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Showing posts with label STACEY BLITSCH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label STACEY BLITSCH. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EMPOWER A BULLY: THE TRAGEDY OF MATHEW COULOUTE!

There are few cases that present the spectacle of the foolishness of family court here in CT quite as effectively as the Mathew Couloute versus Lauren Haiden versus Stacey Blitsch cases.  

Mathew Couloute, for those who are interested, is a native son, born and raised here in CT and said to be an associate of Gov. Dan Malloy.  An attorney and formerly a state prosecutor, Mr. Couloute is a talented, intelligent, capable if not brilliant professional with some unfortunately fatal character flaws, one being an inability to maintain a steady and law abiding career path, and the other, a complete inability to maintain a decent and courteous relationship with the mothers of his two children currently aged 11 and 5.  

These flaws have led to constant moves from state to state, several career changes, and more recently extensive and complicated litigation in CT Family Court including several custody evaluations conducted in Family Relations at both Hartford, CT and New Milford, CT, not to mention additional proceedings in other states, i.e. Florida, Georgia, and New York.  

For those of you who are interested in knowing what this case all comes down to in a nutshell, I'd say it all comes down to character.  It's so obvious, it flies right into your face and smacks you on both cheeks.  

Now, I am not saying that the two ladies involved in this case--Lauren and Stacey--are so fabulous, because no they are not.  They have gotten on my nerves many times.  

Of course, all that adds up to is a bit of irritation.  

On the other hand, Mathew Couloute?  Here is a man who has demonstrated well into his forties that he is completely incapable of maintaining a relationship with a woman for any notable period of time.  For his entire life up to this point, he has simply bounced from relationship to relationship to relationship.  Any time it gets tough for him, he just leaves and goes on to the next one.  

Of course, co-parenting children with the mothers of the children he left behind requires a little bit more "stick to it iveness" than Mr. Couloutte has been able to demonstrate thus far.  

So where is family relations on this point?  

What is interesting, of course, is that during all the family relations evaluations and court hearings that have taken place in this case, no one has actually focused in on this point, which is, of course, the most important point--the fact that Mathew Couloute is not capable of a mature, adult, respectful relationship with a woman on a long term basis.  

Furthermore, on Mr. Couloute's part, there has been a lot of demonization of his ex partners, but no specific demonstration of any intent to work with them to raise their children.  

For instance, I read Mathew Couloute's recent motions to the CT Family Court for sole custody where he goes into detail regarding his layman's understanding of Lauren Haiden's mental health condition.  What he fails to mention is that, not only has he demonstrated his severely compromised mental health condition by his manner of living his life, which is pretty obvious to anyone, but also he does have his very own record of mental health problems which, since he is a highly capable and knowledgeable attorney, he has been able to suppress from the record in the case. 

Unfortunately, this has been a big problem, i.e. the way in which Mathew Couloute has been able to play around with how the Court understands his case.  

For instance,  in the year leading up to his divorce from Lauren Haiden in 2015, he was supposed to be in therapy with a master's degree psychotherapist who was supposed to assist him in communicating more effectively with his ex wife.  In the months leading up to trial, this therapist stated that Mathew Couloute had been highly successful in his therapy and that the work they'd done together was a big success.  

But how could that therapy possibly be a success if Mr. Couloute failed to demonstrate in his life any concrete indication of improvement in his ability to communicate with the mothers of his children.  In fact, the emails sent back and forth during that timeframe, many of which were provided to the custody evaluator, demonstrate clearly the fact that Mathew Coulloute speaks to the mothers of his children in a mean, vicious, cruel, and unkind manner and is, at this time, incapable of coparenting because, so far, no one has required him to.  

Witnesses who have heard Mathew Couloute rant and rave on the phone to the mothers of his children have also stated that he is both frightening and abusive towards them.  

So far the Family Court in CT and its family relations department have maintained the position in regard to Mathew Couloute that whatever he wants to do he can do.  

For instance, it appears that up to this point Mr. Couloute has placed his son of 11 years old in 9 separate schools, almost one for each year of his life.  Is anyone going to object to that?  Several credible studies have linked school changes to serious psychiatric difficulties in children.  See link:

http://time.com/8854/study-switching-schools-may-make-your-kids-psychotic/

Anyone with a fundamental understanding of child well being should.  

