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Posts Tagged ‘Judge/attorney cronyism

WIth Them in Spirit Tomorrow — Pennsylvania Parents Protest Apparent Court Cronyism (12/2/2011, Lackawanna County)

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This information is on a public forum, so I took the liberty of copying it here — from a thread from “Scranton Political Times” “Doherty Deceit Forum

It’s a quick post, but covers topics I’ve been blogging for a long time:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

PRESS RELEASE SENT OUT AT NOON TODAY

Second Lackawanna County Family Court Kids 4Kash Protest Set For December 2, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Scranton, Pa

The second in a series of demonstrations in what The Protesters have labeled The Lackawanna County KIDS 4 KASH Corruption Scheme will begin at 9am this Friday in front of the Family Court Building at 200 Adams Avenue. The protesters, many of whom are family court litigants, are in disbelief and outraged that President Judge Thomas Munley has not taken any action against the Court Appointed Guardian ad Litem, Attorney Danielle Ross. Unbelievably, Ross who is currently under investigation by the FBI and the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Court (AOPC) is still being assigned new cases every week.

{{WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF PARENTS SIMPLY REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE?  REFUSED TO PAY? AND THE JUDGE THEN TRIED TO INCARCERATE? }}

Their investigation of Ms. Ross was set in motion when a parent named Bruce Levine contacted Detective Michelle Mancuso from the Lackawanna County District Attorneys Office about discrepancies he found on Ross invoices for the services she claimed she provided as Guardian. As fate would have it, right about the same time, a thread directed against Ross called Kids 4 Kash was started by political activist Joseph Pilchesky on his contentious website, http://www.dohertydeceit.com. Fundamental to Pilchesky’s website is The First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech.

The site encourages antagonistic dialogue about current local and global issues that is often times abrasive. Users that post comments on topics typically remain anonymous; therefore, it provides a safe venue for other parents and litigants to share their family court horror stories and eventually their identities with one another. Several of those parents that connected with each other on the website began to turn over Ross’ invoices to the authorities, which eventually lead to the involvement of the United States Attorney General’s Office.

The FBI began their investigation with a subpoena requesting all documents involving each and every case to which Attorney Ross was appointed and a Grand Jury was convened. In days to follow, many additional subpoenas were served upon court employees including the Lackawanna Count Court Administrator, Ron MacKay. When federal agents showed up at MacKay’s office located inside the county’s main Courthouse, he was sequestered and forced to remain in the hallway while agents searched his office. After about an hour, the agents left the Court Administrator’s Office with several boxes of documents.

It is unknown at this time what the FBI confiscated from MacKay’s office. As to why they raided his office, those close to the case strongly believe that the scope of the federal investigation has broadened well beyond the alleged fraudulent billing practices of Attorney Ross. Rumors of case steering and monetary kickbacks are out there.

The status of the AOPC investigation into the Guardian ad Litem Program, as well as Home Evaluation and supervised visitation payments, is unclear at this time despite the fact that on November 2, 2011, AOPC Attorney, Michael Daley, stated in open court that it would be available two weeks ago. To date, a RTK letter that was sent to the Court requesting the report has gone unanswered. Reliable sources within Family Court speculate that there are at least two plausible reasons for the delay. On one hand, there are many who are convinced that the AOPC investigation amounts to little more than a smoke screen used to give the Court a few months to cover its tracks and get its act together. While others believe that public pressure has forced AOPC investigator, Joseph Mittleman, to hold off on finalizing the report. He states that the AOPC is obligated to look into alleged acts of attorney misconduct as well as to conducting interviews with alleged victims of Family Court corruption.

Protests will be held every Friday starting at 9am in front of Family Court. The goal is to bring forth public awareness and gain support in the effort to expose what appears to be a moneymaking racket devised by the members of the Judiciary and several Child Custody/Divorce Professionals who do business with Family Court. The individuals with whom the Court most frequently Orders Family Court litigants to consult are Guardians Danielle Ross and Brenda Kobal, Lackawanna County’s sole co-parenting coordinator, Anne Marie Termini, Kids First presenter, Chet Muklewicz, Court mediator, AnthonyLibassi, Psychologists Drs. Ronald Refice and Arnold Shivenhold, and various child visitation supervisors affiliated with the Scranton Counseling Center.

The Parties who have been forced by Order of the Court to see these providers, attend numerous appointments, whether they need to or not, and pay enormous fees (if they are not declared indigent) have a lot of unanswered questions. Until those questions are answered, the only logical conclusion is that the Court and these providers are unjustly enriching themselves not only with the millions of Federal and State Grant dollars allocated for indigent Lackawanna County Children and Families but also money from private-pay litigants.

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“SHIVENHOLD” I’m fairly sure means “SCHIENVOLD”  who is AFCC leadership:

 

Here’s one filing in which Mr. Shienvold was called as Expert Witness for the Father, who wants primary physical custody of the children, and after the mother submitted to custody reports preceding a “Custody Trial” the mother then, of course, had to make special motions to actually read what was reported about her, and apparently planned to call him up and interview or cross-examine him.  The father then protest — aw heck, look at it yourself.

 

http://www.courts.state.pa.us/OpPosting/Superior/out/a29038_05.pdf  (his name is apparently mis-spelled here, too).

 

I have already posted on the forum that Mr. Scheinvold is a primary player in the Pennsylvania Commission for Justice Initiatives, and a key AFCC person, as was at least one of their judges, and that Harhut, Termini, and (was it Ross?) were presenting in Brooklyn, 2009 together at an “NACC” association meeting on matters related to Guardianship and Domestic Violence.

 

He is ALSO the “President-Elect” of AFCC, meaning his influence will be upon more parents than just those in this area.  I hope they figure this out quickly in time for the next generation of children, that an international association with a checkered history is helping run the courthouses, but right now, most don’t seem too interested in this, they are scrambling to survive, and have not looked up to the horizons.  In other words, for control to operate freely, it’s connections to other control must remain subterranean.  AFCC is hardly “subterranean” when it’s publishing statewide model custody evaluation standards, inventing new fields of practice faster than the previous ones can be caught and complained about (Parenting Coordination) and with personnel (over 3,000 membership) including, for example, at least a few on the California Judicial Council Administrative Office of the Courts.

[AFCC]

President Elect 
Arnold T. Shienvold, Ph.D.
Harrisburg, PA

Arnold Shienvold is the founding partner of Riegler, Shienvold & Associates. Dr. Shienvold received his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Alabama and has specialized in dealing with high-conflict families since he began his practice in 1980. Dr. Shienvold is a member of the American Psychological Association and is a fellow of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association where he also serves on the custody evaluation task force. Dr. Shienvold is a past president of the Academy of Family Mediators and a past president of the Association for Conflict Resolution. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators.

The PA Adminsitrative Office of the Courts and FBI are supposedly investigating the Lackawanna County parents’ complaints, so I hope they take it upon themselves to figure out — quickly — who the Pennsylvania Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is comprised of, paid by, and answerable to.

 

  1. [PDF]

    Commission for Justice Initiatives in Pennsylvania Changing the 

    www15.brinkster.com/ncfcpgh/Report.pdf

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
    Arnold Shienvold, Ph.D., brought great understanding of the dynamics of separation, ….. 3 Site visit by Judy Shopp April 5, 2006; Dr. Arnold Sheinvold provides 

    You’ve visited this page 5 times. Last visit: 11/30/11

I don’t know that these parents have yet accepted that a State-Level “commission for Justice Initiatives” report (2007) called “Changing the Culture of Custody” with Mr. Shienvold listed front and center as a consultant actually relates to problems they are having at the county level

 

Arnold Shienvold, Ph.D.


Dr. Shienvold is the founding partner of Riegler • Shienvold and Associates.

Education
Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Alabama. He specialized in child clinical psychology and completed his internship at the Ohio State University Hospital.

Area of Emphasis
Dr. Shienvold has specialized in dealing with high conflict families since he began his practice. He is recognized locally and nationally as an expert in the areas of custody evaluations and family mediation. In addition to his direct clinical practice in those areas, Dr. Shienvold has consulted to public and private agencies, taught and lectured at a multitude of professional conferences and schools and published papers on these topics. Dr. Shienvold continues to see individuals and couples in therapy and he has an active forensic practice. Additionally, Dr. Shienvold has served as a professional facilitator for group meetings.

 

 

Yep.  High-conflict families.  Here’s a website I found in Australia (where AFCC has active membership, FYI) which calls “High Conflict” what it is, if I may quote them.  As an added bonus, I stuck two or three comments on this post, which is a year old now.  I hope that by the time 2012 is halfpast, the people in Scranton area will figure out (accept) what they are dealing with in the Unified Family Courts per se — which is an expense-paid (by txpayers) largely immune from responsibility, self-referring, self-propagating multiple income stream and often tax-exempt cash machine for paid membership of  about 5 different organizations (all playing at monitoring each other, instead of, more commonly, referring each other and providing business referrals to make them look  more expert than they really are.  If “expert” means, learning a business-specific jargon,  and to have a greater conscience about one’s cohorts than one’s clients — then a 12 year old, for example, has already learned to speak his or her own cultural language among peers, and probably knows as much about bullying, gangs, exclusion and arbitrary standards for who is IN and who is OUT.

In order for this field to continue until each generation of Family Court professionals retires (and eventually some will die of old age, though many of the originals are still collecting royalties, probably through Kids’First type operations nationwide), it MUST continue the lie (that’s  L.I.E.) that adult parents are by and large to be treated like misbehaving children, or punished until they play along.

This has been going on SO LONG that what they are studying and conferencing about now is basically a contaminated sample (of people and personalities).  In addition to the many factors of society contributing to any parent’s “psychological profile,” is probably such things as motherless children, children in foster care because there’s an incentive to put them there, kids who run away from abuse because there was no other safe option (they do not all turn out as well as Alanna Krause of Northern California, whose father, once he got custody, sent her away at age 13 to some kind of reform camp), and a series of protective mothers who feel it necessary to flee the US, or the state — although they, too, are quite likely to be hunted down and incarcerated.

