PLEASE NOTE: This blog is a bigotry free zone open to all persons, regardless of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, political affiliations, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, or sexual orientation. Further, this blog is open to the broad variety of opinions out there and will not delete any comments based upon point of view. However, comments will be deleted if they are worded in an abusive manner and show disrespect for the intellectual process.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


The Children's Bill Of Rights



All children shall enjoy the following inalienable rights:

  1. The right to be treated as important human beings, with unique feelings, ideas and desires and not as a source of argument between parents.
  2. The right to a sense of security and belonging derived from a loving and nurturing environment which shelters them from harm.
  3. The right to a continuing relationship with both parents and the freedom to receive love from and express love for both.
  4. The right to "listening" parents.
  5. The right to express love and affection for each parent without having to stifle that love because of fear of disapproval by the other parent.
  6. The right to grow and flourish in an atmosphere free of exploitation, abuse and neglect.
  7. The right to know that their parents' decision to divorce is not their responsibility and that they will still be able to live with each parent.
  8. The right to continuing care and guidance from both parents where they can be educated in mind, nourished in spirit, and developed in body, in an environment of unconditional love.
  9. The right to honest answers to questions about changing family relationships.
  10. The right to know and appreciate what is good in each parent without one parent degrading the other.
  11. The right to have a relaxed, secure relationship with both parents without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other.
  12. The right to have one parent not undermine time with the other parent by suggesting tempting alternatives or by threatening to withhold activities with the other parents as a punishment for the children's wrongdoing.
  13. The right to be able to experience regular and consistent parental contact and the right to know the reason for not having regular contact.
  14. The right to be a kid and to be insulated from the conflict and problems of parents.
  15. The right to be taught, according to their developmental levels, to understand values, to assume responsibility for their actions, and to cope with the just consequences of their choices.
  16. The right to be able to participate in their own destiny.




As the client or consumer of legal services from an attorney or other professional, you have certain basic rights that you can expect your attorney to abide by.
Be aware that although you have these rights, getting them enforced can be problematic. A reasonable, tactful approach to enforcing these rights will often be your best bet, since attorneys are reluctant to sue other attorneys and bar associations are notoriously ineffective at policing their own members. Nonetheless, if your attorney (or opposing counsel) has committed a breach of ethics, you have every right to report them to their professional association and any other applicable governing bodies.

Legal Rights Of Clients

  • You have a right to discuss the proposed rates and retainer fee with your lawyer and you have the right to bargain about the fees before you sign the agreement, as in any other contract.
  • You have the right to know how many other legal staff (including additional attorneys) will be working on your case at any given time, and what you will be charged for their services.
  • You have the right to know in advance how you will be asked to pay legal fees and any other expenses at the end of the case. If you pay for a retainer, you may ask reasonable questions about how the money will be spent or has been spent and how much of it remains unspent.
  • You are under no legal obligation to sign a Promissory Note or agree to a lien or mortgage on your home to cover legal fees. You are under no legal obligation to waive your rights to dispute a bill for legal services.
  • You have a right to a reasonable estimate of expected future costs. If your lawyer agrees to lend or advance you money for preparing your case, you have the right to know periodically how much money your lawyer has spent on your behalf. You also have the right to decide after consulting with your lawyer, how much money is to be spent to prepare a case. If you pay the expenses, you have the right to decide how much to spend.
  • You have the right to ask your lawyer at reasonable intervals how the case is progressing and to have these questions answered to the best of your lawyer's ability.
  • You have the right to make the final decision regarding the settlement of your case.
  • You have a right to original documents that are not part of your attorney's work product. For instance, if you gave your present attorney documents from another attorney, you have a right to those documents. You have a right to ask your attorney to forward documents to you in a timely manner as he/she receives them from the opposing party's attorney.
  • You have a right to be present at ALL court conferences relating to your case that are held with judges and attorneys, and you also have the right to bring a family member or a friend to all court proceedings, unless a judge orders otherwise.
  • You have the right to know the approximate cost of bringing a motion. The cost may vary depending on the lawyer's rates and circumstances of the case, but you have the right to a general estimate.
  • If at any time, you, the client, believe that your lawyer has charged an excessive or illegal fee, you have the right to report the matter to a disciplinary or grievance committee that oversees lawyer misconduct.
Please Note:  This list of Client Rights was taken from the S.P.A.R.C. website at:  For more excellent information, check out this website.  It is extremely helpful to all litigants.

Friday, June 29, 2012



As I have prepared for my case, I have spent a lot of time reading case law, not as much as you might imagine I would, but enough. As I read through the discussions, when it gets to the point of decision, the Trial Court will often pause to make a statement such as, "but since our Trial Courts are Courts of Equity we will do the following" implying that, somehow, if they weren't Courts of Equity they might not act as they have chosen to.

So, my question is, what does that mean, that our Family Courts are Courts of Equity? Here is the story.  Apparently, there are two kinds of Courts--Courts of Law and Courts of Equity. 