Then there is the fact that when his son was four, Mr. Couloute was able to wrest custody from the mother who had been taking primary care of the child up to that point.  You'd think he would then spend more time with the child.  But no.  Instead, he continued on with full time work and gave responsibility for the care of the child to his brand new 22 year old girlfriend.  

Just in case you are wondering, I have met the boy's mother, Stacey, and she is a wonderful person, clearly perfectly responsible and capable of taking care of her child.  In fact, the court pretty much said that at the time, prior to irrationally giving the child away to the father.  

Anyway, not to take up your whole day with this, although there is so much more to say.  

Right now this case is being wrangled between the State of CT and the State of NY and I receive frequent updates on the progress of the case.  

Apparently, what led to this debacle is that after the divorce, Mathew Couloute failed to pay any court ordered child support for a year, and then last Fall 2016 he moved to Georgia, established residence, and enrolled his son in a private school.  

After a few months, given that Mr. Couloute was no longer in the State of CT, Lauren Haiden gave a notice to the court that she was leaving the state temporarily because she had no money or a place to stay.  Her father came and picked her up, along with their little girl, and they moved away to Buffalo, NY.  

She then filed for sole custody in New York state even though the State of CT has jurisdiction. Now that seems foolish to me, but that's because I've been hanging around court systems for so long.  Given that Lauren Haiden is a non-attorney, and unfamiliar with the Court, her actions should be understood as simply a product of convenience and not ill intended.

Nonetheless, in response, instead of attempting to work the situation out, Mathew Couloute returned to Connecticut from Georgia and filed a police report claiming that Lauren had fled the state with the child and that he was concerned about the child's wellbeing, blah blah.  As a result, he was able to get her arrested.   Of course, he knew she hadn't fled anywhere, but you know, if you can get away with shit, why not try?  I guess that's what he thought, and he was right.  The CT Family Court system was only too willing to snatch up the bait.

Anyway, so here we have more legal drama, more dysfunction, more hoopla, and who suffers here?  The kids, you've got it.  

The problem, as I see it, is where you give a fairly unwise and unstable individual complete authority and the ability to get away with any nonsense, while leaving the other parent helpless in the face of bad decision making and interpersonal bullying.  

What is necessary for post-divorce tranquility is that there is proper cooperation combined with an equal balance of power between the parents in order to promote an atmosphere the children can thrive in.  When you empower a bully, as the CT Judicial Branch seems readily prepared to do with this family, the spreading ripples of pain and destruction for this generation and the next are endless, and virtually unstoppable in the absence of common sense.  

Would it be possible to order therapy for the parties based upon actual facts rather than Mr. Couloute's fantasies or the highly edited statements of mental health professionals who are so low on the professional totem pole they are vulnerable to coercion?

This statement here is not my standard approach to writing a blog.  Usually, I like to have all my facts lined up in advance, and I only speak when I have everything perfectly prepared.  But it seems we have an emergency, so I'm speaking up now while the CT Family Court system has time to correct its mistakes and resolve this matter in a way that benefits the children.  I don't want it later said that I stood witness to this travesty and said nothing against it.  

This is what I have to say to CT Family Court.  It is time to stop the nonsense, to stop the politicking and grandstanding, and stop the hyperbole and do what is right for everyone concerned in this case, particularly the children.  For the better part, this includes putting the brakes on Mathew Couloute's bullying.  Enough already. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

OPEN COURT POLICIES IN CT ONLY AS GOOD AS THE JUDGES THAT ENFORCE THEM!

By Elizabeth A. Richter

There was a phase in my life where I was observing trials in Hartford Family Court so I could learn to represent myself pro se.  I was watching one such case when the mother stated that she was uncomfortable with my presence because she knew me from Church. 

As soon as she said it, I realized that she was right and stood up to leave.  Somehow, I hadn't thought of that point because I was so focused on just watching the proceedings.  I can get very single minded. 

As I turned to leave the courtroom, however, the judge stopped me and went into a lengthy explanation of why courtrooms in the State of Connecticut are open and that this litigant, the mother, had no business daring to ask me to leave.  At the end of this lengthy diatribe, the judge concluded by addressing me saying, "You may leave, if you now choose to do so."  I promptly did so.

I was thoroughly embarrassed by that situation--embarrassed for this mother who had been unfortunately reprimanded, indirectly because of my actions, and also I faulted myself for not realizing how inappropriate it was for me to be there. 

