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Divorce Trial Ended Before It
Started Today: Wife and Stepdaughter Shot; Police Questioning
12-05-11 -- Two New York
lawyers who were waiting for their respective clients at a
Queens courthouse apparently never started their scheduled
divorce trial today, after word reached them that police said
the estranged husband had shot his wife and his adult
stepdaughter this morning at their Astoria home.
. . . “I was in shock,” attorney Helene Sherman, who
represented the 57-year-old wife, told the
New York Daily News.
"The guy was a difficult guy, but I never thought this would
happen.” . . . She
said the husband, who reportedly is 52, had paced court hallways
during earlier hearings and been difficult even for his own
lawyer to deal with.
Judge allows suit challenging
New York same-sex marriage law
11-30-11 -- A
conservative religious group may proceed with a lawsuit seeking
to overturn New York's new law legalizing same-sex marriage, a
state judge has ruled. . . .
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a non-profit
advocacy group founded by Christian clergy, said that
closed-door talks between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican
State Senators over the hotly-debated law, which passed in June,
violated a statute requiring most meetings involving elected
officials to be open to the public.
. . . The state's Open Meetings Law exempts
"deliberations of political committees, conferences and
caucuses," which the state argued included the Senate's meetings
with Cuomo. The Christian group said Cuomo's presence made the
meetings distinct from legislative conferences.
NYS Attorney General Says
Court Ruling Does Not Endanger Same Sex Marriage Law
11-30-11 -- State
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is defending a lawsuit
against the state's same sex marriage law, says he believes
there's no danger that the law will be overturned.
. . . AG Schneiderman's office will likely be defending
the state's same sex marriage law in Court, now that a Supreme
Court judge in Western New York has sided with evangelical
Christian groups, and ruled that a portion of their lawsuit can
continue. The case won't be about the substance of the law, but
rather the procedural vote in the State Senate.
Divorcing couple ordered to disclose Facebook passwords
Judge also says they have to
share online dating site passwords
A Connecticut judge has ordered a divorcing couple to hand
over the passwords of their respective Facebook and online
dating websites to each other's lawyers.
. . .
New London District
Superior Court Judge Kenneth Shluger imposed the ruling on
Stephen and Courtney Gallion Sept. 29. The decision is
intended to aid the lawyers in the discovery process of the
case, which will involve custody of the couple's
children. Shluger said neither of the Gallions will be
allowed to view the other's websites.
. . .
Kashmir Hill of
reported that the issue was raised when Stephen
looked at his
wife's Facebook profile and found certain
evidence about her feelings toward him, the children and her
ability to take care of them.
Queens judge sentences hubby killer Barbara Sheehan to 5
years in prison for gun conviction
Lawyer calls the sentence
Hubby killer Barbara Sheehan was sentenced to five years in
prison Thursday by a Queens judge who brushed aside her
claim that she was repeatedly beaten during her 26-year
. . . "I'm confident
this will be Barbara Sheehan's only lifetime contact with
the criminal justice system," Justice Barry Kron said, but
noted that there had to be consequences for her decision to
gun down her ex-cop husband Raymond.
. . . "I'm not going
to second guess the jury verdict," Kron said. "Raymond
Sheehan was not the person on trial."
. . . Sheehan's
lawyer, Michael Dowd, blasted Kron's tough sentence in the
. . . "I'm appalled,"
Dowd cried out after the decision. "But I'm not surprised in
. . . "Noted," the
Judge Says New York’s Refusal to Issue ‘Choose Life’
License Plates Violates First Amendment
A federal judge in Syracuse has found the state of New York
violated the First Amendment when it rejected a nonprofit
group’s request to sponsor “Choose Life” license plates.
. . .
District Judge Neal McCurn ruled in favor of the Children
First Foundation, a group that supports adoption as an
alternative for women with unwanted pregnancies and
newborns. McCurn stayed the order pending a possible appeal.
Associated Press and the
Syracuse Post-Standard have stories.
Parents Buy Chickenpox-Laced
Lollipops, Have Kids Attend 'Pox Parties' to Avoid Vaccines
It looks like the kind of story that would be quickly debunked
by a search on
but as the message is being delivered by Jerry Martin, U.S.
Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, I'm going to
assume that it is legitimate. In short, parents who don't want
to get their children vaccinated for chickenpox are paying
strangers to mail them lollipops supposedly licked by people who
have chickenpox. These parents then give the chickenpox-laced
lollipop to their children to lick and hopefully contract the
virus. The idea is that after suffering through having this
self-inflicted chickenpox, the kids will then have immunity
without needing the vaccine. Wonderful! *******Beyond the
lollipop idea, the AP reports that parents are also taking their
kids to "Pox Parties" that hook kids with chickenpox up with
those who do not. There is even a Facebook group called "Find a
Pox Party in Your Area."
visitation laws raise concern
Increasingly, a wrenching
dispute is playing out in courts nationwide: balancing
parents' constitutional rights to raise their children
without interference against grandparents' desire to be
involved in those youngsters' lives.
. . . Now, a growing
number of grandparents are pushing lawmakers around the
country to change state standards they say are too
restrictive and ignore the unique bonds many grandparents
have with their grandchildren.
. . . The U.S.
Supreme Court is expected to decide this winter whether it
will revisit the issue, which it addressed 11 years ago in a
landmark case out of Washington state that makes competent
parents' wishes the guiding principle in most disputes.
St. Clair County's new domestic violence unit gaining
momentum, prosecuting more cases
At the beginning of the year St. Clair County State's
Attorney Brendan Kelly instructed his assistants about a new
way to pursue domestic violence cases.
. . . The state's
attorney's office became much more aggressive on cases where
children were involved. The office requested that law
enforcement officers arriving on the scene of a domestic
violence call start regularly videotaping the crying,
battered victims, immediately interviewing them on the scene
and videotaping the damage done to property.
. . .
Because so may
domestic violence victims have "second thoughts" after their
abusers are charged with a crime, the cases often end
without an abuser being punished.
. . .
But with the help of
the videotaped interview of a victim in distress, Kelly's
office can now successfully prosecute more cases without
having to depend on an often reluctant victim to testify.
. . .
The process, referred
to as a victimless prosecution, is working in St. Clair
9 Questions To Keep Your
Divorce Lawyer Honest
There is a lot of incentive for litigation attorneys to blow
sunshine up your skirt and tell you what you want to hear. In
that first consultation at the beginning of your case, we
lawyers are, after all, salespeople. We start with an optimistic
overview of your case, and it will be awhile before we start to
talk to you about any potential downside.
. . .
Plus, it's human nature
to decide what you want to do, and then amass evidence
supporting your position and discount evidence to the contrary.
So we're going to help you do that, particularly at the
beginning of your case.
. . . Let's face it,
nobody wants to hear bad news. But as an informed client, you
need to be prepared for whatever might happen so that you can
decide how to best handle your case.
. . .
If your lawyer is being
honest, he or she will answer the following 9 questions:
Delaying divorce to save
Conventional wisdom holds that about half of U.S. marriages end
in divorce — and that most Americans wish the divorce rate were
lower. Still, many are skeptical about whether we can lower the
divorce rate without trapping more people in bad marriages.
. . . This skepticism is
fueled by two common assumptions: Divorce happens only after a
long process of misery and conflict; and, once couples file for
divorce, they don’t entertain the idea of reconciling.
. . . We now know those
assumptions are wrong.
. . . Research over the
past decade has shown that a major share of divorces (50 to 66
percent, depending on the study) occur between couples who had
average happiness and low levels of conflict in the years before
. . . Contrary to popular
belief, only a minority of divorcing couples experience high
conflict and abuse during their marriages. Most divorces occur
with couples who have drifted apart and handle everyday
disagreements poorly. It is these “average” divorces that
research shows are the most harmful to children.
New York Lawyer, Samuel
Friedlander, Kills Wife, Children Amid Divorce
A Westchester County, N.Y., man bludgeoned his wife to death and
then shot his two children before killing himself, police said
. . .
Samuel Friedlander, 50,
appeared to have had a violent struggle with his wife and killed
her with the leg from a piece of furniture before using a
12-gauge shotgun to kill his children and himself early Tuesday
morning, police said.
. . .
Friedlander and his wife,
Amy Friedlander, were supposed to meet for a divorce proceeding
today, according to police. Their Lewisboro, N.Y., house,
advertised as having "cathedral ceilings and custom built-ins"
on over an acre of wooded land in "sought-after" Michelle
Estates, was up for sale with an asking price of $799,000.
Unable to pay child support, poor parents land behind bars
Judges can jail alleged
defaulters — who are not covered by the presumption of innocence
— without a trial
09-12-11 -- It may not be
a crime to be poor, but it can land you behind bars if you also
are behind on your child-support payments.
. . .
Thousands of so-called
“deadbeat” parents are jailed each year in the U.S. after
failing to pay court-ordered child support — the vast majority
of them for withholding or hiding money out of spite or a
feeling that they’ve been unfairly gouged by the courts.
. . .
But in what might seem
like an un-American plot twist from a Charles Dickens’ novel,
advocates for the poor say, some parents are wrongly being
locked away without any regard for their ability to pay —
sometimes without the benefit of legal representation.
. . .
Randy Miller, a
39-year-old Iraqi war vet, found himself in that situation in
November, when a judge in Floyd County, Ga., sent him to jail
for violating a court order to pay child support.
. . .
He said he was stunned
when the judge rebuffed his argument that he had made regular
payments for more than a decade before losing his job in July
2009 and had recently resumed working.
. . . “I felt that with
my payment history and that I had just started working, maybe I
would be able to convince the judge to give me another month and
a half to start making the payments again,” he told msnbc.com.
“… But that didn’t sit too well with him because he went ahead
and decided to lock me up.”
Need an Excel Spreadsheet to
Track Sperm Donor Children? Law Prof Sees Need for Regulations
Some sperm donors have fathered as many as 150 children, a
statistic that is leading to calls for more regulation of
. . . The numbers can be
tracked through a
where families list children born through artificial
insemination and the identifying number given their sperm donor
New York Times
reports. Social worker Cynthia Daily searched the registry and
found that her child was among 150 brothers and sisters
conceived by a single donor, the story says. A sperm donor
keeping track of his children through the website learned he had
70 children and now keeps track of them on an Excel spreadsheet.
A Lesson in Locking Your
Office: Divorcing Wife Allegedly Took Documents From
Husband's Attorney's Desk
A divorcing wife may face a hearing to determine if she
should be sanctioned for allegedly taking documents related
to her case from the desk of an associate for her husband's
attorney, a Long Island judge has ruled.
. . . Supreme Court
Justice Anthony J. Falanga in Nassau County recently ruled
that following completion of a trial to set aside a
pre-nuptial agreement, plaintiff wife, E.C.-P., could face a
hearing to determine whether she looked through confidential
work product during a June meeting and if sanctions were
. . . P.P., Ms.
C.-P.'s husband, pressed for a striking of her pleadings, an
award of $7,000 in attorney's fees related to the instant
motion and a $10,000 sanction. He also sought to restrain
Ms. C.-P. from discussing or using any information allegedly
obtained in the documents.
Tragic Death of Tot After Hard-Fought Custody Case Leads to
Call for Disbarment of Dad’s Lawyer Sib
Stunned by the recent death of a 2-year-old girl at the
center of a hard-fought California custody case, observers
wondered what might have been done differently to prevent
the tragedy. Although the case is still being investigated,
news reports indicate Madeline Layla Samaan-Fay likely died
as a result of a murder-suicide by her father, Mourad “Moni”
Samaan, 49. Their bodies were found over the weekend.
. . .
The deaths, which may
have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning while the two
were in a sports utility vehicle, followed an award of
custody to the girl's mother, Marcia Ann Fay. She is
well-known as a deputy to state Attorney General Kamala
Harris, recounts the
. . .
Following news of the
deaths, Samaan's father and brother reportedly blamed what
they called a corrupt court system for the custody award.
But it was additional comments made by the brother, who is
an attorney, that provided an unusual focus for public
outrage. In a television interview with Fox News, lawyer
Nabil Samaan, who apparently did not have a role as an
attorney in the custody case, implied that his brother had
The Lawyer, the Stockbroker,
the Ex-Wife, and the Widow
is about as plain vanilla an event as I could imagine. Ah, but
the most excruciating, complicated lawsuits often arise from the
most common of circumstances, as you are about to see.
. . .
In 1994, Newman
Trowbridge Jr., an experienced lawyer, opened an IRA naming his
wife as beneficiary. The IRA was opened at the predecessor of
Capital One Investment Services LLC, and the account was
subsequently “inherited” by registered representative Rick E.
. . .
By 1999, Trowbridge and
his wife divorced after bitter and protracted proceedings.
Trowbridge remarried, deleted his ex-wife as his designated
beneficiary on several of his financial accounts — including his
law firm's profit sharing plan — and substituted his estate as
beneficiary. Trowbridge rolled over the balance of his profit
sharing plan into his IRA, which quadrupled the balance of the
. . .
In 2009, Trowbridge
unexpectedly died, and his widow (also the estate executrix)
obtained a court order requiring that all account holders pay
funds over to the estate. Notwithstanding the order, Capital One
paid the IRA balance to Trowbridge's ex-wife, whose name had
never been removed as the named beneficiary.
Divorce blog's rancor erupts in free-speech dispute
He launched the website in 2007, Anthony Morelli says, as a
space for him to vent.
. . . And its URL
left no doubt about the subject:
. . .
ThePsychoExWife.com - a place of no names, only acronyms,
but plenty of wicked description.
. . . "Imagine, if
you will, Jabba the Hut, with less personality," he blogged
about his ex. "She spends her time . . . drinking her days
away bemoaning her victim status, when she isn't stuffing
the children with fast food, buying them toys, or pushing
them towards the TV or computer."
. . . Flush with
biting vignettes and e-mails from the Doylestown resident's
epic custody fights with PEW - his shorthand for Psycho
Ex-Wife - the site became an online hit among other
disaffected inhabitants of Splitsville.
. . . Divorced men,
and often their new consorts, chimed in with domestic horror
stories of their own.
. . . Then PEW found
out. And Allison Morelli wasn't happy.
. . . The 42-year-old
Hatboro woman, calling the site "heartbreaking" and
potentially harmful to their cyber-savvy sons, ages 12 and
9, wants it permanently shuttered.
. . . Now Anthony
Morelli, 43, finds himself at odds with yet another woman -
this one wearing a black robe - and girded for an appellate
showdown over his First Amendment rights.
. . . At a June 6
custody hearing, Bucks County Court Judge Diane Gibbons
ordered him to "take down that website" and never again
refer to his ex-wife "on any public media" or mention his
children online "other than 'happy birthday' or other
significant school events."
. . . She might as
well have ordered world peace.
Tennessee high court makes divorce easier, cheaper for some
Starting Sept. 1,
Tennesseans without minor children or pension plans will be
able to file for divorce without lawyers, using
“plain-language” forms approved today by the Tennessee
Supreme Court provided they agree on the terms.
. . . The court
adopted a new rule creating the forms for uncontested
divorces and making them acceptable in courts across
Tennessee effective Sept. 1. They’re accompanied by
easy-to-read instructions, including what will happen in
court and what not to wear there. (“No shorts. No tank tops
or low-cut tops. No crop tops that show your belly.”)
. . . The rule and
forms were recommended in January by the Access to Justice
Commission, which the Supreme Court appointed to study how
to improve access to justice, especially by people with
lower incomes. The court received public comments on the
issue, then agreed to enact the rule and forms.
New Tennessee simple divorce form
Questions raised over
investigation into divorce hearing
07-25-11 -- A Channel 4
I-Team investigation has found a Memphis judge never disclosed
during a divorce proceeding that his staff had police
investigate the woman at the center of the divorce because the
staff feared she had threatened to kill the judge. . . . Judge
Jerry Stokes continued to rule during the case, despite a state
law that reads a judge shall disqualify himself if his
impartiality is reasonably questioned. . . . According to police
records, Stokes even considered recusing himself from the case,
but ultimately decided not to recuse himself. . . . Danielle
Malmquist, a former Nashville resident, is the woman Stokes'
clerk feared had plans to kill the judge. . . . But Malmquist
had no idea about any of it until after the judge had already
ruled in her divorce. . . . According to Memphis police reports,
the judge's clerk heard from a detective working for Malmquist's
estranged husband that Malmquist had plans for Stokes and she
was going to find someone to kill him. . . . So the clerk filed
a police report and investigators began looking into the alleged
threat. . . . Police spoke to the judge - and indicated in
internal reports - that Stokes was considering recusing himself.
. . . Police ultimately found the claim of a threat was baseless
and dropped the case. . . . "Did you ever threaten this judge?"
asked WSMV chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley. . . .
"Never," Malmquist said. . . . "Did you ever say anything that
would have made him think you intended to cause him harm?"
Finley asked. . . . "No, I did not," Malmquist said. . . .
Malmquist said she even remembered during one hearing that
Stokes asked her to remove her coat. . . . In court filings,
Malmquist's attorney later wrote that his client believes the
judge feared Malmquist was hiding a weapon of some sort.
A family's saga ends in hugs
Judge orders 6 children given
back to couple who were living in storage shed
07-21-11 -- Prince
and Charlomane Leonard sat together in a Houston courtroom
on Wednesday, anxiously waiting for a judge to decide their
family's fate. With hands clasped tightly, the couple
occasionally whispered to each other, biding the time before
their turn to approach the bench.
. . . Unknown to
them, in the lobby on the other side of the court's double
doors, their six children also were sitting, waiting and
hoping that their family would all be together again.
. . . It had been
more than a month since Child Protective Services
caseworkers found the family living in an eastside storage
shed and removed the children from their parents' custody,
citing unsafe living conditions as the reason. Since then,
the couple, who said they'd never been apart from their
children for a night, were able to see them for only six
hours a week.
. . . "I just already
feel like I've missed so much," Charlomane said as she sat
in the courtroom.
. . .
After about an hour
of uncertainty, the judge finally told the couple they could
have their children back and go home with them that day.
. . .
The Leonards walked
out of the courtroom, smiling as their children — ranging in
age from 2 to 12 - rushed toward them, calling out to their
parents and huddling for a long family embrace.
The New Battleground of Child
Custody Reform: Shared Parenting
07-19-11 -- Child custody
and support laws have become more onerous over the last 50 years
due to fewer parents staying together and women becoming equally
as capable as men at earning a living outside the home. Instead
of reflecting these changes, the laws have lagged behind,
continuing to favor mothers over fathers. The laws generally
award primary custody to the parent who spent more time at home
with the children and less time working, even if the difference
was miniscule. The other parent is then ordered to pay a
crushing amount of child support, sometimes on top of alimony.
In a small percentage of situations, usually where the father
was the primary caregiver, this situation is reversed and the
laws punish the mother.
. . . ******* Although a
few small changes have been made to the laws within the last few
years, due to exposure and the
of advocacy organizations, there has not been significant
progress. According to the U.S. Census Bureau,
of custodial parents are mothers, a figure that has not changed
Poor-but-happy family says
government took six kids because of poverty
07-11-11 -- From the
outside, it's a storage shed — just 12 feet by 25. But inside
the stark corrugated steel walls 35-year-old Chalomane Leonard
has made a home for her husband and children. Neatly folded
clothes sit on homemade shelves next to canned goods, textbooks
and board games. Beaming faces peer out from family photographs.
. . . "It's comfortable," Leonard
the Houston Chronicle, because it is full of love. . . .
Leonard's "poor but happy" life was upended last month when
Texas Child Protective Services took her six children into
custody. The decision has raised questions about whether the
government agency punishes families for living in poverty. . . .
CPS was created in the early 1970s to get battered children out
of danger. On a national level, though, substantiated reports of
physical and sexual abuse have declined by more than half. Now,
nearly three-fourths of maltreatment investigations are based on
neglect — with poverty as an underlying issue, The Salt Lake
. . . "Child Protective Services won't be effective until it
becomes Child Poverty Services," Richard Wexler, executive
director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform,
told the Tribune. "That doesn't mean you have to eliminate
poverty to eliminate child maltreatment — though whoever does
the first will come closer than anyone else to doing the second.
You can make enormous strides simply by ameliorating the worst
effects of poverty."
Judge rules use of GPS to
track a cheating spouse is not an invasion of privacy
Beware, all you cheating husbands and wives. . . . The use
of a GPS device to track your whereabouts is not an invasion
of privacy in New Jersey, a state appellate court panel
ruled today. . . . Based on the battle of a divorcing
Gloucester County couple, the decision helps clarify the
rules governing a technology increasingly employed by
suspicious spouses — many of whom hire private
investigators. . . . “For the appellate division to say that
it’s not an invasion of privacy is a wonderful thing for the
private investigation business,” said Lisa Reed, owner of
LSR Investigations in Flemington. “It’s been something we’ve
been haggling over for some period of time.”
Alabama's top court overturns
law granting grandparents limited visitation rights
By Eric Velasco -- The Birmingham News
The Alabama Supreme Court has
ruled against a state law giving grandparents limited visitation
rights. . . . An Alabama law granting grandparents limited
visitation rights was declared unconstitutional Friday by an
Alabama Supreme Court majority that said the law clashed with
fit parents' right to decide what's best for their offspring. .
. . Seven justices voted to declare the Alabama Grandparent
Visitation Act unconstitutional. Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and
Justice Jim Main dissented, saying the Jefferson County judge
who originally awarded the grandparents visitation had ruled
correctly. . . . The case, in which all parties are identified
only by initials and trial court records are sealed, arose from
an intra-family dispute. After the parents denied access to the
children, the grandparents filed a petition in 2007 under the
Grandparent Visitation Act, which allows visitation if it is in
the child's best interest. A trial court-appointed
representative recommended visitation, and the trial judge
agreed. . . . The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reversed the
trial judge in 2010, but upheld the constitutionality of the
grandparent visitation law.
Wyoming Supreme Court
reverses same-sex divorce ruling
The Wyoming Supreme Court on Monday unanimously reversed a
district court ruling, allowing a same-sex couple to obtain a
divorce in Niobrara County. . . . District Judge Keith Kautz of
Niobrara County earlier dismissed the 2010 divorce petition of
Paula Christiansen against Victoria Lee Christiansen for lack of
jurisdiction. . . . The women were legally married in Canada in
2008. . . . The Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice
Michael Golden, made clear the court’s decision only addressed
the divorce issue. . . . “Nothing in this opinion should be
taken as applying to the recognition of same-sex marriages
legally solemnized in a foreign jurisdiction in any context
other than divorce,” Golden wrote in a footnote. “The question
of recognition of such same-sex marriages for any other reason,
being not properly before us, is left for another day.”
5 dead, 1 wounded in Yuma,
Ariz., 'divorce gone bad'
Five people were shot dead and one was wounded this morning in
and around Yuma, Ariz. Police say the shootings are connected. .
. . Update at 7:10 p.m. ET: Slain attorney Jerrold Shelley
represented the ex-wife of gunman Carey Hal Dyess in their
divorce case, the Associated Press reports. . . . Dyess' former
wife may be among the four people he killed, but their
identities have not been released. . . . AP says court records
show Dyess was involved in two civil court cases, one in Yuma
and one in nearby Wellton. A judge issued a 2006 protective
order against Dyess in one case, which a court clerk said
stemmed from Dyess' wife divorcing him. . . . AP notes that
Shelley was one of the lawyers representing seven young men --
three sets of brothers -- who sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Tucson after accusing a priest of repeatedly raping them when
they were children.
Judge orders California to
boost foster payments
A federal judge has ordered California to increase payment rates
immediately to thousands of foster parents, noting that it has
been more than 2 1/2 years since he ruled that the state's
reimbursement levels failed to cover the costs of raising a
child. . . . State officials "have now had a full and fair
opportunity to come into compliance with federal law. They have
not done so," U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco
said Friday. . . . He told the state Department of Social
Services to raise its rates to levels specified in a UC Davis
study of foster children's needs, which the state commissioned
in response to the court case. For a child up to 4 years old,
the reimbursement would increase to $609 a month from $446.
Rates are higher for older children, and would climb to $761
from $627 for youths ages 15 to 19. . . . Payments would
increase further each July to reflect rises in the cost of care.
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Deal of the Day at Heartland America
'Wheel of Fortune' jackpot split 50-50 in divorce
Scott Dole might have won
$51,600 on "Wheel of Fortune," but the number dwindled to
$25,800 on Wednesday, a judge decided.
Scott Dole might have won $51,600 on "Wheel of Fortune," but
the number dwindled to $25,800 on Wednesday, a judge
decided. . . . Dole and his wife, Carrie, were embroiled in
a contentious divorce battle over, in part, Dole's winnings
on the hit game show. The issue was whether the money was
community property, and, therefore, should be subject to the
state's community-property law mandating equal separation of
assets, or whether it was just Scott Dole's property. . . .
The husband and wife went to trial Wednesday before Clark
County Superior Court Judge James Rulli. Testimony took most
of the day. . . . Rulli decided that even though Carrie Dole
had filed for divorce well before the show, the couple were
reconciled at the time of filming, so the winnings were
Fake lawyer bilked parents fighting for custody
A homeless Federal Way man claimed to be an attorney to
defraud parents locked in custody battles, King County
prosecutors contend. . . . Filing felony charges earlier
this month, prosecutors claimed Arnold “Arnie” Newman, Jr.,
maintained a website offering attorney services and bilked
at least two people out of thousands of dollars. . . .
Prosecutors note that Newman – also known as Michael Leonard
– is not a licensed attorney and had been told by the state
Bar Association to stop offering legal services through the
organization Parents Against Parental Alienation, or PAPA. .
. . “The defendant is currently homeless and living out of
his car, and the defendant was recently released from … King
County Jail on a civil contempt of court charge,” Deputy
Prosecutor Jill Yamamoto said in court documents.
Lawmakers see support
broadening for major alimony system changes
Alimony payment laws could be dramatically revamped under a
proposed plan that would lay out in state law for the first
time specific guidelines on the levels and duration of
payments to former spouses. . . . Critics of the current
system say it is inconsistent and arbitrary and leaves many
without redress even if their financial situation
deteriorates. The changes would also curb “lifetime”
alimony, something reform advocates say Massachusetts judges
award too often. . . . Alimony reform has come up in the
past, but the recession pushed it to the top of the priority
list, lawmakers involved in drafting the bill said. The
Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hear testimony on the
proposed changes Wednesday afternoon.
Norfolk lawyer loses
license for hiding income in divorce
A three-judge panel has revoked the license of a Norfolk
lawyer for misconduct during his personal divorce case. . .
. The panel found that Mark Kantro hid $161,000 in income
from his former wife during their divorce, according to
civil court records. . . . Allan Zaleski, a lawyer for
Kantro, said he planned to appeal. . . . The discipline is
unusual because the facts related to the revocation are from
a personal divorce, not mishandling a client's case, Zaleski
said. . . . "This had nothing to do with his performance" as
a lawyer, Zaleski said.
Keep it Cool With Daily Deals
Bill would secure child custody for active military personnel
Enlisted Ohioans would no longer have to face a loss of child
custody when deployed for military service, under legislation
passed by the Ohio House. . . . Substitute House Bill 121 would
provide court protections for military men and women and ensure
contact with their children while on active duty. . . . The
legislation passed the Ohio House last week on a unanimous vote
and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
Hackensack firm slapped with $950,000 judgment for releasing
passport in international custody case
A prominent Hackensack law firm was hit with a $950,000 judgment
on Tuesday for improperly releasing the passport of a young girl
whose mother took her to Spain, setting off a bitter
international custody dispute. . . . Walter Lesnevich, a partner
at the Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich firm, however, said the
girl’s mother, Maria Jose Carrascosa, is the one who bears the
responsibility for illegally taking the child to Spain. . . . He
said a hearing will be held in Superior Court in
in the next few months to apportion responsibility between the
firm and Carrascosa. . . . Tuesday’s verdict stemmed from an
acrimonious matrimonial dispute that dates to 2004 and stretches
across the Atlantic. Carrascosa, a native of Spain, was
separated from her husband, Peter Innes of Hasbrouck Heights,
after a five-year marriage that year. . . . Innes said he filed
for divorce that same year, and the two signed a parenting
agreement in October 2004 to take care of their only daughter,
Victoria, who was 4 at the time.
QDRO, What? Is That a Four
05-09-11 -- There were
more than 87,000 divorces filed in Florida alone in 2010. If
your friend, neighbor or loved one is in a divorce, ask them,
“How is your QDRO going?” Then ask them to read this article. .
. . In response to a request from a reader below our column
All Attorneys Know the Law,
this column is about that dirty little term, known as a QDRO. .
. . QDRO is short for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. . .
. Let me set the stage: You are in a “dissolution of marriage”
action, commonly known as a divorce, and you are entitled to a
share of your spouse’s retirement account. You receive a final
judgment dissolving your marriage and mail it to the former
spouse’s company asking for your money. Your spouse’s employer
says, “Nope, you are not entitled to your money until you comply
with our rules!” . . . WHAT? A judge entered a court order
saying this was your money, and this company thinks it has the
right to ignore the judge? The company can establish its own
rules? . . . Impossible? Absolutely not. . . . This may seem
like an isolated issue applicable only to a select few of the
community. However, consider the following: there were more
than 87,000 divorces filed in Florida alone in 2010, according
to the Florida
Office of State Court Administrator.
SAVE AT AMERICAN
Ex-Marine Beats Wife During
Divorce Hearing in Judge's Chambers
Paul Gonzalez grabbed his wife,
knocked her out with one punch, and continuted punching her in
the side of the head
04-16-11 -- Happily ever
after ended with a stun gun Friday morning for an ex-Marine who
attacked and beat his wife in a judge's chambers during their
final divorce hearing. . . . Fort Lauderdale resident Paul Henry
Gonzalez Jr., 28, beat Catherine Ann Scott-Gonzalez so severely
that, according to her boyfriend, she was held overnight in
intensive care at Holy Cross Hospital to monitor brain swelling.
. . . The 23-year-old mother of two, also a former Marine,
suffered a broken nose, torn lip, and facial fractures,
boyfriend Brennan Worsencroft told the South Florida
Sun-Sentinel. . . . The shocking scene unfolded when Gonzalez
balked at paying child support and disagreed with Judge Ronald
Rothschild's visitation ruling. Angry, he stormed in and out of
chambers, before suddenly re-entering, grabbing his estranged
wife around the neck, and repeatedly punching her in the side of
Couple Making $39K a Year
Reels in Shock at Call from Preparer: They’re Getting a $54K Tax
04-01-11 -- Even their
tax preparer, the owner of H&R Block in North Carolina, couldn't
believe her eyes. . . . But a couple making $39,000 annually who
have adopted five children in recent years qualifies for a
$54,000 tax refund. That's because an adoption tax credit of
$13,170 became refundable this year. Hence, David and Thelma
Ward will be paid the amount left over after the credit is
applied to their tax bill, reports
. . . Thelma Ward says she was so overcome by the news of the
refund windfall that she had to hand the phone to her husband.
Editorial: The keys to the
03-25-11 -- When someone
can be sent to jail indefinitely, without being convicted of
committing a crime, he needs a lawyer. . . . Far too many
“deadbeat dads,” and a few moms, find themselves in that
position. They can be held in contempt of court for failing to
pay child support and kept behind bars until they come up with
some money — no matter how long it takes. . . . Nearly two
decades ago, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled those delinquent
parents are entitled to a lawyer, at state expense if they can’t
afford one themselves. . . . The Supreme Court in South Carolina
takes the opposite view. It ruled last year that a man
imprisoned for contempt “holds the keys to his cell door and is
not subject to a permanent or unconditional loss of liberty”
because he can go free as soon as he complies with the court
order. Therefore, the state has no obligation to provide him
with an attorney. The South Carolina case was appealed to the
U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments Wednesday.
Abortion battles spring up
nationwide as states test the limits of Roe v. Wade
03-21-11 -- In Ohio on
March 2, two fetuses "testified"
before the Ohio House on behalf of the so-called "heartbeat
bill." The hearing room was packed with spectators who listened
to the rapid, gentle pulsing of the heartbeat from a 15-week old
fetus, and the barely audible heartbeat of a nine-week old
fetus. . . . Ohio's "heartbeat bill" would ban abortions in the
state as soon as a heartbeat could be detected, with exceptions
for medical emergencies. But while a heartbeat may make for
compelling "testimony," even most anti-abortion rights activists
the "heartbeat bill" wouldn't hold up in court. . . . So why
push this bill? Some anti-abortion activists may answer, why
not? . . . The anti-abortion rights movement last year found
itself in a set of circumstances that have all worked to advance
their agenda. Most importantly, states across the country
elected new, emboldened conservative politicians. Hundreds of
anti-abortion rights legislators and a net of 12 new
anti-abortion rights governors were elected, according to
Americans United for Life. . . . Meanwhile, a set of news-making
events in the past year -- such as the passage of health care
reform and video of the
conservative "sting" on
-- galvanized conservative activists. National leaders are
more vocal than ever
on the issue. And a possibly sympathetic swing vote now sits in
the Supreme Court. . . . "It's been kind of a perfect storm of
sorts," said Dan McConchie, vice president of government affairs
at Americans United for Life.
Idaho Lawyer Gunned Down
After Filing Client’s Divorce
03-14-11 -- Emmett
Corrigan, a 30-year-old Boise, Idaho, lawyer in practice since
October, was shot and killed Friday, allegedly by a man whose
wife was Corrigan’s employee. . . . The shooting took place in
Meridian, a Boise suburb. The suspect, Robert Hall, allegedly
confronted Corrigan over “domestic issues,” Meridian Deputy
Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea told the
reports that Corrigan filed divorce papers on behalf of Hall's
wife the day before he was killed. Hall reportedly believed
Corrigan was having an affair with his wife, who was Corrigan's
California Family Courts Helping Pedophiles, Batterers Get Child
Peter Jamison in SF Weekly.
03-02-11 -- While the
above linked article is more than interesting and educational it
has produced such a high volume of responses that the writer,
Peter Jamison, is addressing them today as noted below: . . .
Thanks to Victims-of-Law reader,
Julia Cotton. for her email alert to us to the article:
In light of the high volume of responses to
SF Weekly is devoting an entire page in the 3/9/2011
print edition to letters and comments. The page also
contains a response I wrote to your reactions. For
online readers, my response is republished here: . .
. Readers' response to
has been energetic and -- as the letters above
indicate -- mixed. Much of it has ignored the
premise and factual assertions of the article. While
they are clearly presented in the story, I will
restate them here. . . . In specific, documented
cases, California's family courts have awarded child
custody to parents criminally convicted of abusing
their children or former spouses. In these cases, a
common problem was evident: inadequate protocols for
investigating accusations of abuse, or an
unwillingness to investigate them at all. Such
lapses reappear in family courts in different parts
of the state. . . . Many readers have taken issue
with my characterization of the disputed
psychological theory positing the existence of
"Parental Alienation Syndrome." This theory --
invented by the late Richard Gardner, a psychiatrist
who believed adult-child incest was normal and that
American society punished pedophiles too harshly --
asserts that allegations of child abuse, and
specifically sexual molestation, are often false and
made maliciously as a litigation tactic. In one of
the four custody cases examined in "Illegal
Guardians," this theory was invoked to discredit a
mother's accusations against a man who was later
convicted of sex crimes against children. In light
of such an outcome, its use in the courtroom
deserves scrutiny, and should be of concern to men
and women alike.
Regards, Peter Jamison, Staff Writer SF Weekly”
Survey Shows Facebook an Increasing Factor in Divorce
Written by Dave Bohon, The
A recent study by a group
representing America’s divorce lawyers has revealed that the
social networking phenomenon Facebook may be responsible for up
to 20 percent of divorces in the nation. . . . According to the
American Academy of
more than 80 percent of the nation’s divorce attorneys say they
have seen an increase in the number of cases over the past five
years in which evidence has been drawn from social networking
sites. In fact, 66 percent of attorneys said that for cases that
do include evidence culled from such websites, Facebook is by
far the biggest gold mine of information, followed by MySpace at
15 percent, and Twitter at five percent. A 2008 survey by the
Pew Internet and American Life Project found that one in five
adults has used Facebook for flirting. . . . Christopher
Melcher, a Los Angeles family law attorney, said that anything a
spouse might post on his or her personal Facebook page is fair
game as evidence in a divorce proceeding. “In court, they put on
their best face, but their true beliefs and character are often
unmasked in their social media communications,” said Melcher.
“One client, who thought she had a solid marriage, found out
that her husband had been matched on eHarmony with her friend,
claiming his status to be ‘single.’”
High court to decide if
parents 'forfeit' rights
02-25-11 -- The Supreme
Court is set to hear a case that could limit the rights of
parents and students in public schools when government officials
come knocking. . . . According to John Whitehead, president of The
Rutherford Institute, the
case before the high court will determine whether a state human
services caseworker and deputy sheriff violated the rights of a
nine-year-old Oregon girl in 2003 when they removed the child
from her classroom, without parental consent or a court order,
to question her about allegations of parental abuse. . . . "She
was left alone with the sheriff for two hours, and he
interrogated her, trying to get her to say that her father had
sexually molested her. She became visibly sick...that night...
[and] the mother later filed a lawsuit," Whitehead accounts.
"This has wiggled its way up through the court of appeals. The
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the parents,
saying this is an unreasonable search and seizure under the
Fourth Amendment. And now, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to
hear this case."
Divorce Lawyers Tell Twisted
Tales of Valentine’s Day
02-09-11 -- The phones
are ringing off the hook for divorce lawyers on the day after
Valentine’s Day. . . . New York City divorce lawyer Nancy
Chemtob tells the New York Times
blog that November and December are slow months because no one
wants to get divorced during the holidays. January is busy. And
then there is the day after Valentine’s Day. . . . “The phone’s
ringing off the hook,” Chemtob told the publication.
Can This Marriage Be Saved?
Two Spouses, Both Lawyers, Each Hate Practicing. What to Do?
02-02-11 -- Two married
lawyers who both hate practicing are at the brink of divorce as
they battle over which one should work at a legal job to pay
both of their student loans, putting the other spouse on a path
toward the career of his or her dreams, recounts
a post today
. . . A law graduate and licensed social worker, psychotherapist
Will Meyerhofer is working with the husband in this couple's
conundrum. However, he sympathizes with the wife, too, who says
it would crush her soul to continue in practice. She wants to go
to graduate school to study art. If she can't, she'll move back
home with her parents.
Illinois civil unions signed
Same-sex couples will get many of
the same rights as married counterparts
01-31-11 -- For the first
time in Illinois history, gay and lesbian couples will be
afforded many of the same rights as their married counterparts
under landmark legislation signed into law Monday. . . .
Illinois is now the sixth state to recognize civil unions or
domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Another five states
and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. . . . Gov. Pat
Quinn signed Illinois' sweeping new legal protections Monday
afternoon before a jubilant standing-room crowd at the Chicago
Cultural Center. . . . "We believe in civil rights, and we
believe in civil unions," Quinn said. "We believe in liberty and
justice for all."
Tort Defense Lawyer Contends
MySpace Smiley Faces Are Damning Evidence
01-28-11 -- Tort defense
lawyers are increasingly seeking access to plaintiffs’ private
social media pages in hopes the contents will provide evidence
of fakery. . . . Two state courts recently granted broad access
to private portions of social media sites, and a federal court
did the same in 2009,
reports. In one of the cases, a defense lawyer allowed access to
private posts had claimed that smiley faces and talk of a
vacation show a tort plaintiff is happy and mobile. . . .
a New York judge granted lawyer James Gallagher access to the
private materials in a personal injury suit filed over a fall
from an office chair at work. Gallagher had argued that MySpace
smiley faces posted by plaintiff Kathleen Romano are evidence of
happiness, and talk of a Florida vacation by her daughter
indicate Romano isn’t homebound.
Judge orders state paternity
Federal jurist determines lawsuit
over Social Security number rule could succeed
01-28-11 -- A federal
judge has ordered state health officials to stop denying
unmarried parents an easy way to designate a child's legal
father if one or both parents lack a Social Security number. . .
. U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled Thursday that
there was enough evidence to show a lawsuit challenging the
constitutionality of the policy could succeed, and she issued a
preliminary injunction to stop the practice until the case is
resolved. . . . The lawsuit was filed against the Indiana State
Department of Health by a group of families whose immigration
status does not allow them to get Social Security numbers, said
Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union
of Indiana, which is representing the families.
Judge slams gag order on N.J.
Homeschooling Christian parents
not allowed to talk to WND
01-21-11 -- The N.J.
Superior Court in Morris County has placed a gag order on the
parties involved in the N.J. Division of Youth and Family
Services case against Christian homeschooling parents John and
Carolyn Jackson. . . .
As reported yesterday
by WND, DYFS took the five
Jackson children away from their parents on April 16, 2010,
citing an imminent danger to the children after the youngest,
2-year-old Chaya, was hospitalized. The parents have been
fighting in court to regain custody. . . . According to a source
who asked not to be named, the judge hearing the case, Michael
Paul Wright, imposed the gag order Wednesday afternoon upon the
request of DYFS. WND called DYFS to inquire about the case early
Wednesday afternoon, and posted a news story on the WND website
early Thursday morning. . . . Army Maj. John Jackson confirmed
to WND today that he is under a gag order and is no longer
allowed to talk to the media about the case.
ABA Brief Supports Right to
Counsel for Civil Contempt Defendants Facing Possible Jail Time
01-12-11 -- The ABA
argues in a Supreme Court amicus brief that poor people should
have the right to a lawyer in civil contempt proceedings
carrying a threat of jail time. . . . The petitioner in the
case, Michael Rogers,
served a year in prison
for failing to pay child support. The South Carolina Supreme
Court ruled the sentence was coercive, rather than punitive, and
Rogers had no right to a lawyer. . . . According to the
(PDF), the ABA has concluded that low-income persons should have
a right to counsel in adversarial proceedings where basic human
needs are at stake, such as those involving sustenance, safety,
health, or child custody determinations. The rationale
underlying this position also supports a right to counsel in
civil contempt cases where an indigent defendant faces possible
jail time. ****** The case, previously captioned Turner v.
Price, is now Turner v. Rogers.
has more details and documents.
NJ Lawyer Slammed Over
Alleged Fake Time Sheets, Improper Client Relationship
01-12-11 -- Uh oh,
another episode of Lawyer Behaving Badly to get you caught up
on, LBers. . . . A New Jersey disciplinary board has recommended
a lawyer be disbarred after he was accused of producing false
time sheets, billing dates as potential client meetings and
engaging in a sexual relationship with a divorce client. . . .
Kenneth M. Denti allegedly filed false time sheets while
employed at Fox Rothschild at its Princeton, N.J., office, and
later at Margolis Edelstein, according to an opinion issued
Tuesday by the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Review
Board. Both firms separately reported him to the review board.
You can read the opinion
and a post by ABA Journal
. . . “Because respondent engaged in a premeditated, continuous
and extensive fraudulent scheme, thereby displaying a deficiency
of character, we recommend his disbarment,” the board found. . .
. In addition to the time sheets, Denti allegedly billed meals
with women he was dating to Margolis Edelstein and allegedly
engaged in a sexual relationship with a divorce client, which he
and the client denied, according to the opinion.
Death of Female Partner Puts
Cozen Firm in Center of Same-Sex Marriage Comity Case
01-10-11 -- The death of
a female partner of Cozen O'Connor has put the law firm in the
center of a dispute over a cutting-edge same-sex marriage
issue—whether a marriage that is legal in one jurisdiction
should be recognized as valid in another in which the parties
would not have a right to wed. . . . After Sarah Ellyn Farley,
37, died of cancer in September, her parents contended that they
are entitled to her profit-sharing account. However, her wife,
Jennifer Tobits, to whom she was legally married in Toronto in
2006 also is claiming that she is entitled to the proceeds of
the account, according to a
obituary and a
article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).
Tax Counsel to House Panel Is
Targeted in Protest for Refusing Ex-Wife a Religious Divorce
01-04-11 --- A tax lawyer
for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee has
become a high-profile target in an unusual public dispute over
his refusal to give his ex-wife a religious divorce. . . .
Although Aharon Friedman, 34, is civilly divorced from Tamar
Epstein, 27, after only a few years of marriage, still at issue
is his reported refusal to agree to give her a Jewish divorce
decree called a get. Without it, she can't remarry within the
Orthodox faith, reports the
New York Times
Illinois gives 'gays' civil
Analysts say provisions put
homosexuals on par with traditional couples
A new civil union law being implemented in Illinois puts
homosexuals and traditional opposite-sex couples on the same
legal footing and also recognizes "gay" marriages from states,
legal scholars and activists are telling WND. . . . "The
Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act" likely will go
into effect next June in the one-time Land of Lincoln, now the
adopted home of Barack Obama and a state laboratory for
progressive politics for several generations now. . . . Gov.
Patrick Quinn, a Democrat who won a narrow victory over
Republican Bill Brady on Nov. 2 after inheriting the office when
Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office, is poised
to sign the bill [SB1716] in January. . . . Brady opposed the
bill, and lost the election by about 12,000 votes, with the
margin of victory coming from the city of Chicago. . . . The
bill, a long-time goal for lake-front activists in Chicago's
Hyde Park and Lincoln Park, was a player in the gubernatorial
election, but only was passed during a lame-duck session of the
Illinois General Assembly. . . . "Yes, civil unions are the
equivalent of marriage under Illinois law," Peter Breen, an
attorney with the Thomas More Law Society, a Chicago-based,
non-profit law firm that litigates for traditional values and
causes, told WND. "Sections 10 and 20 of the new act make that
Taking Sides in a Divorce,
Michelle Pont and her husband amassed millions of dollars in properties
and investments from a freight-hauling business that they
started with a single stake-bed truck in 1991. They bought a
four-bedroom home, then a second home, a vacation home, a motor
home and half a dozen cars. . . .
But when Ms. Pont decided to
seek a divorce last year, she quickly ran out of money. She had
no job. Her husband controlled the family’s investments. A few
months of legal bills maxed out her credit cards and drained her
retirement account. . . .
She wrestled with accepting a smaller settlement than she considered
fair. Then a lawyer referred her to Balance Point Divorce
Funding, a new Beverly Hills lender that offers to cover the
cost of breaking up — paying a lawyer, searching for hidden
assets, maintaining a lifestyle — in exchange for a share of the
winnings. . . . In
October, Balance Point agreed to invest more than $200,000 in
Ms. Pont’s case. . . .
“It’s given me hope,” Ms. Pont said. “I don’t view it as a loan;
I view it as an investment in my future. They are helping me to
get what is rightfully mine.”
Remanufactured iRobot Roomba Starting at
iRobot is a
Court says county doesn't
have to pay for mistake
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Los Angeles
County does not have to pay attorney fees to a couple listed as
child abusers even though they were declared innocent years ago.
. . . Craig and Wendy Humphries were arrested by sheriff's
deputies nine years ago after their rebellious daughter accused
them of abuse. State courts ruled the allegation was false but
they remain on California's Child Abuse Central Index. . . . In
2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco
found the system unconstitutional because there's no way for the
innocent to clear their names. It ordered the state to come up
with a new system and the county to pay $60,000 in attorney fees
to the Humphries. . . . The high court reversed and remanded
that decision, saying Los Angeles County does not have to pay. .
. . Los Angeles County argued that it could only be held liable
and pay damages if a county policy or custom caused a violation
of a constitutional right under a 1978 Supreme Court decision in
Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services.
Lawyer assaults wife in court
A lawyer reportedly gave a judge probable cause to grant an
order of protection by beating his estranged wife in court
Friday morning. . . . Will County Sheriff’s spokesman Pat Barry
said the 43-year-old woman had gone to Judge Marilee Viola’s
third-floor courtroom for a hearing against Robert W. Goldsmith,
48. . . . “It appears Mr. Goldsmith was not pleased with the
outcome of the hearing,” Barry said. “He made a derogatory
comment about his wife as they were walking out, then grabbed
her by the hair and began punching her in the face — knocking
her to the ground.”
Supreme Court justices
involved in gay marriage ruling not retained
Three Iowa Supreme Court justices are out. . . . In a historic
Tuesday vote, whose margin grew wider as the night wore on, a
little more than half of Iowa citizens voted not to retain all
three justices. . . . David Baker, Michael Streit, and Marsha
Ternus were all ousted by about 54 percent of the votes. . . .
“The electorate just poured sugar down the gas tank of the
judicial system, and it’s going to take a whole lot of work to
keep there from being permanent damage,” said University of Iowa
law Professor John Whiston. . . . While such a vote isn’t
unheard of, he said, it isn’t common. . . . “It’s just extremely
disappointing,” said 6th District Chief Judge Patrick Grady. . .
. The unprecedented campaign to remove the justices, appointed
by both Republican and Democratic governors, began after a
decision legalizing gay marriage in the state.
Editorial | 'Parsing an absurdity'
11-16-10 -- It's almost
impossible to justify the action taken by the Cabinet for Health
and Family Services to block a Louisville judge from ordering an
investigation to protect the safety of a juvenile before his
court. . . . Family Court Judge David Holton has been sued after
he ordered an investigation by Child Protective Services of the
living conditions of a 15-year-old defendant, “J.W.,” whose
father and brother were believed to be in the Victory Park
“Crips” gang. The father is “allegedly in possession of
firearms.” . . . An attorney for the cabinet, Erika Saylor, told
The Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson that the case was one of
judicial vs. administrative power. It's up to the agency to
determine which cases it will investigate, not up to a judge,
she said. . . . Veteran child welfare advocates disagree, and
they make good sense. David Richart, president of the National
Institute on Children at Spalding University, termed the
cabinet's objections “bewildering.” That the cabinet would
object to being ordered to investigate a child's welfare, he
said, “is beyond common sense.” . . . Mr. Richart noted that for
at least a generation, juvenile court judges here have ordered
abuse and neglect investigations and the cabinet has carried
Pa. House approves changes to child custody system
11-16-10 -- The state
House of Representatives has sent to Gov. Ed Rendell a bill that
would change Pennsylvania's system for deciding child custody in
cases of separation and divorce. . . . Rep. Eugene DePasquale,
D-York, said his legislation is intended to ensure that both
parents are treated equally in the child custody system. . . .
Under his bill, DePasquale said courts would be prohibited from
assuming that custody should be awarded to a particular parent
based solely on gender.
Judge blocks Okla. amendment
banning court use of Islamic law
11-08-10 -- A federal
district judge has issued a temporary restraining order to block
an amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution that would
prohibit state courts from considering international or Islamic
law when deciding cases. . . . The amendment was approved by 70%
of voters last Tuesday. . . . The order today by Judge Vicki
Miles-LaGrange will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing,
the Associated Press reports.
Court Backs Tennessee in
Felon Voting Rights Case
11-03-10 -- The 6th
Circuit upheld a Tennessee law requiring convicted felons who
have served their time in prison to pay all restitution and
child-support obligations before they can vote again. . . .
"Certainly, Tennessee possess valid interests in promoting
payment of child support, requiring criminals to fulfill their
sentences, and encouraging compliance with court orders," Judge
Cook wrote for the 2-1 majority. . . . Cook said the challenged
conditions of re-enfranchisement "bear, at a minimum, a direct
and rational relationship to the advancement of those
interests." . . . Three convicted felons in Tennessee said the
state violated their constitutional rights by forcing them to
pay restitution and child support in order to have their voting
rights restored, even if they lacked the money to do so.
Hearing The Other Side of Child Custody
Divorced parents find their voice
at a workshop about shared parenting issues in Hinsdale.
10-28-10 -- A Hinsdale
divorced mother was finding little cover as she tried to
navigate the emotional minefield of divorce. She was frustrated
that she had neither a voice in post-divorce custody matters nor
a safe haven in which to share her story. . . . She knew there
were other parents like her, but she didn't know how to find
them. . . . "There was no real place for people to connect,"
said Donna Grote. "I noticed in the community there wasn't any
support group." . . . That's when Grote decided to take action.
She joined the Children's Rights Council of Illinois, a
grassroots, non-profit organization that promotes co-parenting
solutions for divorced parents, and brought the group to
Couple in custody battle
accused of paying judge for favorable rulings
10-23-10 -- A University
Park couple was embroiled in a costly child-custody battle at
the time prosecutors say they paid $150,000 in bribes to the
political opponent of the judge hearing their case. . . . David
and Stacy Cary were in state district court in Collin County,
fighting for custody of David Cary's twin daughters from a
previous marriage, records show. The judge in the case, Charles
Sandoval, had awarded primary custody of the girls to their
mother and issued rulings costing the Carys hundreds of
thousands of dollars. . . . In 2008, Sandoval ran for
re-election. Prosecutors allege that in the weeks before and
after the March Republican primary, the Carys paid $150,000 to a
campaign consultant for Sandoval's opponent, Suzanne Wooten. She
outspent and defeated the longtime incumbent. . . . Wooten, the
Carys, and the consultant, Steve Spencer, were indicted Oct. 14.
Each faces six counts of bribery and one count of engaging in
organized criminal activity, all felony charges carrying prison
terms if they're convicted.
Marriage Is the Key to
10-15-10 -- The attack on
the institution of marriage is not only the biggest cultural but
also the biggest fiscal issue of our times, and political and
judicial attacks by gays are only part of the problem. Marriage
is being assaulted by unilateral divorce, feminist hostility
toward marriage, the bias of family courts against fathers, and
the taxpayer-paid financial incentives that subsidize
illegitimate births. . . . Forty-five years ago, a liberal in
Lyndon Johnson's Labor Department, Daniel Patrick Moynihan,
shocked the nation with a report called "The
Negro Family: The Case for National Action."
The Great Society's welfare handouts to women were breaking up
black families by making husbands irrelevant. . . . Since the
Moynihan Report, out-of-wedlock births in the United States have
grown to 72.3 percent for blacks, 52.5 percent for Hispanics,
and 28.6 percent for whites (non-Hispanic). For the population
as a whole, out-of-wedlock births have risen from 6 percent in
the 1960s to 40.6 percent today. . . . Sounding a Moynihan-style
alarm today is
of the Heritage Foundation. He has assembled figures from U.S.
Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control data, and they are
downright scary. . . . This is not, as Moynihan indicated,
merely a black problem, and it's not just a cultural problem as
the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only, the fiscal conservatives
who disdain social issues) like to portray it. It's a very big
money problem because the government is transferring nearly $1
trillion in taxpayer-funded handouts to the 40 percent of
Americans who rely on government for all or part of their living
Defense of Marriage Act
Ruling Appealed by Obama Administration
10-13-10 -- A court
ruling declaring the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act an
unconstitutional violation of states rights is being appealed by
the Obama administration. . . . A federal judge ruled in two
cases in Massachusetts that the law, defining marriage as being
between a man and a woman, violated the right of states to
regulate marriage. The U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal
notice yesterday. . . . Massachusetts began permitting same-sex
marriages in 2004 after its highest court ruled that gays and
lesbians had a constitutional right to wed. The state sued the
U.S. over the federal law last year. The law also was challenged
by a group of same-sex couples who were married in
Massachusetts. . . . U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro in
Boston ruled July 8 that the federal law forced the state “to
engage in invidious discrimination against its own citizens in
order to receive and retain federal funds.” . . . Citing a 2004
report by the federal government, the ruling said that as of
2003, the law affected 1,138 federal programs in which marital
status was a factor in eligibility for benefits. . . . The
Justice Department had asked Tauro to dismiss both cases,
arguing that the act was “consistent with prevailing
equal-protection case law.”
U.S. attorney claimed illness
in alimony case
10-08-10 -- At the time
newly appointed U.S. Attorney Bill Killian applied to be one of
the state’s top federal prosecutors, he was arguing in court to
reduce or end alimony payments to his ex-wife because he said a
2009 diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease had and would hurt his
ability to work. . . . Now Killian, 61, says he’s not sure if
the tremor in his right hand is Parkinson’s disease, and he said
his condition is improving. . . . “It only affected my work as
a trial attorney, not in any other aspect of practicing law, if
I was required to take notes for long periods of time,” Killian
said Thursday. “It does not impair me at all doing the U.S.
attorney’s job. I am working about 14 hours today, and I assure
you, if I had Parkinson’s, I couldn’t do it.” . . . A recent
Tennessee Court of Appeals opinion says what Killian described
as a “neurological disorder” was not advanced enough to hamper
his earning potential and warrant a decrease in alimony
payments, which had been at least $4,000 a month since 2005. . .
. “[Killian] argues that Parkinson’s disease ‘adversely affects
his ability to earn a living,’” the opinion states. “It is
significant that [Killian] was not diagnosed with Parkinson’s
disease until January 2009. ... It is also relevant that, at the
time of the hearing, [Killian] had applied for the position of
United States Attorney and testified that he thought he could
perform that job.”
Ain’t No Dividing Wall High
Enough to Keep Battling Couple in Shared Home Away From
09-29-10 -- Chana and
Simon Taub love their house. But they loathe each other, the
New York Times
(reg. req.) reported in 2008, after a court-ordered wall was
constructed in thelr lavish Brooklyn home. It was intended to
allow both to continue living there in the midst of a litigation
war. . . . Already, at that point, the couple had spent more on
their hard-fought three-year-old divorce battle than they did on
their home. Bankruptcy court, civil court, family court, housing
court and New York's appellate court were all brought into the
fray, as more than a dozen lawyers argued about claims of abuse,
corruption, forgery, fraud, libel and perjury, the newspaper
Proposal would give counsel
to poor in civil court actions
Group to present petition to
Wisconsin Supreme Court
09-29-10 -- Poor people
facing serious consequences in civil court actions would get
court-appointed lawyers just like indigent criminal defendants
under a rule being proposed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. . .
. The group Legal Action of Wisconsin, which represents people
who typically can't afford their own lawyer in a variety of
civil proceedings, plans to present a petition signed by about
1,300 people to the court on Thursday. . . . The idea has been
circulating among some lawyers and social service groups for
years, said John Ebbott, executive director of Legal Action, and
274 lawyers, seven judges and two court commissioners are among
those who have signed the petition.
Battle of the Titans:
Divorce Lawyer’s Fee Suit Backfires in Bar Prez Battle
A former president of the Virginia Bar Association came out the
loser when he sued a former client for additional attorney fees
and the client fought back, using expert testimony from another
ex-bar president. . . . The lawyer who sued, Glenn Lewis, “is an
acknowledged titan of the D.C. area divorce bar,” the
Washington Post reports.
His suit backfired when another former state bar president,
Bernard DiMuro, was among the defense experts who said Lewis had
done a poor job and didn’t deserve the nearly $900,000 he had
sought in fees and interest for handling a divorce that was
resolved without trial.
District Court judge
disciplined for dragging feet on divorce lawsuit
09-23-10 -- A District
Court judge for Cleveland and Lincoln counties has been
disciplined for waiting nearly two years to file his judgment in
a civil suit. . . . The N.C. Judicial Standards Commission
issued a public reprimand for District Court Judge K. Dean Black
on Aug. 13. Black did not contest the allegations and chose not
to demand a disciplinary hearing, according to the order of
public reprimand. . . . Black presided over an equitable
distribution hearing in Kathy Lynn Sisk’s divorce from her
husband, Glenn L. Sisk Sr., in Lincoln County on July 30, 2008.
The Denver judge filed his order of judgment almost two years
later, on July 13, 2010.
His lawyers strive for damage control
09-21-10 -- At the end of
Tuesday's testimony over the disputed ownership of the Dodgers,
Frank McCourt’s lawyers scrambled to do some damage control. . .
. They cast Larry Silverstein, the lawyer who drew up the
McCourts’ marital property agreement and made a change in it
without telling them, as a “very ethical” lawyer who tried to
correct a mistake. . . . “He tried to do the right thing,”
Victoria Cook, one of Frank McCourt’s lawyers, said of
Silverstein. . . . “We have conceded from the beginning that he
should have picked up the phone and called his clients and said,
‘I made a mistake,’ ” Frank’s lawyer Steve Susman said outside
the hearing being held at Los Angeles County Superior Court
downtown. . . . Susman said Jamie McCourt’s lawyers have
overblown what Silverstein did. “They’re claiming it’s sinister
because that’s all they have.”
Lawyer finds himself in
middle of McCourts' drama
Larry Silverstein drafted
agreement with three copies saying 'exclusive' and three saying
'inclusive' in key reference to Dodgers ownership. He and firm
may face liability claim if losing party blames him.
09-19-10 -- The dispute
over who owns the Dodgers may turn on one word. It is the 12th
word of the second paragraph of the first exhibit of an
agreement signed by Frank and Jamie McCourt six years ago. . . .
If that word is "inclusive," Frank could be the sole owner of
the Dodgers. If that word is "exclusive," Jamie could be the
co-owner. . . . Three copies of the agreement say "inclusive."
Three copies say "exclusive." Frank and Jamie have both said
they were not aware of the different wording until this year. .
. . The difference in the words: two letters, and perhaps
hundreds of millions of dollars. . . . That makes the lawyer who
drafted the agreement, Larry Silverstein, a pivotal figure in
the McCourt divorce trial. Silverstein and his firm could face a
nine-figure liability claim should the losing McCourt blame him,
according to several legal experts contacted by The Times. . . .
"His competence is being challenged here," said Laurie Levenson,
a Loyola Law School professor and legal commentator. "If he's
shown to be incompetent at the trial, the next action could be
Lawyer Gives Examples of
Husbands’ Divorce Cases Undone by Facebook
09-17-10 -- One man who
claimed to be unemployed was getting alimony from his soon-to-be
ex-wife. On his Facebook page, however, he identified himself as
a business owner and described his vacations to exotic
destinations with his new girlfriend. . . . Another man in the
midst of a divorce claimed he couldn't afford to pay child
support. Yet his Facebook profile showed him sitting in a
Ferrari, taking a cruise and selling a piece of property he
owned. . . . Those two cases help illustrate how personal
information posted on social networking sites can be used
against a person in court, according to a report Wednesday on
in Boston. . . . Florida divorce lawyer John Schutz, who cited
both examples, says he's used such postings as evidence against
the posters in several divorce cases in the past year alone.
Lawyer Facing Divorce Gets
Suspended for Sending 'Hostile' Messages
09-17-10 -- An attorney
who hurled "hostile, obscene and derogatory" missives at his
wife and professionals involved in their divorce, has been
suspended for two years by the Appellate Division, 1st
Department, which rejected a three-year censure requested by
court's disciplinary staff. . . . Anthony Chiofalo, the attorney
at the center of
Matter of Chiofalo,
M-3073, married in 1990. His wife, with whom he had two sons,
filed for divorce in 2005. The case apparently has not been
resolved, according to the decision. . . . During the course of
the divorce, Chiofalo, against the advice of his own attorney,
sent written messages that the court said were "riddled with
profanities (primarily of a scatological and sexual nature)," to
his wife, her lawyers, his sons' law guardian and the law clerk
assigned to his divorce case.
Court Tosses Suit Claiming
Beveridge & Diamond Partner Squandered Marital Money
09-14-10 -- A Maryland
appeals court has handed a victory to a partner and former
managing principal of Beveridge & Diamond embroiled in a battle
with his ex-wife over alleged financial malfeasance during their
marriage. . . . The
(PDF) affirms the dismissal of Nancy Lasater’s tort suit against
her former husband, Beveridge & Diamond partner
John Guttmann Jr.
Lasater had claimed that Guttman ran up large debts during their
marriage, spending money on ill-advised real estate projects,
exotic merchandise, personal adventures and a huge collection of
filed after 25 years of marriage, had claimed conversion,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of
fiduciary duty and fraud, according to the ruling by the
Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Greensburg divorce attorney
09-01-10 -- A Greensburg
attorney says in court papers that he asked a Jeannette woman
several times if she wanted him to freeze her husband's assets
in a divorce case, and she declined. . . . Scott E. Avolio
further denies in his recent response to Tracy L. Stull's
lawsuit in Westmoreland County Court that he committed
malpractice or was negligent in how he handled her divorce
action. . . . Stull, of 420 Lafferty St., alleges that Avolio
failed to freeze about $242,855 that her husband had in a
Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System Account. . . .
That cost her $121,427 -- or half the money in the account --
when her husband removed the funds during the summer of 2008 and
spent the money "frivolously," according to Stull's suit. Les
Stull died in August 2009 at age 45.
Testimony by attorney at
McCourts' divorce trial sheds light on collapse of marriage
Leah Bishop, who drafted a
document that would have granted shared ownership of the Dodgers
to Jamie but that Frank refused to sign, describes
communications she had with the couple.
08-31-10 -- Frank McCourt
took the witness stand in his divorce trial Tuesday, a day on
which the most riveting testimony shed light on the collapse of
a marriage that lasted nearly 30 years. . . . McCourt considered
for months whether to sign a document that would have granted
shared ownership of the Dodgers to his wife, Jamie. He said no
on May 12, 2009, and later that day Jamie sent an e-mail to Leah
Bishop, the attorney who had drafted the proposed document. . .
. Bishop's response: "You have only two tools at your disposal —
a civil conversation with Frank or a nuclear bomb."
Child Support Modification
Clinic – group assistance by pro bono attorneys
08-30-10 -- With many
people experiencing job loss due to the economy, some parents
have fallen behind in child support payments. They are at risk
of having their driver’s license suspended or of being held in
contempt of court for nonpayment, thereby exacerbating their
problems. . . . Jacksonville Area Legal Aid has been inundated
with child support modification requests and simply cannot
handle the caseload. . . . Two Jacksonville area attorneys,
Marla Buchanan, a Rogers Towers attorney and chair of the Family
Law Section of The JBA, and Jamie Ibrahim, a family law staff
attorney with JALA, have teamed up to combat this
ever-increasing issue by creating a new group assistance
opportunity, the Child Support Modification Clinic at JALA.
Donald Bren doesn't owe two
adult children any more money, jury rules
An L.A. jury decides that the
billionaire Irvine Co. chairman doesn't owe Christie Bren and
David Bren retroactive child support. The trial put the
intensely private developer in an awkward position.
08-27-10 -- Billionaire
Donald L. Bren might have lost some privacy, but he won't be
losing any more of his fortune. . . . A Los Angeles jury decided
Thursday that the Irvine Co. chairman does not owe his two adult
children any more money. Christie Bren, 22, and David Bren, 18,
were seeking retroactive child support of $400,000 a month each.
They contended that out-of-court payments Bren made to their
mother were well below what would have been awarded by a family
court. . . . The long-awaited trial put the intensely private
real estate developer in an awkward position. He was forced to
look on as his children, his former girlfriend and even his own
attorneys drudged up uncomfortable details about his fortune and
private life. . . . He was described as a virtually absentee
father who never attended school events, parent-teacher meetings
or even the children's births. He was grilled about love notes
and sleepovers. His former girlfriend, Jennifer McKay Gold,
described in detail his contraception preferences.
Michael Douglas and the High
Cost of Divorce
08-26-10 -- Lawyers for
Michael Douglas and his ex-wife Diandra met in court this week
over rights to the earnings of the upcoming sequel to the
Academy Award winning Wall Street. The two divorced after 23
years of marriage in 2000, before he wed British actress
Catherine Zeta-Jones later that year. Lawyers for the
65-year-old actor said Diandra was entitled only to half the
earnings that Douglas made before their 1995 separation. . . .
The high cost of both time and money involved with a divorce can
be frightening. Divorce attorneys generally charge $75 to $400
an hour or more. This usually ends up costing families $20,000
to $50,000. In some cases, attorneys charge a flat rate,
usually between $10,000 and $25,000 for all aspects of a
divorce. An overview of lawyers’ costs and payment arrangements
can be found at both
3rd Court rules in divorce
battle over Chihuahua
08-25-10 -- Let the
clichés flow: It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Every dog has his day. A
dog is man’s best friend. On Aug. 25, the 3rd Court of Appeals
in Austin issued a memorandum opinion affirming a trial court’s
judgment that allowed Brooke Ashley Calder to keep a Chihuahua
named Clementine. Daniel Naeter Calder, who filed for a divorce
from Brooke Ashley in 2009, had appealed to the 3rd Court,
challenging a trial court’s judgment confirming that Clementine
was Brooke’s separate property. The memorandum opinion was
issued by a panel of three, including Justices Bob Pemberton and
Alan Waldrop and the opinion’s author, Chief Justice J. “Woodie”
Woodfin Jones. Jones writes that Clementine was purchased before
the marriage took place and therefore was separate, not
Donald Bren's intensely
private life becomes public as child-support trial begins
The billionaire Irvine Co.
chairman calls his relationship with a former girlfriend an
infrequent, loveless romance. She says they saw each other
frequently and cohabited for a significant period.
08-20-10 -- Billionaire
Donald L. Bren walked into a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday
wearing a suit and sneakers. His footwear may have been
comfortable, but the occasion certainly wasn't: A lawyer
representing two of his children peppered the intensely private
Irvine Co. chairman with questions about his wealth and personal
life. . . . Bren's own attorneys made the case that he's been a
somewhat absentee father in raising the two now-adult children:
no parent-teacher meetings, no school events, no sleepovers at
his house, not even a hospital visit when they were born. . . .
His children — Christie Bren, 22, and David Bren, 18 — are
seeking retroactive child support of $400,000 a month each. They
contend that out-of-court payments Bren made to their mother
when they were youngsters were well below what would have been
awarded in a family court.
Divorce Easier as New York
Law Ends Need to Lie
08-16-10 -- New York just
made breaking up easier to do, passing a no-fault divorce law
that stands to reduce long, cutthroat court battles over who’s
to blame when marriages fail. . . . The new law permits couples
to split without assigning blame for the marriage’s collapse. .
. . “There is a human cost and a financial cost” to a system
demanding fault-finding, Robert Ross, supervising judge of the
matrimonial division in Nassau County, New York, on Long Island,
said before the bill became law. “It’s hard to know what impact
a new law will have, but we do know that a grounds trial, and
the expense and delay associated with it, is not a good thing.”
. . . The passage of a bill July 1 by the state assembly sent
the measure to Governor David Paterson, who signed it yesterday,
according his office’s
Judge Transferred Over
Alleged Actions in Visitation Case Involving Sex Offender
Complaint alleges judge joked
about child pornography during custody proceeding, misstated the
facts of the case and maintained an 'inappropriate' relationship
with the father's attorney
08-13-10 -- A Suffolk
County, N.Y., judge who was the subject of a searing complaint
by a children's advocacy group has been transferred from Family
Court to the County Court's civil term. . . . A court source
called the immediate transfer "unprecedented" and an indication
of the how seriously the allegations are being taken by the
Office of Court Administration. . . . According to the
complaint, Judge Andrew G. Tarantino Jr. granted a father who
had been convicted of possessing child pornography and
third-degree rape of a minor overnight visitation of his three
children, supervised by his own parents.
(pdf) and Tarantino's
Family Judge's Rant at Pro Se
Litigant Draws Ethics Charges
08-10-10 -- Atlantic
County Superior Court Judge Max Baker has been hit with ethics
charges for allegedly launching into a tirade against an
unrepresented family court litigant who complained about a
child-visitation schedule he ordered. . . . The heated invective
called into question Baker's ability to remain impartial,
Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct counsel Candace Moody
alleged in a
complaint made public Friday.
. . . The outburst allegedly took place during a hearing last
Dec. 31 on cross-complaints for restraining orders brought by
Michael and Dana Pilla, both of whom were pro se. After granting
Dana's request for an adjournment to obtain counsel, Baker
inquired about the couple's minor child and visitation.
Ypsilanti attorney suspended
08-03-10 -- The State of
Michigan Attorney Discipline Board reported Monday that its
Washtenaw County Hearing Panel #1 suspended Ypsilanti attorney
Daniel E. Hunter from the practice of law in Michigan for a
period of 270 days effective July 30, 2010. . . . The panel
found, by default, that Hunter neglected a paternity and child
support matter, failed to act with reasonable diligence, and
failed to keep his client reasonably informed about the status
of the matter and comply promptly with reasonable requests for
Same-sex split damages court
It's possible that Monday's state Supreme Court ruling, which punted
a gay marriage case to the lower courts, was correct procedurally.
But much of the immediate fallout has little to do with whether or
not same-sex couples ever get the right to marry in New Jersey. . .
. The 3-3 ruling one seat is vacant is clearly a setback for
advocates who filed the case, claiming that the state's civil unions
are not equivalent to "marriage." But given that the Supreme Court
didn't really judge the merits of the advocates' arguments, the
decision may well have dealt a bigger setback to the reputation of
the high court itself. . . . The situation was kicked off this
spring when Gov. Chris Christie refused to renominate John E.
Wallace Jr. for a tenure as a justice (even though he'd have to
retire in two more years, anyway). Then, state Senate President
Stephen Sweeney, miffed that Christie had dumped a worthy justice
from Gloucester County, refused to slate a confirmation hearing for
the governor's replacement nominee, Anne M. Patterson. Thus far,
Christie and Sweeney have not budged from their corners.
N.J. Supreme Court declines gay marriage case filed by six same-sex
In a split decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court has declined to
hear a case from six same-sex couples seeking the right to marry,
saying the case needs to wind its way through the lower courts
first. . . . “This matter cannot be decided without the development
of an appropriate trial-like record,” wrote Chief Justice Stuart
Rabner, who added that “We reach no conclusion on the merits of the
plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the constitutionality of the Civil
Union Act.” . . . The couples filed the case in the aftermath of the
failure of same-sex legislation in the state Senate, arguing that
the state’s 2006 civil union law had failed to grant them the full
rights and benefits of heterosexual married couples that the court
mandated the Legislature provide them with four years ago. Since the
Legislature failed to pass same-sex marriage, the couples wanted the
court to intervene.
Judge orders couple not to
07-23-10 -- An Arizona
couple believed to be in Utah to illegally sell their child —
which may yet be unborn — have been ordered by a Utah judge not
to go through with the sale. . . . Third District Judge Terry
Christiansen ordered the parents, Alison and Gary Stuckey, to
appear in his West Jordan courtroom at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. . . .
The judge gave custody of the child to Utah Division of Child
and Family Services (DCFS) and has ordered any doctors, nurses
or health care workers with knowledge of the child to contact
DCFS. . . . The child-protection order, issued Friday, was based
on information provided by Salt Lake City attorney Wesley
Hutchins, who represents a Mesa, Ariz., foster couple who are in
the process of adopting three other children, ages 12, 8 and 5,
born to Alison Stuckey. . . . According to Hutchins’ court
petition, Alison Stuckey previously came to Utah and illegally
sold a child born Jan. 1, 2007, for $6,000.
Attorneys-at-risk in Family
A brutal attack on Fridley lawyer
highlights the high emotions of divorce and custody proceedings.
07-19-10 -- Frantic
messages filled Terri Melcher's cell phone. One warned her to
leave her office immediately. . . . But by the time the Fridley
attorney heard it, she had been stabbed nearly 30 times in her
unlocked office. Her alleged assailant was a man who had just
lost a child custody case in which Melcher represented his
ex-wife. . . . As word of the stunning attack last month spread
in the Twin Cities family-law community, lawyers expressed
horror, but not complete surprise. . . . "The emotions that come
in Family Court are as raw as any a judge or lawyer is going to
see," said Hennepin County Judge Kevin Burke, who has been on
the bench since 1984 and is now stationed in Family Court.
Split custody of dog
recognizes changing role of family pets
Pets differ from other property
07-18-10 -- In what
lawyers believe was a first in Maryland, a judge recently
ordered a divorcing Calvert County couple to split custody of
their dog, a recognition, experts say, that pets stand apart
from other property. . . . Once rare, post-breakup disputes over
who keeps the pet have grown more common in the past two
decades. At the same time, some couples, many choosing not to
have children, are lavishing attention on their pets and are
willing to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting for
custody of Rover. . . . But what the ruling by retired Judge
Graydon S. McKee III spells for the direction of animal law in
Maryland is unclear. The decision cannot be cited as legal
precedent because it did not come from a state appeals court.
Marriage and the Reign of Judges
Matthew Franck, RealClearPolitics (blog)
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was grounded on a fear of judges
run amok. This past Thursday, federal district court judge Joseph
Tauro of Boston justified this fear when he struck down section 3 of
the act in two separate cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel
Management and Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS). In the Gill case, Judge Tauro held that the law
unjustly denied various federal benefits to spouses in same-sex
marriages contracted under Massachusetts law, contrary to the equal
protection principle. Meanwhile, in the HHS case, Tauro ruled that
the state itself was the victim of an unconstitutional intrusion by
the federal government on its reserved powers under the Tenth
Amendment. In both cases the judge claimed to be basing his ruling
on the “historically entrenched practice” of federal law recognizing
marital status whenever it was accorded under state law. But we can
hardly credit his attachment to “historically entrenched practice”
when he is willing to treat the whole moral tradition of human
civilization, with its exclusive recognition of marriage as a union
of opposite sexes, as “irrational” and thus fit for the dustbin.
Courts Reward Helicopter
Parents, Two Law Profs Say
Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal
07-14-10 -- Courts are
rewarding “intensive parenting” and making it a legal standard,
particularly in custody disputes, two law professors say in a
paper that will be published in the U.C. Davis Law Review. . . .
The child-rearing trend, also known as “helicopter parenting”
and “smothering mothering,” has dominated parenting in the last
two decades, according to the paper published on
These parents seek safety through nanny cams, helmets and
kneepads; monitor their children through organized activities;
keep in touch through the “umbilical cord” of cell phones; and
research their kids’ developmental problems on the Internet. . .
. The article by professors Gaia Bernstein of Seton Hall
University School of Law and Zvi Triger of the College of
Management School of Law in Israel points to two ways in which
the courts are favoring intensive parenting.
Divorce judge orders wall for
warring Brooklyn couple
07-05-10 -- He spitefully
blows out her Shabbos candles. . . . She hides his medications
and makes him sleep in the dining room. . . . Can this Orthodox
Jewish marriage be saved? . . . Probably not -- but a wall down
the middle of the Williamsburg couple's house is a good idea
regardless, a Brooklyn judge has ruled. . . . Doing his best
King Solomon imitation, Judge Eric Prus on Thursday ordered
feuding couple Pinchs and Nechama Gold to split their
3,000-square-foot home in half as they go through a bitter
divorce. . . . The Golds have two weeks to agree on where the
wall should go -- or the court will decide for them. . . .
"They've been living like there was a wall up for two years
now," said Abe Konstam, an attorney for Pinchs. . . . "This just
helps them completely avoid each other."
Facebook: a divorce lawyer’s
Cases have been filed again and again thanks to Facebook
pictures. . . . Most men have been forgetting to de-friend their
wives and are posting pictures of them together with their new
mistresses. . . . According to the American Academy of
Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of its members have had their
evidence taken from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social
networking sites. Not only that there are also videos from
YouTube. . . . Linda Lea Viken the president of the 1,600-member
group was quoted “Oh, I’ve had some fun ones,” saying that it is
very common in the new cases she is handling. . . . “This sort
of evidence has gone from nothing to a large percentage of my
cases coming in, and it’s pretty darn easy,” According to Viken.
“It’s like, Are you kidding me?”
State Supreme Court upholds
gay marriage ban
A legal challenge to the state's constitutional ban on gay
marriage was rejected Wednesday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
. . . In a resounding 7-0 ruling, the justices upheld a lower
court's finding that the 2006 constitutional amendment was
properly put to voters in a statewide referendum. . . . In doing
so, the court dismissed a plaintiff's argument that lawmakers
violated a rule that limits referendum questions to a single
subject when they gave voters one referendum question that
included two sections - one on gay marriage and one on civil
unions. . . . "Both sentences of the marriage amendment relate
to marriage and tend to effect or carry out the same general
purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin
as between only one man and one woman," Justice Michael Gableman
Attorney arrested, charged
after argument with spouse
Police say James Tarquin
attacked his wife. She was later charged with battery on an
A local attorney is facing charges of child abuse and domestic
battery following an altercation that took place outside his
home Saturday evening. . . . Law enforcement officials were
called to the Silver Springs home of James and Dawn Tarquin,
where an eyewitness said an argument between the couple turned
violent. . . . According to the eyewitness, James Tarquin
slapped his wife, threw her onto the driveway, and held her down
so she could not get up. The 24-year-old eyewitness told
deputies he was forced to pull Tarquin off his wife, and
restrain him by punching him twice until he left his residence
in his vehicle. . . . The attorney was “highly intoxicated,”
according to the witness' statements. . . . The child abuse
charge stems from when Tarquin, 45, allegedly put his arm around
his 9-year-old son's neck and shook him when the boy started to
cry after witnessing the couple first argue.
Divorce lawyer encourage clients to consider collaborative divorce
It used to be all business for divorce lawyer Regina DeMeo.
Her approach was always the same:
"This is a partnership and the partnership is dissolving. What are
the assets? What is the time-sharing arrangement you think is going
to work best? Okay, come on," she would think. "Get yourself
together and let's move on." . . . Then, after seven years of
marriage, DeMeo went through her own divorce. . . . "It was a very
humbling experience," she says. "All your dreams are shattered . . .
your whole world is rocked." . . . DeMeo began reading everything
she could about what makes and breaks marriages, and she changed the
way she practices law. Soon after the divorce, the George Washington
University Law School graduate became trained in a growing practice
called collaborative divorce.
Fathers 4 Justice are on song
06-17-10 -- PARENTS from
across Hampshire have lent their voices to a new song being
released by campaign group Fathers 4 Justice. . . . The Anthem
For Justice song is being launched by the Hampshire-based
campaign organisation for Father’s Day this Sunday as an
Internet download track. . . . Mothers and fathers from across
the county travelled to London to record the song this week and
film a video for the single, which is promoting equal rights for
Change to Divorce Law Could Recall a TV Quiz Show: ‘To Tell
There are certain to be consequences if New York State introduces
no-fault divorce, as now seems likely. The divorce rate might climb.
Matrimonial battles will focus on bitter issues like support and
child custody. The poor will be able to get divorced as easily as
the rich. But there is something else. Those who are splitting up
can just tell the truth. . . . For decades, New York State’s divorce
system has been built on a foundation of winks and falsehoods. If
you wanted to split quickly, you and your spouse had to give one of
the limited number of allowable reasons — including adultery,
cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment — so there was a tendency to
pick one out of a hat. . . . Pregnant women have insisted they have
not have sex in a year, one of the existing grounds; spouses claimed
psychological cruelty for getting called fat; and people whose
affairs have made Page Six have denied adultery. One legendary ploy
involved listing the filing lawyer’s secretary as the partner in
adultery (which may even have been true in a few cases).
Start a Revolution on Father's Day
What we need when
arrives on Sunday is nothing short of a
led by America’s fathers. . . . Ours is a broken culture — of
fathers and mothers with broken vows,
families with broken bonds, and
children with broken hearts.
. . . For every 100 babies born in America, 60 are born to a
That is, they are either born out of wedlock, or to a family
that will soon suffer divorce. Our
teen pregnancy rate
is the highest in the Western world. Our
little girls are looking and behaving like sex kittens at
younger and younger ages.
Boys are afraid of marriage, addicted to pornography and have
few or no manners. There are about
1.2 million abortions in America
every year. . . . Mothers feel overwhelmed as they seek to "do
it all" — earn a paycheck, nurture the children, manage the
finances and keep the family together. Much of that is
the fault of a radical feminist movement
that perverted the battle for equal treatment into a battle for
total independence from men. Many men just sat out what became a
destructive force, and now all of us — men, women and children —
are suffering the painful results as we realize that we really
do need each other after all. . . . Imagine how our culture
would be transformed if fathers refused to be bullied by angry
feminists and took more of a loving role of responsibility in
their own homes.
What if husbands started pouring out unconditional and
constant love on their wives
in the same manner in which Christ pours love out for his
For parents, justice not served
Paperwork goes unfiled, appeals
06-16-10 -- Mary Tullis
was devastated last August when a Luzerne County judge
terminated her rights to her son and daughter. . . . She and the
children’s father, Jeff Harris, had been working to resolve the
problems that led Luzerne County Children and Youth to place the
children in foster care. She was confident the state Superior
Court would overturn the decision on appeal. . . . She never got
the chance to argue the merits of her case, however, because the
assistant public defender assigned to represent her failed to
file the required court papers, resulting in her appeal being
dismissed outright. . . . A Times Leader investigation revealed
she is not alone. . . . Since 2005, 15 of the 53 parents who
challenged the termination of their parental rights or the
involuntary adoption of their children have seen their appeals
dismissed because the Public Defender’s Office or other
court-appointed attorneys failed to follow proper court
procedure, according to a review of cases filed with the state
Superior Court. . . . The revelation prompted newly appointed
county Chief Public Defender Al Flora Jr. to launch an
investigation. He is reviewing records, including those
identified by The Times Leader, to determine if anything can or
should be done to seek to restore the appeals. . . . The
newspaper’s review showed that in nine of the 15 cases at issue,
the appeals were filed, but later dismissed because the
attorneys failed to file the required legal briefs that detail
the errors the trial judge allegedly committed. . . . In another
six cases, the appeals were “quashed” – a legal term that refers
to the dismissal of an appeal for failure to comply with some
other aspect of appellate court procedure, such as filing the
appeal late. . . . The lack of action by the attorneys means the
parents were deprived of their right to have the Superior Court
review the lower court ruling to determine if it was properly
entered – a result an advocate for parental rights described as
Neb. judge reprimanded for behavior in custody case
Dawes County District Court Judge Brian Silverman has been
officially reprimanded by the state's Judicial Qualifications
Commission for remarks he made in a child custody case last year. .
. . The commission's opinion was released last week. The incident
occurred during a hearing in a child custody case in February 2009
in the case of Cari Goodwin v. Derek Goodwin. According to
the commission's opinion, Derek refused to acknowledge a December
2008 agreement regarding custody and a purge plan for child support.
Silverman informed Derek, who was behind in his child support, if he
proceeded with a trial on custody issues, the agreement would be
revoked and he would be sent to jail. Derek filed a complaint saying
Silverman raised his voice and addressed him in "an impatient,
discourteous, angry and condescending tone and demeanor." . . . The
commission agreed that Silverman's behavior violated the judicial
code of conduct requiring judges to uphold the integrity and
independence of the judiciary, to avoid impropriety and the
appearance thereof and to perform the duties of the office
impartially and diligently.
Divorce attorneys catching cheaters on Facebook
Before the explosion of social media, Ken Altshuler, a
divorce lawyer in Maine, dug up dirt on his client's
spouses the old-fashioned way: with private
investigators and subpoenas. Now the first place his
team checks for evidence is Facebook. . . . Consider a
recent story of a female client in her 30s, who came to
Altshuler seeking a divorce from husband. She claimed
her husband, an alcoholic, was drinking again. The
husband denied it. It was her word against his word,
Altshuler says, until a mutual friend of the couple
stumbled across Facebook photos of the husband drinking
beer at a party a few weeks earlier. . . . It was the
kind of "gotcha moment" Altshuler knew would undermine
the husband's credibility in court. His firm presented
the photos to the judge, and the wife won the case in
April, he said. . . . "Facebook
is a great source of evidence," Altshuler said. "It's
absolutely solid evidence because he's the author of it.
How do you deny that you put that on?" . . . Social
media stalking skills have become invaluable to the
legal world for divorce cases in particular. Online
photo albums, profile pages, wall comments, status
updates and tweets have become gold mines for evidence
and leads. Today, divorce and
family law firms routinely cull information
posted on social media sites -- the flirty exchanges
with a paramour, unsavory self-revelations and
compromising photographs -- to buttress their case.
Threat to Parents' Rights a
Bigger Issue than Rights of a Child
05-26-10 -- If you’re a
parent, you’re probably too busy doing the day-to-day work of
raising your children to worry about an international treaty
that could actually undermine your authority over them. . . .
But if you’ve ever insisted that your teenager drag himself out
of bed on a Sunday morning to attend church with the family, or
required him to find a part-time job to pay for the increase in
your car insurance, or – heaven forbid – if you’ve ever spanked
a young child for an act of willful disobedience, there are
folks who’d like to override your parental judgment. . . . Folks
like President Obama, in fact. . . . The issue of parental
rights is at the heart of the ongoing debate over the US’s
failure to ratify the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC). Mr. Obama thinks it’s a travesty that the US and Somalia
– a country not known as a beacon of human rights – are the only
two nations that haven’t ratified this treaty. Not only does he
support its intrusions into our national sovereignty on behalf
of children, he’s openly embarrassed to be on the short list
with Somalia. . . . Up to now, it’s been a worried American
homeschool community that most vocally opposes the CRC. That’s
because the treaty clearly places responsibility for the
education of children in the hands of the federal government.
Such a mandate would certainly threaten the freedom of states to
allow, and of parents to choose, homeschooling as an option to
educate their children. . . . But it’s not just homeschooling
parents who ought to be nervous about the CRC. We all should
because the language of the treaty – which would supersede all
American law other than the Constitution – radically changes the
authority structure between parents, children and the state. In
short, in line after line, it applies the standard of “the best
interests of the child” to determine what’s permissible and what
New state law allows adopted access to their birth records
05-23-10 -- Fifteen years
in the General Assembly may have earned state Rep. Sara
Feigenholtz some political clout, but whatever capital she
acquired meant nothing when it came to obtaining a copy of her
birth certificate. . . . Like thousands of other adoptees, the
Chicago Democrat had been unable to get a copy of birth records,
which remained confidential unless a birthparent granted access.
. . . That changed Friday when Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation
that allows adoptees access to their birth records. Adopted
people born in 1945 or earlier now will be able to obtain their
birth certificates right away. Adoptees born after 1945 will
have to wait until November 2011, to give their birthparents a
chance to file an objection, if they want. . . . Yet, the law
doesn't guarantee adoptees access to information. Birthparents
who want to remain anonymous can do so by filing a request with
Judge to Great Kills teacher:
Nothing wrong with talking dirty in
A Staten Island intermediate school teacher who allowed her students
to use street slang to describe sexual terms during an HIV/AIDS
class can proceed with her $1 million lawsuit against the city’s
Department of Education after parent complaints landed her in an
administrative “rubber room.” . . . A federal judge sided with Faith
Kramer, 48, a Great Kills mother of two and tenured health and gym
teacher at Rocco Laurie Intermediate School in New Springville with
26 years in the classroom and an unblemished record. . . . The
city’s Education Department’s own curriculum directs teachers to
allow students to use terms they understand while explaining such
topics, but two parents complained when they found lists of clinical
anatomical and sexual terms listed alongside their slang equivalents
in their children’s notebooks after a class in February 2008. . . .
“She did exactly what she was told to do,” said her attorney, Duane
C. Felton. “She engaged her students and the curriculum suggests
that teachers use the language that students are familiar with.”
Arkansas judge suspends
ruling on adoptions issue
05-12-10 -- A Pulaski
County judge who overturned a ban on adoptions by unmarried
couples is suspending the ruling pending an appeal. . . .
Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza suspended his ruling Tuesday
while the state prepares to appeal his ruling that the
restrictions are unconstitutional.
Judge: State can't protect unborn baby whose parents
allegedly want to sell it
Courts » Adoption agency calls
claim 'a big misunderstanding.'
A judge on Wednesday dismissed a protective order giving the
state custody of an unborn child whose parents are accused of
trying to sell the child, saying there is no one to protect
until the baby is born. . . . Third District Juvenile Court
Judge Jim Michie said he has no jurisdiction while the child is
still in its mother's womb. . . . "I am dismissing the ex parte
protective order ... until we have a baby to protect," the judge
said. . . . Alison and Gary Stuckey have been accused of
traveling to Utah from Arizona to sell the child. . . . But an
employee from A Act of Love adoption agency, which is overseeing
the child's adoption, said there is nothing illegal going on. .
. . "It's a legitimate adoption and has been since January,"
said Tarilee Roth, who attended the hearing with the Stuckeys. .
. . Roth added that the accusations against the Stuckeys are "a
big misunderstanding." . . . The Stuckeys' attorney, Larry
Jenkins, who also represents the agency, said Alison Stuckey is
"not due for another several weeks."
N.J. appeals court allows lawsuits in extreme cases of alleged
05-03-10 -- A nasty legal
spat between a Canadian multimillionaire and his ex-wife helped
alter New Jersey family law today after a state appeals court
hearing the case ruled parents could sue each other for money in
extreme situations, like the kidnapping of a child. . . . In a
highly anticipated 31-page opinion, the state Appellate Division
confronted what it called novel and unsettled law after Moses
Segal, a retired developer, asked whether he could sue Cynthia
Lynch, his ex-wife, over claims she turned their children
against him. . . . Such allegations of parental alienation
regularly crop up in Family Court, where fights over custody and
parenting are handled, but not in civil court, where Segal filed
his suit in 2007. . . . The appellate court ruled against Segal,
worried that such a case would force children to testify against
a parent in a potentially traumatic process. But at the same
time, the court recognized certain cases — including false
accusations of sexual abuse — where parents could seek monetary
damages in civil court.
Moses Segal, Et Al. Vs. Cynthia Lynch
Manhattan Woman Guilty in Husband’s 1990 Murder
04-29-10 -- A Manhattan
woman pleaded guilty on Thursday to arranging the killing of her
husband in a murder-for-hire that occurred two decades ago on
the Upper East Side. . . . The woman, Barbara Kogan, 67, had
long been a suspect in the killing of her husband, George H.
Kogan, 49, who was shot in front of his apartment building on
East 69th Street in 1990. The couple were embroiled in a bitter
divorce at the time, and, after the killing, Ms. Kogan refused
to cooperate with investigators and fought to collect millions
from her husband’s life insurance policies. . . . Prosecutors
accused Ms. Kogan of plotting with her lawyer, Manuel Martinez,
to hire a hit man to carry out the killing. Mr. Martinez was
convicted in the murder in 2008 — shortly after being extradited
from Mexico — and finally agreed, after years of refusing, to
testify against Ms. Kogan. . . . Ms. Kogan, of East 55th Street,
pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to felony
charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and
grand larceny. She faces up to 25 years in prison on each charge
at sentencing, scheduled for May 19. . . . A lawyer for Ms.
Kogan could not be reached for comment on Thursday night.
Celebrate Life's Special Moment's with Current's May
Further Adventures in Lawyer
Advertising: 'That Hellhole You Call a Marriage'
04-16-10 -- Happy Friday
everyone. But maybe you're not having a happy Friday. Maybe
you're having marital troubles. Specifically, maybe you and your
spouse "hate each other like poison." If that's the case, and
you live in Florida, you're in luck. This guy, Steve Miller, of
has just what you need: . . . He makes a compelling point. Why
on earth would you waste your money hiring a "piece of crap
3-piece suit downtown" when someone who so clearly has your best
interests at heart is available ... to handle divorces -- "with
or without children" -- exclusively online. . . . Now, Steve's
law firm didn't always operate under the Divorce Deli trade
name. Before that, it was
Why would you give up marketing gold like that to project an
image that might make someone think they get a free bag of chips
with their annulment? Glad you asked:
Two Judges Slapped Down for
Requiring Police Report Before Issuing TROs
04-09-10 -- An injunction
of protection against domestic violence, also known as a
restraining (order) is easy to obtain in the state of Florida. .
. . No joke. In fact
despite its semi-literate prose, shows you just how easy it is.
You go to the courthouse and ask where to get an injunction for
domestic violence. You'll be directed to a room and given a
form for an affidavit. Fill it out. You'll need to include
your target's name and address. You'll also need to explain the
incident of assault or battery or why you're concerned that one
of those may occur. Sign the affidavit before a notary there at
the courthouse and bingo! your target is enjoined from coming
near you, entering his house or seeing his kids. . . . Did you
think you'd have to actually take an oath before a
judge? Produce evidence? Please. All you're doing is
depriving your target of valuable constitutional rights, so no
evidence, no notice, no due process and no opportunity to be
heard are necessary. It makes filling out a credit card
application look like advanced calculus. . . . And apparently,
that's the way attorneys in Sarasota like it. Over 70% of
divorces in the United States are filed by women, and every
family lawyer with a pulse knows that TROs help get custody for
the filer, so anything that makes getting a TRO even a tiny bit
more difficult will get their dander up. And that's exactly
what's happened in Sarasota.
Judge defends his actions in marrying couple in assault case
Says he was guided by his 'Catholic conscience'
The Baltimore County judge who was suspended from hearing cases
after presiding over the marriage of an alleged domestic assault
victim and her accused attacker is defending his actions, saying he
was guided by his "Catholic conscience" in choosing to marry the
couple and "legitimize their relationship." . . . In his first
public comments about the case, District Judge G. Darrell Russell
Jr. said in an interview Tuesday he did not know the seriousness of
the assault charge against Frederick D. Wood, 29, of Middle River,
who had been accused by his fiancee, Shelly Pearl Say, 27, of
beating and kicking her. Russell said his mistake was presiding over
both the marriage, in his chambers in the Essex courthouse, and the
second-degree assault case against Wood, which he heard later that
afternoon. Russell found Wood not guilty, after Say exercised her
right not to testify against her new husband.
Social sites a boon to divorce lawyers
The New Jersey couple were already divorced but still fighting.
. . . This time it was over custody of their 16-year-old
daughter. He was too permissive, the mother argued. She was
smothering the girl, the father said. . . . In the midst of the
case, the teenager posted a picture on Facebook in which she was
partying happily with friends. Her mother saw the photo, and it
immediately became part of her courtroom argument. The kids were
drinking, she contended, hard evidence that the father was not
setting proper boundaries for the girl. . . . The couple
eventually settled and agreed to shared custody, said the
father's attorney, Steven P. Monaghan of Red Bank, who
specializes in family and divorce law. . . . More and more,
online social networking sites such as Facebook are playing a
role in the breakup of marriages — whether it's people griping
about spouses or contacting old flames, or matrimonial attorneys
looking for evidence to be used in divorce proceedings. . . .
The sites are also being used by divorcing couples for revenge.
Lawyer’s Lover Ordered to Pay
$9M in Alienation of Affection Case
03-19-10 -- A woman
accused of having an affair with a lawyer has been ordered to
pay $9 million in an alienation-of-affections lawsuit filed by
his wife. . . . The defendant, Anne Lundquist, says she will
appeal the verdict, the
Greensboro News & Record
reports. Lundquist did not attend the trial in North Carolina
and did not hire a lawyer to represent her. . . . “I don’t have
a lot of money, so where this $9 million comes from is kind of
hysterical,” she told the newspaper. . . . . North Carolina is
one of only a few states that allow lawsuits for alienation of
affections, the story says. On average, more than 200 lawsuits
based on the tort are filed each year in the state.
Judge marries defendant to
Balto. County jurist dismisses case, is reassigned
A Baltimore County judge was reassigned Wednesday after he presided
over the marriage between a man being prosecuted for domestic
violence and the alleged victim - a marriage that led to the man's
acquittal. . . . Baltimore County District Judge G. Darrell Russell
Jr. took the unusual step last week of allowing the defendant to
leave court to obtain a marriage license and married the couple
later in his chambers. About 20 minutes later, his new wife invoked
marital privilege so she would not be required to testify against
her husband. . . . The case came to an end with the judge finding
the defendant not guilty, saying, "I found you not guilty, so I
can't sentence you as a defendant in any crimes, but earlier today,
I sentenced you to life married to her." . . . WBAL-TV was the first
to report the judge's actions Tuesday. . . . Chief Judge Ben C.
Clyburn reassigned Russell to work in his chamber reviewing motions
for civil cases, said Angelita Plemmer, the court's spokeswoman.
Plemmer declined to comment on Russell's actions or on whether
Russell, who has been on the bench since 1990, has been disciplined
NJ Gay Marriage
Battle Back in Court
Gay couples who sued New Jersey for the right to marry once before
are taking their case back to court. . . . Six couples plus the
surviving partner from a seventh filed a motion Thursday claiming
the state continues to discriminate against them even though it
offers civil unions to same-sex couples. . . . The original suit,
filed in 2002, resulted in a 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court decision
that came one vote short of requiring the state to legalize gay
matrimony. After an effort to get lawmakers to legalize gay
marriage, the effort fizzled out.
general warns parents about video chat site
03-08-10 -- Texas
Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued a consumer alert warning
parents to keep their children away from video chat Web site
Chatroulette. . . . Abbott says the increasingly popular site
poses a threat to children by giving users – including dangerous
sex offenders – an opportunity to conduct live video chats with
randomly selected participants. . . . Users are paired with a
random stranger for a video chat. The site does not require a
login or registration. Users simply click “next” to be shuffled
to a new video chat partner. . . . According to Abbott, an
undercover investigation by the Cyber Crimes Unit revealed that
nearly half of the randomly selected users encountered by
investigators immediately exposed themselves and conducted
sexually explicit acts on camera.
High cost of McCourts'
divorce: $19 million in fees
Dodgers' case could be one of the
most expensive in California history. Even other high-profile
divorce attorneys are surprised.
03-05-10 -- Frank and
Jamie McCourt's divorce could become one of the costliest splits
in California history, with attorneys and accountants commanding
as much as $19 million in fees — more than the Dodgers will
spend on their starting infield this season. . . . Frank McCourt
has estimated his "divorce-related expenses" at $5 million to
$10 million, according to court filings. Jamie McCourt has
estimated her expenses at $9 million — and asked that her
estranged husband be ordered to pay them. . . . Although records
of salaries and statistics are omnipresent in baseball, specific
information about divorce costs is largely unavailable. The
Times consulted with several family law experts, none of whom
could recall a divorce costing $19 million. . . . "I'm pretty
sure there's not been any litigation in a California divorce
where they've spent so much on attorneys' fees," said Lynn
Soodik, a Santa Monica family law attorney who represented Meg
Ryan in her divorce from Dennis Quaid.
Christian Husband with
Covenant Marriage Agreement vs. Routine No-Fault Divorce
03-03-10 -- A Christian
husband is citing Ohio Law to protect his family from no-fault
divorce. Months ago, Paul Neumann was fully supporting his
stay-at-home wife and their daughter in their North Olmsted
home. Now he is a defendant in Cuyahoga County divorce court. He
sumbitted his wife's signed wedding covenant agreement to the
court because she promised to uphold her obligations in
accordance with the "Commandments of God given in His Word" and
"the divine laws and ordinance for the governance of marriage."
. . . Neumann is giving the court an ultimatim: either his wife
committed fraud on their wedding day and tricked him into
marriage, or she intended to be married in conformity with the
rules of their church (see
filing 1.4 MB).
If she committed fraud, the parties were never really married
and the court can't take away his property and force him to pay
alimony. . . . In Ohio, argues Neumann, it is criminal for
Christian pastors to conduct wedding ceremonies without
requiring couples to get a state marriage license. Ohio Law
specifies that parties can marry in conformity with the rules of
their church. . . . "We wanted a Christian marriage" Neumann
said in and interview. "I'm shocked that another Bible believing
Christian would bring the world into my marriage rather those in
the church who are experts in resolving marital conflict
according to the 6000 year principles of God's Word."
MacFarlane writes at
D.C. same-sex marriages
Licenses available Wednesday
03-02-10 -- Chief Justice
John G. Roberts, Jr., refused on Tuesday to block a District of
Columbia court’s order that cleared the way for same-sex couples
to get marriage licenses and wed in the capital city, beginning
on Wednesday. The Chief Justice, in denying an emergency
stay filed by opponents of gay marriage, issued a three-page
explaining his action. He acted in his role as
Circuit Justice for the D.C. area; the issue was not referred to
the full Court. (The stay application, 09A807, is
the opposition to it is
and the reply is
. . . Even while saying a delay was not now legally justified,
Roberts noted that the challengers may still try to undo the new
D.C. marriage provision by attempting to put it on the ballot
asking local voters to repeal the law. That separate
maneuver is now under review in the D.C. Court of Appeals,
Washington’s highest local court.
Gay divorce case draws
attorney general's attention
Couple married in Massachusetts
wants divorce in Travis County.
02-15-10 -- Texas
Attorney General Greg Abbott has intervened in a
first-of-its-kind Travis County same-sex divorce case, arguing
that the women involved, who were married in another state, may
not be legally granted a divorce because Texas law defines
marriage as between a man and a woman. . . . Angelique Naylor,
39, and Sabina Daly, 41, married in 2004 in Massachusetts, where
gay marriage is legal. They returned to their home in Austin and
together adopted a son, who is now 4. They have been separated
for more than a year. . . . Last week, at the close of a two-day
hearing before state District Judge Scott Jenkins on how they
should divide their property and share custody of their son, the
two reached an agreement that in part called for them to
divorce. . . . According to Naylor's lawyer, Jennifer Cochran,
Jenkins granted the divorce orally and ordered the parties to
put their agreement in writing and return to court next month
for his signature.
Facebook a treasure trove for divorce lawyers
As if divorce lawyers needed more ammunition. . . . In a new survey,
81 percent say they've seen an increase in the use of Facebook and
other social networking sites for evidence in divorce cases. Notes
to lovers, compromising photos -- Facebook provides a wealth of
incriminating information. . . . "Every client I've seen in the last
six months had a Facebook page," said Ken Altshuler, a longtime
divorce lawyer from Portland, Maine, who is first vice president of
the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "And the first piece of
advice I give them is to terminate their page immediately." . . .
Sixty-six percent of the attorneys surveyed by the AAML called
Facebook the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence, followed
by MySpace (15 percent) and Twitter (5 percent). . . . "Going
through a divorce always results in heightened levels of personal
scrutiny," said Marlene Eskind Moses of Nashville, the group's
president. "If you publicly post any contradictions to previously
made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be
one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence."
Pending Malpractice Suit Against Firm Doesn't Excuse Paying Fees,
N.J. Court Rules
A Victims-of-Law Associate
A family court order requiring a divorce litigant to pay
Budd Larner $50,000 in
legal fees, even though he had a malpractice case pending against
the firm, has been upheld on appeal. . . . The New Jersey Appellate
Division ruled on Monday that there was no error in ordering and
enforcing the fee award to the Short Hills, N.J., firm, because the
client neither asked the family court for a stay nor sought to
consolidate the malpractice and matrimonial cases. . . . The court,
in Cole v. Cole, A-1710, also found it significant that the
court below "expressly carved out the malpractice issue from its
decision, and made no findings on those allegations." . . . Joseph
Cole retained Thomas Baldwin of Budd Larner on April 28, 2003, to
handle his divorce from Justine Cole, which was being litigated in
Monmouth County Family Part.
Student support contract enforceable after divorce, says high court
Spouses who agree to take turns supporting each other through
college could find themselves financially liable for breaking a
contract if they divorce before both sides benefit. . . . The state
Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a divorceé can sue her ex-husband
after she financially supported him through medical school "in
exchange for the promise of a higher standard of living." . . .
Gloria and Dallen Ashby married in 1997, while Dallen was an
undergraduate student at BYU. Gloria Ashby claims she passed up a
lucrative business opportunity to follow Dallen to St. Louis, where
he attended medical school, according to court documents.
S.C. Man Kills Ex-Wife's Lawyer, Then Himself
A South Carolina man was distraught over drawn-out divorce
proceedings and a recent order to sell a home he co-owned with his
ex-wife when he killed the woman's attorney and then himself,
authorities said Thursday. . . . Jerry Dean Crenshaw shot
61-year-old J. Redmond Coyle several times Wednesday afternoon in a
parking lot behind Coyle's downtown Pickens, S.C., office, Police
Chief Tommy Ellenburg said. . . . Crenshaw's wife had hired Coyle
after the pair filed for divorce in 2007, according to court
filings. That divorce became final in May 2009, but the couple had
been haggling over splitting up property they had owned together,
said Harold Welborn, Pickens County clerk of court.
Attorney Disciplined for Having Two Wives
A local attorney has lost his license to practice for the next year
after a ruling from the Supreme Court of Ohio. . . . Dennis
DiMartino was sanctioned after it was determined he lied on a
marriage license application in North Carolina saying he was not
married. He then entered into a bigamous marriage in that
state before a divorce from his first wife, from Ohio, had been
Senior judge's wife may drop charges
A suspended senior judge's marriage is nearly over, weeks after he
allegedly attacked his wife in an alcohol-fueled rage on their
one-year wedding anniversary, his attorney said Thursday. . . .
Senior Judge C. Joseph Rehkamp and his wife, Valerie, are discussing
a financial arrangement under which she would drop criminal charges
and they would ultimately move for a divorce, Rehkamp's attorney
William C. Costopoulos said. . . . "If they can resolve their
disagreement between themselves, maybe that's where the answer
should lie," Costopoulos said. "Their differences may be
irreconcilable and the marriage is probably over, but that doesn't
mean that they can't agree upon the conclusion to a marriage that
isn't working." . . . Rehkamp, 61, and Valerie, 50, agreed Thursday
to keep the protection from abuse order against him in effect while
they attempt to resolve the charges. . . . The order bars Rehkamp
from contact with Valerie, 50, or her sons, ages 16 and 18.
Wife of former White House lawyer sues for $30M
The wife of a former White House lawyer -- who police say tried to
kill his spouse in a vicious beating with a flashlight this month --
is suing her husband for $30 million in a civil lawsuit filed last
week at state Superior Court in Stamford. . . . Mary Farren, 43, was
beaten unconscious with a flashlight and strangled before she
regained consciousness and fled her New Canaan home Jan. 6 with her
two young daughters, telling police her husband attacked her over a
divorce she sought because of his volatile temper, court documents
state. . . . That night, police charged her husband, John Michael
Farren, 57, with attempted murder. . . . Last Wednesday, a lawyer
for Mary Farren filed a civil suit against her husband at state
Superior Court in Stamford. In an affidavit, Mary Farren asked the
courts to grant her a $30 million pre-judgment remedy because she is
injured and cannot work. She claimed she may lose income from her
husband because he could be imprisoned for 30 years if convicted.
Attorney Takes Deal in Domestic Violence Case
A Las Vegas attorney has accepted a plea deal in the assault of his
wife, a local judge. . . . Edward "Randy" Miley pleaded no contest
last month to misdemeanor domestic battery and animal abuse charges.
In exchange, prosecutors dismissed additional counts against him,
including a child abuse-and-neglect charge.
Pa. Judge Suspended Following Spousal Abuse Charges
A Pennsylvania judge overseeing a murder case involving domestic
violence allegations has been suspended from duty over criminal
charges that he pushed and choked his wife on their first wedding
anniversary. . . . Sixty-one-year-old Perry County Senior Judge C.
Joseph Rehkamp has been charged with simple assault and harassment
and is also subject to a protection from abuse order.
NY man accused of beheading
claims he was battered
01-22-10 -- The founder
of an Islam-oriented television station who is accused of
beheading his wife was abused by her for years, according to his
lawyer, who said Friday he will pursue a defense combining that
justification as well as psychiatric claims. . . . Defense
attorneys' claims that Muzzammil Hassan was victimized by his
wife drew a blunt response from District Attorney Frank Sedita
after a hearing Friday. . . . "He chopped her head off," Sedita
said. "He chopped her head off. That's all I have to say about
Mr. Hassan's apparent defense that he was a battered spouse." .
. . Hassan, 45, is charged with one count of second-degree
murder in the Feb. 12 death of 37-year-old Aasiya Hassan at the
offices of Bridges TV, the station the Pakistan-born couple
established in 2004 to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims.
. . . During Friday's hearing, Hassan fired the attorney who has
been representing him for nearly a year and replaced him with a
lawyer who promised "a revolutionary defense" at the March
Details emerge on former Perry County judge
accused in domestic dispute
Court documents reveal a night of discord between former Perry
County president judge C. Joseph Rehkamp and his wife
Former Perry County president judge C. Joseph Rehkamp had been
drinking Saturday night when he pushed his wife down “and started to
choke her, leaving red marks,” court documents say. . . . Valerie
Rehkamp screamed and told her husband to leave their home in
Plymouth Township, Luzerne County. According to the criminal
complaint filed by Trooper Matthew Stacktish, Valerie Rehkamp’s son
stopped the assault and Joseph Rehkamp left the home in his Ford
Crown Victoria. . . . Joseph Rehkamp, 61, later turned himself in
and was arraigned about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. He is charged with
misdemeanor assault and summary harassment. His preliminary hearing
is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 26. . . . It was not known Monday whether
Rehkamp has an attorney. . . . The conflict between the Rehkamps
began earlier in the evening, court documents say, when Valerie
Rehkamp told her husband he “did not act appropriately” during a
dinner outing. Valerie Rehkamp told the judge to “sleep somewhere
else” for the night, court documents say.
State's high court rules on marital property
Judge: Money earned by ET
class-action specialist before divorce final is subject to split
The state Supreme Court is using the case of a prominent East
Tennessee lawyer to sound this warning: Filing for divorce does not
tear asunder the marital paycheck or debt load. . . . It's a legal
lesson that cost well-known class-action specialist Gordon Ball a
cool $6.8 million. . . . The state's high court opted to use Ball's
divorce case to tackle the issue of whether money earned or debt
incurred between the filing of a divorce complaint and final
judgment is marital property subject to a division between warring
spouses. . . . At issue was a $17 million fee Ball won in a South
Carolina class-action lawsuit after his now ex-wife, Marn Suzanne
Larsen Ball, filed for divorce in January 2006. She insisted she
should get a cut because the divorce wasn't final. He contended the
hefty fee wasn't marital property because he won it after the couple
split. . . . Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood opined the legal fee
was indeed marital property and, therefore, subject to the split in
assets he approved - 60 percent for Gordon Ball, 40 percent for his
Tennessee Supreme Court opinion in Ball v. Ball
D.C. judge rules against marriage referendum
A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage
opponents do not have a right to call for a referendum to determine
whether such unions should be legal in the District. . . . The
decision, a major victory for gay rights activists, makes it more
likely that the District will begin allowing same-sex couples to
marry in March. . . . In the 23-page ruling, Judge Judith N.
Macaluso affirmed a D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decision that
city law disallows the ballot proposal because it would promote
discrimination against gay men and lesbians. Macaluso also concluded
that previous court decisions outlawing same-sex marriage in the
District are no longer valid.
Couple in marriage fraud case given probation, will likely have to
A Columbus-area immigration lawyer and her ex-husband have been
placed on probation and likely will have to leave the country for
their participation in marriage fraud. . . . Lilian Asante, 38, and
Kwadwo Asante, 40, were taken by U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement for processing this morning after U.S. District Judge
Gregory L. Frost sentenced them to two years of probation. . . . An
immigration judge will have to make a final decision on their
deportation, but the Asantes' defense attorney has said they plan to
leave the country as soon as possible. . . . Yesterday's sentencing
also triggers the suspension of Lilian Asante's law license, said
Ritchey Hollenbaugh, the Asantes' attorney.
New Jersey Senate Defeats Gay
01-07-10 -- New Jersey's
state Senate has defeated a bill to legalize gay marriage, the
latest in a string of setbacks for advocates. . . . The New
Jersey Senate voted Thursday against legalizing same-sex
marriage, making the Garden State the latest to turn down
legislation that proponents have called a civil rights issue. .
. . The Freedom of Religion and Equality in Marriage Act failed
by a vote of 20 to 14. The vote was scheduled to take place last
month, but was postponed due to an apparent lack of support, The
Philadelphia Inquirer reported. . . . New Jersey voters are
narrowly divided on the issue, with gay marriage opponents
finding more support by a 49-46 percentage point margin,
according to a November poll from Quinnipiac University. State
Democrats favor the measure 60-34, while Republicans oppose it
69-25, the poll found. The margin of error was 2.4 percentage
points. . . . Five states currently allow same sex marriage,
while thirty have rejected similar measures in referendum votes.
The state senate in neighboring New York, where many New Jersey
residents work, rejected a gay marriage bill 38 to 24 in
Married Couples Pay More Than
Unmarried Under Health Bill
01-06-10 -- Some married
couples would pay thousands of dollars more for the same health
insurance coverage as unmarried people living together, under
the health insurance overhaul plan pending in Congress. . . .
The built-in "marriage penalty" in both House and Senate
healthcare bills has received scant attention. But for scores of
low-income and middle-income couples, it could mean a hike of
$2,000 or more in annual insurance premiums the moment they say
"I do." . . . The disparity comes about in part because
subsidies for purchasing health insurance under the plan from
congressional Democrats are pegged to federal poverty
guidelines. That has the effect of limiting subsidies for
married couples with a combined income, compared to if the
individuals are single. . . . People who get their health
insurance through an employer wouldn't be affected. Only people
that buy subsidized insurance through new exchanges set up by
the legislation stand to be impacted. About 17 million people
would receive such subsidies in 2016 under the House plan, the
Congressional Budget Office estimates.
Original article with update
Sacramento judge denies ‘disgracing the American
The strange and
bewildering case of Judge Peter J. ‘Chainsaw’ McBrien
Don’t get mad, the saying goes,
Certainly Ulf Carlsson has plenty to be angry about. In
2006, the Swedish-born American citizen entered
proceedings hoping to make the best of a bad situation.
Instead, he lost custody of his teenage daughter, got
fired from a 20-year career with the state of California
and is about to lose his home. . . . So, yes, Ulf
Carlsson is massively pissed, and the entirety of his
ire is focused on the individual he holds accountable
for his astounding reversal of fortune, the magistrate
who presided over his two-day divorce trial, Sacramento
Superior Court Judge Peter J. “Chainsaw” McBrien. . . .
Last week, Carlsson and more than a dozen other
self-proclaimed victims of McBrien’s alleged legal abuse
officially notified the Sacramento Elections Office of
their intent to recall the judge. They didn’t waste any
time getting to the point. . . . “You are a disgrace to
the American Judiciary System and an
extreme danger to children and parents,”
the recall petition begins, before detailing a number of
alleged wrongs along with the relevant case numbers.
“You destroyed a young boy by awarding the father
custody after multiple investigations substantiated he
had sexually abused the boy. … You awarded custody to an
abusive mother, ignoring medical evidence that she
seriously physically abused her young daughter. … You
obtained, in secrecy, a copy of the court transcripts,
altered them and had that respondent’s career destroyed.
… When will your evil terrorism be stopped?” . . . A
little over the top? Perhaps. But they don’t call
McBrien “Chainsaw” for nothing. In 1999, he ordered a
whack-job on a
half-dozen oaks blocking his bluff-side view of the
American River, knowing full well the trees were on
public property, thus making the act of cutting them
down felony vandalism. Unless, of course, you happen to
be a judge with $20,000 on hand to bargain the crime
down to a misdemeanor—and keep your ass firmly planted
on the bench.
Update, January 5, 2010
Judicial Commission fries Judge McBrien
Judicial Performance Commission may not have thrown
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Peter J. McBrien off
the bench, but it’s a safe bet the judge is feeling
extremely butt-hurt after the commission issued a
severe public censure of the judge on Jan. 5. . ..
McBrien, also known as “chainsaw,” first gained
public notoriety in 1999, after he ordered a tree
cutter to chop down a copse of oak trees that were
blocking his home’s view of the American River. Read
here. McBrien first
came to this reporter’s attention after Ulf Carlsson,
whose divorce case was heard by the family court
judge in 2006, notified SN&R about alleged
wrongdoing by the judge during the proceeding. Read
here. . . . The
Commission’s Decision and Order of Public Censure is
available on the Commission’s Web site
under “Press Releases” and “Public Discipline –1960
to Present,” and at the Commission’s office.
O.C. prosecutor, wife arrested on suspicion of
An Orange County prosecutor and his wife were arrested Christmas Day
on allegations of domestic violence, and the case has been submitted
to the state attorney general’s office for review, authorities said
today. . . . Veteran prosecutor David L. Brent, 53, and his wife,
Roshawn Jolancia Brent, 27, were arrested shortly before midnight
Dec. 25, said Huntington Beach police spokesman Lt. Russell
Reinhart. . . . Police responded to the incident about 11 p.m. after
Roshawn Brent called 911 while standing next to the couple’s parked
car near the intersection of Gothard Street and Warner Avenue. After
an investigation, both husband and wife were arrested on suspicion
of domestic violence, Reinhart said. The incident was first reported
online earlier today by the OC Weekly.
VICTIMS-OF-LAW ON THE WEB
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a relative or a friend!
is at the heart
of the most serious societal problems in America.
nearly all of our families.
bankrupts and/or imprisons
mercilessly propels our children to violence, suicide &
snares a million of our children a year.
is a multi-billion dollar industry ravaging our
families, destroying our country, & threatening our society.
the DIVORCE INDUSTRY &
could get you, a relative, or a friend next!
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