Courts of Law, which are based upon Common Law, emerged during the reign of King Henry II of England around the 1150s and 1160s.  Before then, the Courts ruled based upon the broad range of local customs, and decisions on similar offenses would vary based upon where you lived.  However, when Henry II came into power, he attempted to create a unified code of common law throughout England.  This continued to develop throughout the 12th and 13th centuries resulting in collective judicial decisions based upon tradition, custom and precedent. 

In other words, King Henry II established Common Law.  Common law, which is also known as case law, bases decisions on precedent. In essence, whatever has been done before in a similar case, will very likely be done in the next case. This is known as casuistry.

The idea behind the common law system is that it is unfair to rule differently on the same set of facts. Thus, if there is a question of what does the law require people to do in a particular situation, the judges will look at what has been done in these situations in the past and rule accordingly. This kind of decision making is based upon the principle of stare decisis, i.e. the concept that similar cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that they will reach similar results. 

However, if there is something about a particular case that has not yet been ruled upon, or what is called a "matter of first impression", judge are required to make the law by creating a new precedent. After that, the new law then becomes the precedent and all future trial courts will have to act on the basis of that new precedent. 

Also, fundamental to the practice of Common Law is the adversarial system, which, as most of us know means that each side, Plaintiff and Defendant, face off against each other in a pitched verbal battle, and the judge decides who wins the case.  There is probably a lot more to it, but that is as far as I would like to discuss this idea at the present time! 

Another important concept that came along with the development of Common law was the doctrine of the supremacy of the law. Supremacy of the law was originally intended to say that no one is above the law, not even the King. This doctrine has since been expanded to mean that even government agencies are subject to the law.

Common law is different from statutory law--law that is enacted by the legislature, and regulatory law, law that is established by executive branch agencies pursuant to delegation of rule making authority from the legislature.

The Courts of Law (which, again are based upon Common Law) are in contrast to Courts of Equity.  The Courts of Equity were developed two or three hundred years after Common Law was established as a method with which to introduce fairness into the legal system. 

With Common Law, sometimes enforcement of laws and legal rules was unfair or harsh because the rules were administered in an inflexible manner. That is, they were applied rigidly, even if the outcome was, in fact, unfair. To overcome this inflexibility, Equity Courts (also called Courts of Chancery) were established.

Originally, If they felt the Courts based upon Common Law had failed them, litigants could appeal to the conscience of the King--in other words have the King adjudicate the case.  This got to be rather burdensome, so eventually, rather than handle all these cases, the King delegated the work of adjudicating them to the Lord Chancellor, usually a member of the clergy, who was a symbolic representative of the King's conscience and  an important member of the King's Council.

Eventually, this business of appealing to the King soon evolved into another court system based upon concepts of equity, or canon law (Church Law) which was based on broad principles of justice and fairness.  This new court system was known as the Courts of Chancery, and eventually became known as Courts of Equity.

So, perhaps it is legal for Mr. Jones to take Mr. Smith's land, but would it be fair?  The question of what is fair is the province of Courts of Equity.  Thus, according to Black's Law Dictionary, equity is defined in part as, "Justice administered according to fairness as contrasted with the strictly formulated rules of Common Law."

Courts of  Law generally handle contract, landlord/tenant, foreclosure and other cases where a written document is involved. In these cases, it doesn't matter what was going on with you, or what your social circumstances were, the question is did you or did you not obey the contract, or did you or did you not pay your rent or mortgage.  If you committed the crime, then you would be punished. 

Courts of Equity generally handle family law cases and/or bankruptcy cases. The way it goes in a Court of Law, a judge must follow the law even if you were justified in breaking the law. In a Court of Equity, the Court can use its own discretion to determine whether you were justified or not in breaking the law, taking into consideration the litigant's motivations and social circumstances

One distinct aspect of a Court of Equity is that it does not allow for a jury trial based upon the 7th Amendment to the Constitution.  In a Court of Equity, only the judge is the trier of fact.  However, Courts of Equity do have a broader range of discretion to provide relief to citizens who come before them. 

It is also important to note that remedies in common law are defined by monetary damage while remedies in equity may be further expanded to injunctive relief that can order someone to do something or refrain from doing something.  In a Court of Equity, failure to follow the court's order to do or not do this thing can then be enforced by a contempt of court order resulting in fine or imprisonment or both.

At this point, the vast majority of Trial Courts in the United States have merged so that Courts of Law and Courts of Equity are often in the same courts, but they are flexible about providing both remedies.  Attorney James M. Bright provides the following example of that kind of situation:

"John Sodbuster has planted 10 acres of wheat, but just as the seeds are sprouting Sam Cattleman decides to drive his cattle over John's field.  A civil Court of Law could determine the value of the damage caused by Cattleman to Sodbuster's crop and order payment, but that does not solve the whole problem.  If Sodbuster gets reimbursed for his lost crop and Cattleman continues to drive cattle across Sodbuster's land, then Sodbuster is suffering additional damage which cannot easily be ascertained or which may not be compensable with money.  At this point, equity can step in and the court can order Cattleman not to drive cattle across Sodbuster's land.  If he continues to do so, the Court could not only assess  additional charges, the Court could lock Cattleman in jail for failure to heed the Court's order." 

