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Showing posts with label CAMPBELL BARRETT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CAMPBELL BARRETT. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


A friend of mine recently told me her GAL story.  Let's call her Sally.  According to Sally, it was getting to the end of her custody evaluation and her son, John, came to her and said that he wanted to stay in Connecticut and didn't want to be with his father out of state.  

Sally would like to be able to say this was because of her wonderful parenting skills, and that he preferred to be with her marvelous self.  In fact, what primarily influenced John was his attachment to his home and his community as well as his strong relationship with his friends.  Simply put, John was a homebody who liked to hang out with the same kids he always hung out with and didn't want any changes.  

In response,  Sally told John to sit down and write a letter to his GAL and explain how he felt.  John went ahead and did that and gave the letter to his GAL.  In response, the GAL said that she could not take John's views into consideration and that she was going to make her decision independent of his wishes.  

When Sally heard this reaction from the GAL, she immediately went to the custody evaluator in the case and made an appointment for John to speak directly to the doctor.  In a session that was often very tearful, John explained how he felt.  When the final custody evaluation came out, not only did Sally end up with residential custody, there was a special section in the doctor's recommendations that specifically addressed John's wishes and made sure they were respected.  

When I listened to Sally's story, my question was directed towards the GAL.  Why didn't the GAL respect John's wishes?  

Clearly, the psychiatrist in the case felt that John's concerns were important, so why didn't the GAL think that it was in the best interests of the child to take in account his expressed wishes?  This is not unusual in many custody cases--frequently, GALs will simply refuse to listen to or respect what their child clients have to say.  

A similar situation occurred in the case of Karyn Gil v. John Gil where Attorney Campbell Barrett of Budlong and Barrett, LLC was the Guardian Ad Litem for the child.  When Attorney Barrett was first appointed to the case, he met with the child--Ashley--who was too intimidated by him in their first meeting to really speak to him.  

The second time they met, there was a more positive interaction and at the end of the visit, Attorney Barrett gave Ashley his business card and said that he would return her call if she ever reached out to him and called him even if all she wanted to talk about was Harry Potter.  

However, when the time came and Ashley called Attorney Barrett with a question, Attorney Barrett couldn't be bothered to call her back.  

Continuing to reach out to Attorney Barrett, Ashley then had her therapist Dr. Ginther call on her behalf asking that he call her back.  Still, Attorney Barrett didn't call her back.  Finally, Ashley wrote a note to Attorney Campbell Barrett asking him to call her and giving him specific times to call, but still he didn't bother to call her back.  

When Karyn Gil's attorney asked Campbell Barrett why he didn't call Ashley back his response was that he was too busy with other cases and didn't have time.  Does that truly make sense as an answer?  If you have so many cases that you are unable to meet the needs of your child clients, shouldn't you resign and let someone else on the over 1000 list of qualified GALs have a chance at employment?  

As a side point, not only did Attorney Campbell Barrett completely disregard his client, Ashley Gil's, requests, he also felt comfortable gossiping about her in the open where everyone could hear his remarks.  Specifically, during the break in one of the hearings in the case, he engaged in a gossip session out in the corridor with Attorney Emily Moskowitz and Attorney Jeff Mickelson (Karyn's prior attorney in the case) about Ashley's private business, apparently stating that he was going to "spin" the testimony of Ashley's therapist in the case so the outcome of the hearing would go his way.  (We know the conversation took place because the maternal grandparents, whom Attorney Campbell Barrett had not yet met, were sitting nearby and heard every word.)  

This is hardly the kind of behavior anyone would expect of a family court professional.  No wonder none of these cases get resolved properly!  

The same situation occurred with the Kathi Sorrentino case in regard to her son, Storm.  The Court stated that it wanted to hear Storm's voice and so it appointed Dr. Eric Frazer as the GAL.  Storm repeatedly told the Court, told Dr. Eric Frazer, told everyone both verbally and in writing that he wanted remain in the residential custody of his mother.  

Nonetheless, his expressed wishes were simply ignored, he was placed in the full custody of his father against his wishes and so eventually he went AWOL and disappeared for a month only returning when his mother was jailed.  When the Court asked Dr. Eric Frazer, the GAL, if he had met with Storm, "Have you talked to him at all?", Dr. Frazer's response was, "I haven't been having conversations with Storm..."  Well, why not?  Aren't you his Guardian Ad Litem?  Aren't you supposed to be speaking to the child so the Court can listen to his voice and hear his perspective?  What is it with GALs who think they can act with complete independence and disregard of their child clients?

The bottom line is that the GAL system was put into place as a result of a shift in understanding regarding children.  It reflected a recognition that the old adage that "Children are to be seen but not heard" fails to acknowledge their equitable right to some measure of self-determination in regard to their lives.  

