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GALs Gone Wild — and Overbilling, Under-reporting Income (Connecticut, Minnesota, Pennsylvania)

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The title reference will be obvious to some cultures, think “Spring Break” and TV programs you’d rather not have your nine-year-olds watching. It seemed appropriate as to quality of behavior.

In context, the discussion (recently) has been on Children’s Advocacy Groups — of which “guardians ad litem” are part. Is there a way to see the impact (emotion) without losing reason to emotion, particularly when harm to children is involved?

This is a shorter post (I’m not putting much time into it); just wanted to place the three cases in question alongside (after) the National Association of Counsel For Children’s self-descriptions of just how often they want an attorney in the life of a child (or juvenile). That this organization has developed a certfication process, has an expanding membership, has member affiliates, Children’s Law Office Program guides, and more — and that it had HHS support in developing child welfare law as a certification specialty (since the US IS trafficking kids, might as well has some standards…??)

In general, we are finding that when women or children attempt to separate from abuse, for their safety, here comes some facet (usually of the court, or government agency), talking about “Children’s Rights” (to both parents, regardless of quality.  Which is then used improperly to completely cut off contact, often with the noncriminal parent, and often & suddenly, with the natural mother of the children.  Sometimes this then leads to foster care, or sometimes it leads to extended custody battles, which are very profitable for this arm of the government (courts) and those doing business with them.  Just not for the “Children” in whose name all this was done.

In the case of these “GALs gone wild” — In at least two of the cases, there’s evidence of over-billings (Connecticut, Pennsylvania) and allegations (the GAL will have to stand trial) of under-reporting income. Both, by a LOT. That’s what’s really gone wild. In my opinion, it’s possible to have gone wild because systems of control and tracking of payments is simply not in place — nor is there any sense by the public (really) that it’s their job (with or without having children or being in the custody courts) to actually understand whether or not their local governments are using their funds honestly.

Evidence is hitting the blog (if not much on mainstream press) that habitual UNDER-reporting of available resources, once funds are obtained by a local (County, or State, for example) government — is habitual, or at least, occurs. That’s the essence of the “CAFR” message. People are not going to “voluntarily” admit to overbilling, double-billing, and most governments are not going to readily admit to taxing more than they need to, and moving funds off-budget, then taxing and complaining some more.


Again, government by private nonprofit is not part of the US Constitution, last I heard — but that’s where we’re at. With all the groups aimed at regulating and adjusting the child welfare sector (which is supported by the public, i.e., by government funding) — makes you wonder whether there isn’t a better way, or is mankind just innately evil to their kids — and all these well-wishers (philanthropies and nonprofits), by contrast, NOT evil… Or — IS there no evil, and no good, just due process? If so — where IS that due process?

I still think that the entire institution of these family and conciliation courts is such a “gray area” of law that, to the point they continue to exist, they will be a dumping grounds for criminal matters. I think that if the public (that means, “masses”) don’t start paying better attention to what legal and governmental paradigms are being set in place (as it happens), and how they are being set in place — then we are going to have a “Wrinkle In Time” and a very peaceful planet rulled by “It.” Seriously — where’s that independent spirit and determination not to just be part of the great networked grid for basic structures of life?

Organizations — and living animals — that get too passive, to complacent, eventually atrophy. These are hardly times to continue working hard at work — and mentally couch-potato when it comes to governmental activiities. Those are your work efforts and wages being spent — and (as it happens sometimes) overbilled, sending some back on food stamps… Time to plug some of the budget holes, and locate the accumulated assets — to do that requires ongoing education in those fields, specifically. As I said just the other day: Responsible Citizenhood 101…

A Running Start (My Blog, My Sentiments…)

We cannot assume that an institution is “on the same page” as the public — when it’s not. There are signals and symptoms, but overall it’s going to have to get down to evidence. This post is about signals and symptoms — it’s anecdotal evidence from three states. I could’ve picked any state almost, as practices are being nationalized — although some states seem to be more prone to getting “pilot” projects, such as high-conflict courts, etc.

Three recent, blatant accounts of GALs did come to mind while I am explaining (after having experienced, THEN seen it), what happens when we don’t pay close enough attention to the economic underpinnings of our own government, as if THAT money it’s holding in trust for us (i.e., allegedly for social services, social security and the public welfare) as if it were really our money. Is that trust warranted?

Parents, or public, protesting EVERY time, i believe, are wrong to go after individual professionals, even if they are perpetrating — without while at it, going after the system. In order to go after any system (IF there’s something wrong with it), one has to understand, and start to analyze, this system.

When a Court is fronting for a “GAL gone wild

These are very serious matters, and very disturbing ones that speak poorly for the country, and for a sane future.  I have lived in the US all my life (for the most part) and never thought it would come to the point of ripping kids out of a law-abiding parent’s home, for money — without due process, and in the process, putting entire populations in “motion” instead of where they’d do better — at work.   This is beyond a “clear and present danger” for us, and must be handled.

But it won’t be handled unless people wake up, and get organized about paying better attention to what has already been organized for them.  We also have to get over the lesser differences, such as cultural, social, and economic status — and understand that the bottom line of almost any debate, in this country — is not religion, not politics — but economics.

The type of country where kids are stolen, and hurt by strangers, or others, or where retaliation for standing up to abuse consists of direct abuse of an immediate family member — we are talking the USA .  Now, you want to lecture me about this country, freedom, due process, and my duties to contribute (more….) to ITS welfare?