So basically, Law is the set of rules which are to be enforced.  Equity is a system of justice administered according to standards of fairness.  Equity follows the law.  This means that, in Courts of Equity, applicable laws will be followed where they exist.  Where there are no applicable laws, principles of equity will be followed. 

Why this is important? It seems to me is that, if you are in Trial Court and the opposing counsel brings up case law as a sole justification for a decision against you which would be not only unjust, but unfair, I think you would be well within your rights to remind the judge that Family Court is a Court of Equity. 

If the outcome of a decision based upon case law would be unjust, since family court is a court of equity, it must also take into consideration the issue of fairness when making a determination.  Or to put it another way, as a Court of Equity, Family Court should not be allowed to rule in a manner that is fundamentally unfair.  That is an interesting point, don't you think?

Thursday, June 21, 2012



On February 15, 2011 eight year old Max Liberti's behavior was so extreme that his mother, Sunny Kelley, had become desperate. All the evidence indicated that Max was being raped and tortured. At the time, Dr. Eli Newberger, M.D., an expert in child abuse who teaches at Harvard Medical School, heard that Max was having suicidal thoughts. Dr. Newberger was seriously concerned for the boy's life.

Furthermore, Max had become increasingly psychotic and uncontrollable, running around groping adults' privates, singing songs about killing himself, or dissociating, staring off, lost in space, unreacheable by his mother or the other women trying to protect and care for him. Max was hitting himself in the face, and talking about death.

Similarly, Lori Hanrahan faced her own nightmare. Her daughter, Mila, was being raped by her husband. As she explains it, in June 2009 her daughter, Mila, came home with a shredded vagina and experts concluded that her husband, Igor, had raped her.

Both Sunny Kelley and Lori Hanrahan are well respected members of their community. Sunny is a white, middle class, affluent, 38 year-old professional sound engineer living in Southern Connecticut.

Lori Hanrahan is a Professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. Her credentials are impeccable: Over 20 years of work in international development and human rights all over the world. She was a guest on CNN and her op-eds about human rights and sex trafficking were often published in The New York Times.


"I spent two years in Maine, from 2008 to 2010, where by court order I was forced to traffick my daughter and deliver her to her father." Lori breaks down and sobs over the phone. "They made me traffic my daughter or go to jail."

In Sunny's case, there was a divorce trial which was held over the course of fourteen days in August 2011 with four additional days in October. The end result was that the Judge in the case, Lynda Munro, gave full custody of Max Liberti to his father on a silver platter. Since that time, Sunny has been denied access to her child.

Instead of the protection that they deserved from the legal system, that system delivered both Lori Handrahan's daughter, Mila, and Sunny Kelley's son, Max, to their sexual abusers. Both of these abusers were supported by the courts and appear to be part of sex crime networks. Both mothers are fighting for their children's lives at the expense of their own. They have been slandered, disabused, ridiculed, harassed, ignored, humiliated, threatened and attacked. They have been financially devastated.

Still, they have fought back on behalf of their children, but the more they have fought the more the system has restricted hammered and punished them. Every move they have made has brought further retaliation upon them. And they are not alone. It is the same story for Susan Skipp (Tittle v. Tittle), Sandra McVicar (McVicar v. Buggy), Marlene Debek (Bhatia v. Debek), Lisa Foley (Foley v. Foley), Elizabeth Richter (Richter v. Richter), and many more.

Yet, unlike some protective mothers who now live on the streets or in their cars or committed to mental health asylums, mothers like Sunny Kelley, Lori Handrahan, Susan Skipp, Sandra McVicar, Marlene Debek, Lisa Foley and Elizabeth Richter have not succumbed to the institutionalized corruption and criminality served on them in an effort to silence and destroy them--and deliver their children to the abusers. They are broke; they are exhuasted; they are depressed and disillusioned: How can society have let them down so badly? And yet, they are courageous beyond belief. And they are still fighting.

Some mothers have taken the law into their own hands and attempted to flee. For example, the documentary film "No Way Out But One" tells the story of Holly Collins, a protective mother persecuted by the family court system for trying to protect her children. A family court ignored Holly Collin's complaints of sexual and domestic violence, and the physical evidence of serious child abuse, and gave full custody of her children to her abusive ex-partner. Holly Collins became an international fugitive when she fled the United States in 1994 and became the first U.S. citizen to gain asylum in the Netherlands.

In January 1993, Linda Wiegand, a resident of the State of Connecticut, found out that the father of her second son, Thomas Wilkinson, had sexually abused her older child Ben as well as Thomas. Even though there was overwhelming evidence that the children had been sexually abused, it was not enough evidence for the Connecticut Family Court System. Thus, in January of 1994, Linda Wiegand disappeared with her children. Then in July 1996 Wiegand was found and arrested in Las Vegas, and both children were delivered to their abuser.


Every effort to get media exposure for these two women's stories--whether through the New York Times or Nightline or the Associated Press, or CBS-affiliated local TV stations like WABI in Portland, or regional papers like the Portland Herald Press or the Hartford Courant--was initially met with great interest as journalists and bureau chiefs recognized "hot" stories. After a short time one promise of imminent and certain publication after another turned into refusals to return phone calls or emails. Threatened or silenced by someone, the "hot" stories went cold.

While Sunny Kelley ad most other protective parent's stories of judicial abuse and destruction remain disbelieved, unheard and unknown, Lori Handrahan's efforts to save Mila have resulted in a very high profile case garnering national atatention--thanks to the internet and the outrage of thousands of people across the country. Still major social netowrking media--Twitter and Facebook and others--have also censored Lori and Mila's story.


The roads to these mothers' hell are virtually the same, and they are unique only in particulars, not in generalities. Each year, tens of thousands of families across America are being ripped apart through Family Courts and private profiteering, protecting and growing trafficking in women and children in America.

Investigations have uncovered a web of corruption involving state agencies from Connecticut to Maine, from Georgia to California. Investigations have involved FBI agents, but as often as not the FBI is part of the problem, not the solution and information delivered to the FBI is suppressed, ignored or used against the people trying to defend children and mothers from abuse.

The problems with Family Courts pervade all levels of the federal and state systems, and no United States citizen are immune: rich and poor are exploited, only differently. At the root of the problem are these central truths:

1. The five billion dollar a year budget of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides a black hole of funding that filters millions of dollars down to "gatekeepers" posted to key positions in Family Courts, State Agencies, Law Enforcement, and affiliated non-profit organizations that have learned to milk the system;

2. Over the past 40 years, the destructive 'Father's Rights movement has evolved into a hydra that has overtaken judicial systems and social services, and it now uses them to persecute mothers and destroy families according to the otherwise reasonable dictate that access and visitation with both parents is in 'the best interest of the child';

3. The United States is both a domestic and an international hub for a trillion dollars a year sex industry trafficking in women and children.

Of course, it is not only women and children who are abused--across the nation, good men and good fathers are waking up to the national epidemic of pedophilia and sex trafficking involving federal and state governments and officials, and the horrors of 'Family Courts'.


For more information on these matters, please locate the more lengthy article at the following link:

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I was sitting in Starbucks a few days ago and it all of a sudden hit me. I turned to a fellow at a neighboring table and asked, "Is father's day this upcoming weekend?" 

He told me "yes".
I'm not sure why I chose that time to ask. Father's day had been breathing around the corner for quite some time by then. Just around the middle of May I began to feel that tense feeling in my stomach, the feeling that I have to do something and I'd better not forget. 

Trying to be good ex wife, I immediately sent a quick email to my ex asking him if there was anything special he would like to do for father's day and could I help with the arrangements to get him and the kids together for a celebration. You see, this weekend is not his weekend, so technically based on our parenting plan (clearly this is not everybody's parenting plan), I don't really have to let them get together.

We put together an arrangement which involves me doing a lot of driving I'd rather not have to do. Then I got a snippy email from him telling me to make sure the kids pick out a nice card for him as if that is apparently my job. And by the day before, which is now, I'm wondering whether this is what I really wanted to do

It is kind of a difficult dance here. On the one hand, my ex is the kids' father, but then, on the other hand, look at what he did. If I help get the kids together with their Dad, am I endorsing all those things that he did to hurt me and the children? Am I somehow saying that it is acceptable what he did? 

What kinds of messages am I sending and what lessons do I want my children to walk away with after this weekend of celebrating father's day with their Dad. Early today I said to my daughter, "I'd like you to pick out a very nice card for your Dad when we go to the store." "But he doesn't deserve it." says my daughter. 

So what do you say to that. Now, from that comment, please don't get the idea that I spend all my waking hours bad mouthing their Dad. In fact, I would like them to get along with their Dad and have a relationship with him. On the other hand, certain truths are pretty clear to the children.

They have figured out that when the electricity has been cut off in the past it isn't because some drilling in the street broke a cable; it's because I didn't have the money to pay the bill because Dad didn't pay child support. They have figured out that when I walk away from the house to talk to Dad on the phone outside of their hearing, it isn't just that I need privacy, it is because I am crying when I'm talking, or I'm upset about some new outrage that I have no control over because I don't have any attorney or a family court system to protect me. And I don't want them to know so that they get caught up into the situation. And these are the milder things that have happened.

They are old enough to see the situation very clearly and it is harder to pretend. So when they make remarks acknowledging the problems with Dad, and when they refuse to get something nice for Dad on father's day, should I validate their feelings and let them do what they want to do, or insist that they act like good citizens regardless of what is going on or how they feel.

Sometimes I feel as if no matter what I do, they are going to be harmed nonetheless.

One approach I often take is to say, yes, Dad has disappointed you in the past in regard to this or that particular area, but do you remember what a great sense of humor he has, or wasn't that fun to go on the field trip to the museum together. 

Of course, this would be much easier for me to do if what my ex had done wasn't so severely damaging. So I'm not lying, but I am ackowledging whatever strengths he has, no matter that privately I think those strengths in no way make up for all the harm he has done, and he has done considerable harm. For example, they already know that we have no money to pay for their college education because it took every dime I have to make sure that I would have residential custody. 

I have heard that it is important for children to have a father in order to grow up properly, but seriously, does it make sense for them to maintain a relationship with a father who is a schmuck? What do studies say about children who maintain relationships with schmucky fathers after divorce? I'd really like to know the answer to the question. 

Of course, I can't be sure whether my kids are telling me everything they feel about their father. To what extent could they be trying to play up the negative in a mistaken attempt to please me. Aren't there areas of relationship between these children and their father that is unique to that relationship and that I may never fully grasp? Even though I find it hard to believe that this special space still exists between my children and their Dad, aren't I obligated to make these meetings happen just in case it does, just in case it matters? Or am I just kidding myself? 

There are many occasions that happen like this, the confirmations I remind my ex of, or the graduations and award ceremonies, where I send an email saying, "Don't forget..." and provide times, locations, and directions, acting like I used to when we were married. "Don't forget your golf shirt, and do you have your cell phone, and pick up a box of donuts when you go." Maybe it is time for me to stop arranging, to stop taking responsibility. 

For this year, we will still all pack into the car and I will drop the kids off at our meeting place. For this year, I have been able to convince myself I am doing the right thing. It is a statement I am making that there is still hope for our kids and their Dad. And no matter how bad it gets, it means something to me to be able to preserve that hope. Without it, I would feel as though there was a death in the family.  So, next year, I may feel differently, but for now, I'm not going to think that far ahead.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Recently, I posted a blog opposing H.B. 5509, "An Act Concerning the Payment of Alimony and Child Support."  At the time, I found some readers opposing my viewpoint.  However, I now feel justified that I took my particular stand since even woman hating judge of the year, Judge Lynda B. Munro, agrees with me. 

In her testimony opposing the bill which she read before members of the Judiciary Committee on March 19, 2012 she stated, "It would substitute arbitrary guidelines for judges' discretion to fashion alimony orders tailored to the individual cases before them." 

That's just what I said! 

In regard to time limits for alimony Judge Munro states, "The concept that alimony cannot be awarded for more than half the length of the marriage is [arbitrary].  There is no rational connection between the need for alimony and this formula."  It would also, from her analysis, favor those with "capital assets" which I assume means rich people. 

That gives you a feeling for the kind of people who proposed this legislation in the first place! 

In regard to the provision in the bill that allows people to return to trial court for a modification of alimony were the bill passed, even if there is no substantial change in circumstances Judge Munro states, "This will result in a workload increase that cannot be handled under existing resources.  It will create a huge burden on the family court system, including the judges, staff and family services personnel." 

Well, duh! 

As a point in favor of H.B. 5509, I was told how great it is that the State of Massachusetts has passed the equivalent of H.B. 5509.  In response, Judge Munro states, "It appears that this bill is modeled on a law that recently passed in Massachusetts. I would respectfully note that the situation that prompted the legislative change in Massachusetts was very different than what exists in Connecticut.  The Connecticut statute, with its detailed factors to guide judges' discretion, was adopted in 1973 and has worked well.  There simply is no need for such a radical change."

Thank you, Judge Munro. 

Next the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) weighs in with their opinion which is, "Raised Bill 5509 is fraught with hazards for family law in Connecticut too innumerable to exhaustively set forth herein.  Its passage would severely undermine existing laws and decrease the quality of justice that parties could expect in our family courts." 

In regard to changes in the cohabitation statute, the Academy acknowledges what I already stated, which is H.B. 5509 is an unwanted intrusion into the private lives of the recipients of alimony, stating, "The proposed statute would turn cohabitation into an overreaching exploration into the personal lives and new romantic relationships of an alimony recipient (which divorced spouses already need all too little encouragement to do) while the true consideration is a financial one.  That is the focus under the existing statute and it should remain so." 

This is just as I said! 

Another aspect of H.B. 5509, the creation of trust accounts for children is just another grab at control, as the AAML acknowledges, "To require the recipient of child support to essentially have to ask for permission for use of these funds from the payor would undermine the purpose of child support itself." 

So.  Who is left supporting this bill or what idiot would do so?  Our friend, Attorney Mengele Louis Kiefer, that's who!  Why are we not surprised by that? 

What does he say?  He says,  "One of the problems I see repeatedly is alimony payers left with less money, less disposable income, than alimony recipients." 

Really?  That wouldn't be because the alimony payer is only supporting himself while the alimony recipient is paying not only for herself, but also for the five children so that means it costs more to maintain all of them! 

Ok. Duh, again. 

All I can say is, I rest my case.  H.B. 5509 was bad legislation, period.  It didn't pass this year and it never will as long as common sense prevails. 