 

10 Reasons The Family Court is Not Just About Conflict

1. Family Violence is often referred as “High Conflict”, “Entrenched Conflict” to mask the severity of the situation.

Mentioned in the latest report on Family Violence in Family Courts, high conflict has often been a tool to diminish support for victims within the media and inside the courts andwritten judgments.
For Instance, a judge referred to death threats, property damage and stalking towards the mother as, “High Conflict”:

 

 

Here’s a 3-page outline from a 2007 Texas Meeting of the AAML ( a group which initials anyone with a family law case should look up themselves!)

DEALING WITH CLIENTS WHICH ARE TOO HARD TO LOVE

The presenters gratefully acknowledge the work of Arnold T. Sheinvold, Ph.D. Dr. Sheinvold is the managing partner of Riegler, Shienvold & Associates, a comprehensive psychological practice in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The materials in this presentation were developed and presented by Dr. Sheinvold {{that’s SHIENVOLD}} at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ 2007 Midyear Meeting. The presenters appreciate Dr. Sheinvold’s generosity in sharing his materials with the Texas family law community.

(and lists the personality types — borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial, etc.)

 

Here’s a 2006 article (abstract, I guess) from the FAMILY COURT REVIEW — which is a publication jointly published by AFCC & Hofstra Univ. in New York, listing this psychologists among others the parents are protesting, a number of AFCC personnel, including Philip Stahl, Ph.D. which virtually guarantees there will be (more) conversation about parental alienation (one of Dr. Stahl’s favorite topics), etc.

  1. Task Force for Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation,

  2. David A. Martindale Reporter,
  3. Lorraine Martin,
  4. William G. Austin Task Force Co-chairs,
  5. Leslie Drozd,
  6. Dianna Gould-Saltman,
  7. H. D. Kirkpatrick,
  8. Kathryn Kuehnle,
  9. Debra Kulak,
  10. Denise McColley,
  11. Arnold Sheinvold, {{per his website it’s “SHIENVOLD”}}
  12. Jeffrey Siegel,
  13. Philip M. Stahl

Article first published online: 7 DEC 2006

DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-1617.2007.129_3.x

Issue

Family Court Review

Family Court Review

Volume 45, Issue 1, pages 70–91, January 2007

Additional Information(Show All)

 _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

Ronald Refice

 

A Bit About How It’s Done”  (familycourtmatters Sept. 2011 post)

Here’s one of my former posts showing people samples of how to look things up — corporations, associations, just stay persistent!

Today’s Post is “all over the place” but provides a sampler of how — with as clumsy tools as various states give, the habit of searching for corporations and people who incorporate them, and then comparing boards of directors, whether they actually file tax returns or not, and whether while the press is all about justice, children, and helping resolve conflicts, a view at the nonprofit characterization many times simply categorizes the group as “Board of Trade” “Business Promotion” — which is what it is.

 

Too bad Thomas Szasz professor took up with a cult that’s been literally booted out of a country, the Church of Scientology — but think about what’s being said here:

Thomas Stephen Szasz (play/ˈsɑːs/sahss; born April 15, 1920) is a psychiatrist and academic. Since 1990[1] he has been Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Center in SyracuseNew York. He is a well-known social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, and of the social control aims of medicine in modern society, as well as of scientism. His books The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) and The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement (1970) set out some of the arguments with which he is most associated.

 

I wonder how the book compares to Phyllis Chesler’s “Women & Madness”

 

His views on special treatment follow from classical liberal roots which are based on the principles that each person has the right to bodily and mental self-ownership and the right to be free from violence from others, although he criticized the “Free World” as well as the communist states for their use of psychiatry and “drogophobia”. He believes that suicide {{!??!}}, the practice of medicine, use and sale of drugs and sexual relations should be private, contractual, and outside of state jurisdiction.

In 1973, the American Humanist Association named him Humanist of the Year and in 1979 he was honored with an honorary doctorate[2] at Universidad Francisco Marroquín.

 

Who wants a CONFLICT-FREE SOCIETY?  Is this some sort of death-wish, or a wish for a sedated society?  Or a managed society, as opposed to one where leadership is not shut down (because most leaders are going to cause some conflict; in fact some of the most significant leaders around — Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lincoln, John F. Kennedy,  and others –  (may I say Jesus Christ in this context?) — end up getting assassinated — yet their work lives on.  Most particularly, Gandhi was assassinated, but through NONViolent protest and understanding the economic system, helped get the British Empire out of India.     Maybe all of us should re-read his “moment of truth”  and get to ours, quicker, building upon what others before have actually learned — and not continually recreating from scratch as if the world has no history.

These groups are causing the conflict themselves by a number of habits:

  • It appears to be greed, dishonesty (chronic, though I can’t say all) and wishing to turn our justice system into their personal ATM and Rx-dispensary.  Psychologists can’t force-medicate people (I think), so the next best option is to become a Parent Coordinator adn get off on wrecking kids lives based on the fact that one of their parents disagrees with the other, and ignoring the fact that this might be because one is genuinely dangerous (or simply an _ _ _ hole hell-bent on punishing the other).
  • Using federal grants to assist one side of the party — and this is the fatherhood movement, sorry you honest Dads — to tip the scales.
  • Building courthouses when the rest of the country needs LESS micromanagement, not more of this kind.
Any one seeking to control language seeks to eliminate the First Amendment (typically for gain) and do so through a propaganda-driven war on the unaware.   AFCC has admitted it seeks to control language.  The associated groups do not respect the basic concept of due process — which requires no conflict of interest.

Go, Lackawanna!

I hope that protesters, besides correcting the spelling of “SHIENVOLD” (for credibility reasons), also feel free to search my site reporting on LibassiMediation being built by revising rules of court, into the custody modification form, my comparison of KIDS FIRST to KIDS TURN (California)*

And come to realize that a fifth column of psychologists, psychiatrists (adult, child, whatever) and mental health experts is basically a “Family Court Archipelago.” Even physicists have to examine their fundamental assumptions from time to time (cf. Newton, Galileo, and the recently publicized “String Theory”) not the least by at least examining evidence.  in this field — ONE NEVER HAS TO; It’s just about become THE primary field of the US Government (world’s largest contractor, and debtor) — and there are no right answers.   There is only a caste system:  Paid Expert v. Humble Subject matter).

 

 

 

*which is virtually a training ground for the California Family Court personnel (almost everyone has been on its boards, not to mention a person who was “most-wanted” or close to it as a Tax Evador — Halsey Minor (I think he’s on the Board too), plus the defenders of the high priestess of Satan against the High Priest (LaVey, and I”m using the terms loosely), operating at the time out of the same address were, it seems, Kids Turn was operating (2nd floor, 1242 market Street) and I posted that link also.

 

THE MYTH OF MENTAL ILLNESS, from ARACHNOID.COM/Psychology

with thanks to its author for presenting another outlook on the “experts” causing the trouble above.

The evidence-based revolution in psychology.

Copyright © 2011, Paul Lutus

For decades there has been increasing evidence that psychologists can’t reliably diagnose or treat mental illnesses, or mental illnesses aren’t objective illnesses as that term is understood, or that psychology has no testable scientific content. Psychologists’ reaction to this long-term trend has been to add more human behaviors to the “mental illness” category, in order not to lose more ground to medicine.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)5, what many call the “Bible” of psychology and its single most important guide to practice, shows this trend clearly — each new edition contains more conditions thought to merit the label “mental illness.” Here is a count of “mental illnesses” included in the DSM by year:*

Year Number of mental illnesses
1952 112
1968 163
1980 224
1987 253
1994 374

Obviously this trend might reflect an increase in our understanding of mental illness, and there might really be hundreds of legitimate mental illnesses. But let’s take a closer look at some conditions listed in the current DSM, conditions thought to require intervention by a mental health professional:

  • Stuttering
  • Spelling Disorder
  • Written Expression Disorder
  • Mathematics Disorder
  • Caffeine Intoxication/Withdrawal
  • Nicotine use/Withdrawal
  • Sibling Rivalry Disorder
  • Phase of Life Problem

Hmm. It seems if you don’t like your older brother, or can’t spell or do math very well, you aren’t just growing up, you’re suffering from a mental illness and need help from a professional. But I favor another explanation — as time passed and psychiatrists and psychologists realized they couldn’t reliably diagnose or cure real mental illnesses, they decided to repurpose themselves as academic tutors, babysitters and hired friends for wealthy patrons.*** For this strategy to work, the DSM needed to include ordinary states of being that could only justify the help of a teacher or sympathetic friend. In other words, in rewriting their profession’s guidebook, for self-serving reasons psychologists deliberately blurred the distinction between everyday problems and mental illness.

**For an account of the struggle to include just a few women in the review board, see “Backlash:  America’s Undeclared War on Women.”  For a bonus, you can also read in this book (probably available at low cost or used, or library) a chapter on Robert Bly and Warren Farrell — after he recanted his prior feminism (Warren Farrell these days wants to start a White House Council on Men and Boys, I heard).  It’s pretty funny.
*** Actually, the statement in blue may be a rational explanation for AFCC’s origins.  They quickly realized that the wealthiest patron around was the United States Government (i.e. those who fund it).  One of its founders was a prison psychologist.  Other hotshots in this in this AFCC association come from (or still work in) psychiatric hospitals.  COmbined with the wonderful reputation the legal field has for ethics and honesty (:  (:, it sounds like a dynamic duo to me:  Psychology plus lawyers, plus judges, most of who probably used to be lawyers anyhow.
profit (apart from sheer conniving and greed, the joy of “getting away with it” and being somewhat close to the top of society, without actually having to do more than rehash the catechism yearly in slightly different terms, and assign outreach coordinators and “evangelists” to connect up with people already ensconced in the judicial and psychological professions, etc.)
ONE FINAL NOTE — ACESTUDY.org
Long-term trauma and abuse (“Adverse Childhood Events”) is going to have an impact on growing children.  As such, abusing children would become literally profitable.  StoppingCourt-Ordered Abuse of Children might be contrary to the purpose of the courts from the start, which was to ensure psychologists increasing respectability, whether earned or not earned.
I don’t want to dismiss anyone’s Ph.D. lightly.  But with a Ph.D. there comes a responsibility to make sure it’s not just the same thing, Piled Higher and Deeper.  And in this particular field, it had very little foundational depth to start with.
This can be seen in the tendency to pompous declarations and mutual self-admiration among many of the associations, and in some cases (I doubt in Dr. Shienvold’s) far too many false credentials.
(That’s all I have time for on this post.)

Surely! a NY State Supreme Court Justice wouldn’t extort or solicit a bribe. (Oh– and the extortion involved a family law case…)

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This illustrates why I think the many problems in the family law arena are due to judges (etc.) “just not understanding” and that more federal grants money (million$, in fact, nationwide and over the years) should be poured into organizations that “educate” and “train” judges in what’s right (after the original hundred$ of thousand$ to first research, study, and figure out what’s right), rather than into efforts to make sure all of them DO what’s right.  

 

And when they are caught with their pants down — excuse me, their hands out  (wrong case) — then whether or not this should be taken seriously should be left up to the discretion of ANOTHER judge,  All that’s at stake, after all, is judicial accountability and justice, and public respect for what the courts do, and how business is conducted in them.  Respect for the law, . . . .  

 

An interesting case, and if you put on the lens of “evidence,” I still see mostly hearsay and a LOT of politics.  That said, whether or not he gets 10 years, or 20, or the “standard” 2 to 3-1/2 (for the mere crime of betraying public office for personal profit), or, nothing, is up to the discretion of another judge.  At least this one is off the bench and disbarred.  Some of the case appears to hinge on a dubious sting, and the testimony of a personal injury attorney with a divorce case before the judge (Hmm…).  In the long run, it hinges on our faith in the Judicial Commission and the US DOJ.

 

I am not investing more time in formatting today, but thought the topic relevant and of public interest.

 

 

Moral:  Never attempt to shake down a successful PI attorney


POINT: Search for “@@@” which shows my point in posting this:

 

Script is below.  It takes a while to sort out the characters, but there sure is a moral involved, here.

My comments are in quotes, the actual quote (article) is not.

(Font size changes are out of control; just deal with it, OK?)


Former N.Y. Judge Convicted of Attempted Extortion and Soliciting Bribes

Jeff Storey
New York Law Journal
August 28, 2009

 

Former New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo has been found guilty of attempting to shake down lawyers appearing before him to help pay the substantial legal bills he had incurred in fighting an ongoing investigation into his conduct by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

 

The types of complaints that may be investigated by the Commission include improper demeanor, conflicts of interest, intoxication, >>bias, prejudice, favoritism, corruption<<, prohibited business or political activity, serious financial and records mismanagement, >>assertion of the influence of judicial office for the private benefit of the judge or others,<< and other misconduct on or off the bench. Physical or mental disability may also be investigated.

The Commission does not act as an appellate court and does not review the merits of a judge’s rulings or alleged errors of law. The Commission does not have the authority, for example, to raise or reduce the amount of bail or change the sentence imposed upon a defendant. The Commission does not issue advisory opinions, give legal advice or represent litigants.

The Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to judges. Complaints against other court personnel or lawyers are not investigated. When appropriate, the Commission refers complaints to other agencies.  {{SUCH AS?  How is it decided when this is appropriate?}}

{{NOTE:  THEREFORE, THIS WILL NOT HANDLE:  CUSTODY EVALUATORS, MEDIATORS, COURT-APPOINTED ATTORNEYS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST ETC. ETC. ETC.  THEREFORE, THIS IS A LIMITED VENUE OF REVIEW WHEN IT COMES TO THE REALM OF FAMILY LAW, I WOULD PRESUME.}}

{{NOW perhaps we have an idea why certain organizations (pronounce after me:  “A-F-C-C,” for example) are so VITALLY interested in farming out custody decision-making input AWAY from judges and AWAY from the courtroom?}}

At the close of a three-day trial in Albany, and after deliberating for seven hours, a Northern District of New York jury on Thursday convicted Spargo, 66, of both counts in the indictment against him: attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.


The Albany Times-Union reported that Spargo smiled at times after the verdict, hugging one supporter in the courtroom.

 

Outside, Spargo told reporters, “The jury system works whether you like it or not.”

 

(An odd comment for a judge….?)

 

E. Stewart Jones of Troy, N.Y., Spargo’s attorney, in an interview called the verdict “overkill” and “excessively punitive” to Spargo, who was removed in 2006 from the Albany Supreme Court bench at the recommendation of the conduct commission.