If this is such a wonderful country, why are mothers running away from it after an experience in the family courts, sometimes with, sometimes without, their children.  Why are mothers also going homeless and/or dropping off the map after the same (I personally know such women) — and why can’t or won’t the bystanders in our local communities intervene — because they paid the police, the judges, the lawyers, the social workers (and the religious community) to intervene, and there’s nothing left to give, no time to help?

Well, then — let’s look at where all those prior donations and contributions have been going, and what’s been done with them.  

Let’s look at these matters in a structural, and flow-of-wealth way dealing with the influence of NON-profits who have privatized the leadership of the country — with our permission and because we’re jus so used to being taxed, it feels like no other way is legitimate.  

Lawyers-in-league-with HHS & DOJ = an attempt to get the attorney/Child ratio closer to 1:1 for all Families in Transition — while the Mother/Child ratio goes the other direction…..

How Many Groups Want a Certified (by NACC) Attorney in Every Child Welfare Case?
See Home Page of National Association of Counsel for Children (a Colorado-based nonprofit organization and HHS grantee). I see the web page is continuing to change (it now has a USA map to show where it’s active, usually a sign of continuing or increasing income:

Become a Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist
 
The NACC certification program was created and sponsored by a grant** from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau and is accredited by the American Bar Association. The program has also been endorsed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and the Conference of Chief Justices/Conference of State Court Administrators (CCJ/COSCA). The NACC also obtains the necessary authorization from the state regulatory authorities such as the court, state bar association, or committee on legal specialization. 
 
 
NACC Child Welfare Law Certification is available to attorneys who serve in the role of Child’s Attorney (including Guardian ad Litem, Law Guardian, Attorney ad Litem), Parent’s Attorney, and Agency / Department / Government Attorney. The specialization area as approved by the ABA is defined as “the practice of law representing children, parents or the government in all child protection proceedings including emergency, temporary custody, adjudication, disposition, foster care, permanency planning, termination, guardianship, and adoption. Child Welfare Law does not include representation in private child custody and adoption disputes where the state is not a party.”### To date, there are over 400 NACC Certified Child Welfare Law Specialists in 32 jurisdictions.
***Yes it is: Grant 90WX0006, “Adoption Opportunities.” More on this another time; the 90WX series should be looked at closely…

###INTERESTING TOPIC — but not for discussion here. For example, the entire family & conciliation court (industry // jurisdiction) is often going to handle cases where criminal acts have occurred, or been alleged to have occurred. This brings up the point of near-absolute District Attorney Discretion whether to prosecute or not. (See http://justicewomen.org for more discussion on the importance of the D.A.). Citizens cannot force a prosecution by a district attorney, representing the state. Thus the easy “off-ramp” of criminal caseload (resulting in possible higher conviction stats, or lower prosecution costs) into family/conciliation courts instead — which are full of cases where domestic violence and child abuse has occurred (both convicted and just alleged, which may mean did occur or did not occur) where no GAL might be needed — is that venue. Actually, the State is a party to marriage, and it’s a party to any dissolution. Perhaps what they meant is where criminal law violations are not being prosecuted.

POLICY AGENDA

Preface: The NACC believes that all children must be valued as human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, social class, physical or mental disability, gender, or sexual orientation, and must be vested with certain fundamental rights, including a right to physical and emotional health and safety.** In order to achieve the physical and emotional well being of children, we must promote legal rights and remedies for children. This includes empowering children by ensuring that courts hear and consider the views of children in proceedings that affect children’s lives.
 
[** does it believe this of adults, their parents, also?]. The NACC is a nonprofit organization promoting the presence of more attorneys in more court proceedings involving children, preferably at public (government) and/or private expense..]

[[See further statements of purpose..]]
[[DISCUSSION OF JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM]]

Child Custody Policy [WHERE NACC believes an Attorney Should Get involved…]]

The NACC believes that, while legal representation is not required for every child who is the subject of a child custody determination, the judge should appoint an attorney to represent the child in certain cases:

when there are certain substantive allegations which make child representation necessary — i.e., when there is an allegation of child neglect or abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) by a parent or household member,

{{above, it says, not when the State is NOT a party to a “private custody or adoption proceeding” whatever that is. Here, it’s basically ensuring that many of the typical family court cases — i.e., where custody is disputed, or there is “high-conflict” — should be getting an attorney for the child.]]

when there is a culture of violence between the parents,
when there is an allegation of substance abuse by a parent,
when there are allegations of non-paternity, or when there is an allegation of or fear about child snatching — as well as when there are certain procedural situations which make child representation necessary — i.e., when a child will be a witness or
when the case develops an extremely adversarial nature (especially one that is attorney-driven).

In addition, the judge should consider appointing an attorney to represent the child in certain cases:
when there is an allegation of mental illness on the part of a parent,
when a custodial parent is relocating geographically,
when child representation can reduce undue harm to the child from the litigation itself,
when the child has exceptional physical or mental health needs,
when the child expresses a strong desire to make his or her opinions known to the judge,
when there is a pro se parent,
when there is a third-party custody action against a parent (e.g., by a grandparent), or when the failure to appoint such a representative for the child would otherwise impede the judge’s capacity to decide the case properly.

