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Sunday, April 5, 2015


On June 11, 2013, Kathi Sorrentino came to court with two separate checks--one made out to her ex-husband Saverino Sorrentino and the other made out to his attorney, Kevin Finch--each made out for $1,000.  When the parties finally arrived before Judge Corinne Klatt, the judge stated "Last week the Court found the defendant in contempt and ordered her to pay a one thousand dollar fine today."  

Still, there was a possible way out of the fine. Judge Klatt had also told Kathi Sorrentino she could avoid paying the fine, if she obtained mental health treatment to stop her from filing so many motions.  

Like the vast majority of judges in Connecticut, instead of acknowledging the domestic violence that Sam Sorrentino had committed against Kathi, and for which there was ample evidence, Judge Klatt preferred to attribute all the problems in the case to Kathi Sorrentino's mental illness.

All I can say is that Kathi can thank her lucky stars that Judge Corinne Klatt didn't call her "intelligent" the way so many judges describe other victims of domestic violence and stalking through the court system. 

Putting the joking aside, however, the fact is that using a mental health diagnosis or calling someone "crazy" for the purpose of discriminating against a family court litigant is a violation of the non-discrimination statutes of the State of Connecticut.  Family Court Judges are not allowed to ascribe the refusal of an abused woman to accept the abuse to some sort of psychiatric problem, not only because it violates the Constitutional mandate against discrimination based upon disability, but also because it violates the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and As Amended in 2008.  

Still, blithely unaware of these mandates against discrimination, and happily complaisant in her right to call a person who doesn't agree with her crazy, Judge Corinne Klatt stated as follows:  [Filing many motions is a sign not of] mental illness but some sort of, some type of mental health issue...the repetitive nature of these filings indicates to me...that it was almost so compulsive that it might be indicative of some of mental health issue..."

Apparently, on June 4, 2013, Judge Klatt had stated that if Kathi Sorrentino could make a good faith showing that she had attempted to obtain some counseling for this so-called mental health issue, she would consider canceling the fine of $1,000 for the order of contempt.  What Kathi did was see a person at her local domestic violence shelter.  The counselor at the domestic violence shelter basically said that it looked as though the problem that was going on was that Kathi did not have an attorney.  

Immediately, Judge Klatt intervened and said, you can't say that; it's hearsay.  

But the DV shelter advocate was correct.  Every self-represented party I know has had a problem with filing what the Court considers to be far too many motions.  Of course, I know what the Court really wants is for all of us self-represented parties to do is shut up and go away.  So even one motion from a self-represented party is much too much as far as a Judge is concerned.  Still, I hardly think it is fair to single out Kathi Sorrentino for showing evidence of a problem that pretty much every self-represented party  in the State of Connecticut has.  I myself was fined $35,000 in attorneys fees for filing too many motions.  

So, I guess in comparison to me, Kathi Sorrentino should consider herself lucky.  $1,000 is nothing in comparison to $35,000!  

However, since when does Judge Corinne Klatt think it is acceptable to define Kathi Sorrentino as mentally ill or intransigent based upon behavior that pretty much every self represented party is guilty of.  Doesn't this all again add up to an unconstitutional attack on the right Citizens of Connecticut have to represent themselves at all.  Isn't this a way to send the message, sure represent yourself, but as soon as you cross a single line, we are going to fine you into bankruptcy and call you nuts?

The bottom line is that Judge Corinne Klatt did not consider the letter acceptable and proceeded to demand that Kathi Sorrentino pay the $1,000 contempt fine.  At that point Judge Klatt demanded that Kathi pay the fine to the Clerk of the Court.  Unfortunately, since Ms. Sorrentino did not have enough money herself to pay the fine, her daughter had written out both of the checks to different people--one to Sam Sorrentino and the other to his Attorney Kevin Finch and there were no other checks available to write out to the Court Clerk.  

Immediately, both Judge Corinne Klatt and Attorney Kevin Finch dumped blame on Kathi Sorrentino for not knowing who to write the checks out for.

Attorney Finch:  Again, this is just another effort of Mrs. Sorrentino to delay matters.

Judge Corinne Klatt:  I ordered her a week ago to come in with a payment of a thousand dollars.  I gave you the week as a courtesy more than anything to you.  I gave you a week in which to pay the fine, ma'am.  And you come in today without a fine payment."

Ok, well, Judge Klatt, not exactly.  She had the fine payment, but it was written out to the wrong person.    While Judge Klatt insisted that she had told Kathi Sorrentino who to write the check out to at the hearing on June 4, 2013, a review of the transcript for that date indicated that she had not.

And, you see, here's the thing, how would anyone know that the fees on a motion for contempt would be payable to the clerk of the court.  As Kathi Sorrentino stated, "Nobody told me who to make the checks out to and if you look in the records, nobody did."  I have to say that I've been in and out of the Court for a decade and I sure didn't know that you would have to give the fine to the Clerk of the Court and not to opposing counsel.  If its news to me, I'm not surprised its news to Kathi Sorrentino.  

These kinds of scenarios show up in court repeatedly where the Judge and the opposing attorney in an abusive case will set up a major problem that's simply invented, but a self represented party wouldn't know, and put on a big show of outrage and indignation just to demoralize the victim of legal stalking through the court system.  This is why victims of long term stalking develop symptoms of PTSD and often lose their ability to function in daily life or hold down a job.  And, of course, that's intentional as well.

So what did Kathi Sorrentino do here, stuck in the middle of court without a proper check.  What she said to Judge Klatt is give me a little time and I will go and get a proper check and be back by lunchtime.  But that would be much too easy.  Instead, Judge Corinne Klatt decided to put Kathi Sorrentino in jail because she hadn't written the check out to the right person.  

You know, I have a sneaky idea how the Court could have avoided putting Kathi Sorrentino in jail.  She could have had Kathi hand over the check she had written out to Attorney Kevin Finch and then Attorney Finch could have written out a check to the Court Clerk!  That could have been another approach to getting the fine paid.  But that would have been much too easy, wouldn't it?  

The bottom line, though, is that if there is any concern that a self-represented party might end up incarcerated, isn't that party entitled to representation by a Court appointed attorney?  So what happened to that law?  Not important if you are too busy abusing someone?

I know that many of you reading this blog will think that situations like this are the exception.  Unfortunately, this isn't so.  They are the rule.  This is why we so desperately need to reform our family court system.

As a final note, Kathi Sorrentino did send a complaint about this incident to the Judicial Review Council, but by the time she did so the year long statute of limitations had gone by.  This is what happens frequently when judges abuse litigants; it ordinarily takes at least a year to recover from the shock before any one of them begins to think about filing a complaint and by then the opportunity is gone.  As one of the reforms of our legal system, I think the deadline should be extended up to two years.


  1. Exacting fines that no one can pay, spinning domestic violence as a mental illness, allowing the abuser to use the courts to continue the battering, people afraid to speak out against the's the daily's a modern day atrocity.

    1. You got it. That's exactly what is going on every day in our family court system. It represents a war on women for having the nerve to stand up for themselves and for their children.

  2. As an attorney, I am outraged by what the judge did in this case. Sadly, this is too typical of what happens in family court in Connecticut.

  3. I've seen so many of these wrongful incarceration situations in family court, I'm starting to wonder if our family courts send more people to jail than our criminal courts. Obviously, this woman has no business being a judge. She lacks judicial temperament. What she did was not only destructive of the mother and family, but hugely harmful to the state of Connecticut. It undercuts faith in the courts (as if there is any left in the family courts), makes other litigants unduly stressed and fearful, and it costs a ridiculous sum of money because every person incarcerated has to be fingerprinted and processed.