Saturday, June 9, 2012


Connecticut: The Story Behind the Score

By Paul E. Stern
Connecticut has benefited from some spectacular corruption.
In the past decade, no branch of government has been spared from abuse, exploitation and disgrace.
There was Gov. John G. Rowland, who, in league with a prominent state contractor, turned his administration into a criminal enterprise.
There were legislators who, in the pursuit of power, were willing to be owned by lobbyists.
There was State Treasurer Paul Silvester, who used his office and the state’s treasury to extort millions in kickbacks for himself and his friends.
There were the judges who suppressed public knowledge even of the existence of court cases involving influential and prominent litigants. And there was state Supreme Court Chief Justice William J. Sullivan, who delayed the release of a controversial ruling in order to win appointment for his Republican protégé.
Little wonder that Connecticut has undergone significant reform in recent years, and that, as a result, state government has never been more open to public view and inspection. In the new
State Integrity Investigation — a joint project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International — Connecticut now ranks second in it transparency and accountability, earning a solid B grade and numeric score of 86.
Once known for its smoke-filled back rooms and powerful political power-brokers, Connecticut is today a place where public spending is viewable online, campaign money is easier to track, elections are publicly financed, information is readily available and the average citizen can more easily believe that elected officials are voting in his or her, rather than special, interests.
The ongoing vigilance of a handful of so-called “watchdog” agencies has slowly transformed a closed network of deal-makers and special-interest operatives into a more ethical and less rapacious democracy. The so-called “revolving door” between the government and those it regulates appears to have been closed.
A ground-breaking system of publicly financed elections, though flawed and still the subject of litigation and debate, is giving a new and diverse crop of candidates a better chance to have their voices heard; and a Treasury Reform Act, built on the wreckage of public scandal, has brought a decade of professional and ethical oversight of the state’s investments.
A rich history
First settled by Puritans from the Massachusetts colonies, Connecticut was a major participant in the Revolutionary War. In 1784, the state became the first in the nation to vote for the gradual emancipation of its slaves.
Sandwiched between New York City and Boston, Connecticut was one of the country’s earliest centers of manufacturing and finance, where captains of industry created a culture known for fiercely provincial local governments, a stable and comfortable lifestyle, and a sophisticated population interested in the arts, education and socially progressive ideas.
It is now a state of 3.6 million residents where unaffiliated voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans, same-sex marriage is legal, gasoline is heavily taxed and Catholicism is the dominant religion. Per-capita income is the nation’s highest, yet some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods are only blocks from lavish estates owned by Wall Street commuters. Casinos run by two Indian tribes contribute a significant portion of the state’s annual revenue.
Calling Connecticut’s government transparent, however, still might be too strong a word, despite new Gov. Dannel Malloy’s stated intention of making it so. (Even he has his limits. In a recent budget proposal, the governor fudged his own transparency pledge and used some "soft" numbers to sell his proposal to the state's labor unions. His overall approach, on the other hand, has been a constant mantra to his commissioners to be “as open and accessible as possible,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior advisor.
Certainly last year’s unveiling of an online searchable state-spending database is a helpful step in the direction of full disclosure. The site – dubbed -- “was designed to be the most comprehensive, single point of reference where citizens can review how Connecticut tax dollars are being spent to support state government programs,” the website says.
The name also makes it plain that in “Corrupticut,” where public regard for officialdom had fallen to new lows, the quest for open government is not only admirable, but has become good politics. The searchable site, authorized during the previous administration, is the latest addition to the state's massive website that reaches, to varying degrees, into every department and legislative office. The Department of Administrative Services is even using the Internet in an experimental "reverse auction" online procurement system intended to improve transparency while driving down costs.
Probably the biggest contributor to the impetus for cleaner and more open government was John Rowland, the youngest governor ever elected and arguably the most corrupt. The three-term Republican’s 2004 conviction and imprisonment on a federal corruption charge ushered in a new era of ethical reform, including a revised state code of ethics that, among many other things, prohibited public officials from taking anything of value from companies or individuals doing business with the state.
Tough contribution limits and reporting requirements on lobbyists changed the culture of the legislature away from seeing lobbyists simply as the bearers of campaign cash. Lobbying of the executive branch, which had been nearly invisible, was brought into the light.
Reform came to the elected Treasurer's office in the wake of former Treasurer Paul Silvester's involvement in a kickback scheme that rewarded him and his cronies for investing state money in particular companies. The imposition of new laws and a strict investment policy helped reinforce the new treasurer's push for an open office and a better relationship with the state's Investment Advisory Council. The payment of finder's fees, which put millions into the pockets of prominent politicians, was outlawed. Silvester's use of ill-gotten campaign funds also helped motivate passage of a publicly financed election system.
It took scandal in the judiciary to bring reform there, too, though jurists weren’t so much dishonest as they were secretive and protective of their own.
Historically, the Connecticut judiciary has made little attempt to hide its disdain for the Freedom of Information Act, which subjects only its administrative documents to public scrutiny. Over the years, judges have liberally interpreted “administrative” to mean most everything, said Mitchell Pearlman, former executive director of the state’s Freedom of Information Commission.
This antipathy for public visibility was probably best exemplified by the invention and use of so-called “super-sealed” cases. These were files so secret that “court clerks were not even allowed to acknowledge their existence,” the Associated Press reported in 2007. They typically involved high-profile litigants such as former University of Connecticut President Philip Austin.
The judicial branch’s secrecy became a public spectacle in 2003 when The Hartford Courant and Connecticut Law Tribune revealed the existence of the super-sealed files; and, in the lawsuit that followed, the State Supreme Court ruled, 4-3, that the docket files were not administrative in nature and therefore did not have to be disclosed.
That would have been bad enough, but it became an even bigger outrage when Chief Justice Sullivan, who was about to retire, delayed announcing the decision so his protégé and likely successor did not have to face legislative questioning about the ruling.
Ultimately Sullivan was censured by the Judicial Review Council, an independent unit of government that has disciplined only ten judges since 1989. Sullivan’s protégé was not appointed chief justice, and the court’s interim chief, Justice David Borden, led the push for sweeping court reform.
Judges are now required to hold hearings before sealing files, dockets are available online and cameras are allowed in some courtrooms as part of a “pilot program.”
The road ahead
As much as the new laws have shined bigger and better lights on the workings under the capitol dome in Hartford, there are still shadows, however.
Much of the state bureaucracy’s impulse to avoid outside scrutiny involves the control of information; and here the state’s Freedom of Information Act sometimes falls short.
Experienced bureaucrats know that delaying the release of information is often as effective as denying its release, especially when the Freedom of Information Commission is slow to process complaints and reluctant to impose fines.
According to ex-director Pearlman, the agency’s “over-arching policy” is to be “educational and remedial” rather than punitive. The policy is partly one of necessity, since it has been “inundated” with complaints since its creation, he said.
Though an informal mediation process quickly resolves many cases, formal complaints can take months – by which time the importance or impact of the information may have diminished.
The legislature’s more recent efforts to tweak the FOI law have also been in the direction of less, rather than more, disclosure.
Public resources are always an issue, of course, and the ongoing enforcement of anti-corruption or ethics legislation, like other programs, is dependent on the amount of money available to pay for it. And even in a state with the nation’s highest per capita income, times have been hard. A near 9-percent unemployment rate at times, corporate flight, collapse of the housing market and financial losses by the state’s most wealthy have cut deeply into the government’s revenues.
In Connecticut’s case, the government’s response to a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit threatened to de-fang the state’s watchdog agencies, even though they are theoretically immune from economic strangulation by those they watch, critics said.
Economic Cutbacks
The agencies designed to keep the government honest were among the first casualties of the state’s recent economic cutbacks. A last-minute union deal spared them from deeper cuts, but nine independent units of government – including the Office of State Ethics, Freedom of Information Commission and State Elections Enforcement Commission – were consolidated under one Office of Governmental Accountability. The move was to save money and improve efficiency at a difficult time, advisor Occhiogrosso said. But various newspaper editorials and citizen groups agreed with one FOI official who called it “the greatest setback for good and open government in recent years.”
It remains to be seen whether any of the consolidated watchdog units lose their respective directors and decision-making powers in addition to their administrative control, but already they have suffered staff reductions that limit their abilities to function.
For example, the Office of State Ethics will only audit ten lobbyists this year, its director, Carol Carson, said. Last year the agency looked at 40.
Equally as distressing to many are the threats to the state’s ground-breaking system for publicly financing election campaigns. Known as the Citizens’ Election Program, it has been hailed as a potential model for the nation.
The program has been through two election cycles, and, until early February, had been without a director for a year. Meanwhile, its funding has been “repeatedly targeted,” says Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Connecticut Common Cause. The state’s response to its financial difficulties has raised “grave concerns about the ongoing viability of the Citizens Election Program,” she said.
The program has also been challenged in court, by minor party candidates, lobbyists and the American Civil Liberties Union, and parts have been ruled unconstitutional.
If the Malloy administration has anything to say about it, Occhiogrosso said, the state’s overall trajectory will be toward more accessibility – at least in the executive branch. “Government operates best when it operates in the open,” the advisor said, repeating Malloy’s standard phrase.
Though conceding that some bureaucrats still reflexively resist public scrutiny, Occhiogrosso said Malloy “takes great pride in leading the state’s most open government in modern times.”
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Photo credits: Connecticut State Capitol (jglazer75), Senate Chambers (League of Women Voters of Connecticut).