 

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said Spargo faced a maximum sentence of 20 years on the extortion charge and 10 years on the bribery charge, plus a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

However, the sentence he receives from Judge Gary Sharpe in December will likely be much less. Jones said the advisory sentencing range was two to 3 1/2 years. In any case, he pointed out that the judge had the discretion to eschew a prison term entirely.

 

{{So much for taking it seriously, the mis-use of judicial power for personal gain.  This kind of reminds me of not taking violations of RESTRAINING ORDERS or STALKING seriously either.  With this kind of mentality, how hard is it going to really hit Judge Sargo?  What was his salary?  Will he lose his cronies?  Will he lose the support of any family?  }}


Jones said the sentence will play a big part in his client’s decision whether to appeal.

Under state law, Spargo also will be disbarred.

 

Note:  I bet THAT law has an interesting background…..  Probably judges that were getting disciplined were NOT getting disbarred (and continuing practice) before it was passed??


Jones accused the conduct commission, and its administrator, Robert H. Tembeckjian, of referring the case to federal authorities after the agency “already had exacted its pound of flesh.”

Jones added that he had argued to the jury that Spargo had paid the price for defending the First Amendment rights of judges in the commission proceedings.

Tembeckjian denied in an interview that the commission had initiated the federal case. Rather, he said his agency merely responded to requests for information from the federal prosecutors whose probe was already under way. Spargo’s removal from office “ended the matter for us,” he said.

“This case was not about the First Amendment but about abusing judicial office for personal financial gain,” Tembeckjian added in a statement. “The commission fulfilled its responsibilities honorably. Its decision and the jury verdict speak for themselves.”

Point:  The extent of the Commission on Judicial Conduct’s effort was to get the guy off the bench, not set or make an example that extortion and bribery are, well, criminal and will be punished. They are not the criminal prosecutors.  It was basically then, apparently, “damage control.”

 

The commission’s probe figured prominently in the Albany trial. Tembeckjian was subpoenaed and although he did not testify, his cross-examination of Spargo before the commission was read into the record. Moreover, several commission witnesses appeared at the trial.

 

 

EXTORTION CHARGES

The government alleged that Spargo, while presiding in Kingston in 2003, had tried to extort thousands of dollars from three of Ulster County’s most successful personal injury lawyers.  {{Only one of who is named in this article, so possibly the strongest case??}}

 

((Their success might be another interesting story.))

In particular, prosecutors said Spargo had called Bruce Blatchly of New Paltz into his chambers and attempted to solicit $10,000. @@@When Blatchly balked, the judge followed up with a second solicitation in a phone call during which he observed that he and Albany County Surrogate Cathryn Doyle, a close friend, had been assigned to handle Blatchly’s Ulster County cases, including Blatchly’s own divorce.@@@

 

{{The chamber of horrors??}}

{{Acknowledging cronyism….}}

 

NOTE:  We now enter the realm of FAMILY LAW.  An indication by this disbarred judge that he would rig a case (against) an attorney who refused to pay up

suggests that this practice exists, and may not be uncommon.  

 

The judge suggested that if the attorney did not play ball, those cases would be in jeopardy, the government sought to prove.

 

MY COMMENTS:

  • Without a phone tap, or written evidence, it’s still hearsay.  Then I would imagine, it would get down to sworn statement, and whether the person making sworn statement is a credible witness.  In this field, it’d be a hard call to tell who is and who is not a credible witness, for sure!
  • This shows right here how bribes and extortion would happen — of course, typically, a person doing this would not want evidence.  They would happen in private, casually, unrecorded, off the record.  this is why CHARACTER is so important in those in public office, and it’s really up to the PUBLIC to ensure this somehow.  Somehow . . . . . 
  • With what I’ve been exposed to so far (which isn’t the whole nine yards, but still sickening in nature, scope and impact on people’s lives!), as far as I, an onlooker, am concerned, and as far as evidence here, how do I know there wasn’t some other interests in prosecuting this particular judge.  Maybe he had crossed the wrong people.  Maybe he was going to go down, and someone didn’t want to be associated with him.  Or maybe this story played out just like it did, and the “Commission on Judicial Conduct” really are good, ethical guys.
  • When punishment for extortion and bribe is weak, that communicates to the rest of us (and I do mean across the country) that it’s not a “big deal” to the courts.  It is discouraging to litigants.
  •  

    Jones said Spargo, an expert in election law active in Republican Party circles, was “disappointed and saddened” by the jury verdict, but observed that winning an acquittal, never easy in federal court, had been made even more of an “uphill struggle” by facts and circumstances of the case that were difficult to explain.

    Jones did not present any witnesses because “we had nothing to add.” He told the jury on summation that Spargo was an innocent man who would not have risked extorting money while under investigation by the commission.

    The commission began investigating Spargo in 2000 when he was a part-time town justice. By 2003, his legal bills had reached $140,000 and were continuing to mount, Jones said. Jones also represented Spargo before the commission.

     

    JUST FOR A POINT OF REFERENCE, THIS IS 2009.  Removal from the bench happened after 3 years.  What does that say about who gets to the Supreme Court level, that he did?