{{“Properly” defined as ______________ ???. Note — the NACC (a private nonprofit) is advertising the AFCC 50th Anniversary Conference (AFCC also being a private nonprofit. The question comes up — are both organizations, or only one, rooted in tax-evasion, and practicing in states where they’re not incorporated while attempting to run the entire show, in collaboration with other trade associations, such as the ABA, who is known to throw out its philosophical dissidents by just disbarring them. THis includes betrayal of loyalty, i.e., Richard Fine, Doris Sassower (New York] and for some reason John Wolfgram also comes to mind [[some of his work visible at “barefoot’s world/Education yo’self” and I believe the charge was “mental incompetence,” although it would seem the problem was its reverse…]]

The NACC believes that the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), which is designed to prevent parents from taking children across state lines to relitigate unfavorable child custody and visitation determinations (such determinations to include those made in the context of domestic relations, child welfare, adoption, and other child custody-related cases), has effectively protected children from the harm resulting from such parental actions,**** and should be maintained in its current form without substantive amendments except for an amendment establishing federal district court jurisdiction to resolve conflicting state court claims to jurisdiction over child custody cases, thereby nullifying the Supreme Court decision in Thompson v. Thompson, 484 U.S. 174 (1988).

[[***Clearly they have not been paying very good attention!!! My kids were taken — and no one acted because it was the father (I was told) and no state border had been crossed. Later, when state AND country borders were crossed, no one acted. When I learned and reported parental abandonment, I was all but shouted out of the DA’s office, as when I also reported the initial abduction, which in our state is a felony. NACC’s statement that this PKPA is actually working is incredible. Possibly it’s working for one gender, for which possibly it was written initially….The internet is full of such accounts.]]

Criminal Justice Policy

 The NACC believes that in addition to civil law remedies (such as civil child welfare proceedings and civil proceedings to recover financial damages), victims of child maltreatment benefit from a criminal justice system which recognizes the importance of effectively prosecuting crimes against children and considers the special needs of child victims.

The NACC supports legislation and rules requiring courts to appoint an independent attorney for the child victim in cases of criminal prosecution of child maltreatment. (See Guardians Ad Litem in the Criminal Courts, National Institute of Justice, US Dept. of Justice, 1988).
. . . .
The NACC believes that state criminal statutes should not provide for lesser penalties for intra-familial child abuse (physical and sexual) than for extra-familial child abuse.
Adopted: 5-17-97

Amended: 3-30-98; 10-10-98; 4-25-99; 4-8-00; 8-25-00; 4-28-01

I should mention that at least one of the GALs featured in “GALs Gone Wild” below is an NACC member (Danielle Ross of Lackawanna County, PA. I didn’t check the others, however individuals in the Connecticut case appear to connect with an NACC-related outfit (“Children’s Law Center”) in the area.

Anecdotal Evidence of TROUBLE for children,
from Connecticut, Minnesota, Pennsylvania,
involving Guardians ad Litem

I decided to frame the discussion of the structure of these groups with quotes from three states, indicating another side of the propaganda that what children need is more legal representation in court.  These children all HAD it, and family wealth started streaming towards the court professionals.

In fact, when it comes to difficulties caused parents, particularly single mothers, in the custody courts — frequently a denizen of some “children’s rights” group is at the heart of it, as the recent case in Connecticut, where a GAL covering up a little boy’s molestation & rape (plus over-billing by supervised visitation professionals, serious collusion among the many people who never heard this boy’s pain, or even met him) — became a judge 

Connecticut

Finding Ground Zero in Connecticut by Aine Nistiophan/Washington Times Communities (Feb. 2013). 

Understand that when you are sued, you cannot opt out of participating in the legal process, nor can you take your business with the law elsewhere. When Max reported to authorities that his father had raped him, the Judge Munro awarded sole custody of him to his father. Suddenly, Max went from living with his mother full time, to seeing his mother a few hours a week in supervised visitation run by strangers armed with clipboards, then no contact at all.

$1.5 million in litigation fees later, the invoices show that Max himself was probably a stranger to the professionals paid to decide his fate [emphases mine here & below]. Perhaps the bills can tell us what Max could not.

In 2010, the court appointed Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Attorney Maureen Murphy to represent Max’s best interests and wishes. Murphy billed at a rate of $300 per hour, collecting over $100,000 in fees from Max’s home,[1] yet I cannot confirm by looking exclusively at the invoices whether Murphy ever met Max in person.  While Max’s name is referenced on the RE: line on the first page of each bill, Max’s time with Murphy is never clearly referenced in the bills.  According to the invoices, Murphy’s time was largely spent reviewing court documents, talking to the visitation supervisor and other court affiliated professionals–but never with Max alone.

Minnesota

In another case in Dakota County, Minnesota, a mother of five? is ordered out of her home on less than a week’s notice, and two aunts ordered INTO the home to care for the children.  A GAL was instrumental in the decision (Judge David Knutson/Grazzini-Rucki case, March 2013 post, see my comments below).   

Dakota County Judge David Knutson issued an order on September 7, 2012 that denies the mother of five children any contact with her children. He ordered mother to vacate her home of 15 years on the same day as the court order. Mother was able to take only a suitcase of her clothes. She was forced to leave her home and all of her possessions which she has never been able to recover. She was denied any due process. She was told she would be arrested and jailed if she refused to follow Judge Knutson’s orders. She now is homeless, has no vehicle, no bank accounts, no credit cards, and no assets other than her clothing. She has only her job as an airline flight attendant which she has held for approx 27 years while taking leaves to care for her children. As a professional flight attendant, she is routinely tested for alcohol and substance abuse. All her independent psychological evaluations are completely normal.

Her wages are garnished 25% for payment of past marital taxes even though mother has been left destitute with prior use of MN Care Insurance and food stamps after the divorce. Her ex-husband’s income is in excess of $200,000 per month and he retains all of the marital property. There was no hearing or any finding that she ever hurt or abused any of her five children in any way.

