Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?…' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge and Family Court systems.

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I’m often searching for a comparison to communicate the scope & severity  of the family court matters, as opposed to the lack of urgencyThe Bay Bridge remains closed to cars as repairs continue... Noah Berger / Special to The Chronicle to address it.  Seem to have found one. . . . .

Talk about a Halloween nightmare — – a high-profile engineering failure, and urgent, though disruptive, efforts to fix — although:  No Serious Injuries Caused.  Obviously the potential for multiple serious injuries was there…

 

 

Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, October 31, 2009

(The next 2 paragraphs below appeared in article after the 3rd & 4th– see link for original order).

The bridge has been closed since Tuesday evening when a 5,000-pound steel beam and two steel tie-rods that were holding together a cracked structural support failed and rained down on the upper deck, damaging three vehicles but causing no serious injuries.

Engineers failed to take into account how vibrations from wind and 280,000 cars a day would affect a patch fix to the bridge’s cantilever section made over the Labor Day weekend.

Crews on the Bay Bridge struggled Friday to craft a fix that would prevent vibrations from wind and traffic from causing pieces of a structural repair to come crashing down.

. . .Crews on the Bay Bridge struggled Friday to craft a fix that would prevent vibrations from wind and traffic from causing pieces of a structural repair to come crashing down.

CONTRAST this urgency with the “business as usual” treatment of another system so engineered that serious injuried, and too often literal deaths, occur.   Because these are more widespread, perhaps they still don’t warrant serious attention.  Read on:\

States must reform a system

that too often rewards custody to the abusive parent.**

by Kathleen Russell, San Rafael, California, published 10-14-09 in the Christian Science Monitor.

[story of one individual highlights the issue]…I’m numbering sentences for comments below.  I also just alternate colors for easier reading.   CSM policy discourages reposting whole article, reading it all is a summary of –part of — the problems with family law.  system.

In a system with so much at stake — for the litigants, and their children — for those associated with the litigants and their children in work, school, play, at home, or as relatives — and with the short, short time span in which impressionable youngsters grow up — can even ONE false assumption be made in the process of fixing it? 

In the Bay Bridge — a HUGE project — they forgot about the wind vibrations plus the vibrations from the traffic load would affect a “patch fix.”  Seems to me that vibrations when it comes to a bridge is basic engineering vocabulary. 

The FIRST sentence of this article reads:

When a parent harms his or her own child, family courts are supposed to step in and safeguard the victim.”

Ohh??  I thought that stepping in was the province of Child Protective Services and law enforcement, since harming a child (as also a spouse, or other human being) IS a criminal act.  The concept that the family law venue is set up to handle criminal actions is a misconception.  To clarify, see www.justicewomen.org or anywhere that talks about the difference between civil and criminal venues, and family court vs. criminal prosecutions of domestic violence. 

Harming a child is domestic violence, and little to no training in this is required even to become a certified family law practitioner.  I believe I still have a link off to the side.

Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (AFCC) — see my blog — states clearly in their history page that one of their key founders was OPPOSED to the use of the “old” criminal language, and preferred newer, better terms to describe things like — child molestation or domestic violence, or things that show up as criminal acts.  I blogged on it — search here, you’ll see.

However, the CPS, the law enforcement and the family law venue most certainly DO bounce back and forth off each other, at least in this area, and listen to each other in crucial decisions, I found out (alas). 

This is a repeated refrain in the family law venue, so much so as to be characteristic.  It is just about a DEFINING quality of these courts — and no, they do NOT exist to protect children.  I believe that family law is where batterers go to hide, and was designed in part to receive them and allow them continued access.  That this also just happens to be big business, and a perpetual motion (as in, legal motions) machine, is unlikely to be an afterthough, methinks…

 None of the authorities she approached would effectively intervene to protect her daughter [1]. So in 2000, Ms. Rogers eventually felt that she had no choice but to flee with her child to protect her [2].

More than three years later, this protective mother was caught and jailed for five months, while her daughter was immediately handed over to her alleged abusers [3]. Rogers faced criminal charges for violating a court order by fleeing with her child [4]. After considering the evidence in her case, a jury of her peers completely exonerated her of all wrongdoing [5].

The very same evidence that exonerated her in the criminal court had been called “frivolous” by the family court judge and disregarded [6]. Despite her acquittal, Rogers was never granted custody of her daughter, who lives with her alleged abusers to this day [7]. She is now forced to pay a fee to visit with her daughter a few times a month in a supervised visitation facility [8].

=========

 [1], [2] — women are trained to generally go the authorized route first.  This mother did.  When it failed, her motherhood instincts kicked in (see how THOSE can help in reading about which cops — male, or female — caught, and which overlooked (male or female) Phil Garrido and the two kids he’d fathered by (kidnapped * 18-years imprisoned) Jaycee Dugard this past year.  Again, I blogged this.  A policewoman noticed something amiss in two kids; her alertness started the process saving them and their mother.

 [3] Protective mother caught and jailed. . . .   Why don’t readers just google that phrase and see what comes up.  See also Stopfamilyviolence.org.  Women have fled to other countries — sometimes getting asylum! — to protect their children from assault & battery or molestation.  The brave U.S. is not negligent to try and go fetch them back.  Google, if it’s still on-line, Sheila Riggs.  Or another, Joyce Murphy.  Or Holly Collins. 

 

[4].  Some states have an actual EXEMPTION for protective parents fleeing when it comes to felony child-stealing.  The catch is, it’s enforced in reverse!  This woman, being a Californian, should’ve been protected by California Penal Code 278, but obviously wasn’t.  Who didn’t protect her — law enforcement?  A judge? 

[5]  It seems (on a fast read] that this mother THEN got into a criminal charge, and as such, actually got in front of a jury.  Because she might be jailed, this was proper.  Unlike the family law, where mandatory mediation, and hearsay rules the day, an actual jury “considered the evidence in her case.”  That’s why the exonerated her.  It appears she was innocent and shouldn’t have been jailed.  NEVERTHELESS, she still DID spend 5 months in jail.  How do you think THAT affected her relationship with her daughter?

If being jailed wasn’t bad enough for an innocent mother, while she was in jail, I’m sure that knowing her daughter was now in the total custody — without her intervention, or ability to help mitigate this any more — of the alleged abusers — was worse punishment.  While California jails are overcrowded, hear tell women’s are less so.  They can be TOUGH.

[6].  Statement “6” above, as is, might as well be the motto of the family law venue.  If you understand this, you understand enough.  Due process doesn’t count.  Being innocent — or guilty — matters not. 

 

[7] I have a question:  WHY didn’t custody automatically go back to her?  If she fled to protect, and the evidence said there was something to protect AGAINST (if she was exonerated, it must have, right?) then WHY is that child still living with the abuser?  Because the illegal and wrongfully punishing process of a protective mother destroyed her ability to have a child?  Or because the family courts simply couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge a ruling coming from outside its own venue?

[8]  Supervised Visitation fees.   I TOLD you this was a business model.  Someday, perhaps more people will start actually believing this. 

Look:

Protective parents not only lose custody of the children they are trying to protect, but they lose their life savings, too. Many cannot even afford a lawyer to represent their interests, but are saddled with hefty supervised visitation fees and often threatened with a loss of custody if they object to paying the bevy of court-appointed experts that the judge assigns to their case.

Hmm. . . . threatening to take your kid, and have him/her [further] hurt, seriously, if you can’t pay the court-appointed experts.  And this is NOT extortion, and NOT the Mafia??  No, they are all in here to help poor people settle their squabbles, and to protect –NOT traffick in — children.

Fees quickly add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many such parents go bankrupt, making court appeals impossible. The family law “machine” operates as Big Business, and a sophisticated cottage industry has sprung up that appears to be preying on desperate parents and children who are trying to escape family violence.

The author recommends, and then talks about a “major overhaul” of the family law system.  Sister, I don’t think this is about to happen, the problems are foundational, and built  into it.  It is designed to extract cash from parents, (one side will generally be rich enough, or if not, government grants will do instead, for court-appointed attorneys, mediators, and so forth, let alone the dang judges!) and hand it over to those in “the court.”  (Think royalty).  If you’re in, you’re in, if you’re out, you’re out. 

Thus weakened, one parent will certainly have to fork over a child. a few drops more will of course be extracted, if some are left, because what protective parent does NOT want to see a child, even if under strained and artificial conditions — a lesson also for the next generation — and wouldn’t scrape together the funds to do so?  Notice — supervised visitation SUPPOSEDLY exists to protect a child from a violent parent, or one incapable of self-restraint enough to be UNsupervised.  It is typically used to punish a parent after a switch, rather than for its intended purpose.  At least, so I am coming to believe. 

Bay Bridge with thousands of daily commuters, commuters at risk (not yet dead), the fix is made.  Why?  Probably someone remembers the Loma Prieta earthquake, which DID cause deaths when this bridge collapsed.  Probably because it affects BUSINESS more than families.  I don’t know — you tell me!

Family Law Venue, with probably by now thousands of genuine casualties, including abductions, family wipeouts, jailed Moms, or Dads, and fractured relationships, lost work time (for the litigants — not the court folk) and a drain on the social services of the United States of America — and, resistance to changing BUSINESS as usual is high. 

This is a quick post, and I hope within the framework of CSM quotation guidelines.  Have a nice day!

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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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