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CA SB 557 — “Just say NO!” or at least “Whoa!!” (show me the money…) to Scandalous San Diego’s One Stop Justice Shop Pyramid Scheme

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CA SB 557 — “Just say NO!” or at least “Whoa!!”  (show me the money…) to Scandalous San Diego’s One Stop Justice Shop Pyramid Scheme (post title with case-sensitive short-link ending “-HG”) first published 6/5/2011.  Format updates (for quoting in a 2017 post) 3/30/2017.


A Family Justice Center (like a Family Physician?)  — what a warm and fuzzy concept!

The ‘California Initiative” (per graphic) has a motto:  “Bringing Hope to Hurting Families Across California.”

Hope of what?  I didn’t ask for hope.  I would’ve settled long ago for simple enforcement of existing court orders!

How warm and fuzzy is it?  Was the public asked whether it’s a good idea, before, during, or after it’s conception, the labor ($3 million grants, etc.) to bring it forth, and the subsequent cloning actions?

Let’s consider (and then, I’ll get to the colors and graphics part, don’t worry….)

  • First, the “Family Justice Center Initiative” in San Diego (#1 site) is the project and brainchild of a City Attorney whose handling of the City’s pension funds (see below) has been labeled “negligent” and eventually brought the FBI and US Attorney’s Office investigating the corruption.  In Alameda County (#2) it is a District Attorney Dubious Doing (see my post) and was pushed by this person to get a founding grant, and promptly install a crony, that, improperly.
  • Second, the concept of combining “services” and “collaborating” is questionable — I question it, for one.  It has a dark side.

My post is long, but don’t forget to read THIS site (hover, I’ve copied text of Obstacle #4 (relevant here) onto the URL description) from Sonoma County, where another proposed Justice Center is to start (or has already, perhaps).   “Mapping the Obstacles to Criminal Justice for Women” :

 

The six principle obstacles to protection and justice for women in the criminal justice system are:

1. A near absolute police and prosecutorial discretion to pick and choose which crimes the system will treat seriously and which they will ignore, and to do so with impunity. The exercise of this enormous discretionary power is virtually outside the rule of law.

2. An intractable, deep-rooted sexism and racism that remains institutionalized throughout the criminal justice system. This sexism and racism, combined with the system’s absolute discretion to ignore crimes whenever they wish, means that violence against women cases are the cases most often ignored, dumped, or given short shrift.

3. Society’s failure to answer the question of who polices the police, and the failure to even ask the question in regard to district attorneys, means the criminal justice system is not only legally unaccountable when dumping cases of violence against women. In addition, there is also virtually no other viable social mechanism by which the public can make the system implement its powers on behalf of victims of violence against women.

4. The repression of effective victim advocacy due to increasing criminal justice system controls over the funding and functioning of rape and domestic violence centers.

5. The invisibility of denial of protection and justice to victims of violence against women to the public, often to the victims themselves, and even to the officer’s supervisors who review the officers reports.

6. The failure to target the district attorneys.** Advocacy groups, social justice groups, and civil rights groups that aim to correct abuses in the criminal justice system usually do so by focusing on the police, while completely ignoring the District Attorney. This is monumental and puzzling mistake, since the District Attorney is the most powerful law enforcement official in your community.

(**for more on DA’s role, see this site)


Does its pretty purple-bordered website with vivid graphics look nice?  Sure.

See?   http://www.familyjusticeinitiative.com/

Interview with Ellen Pence

Telling Amy's Story

[Images could be looked up and replaced I’m not going to do that just now, trying to get some current posts at — LGH/2017]

Do (and should?)  public stamps of approval from:

a former San Diego City Attorney, a current Alameda County District Attorney, Verizon, Blue Shield of California Foundation, at least one prominent Domestic Violence Professional** — and in 2003, even former U.S. President George Bush

earn OUR stamps of approval?  Because we will be helping to pay for it….


(And, should we encourage our local CA legislator to vote “YES” on SB 557, which seeks to legitimize and expand these, naming specific cities)

**Domestic Violence Professionals should be clearly distinguished from Domestic Violence Victims, although in some cases, the latter have become the former.  The way you can tell them apart – DV Professionals generally have a paycheck, DV victims are often losing theirs.

The Professionals  profess things at conferences, and sometimes even interview each other on TV.  The steady stream of DV victims, new, and ongoing, provide ample material to practice on (practice makes expert, right?) and talk about. …

Another way you can find domestic violence professionals, is going to TAGGS.hhs.gov and looking up the CFDA category relating to “Family Violence Prevention and Services” which often has the word “discretionary” attached.    Or, it goes to a Coalition.  If you get a grant or two, you are viewed as (and may be, but the grant sure helps lend authority) a professional.   So Here’s a TAGGS.hhs.gov summary (from 2005 forward, only, nationwide) of two types of violence prevention grants:

Showing: 1 – 2 of 2 CFDA Programs

93591                   93592

CFDA Prog. No. OPDIV Popular Title Number of Awards Number of Award Actions CAN Award Amount
93.591 ACF Family Violence Prevention and Services/Grants for Battered Women’s Shelters: Grant to State Domestic Violence Coalitions 219 271 $50,573,527
93.592 ACF Family Violence Prevention and Services/Grants for Battered Women’s Shelters: Discretionary Grants 324 624 $165,460,776
Page Total 543 895 $216,034,303
Report Total 543 895 $216,034,303

Ellen Pence compatriot Denise Gamache, for example, shows up on a similar search, with more fields.  Last time I looked at this, the amount was only $1.78million,

I see that there has been great success in stopping violence (either that, or failures) hence, more funding to prevent it in the same manner — conferencing, and figuring out best practives, and of course collaborating and training.  See?  Also note this is a “Social Services” (not legal, criminal) activity, preventing violence.

[UPDATE: NOTE re: this chart:  The report could be re-run at TAGGS.HHS.Gov (Advanced Search) and should be; it would generate a url link to share. I have recently (2017) blogged on these CFDA Numbers and this topic for further information).  I see the column headings do not match the contents. A re-run would present an easier to read format; fixing it from this stage is not a good use of my blogging time…I also learned that some of these categories were, at least by year 2010, written into the FVSPA Act, which is under CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act).  See my later posts for more info. //LGH]

Program Office Grantee Name City Recovery Act Indicator State Award Number Award Title CFDA Number Award Activity Type Principal Investigator Sum of Actions Award Abstract
FYSB MINNESOTA PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT, INC ** DULUTH NON MN 90EV0375 FOUR SPECIAL ISSUE RESOURCE CENTERS FOR INFORMATION & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE 93592 SOCIAL SERVICES DENISE GAMACHE $ 2,407,624
FYSB MINNESOTA PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT, INC DULUTH MN 90EV0248 FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION & SERVICES 93592 SOCIAL SERVICES DENISE GAMACHE $ 2,686,366 Abstract Not Available
FYSB MINNESOTA PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT, INC DULUTH MN 90EV0375 FOUR SPECIAL ISSUE RESOURCE CENTERS FOR INFORMATION & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE 93592 SOCIAL SERVICES DENISE GAMACHE $ 3,536,432
OCS MINNESOTA PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT, INC DULUTH MN 90EV0104 FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION & SERVICES – SPECIAL ISSUE RESOURCE CENTER 93592 SOCIAL SERVICES DENISE GAMACHE $ 3,925,981 Abstract Not Available
OCS MINNESOTA PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT, INC DULUTH MN 90EV0248 FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION & SERVICES 93592 SOCIAL SERVICES DENISE GAMACHE $ 3,957,873 Abstract Not Available

The “93591” category is grants to “domestic violence coalitions” which must be how everyone gets their terminologies, communication lines, and practices nice and coordinated.  Meanwhile, others who have worked at street level (but had less backing), take a different point of view than “Constant Collaborations.”

Here’s a San Antonio, TEX Family Justice Center (2010) Conference List of materials one can purchase.  After all, these are professionals…  I missed that conference — somehow are not on their email alert “cc’s” and at the time, didn’t have airfare, either….

 

As to BUSH:

I think I made my feelings known about former President Bush, and his concept of “Family” in my last post.  The actual “Families” in this case are the associations and collaboratives of people who get the funding.

If Bush had required that all — without exception — STOP VAWA grantees inform ALL — without exception — female clients with children where the perpetrator of violence against them was the father of the FATHERHOOD.GOV infrastructure, and that this was actually enabled by the federal office of child support enforcement (OCSE) — then it would’ve been OK. There’s no question that fatherhood groups know about VAWA, they are constantly complaining about it.

If all grantees would’ve been required to alert women of pro-VAWA and anti-feminist (feminists are destroying the country, of course) “family” courts lay ahead between them and freedom, that’d be one thing.  But apparently, the two sets of untraceable grant expenditures go along side by side quite nicely, watching the genders war it out themselves on-line, in the streets, and lobbying legislators to change the law sin their favor.


Well, now, let me think a moment on that last one….  in fact, let me ask Josie Clark:

September 28, 2004

 “The Clark lawsuit deals with personnel matters, involving employees who are on my staff. The courtroom is now the appropriate place to respond to these allegations where I believe my office and staff members will be cleared. Therefore, I decline to be interviewed. I am referring your call to our outside legal counsel, Kathryn Bernert, who is handling the case. Here is her phone number which was provided to you last Friday morning by Maria Velasquez.”

Statement by Kathryn Bernert
Outside Legal Counsel for the City of San Diego
Partner with Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP
Sept. 28, 2004

???   What Lawsuit?  This Family Justice Center isn’t even that old….

September 29, 2004

  •  Clark is suing the city and Gwinn, not for what happened to her co-worker, but for the way she said she was used to cover it up. Official records show that police responded to numerous calls at the victim’s former home on Armacost Road. Several workers at the City Attorney’s Office and the Family Justice Center told 10News that the victim came to work with broken bones, bruises, cuts and black eyes.“If Casey Gwinn didn’t notice that on one of his own — seeing her every single day — then what is he doing at the Family Justice Center?” questioned Clark.According to the lawsuit, a long history of severe abuse against a Family Justice Center employee was going to be made public when the woman threatened to kill her husband and was arrested. Clark was then assigned a special project to quietly help the woman.”(Gwinn) said that my job was going to get her into rehab, because that was the only way she was gong to be able to keep her job,” Clark said.The assignment came from Gwinn, (pictured, [below]), 10News reported.

    Clark took on the new responsibilities that lasted more than two months. She said the woman called her seeking help day and night — once every half hour at work and at home at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Late last year, Clark said the woman’s estranged husband threatened her life.

    Her husband basically said I was going to regret it for interfering and said he was going to come after me and that he was going to kill us both,” Clark told 10News.   After her arrest [and obviously, release], Gwinn had the woman working as a receptionist on the 16th floor near his office. But when the death threat allegations against Clark surfaces, the woman was moved to the 11th floor, just 30 feet from Clark.

    “She still comes to the office beaten up, and Casey Gwinn has done absolutly nothing to help her,” Clark said.   The lawsuit itself, the plaintiff’s attorneys say, is about how Clark was forced into the mess and then discriminated against after she had nervous breakdowns and clinical depression. Conditions, they say, came directly from her “special project” to basically act as a drug, alcohol and abuse counselor for a co-worker.

If what she says is true (and there seems some backup corroboration), then why didn’t such a highly connected individual so concerned about Domestic Violence as Casey Gwinn is, talk with some of the District Attorneys — or the abused woman — about getting some criminal prosecution of her husband’s behaviors, rather than wait til the situation got to death threats, and then watch his own employee be arrested for someone driven to threaten back to get free from ongoing broken bones and beatings?    I mean — is this who you want spearheading nationwide, nay, global, justice centers?  Charity begins at home, brother….

Here’s the self-report of how great this justice center is:

At least they acknowledge it’s a personal narrative:  ”

Acknowledgements

This story focuses on the evolution of the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence in San Diego. It does not develop the entire history of the battered women’s movement in San Diego. We should also note that “The San Diego Story” in this book was written primarily from the recollections of Ashley Walker, Casey Gwinn, and Gael Strack. Many others in San Diego County have played powerful roles and would clearly highlight other aspects of San Diego’s criminal justice system journey based on their own experience.

I have a little more background on this than some, including how the justice center followed Mr. Gwinn from his role as City Attorney, out to an exterior location (I think originally at the Y).  YOu can also see here, Task Forces, a Council and some heavy funders who are thinking in terms of Collaboration that did not come right from within San Diego City Attorney’s Office.  (Just for a little background):

Philanthropists and funders like Joan Kroc (wife of Ray Kroc, the Founder of McDonalds) also played a powerful role. They encouraged members of the domestic violence, child abuse and substance community to work together. As a substantial funder of these programs, in 1990, Joan Kroc made collaboration a part of her granting process.   {{i.e., you want our money?  You will collaborate!}} She paid all expenses for twenty community activists in these fields to spend a week at the family program at Hazelton in Center City Minnesota. She also held special fully-funded trainings at her ranch at Santa Ynez Valley to encourage collaboration.

During this same time, Dr. David Chadwick, a pediatrician, at Children’s Hospital, also dedicated major resources by creating the Family Violence Program, under the leadership of a social worker named Sandy Miller. Dr. Chadwick too had a strong vision for focusing on the co-occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence. Sandy Miller developed a close partnership with Deputy City Attorney Casey Gwinn and even housed a portion of her staff in the City Attorney’s Office in the early 1990’s.

Pause.  Because later on, I have a post from the succeeding City Attorney, Mike Aguirre, who had to clean up a lot of the accounting (over-billing) from Mr. Gwinn’s office, and wrote an interim report in the practice of over-billing (for work that did not happen) as part of the “SLA” (Service Level Agreements) and “MOU” (Memo of Understanding).  This July 28 2006 this report on “IMPROPER BILLING PRACTICES BY THE CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICEmentions the Justice Center a few times.  For example, ”

 Gwinn ran unopposed for City Attorney in 1996 and 2000. Prior to assuming office in 1996, Gwinn was allowed to put his leadership team in place and begin making policy. It is around this time that billing to SLAs was modified (Exhibit 5), and as time went on the program was expanded to increase staff and services.

In 7-21-06 phone contact was made with Investigator Brendan McClory at the Family Justice Center. The following is a summary from a statement taken from McClory:

During 2002 – 2004 McClory worked for the City Attorney’s Office Civil Division. He was assigned to bill 60 hours per pay period to MWWD due to the fact that he was assigned to Kelly Salt, Ted Bromfield, and Tom Zeleny. McClory noted that he was directed to bill 60 hours to the enterprise Department even though in actuality he only worked on average 10 hours per pay period for these individuals. The vast majority of his time was working for Trial Unit attorneys. He noted that he advised Robert Abel that this was the case, and Abel responded that he should bill the hours anyways per office policy.

In 2004, soon after Aguirre took office, this policy changed and McClory was directed to only bill for hours worked

or, ….

Maria Velasquez

On 7-28-06 personal contact was made with City Attorney Director of Communications Maria Velasquez at the Offices of the City Attorney. The following is a summary from a statement taken from Velasquez:

Velasquez was hired by the City Attorney’s Office as Casey Gwinn’s Press Secretary in May of 2001. She was assigned to handle community and media relations for the Office. Her daily responsibility was to handle all calls from community members and press regarding the Civil and Criminal Divisions. She was responsible for coordinating and responding to community events. In 2004 she worked almost exclusively on developing the Family Justice Center by educating the public, attending community functions, and media events. She billed all her time to the City Attorney’s general fund.

These key steps helped lay the groundwork for the Family Justice Center and for the close working relationship between the Center for Child Protection, the local child advocacy center now the Chadwick Center), and the domestic violence community.

The Domestic Violence Council was created in the November, 1991. A number of key events occurred in those early years.

In 1992, the Council became part of the Mayor’s Office under the leadership of Mayor Maureen O’Connor

In 1994, the Council was asked to leave the Mayor’s Office by Mayor Susan Golding and soon re-established itself as a private, non-profit organization housed in the San Diego City Attorney’s Office

In 1996, the Council suspended its non-profit status, electing to return to a grassroots approach consistent with its beginning in 1987

Casey Gwinn led the Council until 1999 and hosted the Council out of the City Attorney’s Office. His secretary, Jean Emmons, provided the administrative support to the Council and handled all mailings, meeting notices, and coordination of all committee meetings. The Council did hire an Executive Director, Denise Frey, for some of the early years of its development. Denise worked at the City Attorney’s Office and played a very significant role in helping to organize the committees, the structure, and the advocacy agenda of the Council.

In 1999, Assistant City Attorney Gael Strack became the President and Gael’s tenure for two years played a critical role in the early planning stages of the Family Justice Center. The entire Domestic Violence Council and all member agencies endorsed the vision for a “one stop shop” Center and much of the focus of the Council in 2000, 2001, and 2002 was on the development and opening of the Center. Subsequent Council Presidents, Verna Griffin Tabor and Diane McGrogan, made the Family Justice Center a high priority during their tenures.

There are more than 2 serious red flags in this Family Justice Center Alliance (starting in San Diego) concept.  I’d say one indicator that the guy didn’t help someone in his employee is a huge one.  The second one, Alameda County, another author believes seriously exaggerates their “people served” figures (see my “Dubious Doings by District Attorneys” post), and I would have to tend to agree, as I am local to the area and courts.     Moreover, these nonprofit 990s need to be scrutinized better in ALL the little reproduced family justice centers which are taking, for example, public (government) employees, forming nonprofits and then where, exactly is the funding coming from and going to?

Fiscal (dishonesty) in San Diego was not limited to the Water and Sewer Departments, but also the Pension, which (among other reasons) is why I sarcastically refer to this collaborative as “Casey Gwinn’s Retirement Plan.”  (Someone has to do it!)  His city attorney’s salary was $175K (it says below) — like a CA judge.  His measly pension, ony $79K (a great perspective from which to understand domestic violence issues).   He’s canvassing all over for this model and so are like-minded individuals, as we have seen.

My question is, are they like-minded in (1) failing to actually provide service to victims; (2) overbilling   (3) over-reporting the impact of the services provided?

  • NEGLIGENCE IN CITY PENSION FUND SCANDAL REPORTED :

THE KROLL REPORT
Ex-City Attorney Gwinn called ‘negligent’ in pension fund mess

By Mark Sauer
STAFF WRITER

August 16, 2006

Past and present city officials cited last week for acts ranging from malfeasance to mischief in the long-awaited report by Kroll Inc. on the city’s pension mess are ranked according to culpability.

NADIA BOROWSKI SCOTT / Union-Tribune file photo
Then-City Attorney Casey Gwinn (right), with former Mayor Dick Murphy at his side, was criticized in last week’s Kroll report on city finances.

In the top tier are those who acted with “wrongful intent,” a violation of civil law, in hiding from bond investors the pension fund’s severe underfunding and the city’s twisted sewer-rate structure.

One step down are those found to be “negligent” in carrying out their responsibilities. It is in this section that former City Attorney Casey Gwinn appears.

The report is blunt: “The City Attorney’s Office failed the City.”

In singling out Gwinn, the report said, “As the top official in the City Attorney’s Office – which certified to the accuracy of incomplete and misleading disclosures – City Attorney Casey Gwinn negligently performed his disclosure responsibilities to the City, and failed to supervise other attorneys” under him.

Among the lapses by Gwinn’s office cited in the Kroll report:

Its certification of the city’s financial disclosures to the “investing public” without independently verifying the accuracy of the information.

It kept quiet about the city’s potential obligation of up to $370 million for breaking “grant and loan covenants” while in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.  (“the city” is supported in part by taxes from wages of its residents, right)

Gwinn’s deputies failed to identify “the central illegality” of underfunding the city’s pension plan as officials made those decisions.

Like it seems he also “failed to identify” that an employee showing up with bruises and broken bones and her husband calling her constantly at work is a domestic violence victim . . . . . . 

It also chastised Gwinn’s office for years of falsifying billing records to the city’s water and wastewater departments for legal work.

Kroll, a risk-management firm based in New York, spent 18 months investigating the city’s financial practices. Kroll was paid $20.3 million for the report.

Who pays for that?  This is starting to add up — $370 million risk, $20.3 to audit something that shows up as needing an audit….

The company’s investigators didn’t get to query Gwinn about his actions during his 1996-2004 tenure as city attorney. He was among 53 city officials and employees who refused to be questioned.

“But he was not known around town as a good attorney. He didn’t want to get bogged down in pensions and water rates and all that confusing stuff,” Stutz said. “It was, ‘Let me deal with guys who smack their wives and I can get on TV.’ ”

The description does seem to hold.  Some people just love the limelight….

After term limits forced Gwinn out as city attorney, he has devoted himself to his anti-domestic-violence cause.

I have been trying to tell us — this is a personal retirement project of what now looks like a negligent and dishonest City Attorney, who became City Attorney running unopposed, partly because his predecessor (John Witt, who seemed to favor him) delayed announcing his departure so long it was hard to prepare a campaign against him.  I”m remembering how it seems Alameda County’s Tom Orloff, similarly, handed over the reigns to Nancy O’Malley by retiring early and assigning her as interim D.A., thereby skirting the open election process neatly.  She then stacked the decks (per “Steve White” of indymedia report) to make sure another crony, Nadia Davis-Lockyer, Esq., got the plum job as Executive Director of THEIR Family Justice Center.   The question comes up — who is in “The Family” here ???

In addition to being a trustee for the San Diego Family Justice Center, Gwinn works part time on special projects for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who stands behind him.

“I hired Casey because he is a well-known and respected expert in domestic-violence matters,” Dumanis said. “He’s doing a great job in that area for us.”

She said Gwinn, who began working for her in December 2004, originally was a manager for the victim-restitution and crime-prevention programs, but now is a contracted employee.

“He works on special projects, mainly the regionalization of family-justice centers,” Dumanis said. The main Family Justice Center in downtown San Diego is a one-stop facility for domestic-violence victims, with police officers, social workers and medical personnel available.

Well, it’s in on the VAWA grant streams, so there’s some potential financial reward in the model.  It’s an identified VAWA “purpose model.”

 

There’s more, but probably too much for one post.  Casey Gwinn’s negligence as City Attorney was not limited to water and sewer matters, but also — well this NYT article says it much better, and SHOULD be read if we want to begin to understand family justice centers, their originators and promoters, and get a sense of how they’ve handled previous, smaller, responsibilities — like heading up the City Attorney Department and reporting honestly what was going on in it:

Sept. 7, 2004 NYT article (notice, around time of Josie Clark lawsuit)

Sunny San Diego Finds Itself Being Viewed as a Kind of Enron-by-the-Sea

By JOHN M. BRODER

Published: September 7, 2004

Correction Appended

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 1 – In the summer of 2003, Diann Shipione, an investment adviser at UBS Financial Services in San Diego and a trustee of the city’s employee retirement system, was scanning a prospectus on a proposed San Diego sewer bond issue when alarm bells began to ring in her head.

Important financial information was missing. The prospectus did not mention that the city had for years been shortchanging its public pension fund, leading to an unfunded liability of more than $1.15 billion, or that the city owed nearly $1 billion more in health care benefits to retirees and did not have the money. And it implied that the pension fund’s actuary had approved the underfunding when Ms. Shipione knew that he had not.

In a  etter to city officials, and in a commentary in the local newspaper, Ms. Shipione blew the whistle.

 

“I had completely lost confidence in the city’s financial decision making,” she said in an interview on Wednesday. “I just couldn’t let this go forward.”


Jack Smith for The New York Times

Diann Shipione did not like the way San Diego was handling its employee pension system, and let the world know. Mike Aguirre calls the situation “a powder keg.”