The five children, ages 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16, were ordered to live in the custody of two aunts. The four youngest children have lived with their maternal aunt for almost six months without support from anyone. The children have not had or been allowed any contact with their mother except for one three-hour heavily supervised visit in late December, 2012

They have not had any contact with their father who has physically and sexually abused them and who hate him. In court on February 26, 2013, this aunt said she no longer is willing to provide for the children. The oldest child, a boy 16 years old, now lives in the former home of his mother with his father, who we believe a car and other expensive gifts in an attempt to buy the boy’s loyalty. The four youngest children no longer have a relationship with their oldest brother.

Pennsylvania

… In Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, parent protests and eventually an FBI raid, centered around a GAL Ms. Danielle Ross, who eventually (after all that) will now have to answer for tax evasion.  Relatively speaking on that court, I’d call it a “wrist-slap”.

“Suspended Lackawanna County guardian ad litem pleads not guilty; Trial Date Set”
Feb. 16, 2013, Times-Tribune (Scranton), Borys Krawczeniuk

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt released Ms. Ross Pietralczyk on her own recognizance, meaning she did not have to post bail. The judge said the case has been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, who set an April 15 trial date at the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

Ms. Ross Pietralczyk, 36, of Jermyn, was hired in 2008 as guardian ad litem, a job that entails representing the interests of children in sharply disputed custody cases.

Working under a June 2008 contract, she earned a base salary of $38,000 a year, but was allowed to charge $50 an hour to the people involved in the custody cases. If someone could not afford to pay, the county paid her. ….

The indictment does not say what she actually earned or how much tax is owed.

In its report on the county’s guardian ad litem program last year, the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts estimated Ms. Ross Pietralczyk’s pre-tax income at about $111,200 a year since at least 2009 – $71,600 from her base salary and bills the county paid and the rest from parents she billed privately.


Her arraignment before Judge Blewitt lasted less than five minutes and ended with her release, a development that angered several former clients or their supporters who showed up to watch. They described her as an arrogant woman who was mostly interested in piling up huge fees without fairly dealing with cases. They complained that she was released without bail.

Jane Ward, 50, of Scranton, whose niece was the subject of a case before Ms. Ross Pietralczyk, said the guardian ad litem forced her brother to come up with $1,200 in half an hour to hear his case and she ruled against him.

“I don’t see my niece because of her,” Ms. Ward said. “We have no idea what it (the money) was for.”

More information can be searched on-line. A while back I put together a Lackawanna Family Court Federal (blogspot) site — at some effort — but it’s been inactive. I also blogged a long time over at Scranton Political Times — there’s still (probably) very good information up. However the forum FORMAT I found while good for engaging multiple users (including the moderator under multiple usernames), and back and forth repartee (or fights) — it’s probably not the best for systematic presentation of information. I also had issues with the refusal to accept that the problems they are reporting were systemic, and the importance of looking at the systems — although I’m thankful for permission to post so much, over many months, on the site. Eventually I quit once, re-engaged, and then was finally booted off over a private matter; the situation was volatile, plus (as a woman), I had enough of being subjected to (repeatedly) postings of graphic images, including genitalia, or being attacked as a female, in attempts to shut down and drive away valid information for the area. (Many women quit or were put off, some no doubt remain.) It is an interesting area, and I did have many conversations with individuals who (formerly) posted on the board, getting a general scope of their custody cases. This was part of my own learning curve as well, of course.

I also obtained the AOPC’s report (“evaluation”) of the problems with Ms. Ross Pietralczk and other GAL matters — all about 124 pages of it (the last dozen or so simply being — looks like — pages from a Parenting Coordination or similar book by Ms. Termini/Ms. Boyan. Basically (for all the press of the “evaluation”) it was a joke. You might want to read it for yourself and see what level of reasoning is going on at the highest levels of the judicial system….

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  1. Here’s a 2008 version of their newsletter “The Guardian” (showing a very young-looking Marvin Ventrell as CEO). Please note the list of donors at the back, including prominently some (wealthy) folks Donna Louise Furth, Megan Louise Furth Fund, and Anschutz Foundation (Colorado-based), $5K and up;

    http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.naccchildlaw.org/resource/resmgr/guardian/guardianwinter2008_000.pdf
    NACC is going to be meeting in Georgia again in 2013 summer.

    $1-$5K includes Donald Duquette (helped Ventrell develop NACC substantially; based in Michigan), Robert C. Fellmeth (who both headed up another children’s group, again,, funded by a wealthy couple initially in San Diego — and is (2008) Vice President of NACC, etc.

    The newsletter looks very professional. I also note (1) it is advertising AFCC _- which incorporates a specific mindset (i.e., parental alienation, high-conflict, more therapy etc. — we know the routine by now, hopefully) — and (2) there is next to NO mention of welfare funding, access/visitation, TANF and fatherhood funnding, child support etc. — all of which are significant in this field. That omission is significant.

    http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.naccchildlaw.org/resource/resmgr/affiliate/nacc_affiliates_list-active.pdf

    Here’s a 2011 two-pager list of NACC “Affiliates,” meaning organizations. There aren’t that many. However it’d be wise to look up EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM and also find out who (contact listed) does or does not hold public office. Often, they will hold public office, i.e., Christopher Wu, Northern California Association for Counsel, in San Francisco is one example (assuming he’s still in position).

    Then EVERY ONE of those associations, to my understanding, if they are exchanging funds (particularly any donations more than membership funds only) should be registered in the state they are doing business in as a corporaation and (if applicable — and usually I believe it would be) with the Office of Attorney General/Charitable Trusts registry (or whoever registers nonprofits, by state). I’ve noticed that many of these state corporate registration websites (i.e., Georgia) are undergoing revisions — some seem to require actual hefty fees to search (for example, in MN, to search UCC liens seems to require a $75 subscription)… If there are nonprofit tax returns, they should be looked at.

    Then, the other half of the equation is to see what government entities are paying (contract or grant) these organizations, how much, and for what. WHY this is important….

    Face it — a key underlying organization AFCC – is historically dishonest about its income its corporate status,, and some of us are pretty (d@mn) sure from the evidence provided (Marv Bryer’s not the only one, although I sure do appreciate the work he went to get the information, and publicize it) that the group started out of a county courthouse, using a county EIN, but itself being a PRIVATE entity. No one, probably, knows how much money was laundered through the system; but hey — it’s Los Angeles, for Pete’s sake.

    The dynamic, collective power of multiple nonprofits in which lawyers and judges (who frequently used to be lawyers) are collaborating OUTSIDE the public forum (and who has the time to track ’em all?) — should not be underestimated. I also believe that within the marriage/fatherhood field (see this blog) we have identified plenty of — sufficient — patterns of deceptive reporting and grants going to fake corporation names. I believe this is probably typical of HHS, and the USGAO report (on the financial status of the US) as much as said, it’s in HHS particularly that we can’t balance the books. (I have a post, within last half yeaar, quoting this).

    I’d do an example (suggest: Joan Orzinsky, J.D., Georgia Counsel for Children, as it’s going to conference in Georgia this summer) — but have other things on the plate today. Anyone interested in helping, or helping organization some research efforts on this and other “child-advocacy” groups, and their fundings (private and public), please contact me through the blog.

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

  2. Pardon me (see bottom of last comment), the Georgia connection is “Joan OKRASINSKI, not Orzinsky.)
    The nonprofit incorporated in 2003 and is active (Georgia Corporation records are being migrated to a new system these days, so there are two search sites). Joan is the registered Agent, and a Christopher Church,CEO, Lori Loncon, Lila Bradley. Athens, Atlanta and Savannah addresses among the officers.

    http://soskb.sos.state.ga.us/corp/soskb/Corp.asp?224537
    The original incorporator, per the pdf showing this (http://soskb.sos.state.ga.us/imaging/11704850.pdf)
    was, however, from Macon Georgia: DeAlvah H. Simms, Esq., Office of the Child Advocate,
    3330 Northside Drive #202, Macon, GA, which (it says) is in “Bibb County.”). This brings up again the question of, why are (what looks like) public civil servants doing forming so many nonprofit organizations?

    The original directors (you should look) include TWO judges (one Juvenile, one Superior Court//Nina Hickson, Steve Gosss), the above Office of Child Advocate, what looks like a public defender for the Indigent, and I’m going to guess, a law professor — plus two or so others without titles. This appears to be typical.

    It is a membership organization whose stated purpose is to be an “AFFILIATE” of NACC..

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 11:37 am

  3. A search at “990finder” under the words “Association of Counsel for Children” shows that out of all of them, only the main one (NACC) and a “Los Angeles Affiliate” have actually filed. Either this means no others have sufficient income (over $25K), or they have some other reasons they don’t have to (are exempt from filing — which a look at IRS.gov search site should determine) — or they’re just not filing.

    Notice: The IRS has announced processing errors on electronically filed Forms 990 for filing years 2007-2009. Learn more»

    Your query: ( Organization Name: Association of Counsel for Children , State: , Zip: , EIN: , Fiscal Year: )

    12 documents matched. 12 documents displayed. Click on the column headers to sort.

    Search Again

    ORGANIZATION NAME STATE YEAR FORM PAGES TOTAL ASSETS EIN
    Los Angeles Affiliate of The National Association of Counsel for Children CA 2003 990EZ 11 $1,605 95-4776691
    Los Angeles Affiliate of The National Association of Counsel for Children CA 2002 990EZ 11 $2,065 95-4776691
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2011 990 25 $475,332 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2010 990 32 $578,432 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2009 990 28 $598,092 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2008 990 29 $747,947 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2007 990 30 $772,044 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2006 990 29 $733,417 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2005 990 26 $726,524 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2004 990 23 $531,567 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2003 990 23 $376,839 84-0743810
    National Association of Counsel for Children CO 2002 990 20 $190,278 84-0743810

    The Los Angeles one is interesting, because as of a 6/2011 list produced (on-site) by NACC, only a NORTHERN California Association of Counsel for Children (SF, out of the “AOC” — i.e., c/o Christopher Wu) is listed. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.naccchildlaw.org/resource/resmgr/affiliate/nacc_affiliates_list-active.pdf

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 11:47 am

  4. (While I’m on it), I looked up the address of the Los Angeles nonprofit above (only filed 2002-2003), lists practically zero income — they just ran some trainings — that address (201 Center Plaza, Suite #3, Monterey Park, CA) not including suite# — appears to be the address of (so far):
    DCFS
    Child Advocate
    a Juvenile Court (i.e., LASUPERIORCOURT.org)
    Children’s Court: http://lasuperiorcourt.org/locations/Location.aspx?loc=CCJ

    Children’s Law Center (not the same thing)… which was established (it says) in 1990 by the Superior Court, has 275 staff, to represent abused and neglected children (see site).
    Sample Letter to Clergy about the Foster Care System in California: 100 children a DAY in California are removed from their home; it mentions Title IVE funding, and recommends to fellow clergy tthat more people foster and adopt children, mentor them, etc. “funding is available.” http://www.clcla.org/Images/pdfs/pdfs_init_outreach/Sample_Outline.pdf

    Corporate search shows this nonprofit is “status Suspended” — and the other one (I just searched “association of counsel for children) apparently has not yet registered as a corporation in California, i.e., the Northern Chapter. Unless it’s filed under some abbreviation of its own title; Interesting:

    Entity Name: LOS ANGELES AFFILIATE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNSEL FOR CHILDREN
    Entity Number: C2154704
    Date Filed: 01/12/2000
    Status: SUSPENDED
    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
    Entity Address: 201 CENTRE PLAZA DR 3
    Entity City, State, Zip: MONTEREY PARK CA 91754
    Agent for Service of Process: KENNETH P SHERMAN
    Agent Address: 201 CENTRE PLAZA DR 3
    Agent City, State, Zip: MONTEREY PARK CA 91754

    Charitable Trusts search (California):
    Organization Name Registration Number Record Type Registration Status City State Registration Type Record Type
    LOS ANGELES AFFILIATE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNSEL FOR CHILDREN 1188-2003 Raffle Expired MONTEREY PARK CA Raffle Registration Raffle
    LOS ANGELES AFFILIATE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNSEL FOR CHILDREN 117584 Charity Delinquent MONTEREY PARK CA Charity Registration Charity
    1

    Looks like (in Calif. at least) all the LA Affiliate ever did was raise this amount — which is under $25K — and not turn in an RRF verifying that it wasn’t government contributions, etc. No “founding documents” are filed, either. It also registered in sept. 2002 to do a raffle (but no record of having done one is around).
    Fiscal Begin:
    Fiscal End: 31-DEC-01
    Total Assets: $5,849.00
    Gross Annual Revenue: $5,770.00
    RRF Received: 13-MAY-02
    Returned Date:
    990 Attached: N
    Status: Accepted
    Fiscal Begin:

    ======================
    FINALLY (why Not?) I decided to look up “Kenneth P. Sherman” of this Suspended/mysterious nonprofit — and got this summary, from his law site. BINGO — he directed the Children’s Law Center, above: (click on site for photo). They specialize in family and juvenile law; it says he got some laws changed:

    Kenneth P. Sherman (see also other attorney bios in the firm Ms. Lee is often assigned as “Minors’ counsel in high-conflict custody and visitation cases….) The two woman attorneys in the firm now speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean (collectively) and although I’m out on a limb guessing here — (mea culpa if wrong), I’d estimate the age gap with Mr. Sherman to be about 30 yrs?? One got her BA in only 1999 and law degree in 2002; the other (doesn’t say) is from Pepperdine (Christian U. in Malibu) as to the law degree…

    http://www.kpsandassociates.com/lawyers.html

    Kenneth P. Sherman has been a practicing child custody litigator in juvenile dependency cases for over thirty years. He was a UCLA undergraduate and received his Juris Doctor from Southwestern University School of Law. He is considered to be an expert in juvenile dependency law and has earned a reputation as one of the most effective and zealous advocates in the juvenile dependency system in Los Angeles County.

    Ken began his legal career in private practice, with an emphasis on family law and juvenile dependency litigation. In 1990 he joined the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles (CLC)(formerly, Dependency Court Legal Services) as a senior trial attorney, specializing in juvenile dependency cases.

    From 1997 to 2005 Ken was the Law Firm Director of one of the three independent law firms of the Children’s Law Center, supervising over fifty lawyers and staff and representing thousands of children in the juvenile dependency system. From 1999 to 2003 he was also the Co-Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles.

    While at the Children’s Law Center Ken was instrumental in substantially increasing the funding, personnel and support services for abused and neglected children in the dependency system in Los Angeles County.

    Ken has represented thousands of parents, relatives, foster parents and children in the dependency system and authored numerous statutes: protecting the rights of pre-adoptive parents, the rights of siblings to grow up together, parents’ due process rights, and protecting a child’s right to maintain the confidentiality of privileged communications.

    While he was a Law Firm Director at CLC Ken’s office was instrumental in shaping the law in the juvenile dependency arena, including the representation of the child in In Re Jesusa V., a landmark paternity action before the California Supreme Court. Ken was a founding member of the Los Angeles Affiliate of the National Association for Counsel for Children,*** participated on numerous policy committees of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Juvenile Division, was an Adjunct Professor and Director of the Legal Aid Clinic at the University of West Los Angeles School of Law for 20 years and has lectured and presented at numerous conferences on Juvenile Dependency Law.

    Sherman & Associates is dedicated to the vigorous and effective representation of parents, foster parents and relatives in the juvenile dependency system.

    [[**which as we see lasted one year, pulled in about $5-$6K, and was then suspended, if it was ever truly legit…]]

    _______
    Another website, lists two out of three of the attorneys:
    http://www.sdchildlaw.com/bios.html. Ms Angela Pierce Di Donato’s bio now links to “lachildlaw.com” and has AFCC indicators (i.e., “high-conflict” about three times). Ms. Di Donato and Ms. Lee are NACC members.

    For what it’s worth…..

    I’m interested to find out whether “Children’s Law Center” is actually a corporation, or nonprofit, in california The site show’s it is a lobbying group for foster care issues, it has posted some NACC testimony, and seems significant. NOW — as to its payroll, taxes, grants, etc. — it’s either public or private. if it’s taking funding and operating as a separate entity in California, it should be registered. This is a BIG DEAL in this field. So far a registry search shows only a delinquent “Children’s Law Offices, Inc.” in San Francisco, which might simply be a law firm, who knows?

