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Showing posts with label ADA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ADA. Show all posts

Friday, March 10, 2017

LEGAL OBSCURITIES AND LOOPHOLES USED TO OBSTRUCT A COUPLE'S FIGHT FOR JUSTICE IN "PREDICTIVE NEGLECT" CASE!

Their story is familiar now.  In 2007, Joey Watley and Karin Hasemann's two  children were taken away from them by DCF at birth. The grounds for this?  A controversial doctrine known as "Predictive Neglect". In other words,the concept that parents might neglect their children in the future even if they have not in the past.  CT DCF "experts" labeled the parents as mentally ill--Joey Watley received the diagnosis of Personality Disorder Unspecified, while Karin Hasemann was diagnosed with a broad range of conflicting diagnoses.  Since that time, both parents have taken care of other young children without incident.  

For a decade, Mr. Watley and Ms. Hasemann fought the removal of their children, ultimately losing three trials in State Superior Court in Middletown.  However, they did win appeals of those decisions due to legal error and malfeasance on the part of the trial court. Eventually, however, Connecticut State Court terminated their parental rights permanently. Consequently, in 2015 they took their case to Federal District Court. Initially, that Court denied their  complaint in response to a motion to dismiss filed by the CT Attorney General's office. However, the couple then appealed that decision to a higher Court--the Second Circuit Court in New York--which sustained their right to pursue their case.  Since then they have returned to the lower Connecticut Federal District Court.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

ARE FORENSIC EVALUATIONS OR PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS LEGAL IN FAMILY COURT PROCEEDINGS? "WONDER WOMAN" OF THE GOLDEN LASSO BLOG SUGGESTS THAT THEY ARE NOT!

USC 42 § 12101 – 12203 and the NPRM and Judicial Conferences have provided functional regulations re: confidentiality, all of which impacts the legality of the decision to conduct forensic evaluations and psychological evaluations and how the results of those evaluations will be used.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A MOTHER'S TEARS MATTER: HOW FAMILY COURT BULLIED PROTECTIVE MOTHER, PAIGE STVAN, AND CUT HER OFF FROM THE DAUGHTER SHE LOVES, PART II!

What we have here is a tragic situation where a mother has been separated from the child she raised for 12 years based upon unsubstantiated and untrue representations of mental illness.  Meanwhile, questions regarding her ex-husband's bipolar disorder remain unaddressed.  

Subsequently, Judge Adelman acknowledged that the representations regarding Ms. Paige Stvan's mental health weren't sufficient to justify keeping Paige away from her daughter.  At that juncture, he then claimed that there were other serious allegations that her child had raised which now justified separating Paige Stvan from her daughter. What were those serious allegations?  To be honest, I couldn't see anything in the many documents I reviewed that would explain it.

The allegation the child made that the judge cited in his memorandum as a basis to stop all visits was that Mom was making visits with her uncomfortable.  As Ms. Paige Stvan explained it, she was allowed visits with her daughter once a week for an hour standing in the corridor of a local mall.  To start with, that's a pretty difficult way to conduct a visit.  Next, Ms. Stvan stated that during these visits the father would remain in the sidelines monitoring the entire visit and at the least sign of trouble advise his daughter to simply leave.  As a result, under the pressure of essentially being put between two parents, the child would terminate the visit within ten minutes.  To Paige Stvan, this was simply a situation where the father was using the visits to drive a wedge between herself and her daughter.

Attorney Rosa Rebimbas, the GAL in the case, reported the situation somewhat differently.  She alleged that Paige Stvan insisted upon talking to her daughter about the case during the visit.  But what does that mean "talking about the case?"  Does that mean Paige tried to explain to her daughter what was going on and why she couldn't come home to her Mom?  Was it something else? Attorney Rebimbas didn't specify; she just used trigger words with the judge which she knew would elicit a negative reaction.  Keep in mind, we are getting this testimony from the ex-husband and a biased GAL who appear to be willing to do anything they can to justify a complete no contact order. I also think it makes no sense to have visitation with a child standing up in a crowded corridor in a mall.  What's that all about?

Repeatedly, the opposing attorney in this case, Attorney Nancy Aldrich insisted that Paige Stvan's daughter didn't want to see her Mom, so therefore she shouldn't have to. Attorney Rosa Rebimbas emphasized that the daughter didn't want to see her mother and indicated her belief that the daughter had the right to refuse to see her mother.  Judge Gerald Adelman reported in his Memorandum of January 8, 2016 that "the child was extremely resistant to any contact with her mother" and implied that this justified denying Ms.  Stvan access to her daughter.  However, this is not how state law works. According to Connecticut law, at any age, a child's preference is never the only criterion for making a custody decision in a custody proceeding.  What counts is what is in the best interests of the child.

Further, I am wondering how a 12 year old child who had never before reported being unhappy with her mother, all of a sudden, within two months of being totally cut off from all access to her mother, becomes extremely resistant to seeing her mother.  Keep in mind, these words never came out of the child's mouth directly, and were simply what biased individuals with ulterior motives chose to report. I am also wondering why a 12 year old child has the authority, not only to choose the time and place of the visits, but whether they take place at all.  I don't know of any other case where a pre-teen was given such extraordinary power.  

Perhaps the answer to this lies in observations that Dr. Linda Gunsberg reported on at the time these events were taking place.  In a letter to the court dated January 26, 2016,  Dr. Linda Gunsberg described hearing a conversation that Page Stvan had with her daughter over the phone.  She described this conversation, which took place on November 2, 2015, in the following terms: 

"The most incredible phone conversation occurred when Ms. [Stvan] called [her child] during the court ordered parent telephone access to speak with her.  I asked Ms. [Stvan] to put [the child] on speaker phone so that I could listen.  [The child] was very warm towards her mother, was eager to share with her mother information about projects she was working on for school, and actually wanted to remain on the telephone longer than Ms. [Stvan] could...It was a normal parent-child conversation."

However, Dr. Gunsberg reported that "By December 31, 2015, [the child] was telling her mother either in a telephone message or text that she never wanted to speak to her mother again."  Dr. Gunsberg attributed this dramatic change in the child's attitude towards her mother to father's campaign of parental alienation.  Keep in mind that by December 31, 2015, the child had been separated from her mother and her hometown and friends for three months.  

Again, it is remarkable that Judge Gerald Adelman supported this 12 year old child in making the decision not to see her mother again. A 12 year old child doesn't have sufficient cognitive ability to make such important life decisions.  In fact, you would hardly believe that this Judge Adelman is the very same Judge who, in the Sorentino case, put a mother in jail to force a 15 year old boy to live with the father he adamantly didn't want to live with.  Yet, in the Stvan case, when a 12 year old girl refused to see her mother, that very same Judge Adelman appointed two attorneys to defend her right to exclude her mother from her life?  

How is that OK?  

How come  Judge Gerald Adelman found a 12 year old's decision more credible than that of a 15 year old? 

Do any of you recall how, when Kathi Sorrentino cried at the thought of having to go to jail, Judge Gerald Adelman derided her and made fun of her, calling her tears "crocodile tears"? Why do judges in the State of Connecticut, such as Judge Adelman, only use PAS to deny mothers their parenting rights while excusing fathers who are equally culpable?  Protective mothers in the State of Connecticut would really like to know!  We need a new campaign in this State with the slogan:  A mother's tears matter!

WITH A NOD AND A WINK: HOW CT FAMILY COURT BULLIED PROTECTIVE MOTHER, PAIGE STVAN, AND CUT HER OFF FROM THE DAUGHTER SHE LOVES, PART I!

On September 25, 2015, Paige Stvan was hospitalized for a few days to address negative side effects she had to a new medication she had been taking. Meanwhile, since she was dealing with these medical problems, in a very responsible way, Ms. Stvan asked her ex husband, Thomas Stvan, to care for their 12 year old daughter temporarily. He agreed to do so. However, instead of just taking care of the child as agreed, Thomas Stvan used the incident as a excuse to file an emergency ex parte motion in court granting him full custody.  That motion was granted.  As a result, since that time, except for a few brief encounters at a local mall, Paige Stvan has not been allowed to see her daughter.  

Why?  

Paige Stvan had been taking care of her child for 12 years, and the child was happy and healthy, well fed and with a roof over her head, as well as successful in school. Nonetheless, family court, in a series of dirty tricks and maneuvers, effectively assisted her ex husband in excising the child from her mother's life with the collusion of a CT State representative, Rep. Rosa Rebimbas.  

Now remember, this is the same judicial system which gave career criminal Joshua Komisarjevsky full custody of his 5 year old daughter just weeks before Mr. Komisarjevky participated in the triple slaying of the Petit family.  In Paige Stvan's case, this was a woman who had done nothing other than be an excellent mother to her daughter for twelve years. Still, the Court saw fit to cut her off entirely from the child she had been bringing up so successfully.  

We all want the reason for that, don't we?  Just so you know, you would have no basis for knowing the reason had Ms. Paige Stvan not requested one because, unlike in every other custody case I've ever seen, originally the Court didn't bother to provide a memorandum of decision stating the legal basis for its decision.  

But here we go, I have before me a January 8, 2016 Memorandum provided by Judge Gerald Adelman explaining his decision.  This is what he says.  

The ex parte was granted (see p. 3 of the memorandum) because "it was represented to the court that the defendant had a history of mental health issues which had previously required the plaintiff to temporarily assume primary or sole custody of the minor child, due to the  defendant's inability to care for said child."  Yes, but these, to my knowledge are and were simply representations without evidence.  To this day, I not seen any documents that can back up these claims.  

Not only that, in these documents there was no mention of the fact that the Plaintiff, Tom Stvan, was represented to have a bipolar disorder.  Why?  Because the ex parte hearing only heard one side of the story at that time. That is why the law requires another hearing 14 days later--so that before anything is finalized, you have a fair hearing where both sides have the opportunity to present their arguments.  Mysteriously, in Paige Stvan's case, although such a hearing is required by law, it never occurred.  This is just the first of the kinds of procedural flaws that have plagued this case from the beginning.  

It is also important to note regarding the term "it was represented" that anyone can "represent" anything to anyone in this world. Eventually, in a court of law, you have to come up with proof.  At no time that I have observed during the many hearings that were held in this case was there any kind of legitimate evidentiary hearing in which allegations of this nature regarding Paige Stvan could be either confirmed or denied.  Futhermore, from all the information I have in front of me, there is no evidence at all that Ms. Stvan had any such history.

How can any judge possibly justify removing a child completely from a mother's life based upon "representations."?  

Meanwhile, I have in front of me a letter that Dr. Linda Gunsberg, Paige Stvan's psychotherapist, wrote to the court.  In this letter, Dr. Gunsberg stated that Ms. Stvan has "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of domestic violence within the marriage, after the marriage, and as a result of constant, continuous litigation brought against her by Mr. Thomas Stvan, her ex-husband."  

Dr. Gunsberg also stressed that Paige Stvan is a competent primary caretaker and mother to her child and that the child flourished under her care.  She also stated that the father's behavior of cutting Ms. Stvan off from all access to her daughter constituted parental alienation.  Of course, everyone knows I'm not a fan of PAS theory, but I just point it out for what it's worth. Again, as I've said before, when a mother points out PAS or PA whatever you want it call it, judges couldn't care less.  PAS only matters if a man complains about it.

I also have a letter from a social worker who also provided treatment for Paige Stvan in which she stated, "I can confidently state that...it is apparent that Ms. [Stvan] does not present with psychological deficits that would compromise her ability to care for her child. Furthermore, Ms. [Stvan] has been highly motivated to take advantage of the services that have helped her to gain an understanding of her current circumstances, while seeking a path towards betterment as an individual, as well as a mother."  In addition, on Paige Stvan's behalf, LMFT Linda J. Gottlieb took the time to provide an extensive explanation to the Court regarding the phenomenon of parental alienation and how to identify it.  I think it says a lot for Paige Stvan that three well qualified mental health professionals took the time to speak up on her behalf.

I would also like to point out that Paige Stvan has always been honest and straightforward to her ex husband about any medical issues she has and has always taken responsible steps to address them.  The result has been successful, and it appears as though she is being punished for that very success.

I understand that two sides in a legal case can end up interpreting data differently which is why you end up in Court anyway.  That is the reason why a case like this would end up in family relations for a custody evaluation to determine whether testimony one way or another is credible.  What is striking about this case is that despite the dire consequence where a Mother has been entirely cut off from any communication with the daughter she raised for 12 years, there was no family relations report, no custody evaluation whatsoever, indeed, no investigation whatsoever.

How is that possible?  I have no idea.  

Next, if you have serious allegations regarding a parent's mental health status--i.e. as in this case, that father has bipolar and mother has depression--the most logical and just outcome would be a psychological evaluation conducted by a court approved psychologist qualified to do the job.  Remarkably, there was absolutely no psychological evaluation, no psychological assessment by a legitimate professional in any way whatsoever.  

I just do not understand that.  

When issues were raised in my case regarding my mental health, I ended up having two psychiatric evaluations and one psychological evaluation.  What happened to me was pretty excessive and is testimony to the extremely damaging impact accusations regarding mental health status can have.  Still, the idea that you could cut a mother off from her child based upon allegations regarding her mental health status that have yet to be proved, and, as you have seen from the testimony I provided, have actually been soundly refuted, appears absolutely outrageous and represents a tragic miscarriage of justice for this mother and her child.  

You cannot simply point at people, call them crazy, and use such unfounded and unproven claims as the basis for denying them their parental rights.  

As the General Statutes Section 46b-46(c), which is the basis for all custody decisions, state, the mental and physical health of the parents involved is a factor in custody decisions, however, the "disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody."  Furthermore, under Title II of federal ADA law, disability based discrimination is against the law in this country.  Certainly, the issue of disability should not be determinative without a fair and just evidentiary hearing where there is an equal playing field.  

However, what it looks like is that the judge and the attorneys in this case think that they can deny Paige Stvan her legal rights by nodding and winking and sweeping everything under the rug, simply by virtue of the fact that they think she has a mental health disability.  Likewise, they think they can smooth over and ignore father's possible bipolar disorder.  Trust me--that's not happening.

More on this case in Part II.

Friday, May 15, 2015

NANCY S. ERICKSON, J.D., DR. KARIN HUFFER, AND JANE DOE SPEAK ABOUT INVISIBLE DISABILITIES IN THE COURTROOM AND THE ADA AT THE BMCC 2015!

Nancy Erickson stated as follows:  In my work in litigation, I see that the fathers would abuse the mother who would then develop PTSD or some other form of mental illness.  The mother would then come across very badly in psychological tests and lose custody.  

These tests are not meant to figure out whether you are a good parent and they cannot really arrive at such conclusions, but they are misused for that purpose.  

PTSD is extremely common among battered women.  If you look at these percentages, there are studies indicating that among women in DV shelters 40-89% have PTSD.  PTSD is not what you would really call an illness.  It is an injury.  The best way to think about it and explain it to the court is that we are starting to learn about it.  Soldiers returning from combat have PTSD.  All of the research money is out there to treat PTSD, not for DV, but that which results from combat.  

There are similarities and also differences.  PTSD from DV is worse, because you have been traumatized by someone you thought was going to love, protect, and take care of you--not an enemy, but a person you trusted.  Thus, your trust in the whole world has gone.  So it is an injury.  

PTSD is defined in the DSM-5 as follows:

1.  You had to have had a trauma; 

2. you have to have the requisite numbers and kinds of symptoms, i.e. one or more--sort of like a restaurant menu in a Chinese restaurant:

A. intrusive thoughts--nightmares of the abuse, flashbacks or dissociative reactions, not a memory, an oh my God, I am back there again, distress at exposure to external or internal cues regarding what happen, physiological reactions to external or internal cues; 

B. avoidance, avoidance of thoughts and feelings of this event, avoidance of external reminders: people, places, activities, objects; 

C.  negative changes in cognition/mood, can't remember something that happened, change from before to afterwards, loss of trust, distorted thought like blaming yourself, anger, feelings of detachment or estrangement from others, memory problems, and persistent inability to experience positive emotions; 

D.  changes in arousal or reactivity such as exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, problems with concentration, sleep disturbances, suicidal behavior or ideation.  

I sometimes like to give the Court the following analogy if they are considering taking a mother's children away from her based upon PTSD.  What if the abuser had taken a sledgehammer and crippled the mother for life because he destroyed her knees and now she can't walk.  Then he comes to court and says, your honor, she can't even walk how can she be a parent?  Yet he caused this problem!  

This is not something is biochemical; this is an injury caused by the perpetrator and will stop once the constant abuse is over.  Are these symptoms always at play?  No.  You have PTSD, but it isn't triggered all the time, only when in Court or facing the abuser, or having to see him in court.  In other words, PTSD is often episodic, which is covered under the ADA.  

Jane Doe mentioned requesting breaks, obtaining reduced price transcripts, pencil and paper to take notes on the stand, breaks, etc. as her accommodations under the ADA.  The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 has expanded and extended the civil rights of people with disabilities.  

Dr. Karin Huffer began her presentation taking note of Jane Doe's situation.  She has broken heart syndrome where the pressure of family court has caused her heart attacks.  

If you are in a situation like Jane Doe, says Dr. Karin Huffer, the first thing to note is:  1.  You are not crazy; 2.  You are not alone; 3. You have rights under the ADA.  

The ADA empowers us with a powerful federal tool so that victims of DV can stand up for themselves.  Family courts are a maze where you can end up being abused more because your abuser controls family court the same way he controlled the family.  

In this situation, the ADA can help you.  For instance, you can obtain accommodations under the ADA to undergo a deposition in writing in your own time rather than being put on the spot in an oral deposition.  

It is critical to have a person in your life to address the disability issues when you are in a court proceeding.  

When you request an ADA accommodation, you only have to provide a single diagnosis.    So don't feel you have to provide more than one.  A request for accommodation is administrative; it is confidential and does not belong under discussion in court.  

