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Showing posts with label KATHI SORRENTINO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KATHI SORRENTINO. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2016


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!

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.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


In an earlier blog on the Kathi Sorrentino case, I had spoken of the book "Man's Search For Meaning" in which Viktor Frankl stated that of all the many sufferings he endured in the Nazi Concentration camps, the worst he had to bear were not the physical privations, but the verbal abuse he had to put up with on a daily basis. When asked, "Why was this so?" his answer was, "Because it was so unfair." 

The context in which Mr. Frankl's words make the most sense in our Family Courts is in regard to how Judges bully and badger self-represented parties during hearings.  In ways that are very predictable, judges treat the represented party as if he can do no wrong, while judges consistently browbeat, harass, and pass judgment on the character of the self represented parties. This is one of the most unfair aspects of our corrupt Family Court system.

This phenomenon represents an ongoing, hidden disgrace in terms of how the Court treats litigants in Family Courts throughout the State of Connecticut.  In the hearing that took place on May 23, 2014, Kathi Sorrentino fell victim to the policy of abusing self-represented parties, and thus ended up losing custody of her son, Storm.

In this blog, I am referring to Judge Corinne Klatt who conducted Kathi Sorrentino's trial, but the bottom line is the techniques judges use in abusing self represented parties are well known and clearly judges discuss and share approaches.  So all of them stand guilty of the same abusive behavior, not just any single judge. 

Disregarding Court Rules:

The most common piece of nonsense Judges allow in hearings with self represented parties is to allow the opposing attorney to submit motions right when the hearing starts.  This is a violation of the due process right to know what you are being accused of in advance of the proceedings.  Thus, with Kathi Sorrentino, Dr. Eric Frazer submitted a status report that Kathi hadn't had the opportunity to see prior to the hearing.  Second, in Kathi Sorrentino's case, the judge allowed the opposing attorney to switch around the order of the witnesses right in the middle of the hearing which gave him considerable advantage.  As long as attorneys can manipulate the legal proceedings at will and a self-represented party has no recourse for that, it is unlikely that a self-represented party will ever have a fair hearing.

Often, judges will mislead self-represented litigants about court procedures as a way to disrupt their legal defense.  For instance, in my case the Judge told me that I did not have to object to decisions I disagreed with because the rules of the CT Practice Book had changed and objections were no longer necessary to preserve your right to appeal.  In fact, this was totally untrue. 

Likewise, Judge Corinne Klatt told Kathi Sorrentino that you are not allowed to object to a question that the opposing attorney posed, when in fact, of course you can.  Also, Judge Klatt told Kathi she was not allowed to object to an answer.  Ok, so you might not be able to "object" to an answer, but you can certainly expose the weaknesses in an answer during later examination.  

At other times when Kathi Sorrentino was legitimately standing up to state her objections, Judge Klatt responded with, "Please, stop interrupting." and "Stop shouting out in the courtroom."  So an attorney who objects is objecting, but a self represented party who objects is interrupting or shouting. This kind of judicial reframing of the actions of a self-represented party turns the application of a standard court procedure into a form of wrongdoing which could be punished by a contempt of court.  How can you possibly argue on behalf of your position under such intimidating conditions?  

Shouting loud commands:

Judges also bully self-represented parties by using repeated loud commands.  For instance this exchange during one part of the May 23, 2014 hearing:

Kathi:  Did I ever deny you any time during your parenting time?
Sam:  No.
Kathi: Not mine because, as you...
Sam:  No.
Kathi:  You admitted...
Judge Klatt:  All right.  All right.
Kathi: You do ask to...
Judge Klatt:  All right.  All right.  All right.
Kathi: Ok.
Judge Klatt:  He's answered the question.  You're not to argue with the witness; understand me?
Kathi: Ok.
Judge Klatt:  Ask your next question.

As I read through this transcript, I didn't see that Kathi had been arguing, but this is the point, that the Judge imposes an interpretation on a neutral situation and finds wrongdoing where there is none. 

Other behaviors like this include repeatedly going "Stop, stop, stop, stop" when Kathi Sorrentino was doing something minor like handing over an exhibit too quickly, or another variation, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!" when Kathi asked the other side to show proof in regard to a statement they made.  Or when Kathi tried to elicit testimony from her ex-husband as to why he refused to continue with court ordered co-parenting therapy, "No. No. No. No. No."  

There are also situations where a judge doesn't think you are conducting your examination fast enough as a self-represented party and after each question barks out, "next question!, next question!, next question!" as Judge Klatt did with Kathi Sorrentino.  Or consider this outburst from Judge Klatt when she didn't think Kathi was going fast enough in her examination "This is the last time, move on to the next question.  I have ordered you five times.  I've actually counted.  Five times I've ordered you to move on from that subject.  Next question or I will stop this cross examination." 

Treatment like that inevitably leads self-represented parties to feel hurried and fragmented and judges do it for that reason.  Judges also like to tell self-represented parties off for using up so much of the Court's valuable time on their miserable self-defense.  For instance, Judge Klatt: "We are not going to turn this into a three day procedure.  Please."  Or else this exchange during Ms. Sorrentino's cross-examination of her ex:

Judge Klatt:  Just ask your next question.
Kathi:  So we have it on the record that Storm is registered...
Judge Klatt:  Please ask your next question.
Kathi:  with Dr. Landis...
Judge Klatt:  Are you finished with your questions?
Kathi: Okay.
Judge Klatt:  Are you finished with your questions?
Kathi:  No.  No, I'm not.
Judge Klatt:  Please.  Then go.

Again, when Kathi Sorrentino was attempting to make her final remarks she didn't say them fast enough for Judge Corinne Klatt as the following interchange indicates:

Judge Klatt:  Other than that, what do you want to tell me because...
Kathi:  Why?
Judge Klatt: ...quite frankly, ma'am, I'm about to shut you off.
Kathi:  Why?
Judge Klatt:  We've got three minutes left.  You've taken all day.  And as I've indicated, I think that's been a deliberate behavior on your part...
Kathi:  I'm sorry.  It's not deliberate.

Soliciting or Providing Testimony Outside Judicial Role: Frequently, when judges see there are big holes in a case, they will simply find a way to get the testimony in that is necessary to throw it in the direction of the particular litigant they've decided will win.

In my case, I recall the judge asking my ex's attorney questions about some retirement accounts in my ex's name thus cluing the attorney in on what arguments to use to get my ex excused from the penalties he should have endured for not reporting them on his financial agreement. 

In Kathi Sorrentino's case, the judge intervened extensively  and simply elicited the testimony he wanted to get out of Mr. Sorrentino, rather that leaving it up to the attorneys to argue to argue their case.  If you have the judge inserting evidence into the case of his own volition, and disregarding his role as neutral decision maker, how can you possibly believe that you have a fair trial.

Direct Personal Attacks:

Then there are the direct personal attacks on the self-represented litigant's character which are the most difficult to take and are a matter of course when a self-represented party is involved in a hearing.  For instance, there is the interchange between Judge Corinne Klatt and Kathi when Judge Klatt makes fun of her for not knowing the meaning of the word "filibuster":

Judge Klatt:  This is not let's ramble on because, really, that's all you're doing.  Are you familiar with what a filibuster is?  Ma'am, are you?
Kathi:  No. No.
Judge Klatt:  You're not?  Not at all?
Kathi:  No.
Judge Klatt:  You're a college graduate, aren't you?  Or I know you're enrolled in college...
Kathi:  English and Studio Art major.
Judge Klatt:  All right.
Kathi:  And I'm in school now for...
Judge Klatt:  All right.
Kathi:  and Education major.
Judge Klatt:  And you don't know what a filibuster is?
Kathi:  No.  Not off the...
Judge Klatt:  That's where somebody keeps talking just to stretch things out without really getting to the point of the issues at hand and which is what I think you're doing to me here.

There is something inherently wrong when a Judge of the superior court thinks it is acceptable to make fun of a self represented party for not knowing the meaning of a word. 

Condemnation for being intelligent:

With women who are representing themselves, there inevitably comes a point where the Judge will comment on how intelligent you are.  I personally know several women this has happened to.  This occurs because in these cases of abuse, the Family Court racketeers particularly choose women who are intelligent because the misogynist court system, I believe, is immensely gleeful to have the opportunity to humiliate and demean intelligent women. 

Also, they are aware that bright women are very likely to fight long and hard for their children, so this means more money for everyone all around. 

In Kathi's case, as with so many others, Judge Corinne Klatt's commentary on Kathi's intelligence is predictably interlaced with insult as follows:

Kathi:  I'm confused, your honor.
Judge Klatt:  Ma'am, you know what, Ma'am?  It is my obligation to assess the credibility of witnesses and I don't think you're in the least bit confused.  You're a bright, intelligent woman that has thoroughly prepared for this hearing and I think you're deliberately presenting to the Court in a fashion that makes you--that you're attempting to tell the Court or imply to the Court that you're confused.  I am not believing you in that regard."

But then after celebrating Kathi's intelligence, albeit in a very abusive manner, Judge Klatt tries to insult that intelligence by pretending that the entire court proceeding is not a direct attack on Kathi in the following interchange:

Kathi:  What I'm sensing and I'm hearing is that--that this is about me being accused of [being] an alienator and not complying with Court orders and I'm doing what I can to show that I am.
Judge Klatt:  Well, I hesitate to accuse, ma'am.  That's -- it's an affliction.  It is not -- it is not a crime we're accusing you of.

Right, it's a mental illness not a crime, as if that matters,  because the outcome for Kathi will be the devastating loss of custody of her child.  So is Judge Klatt trying to say that Kathi shouldn't worry about it?  How irrational is that? 

Increasing the noise level to drown out the truth:

The bottom line is that whenever Kathi Sorrentino succeeded in making powerful points in her defense, which was actually quite frequently, Judge Klatt would find a frivolous reason to strike that testimony from the record.  In addition, if Kathi was pursuing a successful line of questioning that proved that she was innocent of wrongdoing, inevitably Judge Klatt would allow the opposing attorney to jump up and down with irrelevant objections and commentary, or else she herself would interject discouraging remarks and observations. 

While for the better part, Kathi was able to make her points nonetheless, I recall being completely sidelined by those kinds of distracting techniques in my day.

The represented party can do no wrong:  

Meanwhile, the represented party pretty much gets away with anything he wants.  He can provide extensive hearsay testimony, make unsupported and outrageous statements without being required to provide the slightest bit of evidence.  He can refuse to answer the questions or answer them with outright lies and get away with it.  In other words, for the person who has an attorney to advocate on his behalf, hearings like this are a breeze. 

For instance, at one point while examining Mr. Sorrentino on the stand, Kathi Sorrentino was able to point out that he had no evidentiary basis for his accusations.  Immediately, Judge Corinne Klatt rushed to his rescue stating, "Well, ma'am, to be quite frank, that -- those comments are stricken.  You want to know why?  Because I am the one who determines credibility, not you."  

A hearing solely for show:

What this adds up to is that Kathi Sorrentino's hearing on May 23, 2014 was simply for show, a casual bow to the legal requirement that the Court allow a citizen a hearing before depriving her of her constitutional right to parent.  The outcome of this hearing was already predetermined. 

But yes, given the fact that legal techniques and procedures are geared to expose the truth, it does take the active intervention of the Judge to subvert the proceedings and conclude with an entirely unjust final judgment as happened in this case. 

Many of the self-represented parties who undergo this trial by outright wrongdoing by a judge talk about how exhausted they feel afterwards.  They are exhausted by the direct personal attacks and exhausted by the constant perversion of the truth.  It can feel as though you are an exhausted boxer staggering around the ring flailing back at punches that appear to come out from all sides. 

There is nothing fair or just about such proceedings.  The fact that Connecticut Family Courts conduct such show trials is a disgrace.  With the passage of last years Bill #494 and with the upcoming Bill #5505, there is hope that we can correct these kinds of abuses.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


At the end of the hearing on May 23, 2014, Judge Corinne Klatt stated "I will find that joint legal custody between the two parties no longer works.  Case law  establishes that it only works if the parties are united in -- purpose.  Clearly, that is not the case.  Given the testimony of the parties, the evidence that's been presented today, I will issue -- I will make a finding that sole legal custody of the minor child, Storm, will rest with the plaintiff [father].  Physical residence of the child will change within the next 60 days."  

OK, well, you see this is my problem--we are talking about a change in a final judgment dated November 29, 2007. Where is the case law which allows for such a dramatic change in custody based upon a failure in "united purpose" which existed prior to and subsequent to dissolution? What does the law state about a change in custody on that basis?  

According to Crowley v. Crowley, 46 Conn. App. 87, 92, 699 A.2d 1029 (1997) and Spencer v. Spencer, 71 Conn. App. 575, 481, 802 A.2d 215 (2002) when presented with a motion for modification of custody, a court must first determine as a finding of fact whether there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of one or both of the parties since the date of the judgment.  

As anyone with a familiarity with the Sorrentino case would know Kathi and Sam Sorrentino weren't "united in purpose" before their divorce, particularly since Sam had perpetrated domestic violence against Kathi, and they were not "united in purpose" afterwards" since Mr. Sorrentino continued to legally stalk Kathi Sorrentino through the court system subsequent to dissolution as I have documented.  Further, Judge Klatt's decision was in violation of the law in regard to the modification of a final judgment because it did not make a finding of fact that there had been any change in circumstances since judgment which would justify such a modification.  

On the contrary, what Judge Corinne Klatt observed was that there was an ongoing continuation of circumstances that had always existed prior to dissolution and which continued subsequent to dissolution which is not sufficient to change a final judgment.  As a judge, you can't just say, these two don't get along right now so I'm changing custody; otherwise, the Family Court system would be flooded with post-judgment cases.

Let's hear how Crowley v. Crowley defined this need to establish a change in circumstances before altering a final judgment.  The case states, "Second, if the court finds a substantial change in circumstances, it may properly consider the motion [for modification of final judgment] and, on the basis of the § 46b- 82 criteria, make an order for modification . . . The court has the authority to issue a modification only if it conforms the order to the distinct and definite changes in the circumstances of the parties.”  

Again, I am looking, but I don't see any determination of a change of circumstances in Judge Klatt's order which could then be used to focus the Order of May 23, 2014 on that change of circumstances.  In other words, this is an order for a change in custody which has been issued in complete disregard for and independent of the law.  

But far be it from me to require a Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Connecticut to have some knowledge of and obey the law when issuing custody orders that will have a profound impact on the best interests of a child.  

For those who may not have been following my narrative of this case, let me review the factors that fell into place after the March 28, 2014 hearing such that on May 23, 2014 there was an order for a change in custody.  What occurred was that on March 28, 2014 Judge Corinne Klatt determined that Ms. Kathi Sorrentino had committed Parental Alienation.  The Court ordered Ms. Kathi Sorrentino to address her alienation issues by taking specific steps which included obtaining therapy for herself and also for Storm to address this alienation.  

May 23, 2014 was supposed to be a follow up hearing to determine whether Kathi had obeyed the order and to see how everything was going as a consequence.  The decision to switch custody, though not cited in the final order as it properly should have been, was based on the grounds that Ms. Sorrentino's condition of PAS had not improved and that Storm continued to show symptoms of PAS as well and was, according to the GAL, getting worse.  Again, this would not be in accordance with the law which requires a change of circumstances.  If PAS exists in this case now, it most certainly existed prior to dissolution and would not represent a change. 

Be that as it may, this is the point I would make.  How can any reasonable individual believe that clients in therapy can achieve dramatic changes in mental status within such a limited period of time, i.e. sixty days?  I mean, this is not like getting a tooth pulled, I think we would all agree.  Plus, Storm had a long time history of anxiety which it is only logical became worse when he was required to go for overnights with his father which he had always disliked.  This is where people like me start talking custody switching schemes!

Further, how can anyone believe in the possibility for any kind of significant improvement when the mental health illness we are talking about is not covered by insurance because it is a quack diagnosis that no legitimate insurance company or mental health professional would recognize so Ms. Sorrentino was unable to find a competent counselor who could treat her?  

This was not hidden during the testimony in this case on May 23, 2015.  As Dr. Eric Frazer himself stated, "First, there's very few qualified people who have the expertise on parental alienation that are capable of offering it within the geographical area"  Oh, so what is Kathi Sorrentino supposed to do, grow wings and fly to a place that has them?  Dr. Fraser continues, "Secondly, of the people that are qualified to provide that service none of them are on the insurance panels because it's -- it's, as pointed out, it's not considered a clinical disorder that's billable under health insurance."  

Let me just interpret what Dr. Eric Frazer just said in real terms that we can all understand.  Bottom line is Dr. Frazer is acknowledging that PAS is quack science.  As Ms. Sorrentino stated, "My insurance does not cover parental alienation therapy because according to the American Psychiatric Association it is not a mental illness."  And as she further confirmed in her testimony before the Court, at Yale Primary Care which she contacted for treatment the nurse stated, "they cannot code it because it's not a DSM-5 behavioral issue.  It's not a recognized mental illness--so they can't diagnose it."

Right, it is not in the DSM-5, the compendium of mental health diagnoses for a reason, because it isn't a disorder or a mental health condition for which you can receive treatment.  It is a political invention for political reasons formulated by extremist father's rights groups to disenfranchise and disempower mothers and steal their children.  

It is also important to note that when Kathi Sorrentino tried to point out that based upon the formulations of the people who promote PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome cannot exist in the presence of domestic violence and indicated that there was proven domestic violence in her case, the Court refused to hear it.  

Instead, Judge Klatt insisted that domestic violence directed towards Ms. Sorrentino had nothing to do with the father's relationship with the child.  After drawing that conclusion, the Court then stated to Ms. Sorrentino, since the domestic violence has no bearing on the father/child relationship, "stop talking about domestic violence."  This makes no sense.  When the father stood up in front of his wife and children and threatened to commit suicide, that inevitably affected both Ms. Sorrentino and Storm.  Unfortunately, Judge Klatt preferred to ignore the facts and the evidence, silence a victim of domestic violence, and cover the whole mess up with a false accusation of PAS.  This is standard procedure towards victims of domestic violence throughout the State of Connecticut.

Then, to compound one piece of nonsense with another, Dr. Eric Frazer continued on and stated, "any mental health treatment that's court involved is not reimbursable by health insurance carriers for that fact."  

Well, that is an outright misrepresentation.  There are some conditions where mental health interventions that the Court orders is not reimbursable, but there are many others that are. It depends upon what is being ordered (if treatment is for a recognizable condition listed in the DSM-5) and how the mental health professional presents the treatment to the insurance company for reimbursement.  

Ultimately, Dr. Frazer outright acknowledged that Kathi Sorrentino did not have the money necessary to pay for the kind of mental health treatment he felt she needed stating, "out of the qualified people none...operate and function at a rate commensurate with Ms. Sorrentino's needs."  Further, at another point in the testimony, Dr. Frazer acknowledged that in order to address the so-called parental alienation effectively, members of the family would have to have multiple sessions each week, but again said clearly Kathi Sorrentino couldn't afford that level of treatment.

Dr. Frazer also acknowledged that for Storm's treatment to be successful Storm needed to continue his treatment with Dr. Gruen.  However, he stated that Dr. Gruen was on the verge of dropping out of the case because she wasn't getting paid.  And who was court ordered to pay the bills for Dr. Gruen?  Father was court ordered to  pay them, but surprise he wasn't paying them and the Court, again, did nothing about that--no reprimands, no direct insults from the Court on the level that Kathi had to face repeatedly throughout the hearing.  

Not only that, father was supposed to be paying for health insurance for the children per court order, but he didn't bother to do that either.  Again, he was not held accountable for failing to do so, and Kathi Sorrentino was barred from providing testimony regarding that point because the Court didn't consider it "relevant".

Am I wrong, but to be considered in violation of Court Orders, in order to have a dramatic alteration in long standing custody arrangements, it should at the very least be determined that the losing party was willfully in violation of court orders, not that she just couldn't afford to obey them?  Also, if one party is going to be held accountable for not obeying court orders, shouldn't the other party be held accountable as well?  Clearly, that  wasn't going to happen in this courtroom with Judge Corinne Klatt.  

As Kathi Sorrentino testified, when she was in court ordered co-parenting counseling prior to the hearing, Mr. Sorrentino had no problem announcing to the counselor, Jane Todorski, that "he did not have to abide to these [court] orders because Dr. Frazer said he could do whatever he wanted."  Wow! And he was right too, apparently, but his behavior wasn't considered PAS.

Overall, what is troubling about this case is how the professionals involved from the Judge, to the opposing attorney, to the GAL psychologist, Dr. Eric Frazer, acted with a level of carelessness and disregard for law and for the wellbeing of the minor child, Storm Sorrentino, that I find inconceivable.

Monday, March 9, 2015


For six years subsequent to the Sorrentino divorce, Mr. Sorrentino didn't have overnights with his son, Storm.  Then just before the father filed his motion for contempt which initiated this custody switching scheme, he began to demand overnights for the first time in six years.  All of a sudden, the fact that he'd been denied overnights became the basis for accusations of parental alienation, even though Mr. Sorrentino had been in agreement with not having overnights right up to that point.  

Of course, I can understand why anyone would find a situation like this puzzling.  Why didn't Mr. Sorrentino have overnights with his child? 

My first thought was that ordinarily you wouldn't have overnights in a situation where there is domestic violence. But this was actually not the reason since our Family Courts here in Connecticut rarely acknowledge how serious domestic violence is and rarely act to protect the victims in these cases.

The actual explanation is as follows: After the divorce,  both Mr. and Mrs. Sorrentino scheduled overnights in their parenting agreement of 2007.  However, just in the natural course of events, they eventually changed their agreement in 2010 because they both came to the conclusion that it would be better for their son, Storm, not to have overnights. 

One primary reason for this was that Mr. Sorrentino didn't have a stable living situation he could bring his son to for an overnight.  Apparently, Mr. Sorrentino rented out his house, and often stayed in a home where he was house sitting.  At other times, he was living in a boarding house, or else he stayed with his girlfriend. 

As the parties' former co-parenting counselor, Jennifer Champagne, stated, "At that point in time, Mr. Sorrentino was residing in a boarding house.  And the discussion at the time was that while, again, he was interested in having time with his son, that the accommodations were making it a little challenging at that precise moment."  For instance, there was "no designated space for a bedroom at that time." 

The bottom line is that if you cannot maintain a home for your child, you can hardly complain that you are not having overnights. 

Another issue that stood in the way of overnights was Storm's disability, which father was very well aware of.  As the co-parent counselor reported in her testimony to the Court, Sam Sorrentino fully understood that Storm was not able to manage overnights stating,  "Mr. Sorrentino described [his son] as a homebody.  And it was my understanding that he [Storm] was anxious." 

The end result of the mutual understanding that both Kathi Sorrentino and Sam Sorrentino had regarding their son's anxiety was that they signed a new agreement in 2010 eliminating the overnights but continuing regular father/son contact every weekend.  This was the agreement that was in place until May 2013 when Sam Sorrentino filed a motion for contempt and acted as though the 2010 agreement didn't exist.  Then Judge Klatt manipulated the flow of information during the legal proceedings so that the very existence of the 2010 agreement never made it onto the record so she was not obligated to consider it when she made her decision regarding switching custody.  

So what does this mean that Storm was anxious?  According to Storm's school psychologist and education advocate, Rena Schine, Storm was diagnosed in 2009 by a psychiatrist as having a serious anxiety disorder.  There are more official terms for his condition, but in order to protect his privacy, I will leave it at that.  In essence, the letter stated, Storm has "trust issues, fear of staying overnight anywhere, and a need for predictability and stability."   

Rena Schine further stated, "It can be understood that Storm would be hesitant to stay overnight with his father who, since 2007, has not had stable living arrangements but rather rents out his home and lives in different houses in which strangers come and go."  She then continued on to state, "Storm has anxiety when anticipating having to have an "overnight"... otherwise he is not "alienated" from his father.  He just doesn't want to stay overnight." 

And further, "...teachers have expressed concerns over the years that reflect Storm's natural tendency to be reticent and sensitive to any kind of stress.  Anxiety has been a constant theme expressed by teachers" in regard to Storm.  

Overall, as Rena Schine's testimony confirmed and as Kathi Sorrentino also stated repeatedly in Court, Storm wasn't just reluctant to have overnights with his Dad, he was reluctant to have overnights anywhere, not even with friends.  In fact, Kathi talked about one situation where she'd agreed to have Storm stay overnight with a friend and she had to go pick him up late at night and take him home because he was so uncomfortable. 

Here is a condition that Mr. and Mrs. Sorrentino both have seen and agree exists as witnessed by their co-parent counselor, a condition that has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist, and confirmed by two mental health counselors.  It is a condition that the parties have recognized and accommodated together for six years, and now, all of a sudden father declares that it doesn't exist, that the lack of overnights are alienating him as father, and that the only reason he's agreed to it is that he was bullied by his ex wife and didn't want to make waves. 

Oh, really? 

So how do you eliminate a child's mental health diagnosis from the picture? 

Well, if you are Dr. Eric Frazer, you simply lie about it. 

When Dr. Eric Frazer took the stand to provide his testimony, he stated in outright contradiction of the facts that Storm's anxiety disorder didn't exist any more, and had not been in evidence since elementary school.  In his words, "Your Honor, may I please be heard, to hopefully enlighten the Court just on a few specifics?  So this is based on my conversation with Roger Stebbins, who is the guidance counselor for Storm at the present time.  And Mr. Stebbins informed me that the last time that there was a 504 accommodation [for Storm's anxiety] was in 3rd grade." 

He continued on in this line, "And this was brought to the attention [of the school] in 3rd grade.  It has since been successfully resolved, and Storm is functioning appropriate [ly] academically and socially in school.  And he does not have any special accommodations at the present time pertaining to any special learning needs or behavioral health needs." 

Kathi Sorrentino herself tried to correct this misrepresentation by stating to the Court, "Storm had 504 meetings not 3rd grade.  He had them up to last year."  In addition, in the light of these misrepresentations, Kathi Sorrentino asked permission to put Storm's education advocate, Rena Schine, on the stand to obtain clarification of what was actually going on. 

When asked how old Storm was when he first obtained accommodations for his learning disability of anxiety, this advocate responded by saying "Well, just roughly I'd say about 3rd grade."  When asked when those services ended she stated, "I went to meetings up through middle school..[which is] 6th, 7th, or 8th grade." 

Nonetheless, despite the testimony from two people--Kathi Sorrentino and Rena Schine--Judge Corinne Klatt went along with Dr. Frazer's outright lie, and refused to acknowledge the advocate's testimony stating, "I know you are arguing that he has anxiety, I know that I have not heard any professional opinion that he has anxiety, and I will not allow this witness [the education advocate] to render any kind of opinion on that because she does not have the experience at present, nor does she have the involvement in the case.  In other words, she doesn't know enough about the facts of this case to issue that type of diagnosis." 

However, Judge Klatt's remarks make absolutely no common sense. The bottom line is, the fact that you have been granted a 504 accommodation is evidence enough for the disability.  It's like an American Passport is sufficient evidence that you are an American citizen even if you can't produce your naturalization certificate, or birth certificate, because you can't get the one without the other.

Plus, might I just add that Judge Corinne Klatt has had no problem freely speculating in regard to Kathi Sorrentino's mental health condition without benefit of any valid psychiatric testimony whatsoever.  So I am not sure why she would have a problem with it now.  Basically, it appears as though Judge Klatt only wants to admit testimony that will go along with this pre-set custody switching scheme.

In short, as far as Judge Klatt was concerned, Rena Schine, the advocate, had participated in 504 meetings regarding Storm in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade, and yet she wasn't considered qualified enough to reveal the exact diagnosis Storm had for which she was providing advocacy? 

Well, if you say so!  But it should be clear to the Court that even if you don't put a specific label on a diagnosis, the mere fact that you have made the statement that you have one should be sufficient to trigger immediate legal mandates that the unnamed disability receive proper accommodations.

In the final moments of Dr. Eric Frazer's testimony in regard to Storm's diagnosis, Kathi Sorrentino asked why Dr. Frazer didn't believe in the existence of Storm's diagnosis and his answer was solely, "there is no rational explanation for it."  Wow, so a mental health diagnosis can only exist if there is a rational explanation for it?  I am sure that the American Psychiatric Association would find that assessment quite interesting if not outright incorrect. 

Title II of Federal ADA Law, which the Court is required to follow, as are all present attorneys, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities and protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of all state and local governments.  It adopts the general prohibitions against discrimination established under section 504, as well as the requirements for making programs accessible to individuals with disabilities  and for providing equally effective communications to those with disabilities.

The Connecticut Judicial Branch is a public entity under Title II of the ADA.  Title II of the ADA, which applies to public entities, requires that such an entity provide "reasonable modifications" in policies, practices or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of a disability unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity.  The public entity has the burden of proof with regard to fundamental alteration.  See 28 C.F.R. Sec. 35.130(b)(7).

When Dr. Eric Frazer lied about Storm Sorrentino's disability and attempted to suppress all evidence of its existence, he was directly discriminating against Storm in violation of Title II of Federal ADA law and showing deliberate indifference to the consequences of covering up the evidence of that disability.  The same can be said of Judge Corinne Klatt and also of Attorney Kevin Finch, attorney for the father, who was well aware that Storm Sorrentino has a disability.  Further, the Court is in violation of Storm's rights under Title II of the ADA because he had the right to equal access to the legal proceedings which was denied by the discrimination against him perpetrated by the GAL.  This is an issue which should be addressed immediately.