The point of mentioning this is to let you know that Connecticut has an open courtroom policy in regard to judicial proceedings--meaning courtroom trials and hearings are generally open to the public.  One exception to that would be juvenile proceedings or proceedings where the content is sealed. 

This policy reflects a national policy which is based upon our first amendment rights which have been affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  I found a very interesting discussion on this topic at the link below: 


I had a very different experience in Hartford a little over a month ago when I was in court watching a hearing in the case of Lauren Couloute v. Matthew Couloute.  Within ten minutes of entering the courtroom to listen to the proceedings, the presiding judge, Judge Jorge Simon told me to leave even though I stated to the judge that I wanted to stay and that I had a right to be there. 

So what happened to my first amendment right to open court room proceedings in the State of Connecticut which the first judge had been so eloquent in espousing? 

Essentially, both attorneys in the Couloute case orchestrated a scene, or rather coordinated together, to provide testimony to the judge which was used as the basis for removing me from the court even though it was patently false and misleading.  In essence, they accused me of violating a sequestration order which I was unaware of.

When it happened, I had no advanced notice of the arguments which would be used against me and I wasn't given any opportunity to defend myself.  Judge Jorge Simon simply ejected me summarily from the courtroom.  Underlying Judge Jorge Simon's actions was a presumption that if asked, I would have no defense and that the attorneys present could be counted on to be honest. 

Both presumptions were wrong. 

So, how did this all happen? 

It began on Thursday, April 23, 2015.  I'd actually come to court quite reluctantly.  I knew that both Attorney Michael Budlong and Attorney Ceil Gersten felt uncomfortable with me, but I was responding to Lauren's repeated statements that she wanted me there despite the fact these attorneys were unfriendly towards me.  Because of my reluctance, I ended up being quite late for the start of the morning proceedings. 

On my way into the Courtroom, I ran into Ms. Stacey Blitsch, a witness in the case who was asked to stay in the hallway until she was called.  We briefly exchanged a hello, but I wanted to get into the courtroom quickly because I knew that Lauren was waiting for me and needed my support.  So there was no discussion of any sequestration order.

For the next hour and a half, I sat and listened to Lauren provide general information under the prompting of her attorney, Michael Budlong, simply detailing how she met her ex husband and what led to the breakdown of the marriage. 

Then, Attorney Ceil Gersten received a phone call which she said was from the hospital about her son who was in the middle of a medical crisis.  The Court then made the decision that the hearing would break for lunch and we would reconvene around 2:00p.m. 

I left the courtroom, returned to my car and added more money to the meter, and then went to McDonald's for lunch.  Meanwhile, Lauren and Stacey went off together for a full two hour lunch.  Of course, these are the two only witnesses in the trial.  Yet, they are having lunch together, and still no one seems to have a problem with that, given that they could share testimony.    

When everyone returned from lunch, it became increasingly clear that both Attorney Gersten and Attorney Michael Budlong had no intention of proceeding with trial.  Attorney Budlong thrust a completed Dissolution Agreement into Lauren's hands and insisted that she sign it. 

After watching Attorney Budlong trying to push Lauren into signing the agreement for a lengthy period of time, I finally went up to Lauren and told her that she would have to keep in mind that if she agreed to sign, she would be required to state on the stand, under oath, that she was not coerced.  I asked her straight out, "Are you prepared to make that kind of statement under oath." 

Attorney Budlong was sitting next to her at the time and tried to shoo me away, but I said, "I am a friend of Lauren's and I have a right to speak to her."  At that, Attorney Budlong confronted Lauren and pretty much said she had betrayed him by being a friend of mine, and that if he'd known that he never would have agreed to represent her. 

Needless to say, there was tremendous tension, a sense that Budlong might abandon his client--Lauren--at a moment's notice if she crossed him, along with an agreement that the attorneys wanted Lauren to sign so as to avoid any necessity for trial, and me, the friend/journalist whom they felt stood in the way of that. 

Fast forward to the hearing before the judge. 

I'll tell you right now that if you are standing before the judge and an attorney calls the opposing attorney "my sister attorney" and vice versa, you can be sure someone is in trouble.  This is how the hearing started out in this case. 

Essentially, Attorney Michael Budlong accused me of violating a sequestration order which, unknown to me, had been put into place in regard to the witness Stacey Blitsch.  A sequestration order, for anyone who does not know, is an order where a witness in a case is not allowed in the courtroom in advance of his or her testimony so that court testimony cannot be influenced by that of other witnesses.  The accusation Budlong made was that while I was in the hallway, I communicated to Stacey the content of Lauren Couloute's testimony from earlier that morning.

In fact, I wasn't aware of this sequestration order because, as I said, I arrived considerably late to the hearing.  

But Attorney Budlong essentially misrepresented the situation to the judge and implied that I was aware, stating "I believe she was present when Judge Ficeto entered the order.  I checked with Attorney Gersten and she confirms that in fact she was."  Now I can't actually say that Attorney Budlong lied because he uses "attorney speak" and manages to do what I call lying without lying.  Because if you look at Attorney Budlong's statement, he prefaces his comment with "I believe..."  So he is not stating as a fact that I was present, only that he believes it to be a fact that I was present.  Then he proceeds with hearsay for which he cannot be held responsible and states Attorney Gersten "confirms" I was present. 

Continuing in this line, Attorney Budlong also stated as follows:  "During one of the recesses I found that the witness, Stacey, was talking to this lady...Elizabeth Richter...and I felt that there was enough of a substance of the discussion that could only, by implication or directly, interfere with the sequestration order." 

What nonsense!  There was no way that Attorney Michael Budlong heard anything that I said to Stacey because we mostly spoke by text, and when we did speak out loud, Attorney Budlong wasn't anywhere near us to hear anything we said; he was busy with his client. 

Furthermore, at no time after "one of these recesses" did Attorney Budlong or Attorney Gersten return to the courtroom and request that Judge Ficeto reiterate her sequestration order to make sure everyone knew about it and that  it was obeyed.  You'd think they would have, if they were so concerned!

And Furthermore, the main witnesses, Lauren Coulette and Stacey Blitsch had spent a two hour lunch together where who knows what they talked about.  I might have joined them also, were it not that I had other things to do, and certainly no one cautioned me before I left not to or told me to be careful what  I spoke about. 

Still,  I wasn't even a witness and I didn't even have testimony; I was merely an observer.  It is still unclear to me how a sequestration order pertains to a non-witness who is simply there to observe.  I certainly didn't hear either judge discuss it. 

One thing I do know is that for the last six years, I have been present at several trials of friends as an observer and sometimes as an advocate.  I have hung out during breaks with witnesses and with litigants.  I have never had any attorney ever bring up any issue regarding sequestration.  So, all of a sudden it is a concern in this case where neither attorney even intends to bother to go to trial or ask the witness to provide testimony and they already have a finalized agreement ready to go! 

I don't want to perseverate regarding  the remaining false accusations that were made to trump up a case against me, for instance, that I accused Attorney Budlong of coercing his client--no but I did say, as previously reported, that she would have to swear that he didn't coerce her--or that I walked up and down the hallway (as if they didn't do the same) glaring at the attorneys--as if they didn't glare at me. 

The bottom line is that the Judge ordered me to leave based upon fabricated and trumped up grounds and failed to conduct a proper inquiry into the truth of the matter. 

If any attorneys in a case can simply engineer the ejection of observers from a courtroom at whim by concocting a believable but false scenario, how much validity does a state law guaranteeing open courtrooms truly have? 

As a side note, I had come to observe these proceedings simply as Lauren's friend, but as a principal writer on behalf of the "Divorce in Connecticut" website, I have media credentials as well.  However, Judge Jorge Simon did not allow me the opportunity to inform him about those credentials prior to ejecting me from Court.

When I dropped by the Hartford Courthouse a few days later and directly provided Judge Simon with a copy of those credentials while he was sitting with Jeanne Hayes in the Caseflow office, he was very short and dismissive towards me. 

Judges and attorneys of the CT Judicial Branch may not wish to be held accountable by the members of the media, but this is the only way that we can protect our freedoms.  Both Judges and attorneys would be the first to protest if those freedoms, which journalists protect by their very presence, weren't available to them. 

Now I understand that I am only a citizen journalist and not a member of the traditional media, but legal professionals should keep in mind that we are the backup to the backup, and you'd be surprised how valuable we can be. 

The bottom line, though, is that it was quite educational to see how my rights as an American citizen disappeared with the snap of a finger when it came to Judge Simon.  This is just a microcosm of the kind of violations of our constitutional rights and the right to due process which occurs daily in the courts in all kinds of cases.  At bottom, our rights are only as good as the judges who enforce them.