 

Well, I”m suggesting (and blowing a whistle) on the thing that came OUT of this department, called the “Family Justice Center Initiative” and all things associated with it.  Just because things are central, doesn’t mean they are honest.  Moreover, would you buy a used car — or program — from someone who’s last time in office was marked by having the FBI and US Attorney’s office investigating your city’s finances?  That’s why I’m posting a lot from this article:

And the Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States attorney’s office in San Diego opened investigations this year into possible fraud in the city’s financial statements and potential political corruption. Subpoenas were served on a number of city offices and several people confirmed that they had been interviewed by the F.B.I. in connection with the inquiry.

“This is a powder keg, a major, major problem,” said Mike Aguirre, a securities lawyer and former financial fraud investigator for the United States Senate and the Justice Department who is running for San Diego city attorney.

Mr. Aguirre said that the city’s inability to produce a credible financial statement made it impossible to know just how severe the crisis was. He said that a corporation that behaved like the City of San Diego would be delisted from the stock exchanges. He suggested that the best solution might be reorganization under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy law to allow the city to rescind pension benefits.

Mr. Aguirre blamed San Diego’s laid-back civic culture in which a handful of influential businessmen, union leaders and political figures called the shots while issuing reassurances to the public that everything was on the up-and-up.

“The basic story is that San Diego has become a thoroughly corrupt community in which the power players cut the deals, you don’t ask any questions, and everybody gets what they want,” Mr. Aguirre said. “People don’t realize that one of the largest cities in the United States is on the verge of bankruptcy, and it’s on the verge because of a massive amount of local corruption that has resulted in the thorough mismanagement of city finances.”

I realize Aguirre also was running for City Attorney — however look at his background.  He’s qualified to say this.  And the more I look at it (and I am a California resident, domestic violence survivor and family law veteran, I have been looking a LONG time, locally not just nationally) — would you buy a bridge from these guys?  Corruption cannot bring forth justice, and if these centers are multiplying and expanding, I have to ask, just WHAT is being disseminated in the model?

A GREAT measure of how honest a person (or organization) is — is its financial statements, and their accuracy.  Particularly when it’s public money.

NOW is the time to say “HALT!” — and not when it’s too late.  Stop, Look, & Listen.

 

Oct. 2004 article:

 

San Diego now ‘Enron by the Sea’

By John Ritter, USA TODAY
SAN DIEGO — This laid-back city seems to have it all — stunning beaches, best weather this side of Honolulu, a national image as a vacation playground and top convention destination.

Nearly a decade of fiscal shenanigans came to light when Diann Shipione, a pension board trustee, blew the whistle. But it took some doing. She wrote letters to the mayor, city officials and fellow trustees. She spoke up at City Council meetings. She wrote opinion columns in the San Diego Union-Tribune.    [“Diann Shipione says her many warnings to the pension board were ignored.” photo by Robt Hanashiro, USA Today]

By Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Funny how often it’s women noticing and blowing the whistle, and how often they are just not heard, til it becomes a crisis…

But the City Council and the trustees ignored her. At one point the pension board bought an ad in the Union-Tribune that scoffed, “Chicken Little Would Be Proud.”

Only in September 2003, when Shipione alerted a lawyer handling a municipal sewer bond sale to facts the city hadn’t disclosed, did Wall Street pull the plug. The bond issue was canceled. Soon the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI and the U.S. attorney were asking questions. In January, the city admitted errors and omissions in its financial statements.

“The city’s conservative image is completely false,” Shipione says. “It’s reckless, it spends wildly and lavishly, it saves nothing and it hides the truth.”

 

SPEAKING OF WHICH REGIONALIZATION EFFORTS: — from the FamilyJusticeCenter.com website on “The California Initiative.”  This is about as much purple-framed plain text as you are going to get anywhere on the site, perhaps there just wasn’t a desire to really pull attention to this page.  Read it, though!

The California Family Justice Initiative (CFJI) is funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation under the leadership of the National Family Justice Center Alliance. {{headed by guess who…}}   The Initiative aims to create shared learning, shared expertise, shared capacity building, shared on-line resources, and shared technology to achieve a statewide network of Centers using model protocols, best practices, and innovative strategies to meet the needs of women, children, men, and families exposed to trauma and abuse.

What has happened to the concept of “justice” here?  However, one of the critical areas of need these populations still have, is understanding the FAMILY law system — about which little seems to be said here.     OK, here comes that expansion — like it or not — and

CA SB 557 INTRODUCED BY Senator Kehoe 
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Atkins and Fletcher) 

FEBRUARY 17, 2011 

An act to add and repeal Title 5.3 (commencing with Section 13750) 
of Part 4 of the Penal Code, relating to family justice centers.

will certainly help this personal retirement plan of some key public figures.  No wonder it’s catching on..

[Back to the FJC site….]

The CFJI consists of two 2-year phases. Phase I operated from March 2009-March 2011 and Phase II will operate from March 2011-March 2013.

You know why the “Crisis in the Courts” people aren’t paying attention to this and letting mothers know (nor do the justice centers, naturally, report on the Crisis in the Courts when womeon come on for restraining orders — which are certifiably insane, potentially lethal, and from which if someone just so hap

In Phase I of the Initiative, five communities were selected from across California to participate as “learning laboratory sites” where multi-agency, co-located service delivery models for victims of domestic violence were supported and expanded.  The five founding centers from Phase I are: Shasta, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley), and West Contra Costa County. The Alameda County Family Justice Center, Anaheim Family Justice Center, and San Diego Family Justice Center served as Regional Training Centers, assisting sites in expanding and developing multi-agency service delivery models around the state.

I.e., if you weren’t in the loop, you just missed the roots spreading and establishing a presence in 3 California Counties — one north, one south, one Anaheim.

 

Phase II of the California Family Justice Center Initiative will maintain and expand a network of Centers across California.

Not if I have anything to do with this!

I suggest that they be forced — with supervised visitation monitors paid for from their last set of royalties or anywhere but a federal or foundation grants stream — to sit through classes from the “California Healthy Marriages Coalition” whether or not they have faith (This $2.4 million/year grant from HHS was to establish a coalition of coalitions on the other side of the issue of DV _- i.e., it’s just a “family” matter, you guys should work it out…. stay (or get) married, marriage is good!).   Make everyone wanting to expand these centers take time (get off a plane!  Skip a conference!) and sit through a session of KIDS’ TURN SAN DIEGO at their own expense, and then publish narratives of it.  

This meeting of the Family Justice Center ALliance staff with the Faith-based abstinence and marriage/fatherhood promoters should definitely be live and youtubed, so we can see one trying to convert the other.    OR, if they set up another mutually profitable “collaboration” we can catch them in the act and tweet it.

OR, have them hire Diann Shipione to audit Kids’ Turn books, too!  There are a number of alternatives I can think of which might free up some public monies in these troubled times….

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

Ongoing support to the five founding centers created during Phase I will be provided. Five additional California communities will be selected to receive technical assistance and planning support for expanding multi-agency, co-located service deliver models for victims of domestic violence.”

 

Here’s SB 557 as of now, and an AROUND THE CAPITOL BILL TRACK link to it:

 

xisting law provides for various services and programs to assist victims of crime, including grants to proposed and existing child sexual exploitation and child abuse victim counseling centers and prevention programs, and the establishment of a resource center to operate a statewide, toll-free information service consisting of legal information for crime victims and providers of services to crime victims.

This bill would authorize the cities of San Diego and Anaheim, and the counties of Alameda and Sonoma, until January 1, 2014, to establish a multiagency, multidisciplinary family justice center to assist victims of domestic violence, officer-involved domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, stalking, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and human trafficking, to ensure that victims of abuse are able to access all needed services in one location and to enhance victim safety, increase offender accountability, and improve access to services for victims of crime, as provided. The bill would permit the family justice centers to be staffed by law enforcement, medical, social service, and child welfare personnel, among others.

Good grief — some of the hardest times women have is reporting to police officers or sherriffs, or DA’s offices, and getting a response.  This is already documented in SONOMA COUNTY-based:  “Women’s Justice Center.”

Increasing Women’s Numbers and Influence in Policing
Breaking and Entering the Thick Blue Line ~ Where is the Women’s Movement? 
Law Enforcement Opportunities NOW!
More Sexism than Ever at Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department

The police and enforcement profession historically has been rough on women — in 2000s, and ongoing.

Sexual Harassment at
SRJC Police Academy
 

March 17, 2001

Mr. Robert Agrella, President
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa, CA

Dear Mr. Robert Agrella,

We’re writing to express our concerns that months of unchecked sexual harassment at the SRJC Police Academy this past year resulted in the loss of five promising female cadets from the evening academy.

We are especially concerned that, according to a number of cadets, this harassment went on for months and that the director of the evening academy, Deputy Peter Hardy, repeatedly ignored or minimized cadets’ reports of the harassment. In fact, according to cadets, Director Hardy protected the perpetrator at the expense of the cadets, and allowed the perpetrator to graduate in December. The perpetrator is now eligible to become a police officer in California. The careers of the female cadets have been lost to the community.

Here’s some more from this public letter, although this is not my only concern about having “JUSTICE CENTERS” (which as we can see are nonprofit organizations, or foundations set up (ACFCJ) to channel $$ to nonprofit organizations) but sometimes staffed and working by public employees, as with Mr. Gwinn.

In fact, it could be said if anything, these centers might specifically have been designed to NOT allow the independence women need to protect themselves,

and later, their children, by demanding equal treatment by officers as well as in the family law systems (although, the family law system was set up for “wide discretion with judicial immunity” and nothing approaching equality. ).  Read on:

Here are just some of the indicators of the problem:

  • The national average of female sworn officers on police forces is 14%. The percentage of sworn females among the sum of police in Sonoma County is less than half the national average.
  • In the last four years, at least ten female sworn officers have left the Santa Rosa Police Department, five of whom stated to us that they left because of the hostile work environment in that department against females. Santa Rosa Police Department has never had a female in any position of rank, not even a female sargent. As of August 4, 2000, Santa Rosa Police Department had only 13 sworn female officers (7%) out of a total of 173 sworn officers.
  • In the same time period, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department has had at least 10 female deputies and corrections officers file sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits. As of August, 2000, the Sheriff’s Department had only 17 sworn female officers (7%) out of a total of 218 sworn officers.
  • Sebastopol Police Department has never had a female sworn officer until this year,
  • Sonoma State University Police two years ago paid off a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a female officer who was sexually assaulted by one superior, and ordered by another to falsify a domestic violence report so that the report would favor the male suspect.

In addition to the gross injustice to the women in these situations, what’s equally disturbing is the intolerable cost to our communities. Two decades of research on women police is conclusive. Women officers exceed male officers on many of precisely the skills that are so sorely needed to correct chronic problems plaguing our police. The research shows that women officers have much lower rates of excessive use of force, they better handle rape and domestic violence, and they excel at de-escalating volatile situations.


Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women’s Justice Center,
www.justicewomen.com
rdjustice@monitor.net

 

The bill would prohibit victims of crime from being denied services at a family justice center solely on the grounds of criminal history and would prohibit a criminal history search from being conducted during the client intake process.

The bill would require the family justice centers to submit a report to the Office of Privacy Protection for review and comment, and then submit the report to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Judiciary, no later than January 1, 2013, as specified. The bill would require each family justice center to maintain a formal training program with mandatory training for all staff members, volunteers, and agency professionals, as specified.

