and review laboratory and clinical tests, consider a differential diagnosis, consider various treatment options and then - only then - institute appropriate treatment.

The entire mistreatment ought to be a shameful embarrassment to any civilized, enlightened society. It is a tragedy for the child and her mother to be forced into this situation and ordered into an unrecognized form of  treatment. It is court authorized clinical experimentation. Forced treatment is always to be questioned; forced submission to a discredited therapy is frankly, court ordered child abuse and has no place in a free democratic society. It is an unbelievable totalitarian nightmare that is wrong by any standards one might apply.

But what is the bottom to top judiciary system to do with this admittedly "awkward", indefensible situation?  Distract public attention with "sound and fury"! It infers that the court was fine; it was the lawyer, who was abysmally lacking in knowledge of her profession. Her actions in court "attacked" the judge though witnesses say that she never raised her voice. She used- gasp, shudder- "leading questions". Though "leading questions" and many of the other supposed professional "crimes" listed by the Supreme Court (and later by counsel for the Overseers), got corrected on the spot in the lower court at the time, the damage to the law one gathers is incalculable! Were the consequences of the Supreme Court decision not so serious, one would be tempted to laugh at their predicament: having to defend clinical "witchcraft" as basis for custody in the lower court. But a mother and child have been impacted by this "witchcraft" and the career of an attorney hangs by a thread because she called it "witchcraft". There is the additional worry about the precedent of using "junk science" and "witchcraft" as acceptable standards in family courts.

As "grass roots" observers, our concerns in this case are several fold: (a) Junk Science as a basis for judgement is beyond wrong and needs some correction, such as a 'sua sponte' complaint about the "officers of the court" at all levels of this case for using incredibly abusive standards (b) The attack on a lawyer who had the courage and decency to say truthfully, "The Emperor has no clothes!" The example of an irrational attack by Maine's highest court and by the Overseers on this lawyer will send a terrible message to other family court lawyers: don't you DARE tell the truth about malfunctioning of "officers of the court". "Yell therapy" is perfectly OK if a GAL and judge approve it. Scientific opinion be damned! (c) The blind support of the Supreme Court defending "junk science" and out to get the asker of "leading questions" ( and the like)  is all too reminiscent of the movie, "Spotlight", and the abusive power plays it documented.

It is an "access to justice" situation 'par excellence', if our most courageous messengers to the court "get killed" when they deliver an honest but unwelcome message.

In our opinion there is a relatively immediate need to correct the abusive judgements of the judiciary at all levels in this case, so we can correct the shame of it. We would also propose a well-chosen (not just lawyers and judges) Maine Family Court Commission to study the terrible symptoms emerging from Maine's family courts, the growth of 'pro se' litigants, to diagnose and correct problems, including re-design of the system and to propose legislation. "Scream therapy" has no place in court mandated treatment (OR ANY LEGITIMATE TREATMENT PLAN) for child or adult!

MeGAL is working to reform "Family" Courts and the vendors the court system use (Guardians ad litem) through educational means and legislative action. We would encourage you to get involved in the process to bring about change. You can do this by contacting us at or finding us on Facebook

Saturday, June 11, 2016

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

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….


…. 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.