Federal Court also has to comply with the ADA as well even though they will deny that.  And this is why.  PTSD interferes with expressive speech and so without the ADA a litigant is unable to communicate effectively with the court.  

In addition,  Federal law supersedes state and local law.  

You don't file a motion with the judge.  You go to the clerk ex parte.  

People with invisible disabilities often need extra time; they need a stay, they need a break, etc.  People must have executive functionality--anything that takes it away is not lawful.  

It is my view that Family Courts have become a public health crisis and must be treated as such.  

Consider whether it makes sense to have a psychological evaluation which is intended to take your child from you if they find a disability vs. a disability asssessment in order to address the accommodations you need in order to function.    

One trick of the abuser is to litigate you to the point of bankruptcy.  We need to address this issue.  

Finally, we need to train ADA advocates to be in those courts.  If these advocates can get all over these courts like an anthill, they will not be able to do this any further.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BILL MULREADY DEMANDS ACTION FROM THE CONNECTICUT DOJ ON ADA VIOLATIONS IN THE CT JUDICIAL BRANCH!

Dear Attorney Hughes and Attorney Deirdre Daly:

Is it our turn yet?  May we expect individual interviews in short order as a follow through on the announcement of last year, January 8, 2014 that your offices were conducting an investigation into the compliance of the CT Judicial Branch with federal ADA law?  May we expect affirmative actions similar to these provided by your brothers, sisters and cousins at the DOJ and HHS in Massachusetts?  Can we get equal and the same treatment here in Connecticut from you, Attorney Perkins and Attorney Daly?  Many CT citizens with disabilities have contacted the Civil Rights Division of the CT DOJ in response to your announcement of an investigation, and yet there seems to be no action on your part. 

Mr. Hughes, on January 8, 2014 you provided a letter of hope to Elizabeth and Susan and indeed all the disabled subjected to programs, services and activities of Connecticut public entities, in particular the Connecticut Judicial Branch and Department of Children and Families.  Since that time you 3 have received unlimited numbers of verifiable ADA and 504 violations, past, present, future, regarding on going non compliance, exclusions from participation, denials of benefits from CT Judicial Branch and DCF programs services and activities, and you have had testimony regarding how CT citizens have been subjected to ongoing discrimination by reason of disabilities and >90% of the time the issue is related to gender. 

We turn to you 3, Attorneys Daily, Perkins and Hughes for redress from these civil rights and disability rights violations.

The Gordon's in Massachusetts got many personal interviews and it looks like on going updates and "transparency"! 

We here in  Connecticut see delays and what looks to be even guidance and collusion in connection to the CT Judicial Branch and DCF to promote a smoke screen and railroading of citizens as well as a general cover up of ADA violations.  We are seeing the CT Department of Justice allow the CT Judicial Branch to avoid meeting the requirements of federal ADA law by allowing them to use the deceptive phrase that they are cooperating with " continuing compliance" rather than immediately obeying in full which they have had sufficient time to do.
 
It is not acceptable that the JB and DCF at first ignores, denies, provides misleading and confusing findings and rulings in response to person's inquires, complaints, requests, begging, comments, suggestions, arguments and then at a later time the Judicial Branch or DCF pronounces their provision of such as part of their "continued compliance.
 
We are onto this and ask why are your offices at the DOJ allowing it?  We ask where was compliance on our individual cases, each and every one?  Where are our remedies for past disabilities discrimination?  Where is the elimination of current disabilities discrimination, and prohibitions against future disabilities discrimination, including today?
 
I write the above alone at this time Mr. Hughes. I write for my self first and in support of ALL my earlier and probably most if not ALL of my writings.  But I write also for all other persons subjected to disability and gender and any discrimination by the Judicial Branch or DCF.  How many are here in Connecticut? 18% of 3,000,000 Connecticut citizens at a minimum amounts to 540,000? Plus, friends and family associated with persons with disabilities amounts to another 540,000 minimum at 1 to 1 which adds up to about 1,800,000?  Of course, there are many more as all of the United States and indeed the World expect "comprehensive ADA compliance". 
 
Please respond with information on the steps you intend to take to remedy this disgraceful situation which I have described.
 
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
 
Yours For Barrier Free Courts With Sober And Honest Judges And None Discriminating Attorneys And State Actors And State Contractors,
Bill Mulready

Additional Endorsements For This Letter From:

Susan Skipp Tittle
Next friend and parent of G.A.T., 14 and W.G.T., 12
Elizabeth A. Richter,
Parent of M.R.R. and P.U.R.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015