Training doesn’t ensure compliance.  At what point in time can a litigant — any kind of litigant — actually read the laws, and codes of procedures, AS they exist, and expect elected or appointed city, county (or state) employees to simply follow them.  We have to obey traffic signals or get fines, and have our licenses revoked or suspended if we can’t pay (see “SF Pre-Trial Diversion Program,” under some comments on “Ron Albers” recently, I posted on this one).
This bill is PASSING — fast:  Yet who has really followed up on what the first two have actually been doing?  Or looking at the books?
Remembering the comments form “Women’s Justice Center” of Sonoma County (here, and at top of post), which I feel are very close to reality (and this grandiose talk about helping hurting families is just sales talk….), let’s take a look at the personnel in the “California Family Justice Initiative” from the site.  Notice the titles — who is whom (top left & bottom right are Blue Shield, California)…

 

 

cfji advisory board

I have expressed my opinion on the “Family Violence Prevention Fund” plenty on this post (search it).  They are a major player, and receive funding from
very conservative big-players (annie E. Casey, as I recall) and highlight Fatherhood.  A post in January 2011 (I think) quoted their preventing violence by encouraging fatherhood theory (whatever it was called).    We have two Lts. heading up 2 family justice centers, and two of the originators (Gwinn/Strack), both attorneys, on this project.  CPEDV  (Shabazz) would be on the CFDA 93591 grants stream (grants to domestic violence coalitions) and formerly I believe it was called the California Alliance (not partnership) Against Domestic Violence, which also shows up in the FVLC Executive Director’s background.
This person started safe houses and advocacy in the 70s, watched it change, had some struggles with her own organization.  I met her.  I heard how there was a move to get her group out of the “Coalition” membership on a technicality, which affected grants they could get.  Yet, at Battered Mothers Custody Conference 2011 (my first — and probably last — attendance, as it’s primarily DV professionals and Family Court Professionals marketing their wares to some very, very distressed mothers) (and they tell less than I do about the system…..) . . . ..    This woman (I believe it was her I spoke with) brought the women with her (it being geographically within range I guess) and sold nothing.  http://www.rbrw.org/RBRWblog/?p=651.  The solutions are local and not forever trying to change the world at public expense — but really help real people (from what I can tell).
The women had a strong spirit of unity.  As you can see from this article, she also acknowledged the custody struggle, sexual abuse allegations issue and was involved in helping women deal with it.  That is a FAMILY law issue….
SB 557 is a personal project of politically connected people from Enron By the Bay and a County with some of the highest homicide rates in the country (Oakland, Richmond). I have suffered for years in this county and experienced multiple problems with honesty among law enforcement.  Never during the years of severe abuse in one of those cities did anyone inform me of laws or legal options to have the batterer arrested for assault & battery (it was my husband).   Then when I became independent and “off the system” the real troubles began — probalby for those reasons.  Again, police were called to help at times, and finally, in what the California calls a felony — but family law calls a “dispute” — and law enforcement, I learned later, calls a “wobbler” — meaning, the D.A. exercised HIS option not to prosecute — my children were illegally and permanently removed from my custody (as so often happens) with no judge, anywhere — giving a legal OR factual basis for doing so.  This was done knowing that the method of removal was itself an act of violence and blatant violation of about 3 types of codes (Educational, Family, Penal) at a time — and that was just the beginning.  It was done around the issue of child support (which pretty much eliminated child support from my kids).  ALL of this happened with clear knowledge — and what sure seemed to me like complicit acceptance — by the county sheriffs, various police (not Alameda County) and eventually, the DA’s in two different counties, as initially I didn’t know which one had jurisdiction.
THIS INITIATIVE IS PASSING REAL SOON IF NO ONE PROTESTS — please get involved, and I ask for feedback, and help investigating the various nonprofit (form 990s) for the many justice center initiatives already involved.  It’s time we got some answers why justice will not happen without more nonprofits.
Here’s a narrative from this SOSDV.org about a woman who, like the woman at Casey Gwinn’s office, felt she had to defend herself form an incident.  It talks about how the evidence was handled.  She is alive — but now in jail, per this.  Can you imagine the situation?

Luzerne County, PA: “Doctrine of absolute judicial immunity” vs “Racketeering, fraud, money laundering, extortion, bribery and federal tax violations,” and more…

with 4 comments

In Lovely Luzerne, PA, two judges were, ah, moonlighting? (maybe their salaries didn’t support their lifestyles?) — well, you can google the background story, of judges indulging themselves in the Kids for Cash business. Several parallels apply to the family law arena

For Kids Caught in PA Scandal, Trials not Over

It is slow going for about 4,500 juvenile defendants who were caught up in the Luzerne County, Pa. “cash-for-kids” scandal and who want to get their records cleared.

It has been more than a year since state courts first ordered that verdicts handed down by Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. be thrown out. But the price of judicial misconduct has been steep, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article:

“[F]ewer than 10 percent of the records have been expunged. Luzerne County is hiring staff to finish the job. But even then, thanks to the mounds of paperwork and multiple agencies involved, officials say it will take another year to erase all the records.

“That leaves young people who are trying to enlist in the military, obtain student loans, win teacher certification, or apply for certain jobs entangled in red tape.”

A panel that investigated the scandal listed 43 reform recommendations in May. Its report (see Gavel Grab) detailed a scandal that involved two judges who later were charged with receiving more than $2.8 million in payoffs; they were accused of taking kickbacks to send juveniles to private detention centers

{“Gavel Grab” leads to the “Justice at Stake” campaign & its partners}

About this post:

In the Law.com report on a defendant’s attempt to receive damages under the RICO charges, we learn about judicial immunity, standing, causes of action in these cases (emotional trauma doesn’t count / financial loss does).

When I looked up a single point raised therein, “11th Amendment,” a riveting, mind-numbing PA case, from the late 1990s surfaced — the wife of an abusive police officer repeatedly seeks intervention. I narrate and discuss it, too.

  • As the situation escalates (starting with a suicide attempt, threats to kill (mostly her, but once, their son], private & public assaults [not of her only] and beatings, stalkings, and useless 911 calls, the husband/officer, who was never (that I can see) locked up once, finally is served a restraining order. Actually, 3 (all of which he basically ignores, and its witnessed violating by officers), after which he (predictably) finally succeeds in killing himself — after he shoots his wife point-blank in the chest.
  • In the same timeframe, in PA, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (or at least Barbara J. Hart) has been publishing lethality assessments, lists of warning signs, and indicators, ALL of which this man met, plus-some. One begins to wonder where the communication gap was, between the DV people and the officers, although certainly it’s a tough situation for them also.
  • Finally, the wife attempts to regroup damages, to sue for negligence by the officers. does so on the wrong basis, and a Court of Appeals overturns this. That section is in mostly green font.

I inserted this account, which illustrates the parallel worlds of DV literature and street reality, the graphic reality of living with an abuser (and regretfully, that no one apparently insisted on utter and complete separation when these things began; she almost was killed, was seriously injured, and for years the children and others associated with her were at risk from this father/husband/police officer who never received whatever help or intervention might have put a stop to his behaviors.) AND I include it for us to understand that being assaulted, injured, or feeling betrayed, and having sought and failed to find help doesn’t always qualify a person for compensation for losses, however much common “logic” may feel it is due, when public servants are negligent.

The Jessica Gonzales case in Colorado, in which this also mother-of-three warned the officers, who didn’t take her seriously, and her children were murdered. This is where a case could go AFTER they separated because of violence — it could get worse. In 2005, Chicago attorney/professor Joan Meier, Washington Post/published in StopFamilyViolence.org, summarizes the critical issue in Town of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Jessica Gonzales, itslef a response to Ms. (then) Gonzales’ suit against the town. My post is getting long, but I suggest reading a few paragraphs of this one. Her incident was in 1999 (Ms. Burella’s, 1996-1998). Years later, after the deaths, the cases are still in the courts. My take on the issues at this point — issuing restraining orders has become in too many cases, “certifiably insane.” Why not make self-defense training a marriage requirement? Or, incorporate it into high school curricula, as a requirement, along with learning some basics of our legal system? They become simply red flags, whether the initial violence was from psychiatric disorder, or a simply overentitled person, or some of both. If police canNOT be held to enforce them (and after the police, a judge has to sentence; if the judges repeatedly release criminals, and so forth) — we need to find another way.

Published March 19, 2005 by The Washington Post

Battered Justice For Battered Women

by Joan Meier [Prof. of Clinical Law, George Washington Univ, Washington, D.C.,1983 U. Chicago Law School, cum laude, Exec. Dir. of DVLEAP]

It is common for the public and the courts to criticize women who are victims of domestic abuse for staying in an abusive relationship and tolerating it. But what happens when women do try to end the abuse? Jessica Gonzales’s story provides one horrifying answer.

In May 1999 Gonzales received a protection order from her suicidal and frightening husband, Simon Gonzales, whom she was divorcing. The order limited his access to the home and the children. On June 22 the three girls disappeared near their house. But when Jessica Gonzales called the Castle Rock, Colo., police department, she received no assistance. Over a period of eight hours, the police refused to take action, repeatedly telling her that there was nothing they could do and that she should call back later — even after she had located her husband and daughters by cell phone. The three young girls, ages 7, 9 and 10, were not to survive the night. At 3 a.m. on June 23, Simon Gonzales arrived at the police station in his truck, opened fire and was killed by return fire. The bodies of Leslie, Katheryn and Rebecca were found in the back of his truck.

Perhaps his life might have been saved also. “serve and protect” I guess.

Next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Town of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Jessica Gonzales, which stems from Gonzales’s lawsuit against the police. The question before the court is whether the constitutional guarantee of procedural due process was violated by the police department’s dismissal of the protection order, in clear violation of the state statute, which required them to use “every reasonable means” to enforce it. If procedural due process — required by the 14th Amendment — means anything, then it must be found that it was violated here, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has so ruled

While no justice for this mother or her three daughters, there’s a diligent pursuit of justice to prevent any consequences for the prior injustice. To the Supreme Court.

The doctrine of procedural due process derives from the principle that when a state chooses to establish a benefit or right for citizens, it may not deny such benefits in an arbitrary or unfair way. In this case, the state established a benefit of mandated police enforcement of protection orders. Aware that police discretion too often fails, the Colorado legislation required the police to make arrests or otherwise to enforce domestic violence restraining orders of the sort issued to Jessica Gonzales. Police discretion was limited to determining whether a violation of an order had occurred. Yet in this case the police did nothing; they simply ignored the complaint, a clear example of “arbitrary” conduct

(Joan S. Meier)

Joan S. Meier

Luzerne County Judges Racketeering and

“Julie Burella (et al.) v. City of Philadelphia” [Court of Appeals]

What these two cases taught me:

Individuals and relatives/friends of women targeted by these kinds of beatings assaults, making life hell situations — as well as the improperly locked up juveniles in Luzerne County — need to understand some legal basic, including <>standing (jurisdiction), <>legitimate causes of action, <> what is or is not a legitmate tort, or breach of contract (etc.) and<> who is and is not going to be immune from damages. These are often forgotten in the emotional drama of survival, and dealing with the emotions around the case. This kind of understanding is not generally handed to one by one’s attorney, and I guarantee you it’s not by most “justice centers.” It needs to be sought and obtained.

Rights cannot be protected if one doesn’t know what they are. Moreover, the credibility gap between mainstream domestic violence law, and applied practice, remain. Women need to protect themselves adn their children, when possible (if intervention fails and the situation continues to escalate) by leaving.

Permanently. George Bush, Bill Clinton, and President Obama’s policies aside, our right to LIFE is unalienable. hence, women must be able to act on that. The parent who has engaged in threatening or trying to eradicate that right in others, based on wife as property, husband as property, or children as property, and has repeatedly demonstrated this in private OR public, should lose subsidiary rights, such as contact with their children. The family law arena appears to exist in order to subvert that principle. Though I am no attorney, I can read, and have. The no-fault divorce situation creates a different kind of court as to divorce, and limits remedies in some sense, just as a “civil” restraining order implies that the violence, or causes of action justifying it, were not criminal in nature, which quite often they are.

(from the FBI Philadelphia Sept. 2009 bulletin:)

For Immediate Release
September 9, 2009
United States Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
Contact: (717) 221-4482

Two Former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judges Indicted on Racketeering, Fraud, Money Laundering, Tax, and Related Charges

Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; Janice Fedaryck, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Don Fort, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Harrisburg has returned a 48-count indictment charging former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. with racketeering and related charges in connection with alleged improper actions of the former judges to facilitate the construction and operation of juvenile detention facilities owned by PA Child Care, LLC and Western PA Child Care, LLC.

The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in racketeering, fraud, money laundering, extortion, bribery, and federal tax violations and that they received millions of dollars in illegal payments. Along with the criminal charges, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of at least $2,819,500 which is alleged to be the proceeds of the charged criminal activity. . . .

An indictment or information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.**

(the youth/juveniles that came in front of these judges didn’t have that standard applied…)

That these two got caught doesn’t mean there were no others…
and here’s LAW.Com’s comments that, at least THIS time, sometimes, ya’ get caught… whether or not this indicates compensation for the problems caused

For any future youngsters, or their parents, hoping that a RICO suit might help compensate for years lost, or other damages — emotional trauma ain’t enough. I’ll bold the wording here. As posted in “Law.com” (link included):

Disgraced Former Judges Lose Immunity Battle in ‘Kids for Cash’ Scandal

Ruling also includes some setbacks for the plaintiff, who claims he was one of the victims of the alleged kickback scheme when he was sentenced to the juvenile facility in 2005

The Legal Intelligencer

August 11, 2010

Even the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity proved to be too weak a defense for the two disgraced former Luzerne County judges who are the leading figures in Pennsylvania’s “kids-for-cash” scandal.

A federal judge has ruled that the pair — Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. — are immune only for actions they took in court or while ruling on cases, but that they can still be sued for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to take kickbacks from the owner and builder of a privately run juvenile prison. Conahan had also asserted a defense of legislative immunity, arguing that some of the allegations lodged against him stemmed from the funding decisions he made in his role as president judge.

But U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo rejected that argument, saying: “It does not appear that Conahan had the type of general policy-making power that would cloak his actions with legislative immunity.

Meaning, if he HAD been a general policy-maker, he would have legislative immunity, I guess….

The ruling means that Conahan and Ciavarella face possible liability for their roles as the alleged architects of the larger alleged conspiracy to cut off all funding for the then-existing county-owned juvenile facility and to take kickbacks in return for ensuring a steady stream of incarcerated youths so that the new, privately run facility would be profitable.

I am not blogging about juvenile justice systems. This blog is about FAMILY court matters, more dealing with parental relationships, which, unfortunately brings us into the realms of violence, kidnapping, child abusee, child molestation, and the fathers-rights-womens-rights-childrens-rights debate. The Pennsylvania case is different in application (violating kids’ due process in order to provide warm bodies for supposed crimes they had committed), as opposed to violating one set of parents’ due process in order to provide referral business for the court professionals and the professions flocking around the courts. It’s somewhat of a technicality, when you grasp “steady stream of .(warm bodies) . . . so that . . . would be profitable.” and the criminal nature of a business racket. And what kind of personalities would choose judgeships to engage in them. What an ethical violation — to go to a judge fo justice, and that judge is himself a criminal, with cohorts.

The two former judges were hit by federal prosecutors in September 2009 with a 48-count indictment containing charges of racketeering, fraud, money laundering, extortion, bribery and federal tax violations in connection with allegedly accepting more that $2.8 million from the builder and former co-owner of a private juvenile detention facility. Conahan agreed in April to plead guilty to one RICO count.

Caputo’s 12-page opinion in Dawn v. Ciavarella, handed down on Monday, also included a few setbacks for the plaintiff, Wayne Dawn, who claims he was one of the victims of the scheme when he was sentenced to the juvenile facility in 2005.

First, Caputo found that Dawn’s RICO claims must be dismissed because he lacks standing to pursue such a claim.

Any Plaintiff’s comPlaint should establish standing up front. The fact that in the family law business, it’s not unusual for judges to issues orders where they have no standing doesn’t change the fact that individual FAMILIES or PARENTS had better make sure they do!

Under RICO, a plaintiff must plead an injury to “business or property,” Caputo noted, and the courts have consistently rejected the notion that personal injury or mental distress can satisfy that requirement.

Injury for RICO purposes requires proof of concrete financial loss, not mere injury to an intangible property interest,” Caputo wrote.

From what I now understand of the court process, I’m of the opinion that parents might as well face that reforming these courts stands a better chance in pointing out the fraud, racketeering type activity within them (and sometimes involving other parts of the system, i.e., the criminal law elements) than running the conferences about how it’s hurting our kids. On what basis do we think the people involved actually care?

Dawn’s claim fell short of that test, Caputo found, because he “has not alleged sufficient injury to business or property to confer standing to bring a claim pursuant to RICO. Plaintiff’s claims for loss of sense of well-being, emotional trauma and stigma are not the type of concrete financial loss that is envisioned by the phrase ‘injury to business or property.'”

If Dawn was the youth (I didn’t read this complaint, am just familiar with the case generally), probably that well-being, emotional trauma and stigma are going to hurt him/her very badly — in fact we know from acestudy.org and common sense that this would. However, RICO is a business-type charge involving cheating, stealing, and financial loss or damages. Many people caught up in the drama and passion of this, offended by the betrayal, forget the context in trying to get heard (I know I did and have).

Caputo also ruled that Dawn cannot pursue any claims against the Luzerne County Juvenile Probation Department or Sandra Brulo, the probation department’s former deputy director of forensic programs.

“Because Juvenile Probation is an arm of the state that is immune to suit pursuant to the 11th Amendment and Pennsylvania has not waived its immunity to suit, its motion to dismiss will be granted,” Caputo wrote.

I searched for 11th amendment, this county and found several cases (in PA, different counties):

Debra Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole,e t al.
State governments and their subsidiary units are immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment.

AND:

Date: 09-24-2007

Case Style: Jill Burella, individually and as parent and guardian of Beth Ann Burella, Danielle Burella and Nicholas Burella v. City of Philadelphia, et al.

Case Number: 04-1157/2495

Judge: Fuentes

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on appeal from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County).


Here’s a REAL egregious case, a living nightmare where a police officer’s wife tries, repeatedly and HARD, to get the 911 calls, help for her husband through his employers, the police department, and finally /too late, that “certifiably insane restraining order” system to work — against her police officer husband, who is off the chart dangerous, and eventually seriously injured her (shot her in the chest) and killed himself. She tries to sue, among others, the officers who kept releasing the guy or refusing to arrest him, even when they witnessed the violations immediately. Multiple threats to kill, beating her at home, she calls repeatedly, etc. The officers, responded, we have immunity. The District court ruled — no you don’t. THIS is the Appeals court ruling, well, actually, yes they did.

This BURELLA case is late 1990s, (somewhat off the post’s RICO topic but ON the blog’s topic) and 34pages long.

Please READ parts of it if you are among the innocent (or ignorant/apathetic/too busy to process til it hits you, or your family) who doesn’t yet grasp “why don’t she leave?,” or that a restraining order ain’t the end of the process and may increase the risk for many of us! What about the enforcement that backs it up? What about if the attacker KNOWS enforcement is lax?

Well, then logically, she’d better get the heck out of there…. But – – — what about their kids? But — joint shared parenting presumptions and court orders make that nigh impossible! Ask Dawn Axsom, from Arizona, and her mother, Oct. 2009.

Oh, I forgot — you can’t — they’re dead. Fox news blamed it on “the Custody Battle” and calls them ALL (3) victims, not the man who shot his wife, mother in law and then himself, orphaning their baby. My blog was only one of many on this incident. There are so many such incidents, I even forgot I blogged that one…

That, in a nutshell, seems to be how our country STILL views Fathers killing Mothers (and/or others, and/or themselves). Being a mother and a woman, this woman (like Burella, below) knew danger whne she experienced or sensed it, and tried to reconcile being a law-abiding citizen with being a LIVING citizen. She went to her death complying with a court order, apparently. How was the judicial immunity in that case? (As it’s in Maricopa County, I recommend reviewing the top page in this blog, and “National Association of Marriage Enhancement” nonprofit, based in Phoenix and possibly also having its contract steered to it in ia not-quite-above-the-board manner. NAME started (as I recall) in 2006. Axsom’s case relates to this refusal to allow women to leave violent relationships because there is a crisis in fatherlessness in this country, which is detrimental to the health of the children. That policy was in full effect also during the Burella years, per 1995 Executive Order from then-President Bill Clinton, to re-arrange and review HIS branch of government, at least, to accommodate “fatherhood” and address the nation’s crisis in kids not waking up in homes with their biological fathers.

At what point does the law of reverse efforts set in, and the failure of ROI cause a policy change?

JILL BURELLA – US COURT OF APPEALS 04-1157/2495

Description:

In January 1999, George Burella, a ten-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, shot and seriously injured his wife, Jill Burella, and then shot and killed himself.1 George Burella had emotionally and physically abused Jill Burella for years prior to the shooting. Although she reported numerous incidents of abuse to the police over the years, obtained several restraining orders just days before the shooting, and told police that her husband continued threatening her despite the orders, police failed to arrest him. This appeal concerns whether the police officers had a constitutional obligation to protect Jill Burella from her husband’s abuse. {(make that “violence” please!)} Despite our grave concerns about the Philadelphia Police Department’s alleged conduct in this case, we hold that the officers did not have such an obligation. Accordingly, we will reverse the District Court’s denial of qualified immunity and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Background

We set forth in some detail the long and protracted history of physical and emotional abuse in this case because it is central to Jill Burella’s claim that Philadelphia police officers knew about the abuse, but nevertheless failed to act, thereby violating her due process and equal protection rights.

. . .

The abuse began around February 1996, when George Burella was convicted of disorderly conduct for stalking his wife at her workplace and assaulting her male co-worker who he suspected was having an affair with her. One month later, in the face of marital troubles and a severe gambling problem, George Burella attempted suicide. He survived and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed with depression.

After her husband was released from the hospital, Jill Burella contacted the Philadelphia Police Department’s Employee Assistance Program (“EAP“), which is designed to assist officers in obtaining help with personal problems. The EAP notified the City Medical Department, which placed George Burella on restricted duty and referred him to City doctors for psychological treatment.

There’s an old movie, a comic parody of Robin Hood, called “Men in Tights.” What follows here (in green) describes what surely was HELL, in living with this “Man with Gun.” His wife and mother tries to get them help, sounds like every way possible. Who knows if or what threats she might’ve received about trying to leave, or if she tried to. It’s hard enough to get away from abusers when you are in their social/personal networks sometimes — can you imagine that when the personal/social network includes fellow officers? ONLOOKERS should notice — what she did, the police and EAP responses. This man was a problem waiting to happen, and happening. Suicide attempts, stalking, depression, assaulting others (jealousy), threatening to kill her, beating her, using his official privilege to defuse an incident, and he had 3 children… I’ll color-code the red flag incidents RED, her or others’ attempts to help or stop it bold and the responses, BLUE. Then you can ask, what century , and country, do we live in? Is this a 3rd world country? In certain ways, USA-style, for women, YES.

George Burella’s violence towards his wife continued over the next several years and, in early June 1998, she contacted the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division to report the abuse. Internal Affairs referred the matter to the EAP, which assigned George Burella a peer counselor.

Later that month, on June 26, 1998, George Burella assaulted his wife and another man at a local bar. Witnesses called 911, but George Burella left the bar before police officers arrived. When he got home, he phoned his wife and threatened to shoot their son Nicholas if she did not immediately return to the house. After calling 911, Jill Burella rushed home, where her husband, who was armed with a gun, threatened to shoot her. Before the matter worsened, police officers arrived. George Burella initially refused the officers’ order to surrender, but did so after the officer in charge agreed to report the incident as a domestic disturbance, rather than a more serious offense. {{bargaining it down is common}} Officer Robert Reamer, who is named as a defendant in this lawsuit, was one of the officers who arrived at the scene.

They could probably throw a person in jail for being drunk and disorderly in public, or resisting arrest after being confronted with jaywalking. Or for too many parking tickets (?).