    NINE YEARS TO BEAR FRUIT, AND THAT’S WITH FEDS INVOLVED.

    SO, IF WE ARE TALKING THE LIFE OF A GROWING CHILD, THAT CHILD WOULD’VE BEEN HALF-GROWN.  MOREOVER, THIS COMMISSION HAS NO POWER TO AFFECT DECISIONS ALREADY MADE, JUST GET BAD JUDGES OFF THE BENCH.

     

    Jones acknowledged in the interview Thursday that lawyers had been asked to contribute money on Spargo’s behalf but said the approach had been made by another lawyer without Spargo’s knowledge.

     

    Jones praised Judge Sharpe’s handling of the case but stopped short of saying whether his client had received a fair trial. He said Thursday that he first wanted to investigate the impact of a “hearsay” report in the Times-Union.

     

    Jones had argued before the jury that the government was obligated to produce Surrogate Doyle as a witness since prosecutors alleged Spargo had used her in his effort to extort Blatchly. Surrogate Doyle did not testify at trial.

     

    Jones told the jury the government was hiding the surrogate because she would hurt its case. He said Thursday that his argument to the jury may have been undermined by what he said was a false report in the Times-Union that the surrogate was present in the courtroom.

     

    The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Richard C. Pilger and Kendall Day, a trial attorney from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington.

     

    “It is a sad day indeed when a judge breaks the laws that he is sworn to enforce,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement.

     

     

    IS IT SAD ENOUGH FOR ACTUAL PRISON TIME?  if not, then other such judges will also presume, well, not THAT sad…..

     

    “Judges are supposed to serve the people who elected them, not their own self-interests. What Spargo did is nothing more than old-fashioned extortion,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Pikus.

     

     

    That’s true, and we appreciate the good work in this case.  Now about the others . . . . . ??

     

    JUDGES SIGN COURT ORDERS.  NEXT TO THOSE WHO ENFORCE THE SAME ORDERS, THESE ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES AROUND, AND THEY ARE PAID WELL FOR IT.  

    NOTE, THAT LIKE A TYPICAL BUSINESS PERSON, JUDGE SPARGO ATTEMPTED TO PAY HIS LAWYER’S FEES.  NOT IN A LEGAL MANNER OF COURSE, BUT HE DID TRY TO “PASS IT FORWARD” WHEN IT CAME TO THE ACTUAL COSTS.

     

    WHAT KIND OF BREEDING GROUNDS ARE THESE COURTROOMS, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO USING EXTORTION, AND THE THREAT IS TO THROW A DIVORCE CASE?

     

    If that’s the characteristic of divorce court (and this wouldn’t be the first NY judge to be caught with taking bribes over divorce cases), then it would behoove EVERY divorcing couple in which neither is indeed a criminal, to work out their own divorces.

    Of course, if they had that capacity to start with, perhaps they might’ve worked out their own marriages as well. . . . . 

     

     

    Just FYI, when it comes to cases with a history of domestic violence, the “extortion” isn’t just throwing a case, it’s hurting someone — whether ex-spouse, relative, or child.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


    (2) Tembeckjian

     

     

    NYT, section, “Opinion” OP-ED.

    How Judges Hide From Justice

    Published: May 22, 2005

    By ROBERT H. TEMBECKJIAN

    N the last three months, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has publicly disciplined four metropolitan-area judges: two from Brooklyn, one from Manhattan and one from Westchester. Apart from some intense public commentary over the merits of these decisions – three public censures and one removal from office – these cases had at least one thing in common. They were all conducted in secret. That should be changed

     

    Judges are among the most powerful of public servants. They decide who goes to jail, who wins or loses millions of dollars and who gets custody of children. Public confidence in their integrity and impartiality is essential to the rule of law. While a vast majority of judges are honorable, there will always be some who engage in unethical behavior. Disciplining such judges is important business that should be transacted in public, just as any civil or criminal trial would be.

    In 38 states, judicial misconduct hearings are indeed open to the public. Not so in New York, where proceedings that stretch over months are held behind closed doors. Only when the results are announced does the public even learn such cases existed. By then, it is usually too late to convey in a meaningful way the strength of the case, the credibility of the witnesses and the merits of the defense. The four recent decisions in New York offer cases in point.

    The commission voted to remove a Surrogate’s Court judge in Brooklyn for awarding a long-time friend millions of dollars in fees from estates where there was no executor, without confirming that he had done enough work to earn such fees. The judge is appealing the decision.

    The commission censured a Westchester Family Court judge who attempted to influence other judges and court workers on behalf of friends in two divorce and custody cases, and who testified in a manner she conceded was inaccurate. It also censured a Brooklyn Criminal Court judge for coming off the bench in unprovoked anger and grabbing and screaming at a defense lawyer. Finally, it censured a Manhattan Civil Court judge for presiding over a personal injury case involving a litigant who was also a lawyer with whom she continued to socialize, and to whom she awarded a fiduciary appointment worth about $80,000 in fees, while the case was pending.

