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Monday, January 20, 2014
On Friday, January 17, 2014 several protesters converged upon Family Court at 90 Washington Street to support Ms. Colleen Kerwick who was facing a grueling Court Hearing for that day. For those who want more detail, I provided a blog on the circumstances of her case which is at the following link:
In essence, Mr. Kenneth Sorvino and his attorneys played a scam on the Connecticut Family Court system stating they could not locate Ms. Kerwick and her child and in an ex parte hearing (one without the presence of the other side) demanded an immediate change of sole custody to the father. They also persuaded authorities to issue an Amber Alert even though Mr. Sorvino had been in touch with Ms. Kerwick throughout the day. The hearing on Friday was for the purpose of examining these issues.
When we arrived at the courthouse at 90 Washington Street, court marshalls immediately came out of the courthouse and converged in a huddle, clearly worried about what the protesters would do. After several minutes of conversation, they came over to us with instructions not to get in the way of pedestrians or to accost people unnecessarily. They seemed very concerned about what we might do and stayed there for several minutes while people arrived, dropped off their posters and leaflets, and began to prepare to inform people of the travesty of justice going on within the courthouse.
It was very heartening to be there because even though we only had a few days notice, we had a considerable number of protesters there. Several protesters began to hand out leaflets regarding the many injustices that Family Court in Connecticut has been perpetrating on Connecticut citizens including denying fit parents access to their children, draining children's college accounts for bogus GAL bills, running up massive attorney bills, particularly by charging for nonsense such as "memo to file" or "reviewing the file", or iN one persons' case for parking tickets incurred during court hearings. Most particularly, citizen protesters were indignant that the Court is denying litigants their due process rights, inventing law on the spot to suit the whims of judges, and simply lying about the law in order to shut people up, and then threatening people with jail if they protest.
Several protesters stood holding posters protesting these kinds of travesties, facing the traffic so that cars passing by could read what the problems are in Family Court. Others passed out the leaflets and explained the reasons for being out there that day. Several passersby stopped to ask for additional leaflets, or to ask further questions. Many wanted to share their experiences of what family court has done to them and asked specifically for contact information so they can join further protests. All in all it was a heartwarming and positive experience for protesters to be out there and receive the kind of grassroots support and encouragement that they received.
Once the hearing began, several protesters decided to go into the courthouse and sit in the audience where they filled all the Court benches. The notorious law firm of Budlong and Barrett headed the team which had schemed to deprive Ms. Colleen Kerwick of her child with fraudulent and outright perjured court documents. In particular, Attorney Campbell Barrett, whose actions have been particularly depraved and heinous in this situation, played a lead role. Of course, this is what citizens are complaining about, that experienced attorneys of many years standing do not think twice about presenting perjured testimony to court. They do so in the certainty that they will be able to get away with it and there will be negligible consequences to themselves or their careers.
As a result, protesters then spent four hours or so watching the bulldog team of Budlong and Barrett which had ongoing coaching from other attorney members of the firm during the day who came in and out on the scene attacking a mother who represented herself and who was desperately fighting for her child. If Connecticut is not ashamed of this kind of scenario, then it has entirely lost any moral base that it might once have had. We call ourselves the Constitution State, yet we allow this kind of travesty of justice to occur? Where are our legislators? Where is the CT Bar Association which is responsible for enforcing the Attorney's Oath to speak the truth?
As the hearing proceeded, it came to the attention of protesters that Attorney Sue Cousineau, a well known GAL who is co-chairing the Task Force Involving the Care and Custody of Minor Children had seen fit to be present at this hearing, even though she had no connection with the case. It also came to our attention that at the same time, the other co-chair of the task force, Attorney Sharon Dornfeld, was observing a hearing for another family court litigant, Ms. Susan Skipp, right at the same time, again, even though she had no connection to the case. Not only that, it became evident that someone had passed over to the attorney firm of Budlong and Barrett private emails which came from the advocacy group that had been working on the task force. Attorney Campbell Barrett then proceeded to use these emails as evidence against Ms. Colleen Kerwick even though pretty much the only connection Colleen had to these emails was that her name was on the copy list. Of what relevance was Colleen's activism to the illegal activities Budlong and Barrett was engaged in?