This man had already — on this night alone, and after some years of assault & battery: assaulted his wife AND another man in public, threatened to kill their SON by phone, threatened her, with a gun, in person, and resisted arrest. And that was a “domestic disturbance” ??? Even the part in public and involving a non-relative being assaulted? Sounds to me like her reporting and seeking help had made the situation worse; jealousy plus maybe his perceived public humiliation (i.e. some witnesses called 911) followed by public retaliation…

After the police officers left, George Burella began beating his wife on their front lawn. Her parents arrived and took her to their house, but George Burella followed them there. Once at her parents’ house, she tried to call 911, but her husband wrestled the phone from her and told the operator that he was a police officer and that everything was under control. As a result, the operator did not instruct police to respond to the situation. Three days later, Jill Burella contacted the EAP to report the incident, but because the EAP failed to notify Internal Affairs, the incident was never investigated.

I’m going to speculate that her life at this point was a combination of walking on eggshells and trying to consider her options, plus work, plus being a Mom. I can only imagine what it might be like after years of assaults by an officer who knew he could bargain down and schmooze off some of his violence under the authority of his uniform. Some men are maybe attracted to that uniform to serve & protect, but some also for the authority. That one night, the first 911 hadn’t helped. At her parents, now they AND her kids were at risk. Again, 911 was called. What were her genuine options and wishes here? (I’m not going to continue with the font changes — but can readers mentally separate, 1, 2, 3: 1. Incident, 2. attempts to call for help or get safe, 3. system responses.)

In July 1998, George Burella called his wife at work in Upper Southampton Township and threatened to kill her. After Upper Southampton police officers arrived at her workplace, she received several more threatening phone calls from her husband. The officers called Captain Charles Bloom, George Burella’s commanding officer, and a defendant in this lawsuit, to inform him about the incident.

I’m starting to wonder about any meds for depression from that 1996 hospital visit….READ THIS, a report about possible links to “atypical anti-psychotics” being pushed, since 1999, in a Tacoma Mental Hospital…

Captain Bloom became directly involved in the situation on August 13, 1998, when Northampton police officers arrested George Burella for assaulting Jill Burella in Bucks County. The officers released George Burella into the custody of Captain Bloom, who escorted him home. {{What, the jails were full near home? Didn’t want to embarass the guy?}}

Three days later, on August 16, George Burella called his wife while she was visiting his parents with the children and again threatened to kill her. When he went to his parents’ house, Northampton police officers responding to an emergency call escorted him to his car, unloaded his firearm, and placed it in the trunk of the car.{{did not lock him up, maybe following Cap. Bloom’s lead?}} Shortly thereafter, officers found him driving in the vicinity of the house with his gun re-loaded and placed on the backseat of his car. Officers took him to a local hospital, but he was released shortly thereafter.3 After being notified of the incident, Captain Bloom ordered George Burella to submit to a psychiatric evaluation.

Later that month, George Burella admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital, but left after four days of treatment. {{one wonders, of what sort? How could he just “leave”?}} Several days later, City psychologists examined him and concluded that he should be monitored for the next two years. After one follow-up appointment with City doctors in September 1998, he did not return for treatment.

Without consequences, apparently, for this. Was it a city order, or a personal recommendation from Capt. Bloom?

On December 24, 1998, George Burella again assaulted his wife, this time while she was visiting a friend. (CHRISTMAS EVE….)

Philadelphia really isn’t that far from Washington, D.C. In 1994, VAWA passed. News travels slowly, it seems. From my perspective (I was being assaulted in those years, and didn’t know about VAWA, or my options, either) it’s now clear that this woman is being punished for engaging in normal activities outside home & work. He is also sending a clear message to anyone in her social support system that they, too, might be at risk, at the least being affected by witnessing the violence to her.

Mothers caught in the court system after abuse also experience the escalation. Even well-meaning people have their own lives to live. It becomes nearly impossible to be a staunch supporter and ally, because the trauma is ongoing and repetitive, and never fully resolved — court orders aren’t enforced, crises can be generated by any accusation, practically IN the courts, plus the incidents outside of them also. That’s why I often liken the family law system to the abuse I knew, in these 1990s (another part of the country…). Same effects, same system deafness to the dangers.

When Philadelphia police officers arrived, they allowed him to leave with the couple’s youngest daughter (a twin, if I recall), and then took Jill Burella and her two other children home, where her husband resumed beating her. {{HOW does one spell “insane”??}}


Jill Burella — she’s been beaten, with kids watching it, for years now, threatened with guns, assaulted/stalked, and/or threatened to kill her (or her son): at her workplace, at a bar, at her parent’s house, at a friend’s house, on her front lawn, at home, at her work place, in Bucks County. IHe has (1996) actually attempted to commit suicide. The man, a cop, and the situation, is a walking /stalking time bomb in need of some serious intervention.

In response, he has NOT been locked up once, but HAS been:

  • (1996) Admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with depression
  • place on restricted duty and referred to City doctors (?) for psychological treatment (was it received?)
  • (1998) Assigned a peer counselor
  • After a night of multiple incidents and threats to kill (including his son), the responding officer downgrades this to “domestic disturbance” and does not arrest.
  • The same night, he simply resumes beating her. Her PARENTS try to rescue her (evidently no policeman is going to) by taking her away. He follows them there. She tries to call 911, he interferes with the phone and talks the situation down — and so far that dispatch operator was not brought up to speed on the evenings’ developments. Perhaps nothing further happened that night because all parties were just exhausted…
  • 3 days later, she calls EAP again, who does not notify Internal Affairs, and nothing is investigated. (Way to go!)
  • July, 1998, more threats to kill (at her workplace). The responding officers tell his commanding officer, Captain Bloom. No record of anything being done.
  • August, 1998 more assaults and/or threats. Captain Bloom drives him home…Tells him to go to a psychiatric hospital . . He goes, but quits. City psychologist then say he needs 2 years of monitoring (not exactly a sensible decisions, in light of the past). He goes once, and no mention of follow up by them. I think we get the picture that Mr. B. doesn’t appreciate that he is breaking the law, nor has anyone to date apparently attempted to communicate this to him by locking him up even overnight!

So now, she is going to try a restraining order. I wonder how well THAT is going to work after all this. Is the guy showing restraint? Is any part of this system going to back her up if he violates it? Because if not, then (I now ssay) they shouldn’t issue it. Better to give her and the kids some self-defense training, or another place to live, like witness protection. 1998, people….

Over the course of the next few weeks, Jill Burella obtained the three protection from abuse orders relevant to this lawsuit. On January 2, 1999, {{NB: last recorded assault — and Philadelphia police officers blowing it off — Dec. 24, 1998 in Philadelphia}} she obtained an emergency ex parte protection from abuse order from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas that prohibited her husband from “abusing, harassing, stalking and/or threatening” her, and from “living at, entering, attempting to enter or visiting” the couple’s home. {{the KICKOUT}} The order further provided that officers “shall . . . arrest the defendant if he/she fails to comply with this Order.” (App. at 110-11.) The next day, Officer Reamer served the order on George Burella, who, according to Jill Burella, immediately violated it by shouting at and threatening her. Despite witnessing the alleged violation, Officer Reamer permitted George Burella to enter the house.

These officers have forgotten their responsibilities and become a public health hazard. THEY don’t respect protection from abuse (say what? in PA they don’t call it “VIOLENCE”? Did they ever?). Obviously neither does the husband in question. If they refuse to enforce the law (is a court order an order? or a suggestion? If they refused to arrest without an order, now, they had an order and it even specified they SHALL arrest if he fails to comply. So THEY are in contempt of that order, as I see it.) So, what are they doing in office and pulling a salary? Directing traffic? CYA-ing? Whom are they serving and what are they protecting?

There’s a site for law enforcement called “behind the blue line.” There’s also a blog for officer-involved violence, called, “Behind the Blue WALL.”

Not all officers try to “blow off” domestic violence.

In 1999, an officer sued his bosses, the mayor, and others in federal court over retaliation against him for his trying to do his job!, also involving an officer and domestic violence against his wife (also an officer):

Same dynamics, same timeframe (1996-1999), same state – Pittsburgh, PA area

Jim McKinnon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 4, 1999

A Pittsburgh police officer has sued his bosses in federal court, charging that they have retaliated against him for doing his job, which he said has included filing complaints against other officers. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Edmond N. Gaudelli Jr. names as defendants Mayor Murphy, Deputy Mayor Sal Sirabella, police Chief Robert McNeilly, Deputy Chief Charles Moffatt, several assistant chiefs, commanders and sergeants, a doctor at the training academy and an internal investigator, among others. Gaudelli, 32, a police officer since 1990, says in the suit the defendants had conspired to retaliate against him since 1996, when he filed a grievance against several officers, including a complaint that opposed the appointment of McNeilly as police chief… The marks against Gaudelli began to mount when, as an officer at the West End station, he said he responded to a domestic violence call at the home of McNeilly and his wife, police Cmdr. Catherine McNeilly. Gaudelli said in the complaint that McNeilly had told him to phone his supervisor and have records of the call removed from the running sheetOn assignment at a store in Waterworks Mall, Gaudelli said, he was disciplined again because he tried to arrest Officer Cindy Harper for shoplifting. Gaudelli said Harper’s husband, Assistant Chief Nate Harper, intervened and then was part of a conspiracy to have him fired…

McNeilly was the George Burella (at least in that incident), and Gaudelli was the responding Captain Bloom. But Gaudelli tried to file the repoet. McNeilly pulled a “Burella” and said, basically, to clear his name, pulling rank to do so. Domestic violence victims should be aware this can happen. Officer Gaudelli, assigned to a mall to stop troublemakers (including presumably shoplifting), couldn’t even do that, when the person doing it was an officer. And the US doesn’t have a caste system or grant titles of nobility? ?? Sounds like some public servants aren’t aware of this.

So, back to the Burella situation —

The next day, Jill Burella obtained {where? Criminal or Civil? HOW?} another temporary protection from abuse order, which essentially repeated the terms set forth in the January 2 order. In addition, the court awarded her temporary custody of the couple’s three children, prohibited George Burella from having “any contact” with her, and ordered him to relinquish all guns other than his service weapon, which he was required to turn over to his commanding officer at the end of every shift. The order also stated that “[t]his Order shall be enforced by any law enforcement agency in a county where a violation of this Order occurs.” (App. at 121-22.) {{either that was standard, or it was accommodating all the other places he followed his wife and assaulted or threatened her)}}.

Later that day, Jill Burella called 911 after she received threatening phone calls from her husband. After officers arrived, and while in their presence, she received several more calls from her husband. The officers told her they could not do anything unless her husband was physically present {is that word “threatening” in the RO too vague to comprehened?} .4 When Jill Burella called the police the next day, again they told her that nothing could be done unless her husband was physically present at her house.

On January 8, 1999, Jill Burella obtained a final order of protection.5 Four days later, following an appointment with a psychiatrist at the City Medical Department, George Burella went to the house he formerly shared with his wife and shot her in the chest. He then immediately shot and killed himself. Although she suffered serious injuries, Jill Burella survived the shooting.

I cannot help noticing (2nd or 3rd reading of this case) that troubles escalated after visits to a psychiatric hospital.

The newer, more expensive drugs have been heavily promoted at the hospital by drugmakers. Sales reps have logged about 1,200 visits to Western since late 2003, when administrators began tracking their activity. Concerned about their influence on prescribing patterns, the hospital in March banned all reps from visiting the campus to meet with docs.

The newer atypicals are promoted as safer and more effective than older meds, and are widely used at Western – along with ongoing use of older drugs, there’s been an increase since 1999 of about 30 percent in the amount of anti-psychotic meds given to patients at Western, The News Tribune found.

Many patients now receive two or more anti-psychotic drugs at once, a doubling of medication unheard of just eight years ago, when the older drugs were more prevalent.

OR, another article on schizophrenia, violence, with substance abuse (which Burella had) and atypical antipsychotis — if the guys take ’em:

Management of Violence in Schizophrenia The public perception of people with schizophrenia often is, unfortunately, of uncontrollable–possibly murderous–criminals. While mental health providers know this stereotype is almost always wrong, they do have real concerns about controlling violent tendencies in some patients with schizophrenia–especially people with co-occurring substance abuse disorders. Treatment of schizophrenia has become more effective with the introduction of the atypical antipsychotics, but getting patients to take their medications still proves to be a problem and is related to their potential for violence.