How corrupt are we in CT?  Not that corrupt according to a Center For Public Integry Study.  What do you think, folks?  Are you, like me, wondering what the Center has been smoking recently? 

Can you believe that?????

There is more information at the link below:

And here is the news story below:


Friday, June 8, 2012




Middlesex Judicial District Courthouse

Jury Assembly Room

1 Court Street


Friday, June 15, 2012 - 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I am particularly lucky that my ex-husband lives in a state that has passed legislation requiring that the earning spouse who has health insurance continue to provide that health insurance to the other spouse after divorce at no cost or minimal cost.  Were it not for this legislation, my health insurance payments would be crushing and I simply could not afford health insurance.  This could affect my ability to parent, since if I were in ill health I couldn't function fully in my role as a mother.  Also, it could affect my life span as well as the quality of life that I have remaining. 

We in the State of Connecticut have yet to put this kind of common sense legislation in place even though it has been proposed frequently in the past decade, more recently in H.B. 5535 in March 2012 by Representative Geoff Luxenberg of the 12th district, God bless him!  It is legislation whose time has come.  

The fact that it so essential to the wellbeing of women and children is so self-evident, that I have to call into question the intelligence and integrity of those who oppose it. 

There is a good description of H.B. 5535 on the website of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) here in Connecticut which fully supports such legislation.  It goes as follows: 

"H.B. 5535 would allow the Court to order a party who is insured under a group health insurance policy or plan in the state to maintain health benefits for the benefit of the other party.  This bill is significant for women because they are likely to be covered under their husband's health insurance policy." 