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  5. Well, welcome back to my posting style. After posting, I sometimes still have unanswered questions. The answers are likely to show up as comments and in comments.

    The Children’s Law Center (Monterey Park, CA) was indeed formed in 1989 as a corporation, as was a “family and Children’s Law Center” in 1985 (up in San Rafael). Presumably these are for-profits, as I don’t see them under non-profits. How they differ from simply law firms with the word “children” in them, who knows?

    Entity Name: CHILDREN’S LAW CENTER OF CALIFORNIA
    Entity Number: C1472604
    Date Filed: 11/29/1989
    Status: ACTIVE
    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
    Entity Address: 901 CORPORATE CTR DR STE 202
    Entity City, State, Zip: MONTEREY PARK CA 91754
    Agent for Service of Process: JOHN MOLL
    Agent Address: 901 CORPORATE CTR DR STE 202
    Agent City, State, Zip: MONTEREY PARK CA 91754

    (The EIN# is _________ 95-42522143 and revenue of around $18 million — a substantial organization. It’s charitable status hasn’t been checked “current” since 2009, but appears to be filing…The street address above is on its filing — NOT the one shown on the websites….)

    An “INCOMPLETE REPORT” notice — interestingly — has a different corporate name, ‘Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles.” (date 2010)

    ========
    Entity Name: FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S LAW CENTER
    Entity Number: C1283141
    Date Filed: 08/07/1985
    Status: ACTIVE
    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
    Entity Address: 30 N SAN PEDRO RD STE 245
    Entity City, State, Zip: SAN RAFAEL CA 94903
    Agent for Service of Process: RICHARD A SMITH
    Agent Address: 30 N SAN PEDRO RD STE 245
    Agent City, State, Zip: SAN RAFAEL CA 94903

    ALSO AN ACTIVE CHARITY, EIN# is 68007238; its revenue (Gross annual) peaked at $879K ca. 2009 and has been going (rapidly) downwards since, ditto the assets — which are still over $100K, though).
    It’s 2008 “RRF” shows taking three sources of government funding (contact, but no amounts or grant#s givenn), including one from Marin County Board of Supervisors, and another from the (SF-locale) “AOC” — possibly some A/V funding? and the third, a community development block grant is listed….
    http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/Download.aspx?document_name=0023F28D&saveas=0023F28D.pdf
    tthe contact person (“Melanie Jones” is listed under CFCC in an AOC directory (date unknown)@
    http://judicialcouncilwatcher.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/014415_doc.pdf

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

  6. The CLC (see last comment) of the $18 million revenue, lists ONe source of government funding on an RRF– and again, that’s the California Judicial Council’s AOC’s “CFCC” (Melanie Jones, contact).
    http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/Download.aspx?document_name=000D0B31&saveas=000D0B31.pdf

    OK, now that I looked up “Leslie (Starr) Heimov” — who signed that RRF — I see what a ‘star-studded’ organization this center actually is — presidents of bar associations, former members of the California Judicial Council, District Attorneys, high-profile players for SURE:

    Look also at the Board of Directors.
    http://www.clcla.org/about_staff.htm

    That said, I have to ask whether having former (or is it present?) Judicial Council members involved, and taking funding that comes through the same (the AOC is administrative support to the Judicial Council, which presides over the entire California Judicial System) — is a conflict of interest.

    I notice there is a staff person over a nonprofit promoting adoption. Presumably this won’t influence the legal advocacy of children in the system….

    It also prominently lists their participation in the NACC certification process, and how many of their members got certification through NACC. Hopefully this was done in a state NACC was registered to do business in (it’s NOT in California — not the only existing affiliate), and this was not at public expense…

    Also, I’d explored that site pretty well (I thought) from its home page — and am wondering why it took so long to bring up its list of staff and its executive board. I don’t recall any link to it from the main site:

    This URL: http://www.clcla.org/about_staff.htm indicates “Childrens Law Center of Los Angeles one would think (and in 2010, that’s what the California Attorney General addressed it as), however the corporate name and the name at top of the web page reads “California” not “Los Angeles.” Presumably there was an honest name change process, I hope…. (actually, there is a TINY and fleeting drop-down menu).

    In an effort to be sensitive to children’s feelings and make the court proceedings less intimidating, Los Angeles established the country’s first courthouse especially designed for children and families.  The Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park features twenty-five courtrooms designed to be more accessible to children.  Well-appointed waiting areas reduce stress and trauma. Special areas accommodate family visits, and other areas provide activities to help occupy children awaiting court appearance.  An auxiliary Dependency Court located in the Lancaster Courthouse serves children and families living in the Antelope Valley.

    For more information about the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, see http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org

    INTERESTING (2012) ARTICLE ABOUT THIS COURTHOUSE (ALSO SEE WIKIPEDIA ON THE GUY IT’S NAMED AFTER, WHO HELPED START THE DEPT OF DCFS TO START WITH, QUITE A GUY…

    THE DOORS WERE OPENED AFTER 66 YEARS OF BEING CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC (IT’S DEPENDENCY AND JUVENILE PROCEEDINGS, SOUNDS LIKE). THERE’S A PHOTO:

    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_20094702

    THE CLC CAME OUT OPPOSED TO OPENING THE DOORS TO THE PRESS.