    Reasonable people may differ with these decisions. As the prosecutor of judicial misconduct cases in New York, I myself am sometimes at odds with the commission. Yet while some criticized the removal as severe, and others derided the censures as lenient, most tended to miss the context and nuance of the deliberations. The subtleties of an individual disciplinary decision tend to get short shrift in the news. Were the press and public able to follow along as these cases unfolded, the disciplinary process would not seem so sudden and mysterious, and citizens would be better informed along the way. For example, the case against the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court judge lasted 22 months, and the record was over 13,000 pages long. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to capture the complexities of such a proceeding in a single article that reported the final result.

    New York’s chief judge, Judith Kaye, proposed legislation in 2003, which the commission endorsed, to open up the disciplinary process at the point when a judge is formally charged with misconduct. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not act. Perhaps the commission’s recent decisions might spur the Senate and Assembly to revisit the issue. The more citizens know about what goes on at the commission, the more likely they will appreciate that no case is as cut and dried as a critic may suggest. The press and public could follow the arguments as they develop, rather than try to digest them all at once when the decisions are rendered.

    Moreover, an open proceeding would shed important light on the rare instance in which a formal charge against a judge is dismissed without any disciplinary action. It would provide the public with the means to assess that a dismissal was deserved and the system was honest.

    In short, a public process would transform judicial discipline from a secretive game to one in which the commission’s judgments were open to scrutiny and improvement as we went along, while there was time enough to make a difference. Public confidence in the judiciary, and in the disciplinary system that holds them accountable, requires nothing less.

    Robert H. Tembeckjian is administrator of and counsel to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

    RELATED ARTICLES

    JUDICIAL COMMISSION MEMBERS, as of 2008 (on page 4 of this:)

    (Shows who appoints them — some by a Governor, some from Legislature, some by a Chief Judge, one by a former governor).

     

    (3) BLATCHLY

     

    How’d you like to go up against this person in your divorce?

    (If I remarry, remind me NOT to remarry an attorney….)

     

    Blatchly & Simonson
    3 Academy Street
    New Paltz, New York 12561
    Phone: (845) 255-4600
    Fax: (845) 255-2627
    E-Mail: bdbxx@hvc.rr.com

     

    Family Law

    In our family law practice, we will work closely with you to seek favorable resolution of disputes related to your divorce. For many families, making the decision to divorce means agreements must be reached on a variety of related matters, such as:

    • Child Custody & Visitation
    • Child Support
    • Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
    • Division of Marital Assets & Debts

    Now is a time when you need knowledgeable and experienced advocates working on your behalf. Whether your issues can be resolved through negotiation or we proceed to litigation, we will be here to protect your interests and advocate for you every step of the way. Just because your marriage is ending, it does not mean you should be taken advantage of or lose all that you have worked hard for.

    Every divorce essentially involves resolution of the same four issues; grounds (your entitlement to a divorce), custody (joint, sole or shared), support (spousal and child) and equitable distribution of your assets. A solid understanding of these issues and how they impact on your life is essential to understanding what your options in a divorce are and planning for your future during and after the divorce proceedings.

    Unlike most civil litigation, divorce results in legal issues that survive dissolution of the marriage and continue to occasionally require legal work as custody arrangements and support are periodically adjusted.  We continue to work with you as your circumstances change and you require modification of custody and/or support

     

    (4) SPARGO

    http://www.judicialaccountability.org/articles/spargofightscommission.htm

    This is very interesting reading if you have the time, and talks about a controversial “sting” attempt by the AG, the process of selecting judges, and so forth (several articles).

     

     

    Ex-NY Judge Loses Bid to Squelch His Indictment

    By Joel Stashenko 
    New York Law Journal
    New York Lawyer
    July 28, 2009

     

    The commission found that Mr. Spargo invited Ulster County attorney Bruce Blatchly into his chambers in November 2003 and, after asking his clerk to leave, told the lawyer that he wanted $30,000 from members of the local bar. Mr. Blatchly, who said he did not contribute, was the only person who presented evidence to the commission that Mr. Spargo was directly involved in soliciting funds.

    The commission also contended that Mr. Blatchly was asked by Sanford Rosenblum, an Albany attorney who is close to Mr. Spargo, for a $10,000 donation to Mr. Spargo’s defense fund.

    Mr. Spargo, 65, vehemently denied before the commission that he asked any attorneys for money.

    Yesterday’s indictment does not identify the lawyer who allegedly gave Mr. Spargo $10,000, other than as “an Ulster County attorney practicing before him.”

    {{Was this part of a sting, or business as usual?  Did they plea-bargain said attorney in exchange for testimony?}}

    As grounds for its removal recommendation against Mr. Spargo, the commission cited the alleged shakedown of Mr. Blatchly as well as Mr. Spargo’s handing out drinks, food and convenience store coupons while campaigning for the Supreme Court in 2001. 

    It also found he committed misconduct by not disclosing when hearing cases involving the Albany County District Attorney’s Office that he once represented the district attorney and was still owed $10,000 by him.

     

     

     

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