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:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

10.J. Déjà vu all over again

Some readers thought Attorney Cynthia Gifford's subpoena of me meant I was headed to prison. Not so. As ordered, I appeared in court yesterday, where no mention was made of my subpoena. These are tricks some lawyers play to intimidate, complicate, and if possible, accumulate billable hours.

"Barbara's" attorney, Cynthia Gifford, continued her cross-examination of Dr. Ronitte Vilker. "Tracy's" attorney, Keven McKenna, continued to object, saying Gifford was raising subjects far beyond the scope of his original questions and Barbara should pay the psychologist's fees to use her as an expert. Judge Debra DiSegna denied his objections.

But the judge also pleaded with Gifford to conclude her tedious cross-examination--which involved lengthy hypotheticals calculated to get the psychologist to say her patient, Tracy, was untrustworthy, a failure as a parent, a danger to her daughter, and incapable of co-parenting with her former partner.

It was déjà vu all over again, recalling the history of another psychologist, the late Dr. Judith Lubiner, on this case nearly three years ago, which I will recount at another time.

Snow and sleet fell outside, and another expensive afternoon slipped away at the Washington County Courthouse.

Then something remarkable happened. Gifford protested, but Judge DiSegna needed to ask the doctor some questions. In that instant, the atmosphere changed from an adversarial game of Gotcha to a heartfelt conversation between the expert and the judge about how they could make the future better for Jenny.

A wasted afternoon became some of the most potentially productive minutes in this case. The clerk and stenographer agreed to stay longer as we watched a scene unfold that needs to happen more often if Family Court is to provide the wisdom and justice that good parents hope for when they come here.