The discussion continues on to explain why such health insurance coverage is important,

"According to a study by the University of Michigan, this is due in part to women's higher likelihood relative to men to work part-time, or in low-wage occupations, non-union settings, or smaller companies.  The study also found that if health insurance coverage is terminated post-divorce it has a long-term impact on a woman's economic and physical health.  Rates of insurance remain depressed for divorced women for two years after their divorce has been finalized.  This means that many women likely delay getting the health care they need due to costs or face significant challenges in paying their medical bills (potentially leading to an increase in medical debt).  PCSW supports efforts to ensure that all women have access to comprehensive health insurance coverage." 

Clearly, providing health insurance is a fairly inexpensive way for an earning spouse to provide thousands of dollars in benefits for a former spouse and ensure the health of that spouse for years to come, which ultimately is beneficial to the interests of the children.  This is why the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) supports this effort. 

So, why hasn't this happened yet?  Why hasn't this legislation been passed when other more enlightened states have already gotten this task done?  Do we have to continue living in the dark ages here?  What the heck is going on that this legislation wasn't passed years ago? 

For one thing, I know that the legal profession here in Connecticut has not gotten behind this bill and, in fact, has previously testified against it.  Well, that's not a surprise, is it? 

Another group that opposes the bill is The Connecticut Association of Health Plans.  Some of the concerns this group presents are understandable.  The costs for premiums could be quite difficult to pay for small employers, those who have 50 or less employees.  But I am sure that could be addressed in some manner such as providing tax breaks for small employers that participate or even excusing them from participation altogether. 

Other concerns that the Association expresses, such as the difficulties of implementing such plans, are really pure fiction.  As I have said, I have coverage from health insurance provided by my spouse and it works out just great.  The fact that the employer paying for this "has little ability to promote or encourage wellness activities" is just amusing.  I'm sure such an employer can promote and encourage wellness activities with me the same way he does with my ex, which is not at all.  But if he does want to, flyers, letters, phone calls, all of that works for me the same as it does for my ex.  I mean, seriously. 

I was shocked to find that Ms. Victoria Veltri of the State Healthcare Advocate's Office spoke against this bill.  Talk about being stabbed in the back!  Hello, Ms. Veltri you are supposed to be advocating FOR us, not AGAINST us. 

In her testimony, Ms. Veltri stated that it could be a former spouse might not wish the subscriber spouse to know where they live.  Well, that's OK.  I am sure there are many ways to deal with that other than not providing essential health care. 

Ms. Veltri also says that the Explanation of Benefits would be sent to the subscriber and not the member receiving the care.  This is simply NOT TRUE.  I receive all the Explanations of Benefits.  

Ms. Veltri also expressed concern that there isn't enough clarity regarding when such coverage would end.  However, Item #1 of the bill states that it would limit the coverage to "The period of time specified in the decree" which gives litigants the opportunity to state exactly how long they want the coverage to last.  If litigants fail to put these specifications in their agreements, I am sure they could return to Superior Court for clarification or come to an agreement outside of Court.  Ultimately, this seems to me to be a very sensible approach because it puts the power to make such a decision in the hands of the Parties themselves.  

There is also the problem of what to do when there are multiple ex spouses.  Would all of them receive coverage? From what I see in the bill, it looks as though they could be, but the Trial Court could could apportion the costs of maintaining such coverage between the parties to the decree. 

Nonetheless, these are minimal concerns and could be addressed quickly by legislators who are disposed to resolve such problems.  What bothers me is that instead of urging these legislators to correct the problems quickly and pass this legislation as soon as possible without delay because the need is so great, Ms. Vetri spoke without real conviction and with little concern for the importance of getting health insurance in place for vulnerable women right now, right away, without any further delay. 

It seems to me that there is no perfect wording to a bill and that the wording in place now pretty much addresses all possible scenarios.  At a certain point, you have to just go with what you have got and trust the common sense, and discretion of the people involved. 

The bottom line, to my way of thinking, is that legislators and state agencies who are basically against this bill because they dislike women but don't have the guts to say so are preventing the passage of this bill by fussbudgeting over nonsense and failing to clean up minor problems in this bill which could be resolve with a bit of straight talk. 


Do we seriously have time to wait another year?  Haven't we waited long enough?  Take the time to review this bill at the link below and contact your State Legislator.  Tell him or her that we have waited long enough and the time to pass this bill is NOW.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recognizing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month 06/06/2012 01:01 AM EDT

"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 1 in 29 Americans, from our country’s service men and women to abused children and survivors of rape, domestic violence and natural disasters. During PTSD Awareness Month in June, and throughout the year, we recognize the millions of Americans who experience this challenging and debilitating condition."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Just to let everyone know that Michael Nowacki is out of jail and with his family as of yesterday.  He is happy and in good health and spirits and glad to be in circulation again.  I will continue to update you regarding his situation as the information becomes available.  I know Mr. Nowacki appreciates the outpouring of support he has received and will continue on with his fight for justice in Connecticut's Family Court.

Justice Today!  Justice Tomorrow!  Justice Forever!