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Showing posts with label JUDGE HERBERT GRUENDEL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JUDGE HERBERT GRUENDEL. Show all posts

Sunday, December 28, 2014


My introduction to this case took place when Jane pulled an official envelope from her coat pocket, took out a legal document and handed it to me.  It contained all sorts of demands, indicating that John Gil, who had spent over a decade using the legal system to persecute his ex wife, was now planning on continuing that pursuit against his daughter. 

Jane and I also talked further about her plans for college. But of course, so much of the funds for a college education for Jane ended up being consumed by the legal system. 

Just to review some of the facts in the case, on April 5, 2004, Mr. John A. Gil won his case against Karyn Gil for parental alienating him from his daughter.  He succeeded essentially because Judge Herbert Gruendel denied Karyn the opportunity to put on the stand her expert witness, Jane's current therapist, Dr. Laura Ginther.  But then, here is the irony, six months later, after his ruling had driven Jane to the point of suicide, this very same judge allowed Dr. Ginther to testify to the effect that there was no parental alienation in this case. 

More notable is that fact that the judge then decided to terminate permanently John Gil's visitation with his daughter. 

There were other factors involved in that decision such as the judge was sick and tired of Mr. Gil's game playing, but the bottom line is that, in essence, the judge reversed his ruling in the case. 

Still, the later decision reversing his orders had no impact on the earlier April 5, 2004 decision which continued on to Appellate Court where it was upheld by the judges of the Appellate Court on March 14, 2006. 

Meanwhile, in between these two decisions, on April 29, 2005 Mr. John Gil demanded that family court order a genetic test because he claimed that he was not Jane's father.  The court allowed him to undertake the test and the results indicate that he is, in fact, Jane's father.  

And this is the absurdity of the situation.  Here is a man who acknowledged on the record that he had never bonded with his daughter.  Here is a man who chose to question his paternity of the child to the point where he demanded a genetic test.  Yet Judge Herbert Gruendel saw fit to rule that the mother had parentally alienated the child from him?  What nonsense! 

Nonetheless, on March 14, 2006 the Appellate Court reaffirmed the trial courts decision.  Of course, that was predictable since only .5% of trial court decisions ever get overturned by the Appellate Court, no matter how ridiculous.  This decision led to the next issue in the case.  As you may recall, Karyn Gil was determined to have committed parental alienation, she was judged to be in contempt of the parents' visitation agreement, and the opposing side was granted attorney's fees. 

When it came to the determination of the amount of the attorney's fees, guess who was the opposing attorney who was due to get the money?  Yes, our friend, Attorney Lou Kiefer who represented the alleged abuser, Tom Wilkerson, in the Linda Wiegand case! 

In order to determine the amount of attorney's fees to be awarded to John Gil's attorney, the case then went before Judge Herbert Barall, another familiar face.  As many of you who have been reading my blog for a while will recall, this was the notorious judge in the Linda Wiegand trial who manipulated the case and suppressed evidence, i.e. the Massomeno report, so the outcome ended up in favor of the alleged abuser.  In other words, this is a judge who has a lengthy reputation for bullying, harassing, and disrespecting the constitutional rights of the litigants who appear before him, particularly women. 

Apparently, Judge Barall held several hearings on the issue of attorney's fees in the Gil case during June 2007 and then decided to fine Karyn Gil $30,659.54 to cover a combination of the attorneys fees in the trial court case and the appellate case. 

And this is where the story gets really interesting.  Naturally, there was discovery at this point.  Then in court testimony regarding attorney's fees, it came out that the opposing side's attorney, Lou Kiefer, had established a retainer agreement with John Gil in which Attorney Kiefer agreed to charge solely $1.00 per hour as long as John Gil continued to take Karyn Gil back to court on motions for contempt.  According to their agreement, Kiefer then could collect his attorney's fees through money recovered on the basis of a finding of contempt. 

Of course, in her defense Karyn Gil argued that if Attorney Kiefer charged his client only $1.00 an hour for his services, that is all he should get.  Anything else would represent a kind of contingency agreement which is a violation of Connecticut's Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5(d)(1) for attorneys.  This is, of course, absolutely true, but you know since Karyn Gil was not the favored party in this case, she wasn't able to win that one!

Hop, skip and jump to the end of the decision, the Appellate Court upheld the award.  But, of course, when don't they support attorney and judicial wrongdoing when it comes to the nonsense that goes on in family court. 

So the retainer agreement for $1.00 per hour explains John Gil's full fourteen years and ongoing legal abuse of his ex-wife and child. 

In my case, my attorney would demand a huge chunk of money such as $30,000 on the spot for his retainer.  Once that money ran out, the attorney would come to me and pretty much say, if I don't get another $30,000, I'm no longer representing you in this case.  I had multiple attorneys, but I recall one attorney--Attorney Eliot Nerenberg (if you want to know) memorably said to me, "If you don't write me a check for another $25,000 retainer on the spot, this conversation is over!" 

Understandably, I was unable to proceed with fourteen years of litigation because my various attorneys immediately stopped working as soon as the money ran out!

In contrast, my ex-husband's attorney gave him some kind of cut rate--I'll never know because I never once saw one of his bills.  But at the same time, I never saw him sweat an attorney bill either, or attempt to solve our legal problems out of court due to pressing attorney fees like I did. 

Family court makes a show of respecting the concept of making sure that there is a "level playing field" between the parties in a family court case.  One thing is sure, however, if one party in a case is only paying $1.00 per hour while the other is paying $250 per hour or more, you certainly do not have a level playing field. 

If one party has unlimited resources because they are only paying a token amount, while  the other is paying in full for all legal services, you simply cannot begin to talk about fairness in such a case. 

Judges are absolutely aware of this, and Judge Herbert Barall was certainly aware of this when he imposed the fine of $30,659,54 on Karyn Gil.  

Undoubtedly, the Gil case represents some of the worst injustice happening in our family courts today.  It is a case of a father stalking his ex wife and daughter through the family court system, leading to permanent psychological damage for both.  And I have no doubt that the physical damage as a consequence of stress generated by this case remains an issue for Karyn Gil who was already physically disabled well before the case began. 

Judge Herbert Barall, Judge Herbert Gruendel, Attorney Campbell Barrett, and Attorney Lou Kiefer have led the charge when it comes to attacking the fundamental human and constitutional rights of women litigants in family court.  I have no doubt that Attorney Lou Kiefer used Gil v. Gil as a means of establishing a strong precedent for using Parental Alienation Syndrome as the basis for punishing other protective mothers in family court throughout the State of Connecticut.  Since I began this blog, I've received multiple reports of abuses of this kind taking place in family court.

Ultimately, the Gil case, more than any other, exposes the fundamental gender bias against mothers that penetrates into every aspect of litigation in Connecticut Family Court.  


Gil v. Gil, Part III:

Gil v. Gil, Part II:

Gil. v. Gil, Part I:

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:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


As you can imagine, writing a blog like mine, I end up hearing many stories of tragedy and suffering that have played themselves out in family court.  One case that I have found particularly striking is that of Karyn Gil v. John A. Gil.  This is a divorce case that was filed in 1999, but continued to have activity up until 2013--in essence amounting to 14 years of litigation. 

This is the classic high conflict divorce that frequently plagues family court and provides the subject matter of my website. 

I first met Karyn and her daughter, who is now attending College, when the Task Force was meeting at the Legislative Office Building last year.   Both of them were interested in providing their testimony and telling the Task Force about the injustice they suffered. 

For the sake of privacy, I will call Karyn's daughter, Jane. 

Jane pretty much told me that she is extremely unhappy with her father and that she doesn't want to have anything to do with him.  She told me of a traumatizing incident where he showed up at her high school graduation uninvited.   She said she was absolutely outraged that he came to this event without her permission.  Her primary concern which she expressed to me was how she could obtain a protective order to prevent her father from doing the same thing at her College campus and showing up uninvited again. 

Listening to her speak, I wondered what could possibly have occurred to make this young lady so adamantly opposed to having any contact with her father. 

I'm sure many of you here would think this has to be PAS.  But, in fact, I don't think this is the case.  From what I heard, John Gil did not have a relationship with his daughter well before the divorce took place.  As he acknowledged in court, he had never bonded with the child, not even before both mother and child moved out of the marital home.

What actually happened here is that this young lady basically observed her father hound her disabled mother through the family court system for 14 years, drain her Mom dry financially, and pound her with legal motions as she tried to defend herself.  Then Jane saw her father continue on to get a completely unjustified contempt judgment of approximately  $30,000.00 against her mother. 

This is my point that I make frequently in my blogs.  When these high conflict divorces occur, do the abusive parties ever consider how it appears to their children.  I mean, seriously, do any of the women think twice when they come home and say, "Boys, girls, I put your Daddy in jail today!"  Or how about the men, "Boys, girls, today I made sure Mommy won't be bothering us ever again--you won't have to have anything more to do with her.  She's out on the street."  

What this young lady saw was that her mother who is disabled and who supports herself and her daughter on a limited disability pension now has to pay considerable legal fees to defend herself and, on top of that, has a $30,000.00 or so judgment that will leave her financially insolvent for the rest of her life. 

What kind of idiot judge would issue an order like that?  Oh, I see, Judge Herbert Gruendel.   

