Color of Law Custody Cases

Color of Law Custody Cases
Rhode Island and other states often violate civil rights in civil courts when officials threaten to separate children from protective parents who are their lifeline. These cases may include "color of law" abuses that push the boundaries of law. Judges who allow color of law abuse in their courtrooms are guilty of "color of office."

In Family Court, we give judges ultimate power over people’s lives while taking away their curiosity, concern, and even their ability to inquire about what is really happening in these cases. This transfers the power to guardians ad litem and lawyers. These officers of the court can convince a judge--through false allegations that are frequently off the record--to remove children, imprison innocent parents, then bankrupt them through years of frivolous motions, and forbid them to talk about it--all under color of law.

In domestic abuse custody cases, this enables the abusive parent to gain extraordinary power and control over the protective parent and the children.

Here is more information about color of law:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

3.D. Case Study: Who's watching the children?

(This story begins below at 3.A.)

Any pretense at “judicial economy” in this system sounds as absurd as the oft repeated claims to be seeking the “best interests of the child.”

In this case, the former Textron VP had been fired for cause in 2001 under a cloud of sexual harassment charges.

Yet, on August 10, 2005, his own attorney, Barbara Grady, acknowledged in court that he was sleeping in the same bed with his five-year-old daughter on her court-ordered visits. To my amazement, Justice Macktaz showed little concern.

While pressing forward for sole custody, the former VP invested heavily in other court cases as well. In 2004, he tried to become a naturalized citizen.

The FBI reported that he was being investigated for insurance fraud. The Bureau for Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security denied his application based on its finding that he “lacked good moral character.”

U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi heard his appeal in 2006 and found that he had been claiming total disability at the same time he was travelling and pursuing top management jobs elsewhere. He failed to meet the statute that he “has been and still is a person of good moral character.”

In 2006, he hired still more attorneys to demand a million-dollar settlement at U.S. District Court for another business deal gone sour.

He finally won citizenship in 2009. That December, he bought a house “big enough for a family” and promptly sent an email declaring his intent to “woo” his former employee “properly,” saying “I am a man of my word.” His email continues:
We must stop pretending and do what is right . . . . I do love you still . . . . Make your choice and the business that we have been pursuing will easily fall into place.

Along with that email, their Family Court file contains the woman’s response—her January 2010 license to marry a man in Texas.

Once again, Barbara Grady entered her appearance and began filing motions to win her client possession of his daughter. The other girl's father entered his appearance on his own behalf, submitting motions that closely resembled Grady's. Indeed the orders he presented for Judge Capineri's signature--that won him temporary sole custody of his daughter--appear to have come directly from Grady's printer.

Many readers will throw their hands up in despair. Can anything be done to disarm a system that allows people to play such games and create such havoc at public expense?

No matter how wealthy a litigant is, taxpayers pick up the tab for judges, clerks, stenographers, sheriffs, and the enormous overhead through years of frivolous litigation at Family Court.

Perhaps some candidates for Chief Judge see nothing wrong in this system that provides steady income for bench and bar.

Hopefully some candidates will recognize the problems and have some ideas about possible reform. For example, how would they take these initial steps:

• to identify the dangers facing victims of domestic abuse in Family Court
• to independently assure children's safety
• to end waste and corruption in the system
• to enforce strict conflict-of-interest policies
• to stop frivolous litigation
• to trigger deadlines in cases that drag on without resolution
• to offer financial rewards and protection for whistleblowers
• to commit to prosecuting violations throughout the system

Tonight, six candidates will vie to become Chief Judge of Family Court. We will hear from them all.

Which ones are content to carry on business as usual? Which ones possess the insight to recognize these problems, the candor to name them, the humility to search for answers, and the strength of leadership to end "color of law" practices in Family Court?