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  7. OK, about these TAX RETURNS of the CLC of California or (as it seems to be), “Los Angeles” —

    It started out (EIN# 95-4252143) — earliest I have — as DEPENDENCY COURT LEGAL SERVICES (year 2002, looks like)
    http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/954/954252143/954252143_200206_990.pdf

    Its EXCLUSIVE income was $14million — government (ALL of it). Three Law Officers (including Kenneth P. Sherman, above) got $132K, and other officers (vice president, etc.) got less. There’s the 990, above.

    So why is this just not government payroll? Why go through putting it into a nonprofit?

    CLC personnel (attorneys) who have gone through the NACC training are listed on the site. Probably they are also NACC members (which is a cost — which then, is that also a public expense, as the funding for the CLC seems to come from the government — or at least in the earlier tax return it did, and we have an RRF acknowledging it’s cominig through the California Judicial Council AOC (CFCC, apparently):

    Heres a later tax return which, again, calls the firm “CLC of LOS ANGELES” and lists the address shown at California Corporations Search (SOS) as the corporation called CLC (written out) of CALIFORNIA.
    http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/954/954252143/954252143_201006_990.pdf
    Again, it’s about $18 million of GOVERNMENT revenues (year 2009 tax return), with the prior year, investment and it’s address doesn’t match the street address of the CLC of California. There’s depreciation, writeoffs, investment income, 247 employees, and salaries (of board members) of approximately $890K. It’s a major operation.

    The question I have is — why is this being run as a nonprofit, and not as what they actually are– government employees, supported by government (which is to say, PUBLIC) funds.

    Someone with better accounting background should look at this, including the 35 page tax return, and put it in a legal perspective. Typically privatization of government services gets around laws against monopolies — and this one with the NACC and AFCC affiliation is starting to look like one.

    Possibly a whole lotta Title IV-E funding is involved, which is part of the state budget. The conflict of interest situation is a concern here… The thing with closed-corporation government by way of nonprofit is that the DIALOGUE (feedback loop) is a lot harder to complete — or even gain the attention of.

    Ever tried to get the attention of an attorney without money — in hand — money potentially available (i.e., assets in a divorce situation) or potential FEDERAL (i.e., welfare, foster care, etc.) funding in the mix?

    Let's Get Honest

    March 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  8. […] GALs Gone Wild – and Overbilling, Under-reporting Income (Connecticut, Minnesota, Pennsylvania… […]

    • I’m approving a pingback from an Ohio Divorce Attorney; I hope readers may look at the “About Us” page and realize, this is a BA/MA 2001, JD 2006 person, i.e., pretty fresh out of the gate (no reflection on competence or incompetence).

      I’m wondering how this works — on theory and prior training, or experience? — when dealing with individuals who may be twice as old and have gone through marriage, child-bearing, and all that, which it doesn’t seem like (just a guess) this attorney may have had time to.

      Ohio has had prominence for its Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (and related scandal/investigation, see Krista Sisterhen, etc.) which relates to the custody field. It has had last I checked a Fatherhood Commission, which affects the custody field, particularly if one is a mother, not a father.

      It has had a remarkable scandal not too long ago in which a child whose parents were given supervised visitation with their young daughter — apparently not very well supervised, was molested (and the images caught on cell-phone by the couple involved, and reported not by the supervisors, but another relative), in Trumbull County. The details are not fresh in my mind (I was on the phone with individuals involved), and this was where I learned about the statewide levy to help create a network of Children’s Centers, of which this appears to have been one.

      All in all, it’s a very interesting state.

      Anyhow, my friend, thanks for the link — and I ask you to take the time to read the “Finding Ground Zero in Connecticut” post (and Washington Times Communities) article on the role of GALs in protecting a young boy called MAX, and the role of the courts in bankrupting his (noncustodial) mother.

      —– From the submitting site:
      Ohio Revised Code 3109.04 is the primary statute controlling custody determinations.  Assuming that you are engaged in a custody dispute, the divorce court may order an investigation to determine the character, familial relations, financial situation, earning potential, past conduct and allegations of abuse or neglect.  If it feels that it would be appropriate, or upon motion of either attorney, the court may order either or both parties and any minor children to participate in a medical, psychological or psychiatric examination.  Through your attorney, the report of the investigation and/or examination will be made available to either party and their counsel.  The investigator, doctor or counselor will be subject to cross-examination by your attorney if the case proceeds to hearing.  Typically, the costs of  compiling the reports will be taxed as costs.

      A court may also appoint a guardian ad litem.  The role of a guardian ad litem (hereinafter a GAL) is more specialized than that of a “regular” guardian. A GAL is specifically responsible for protecting the interests of a minor child who is in some way involved in a lawsuit. In March 2009, Ohio Superintendence Rule 48 became effective. This rule governs guardian ad litem standards in Ohio. All GALs must now have training specific to their role in representing a child’s best interests. The Supreme Court of Ohio provides this training, which includes instruction in matters such as interviewing children, identifying domestic violence and dealing with substance abuse.

      It’d be interesting to see who, at the Supreme Court of Ohio level, provides this training and what their affiliations were. I am (as you may know) a domestic violence survivor who learned (the hard way) why abusers are running to — or being drawn through the child support system — the family court arena where their serious physical abuse will be minimized, reframed, and more than likely, ignored. She may get a restraining order, but in the end, if she requests to continue keeping a sane boundary, given that co-parenting with such sorts is not really possible, he will get the children…. and society will get to pick up the pieces.

      Let's Get Honest

      April 9, 2013 at 10:45 am


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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

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