I am indignant that Attorney Sharon Dornfeld and Attorney Sue Cousineau turned up at these hearings with the deliberate intention of terrorizing and harassing Susan Skipp and Colleen Kurwick. Activists for change in the CT Family Court have been assured that there would be no retaliation against people for their testimony at the recent task force hearings on January 9, 2014. To me, this looks like direct retaliation. Also, a few people mentioned that Attorney Sue Cousineau was signaling to Attorney Kerry Tarpey while she was on the stand and that is entirely inappropriate.
But this is not all. There is more to come! At 1:00pm the proceedings ended without a decision because this was the extent to which the Judge was able to be present that day. Once out in the corridor, Mr. Kenneth Sorvino, the father who is responsible for the legal abuse of his ex - wife, Ms. Colleen Kerwick and who is trying to deprive this good mother of her right to her child without any legal grounds for doing so, acted in a very provocative manner and the two exchanged words. Immediately, Ms. Kerwick was placed in a small meeting room and three marshalls guarded the door to prevent her from leaving while Mr. Sorvino was allowed to go free. Where is the equity in that.
For a number of hours subsequently, Ms. Colleen Kerwick was held and interrogated constantly in a small room without food or water after she had spent the entire morning on her feet defending herself. None of the protesters was allowed to sit with Colleen, not even an ADA Advocate who offered her services. Marshalls immediately confiscated cell phones when people tried to take pictures of what was going on, deleted the pictures and returned them. One protester who refused to surrender her phone was escorted from the building.
Meanwhile, three additional state troopers arrived. And remember, there was no violence here, just words that were exchanged between two hostile parties. The marshalls, the state troopers, the opposing attorneys in the case, Ms Jean Hayes, the caseflow coordinator, and even, from what I heard, Judge Ficeto cloistered themselves in the caseflow coordinator's office for a conference. When the ADA Advocate asked to participate in the meeting, she was asked to leave. It seems to me that to have a one sided meeting where no one is present to act in support of the affected party, and where the Judge, the case flow coordinator and the marshalls only hear one side of the story is extremely prejudiced and biased behavior and greatly calls into question the judgment of every person involved in this meeting.
Meanwhile, protesters who were standing in the hallways were finally able to persuade one of the marshalls to give Colleen a snack from her purse. There was considerable concern that Ms. Kerwick would end up being arrested and so other protesters called Representative Minnie Gonzalez and Representative Ed Vargas. Rep. Minnie Gonzalez arrived and spoke to the court personnel and also to protesters who were waiting nearby witnessing the abuse. Finally, the members of the firm of Budlong and Barrett, headed by Attorney Campbell Barrett emerged from the case flow coordinator's office and had marshalls escort them out in a very dramatic fashion. The day these burly guys truly have to be afraid of a 100 pound whisp of a woman whose curly blond hair probably represents half of her weight, is the day I collapse into even more giggles than I had when I watched the scene!
Eventually, after more back and forth and intervention from Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, Ms. Colleen Kerwick was released late in the afternoon and went home with family members--exhausted, but safe.
The bottom line is that Ms. Colleen Kerwick was browbeaten and verbally abused for several hours that morning, treated with rudeness and disrespect as she attempted to protect herself. These people, the attorney firm of Budlong and Barrett and court officials were dying for a confrontation and they got one.
Many people in family court, Moms and Dads, get angry and yell at each other, and they are usually taken to the side and calmed down--no one calls state troopers. This entire incident is a deliberate overreaction by court officials, it is a desperate attorney firm's attempt to discredit Ms. Kerwick and draw attention away from the real story here -- the fact that attorneys perjured themselves and lied in order to get custody of Ms. Kerwick's child illegally.
Fraud, perjury, legal abuse, lack of due process, retaliation, intimidation!
What more can we expect from family court?