The basis for the judgment against Karyn Gil was that she had interfered in the father's relationship with the child by restricting visitation.  In other words, this was the typical scenario  where the father uses false claims of PAS as a means to take revenge on the mother.  In looking at the specific dates noted in the Motions for Contempt where the father claimed he was denied visitation, each of them were dates where he never showed up or where he stated he didn't want to see the child.  In other words, these charges were completely fabricated.

From what Jane told me, her father was physically and psychologically abusive towards her from a very young age, so I can imagine that visitation would have been problematic from the beginning.  This is confirmed in the Appellate Courts report of  the parenting agreement which stated that "the defendant [i.e. father] would not exercise overnight visitation until the child's psychologist deemed that it was appropriate."  If you already have the child seeing a psychologist at the age of four, and there are overnight restrictions on the father's visitation, clearly there are indications that father is a problem right from the start. 

Still, once the  parenting agreement was signed in 2000, Karyn Gil must have thought that everything was all set.  This is the problem with many people who are in a high conflict divorce.  They have no idea that the seeds of decades long dissension are often embedded in that initial parenting agreement. 

What is interesting to me now that I have been in the system myself long enough is that I can immediately recognize a Parenting Agreement that is a set up for extensive and long term litigation based upon PAS right from the start.  Such agreements usually involve a visitation schedule that is confusing and extremely difficult for the residential parent to follow, and the Gil parenting agreement was no exception to that rule. 

In the Gil Agreement of 1999, father was allowed visitation two days per week.  In the footnote it states, "Under the visitation scheme, the dates and times of the visitation were to be arranged three months in advance, as soon as the defendant received his work schedule.  This scheme was later modified by stipulation of the parties so that the visitation would be arranged thirty days in advance." 

A year later, the agreement was defined further to state that defendant would have the child from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekends and from 4:00pm  to 7:00pm on weekdays.  The agreement was then modified further to state, "The defendant (father) would provide the plaintiff (mother) with his work schedule with requested days and times for visitation, and the plaintiff would respond with a list of changes based on the child's activities and other commitments." 

Say what? 

To be honest, I have never heard of a schedule like that.  So every month you have a different schedule?  Of course, this kind of visitation schedule inevitably leads to mixups and miscommunications, particularly since you have a couple that isn't getting along.  Then, sooner or later, you have mother hauled back onto the mat  in court because she is "restricting father's access to the child."  Surprise! Surprise! 

And this parenting schedule didn't have to be this way because father had a regular five days on, three days off schedule.  As he stated in court, "I know my schedule forever."  The only intent of a vague, inconsistent, hard to follow parenting schedule is to trap the protective mother and drag her back to court with false charges of PAS. 

I can guarantee you absolutely that in the vast majority of cases where there are eventual accusations of PAS, at the same time you have visitation schedules that are PAS ready in terms of being vague, inconsistent, ambiguous, easily misinterpreted and misunderstood. 

John Gil accused his ex wife of "shorten[ing his] hours of visitation and, on numerous occasions, den[ying] visitation."  Well, that is very easily done when the times change from week to week and month to month and you have a child that occasionally gets tired and doesn't want to go or else has other kid's activities to participate in that, say, run overschedule.  In particular, most children under ten prefer a regular routine and find being randomly passed back and forth from one parent to the other in these changing circumstances very stressful.  Then the kids start to act out during the exchange from one parent to another so then you have the residential parent saying, "let's do this at another time." And since the schedule is open enough for that parent to hang herself, you then have trouble and conflict.

With a vindictive father who is hell bent on litigation, this is a scenario that easily translates into long term litigation within the court system. 

What I don't get is why pick on a disabled Mom with no money to pound away at--you'd think the Court would pick on someone their own size. 

From my perspective, having spent considerable time in court in my day, my ex-husband was repeatedly in contempt for failing to adhere to agreements regarding the children, failure to pay child support, failure to respond to discovery requests--you name it, he did it.  But I was never able to get a judge to rule on a contempt motion against my ex, and I certainly was never able to get him punished or have him pay the multiple thousands of dollars it cost me in legal fees to pursue my divorce.  I'd say the vast majority of high conflict divorce cases are like this -- multiple motions for contempt, but maybe .0005% ever end up with a ruling of any kind, let alone a fine.

Yet this John Gil was able to get a contempt ruling of up to $30,000.00 against his ex wife based upon her violation of a parenting plan that is probably the most difficult to follow in the history of CT Family Court?  Seriously, how did that happen, because I would really like to replicate what he did so I could get some of my money back.


Gil v. Gil, Part IV:

Gil v. Gil, Part III:

Gil v. Gil, Part II: