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Showing posts with label ACCOUNTABILITY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ACCOUNTABILITY. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


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.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I know that in many ways I am a person of privilege because I received a top rate education.  And it all began with my Mom. 
When I would return home from elementary school in the afternoon, my Mom would immediately insist that I sit down and do my homework right away.  So while all the other kids were outside playing, I'd be working at my homework.  And if I didn't do my homework properly or didn't appear to be showing sufficient enthusiasm for the task, my Mom had no problem reaching over the coffee table and slapping my face, or else giving me one of her favorite lines which was, "That's not good enough.  Do it again!" 
Those were the good/bad old days of the 60s.  Today I was listening to the hearing on the reappointment of DCF Commissioner Joette Katz, and I can just imagine what she'd make of my mother's behavior.  
Of course, my parents were teachers and so these kinds of high expectations regarding achievement were simply par for the course. 
My father was a Physics Professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey who mentored considerable numbers of graduate students through to their Ph.D.s which is no easy feat.  For those of you who are familiar with the process, it usually takes approximately six years to obtain a Ph.D., and it involves finding an original area of research where you can do an investigation and write up your results in a dissertation of around 100 pages or so. 
The most challenging part of your Ph.D. is when you have to do a defense of your dissertation, which means that a committee of top scholars in the area of your research meet in a Committee.  You are then required to stand before this Committee and field a broad range of questions that they level at you regarding the content of your dissertation and the significance of the discoveries you made in your original research.  You have to stand there, on your feet, and from your memory defend criticism of your ideas from all sides by some of the most elite and challenging scholars in your department. 
If you do a good job, you can then obtain approval for your dissertation and move forward to receive your Ph.D. and take your place among the self same scholars who challenged you.  Notably, some people will do the original research, write up their thesis, and then refuse to defend their dissertation--a well known example of this behavior would be the poet T.S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.  The point is that not everyone makes it because not everyone has what it takes to make it to the end.
Once I graduated from College, like many English majors I then decided to proceed with teacher training and eventually taught at a local community college here in Connecticut for 12 years. 
During my teacher training, I was subjected to classroom observation by the teacher who was mentoring me.  I also had my College professor come in and observe my work.  Both of these individuals wrote up detailed evaluations at the end of my student teaching providing feedback regarding areas of strengths and weakness and suggesting approaches to how I could improve my teaching skills. 
Eventually, I ended up before a classroom and at the end of each semester the students in my class would write up teacher evaluations responding to detailed questionnaires regarding my performance in the classroom.  In addition to that, the Chairman of the Department regularly came to my classes, observed me, and then wrote up her insights regarding my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher and submitted reports to the administration regarding my work. 
As a teacher of these young people, and as an employee of the Community College I was held accountable for maintaining a high quality of performance as an educator.  Try to be stupid or ill prepared in front of a classroom--trust me, students have no problem confronting you about that!
As a writer, I don't think you can begin to imagine the constant scrutiny that I've been subjected to from the beginning of my career.  As a student, drafting and redrafting my papers was fundamental to my process; I'd receive commentary from my professors on the margins of my papers, take them home, redo them, hand them in, receive more commentary and go through the process repeatedly until I had gotten it right. 
When it came to the first article I had published in "Glamour Magazine" years ago I recall having to write and rewrite the article at least fifteen times before the editor found it acceptable.  And even then I remember how she called me on the very day the magazine went to the printing press saying, "We need you to rewrite the final paragraph because it isn't quite right yet.  Get it to me in an hour." 
I continue to face accountability and feedback from my readership on this blog who comment all the time in regard to the content of my blogs.  If I make a misstatement or I am not accurate about my facts, or my argument is weak, you can be sure that someone reading my work will contact me and bring me up to speed. 
If you doubt me, look at some of the comments on the website yourself.  I am by no means free to shoot my mouth off.  So I may not have a single editor, but I do have 100s and 100s of very earnest persons who consider themselves in charge of me, and who follow me around waiting for me to make a mistake.  
Imagine my surprise then, to read this opinion piece by Attorney Norm Pattis, "Despite Accusations, Family Courts Aren't Corrupt".  So let me get this straight about what he was saying. 
Judge Stephen Frazzini was up for reappointment, and was undergoing a process of evaluation before a Committee to see if he met the standards for reappointment, a process very similar to a Ph.D. candidate defending his thesis, and somehow it was "disgraceful" of committee members to hold him accountable by asking him tough questions. 
I have just one thing to say and that is "why?" 
If you ask any taxpaying, Connecticut citizen, do you face performance evaluations at work, do you have to answer for the quality of your work, I'd bet the vast majority would answer "yes." 
It is part of what's involved in being a mature, adult employee. 
And yet Attorney Norm Pattis and his ilk thinks that judges and attorneys should be excused from this process? 
They are too special for that?  Again I ask, "why?" 
You see, we have laws, and one of these laws dictates that Judges must come up for reappointment before a Committee, and when they come before that Committee they must be held accountable for their actions during their prior terms.  It is supposed to be an opportunity to evaluate their performance, not just a "love-in" although the sycophancy of some members of the Judiciary Committee might make it appear so. 
Ok, so Judge Stephen Frazzini "forgot to list his membership dues in a professional organization of family lawyers and judges on a disclosure form." 
How conveniently Attorney Norm Pattis avoids naming this particular organization, the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts, which family court reform advocates have repeatedly identified as packed with the names of judges, attorneys, mental health professionals, and judicial branch employees who have been identified as associated with fraudulent billing practices, cheating their clients, perverting the law and colluding together in order to siphon massive amounts of money from unwitting family court litigants, and destroying their families. 
And how convenient that Judge Stephen Frazzini had a memory blank about his membership in that group and ended up providing false testimony to the Committee as a consequence.  If I'd been standing before Judge Frazzini in Court and had memory loss like that while providing my testimony, I doubt he'd be that merciful!  
Indeed, Attorney Norm Pattis is correct.  "There is no evidence to suggest that the Justice Department has convened a task force to investigate the corruption in the Connecticut Judicial Branch."  But how disgraceful that they have not after years during which litigants have regularly reported that the CT Judicial Branch is exploiting and defrauding family court litigants and violating the law.  And yet nothing has been done. 
I have reported on many of the details of this corruption on this website; the evidence of corruption is overwhelming.  In fact, if you talk to anyone in the family court reform movement, the first thing they will show you is the documentation of the wrongdoing that happened to him or her.
So let us not go through some pretense of talking about "principled disagreement".  There is no principled disagreement here, only judges and attorneys such as Attorney Norm Pattis who prefer to live in a childish fantasy land where they are considered too special to be held accountable for obeying the law the way the rest of us are. 
The news is, family court reform is here to stay, and like the revelers in Nathanael Hawthorne's "Maypole of Marymount" it is time for attorneys, judges, and court personnel to grow up, rejoin civilization and restore justice and order to our Family Courts.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Elizabeth A. Richter

On December 24, 2012,  I wrote a letter to Attorney John B. Hughes of the Civil Division of the Connecticut Department of Justice informing him of the fact that the Connecticut Judicial Branch does not comply with Federal ADA Law and also the Federal ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  I asked the CT DOJ to intervene in this situation and do something about it on behalf of the citizens in the State of Connecticut who have disabilities and need to obtain access to the legal system in order to obtain justice.
I stated that the Connecticut Judicial Branch is not compliant in the following areas:
1.  The CT Judicial Branch only offers reasonable accommodations not the more extensive reasonable modifications which it is required to provide under Title II of Federal ADA Law;
2.  The CT Judicial Branch has failed to appoint a Designated Responsible Employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out the Judicial Branch's responsibilities under Title II of the ADA, as required by 28 C.R.F. Sec. 35.107 (a);
3.  The CT Judicial Branch has failed to provide a meaningful grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of the ADA as required by Title II, 28 C.F.R. Sec. 35.107 (b);
4.  The CT Judicial Branch has not conducted a self-evaluation which is required under Title II of the ADA according to Federal ADA law under 28 C.F.R., Part 35, Sec. 35.105, or if it has one, it has repeatedly refused to provide one to the people who have inquired and requested a copy;
5. The CT Judicial Branch is unfairly limiting reasonable accommodations to those with visible disabilities and denying them to litigants with invisible disabilities in violation of the law.
I made these complaints based on my work as an advocate for people with disabilities where I saw that people were being denied their reasonable modifications and thus prevented from obtaining access to legal proceedings they wished to participate in.
In addition, I had my own personal experience of discrimination in the CT Family Court system under the "perceived as" category of Federal ADA law because I was being falsely accused of having a mental illness I did not have.  As I explained to Attorney John Hughes, 30 years prior to filing my divorce in 2006 I experienced an incident in which I was misdiagnosed with a severe mental illness I do not have and hospitalized for two years.  Follow up psychiatric testing confirmed that the original diagnosis was a mistake. 

However, during the course of my divorce, I faced constant discrimination based upon that old diagnosis.  In particular, I cited the fact that opposing counsel in my divorce case terrorized me with three motions to have me declared incompetent.  Not only that, because of this misperception, I was denied access to the services of the trial court such as family relations, mediation, special masters, or any meaningful participation in pre-trial hearings. 
I was also denied the reasonable modifications I required based upon a disability I actually did have--anxiety disorder--in order to participate in the legal proceedings in CT Family Court.  Thus, in 2009 and subsequently, when I ended up having to represent myself, I filed requests for reasonable accommodations--the court makes no reference in their forms to reasonable modifications, the more extensive category they are actually supposed to provide under Title II of the ADA. 

Nonetheless, despite my repeated requests, the judges ignored my requests, and the ADA contact person--not Designated Responsible Employee as required under federal ADA law--denied me the right to the assistance I needed in order obtain access to the legal proceedings taking place in my case.  I then appealed my case to the ADA Grievance Committee where the Committee denied my appeal and also did not comply with their own grievance procedures in drawing their conclusion.  Despite all these denials, eventually, in 2012, a Judge of the Superior Court granted me reasonable accommodations and acknowledged that I have a disability.  In doing so, he used the same information I'd been using all along since 2009. 

The bottom line is that from 2006 when I first filed for divorce up until 2012 when that judge signed my request for accommodations, I was denied any accommodations I needed to access the legal proceedings in my case. 
I didn't hear anything back in response to my letter to Attorney John Hughes.  He didn't acknowledge that he had received my letter or in any way indicate that he had any intention of doing anything about the civil rights and ADA rights violations I had brought to his attention.  At the very least, this was simply rude and disrespectful of a citizen of the State of Connecticut, a taxpayer who is currently funding his salary. 
Six months later, on June 10, 2013, I wrote another letter to Attorney John Hughes' boss, Attorney Deirdre M. Daly.  This time I hand delivered the letter.  The prior letter to Attorney John Hughes was sent registered mail, return receipt requested.  I decided this letter was going straight from my hand to that of Attorney Daly.  I also attached to this letter to Attorney Deirdre Daly a copy of the exact same letter which I had written to Attorney John Hughes. 

By then I had filed a Federal lawsuit against the CT Judicial Branch for the violations which I had detailed in my letter to Attorney Hughes.  I asked Attorney Deirdre Daly if her offices would be interested in filing an Amicus Brief on my behalf for my federal lawsuit.  In conclusion, I stated, "I know that I am not alone in facing discrimination and the denial of [federal ADA rights] at the CT Judicial Branch.  If necessary, I can provide you with the specific names of individuals whose experiences parallel mine.  This is an urgent and compelling matter."
In the same way that I had not heard a thing from Attorney Hughes, again I did not hear a single thing from Attorney Deirdre M. Daly in response to my request.  Not even a simple acknowledgement letter, which in my book is merely a matter of courtesy and respect to a CT taxpayer.
Another six months went by and I received a letter dated January 8, 2014 signed by both Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Attorney John Hughes, copy to Ms. Susan Skipp, another litigant who had been raising issues to the DOJ re ADA law, stating that they would be pursuing an "ADA compliance review of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch."  According the letter, "This review will examine ADA complaints that the Judicial Branch has received, the responses, and the accommodations process.  It will also examine the training that the judges and support staff receive regarding the ADA.  Included in the review will be inquiries into the family court and the divorce processes."
Ok, so as of January 8, 2015 it was a full year since both Susan Skipp and I received that letter from the CT DOJ Attorneys Daly and Hughes.  During the year both of us made repeated inquires regarding the progress of this investigation and received no response.  We also made inquiries among our friends asking them if the DOJ had approached any one of them for information and the answer, with one exception, was uniformly no. 
Since I could not get a response from Attorney John Hughes or Attorney Deirdre Daly in regard to the outcome of their investigation, or a response as to whether they would join my lawsuit with an amicus brief, on December 31, 2014 I hired an attorney to send both DOJ attorneys an inquiry regarding what they intended to do specifically in regard to the amicus brief. 
On February 5, 2015 I received a response.  Of course, I only received this response because I had hired an attorney at considerable personal expense to do so.  But I will put this aside for the moment.  Essentially, Attorney John Hughes sent an email stating his offices refused to authorize an amicus brief for the reasons as follows, "The specific issue presented in the Richter appeal is one of “perceived” disability and that is a difficult issue which Disability Rights is not prepared to recommend for participation as an amicus."
I want to bring you all here, my readership as witnesses, from what you read in this blog does my complaint solely address the issue of the "perceived as" category of Title II ADA law?  You recall, don't you, how I listed five separate areas in which I indicated that the Connecticut Judicial Branch is not in compliance with Federal ADA law.  You can recall, I assume, that I talked about the fact that the CT Judicial Branch denied I had an anxiety disorder and denied me reasonable accommodations for that disorder for six years? 

So out of this broad range of issues I presented, the CT DOJ essentially sifted through to the one issue it doesn't like to address, claims that this is the only one that exists in my complaint, and then says, "we don't want to deal with it because it is too difficult"!  Oh please, give me a break!  And remember, I first brought my concerns in 2012, and it took them up until 2015 to finally say, please don't come to us for help even though we are legally mandated to provide you with help.  Stop waiting outside our door, because it will never open.  I mean, was it that hard for the Office of Civil Rights at the CT DOJ operated by Daly and Hughes to figure out that it was going to abandon people with disabilities in the State of CT who are being denied access to legal proceedings at the CT Judicial Branch that it took three years for them to figure this out?
Now, we have a new announcement from these very same people--Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Attorney John Hughes stating that they are heading an investigation into corrupt CT government officials.  See the links below:

What is this?  A bit of public relations?  A bit of let's silence our critics by launching another fake investigation? 
At the very least, could we first get a report on the so-called investigation into the CT Judicial Branch compliance with Federal ADA law under Title II before embarking on the next investigation?  Unless the CT DOJ is going to say that the simply laughable study the CT Judicial Branch posted on its website in Nov. 2014 is all they intend to do with it.  See below:
You know, if it isn't one bit of nonsense, its another!

Many of us who have experienced this injustice from the CT Judicial Branch have been suffering for over a decade, and many more are newly embroiled in family court cases that are shot through with graft and corruption.  We had the Commission of 2002 that resulted in nothing, a task force in 2014 that resulted in flawed legislation--bill 494--which judges, attorneys and GALs are busily ignoring.  There is the ADA investigation into the CT Judicial Branch which the CT DOJ refuses to comment on, and now they've come up with another?  You will excuse me if I say I am a  bit skeptical about this.  
The bottom line is that since 2010 Attorney Deirdre Daly has been in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the CT DOJ during a time when citizens have been in regular communication with her regarding violations of civil rights and violations of ADA law.  She is the first person we should be investigating in regard to corruption based upon her do-nothing response to the outcry of the suffering people of Connecticut.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Reform Complaint Procedure for Mental Health Professionals in CT

"We are petitioning the respondents to create a Task Force to study the current process employed by the DPH in the review of complaints against mental health professionals in the State of CT and to allow public input in the review of this process and in development of any recommendations for improvement.
There are many issues with the current complaint process including but not limited to the following:

1.  DPH will routinely dismiss a complaint made by a non-custodial parent saying that the CGS does not give non-cusotdial parents access to mental health records.  However, that is not the case.  It is within the DPH's purview to subpoena those records if a legitimate concern has been raised.

2.  Once the DPH has accepted a complaint for further investigation, it will languish waiting for an outside consultant to perform the necessary standard of care review.  Many complaints will languish for years.

3.  Also, when an outside consultant is obtained to perform the investigation, these outside consultants are, in many instances, colleagues of the professional who is being investigated. It is reasonable to question whether the consultant can perform an objective investigation under those circumstances.

4.  Persons entrenched in the industry and make their livelihood from family court are involved in the complaint process and similarly calls into question the objectivity of reviews. This past year many persons testified about issues in the Family Court system of CT.  The focus was mainly on the role of GAL's.  However, these GAL's needed the assistance of mental health professionals in many instances.  These mental health professionals routinely did not follow industry standards in the performance of their duties.

Misconduct in the mental health profession with respect to family court cases has been brought to the attention of the legislature in numerous testimonies given at public hearings.  This has prompted some affected persons to pursue criminal investigations, and Federal and Malpractice Lawsuits in others.

This misconduct is not exclusive to Connecticut.  Divorce Corp, the movie clearly illustrated how pervasive this problem is nationwide.  At least one website has sprouted to help educate the public of the abuses occuring.  Please visit the following link ...

The inherent difficulties of making accurate assessments and analysis of situations is not being minimized.  This is compounded by the uncertainties associated with assessing the emotional well-being of an individual under adverse conditions associated with contentious divorces and custody battles.

However, there are clear cut industry standards of care for the mental health assessment of adults and children, especially in divorce situations.  These professionals routinely take advantage of the public's ignorance of the process and industry standard of care of such evaluations and assessments to engage in negligent conduct.  In one case, the trained mental health professional involved testified under oath that he can perform an assessment in under 3 minutes.  There are no 3 minute diagnosis standards.

These standards may include but not limited to the following :

1.  DSM-V

2. American Psychological Association Standards such as:

    a.  Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings;

    b.  Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters;

   c.  Guidelines for Assessment of and and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities;

   d.  Family Evaluation in Custody Litigation: Reducing Risks of Ethical Infractions and Malpractice;

3.  and others ...

Many times, these so-called assessments do not reference the standards with which they are suposed to use to make a true and accurate assessment.

Several advocates for Family Court reform have brought to the attention of the legislature in past testimony the need to include in the current Practice Book that will put into place safeguards against the abuse of mental health professionals in Family Courts. 

However, an impartial and honest process for processing complaints against these professionals must exist to ensure quality care is provided.

We therefore ask the respondent parties to reform the complaint process within the DPH to allow for a timely, accurate and impartial assessment of violations of industry standard of care in all disciplinary procedures.  It is crucial that a message be sent to mental health professionals, that although their charge is a difficult one, slip shod or negligent conduct is not acceptable.

Although there are many instances of misconduct by certain mental health professionals, much like recent GAL reform, it is important to note that this petition isn't an indictment of every professional but those who chose to engage in unethical behavior.  Many choose to avoid cases involving the court system to avoid being placed in a position in which their impartiality may be compromised."

To sign the petition, please click on the link below: