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:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

9.H. “Vincent” wins sole custody, 2000

This case study begins at 9.A. below. (Click on August, then 9.A. in the Blog Archives at right.) My comments appear in italicized brackets.

October 2000 Master O’Brien gave Vincent sole custody and permission to go to Illinois and bring back the children.

November 2000 The 10-year-old boy emailed a greeting card (above) to his mother with this message:
mom, keep remembering me. I’ll always be in your heart no matter what. I keep on knitting my scarf. I’ll send it to you. I miss Matt and Andrea so much. I cry every night, wishing and wishing and wishing that I was there, with you. I hope your O.K. I love you with all my heart. Tell everybody that I miss them. I miss playing with Matt soo much! Love YA!!
He also sent a handwritten message:
Dear Mom,

I miss you very much! You’re the best ever! I will do my best on the clarinet. Tell everybody at home that I miss them so much!

I keep on sending you E-cards, but I guess they don’t get through. Anyway, make sure to send pictures of everybody, even kitty and dufus.

Keep on trying to get us back, Day and night. I’ll keep on writing to you. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxo
Love x infinite x infinitity,
[Son's signature]

February 2002 Judge Pamela Mactaz ordered that both children could speak with their mother on the phone without being monitored by their father.

September 2002 Their mother, who had moved back to Rhode Island, filed a motion to regain custody and placement of the children.

October 2002 The son ran away from his father’s home.

[Later, the son, then 13, wrote about their traumatic removal from his mother and his “forever home” in Illinois. I will add more details later from the voluminous court history, which was paid for by Rhode Island tax payers and the victims of the court.]

April 2003 Justice Howard Lipsey described “the scars that each party and each child has suffered from this unending litigation.” He blamed both parents for seeming “to thrive on exposing their children to the pain and suffering of litigation.” But he did not appear to blame the court system.

Lipsey affirmed an “unequivocal” fact:
. . . both children unambiguously and unequivocally desire to be with their mother and not their father. That has always been the position of the children and it has only been through the intervention of the Court that this has not been possible. (Emphasis added.)
He concluded:
. . . joint custody will continue the never-ending litigation that . . . would be detrimental to the well being and best interests of these children.
Justice Lipsey granted the mother sole custody and placement of the children.

May 2003 The son, 14, had a breakdown and threatened to harm himself at school. Bradley Hospital enrolled him in its Crisis Intervention program and notified DCYF.

[While in an abusive parent’s care, trophy children need to be rigorously obedient. They often excel at school, where they find affirmation and relief away from the oppressive atmosphere at home. But once they return to a supportive parent, they often suffer breakdowns. The grades of good students may plummet. Pushed to the limit of their endurance under the thumb of an abusive parent, they can finally allow themselves to feel emotions that they once kept under tight control. This is not unlike the breakdowns that soldiers with PTSD suffer after coming home from the rigors of war.]

June 2003 Vincent filed numerous motions blaming the mother for interfering with his court-ordered visitation and phone calls with the children. He blamed the mother for “psychologically abusing” the children. He even attached an email from his son, who blamed “Vincent” for lying to manipulate the court and to harm their mother.

December 2003 Justice Lipsey summarized Vincent’s numerous motions and also his ex-wife’s motion for child support, but he refused to rule on any of them. He declared that he must recuse himself from hearing the case altogether, for he had become "biased:"
After having had an opportunity over a lengthy period of time of trial, to observe the parties in this case and to observe what their reaction was to the children and what their motivations appeared to me to be with respect to the children, it is clear to me that I could not impartially hear this case because I feel on the basis of the testimony I have heard before, on the basis of my observations of both parties, on the basis of my observations and talks with the children, on the basis of the multitude of motions that have been filed within a very short time after my decision in this case, that I could not be without bias towards the defendant [Father] in this case.

I feel he is utilizing this court system for his own purposes. I feel that he is abusing the court system for his own purposes. I feel that he has no real interest for the best interest of the children. I feel further that he is taking advantage of a system, taking advantage of his children, taking advantage of his oldest son who is in the courtroom here. I think he is taking advantage of his former wife. I think he is devious. I think he has no desire to really look to the best interest of a child and children, and if anyone is not allowing them to reestablish a relationship with him and with their sibling, it is he who is doing it. . . . on the basis of my review of all the facts in this case, . . . for me to be able to impartially judge the motions that have been filed before this court would be a physical and a metaphysical impossibility.
[After examining the evidence, Justice Lipsey saw exactly what was happening. But he claimed that the Judicial Code precluded him from ruling on the case. He did not end the cycle of abuse by Vincent or by the Court. His failure to award child support condemned these children to grow up poor. Their mother patched together minimum-wage jobs day and night, sought charity, and neglected her own medical needs, while Vincent refused to pay court-ordered child support. This was particularly galling to his children, for they knew he was lying about his income. They had accompanied him when he picked up cash payments from numerous tenants.]

The next judge, Michael Forte, has a reputation for misogyny. He cut Vincent’s debt to the children’s mother in half, and he brought in David Tassoni to “mediate” child support.

NEXT: 9. I. How David Tassoni and Judge Forte punished the children and favored “Vincent.”