Children need to have an attorney, it was theorized, in order to defend their best interests, and not only that, they need to have their voices heard despite the fact that they are still minors.  

Unfortunately, the way GALs are currently playing it, they are continuing to maintain this paternalistic attitude of "father knows best" and carrying on as though it is not important to at least consult with how the children involved feel about the crisis that is going on in their lives and what they would like the outcome to be.  

It is important to know that as long as we continue on with the GAL system as it is, children will continue to suffer in silence.

Friday, December 26, 2014


I came from a difficult family and so when I was growing up situations often occurred which should not have.  And when they did, I would go to my Mom and say, "But that isn't fair!" and her answer to me often was, "Life isn't fair!"  I always felt outraged by her answer, and to be honest, I still feel that way. 
I can't understand society looking at circumstances that are fundamentally unjust and saying "too bad" then looking the other way, rather than taking steps to make things right. In the years that I have lived with being tortured by family court here in CT, I have been shocked by the lack of outrage, the indifference of men and women who should know better to the fundamental tenets of fairness. 
Of course, my Mom wasn't trying to change the world, she was just trying to run her household, so she didn't get into many justifications for what she was doing.  In contrast, what is so galling about the court system here in Connecticut is the elaborate, logic twisting, justifications judges write in the form of memoranda of decision to validate and explain away the outright injustice they are committing. 
In doing so, these judges make their decisions sound very scholarly by citing various case law, sometimes long strings of case law in a single sentence.  What they don't tell you is that if these judges had drawn a conclusion entirely opposite to the one you were reading they could find a whole string of equally valid seeming decisions supporting that opposite decision. 
The whole process of going by case law is a complete farce.  That is the dirty little secret that underlies the entire judicial system.
We won't even begin to talk about the cases that ended with completely lawless outcomes which never get mentioned because everyone knows they were formulated to deal with someone who was especially annoying whom the judge wanted to get rid of. 
So there is this surface appearance of formal and ordered results that masks complete chaos.  Just to give you some insight into the kind of nonsense that goes on, consider this one conversation I had with an attorney recently.  I mentioned to this attorney that there is no statute in the State of Connecticut which allows the court to deny custody to a parent based upon parental alienation, a point I have heard judges make in court. 
In response, the attorney told me that since Connecticut family courts are courts of equity, not just courts of law, judges are allowed to go outside of statutes in order to make their decisions and exercise their "judicial discretion". 
That's interesting, when you think of it! 
In other words, this attorney is saying that since Connecticut family courts are courts of equity, judges can pretty much do what they want, concepts of due process be damned. 
Perhaps this explains how Judge Herbert Gruendel found it possible to rule against Karyn Gil without according her a fair trial.  Thus, on April 5, 2004, Judge Gruendel ruled that Ms. Gil was in contempt of court and that she had committed parental alienation against her ex husband without allowing her to mount a defense. 

The court's decision to make its ruling on that particular day was not accidental.  April 5 is Karyn Gil's birthday.  I could write an entire blog on the family court's manipulative use of birthdays and holidays to conduct devastating court hearings, or release harmful decisions or  family relations evaluations.  So I have no doubt that Judge Gruendel deliberately chose Karyn's birthday to release his decision in the case as a means to demoralize and destroy her ability to stand up for herself.  For those who experience this particular kind of abuse, birthdays and holidays are no longer joyous occasions but instead simply trigger agonizing memories of loss and pain.

Family court is known for making these kinds of emotional guerrilla attacks against its victims, because it wants to crush them to the point where they will not take notice of the major constitutional violations the court has imposed upon them.

For example, in the Gil case, Karyn Gill was not allowed to defend herself.  What happened is that, after allowing her ex husband to present the details of his complaint, the court did not allow Karyn to present her evidence or expert testimony.  Instead, as soon as her ex husband finished his side of the case, Judge Gruendel stated he had heard enough and went ahead and made the ruling against her. 
This is what the law states about the question of due process, and I am quoting the Appellate court decision on this case, "A fundamental premise of due process is that a court cannot adjudicate any matter unless the parties have been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on the issues involved...Generally, when the exercise of the court's discretion depends on issues of fact which are disputed, due process requires that a trial-like hearing be held in which an opportunity is provided to present evidence and to cross-examine adverse is a fundamental tenet of due process of law as guaranteed by the fourteen amendment to the United States constitution and article first, Sec. 10, of the Connecticut constitution that persons whose...rights will be affected by a court's decision are entitled to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner....Where a party is not afforded an opportunity to subject the factual determinations underlying the trial court's decision to the crucible of meaningful adversarial testing, an order cannot be sustained."  (Citation omitted; internal quotations marks omitted.  Szot v. Szot, supra, 41 Conn. App. 241-42.) 
Of course, here, those of us reading such an extraordinary statement bolstering citizens' rights in family court might start getting really happy, until we read on to the court's next statement which is, "Nothing in Szot, however, suggests that a party's right to present evidence is unlimited."  Eilers v. Eilers 89 Conn. App. 210, 218, 873 A.2d 185 (2005). 
And it is in that statement where you begin to see the court's long list of exceptions to our constitutional right to due process.  The one big one which the court cites in the Gil case is that "the plaintiff did not object to the termination of the hearing." 
Oh, I see. In other words, the court does not dispute the fact that Karyn Gil's due process rights were trampled on, but simply states that it is ok because she did not object! 
So if the court tramples all over your rights and you are so frightened and intimidated that you fail to object, or you have a typical scumbag attorney who is in cahoots with the other side and does not object, then that makes it acceptable to trample over a litigant's constitutional rights.  Of course, as a self-represented party when I have stated my objections to the court, I've been bullied, threatened and subjected to directly personal attacks on my character.  
In this regard, what happened to me is that during my trial the judge told me that court rules no longer require that a litigant state his and her objections for the record and since they are no longer required, he was going to forbid me from doing so.  I suspect this was one of those rulings put into place for special people but not considered precedential by attorneys in the know!  Otherwise, I think we're going to have to rewrite all of the Law & Order shows to bring them up to current legal practice. 
A second exception to the right to due process is the trial court's freedom to manipulate at will which expert testimony comes before the court and which does not. 
For instance, in Karyn Gil's case, Judge Herbert Gruendel was willing to accept the expert testimony and medical records prepared by Dr. Nancy Eisworth, Jane's psychologist from four years prior to trial, but he was unwilling to accept into evidence the expert testimony and medical records from Jane's current psychologist, Dr. Laura Ginther. 
Ordinarily, mental health information over a year old is not allowed into evidence because it is considered stale.  O'Neill v. O'Neill, 13 Conn. App. 300, 303, 536 A.2d 978, certification denied, 207 Conn. 806, 540 A.2d 374 (1988).  Again, we could get excited by how empowering the O'Neil decision is, particularly since it takes into account that a psychological evaluation is only relevant to the timeframe in which it is produced, and hardly has relevance four years later.  However, as usual, with family court there are always loopholes when a family court judge feels like exercising them. 
Like I said, in the law, for whatever direction a judge wants to go in when it comes to his or her decisions, there is always a large catalogue of case law to draw upon which provides you with sufficient case law to go and make any kind of decision you want to make. 
So despite, O'Neil there is Yontef v. Yontef and Blake v. Blake which allows the judge to do what he dang well pleases with old medical records.  There you go with a Judge having the right to exercise his judicial discretion no matter what. 
When Judge Herbert Gruendel ruled that he was going to bar testimony and medical records from Jane's current therapist, Dr. Laura Ginther, the court cited Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 52-146c (b) in regard to psychologist-patient privilege.  This is a good law that protects patients' rights to confidentiality.  However, I can't tell you how many family court cases I've observed where judges have simply denied litigants those protections and forced their therapists to disclose confidential medical records and provide testimony in open court court regarding their clients, or at least threatened to, or else allowed opposing attorneys to  do so, and get information simply by threatening. 
So, as I say, the court is all about doing what it wants, when it wants, how it wants, disregarding the law, or making the law up as it goes along. 
The bottom line is, if the court wants the truth to come out in a case such as Gil v. Gil, why prevent a perfectly solid, current witness from going on the stand?  There are questions any attorney can ask a child's psychologist without causing any harm to that child's treatment or confidentiality.  One I can think of which would be quite pertinent and relevant to this case, for instance, and not at all harmful to the child is as follows, "Do you think that Karyn Gil has been parentally alienating  her child from John Gil?"  A quick "yes" or "no" would do and still protect the rights of the child.  Of course, this genius level question only emerged six months later after this particular show trial was over when Jane was driven to the point of suicide by additional abuse from her father.  Then, and only then, did Judge Gruendel himself finally allow Dr.  Laura Ginther to go to the stand and provide the testimony she'd had all along that Karyn Gil had not committed PAS. 
So who was against such testimony?  Who blocked it?  Who barred it?  Who prevented the truth from coming out and instead continued to allow Mr. John Gil to subject Karyn Gil and her daughter to ongoing legal abuse? 
The answer to that question is, the Guardian Ad Litem first of all--well, yes, the judge who went along with it, but primarily it was the Guardian Ad Litem who was supposed to be acting in the best interests of the child, but chose not to:  Attorney Campbell Barrett of Budlong and Barrett, LLC -- that is the man responsible for this travesty, this monstrous breakdown in the right to due process.


Gil. v. Gil, Part I:

Gil v. Gil, Part II:

Gil v. Gil, Part IV: