Monday, May 29, 2017

Change Takes Dedication and Perseverance

Change Takes Dedication and Perseverance

Family Court is one of the most in-humane institutions ever invented by humans. There is no quick fix to bringing about change. It takes education of those who can bring about change and there will be those (lawyers, Guardians ad litem and other court vendors) who will be there every step of the way to tell those same people that there is no problem.

For 10 years Peter Szymonik has been standing up to the Family Court system in Connecticut. It takes this kind of dedication to bring about change. On May 22 Peter went before Connecticut's Judiciary Committee to give testimony on the appointment of Barry Armata as a judge.

Please watch the video of testimony give by Peter:

Judiciary Committee Public Hearing on Judicial & Workers’ Compensation Commission Nominations Followed by Committee Meeting - Video

MeGAL has been working since 2012 to bring about change in Family Court system. We encourage you to be involved in the process by contacting your representative and start to educate him/ her with what the problems are.

Guardian ad litem -  Felicity Myers


Monday, May 15, 2017

Will Your Complaint Against A Judge Work?

An important question about any quality assurance (QA) program, such as the Judiciary Responsibility and Disability Committee, is:

"Does it work?"

To which we would add:

"And for whom?"

For the public users of court services? For Judges themselves? For the Judicial Branch of government? For Lawyers who use the courts? Here are some reflections on these "QA" issues that suggest quality protection is the M.O. of the Committee; rather than public quality assurance:

1. Can any honest probe of one judge's performance avoid tarnishing (or bringing to question) the performance of other judges? Part of the power of the judiciary comes from its unassailable, sacrosanct role image as honest, incorruptible, dispassionate, objective, fair, impartial, knowledgeable about the law and above the fray of whatever contention appears in their courts. A successful consumer complaint "dings" this vulnerable image and suggests that the product, as a whole may not be as advertised. The inevitable questions follow. Is this a "one-off" situation, or are there other product defects?

2. A successful complaint about a judge would be highly likely to attract the attention of other dissatisfied "consumers of court services", who have had the same judge, and complaints might start to come "out of the woodwork". Once there is a precedent of allowing exposure of and sanction for bad judicial behavior, the precedent can be applied to other similar cases. 

3. Apart from "just one bad judge", public complainants may start to examine similar behaviors in other judges. Transparent documentation of new complaints might embolden members of the bar to get into the act and use their legal skills to zero in even more incisively.

4. An open "hunting season" on judges along with better transparency about complaints and their handling would destroy forever the "sacrosanct" judicial image, an important marketing device which maintains public confidence (and lawyerly confidence) in judges.

So how do legitimate, worrisome complaints get handled by "the powers that be"? Dismissal can be "a many splendored thing." The 100% solution.

1. Dismissed. Because the legal complaint was not not well formulated, failed to specify the exact judicial canons or to cite the exact law that may have been infringed upon. In other words, you may have "something", but "WE" set the rules of the game, and "WE" enforce them.

2. Dismissed. For lawyers complaining, there is the above issue, but there are also various potential accusations of "disrespect" of the judge.
  • Too candid in criticism = disrespect. 
  • Too forceful = disrespect. 
  • Too persevering = disrespect. 
  • Too zealous in building a case = disrespect. 
Are you planning on practicing in this state? Will you ever again expect to appear in this judge's courtroom, if he/she is exonerated? Will you be "sanctioned for disrespect/contempt" with referral to the overseers of the bar - with an impact on your license - for disrespect? There are NO rewards for lawyerly zeal in complaining about judicial bad behavior.
3. Dismissed. But working behind the scenes in the "murk" of the Judicial Branch, the offending judge is subsequently "transferred" (for no particular reason), say, from Portland to Ft Kent. All the potatoes you can eat, judge, and you're just a stone's throw from Canada.

4. Dismissed. But the judge "retires", and moves out of state or goes back to being a lawyer.

5. Dismissed. But the behind the scenes maneuvers at the Judicial; Branch lead to someone(?) making an unpublicized decision not to request judicial re-appointment when reappointment time comes up. Now you see him/her; now you don't! 

It all bears a striking similarity to another totalitarian institution, and the now, long passed, Catholic Churches opaque handling of dysfunctional priests: retire, transfer, send away for therapy, move out of the country or to another jurisdiction. Judges appear to be the "new priests"? So far the Boston Globe's Spotlight hasn't assigned its star investigative reporters to this situation.

Do you still want to file a complaint?

In the past 30 years there has not been one successful complaint against a judge - that we are ware of.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Examined - A Parents Right to Free Speech

While this appeal does not center around a Guardian ad litem that has failed. It could have.

In an unusual case the Tennessee Court of Appeals indicated that some of the restrictions placed on the Mother regarding communications were vague or broad.

As an example the Mother was restricted from mentioning the Father at all on social media. This meant that the most benign reference would land the Mother in trouble.

What is even more interesting is that this was a Family Matters case and the Mother was Pro se.

For more details please follow these links:

Herston Law Group - Parent’s Right to Free Speech Examined in Nashville, TN Child Custody Modification: Gider v. Hubbell