Before I comment on the LEGAL issues of this, let’s look at a document from Pennsylvania dating to 1990, which is why I include its contents here. Lethality Assessment by Barbara J. Hart is well-known in this field of DV. I wonder what happened that — same State — the message didn’t get through, somehow, that this guy was going to shoot somebody, possibly her. Nowadays, they are still selling “risk assessments” to the courts, as similar incidents continue.

The dispatcher and responding officer can utilize the indicators described below in making an assessment of the batterer’s potential to kill. Considering these factors may or may not reveal actual potential for homicidal assault. But, the likelihood of a homicide is greater when these factors are present. The greater the number of indicators that the batterer demonstrates or the greater the intensity of indicators, the greater the likelihood of a life-threatening attack.

Use all of the information you have about the batterer, current as well as past incident information. A thorough investigation at the scene will provide much of the information necessary to make this assessment. However, law enforcement will not obtain reliable information from an interview conducted with the victim and perpetrator together or from the batterer alone.

  1. Threats of homicide or suicide.The batterer who has threatened to kill himself, his partner, the children or her relatives must be considered extremely dangerous.
  2. Fantasies of homicide or suicide.The more the batterer has developed a fantasy about who, how, when, and/or where to kill, the more dangerous he may be. The batterer who has previously acted out part of a homicide or suicide fantasy may be invested in killing as a viable “solution” to his problems. As in suicide assessment, the more detailed the plan and the more available the method, the greater the risk.
  3. Weapons.Where a batterer possesses weapons and has used them or has threatened to use them in the past in his assaults on the battered woman, the children or himself, his access to those weapons increases his potential for lethal assault. The use of guns is a strong predictor of homicide. If a batterer has a history of arson or the threat of arson, fire should be considered a weapon.
  4. “Ownership” of the battered partner. The batterer who says “Death before Divorce!” or “You belong to me and will never belong to another!” may be stating his fundamental belief that the woman has no right to life separate from him. A batterer who believes he is absolutely entitled to his female partner, her services, her obedience and her loyalty, no matter what, is likely to be life-endangering.
  5. Centrality of the partner.A man who idolizes his female partner, or who depends heavily on her to organize and sustain his life, or who has isolated himself from all other community, may retaliate against a partner who decides to end the relationship. He rationalizes that her “betrayal” justifies his lethal retaliation.
  6. Separation Violence. When a batterer believes that he is about to lose his partner, if he can’t envision life without her or if the separation causes him great despair or rage, he may choose to kill.
  7. Depression.Where a batterer has been acutely depressed and sees little hope for moving beyond the depression, he may be a candidate for homicide and suicide. Research shows that many men who are hospitalized for depression have homicidal fantasies directed at family members.
  8. Access to the battered woman and/or to family members.If the batterer cannot find her, he cannot kill her. If he does not have access to the children, he cannot use them as a means of access to the battered woman. Careful safety planning and police assistance are required for those times when contact is required, e.g. court appearances and custody exchanges.
  9. Repeated outreach to law enforcement.Partner or spousal homicide almost always occurs in a context of historical violence. Prior calls to the police indicate elevated risk of life-threatening conduct. The more calls, the greater the potential danger.
  10. Escalation of batterer risk.A less obvious indicator of increasing danger may be the sharp escalation of personal risk undertaken by a batterer; when a batterer begins to act without regard to the legal or social consequences that previously constrained his violence, chances of lethal assault increase significantly.
  11. Hostage-taking. A hostage-taker is at high risk of inflicting homicide. Between 75% and 90% of all hostage takings in the US are related to domestic violence situations.

If an intervention worker concludes that a batterer is likely to kill or commit life-endangering violence, extraordinary measures should be taken to protect the victim and her children. This may include notifying the victim and law enforcement of risk, as well as seeking a mental health commitment, where appropriate. The victim should be advised that the presence of these indicators may mean that the batterer is contemplating homicide and that she should immediately take action to protect herself and should contact the local battered woman’s program to further assess lethality and develop safety plans.

Hart, B.“Assessing Whether Batters Will Kill” PCADV, 1990.


In February 2000, Jill Burella filed a complaint in Pennsylvania state court against Officer Reamer, Captain Bloom, and Captain Bloom’s successor, Francis Gramlich, along with the City of Philadelphia and Dr. Warren Zalut, the City psychiatrist who saw George Burella on the day of the shooting. After the case was removed to federal district court, she filed an eight-count amended complaint asserting various federal constitutional and state law claims. The officers and the City moved for summary judgment on all counts asserted against them.6 This appeal concerns solely the District Court’s summary judgment ruling that the officers are not entitled to qualified immunity with respect to Jill Burella’s due process (Count I) and equal protection (Count IV) claims.


This case cites the Castle Rock case. The opinion is worth understanding. People receiving restraining orders need to understand what they are and what they are not. As residents of a rain forest understand the rain forest, or those who live in monsoon territory have to understand the ramifications of the deluge, residents of the United States, though a Constitution, Bill of Rights, and legal systems exist, they exist in a context — on paper and arguments about them have created a deluge of paperwork over the 2+centuries since we started. They are only as good as interpreted by those who read act on this paperwork.

So, the deluge of paperwork can lead to life, IF one is prepared to understand its contexts, and shifting contexts, too., or death if one places false or misguided hope in them alone. Whether to stake one’s life on the force of that paperwork is personal, like a decision to stake one’s life on a God, or sacred writings describing that God. Whatever one chooses, chances are that sooner or later and like it or not, one is going to come face to face with someone who reads it differently, or thinks it’s a joke, and be forced to deal with him or her. This could include one’s own marriage certificate, obviously.

This is what Judge Fuentes, in the Burella appeal, wrote (any emphases are mine…):

[as above…United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on appeal from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County)]

As discussed above, however, the Court in Castle Rock
unambiguously stated that absent a “clear indication” of legislative
intent, a statute’s mandatory arrest language should not be read to
strip law enforcement of the discretion they have traditionally had
in deciding whether to make an arrest
. 545 U.S. at 761. Although
the Supreme Court did not specify what language would suffice to
strip the police of such discretion, it is clear after Castle Rock that
the phrase “shall arrest” is insufficient.
As previously noted, the
Supreme Court explicitly stated that “a true mandate of police
action would require some stronger indication from the Colorado
Legislature than . . . �shall arrest
.'” Id.

To the average person, “shall arrest” means “shall arrest.” But, the Supreme Court kept in mind that police discretion (discussed in more detail in the document). The word “shall” means “shall,” or at least we hope so, in something as official as a court order signed by a judge. GOOD, we think, NOW I finally have some protection. But the law doesn’t always think like that (logically), nor courts, and obviously not police. So, the safe understanding would be to understand the bottom line. It doesn’t mean ‘squat,’ really. Maybe to you, but not to others.

Thus, a restraining order is only as good as SOMEONE has respect for it and will act on it as if it were unilaterally true.

In addition, we note that Jill Burella’s argument fails to
address the Supreme Court’s observation in Castle Rock that even
if the Colorado domestic violence statute mandated an arrest, it
would not necessarily mean the victim would have an “entitlement”
to an arrest. That is, although the Pennsylvania statute allows a
victim of domestic violence to “file a private criminal complaint
against a defendant, alleging indirect criminal contempt” for
violation of a protective order, 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. � 6113.1(a), or
“petition for civil contempt” against the violator, 23 Pa. Cons. Stat.
� 6114.1(a), like the Colorado statute, it is silent as to whether a
victim can request, much less demand, an arrest.14 See 23 Pa.
Cons. Stat. Ann. � 6113:1(a). In fact, “[w]hen an individual files
a private criminal complaint [under � 6113.1], the district attorney
has the discretion to refrain from proceeding for policy reasons.”
Starr v. Price, 385 F. Supp. 2d 502, 511 (M.D. Pa. 2005); Pa. R.
Crim. P. 506.

. . .

Finally, we cannot ignore that despite framing the issue as
one of procedural due process, what Jill Burella appears to seek is
a substantive due process remedy: that is, the right to an arrest
itself, and not the pre-deprivation notice and hearing that are the
hallmarks of a procedural due process claim.

In short, whether framed as a substantive due process right
under DeShaney, or a procedural due process right under Roth, Jill
Burella does not have a cognizable claim that the officers’ failure
to enforce the orders of protection violated her due process rights.15
Therefore, we need not determine whether her entitlement to police
protection was “clearly established” at the time of the alleged
violation before concluding that the officers are entitled to
qualified immunity.

* * *

Outcome: The facts Jill Burella alleges, if true, reveal a terrible
deficiency on the part of the Philadelphia Police Department in
responding to her complaints of domestic abuse. Binding precedent
nevertheless compels our conclusion that the officers� failure to
arrest her husband, or to handle her complaints more competently,
did not violate her constitutional right to due process or equal
protection of the law. Accordingly, we hold that the officers are
entitled to qualified immunity on her constitutional claims.

We will reverse and remand to the District Court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.

BACK TO THE LUZERNE COUNTY CASE,

Juvenile WAYNE DAWN’s COMPLAINT and CAPUTO’s ruling

As for Brulo, the judge concluded that the allegations in Dawn’s lawsuit were too thin to justify allowing the claims to proceed to the discovery stage. “There are no specific factual allegations made against Brulo. Instead, there are blanket assertions about what all defendants did collectively, many of them consisting of legal conclusions, such as defendants aiding and abetting each other in this conspiracy,” Caputo wrote.

Sounds like a poorly-written high school composition, starting with the conclusion, rather than starting with a thesis and systematically showing the reader the process and facts that led to it. In other words, sloppy writing.

(Again, I didn’t read Dawn, just the comments on it here).

Dawn’s complaint, Caputo said, “is littered with the type of bald assertions and legal conclusions warned against by the Supreme Court” in its recent decisions in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal.

“Plaintiff has not alleged any actions taken by Brulo specifically and, therefore, has failed to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence that Brulo violated plaintiff’s rights,” Caputo wrote.

The main focus of Caputo’s opinion was tackling the arguments lodged by Conahan and Ciavarella, both of whom are acting as their own lawyers and had sought a dismissal of all claims.

Caputo concluded that while the former judges are entitled to assert absolute judicial immunity, it was not enough to end the case because Dawn’s suit accuses the judges of taking steps in the alleged conspiracy that went beyond their roles as judges.

According to the suit, Conahan and Ciavarella struck an agreement with attorney Robert Powell and Robert K. Mericle, the owner of a local construction company, to build a new, privately owned juvenile detention center in Luzerne County as a replacement for the adequate, publicly owned juvenile detention center already in existence.

For the new facility to be financially viable, the suit alleges, it would require a regular stream of juvenile defendants, and Conahan and Ciavarella agreed to divert large numbers of juveniles into the new facility in order to gain more than $2.8 million in kickbacks.

To hide these ill-gotten proceeds, the suit alleges, Conahan and Ciavarella transferred the money via wire transfer to various corporations controlled by them. Their cooperation in the conspiracy allegedly included removing all funding from the publicly run detention center, having juveniles moved to the new privately owned facilities built by Mericle and operated by Powell, agreeing to guarantee placement of juvenile defendants in the new facilities, ordering juveniles to be placed at the private facilities and assisting the new juvenile detention centers in securing agreements with Luzerne County.

Caputo ruled that, under the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity, Dawn cannot pursue any claim that is premised on a theory that Conahan and Ciavarella did not act as impartial judges, failed to advise juveniles of their right to counsel or failed to determine whether guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. But Caputo also found that “many of the actions taken by Conahan were not of a judicial nature.”

The alleged agreements entered into by Conahan with Mericle and Powell, as well as any budget decisions make by Conahan as president judge, or any advocacy for building a new detention center are “non-judicial acts that are not subject to absolute judicial immunity,” Caputo wrote.

Likewise, Caputo found that “some of Ciavarella’s alleged actions are covered by judicial immunity, while others are not.”

Ciavarella’s courtroom actions in sentencing juveniles, including his sentencing of Dawn, are protected by judicial immunity, Caputo found.

“As for to the other allegations,” Caputo wrote, “such as Ciavarella’s role in the conspiracy to build the juvenile detention centers and receive kickbacks, those allegations are extra-judicial activity that is not protected by absolute judicial immunity.”

Dawn’s lawyer, Timothy R. Hough of Jaffe & Hough in Philadelphia, could not be reached for comment. Brulo’s lawyer, Scott D. McCarroll of Thomas Thomas & Hafer in Harrisburg, also could not be reached.

I have lost some editing in the last few “saves” and am for now “abandoning ship” on this post which began to usurp my free time for the last two days. My equipment has a (vey) slow processor, which challenges my ability to retain the train of thought while it is completing a save (or even dribbling out keystrokes several seconds after input — I’m a fast typist), and I have miles to go before I sleep. Hopefully this post was not a “sleeper” and may have awakened us out of some rhetoric-induced slumber in these matters. If you hang around some circles too long, you begging to believe and accept their theories, without critical analysis and distancing, as a lifestyle, too. It’s laborious, but better.

JESSICA (GONZALES) LENAHAN’S STATEMENT

FOR THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

MARCH 2007

ACLU WEBSITE — SHE HAS NOT GIVEN UP SEEKING ANSWERS

  • Hello, my name is Jessica Lenahan. My former married name was Jessica Gonzales. I am grateful to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for allowing me this opportunity to tell my story. It is a courtesy I was not granted by the judicial system of my home country, the United States. I brought this petition because I want to prevent the kind of tragedy my little girls and my entire family suffered from happening to other families.

    Let me start from the beginning. I am a Latina and Native American woman from Pueblo, Colorado. I met my previous husband, Simon Gonzales, while still in high school. I married Simon in 1990 and we moved to Castle Rock, Colorado in 1998. We lived together with our three children – Rebecca, Katheryn, and Leslie – and my son Jessie, from a previous relationship.

  • Throughout our relationship, Simon was erratic and abusive toward me and our children. By 1994, he was distancing himself from us and becoming more and more controlling, unpredictable, and violent. He would break the children’s toys and other belongings, harshly discipline the children, threaten to kidnap them, drive recklessly, exhibit suicidal behavior, and verbally, physically, and sexually abuse me. He was heavily involved with drugs.

    Simon’s frightening and destructive behavior got worse and worse as the years went by. One time I walked into the garage, and he was hanging there with a noose around his neck, with the children watching. I had to hold the rope away from his neck while my daughter Leslie called the police.

    Simon and I separated in 1999 when my daughters were 9, 8, and 6. But he continued scaring us. He would stalk me inside and outside my house, at my job, and on the phone at all hours of the day and night.

    On May 21, 1999, a Colorado court granted me a temporary restraining order that required Simon to stay at least 100 yards away from me, my home, and the children. The judge told me to keep the order with me at all times, and that the order and Colorado law required the police to arrest Simon if he violated the order. Having this court order relieved some of my anxiety.

  • But Simon continued to terrorize me and the children even after I got the restraining order. He broke into my house, stole my jewelry, changed the locks on my doors, and loosened my house’s water valves, flooding the entire street. I called the Castle Rock Police Department to report these and other violations of the restraining order. The police ignored most of my calls. And when they did respond, they were dismissive of me, and even scolded me for calling them. This concerned me and made me wonder how the police might respond if I had an emergency in the future.
  • Simon had at least seven run-ins with the police between March and June of 1999. He was ticketed for “road rage” while the girls were in the truck and for trespassing in a private section of the Castle Rock police station and then trying to flee after officers served him with the restraining order.On June 4, Simon and I appeared in court, and the judge made the restraining order permanent. The new order granted me full custody of Rebecca, Katheryn, and Leslie, and said that Simon could only be with our daughters on alternate weekends and one prearranged dinner visit during the week.

File under “split personality court orders”  THANK you, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Pres. Barack Obama (not much changed), formerly and til now, Wade Horn, Ron Haskins, Jessica Pearson (Center Policy Research, AFCC founder, I heard, Gardner fan), and anyone and everyone who really can say with a straight face that the nation’s true crisis is when children do NOT wake up with their biodad in the home.  Thank you, multi-million$$ Healthy marriage/REsponsible Fatherhood funding, and any legislator with ties to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, but not open about it.  Thank you, for your overt subversion of the United States of America founding principles and documents, and being AWARE of this enough to be secretive about it, as evidenced by failing to tell protective MOTHERS (like this one) while recruiting Dads behind our backs, to give them advice adn sometimes free legal help to get our kids away from us.

Thank you about 3 major organizations in the Denver area driving this policy, and thank you for being smart enough to know that “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” really wouldn’t hold sway legally, so it had to be practiced through another Branch of Government, voila, (1991) Health and Human Services department, and the things I’ve been blogging about.

Thank you for police officers that back each other up, but not women seeking protection via the restraining order system.  I also know of officers that gave their lives to save others, in domestic violence incidents. I’m not talking about them, but the others.  You know which you are..  Some men wear the uniform, and others live it — just like some men fit the fatherhood shoes, and others need to put theirs on and just keep walking…..


Yeah, I’m moved .  . .  Was Jessica a real Mom?  Was she a person?  Were her daughters?

The father had attempted suicide, and he gets a typical custody situation, alternate weekends. What’s THAT?  an attempt to use the kids to make him a better man?

  • (her children are kidnapped.  She repeatedly asks the police to help… Here are some of the responses):
  • Less than 3 weeks later, Simon violated the restraining order by kidnapping my three daughters from our yard on a day that he wasn’t supposed to see the girls. When I discovered they were missing, I immediately called the police, told them that the girls were missing and that I thought Simon had abducted them in violation of a restraining order, and asked them to find my daughters. The dispatcher told me she would send an officer to my house, but no one came.

    I waited almost two hours for the police, and then called the station again. Finally two officers came to my house. I showed them the restraining order and explained that it was not Simon’s night to see the girls, but that I suspected he had taken them. The officers said, “Well he’s their father, it’s okay for them to be with him.” And I said, “No, it’s not okay. There was no prearranged visit for him to have the children tonight.” The officers said there was nothing they could do, and told me to call back at 10pm if the children were still not home. I was flustered and scared. Unsure of what else I could say or do to make the officers take me seriously, I agreed to do what they suggested.

  • THAT JUDGE’S STANDARDIZED ORDER SET HER UP FOR THIS.  THERE WAS NOTHING SHE COULD’VE DONE, WITHOUT HERSELF BREAKING IT, TO CHANGE THE SITUATION.
  • Soon afterwards, Simon’s girlfriend called me and told me that Simon called her and was threatening to drive off a cliff. She asked me if he had a gun and whether or not he would hurt the children. I began to panic.

    I finally reached Simon on his cell phone around 8:30 pm. He told me he was with the girls at an amusement park in Denver, 40 minutes from Castle Rock. I immediately communicated this information to the police. I was shocked when they responded that there was nothing they could do, because Denver was outside of their jurisdiction. I called back and begged them to put out a missing child alert or contact the Denver police, but they refused. The officer told me I needed to take this matter to divorce court, and told me to call back if the children were not home in a few hours. The officer said to me, “At least you know the children are with their father.” I felt totally confused and humiliated.

  • {{My children did not die.  But, despite any court order (and there’s one to this date ordering weekly contact — with me — it’s not safely enforceable.  I haven’t seen either one in a long time.  Prior to that situation, I was in this situation with officers, and got a similar response, in a context of escalating threats to take them, and troubles.  AFTER they were taken, I was given the same line, even though at this time their address was unknown and they weren’t attending school.  The story almost never changes, much….}}
  • I called the police again and again that night. When I called at 10pm, the dispatcher said to me that I was being “a little ridiculous making us freak out and thinking the kids are gone.” Even at that late hour, the police were still scolding me and not acknowledging that three children were missing, not recognizing my repeated descriptions of the girls and the truck.
  • NOW, her children are dead — through their negligence and ignoring her pleas — and here is how she is treated:
  • After hearing about the shooting, I drove to the police station. As I attempted to approach Simon’s truck, I was taken away by the police and then to the local sheriff’s office. Officials refused to give me any information about whether the girls were alive. They ignored my pleas to see my girls. {{I have been in this situation, very similar, requests ignored}}  The experience revictimized me all over again. They detained me in a room for 12 hours and interrogated me throughout the early morning hours, as if I had a role in the children’s deaths. They refused to let me see or call my family. It was absolutely the most traumatic, horrific, and exhausting experience of my life!
  • I have noticed over time, that if a woman is persistent in reporting violations of court orders, stalking, threats, or missing children in particular, the anger will be turned on her; she will not be heard.  We might as well accept and prepare ourselves for this emotionally, though it’s wrong.  Police officers’ roles includes dominating others, and situations.  They’re REAL good at dominating traumatized women….This includes verbal abuse as well, mocking, sarcasm, belittling, questioning, interrupting when one is asking legitimate questions, — in fact, practically everything an abusive partner might do, with this kicker:  they are authorized to use force in certain situations, and they carry sidearms.

  • The media knew my girls were dead before my family or I did. I was finally told by state officials around 8am that Simon had murdered the girls before he arrived at the police station. However, I never learned any other details about how, when, and where the girls died. I continue to seek this information to this day. I need to know the truth.

    Several family members and I asked the authorities to identify the girls’ bodies, but we were not permitted to view their bodies until six days later – when they lay in their caskets. My daughters’ death certificates and the coroners’ reports state no place, date, or time of death. It saddened me not to be able to put this information on their gravestones.

  • Today, nearly eight years after my tragedy, I continue to seek a thorough investigation into my babies’ deaths. I see nothing being done in Castle Rock or nationwide to make police accountable to domestic violence victims. It’s like rubbing salt in my wounds.

    So why did the police ignore my calls for help? Was it because I was a woman? A victim of domestic violence? A Latina? Because the police were just plain lazy? I continue to seek answers to these questions.

    We rely on the courts and the police for protection against violence. But I learned from my tragedy that the police have no accountability. The safety of my children was of such little consequence that the police took no action to protect my babies. If our government won’t protect us, we should know that. We should know that we are on our own when our lives are at risk.

    Had I known that the police would do nothing to locate Rebecca, Katheryn, and Leslie or enforce my restraining order, I would have taken the situation into my own hands by looking for my children with my family and friends. I might have even bought a gun to protect us from Simon’s terror. Perhaps if I had taken these measures, I would have averted this tragedy. But then I might be imprisoned right now. That is the dilemma for abused women in the United States.

    • I am blogging.  I am telling people.  This woman has told people.  You read it in the late 1990s and you’ve now read two statements from the year 2007 (Burella’s appeal, denied, citing Gonzales’s failed Castle Rock case).  Remember what I said about the ‘deluge” of paperwork.   If we are going to go the “paperwork” route, the due diligence is necessary to understand the REAL contexts of it.  The REAL context of it is that one cannot count on enforcement.
    • Moreover, I also assert (and have discussed this more among my friends than on the blog) that the fatherhood and the domestic violence advocates are in bed together, and care more about their conferences and grants than our lives, and probably always have.  I don’t say this with anger (well, not TOO much anger), but so we who don’t have another year to waste won’t waste anther year looking for help, rather than helping ourselves in the most moral, legal, and humane way possible.

There are consequences to the U.S. when women have to go to the international level to ask for protection.  I’ve read about globalism and am aware of NGOs, and so forth, but the gol-dang Tea Party folk, and libertarians, if they will not recognize woman’s humanity as equal to theirs, even when not bound to a husband, they are going to cost us this country.  Show me an honest faith-based organization that’s involved in government, and I’ll work with it.  Til then, no thank you!  Where are woman who have some faith to hang out?  In some mega church that has less respect for women than the Castle Rock police Dept? ???

This IACHR link will be put on the front page.

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