For Protective Parents. Your source for news and information on the broken Family Court System in Connecticut. I am NOT an attorney. This blog does not constitute legal advice. Blog spirit: In the words of Emiliano Zapata,"I would rather die standing than live on my knees!"
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.
A clash over a legislator's email caused the failure of 45 bills Monday at the judiciary committee as Republicans and Democrats squared off as the committee faced an important deadline at 5 p.m.
The clash led to the failure of all bills on the agenda as Republicans staged a filibuster that lasted until the deadline.
The two sides disagreed on some substantive issues, but the dispute was a spillover from Friday between state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, a Hartford Democrat, and Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, a Naugatuck Republican who serves as the ranking House member, officials said. Gonzalez and Rebimbas clashed publicly during a long hearing Friday regarding the confirmation of Connecticut State Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase Rogers.
But both Republicans and Democrats said the dispute continued following an email that Gonzalez sent Saturday that was copied to numerous legislators, including Rebimbas herself. At least 25 people - both Republicans and Democrats - had seen the email by Monday, based on the email trail.
The original email was written to a non-legislator who has concerns about the longrunning controversy over guardians ad litem, which are mentioned by Gonzalez as GAL. The guardians are often appointed in contentious divorce cases involving the care and custody of minor children.
The email by Gonzalez, obtained by Capitol Watch, is as follows:
"Do not waist your valuable time with people like Rep Ribimbas.She is an atty and also a GAL,she is fighting for her pocket not for the people like you and others the are suffering .She is cold with no heart.All she did on Friday was kissing the judges back and attacking another Rep and calling you a liar.not professional .people that were watching knows what a brown nose she is.she didn't look good but she think she was awesome,Dianne always remember that every pig has
his Saturday .ps Ribimbas I hope y enjoy
VIDEO TESTIMONY ABOUT 5505 king another Rep and insulting you. She think that she did good
Sent from my iPhone Minnie González''
The mention of 5505 by Gonzalez refers to House Bill 5505, which advocates are pushing in an attempt to make changes to the family court system on issues such as supervised visitation in contentious child custody cases.
House Republican leader Themis Klarides, who was clearly frustrated by the developments, declined to comment on the email.
"I don't want to talk about it,'' Klarides told Capitol Watch outside the meeting room.
Gonzalez sent a second email on Monday that said, "Dear Representative Rebimbas,
"On Saturday, my emotions got the better of me on an issue that I, and my constituents, care deeply about. It was inappropriate for me to include other people in an email that should have remained between us, and for that I apologize.''
But Sen. John Kissel, the longtime ranking senator on the committee, said the second email "really wasn't an apology.''
Kissel said that Republicans had sought "a simple apology'' that never materialized over the course of the day and led to the filibuster.
The "Divorce in Connecticut" website apologizes for wrongly announcing the passage of Bill #5505 last Thursday, April 9, 2015. Divorce in Connecticut had received that information from what was considered a valid source and trusted that source. However, subsequent to the posting it was not possible to find any evidence to the effect that Bill #5505 was passed.
The Divorce in Connecticut website goes to great trouble to make sure that anything that appears on this website is correct. It is with great personal disappointment with ourselves that Divorce in Connecticut makes this announcement. Divorce in Connecticut would like to apologize to each and every one of its readers for this error and will redouble its efforts to make sure that any information that appears on this website is true and accurate. Thank you very much for your patience and consideration as the audience to this website. Each reader is a valued member of the Divorce in Connecticut website.
Again, at this time, Divorce in Connecticut does not have any direct information to the effect that Bill #5505 has been passed although it continues to hope.
There are several reasons why the Supreme Court in Carrubba v. Moskowitz should not have ruled that Attorneys For the Minor Children have absolute quasi-judicial immunity in family court proceedings. Most important are the views of Appellate Court Judge Francis Hennessey when he said that in doing so the Appellate Court was usurping the authority of the Connecticut State Legislature.
In his dissenting opinion in opposition to granting Attorneys For the Minor Child judicial immunity in family court cases Judge Francis Hennessy spoke as follows: I respectfully dissent from the conclusion of the majority that those appointed pursuant to General Statutes Sec. 46b-54 as attorneys for minor children are entitled under the common law to qualified quasi-judicial immunity for actions taken during their representation in such matters. I believe that it is the legislature and not the judiciary that should, if it chooses, exercise its authority to extend immunity to court-appointed attorneys for minors."
He further stated, "It is clear that neither the statutes of this state, nor the decisions of this court or our Supreme Court, extend the protections of immunity to court-appointed attorneys for minor children under Sec. 46b-54. Consequently, I perceive the conclusion of the majority to be synonymous with legislating and "[m]ore importantly...[as] exceeding our constitutional limitations by infringing on the prerogative of the legislature to set public policy through its statutory enactments." State v. Reynolds, 264 Conn. 1, 79, 824 A.2d 611 (2003).
Again, he states at the conclusion of his statement, "The immunity proposed by the majority for attorneys appointed to represent minors pursuant to Sec. 45b-54 should be addressed to a lawmaking body." And he concludes by quoting Colchester Savings Bank v. Brown, 75 Conn. 69, 71, 52 A.316 (1902), "It is not our office to legislate."
These are the words of a Judge who was a long time advocate for improving the access of women and minorities to the services of the CT Judicial branch. This was a Judge who acted as co-chair of the Connecticut Task Force on Gender Justice and the Courts, and Connecticut's Task Force on Minority Fairness, clearly a man of some principle. Given Judge Hennessey's caution to his fellow justices, who would have though, then, that the Supreme Court would go well beyond what the Defendant asked for and grant her not just qualified judicial immunity, but absolute immunity.
I admire Judge Hennessey. He asked the kinds of questions we would all ask.
For instance, what is going on with our State legislature that it is allowing the CT Judicial Branch to bully its way into a position where it can exploit and bankrupt the citizens of CT at will, using lurid stories of disgruntled parents mistreating their vulnerable children as an excuse.
When GALs and AMCs are using their wards college money to fund their lifestyles and foreclosing on the homes their wards live in to pay their legal fees, who is mistreating who?
In disregarding CT General Statute 51-14 which requires public hearings for all changes to The Connecticut Practice Book, in using the legal system to establish case law that is independent of the will of the State Legislature, the CT Judicial Branch is violating our State Constitution. In regard to Carrubba v. Moskowitz it is worth noting that, according to Paul Carrubba's Attorney, George Kramer, in 2005 when this decision was made, the Connecticut Supreme Court was the only top state court in the country to extend absolute immunity to court-appointed attorneys. This was how great departure the decision in Carrubba v. Moskowitz was when it came to standard practice. If there was such a dire need for protection for Attorneys for the Minor Children because they were being chased around by disgruntled angry parents, how come no other state in the union felt the necessity to do anything about it? Could it be that this decision was put into place by AFCC members to preempt the outrage they knew their policies would generate? As a point of note, the names on the Amicus Brief that argued on behalf of immunity for AMCs, i.e. The Children's Law Center, Campbell Barrett of Budlong and Barrett, and Steve Dembo of Berman, Bourns, Aaron & Dembo have been at the center of a vast number of the complaints submitted by victims of family court corruption.
I do find interesting the kind of cavalier attitude people take in regard to how the Connecticut Judicial System usurps the authority of the State Legislature. For example, a research paper written by Kevin E. McCarthy about Guardians Ad Litem for the Connecticut State Legislature on February 6, 2013 states as follows, "Conn. Gen. Statute Section 4-141 grants individuals appointed as GALs in neglect, abuse, termination of parental rights, delinquency, or family with service needs proceedings qualified immunity for their actions. Although there is no controlling case, it appears likely that courts would find GALs in family court cases have absolute immunity for actions undertaken at a judge's direction."
So what McCarthy is essentially saying is that despite the Legislature's mandate that GALs only have qualified immunity, the Court system will do whatever it pleases and grant such a GAL absolute immunity. Since when does the Court system make its own rules without regard for the CT State legislature?
It is astounding how commonplace it has become for both the State Legislature and the CT Judiciary when it comes to the judiciary system intervening to itself write or else overstep the Connecticut Statutes that underpin our legal system.
I will admit that I am not known for my niceness. Of course, I am self employed and no one pays me to be nice; they read my articles because they want to get the facts on what is going on in our corrupt family courts.
So I kind of have blog writer immunity because if you don't like what I write you can shake your fists and fume at me, but have fun trying to take me to court. Ok, ok, ok, some of you have done just that -- thank you Attorney Scott Sandler -- but seriously, what are you going to do about my ideas. Hmmmm, ok, ok, ok -- now that I think of it you can threaten me like Budlong and Barrett, LLC did, or report me to the police.
But as they say sticks and stones can break my bones but ideas can only make me suck it up and grow a backbone. And talking about backbone, why is it that people who work as GALs and AMCs think they shouldn't be held accountable to the people who bottom line pay their highly expensive salaries. All the rest of us get held accountable for our behavior. Only teachers have tenure, and even they are subjected to constant evaluations and required to participate in professional workshops to improve their techniques.
How easily GALs and AMCs and their supporters talk about how badly family court litigants behave. For example, the Supreme Court decision in Carrubba v. Moskowitz states, "We agree with the Appellate court, however, that, in a custody dispute, "parents lack the necessary professional and emotional judgment to further the best interests of their children. Neither parent could be relied on to communicate to the court the children's interests where those interests differ from his or her own." Further, "A parent's judgment is or may be clouded with emotion and prejudice due to the estrangement of husband and wife."
Let me venture to say that most of us have some very high standards regarding what we expect of other folks behavior. Thus, I got myself into a lot of trouble recently with the CT DOJ because I announced on this lovely blog that I considered both Attorney Deirdre Daly and Attorney John Hughes to be some of the most corrupt officials in Connecticut.
Apparently, from recent correspondence sent to a friend of mine, I am in trouble for saying that, to the point where the CT DOJ plans on denying my friend access to their services as a consequence of my bad tempered remarks. You see, as I learned, and probably everyone else knew already, if you insult people, you are unlikely to obtain either their respect or support.
Granting that fact, in the case of Carrubba v. Moskowitz what surprises me upon reading the stack of documents in the case is the complete disinterest the Court has regarding what Attorney Emily Moskowitz was accused of doing. On the contrary, as I mentioned in Part I of this series, Mr. Paul Carrubba's Attorney, George Kramer, experienced subtle threats from Judge Gruendel for even bringing them up.
My question is, here you have two warring parents and the fate of two fragile and vulnerable children at stake--Mathew Carrubba, at least, was in counseling at the Institute of Living, was falling behind academically at school and required tutoring--how did it improve the situation that Attorney Emily Moskowitz during custody negotiations repeatedly called Paul Carrubba an "asshole" and a "bastard" and told him he was "killing his children."
While everyone is so focused on the bad outcomes that result from disgruntled and angry parents in hotly contested custody battles, why isn't a single person discussing this case, including the judges involved, concerned about Attorney Moskowitz' unprofessional and outrageous language and behavior. Not only did Attorney Mowkowitz use profanity, she also directly lied about information she had received in the case stating falsely that "the Institute of Living had asked her to terminate the Defendant's parental rights." Apparently, "Mathew's therapists denied that they ever made such a request of Attorney Moskowitz." (see Item #8 of Plaintiff's Motion to Disqualify).
Of course, maybe Paul Carrubba made that bit up that it wasn't true, but it is rather persuasive that he ended up with custody of Mathew no matter what she said. Tell me, who is likely to have better judgment--the person who yells repeated profanities and tells lies, or the person who is actively in Court trying to work out his son's future. I mean, for all Mr. Carrubba's flaws, the final reports on Mathew Carrubba's progress from Florida are that he was on the honor roll at his high school and progressing well.
You see, this is my question. When the court says that parents lack the "necessary professional and emotional judgment" during a custody dispute, do they have any scientific proof when it comes to that statement or is the court simply going by its gut feelings or its experiences in one or two pivotal cases. Where are the studies that can show us exactly that point in a custody case where we can no longer rely on the soundness of parents' decisions regarding their children? Other than the court relying upon its right to make pronouncements and its cross referencing other judges who have made similar comments, is there any objective evidence anywhere that the Court's derogatory statements about parents in custody battles are true? I'd say, no!
I was in a hotly contested custody case and I will say that if anyone looked at the case they will see that as a parent I was the one who showed far better judgment in regard to the children than the GAL or the judges. In fact, the GAL didn't think that my children should receive the appropriate medical treatment for their disability at all, and the Judge stated that the children didn't have one, even though I had documentation from several doctors contradicting him.
If GALs and Judges can behave in such bizarre ways, who are they to interfere in the rights of parents to determine what goes on with their children?
Why is it more damning to Paul Carrubba that he was involved in a hotly contested custody matter than it was that AMC Emily Moskowitz repeatedly used profane language and lied boldfacedly in regard to her charges?
How come it is more despicable that I called Attorney Deirdre Daly and Attorney John Hughes corrupt than is the fact that they actually are just as corrupt as I said they were?
Why is there this double standard in regard to CT citizens and parents who are involved in CT Family Court versus family court officers such as attorneys, judges, clerks, AMCs and GALs? Why do family court officers get the benefit of the doubt, but not parents?
How come as far as the Court is concerned family court officers can do no wrong, and deserve full judicial immunity for the wrongdoing they have done, when we have so many clear cut examples that they are irresponsible, greedy, and unprincipled?
Historically, the legal profession has been given considerable leeway because it has been understood that they are supposed to regulate themselves. However, the reality of their actions in consistently absolving themselves are any responsibility for their crimes in relation to the victims of Connecticut Family Court makes it clear that the legislature must intervene and remove GAL immunity in the State of Connecticut and vote in support of Bill #5505.
SIGN THE PETITION, USE THE LINK BELOW:
"During testimony before the legislature last year, it seemed like the loudest voices in the debate over family court reform were those of divorcing parents angry at a legal system they believed had failed them.
Dozens of people testified in favor of increased regulation for court-appointed guardians ad litem, who are appointed by judges and inform the court of the "best interests of the child" in high-conflict custody cases. Some parents complained of staggering legal bills brought on, in part, by GALs whose intervention caused cases to drag on for years. In turn, lawmakers approved changes, including a new sliding fee scale for court-appointed GALs and increased scrutiny of their appointment by judges.
On March 11, 2015, members of the judiciary committee in attendance heard prepared testimony of Chief Administrative Judge of Family Matters who delivered prepared remarks and then answered questions posed by the judiciary committee members.
I want each of you to take less than ten minutes to review on CT-N archives (published transcript is not yet available), the judiciary committee meeting on the date of March 11. Please use the cursor on the videoplayer and watch a series of questions posed by Representative Buck-Taylor concerning the subject of Part 1 of the bill, involving the use of supervised visitation.
I have watched the video carefully four times since March 11, and spoke to external affairs director, Melissa Farley about the statements of Judge Buzzuto which is in the process of being refuted with hard data about the "common practice" in family courts to order supervised visitation of long durations, entered as court orders regardless of whether the supervised visitation is affordable.
Despite Judge Buzzuto's testimony was at times framed by the words, "To be honest with you, my experience", Judge Buzzuto's personal record as jurist and as the Chief Administrative Judge was not "sworn testimony" subject to perjury allegations.
However, the Code of Judicial Conduct does contain language which indicates a judge cannot use the powers of the office in a manner to use the prestige of their capacity as a public official, to make statements on public policy issues such as legislation which are designed to knowingly mislead another public official such as a member of this judiciary committee.
Last Monday, March 16, 2015, I approached external affairs director, Attorney Melissa Farley, indicating that at that time I had reviewed the testimony of Judge Buzzuto three times since March 11, 2015 and Judge Buzzuto had a responsibility to issue a letter of correction--similar to the letter issued by Judge Frazzini, who only issued such a letter of "correction" after I contacted him at his home email address stevefraz@Comcast.net. This email address of Judge Frazzini can be found on documents published on the judiciary website on the date of January 16, 2015, when just Frazzini testified under oath and delivered "material false and misleading" testimony about his CT Chapter AFCC membership.
Yesterday, I sent an email to Attorney Farley seeking a copy of any communication to the judiciary committee members including letters, faxes, texts, phone calls records to or from any judiciary committee member, email, text or documents defined in the FOI Act which emanated from any personal email or State of Connecticut email address of ANY members of the judiciary, including Judge Buzzuto, which corrected testimony provided to your committee.
Attorney Farley has not acknowledged that FOI request as of this date and she is copied on this communication.
Those, such as myself, who have been ordered to permanent supervised visitation as part of a Memorandum of Decision by a judge are not going to tolerate Judge Buzzuto's attempts to undermine the support of HB 5505, especially in light of the data we are now assembling to provide data to this committee to show the incidence of supervised visitation is not rare, is not short term, and subjects our children and the parents to unjustified humiliation in an environment which Judge Buzzuto described herself on March 11 as "an artificial setting".
Within three weeks time, an excel chart will be sent to this group of legislators to consider as hard evidence to refute Judge Buzzuto's statements, while not sworn were designed to mislead the members of this committee.
We hope to assemble in this document those who have spent as much as $125,000 in supervised visitation which ended only when there were no more financial resources available to a parent.
To suggest, that this committee would provide weighting to certain portions of Judge Buzzuto's testimony because she is a judge and assumed to be "credible and trustworthy" in statements made on March 11, 2015 should be a judgment to be deferred until which point in time we can assemble the data to refute the answers to Representative Buck Taylors questions on supervised visitation.
There are also "speculative " comments issued by Judge Bozzuto which were made on the other three sections of the bill, which parents will refute with hard data which contradicts the published comments made by Judge Bozzuto concerning section 3, 4 and 5 of HB 5505.
Those comments will be reserved for a later point in time in a separate email to the judiciary committee members.
HB 5505 is a bill which will provide much needed restraints on "judicial authority" acquired through decisional law cases and through self empowerment which occurred by the unmonitored adoption of PB Rules without the legislative "hearings" required by C.G.S. 51-14 (a) and (c).
We would ask for your indulgence to allow the citizens of this State to prepare documents to refute certain portions of Judge Buzzuto's testimony.
However, if a letter of correction is issued of any kind concerning the March 11, 2015 judiciary committee hearing on HB 5505, and sent to the Chairs of the Judiciary Committee signed by any member of the judiciary "misremembrances" of Judge Bozzuto, we would ask any such letter be routed immediately to all judiciary committee members AND published on the judiciary committee's published testimony of March 11, concerning HB 5505.
Judge Frazzi's letter to the judiciary committee dated Jan. 28, 2015 was never published on the judiciary committee website which corrected sworn testimony. I only acquired a copy of the letter of Judge Frazzini by filing an FOI request of Attorney Farley, who did promptly provided a scanned copy of the letter of correction on the Monday after Judge Frazzini's nomination was approved by the members of the General Assembly on the date of January 30, 2015.
Please accept my apologies for the length of this communication, but the judiciary committee will be considering the merits of HB 5505 and deserves to be fully informed before considering the language and amendments of this proposed legislation.
Feel free to contact me at any time concerning any data which has already been collected, but is currently only a "work in progress".
It is the hopes of the parents aggrieved by the financial impact of these process will be able to overcome the "anecdotal" testimony of Judge Buzzuto who provided no "hard data" to support her "experiences" as a member of the bench for fifteen years. We look forward to Judge Bozzuto's next re-appointment hearing to challenge the authenticity of the statements made on March 11, 2015 that were posited into the public record as non-sworn testimony. We look forward to Judge Buzzuto's explanations of her "misremembrances" on March 11, 2015---but the next occasion Judge Buzzuto's testimony will under oath in the next legislative session.
I also enclose an attachment of a letter received from Deputy Chief State Attorney Leonard Boyle sent to me concerning sworn affidavits have been filed alleging perjury by Judge Thomas Parker, Judge Taggart Adams and Judge Stephen Frazzini. The sworn affidavits involving Judges Adams and Frazzini were posted as public testimony on the date of January 23 of the judiciary's website.
Many in the aggrieved parents group are fearful of retaliation or retribution if they have currently active cases in the family court. We are seeking permissions from those litigants who harbor legitimate concerns for "future adverse rulings" to publish docket numbers and litigants. We are respecting those who wish to publish information anonymously rather than for attribution in the excel document which will be sent to you in three years time.
Hopefully, you can accept these requests for anonymous posting of data on supervised visitation as "properly adjudged concerns."
TO:Senator Coleman, Representative Tong and Members of The Judiciary Committee
FROM:Elizabeth A. Richter
RE:In Support of Raised Bill No. 5505:An Act Concerning Family Court Proceedings
DATE:March 16, 2015
Note: This testimony is intended for public viewing
I am writing to support Raised Bill No. 5505:An Act Concerning Family Court Proceedings which is written to eliminate some of the worst abuses going on in family court today.The following explains my position:
Section 1:Supervised Visitation
This bill would specifically dictate fundamental conditions which must be in place prior to imposing orders of supervised visitation on a parent.Currently, many judges are imposing supervised visitation as a form of punishment or based upon grounds that are vague, frivolous, and unsubstantiated.Furthermore, supervised visitation often ends up as a means for one or the other parent to gain an advantage during divorce.
Item (4) of Section 1 is a violation of Federal ADA law which prohibits discrimination based upon disability; it is not proper to single out citizens with a specific disability for less than equal treatment under the law.The language should be readjusted to state that any individual whose behavior, for which there is credible documentation, presents a potential risk to the safety or well-being of a child should be placed on supervised visitation.It should be noted that psychopaths, for instance, are perfectly sane, however, their behavior could still place children at risk.
Section 2:AMC/GAL Civil Actions, Elimination of Judicial Immunity
Currently, GALs and AMCs believe that they are above the law and that they will never be held accountable for their wrongdoing.In addition, Statewide Grievance and Family Court Judges are colluding with GAL/AMC shenanigans, so parents have no recourse. This means the vast majority of GALs and AMCs are drunk with their power, bullying and arrogant.On the rare occasions they get caught, GALs and AMCs label parents as “disgruntled” to divert attention from their own wrongdoing and succeed in doing so.
The two GALs in my family court case failed to protect two of my children who have a disability from medical neglect which has caused them permanent physical damage.This is not frivolous.
Also, the first GAL in my case, Charlotte J. Stamos, submitted a six page double spaced report to the custody evaluator and billed it in her invoice as “a letter” to the custody evaluator so I was unaware its existence until 3 years after it had been submitted.This meant that I was unable to defend myself from her false accusations because she had effectively hidden them from my knowledge.
For a year, the second GAL in my case, Attorney Jeff Mickelson, insisted that I obtain therapy from Dr. Donald Hiebel, despite my report that Dr. Hiebel’s behavior was inappropriate.Last year, two former clients reported that he had sexually molested them, and he is now under investigation .
Parents may be angry at each other, but this does not mean they are incapable of acting in the best interests of their children.Too often, GALs and AMCs are directly responsible for stirring up the animosity between parents by pitting them against each other.When this wrongdoing occurs, both parents and children deserve a legal remedy for this kind of GAL abuse.
Section 3:Evaluations& Therapy
A person’s mental health status should not be used as a weapon to bludgeon a fit parent in a family court matter and deny him or her custody. Too often mental health data is misused in this way.
In my case, the opposing counsel made slurs regarding my mental health based on an incident that occurred 30 years prior to the court action.As a result, everyone in my case from the GAL, to the attorneys, to the custody evaluator ignored my concerns and mishandled the case from beginning to end.It did not matter that a psychologist and two psychiatrists cleared me of any mental health concerns that could interfere with my parenting.
I have also seen judges, attorneys, and GALs in family court cases coordinating together in order to obtain the mental health results they want as a means to insure an agreed upon outcome in a case.
This includes refusing to allow a mental health professional from out of state, or outside the AFCC magic circle, treat or evaluate a family court litigant because it means the Court will be unable to exert pressure on that professional to obtain the kind of pre-agreed upon results they want.
It also includes refusing to accept statements from a family court litigant’s therapist into evidence because it does not go along with the predetermined outcome which the judge, the GAL/AMC andopposing attorney have already decided upon.
Finally, we must require that evaluators submit their reports 30 days upon completion because so many of these evaluators deliberately hide their reports from the party who has been predetermined to lose, while at the same time giving the reports to the winning party well in advance.Often, the predetermined losing party in a case will receive a copy of the report just as they walk into the courtroom on the first day of trial.This is an outright violation of the due process right to have advanced notice of what you will be accused of.This happens all the time and must be stopped.
Section 4:GAL Testimony
It is well known that in custody disputes GALs will suppress or distort their report of the mental health or medical issues related to children.Some of this is deliberate, but frequently this arises simply because the majority of GALs are attorneys and are not qualified to provide testimony in regard to medical or mental health issues.Further, GALs do not have the experience or knowledge base to respond accurately to technical questions in regard to medicine and psychiatry and to pretend they do is absurd.This is why GALs must not be allowed to provide their own hearsay testimony as a substitute for the direct testimony of the medical professionals in a custody case.
Opponents of this bill have expressed concern regarding the children’s confidentiality and therapeutic relationships.Simply put, minors do not have a right to either—only adults do, and even those the Court does not always respect.It is also important to note that if this legislation is passed, this does not mean that medical and psychiatric professionals always have to come to court in every case; such experts would only be required to appear if there were a dispute as to their testimony.What this does do is eliminate any attempt a GAL or AMC might make to distort or misrepresent that testimony and then hide that wrongdoing behind privilege.
Finally, it is vital that legislators take steps to limit outrageous GAL/AMC fees which often result when such professionals sit around doing nothing for day after day of hearings when they aren’t contributing or benefitting their child clients one single bit with their presence in court.
Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to your thinking in regard to Bill 5505.If you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact information below.