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Court orders Putnam family judge to rule in divorce or be held
07-06-12 -- A Putnam
County family law judge facing disciplinary action for his lack
of professionalism in a Hurricane pastor's divorce could be held
in contempt if he fails to render a decision in another divorce
by next week. . . .
The state Supreme Court in a memorandum opinion issued July 5
ordered Judge William M. "Chip" Watkins III to make rulings on
motions before him in the divorce of John J. and Nancy Black by
Tuesday, July 10 or be held in contempt. The Court's ultimatum
came in response to a writ of mandamus John Black filed last
month after Watkins not once, but twice ignored orders by Putnam
County's two circuit judges that he rule on the motions that
have been pending for almost two years.
. . . Memorandum opinions are issued by the Court in
cases that would not be significantly aided by oral arguments,
and present no new or significant questions of law.
Family judge won’t face complaint over screaming
07-03-12 -- The West
Virginia Supreme Court administrator said Tuesday he won't file
a complaint against a Putnam Family Court judge who screamed at
a pastor during his divorce hearing.
. . . Steve Canterbury said that because Putnam Family
Court Judge William Watkins has recused himself from the Rev.
Arthur Hage's divorce case, a complaint from Canterbury is not
warranted. . . . "I
think the judge is embarrassed, and certainly contrite, about
his outburst," Canterbury said, "and I think he has rightfully
Greatest Moments from Putnam County Judge, William Watkins'
Tirade to Pastor Arthur Hage.
Fathering Court helps fathers and mothers be better parents
When it comes to difficulties between mothers and fathers, it
doesn’t get much tougher than the cases in Fathering Court. The
program, which operates within the
D.C. Superior Court
system, helps men returning from prison reconnect with their
children and learn to get along with the mothers.
. . . In worst-case scenarios, a man will have sex with
several women and discover after his release from prison that he
now has several children. . .
. “The fundamental problem is that too many people are
having babies before they are prepared to take care of them,”
said D.C. Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee Jr., who presides
over the program. “Once the child is born, however, we are in a
race against time to get the parents working together. Or else
the cycle of fatherlessness and delinquency will never be
Divorce Costs: 10 Things Lawyers Don't Want You To Know
Our heart-to-heart on why it
costs so much and takes so long to get out of wedlock.
1. You'll pay more than the
advertised rate -- way more.
U.S. divorce rate has nearly doubled since 1960, according to
the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, and
the number of divorce lawyers has grown apace. Though divorce
rates leveled off during the recession, competition among
divorce lawyers has increased -- and billboards flashing "Quick
and Easy Divorce for $299" reveal how desperate for business
they've become. Those teaser prices aren't a scam, says Randy
Kessler, chair of the American Bar Association's family law
section, but they usually apply only to parties who have already
agreed on the terms and just need the lawyer to fill in the
forms. It's clients who don't fall into that category who are
likely to pay more. Of course, such come-ons are partly "just to
get you in the door," warns Sari Friedman, a New York City
(Check out all 10 Things)
Top Delaware Court Reprimands Business Solo for Resisting
Mandatory Family Court Appointments
Delaware's top court has publicly reprimanded a 16-year solo
business law practitioner for resisting multiple court
appointments to handle matters in Sussex County's family court.
. . . Although John M. Murray had argued that it was his
responsibility to inform clients and the court that he was not
experienced in family court or litigation matters, the Board on
Professional Responsibility said, in a report attached to the
Delaware Supreme Court's
order (PDF) on Monday
that it is a long-standing tradition in Sussex County for
lawyers to take on such cases outside their usual area of
Sheriff's Officers Join Sweep of Child Support-Delinquent
06-15-12 -- Sheriff Gary
Schaffer announced that the Cape May County Sheriff’s Office
participated in a statewide sweep of delinquent parents that
resulted in the arrest of 1,056 non-custodial parents who were
issued warrants and who have failed to pay their court ordered
child support. . . .
Additional targets included parents who have failed to appear at
court hearings to establish a child support order or order for
medical support. . . .
The Sweep was hosted in cooperation with the New Jersey office
of Child Support Services [OCSS].
. . .The Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey [SANJ] is
the lead agency in this event as per the Sheriff IV-D
Cooperative Agreement between OCSS and the Sheriff’s
Association, as authorized under Federal Regulation 45 CFR
302.34. The OCSS has commended both the Sheriffs’ Association of
New Jersey and the Judiciary for collaboratively supporting the
Judge rules man does not have to return wife's topless honeymoon
Sandra Abrams is using the photos
to sue him for sexual harassment
06-05-12 -- A FORMER
assistant to a hedge-fund bigwig does not have to return a CD of
his wife’s topless honeymoon pictures, which she’s using to sue
him for sexual harassment, a judge ruled Monday.
. . . The wife, Sandra Abrams, had argued that the snaps
were legally hers because they depicted her bod, photographed by
her husband on their camera.
Parents can be kidnappers: Court of Appeals
06-01-12 -- A divided New
York Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that custodial parents
can be convicted of kidnapping their children.
. . . The 4-3 majority ruling upheld the 2009 conviction
of Leo Leonard, who was charged with kidnapping, criminal
possession of a weapon, burglary and endangering the welfare of
a child. . . . Leonard
was accused of holding his 6-week-old daughter at knifepoint
after police arrived at his former girlfriend's home to
investigate a reported domestic dispute.
. . . He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
. . . Judge Robert Smith, writing for the majority, noted
that the Court of Appeals was following in the footsteps of top
appellate courts in Arizona, Florida and Iowa, in acknowledging
that "kidnapping by a custodial parent of his own child is not a
Panel examining license
issue: Lawyers question attorney’s suspension after late
North Dakota lawyers are raising
questions about whether the state’s child support enforcement
agency can suspend an attorney’s law license for late payments.
05-29-12 -- The Child
Support Enforcement Division of the North Dakota Department of
Human Services has broad power to take away occupational
licenses, as well as licenses needed to drive or hunt, as a
means of ensuring payments are made on time.
. . . Rudolph Tollefson, a lawyer from Devils Lake, had
his law license suspended twice this year and last because of
tardy payments. A North Dakota Supreme Court disciplinary panel
had investigated Tollefson for a number of rules violations,
including allegations that he practiced law while his license
was suspended for not paying child support.
Maryland’s Highest Court OKs Same-Sex Divorce
Same-sex couples can't get married in Maryland yet. But those
who marry elsewhere can now get divorced there.
. . . The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest
court, ruled Friday that same-sex couples who have a valid
marriage from another state can divorce in Maryland.
. . . The court, in a 7-0
ruling (PDF), said
Maryland courts should withhold recognition of a valid foreign
marriage only if that marriage is "repugnant" to state public
policy. It said that threshold is a high bar that had not been
met in the case before it.
Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in controversial warning
05-11-12 -- Saying he had
no discretion under state law, a judge sentenced a Jacksonville,
Florida, woman to 20 years in prison Friday for firing a warning
shot in an effort to scare off her abusive husband.
. . . Marissa Alexander unsuccessfully tried to use
Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law to derail the
prosecution, but a jury in March convicted her of aggravated
assault after just 12 minutes of deliberation.
. . . The case, which was prosecuted by the same state
attorney who is handling the Trayvon Martin case, has gained the
attention of civil rights leaders who say the African-American
woman was persecuted because of her race.
. . . After the sentencing, Rep. Corrine Brown confronted
State Attorney Angela Corey in the hallway, accusing her of
being overzealous, according to video from CNN affiliate WJXT.
. . . "There is no justification for 20 years," Brown
told Corey during an exchange frequently interrupted by
onlookers. "All the community was asking for was mercy and
justice," she said.
Oregon veteran seeks Supreme
Court review of divorce court allocation of his disability pay
05-09-12 -- It's an
argument that has raged in some veterans' circles for years: Do
family courts have the right to consider income from veterans'
benefits when calculating spousal or child support? A disabled
Air Force reservist from Albany is seeking to bring the question
before the U.S. Supreme Court -- again.
. . . Peter Barclay argues that he shouldn't have been ordered by
the Linn County Circuit Court to pay his ex-wife, Claudia
Barclay, $1,000 a month in spousal support because the amount
was calculated by combining his monthly Department of Veterans
Affairs disability benefits and his Social Security Disability
benefits. He and his lawyer argue that federal law prohibits
states from including VA disability benefits in such
calculations, on the grounds that Congress intended such
benefits to be for the welfare of the veteran. But the Oregon
Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court refused to
overturn the Linn County Court.
Lawyer Faces Possible
Discipline Over Epic Christmas Poem About Neverending Divorce
05-07-12 -- If you’ve
been representing someone in a knock-down, drag-out, decade-long
divorce action, with no end in sight, it’s understandable that
you’d be a little pissed off. And while some attorneys prefer to
“not so sincere” letters
calling opposing counsel “a**holes,” others find more creative
ways to channel their anger for the sake of poetic justice.
. . . And while poetry may be the best way to make
passive-aggressive complaints about your case, the next time
you’re considering writing a four-page, 60-line email riffing on
a classic holiday poem, you might want to consider your
audience. Some people might not be fans of your rhyme scheme….
. . .
A. Todd Merolla,
of Merolla & Gold, may soon be facing disciplinary action from a
New York court thanks to an epic poem sent right before
Christmas via email to opposing counsel and a special referee on
the case. . . .
Click to read Merolla’s
Divorce Trifecta Results in
Discipline for Counsel, Attorney Client and Lawyer Employer
05-01-12 -- A
Massachusetts disciplinary matter concerning the handling of an
attorney's divorce has resulted in a legal ethics trifecta:
. . . The counsel who handled the divorce has been
reprimanded, the attorney client was suspended from practice for
three months and her lawyer employer was suspended for one
month, reports the
Legal Profession Blog. . . . At issue ethically were misrepresentations made concerning
the income of Kathleen E. Kilkenny in a contested divorce
proceeding. . . .
Kilkenny, who was suspended for three months in 2010 by the
Supreme Judicial Court of
has already been reinstated.
TRACKING YOUR CHILD HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER!!!
Alert is A Victims-of-Law
Lawyer Who Got $50K Monthly
Alimony for Client Faces Potential Disciplinary Action re
04-30-12 -- A Michigan
matrimonial lawyer is facing potential disciplinary action after
admitting that a relationship with a client in a high-profile
divorce case over a decade ago violated an attorney ethics rule.
. . . Even though Henry Baskin got a very good result for
Linda Olson in her divorce from a general contractor and
construction company owner John Olson, he admitted to in a
Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission stipulation that his
conduct nonetheless presented a legal ethics problem,
Crain's Detroit Business
reports. . . . Baskin
"does not contest that, on the particular facts of this case,
his conduct violated (state rules of professional conduct) in
that a lawyer could not reasonably believe that the
representation might not be adversely affected by the lawyer's
personal interests," the stipulation says.
Petaluma teacher slain by
husband, police say
04-17-12 -- A Petaluma
schoolteacher and mother of four who was on her way to see her
divorce lawyer was shot and killed by the former high school
classmate she married two years ago, who then turned the gun on
himself, police and friends said Monday.
. . . Kim Conover, 43, who taught at a Petaluma
elementary school, was shot by her estranged husband,
41-year-old Kevin Conover, outside a law office on Keller Street
in downtown Petaluma about 2 p.m. Sunday, authorities said. He
then shot himself with his revolver.
. . . He died at the
scene. Kim Conover died that evening at a hospital.
. . . Not knowing whether there was still an active
shooter, police responding to the scene briefly detained her
attorney, Jeff Zimmerman, and handcuffed him before determining
he was not involved, authorities said. Zimmerman declined to
NY Appeals Court OKs $12K
Divorce Award for Value of Spouse’s Notre Dame Law Degree
04-13-12 -- A New York
trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding a husband
only 10 percent of the value assigned to his wife's law degree
from Notre Dame University despite his contributions as the
family's primary wage-earner and the child care he provided
while his wife was in law school, a state appeals court has
ruled. . . . Likewise,
there was a solid basis for the trial court to agree with an
expert for Victoria Esposito-Shea that the law degree had a
value of $126,000, based on what it added to her earning
potential, explained the Third Department of New York Supreme
Court's Appellate Division in its April 5
A court’s conundrum: When
same-sex partners want to split
04-09-12 -- When Jessica
Port showed up in court Friday to pursue a divorce, she first
stopped to consult with her lawyer. Then she crossed the room to
hug her ex, chatting happily until it was time to be seated.
. . . The electronic board outside the courtroom
identified the case as “No. 69, Jessica Port v. Virginia Anne
Cowan.” That title is misleading. Port and Cowan are on the same
side of this case: They both want to get divorced. But a Prince
George’s County judge said they could not, reasoning that
because same-sex marriage is not legal in the state, neither is
same-sex divorce. . . .
Now the highest court in Maryland will decide whether he
was right, and whether the women will be required to maintain a
bond they’ve tried for almost two years to sever.
California judicial panel
admonishes L.A. County commissioner
The state panel finds Los Angeles
County Superior Court Commissioner Alan H. Friedenthal had made
'discourteous, undignified, gratuitous and denigrating remarks'
while presiding over family law cases.
04-04-12 -- A Los Angeles
County Superior Court commissioner who made "discourteous,
undignified, gratuitous and denigrating remarks" during family
law cases was publicly admonished Tuesday by a state agency
overseeing judges' discipline.
. . . The Commission on Judicial Performance determined
that Commissioner Alan H. Friedenthal should be "severely
publicly admonished" for misconduct, including "humor at the
expense of litigants," during five cases over which he presided
from June 2007 to January 2009, according to an 18-page order
made public Tuesday.
Divorced attorney can't
recoup Madoff fraud losses
04-03-12 -- New York's
top court has thrown out a Manhattan lawyer's bid to undo his
divorce settlement and force his former wife to share in losses
tied to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Steven Simkin, a partner
at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, was saddled with
losses when a $5.4 million retirement account he retained as
part of a 2006 divorce settlement tanked because of the Madoff
fraud. . . . Simkin
claimed that the inclusion of the account in the settlement was
the result of a "mutual mistake" that rendered the pact void.
. . . A unanimous Court of Appeals on Tuesday disagreed.
"Given the extensive and carefully negotiated nature of the
settlement agreement, we do not believe that this presents one
of those exceptional situations warranting reformation or
rescission of a divorce settlement after all martial assets have
been distributed," Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote in a 6-0 ruling.
Simkin, a partner in Paul, Weiss' real estate department, a
lawyer and the executive director of labor relations for the
City University of New York, separated from his wife, Laura
Blank, in 2002 after three decades of marriage.
Total Injury is a
Alimony Decision Shows How
Layoff Affected BigLaw Partner
03-30-12 -- An Illinois
divorce decision showcases the economic problems that can plague
BigLaw partners ousted from their jobs during the recession.
. . . The case involves David McLauchlan, who sought to
modify an order that he pay his wife of more than 30 years
$14,000 a month in monthly alimony after their divorce, the
Am Law Daily
reports. McLauchlan worked for 34 years at Lord Bissell & Brook,
serving as an executive committee member and earning as much as
$500,000 a year. . . .
But in 2006, six years after his divorce became final, his
earnings fell. His income continued on a downward trajectory as
Lord Bissell merged with Locke Liddell & Sapp, falling to about
$165,000 in 2008. McLauchlan was asked to leave. He launched a
solo practice, even as he and his new wife were making payments
on a $924,000 mortgage on a Chicago townhouse that now has an
estimated value of $691,000.
Fast-track plea on gay
03-27-12 -- Seeking a
fast track for two test cases on the constitutionality of the
federal law barring benefits for legally married same-sex
couples, the Obama Administration this week asked the Ninth
Circuit Court to go directly into review before a full 11-judge
bench instead of a three-judge panel. Besides seeking such en
banc review, the government urged the Court to put the issue on
an expedited schedule with two pending cases joined. The
government’s filing Monday on the appeals, both titled Golinski
v. Office of Personnel Management (Circuit dockets 12-15388 and
12-15409), is here.
At issue is the Defense of Marriage Act. . . . DOMA is a 1996 law that includes a section declaring that
same-sex couples, even if married legally in a state allowing
such unions, are ineligible for any benefits, rights or other
protections provided to married couples under any federal law.
The government has estimated that there are 1,138 laws that are
covered by DOMA’s Section 3. That provision states that
anywhere the word “marriage” appears in a federal law, it means
only “a legal union between one man and one woman.”
Love means not having to say
you're sorry, on Facebook
03-20-12 -- A man who
made comments about his estranged wife on his Facebook page and
was threatened with jail unless he posted daily apologies for a
month won't be locked up even though he didn't finish the job.
. . . American Mark
Byron agreed to begin posting the apology last month to avoid
jail but later said the ruling violated his freedom of speech.
. . . He stopped posting the apology after 26 days, but Judge Jon
Sieve, of Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court, determined
that he had posted it long enough, and Byron wasn't jailed. . . . Mr Byron, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said afterward that he was
relieved not to be in jail, "but I was prepared to go to defend
my free speech rights." . . .
Mr Byron's attorney, Becky Ford, said she had filed a
notice of appeal in a state court.
. . . "We believe that by scripting and saying what he
had to post on Facebook, the court violated his rights to free
speech," Ford said.
NH court considers counsel for indigent parents
The New Hampshire Supreme Court is deciding whether New
Hampshire should remain one of two states that doesn't guarantee
indigent parents court-appointed lawyers in abuse and neglect
proceedings. . . . For
three decades, poor parents in New Hampshire were provided
lawyers if they could not afford them, but funding was cut
during the last legislative session. That prompted a lawsuit on
behalf of parents, and the high court took up the issue Tuesday.
. . . Lawyer Michael Shklar (SKLAR) told the court that
parents who represent themselves are at an enormous
disadvantage. But attorney Jeanne Herrick, representing the
state, said the courts have adopted protocol to make sure
parents understand the process and that they don't have a
constitutional right to counsel.
New law stops injustice of
paying alimony forever
Editor's note: Steve Hitner is president and founder of Mass
Alimony Reform and the president of Metrowest Printing Co. He is
a divorce consultant and mediator.
03-09-12 -- My marriage
ended in 1995 after 23 years. My two daughters were adults. I
knew I would be required to pay alimony, split the assets and
provide health insurance for a reasonable period of time. But a
marriage that had been difficult for many years was finally
over, or so I thought. I didn't know I was about to enter the
twilight zone of alimony-without-end in Massachusetts.
. . . The trial took three days, and a judgment took 10
months. My legal bills were nearly $150,000. I was ordered to
pay $865 a week -- forever. After 9/11, my business suffered, as
many did, and I could not afford the payments. I racked up
credit card debt that terrified me. I had to file for
bankruptcy. . . . When
I went to court to modify the alimony payment, the judge recused
herself from the case, saying her husband had once played cards
with the bankruptcy trustee, and I would have to start over.
Something was very wrong, and I had to fix it. . . . I launched a website,
and with my current wife, Jeanie, and several couples in similar
situations, began what became the alimony reform movement.
Ex-Marine Gets 15 Years for
Attacking Wife During Hearing in Judge’s Chambers
03-06-12 -- A man who
fractured his wife's nose and broke her jaw during an attack
last year in a Florida judge's chambers was sentenced Friday to
a maximum 15-year prison term after pleading no contest to an
aggravated battery charge. .
. . Paul Henry Gonzalez Jr., 29, apologized profusely and
sought, with his attorney, to persuade Judge Jeffrey Cohen to
sentence him to four years in the Broward County case. However,
the judge was apparently unmoved by the apology and defense
psychiatric testimony that the ex-Marine suffers from
post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder as well as a
personality disorder. He called the attack an outrage, according
New York Daily News
and the South Florida
For an Easy, Affordable,
Lawyer-Free Divorce, Check ‘Yes’: View
03-04-12 -- A controversy
over divorce procedures in Texas is calling attention to a
profound shift in the way Americans in all 50 states exit
marriage: They’re going to court on their own, without lawyers.
. . . Few courts keep
statistics, but small studies and local estimates suggest that
self-divorcers now make up 40 percent to 70 percent of the
total, depending on the jurisdiction, with the highest numbers
in places with relatively large populations of poor people.
. . . Naturally, this
is causing a lot of chaos at family courts, and extra work for
clerks who are called upon to help multitudes of legal novices,
often in the pangs of marital separation, work through the
process. . . . The
Supreme Court of Texas, like courts in dozens of other states
and counties, wants to make things easier by providing
do-it-yourself petitions, summonses and other forms needed to
manage a divorce. Texas family lawyers are fighting back,
arguing that the forms may not provide adequate help, that
marriages are best dissolved with a lawyer’s advice and
Former Oklahoma County Judge
Tammy Bass-LeSure gets deferred sentence in fraud case
Former Oklahoma County Judge
Tammy Bass-LeSure and her husband Karlos LeSure received
deferred sentences after pleading guilty to fraud in a case
involving adopted twins.
03-02-12 -- Former
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure and her
husband, Karlos LeSure, pleaded guilty to fraud Friday and were
given deferred sentences. . . . They were accused of secretly giving away twin babies to
Ravonda L. Edwards, the sister of the judge's bailiff, after the
judge and her husband became foster parents for the twins.
Edwards is also accused of fraud.
. . . Bass-LeSure
resigned March 1 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
. . . Prosecutors alleged Edwards raised the boy and
girl. Witnesses said the children called Edwards “Mommy,” and
called the judge their aunt. . . . The children are now 4.
. . . The judge and her husband became foster parents for
the twins in 2008 and adopted them in 2010.
Pet custody cases increasing
02-28-12 -- They still
fight like cats and dogs in divorce court. But more and more
they are fighting about cats and dogs.
. . . Custody cases involving pets are on the rise across
the country. . . . In
a 2006 survey by the 1,600-member American Academy of
Matrimonial Lawyers, a quarter of respondents said pet custody
cases had increased noticeably since 2001. The academy is due
for another survey, but there is no doubt such cases have grown
steadily since then, said Ken Altshuler of Portland, Maine, a
divorce attorney and AAML president.
Lawyers.com “Divorce and
Family Law” Newsletter Launched
Free Electronic Publication
Offers Practical Information for Consumers
a leading legal website from LexisNexis® for consumers and small
business owners, has a new, free electronic newsletter available
on the site called
Divorce and Family Law. The newsletter provides legal news,
practical advice and information consumers can use to learn
about current developments in divorce and family law. Future
articles may cover such topics as adoption, paternity, child
abuse and domestic violence. Readers will also receive alerts
about related chats occurring on the
a top online destination for practical analysis of consumer
legal news. **** The first issue of
Divorce and Family Law can be accessed via the following link:
Court disbars Marietta
Georgia Supreme Court disbarred Marietta attorney Joan Palmer
Davis on Monday for failing to adequately represent her client. . . . According to the court ruling, Davis failed to appear in
court to represent her client in a 2008 child support case, then
attempted to withdraw from the case without telling him. Davis
also took the client’s fee and refused to return it.
Are Divorce Lawyers
02-24-12 -- In most (some
would say all) cases, couples calling it quits benefit from
legal representation. But legal representation can be pricey, so
the Texas Supreme Court is considering fill-in-the-blank legal
forms people can use in divorce cases instead of hiring lawyers.
. . . Texas divorce lawyers, naturally, are opposed to
the plan. . . . The WSJ’s Nathan Koppel
that the fight is part of a larger trend around the country of
people trying to represent themselves when they go to court to
dissolve their marriages. While no comprehensive figures
exist, surveys in some states and Texas counties indicate that a
majority of parties in divorce cases do so, which can cause
problems for the couples as well as the courts.
. . . Thirty-six states already offer self-help forms for
divorce filings, according to Koppel. The Texas Supreme Court
last month finished drafts of its versions.
Attorney who pleaded guilty
in adoptive-infants case faces sentencing
Poway lawyer accused of wire
fraud, related to her role in a ring to pay surrogates, accepted
a plea bargain. But characterizations of the case as
'baby-selling' put the defendant at a disadvantage in
sentencing, the defense says.
02-24-12 -- Poway
attorney Theresa Erickson was a star in the complex,
competitive, and sometimes lucrative business of helping
childless couples adopt babies. . . . She was a frequent guest on national TV shows; she
self-published a book on "assisted reproduction," and she
presented herself on her website as a tireless, fearless
advocate for adoption. Eager to expand her business, she was
looking to attract gay clients.
. . . A different Erickson will appear for sentencing
Friday in San Diego federal court: an admitted felon, the
alleged ringleader behind an international scheme to
pay surrogates to carry
to term so the babies could be placed with couples throughout
the United States.
Gay Texas Judge Refuses to
Perform Marriage Ceremonies
-- Texas Judge Tonya
Parker cannot legally marry a woman in her state, so she refuses
to perform any marriage ceremonies until there is equality. She
finds it "oxymoronic" to perform a ceremony that cannot be
performed for her. . . .
Parker, an openly gay judge, told a group at a Stonewall
Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday that when she turns a couple
away, she uses it as an opportunity to teach them a lesson about
marriage equality. . . .
"I don't perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a
state that does not have marriage equality and until it does,
I'm not going to partially apply the law to one group of people
that doesn't apply to another group of people," Parker said in a
video of the Tuesday discussion. "And it's kind of oxymoronic
for me to perform ceremonies that can't be performed for me, so
I'm not going to do it." . .
. A spokeswoman for the Texas State Commission on
Judicial Conduct said the commission had no comment.
Do grandparents get
visitation rights? Supreme Court declines case
The Supreme Court declined to
hear a case in which grandparents demanded to visit their
grandchildren but the parents intervened. The lack of a decision
leaves no clear constitutional standard on the issue.
02-21-12 -- Two Alabama
grandparents have lost their bid to have court-ordered regular
visits with their teenaged granddaughters.
. . . The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up
the grandparent’s appeal in a case testing when a judge can
force objecting parents to permit regular visits between a
grandparent and grandchildren.
. . . The high court action allows a decision of the
Alabama Supreme Court to stand. The Alabama high court had ruled
in favor of the parents who opposed court-intervention in the
grandparent visitation dispute.
How much do you know about
the US Constitution? A quiz.
50 states have grandparent visitation laws in which a judge can
require regular access to one’s grandchildren. . . .
But what is less clear is how a
judge is to rule when the child’s parents are opposed to such
Alabama court's wrongful
death ruling used to recommend abandoning Roe 'viability'
02-20-12 -- Life groups
are hailing an opinion by an Alabama Supreme Court justice who
argued that it's time to abandon the viability standard used in
Roe v. Wade because medical breakthroughs -- backed by case law
and legislation -- have shown a fetus is only as viable as the
technology monitoring it. . . . The opinion by Judge Thomas
Parker was issued Friday in the case of a woman who sued her
doctors for wrongful death when her baby died in the womb while
only three months in gestation. . . . The Alabama Supreme Court
threw out a DeKalb Circuit Court summary judgment in favor of
the defendants that held the wrongful-death action could not be
maintained because the unborn child was not viable.
Alabama Supreme Court justice
blasts U.S. abortion law
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker took aim Friday at U.S.
abortion law, using a DeKalb County case to call for states to
reject the concept of "viability" of a fetus and give legal
rights to the unborn. . . . The state court ruled unanimously
Friday that a DeKalb County woman has the right to pursue a
wrongful death claim against her doctors on behalf of her unborn
child. The child was not old enough to live outside the womb,
but a 2011 Alabama Supreme Court ruling said that such a claim
could be filed even for a "previable fetus." The decision did
not break new legal ground in abortion law. . . . In Roe vs.
Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court said the state has a "compelling"
interest in the life of an unborn child when it reaches
"viability," when it can survive outside the womb. The U.S.
Supreme Court has not defined viability by the age of the fetus,
but left it to be determined by the mother's doctors.
Ohio parents get prison in
cancer death of son
A Cleveland judge sentenced two parents Thursday to eight years
in prison after they pleaded guilty to failing to get medical
help for their eight-year-old boy before he died from a
treatable form of cancer. . .
. Judge Michael Astrab admonished Monica Hussing, 37, and
William T. Robinson, Sr., 40, parents of William Robinson, Jr.,
for not taking personal responsibility for their son's March
2008 death and for hiding him away instead of seeking help for
his illness. They received the maximum sentence. . . . The couple pleaded guilty in January to one count each of
involuntary manslaughter. Hussing and Robinson were under
investigation since 2005 by the Department of Family and
Children Services in Trumbull County for keeping some of their
six children out of school and failing to get medical attention
Attorney calls for protection
of parents in school abuse case
02-09-12 -- A local
immigrant rights group has called on the Los Angeles County
Sheriff’s Department to provide protections for undocumented
parents whose children were allegedly victimized in the
Miramonte Elementary School teacher abuse scandal.
. . . The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los
Angeles asked for the sheriff to assure the parents that their
immigration status will not be affected if they go to
authorities with claims of abuse.
. . . “Families are not speaking up because they are
scared of being deported,” attorney Jessica Dominguez said at a
news conference Thursday morning. . . . Dominguez also urged Sheriff Lee Baca to assign a detective
to the case “who is very familiar with certifications of
U-Visas.” If approved, these documents give victims legal status
for up to four years. . . .
The news conference also featured a father of a Miramonte
student allegedly abused by teacher Mark Berndt. The father, who
was identified only by his first name, Raymundo, said he did not
go to authorities initially because he was afraid of being
Appeals court sets guidelines
for alimony and child support
02-07-12 -- A New York
appeals court ruled on Tuesday that judges may not deviate from
a new formula for calculating temporary alimony and child
support payments -- even to account for basic expenses such as
mortgage payments -- without justifying their decision using a
2010 law's strict criteria. .
. . The unanimous ruling by the
Appellate Division, First
provided particular guidance for judges and attorneys who are
litigating divorces in which one spouse is wealthier than the
other. . . . Before
2010, judges had wide latitude to determine the appropriate
temporary payments -- which are instituted during an ongoing
divorce action -- "in such amount as justice requires." The new
statute, a section of the Domestic Relations Law, requires
judges to determine a presumptive amount of alimony by
performing a series of mathematical calculations based on each
spouse's incomes, up to $500,000, as shown on their recent tax
Flowers, dinner, bowling --
and counseling -- ordered by Broward judge in domestic case
A marital spat that began when a Plantation man didn’t wish his
wife a happy birthday and then escalated into a domestic
violence charge, resulted in an unusual bond court ruling by a
perceptive judge. . . .
Instead of setting bond or keeping Joseph Bray locked up,
he ordered him to treat his spouse to dinner, a bowling date and
then to undergo marriage counseling.
Prop. 8: Gay-marriage ban
unconstitutional, court rules
02-07-12 -- A federal
appeals court Tuesday struck down California's ban on same-sex
marriage, clearing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on
gay marriage as early as next year.
. . . The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot
measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated
the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to
appeal. . . . The
ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California.
. . . “Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no
effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of
gays and lesbians in California,” the court said.
DOCUMENT: Read the court's
FULL COVERAGE: Prop. 8
Prop. 8: Gay judge’s
relationship not a factor, court rules
02-07-12 -- The appeals
court that overturned Proposition 8 on Tuesday also ruled that
retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who ruled against
the 2008 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, was not
obligated to step away from the case because he was in a long
term same-sex relationship. .
. . The panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
said U.S. District Judge James Ware, who
refused to overturn Walker's
on the grounds he failed to disclose his relationship, based the
ruling on sound law and logic.
. . . The court cited Ware's finding that it was
unreasonable to presume a judge could not be unbiased simply
because he or she might one day be affected by the ruling.
Prop 8 Ruling: Judges
Invoke Marilyn Monroe, Movies and Jumbotrons
02-07-12 -- The appellate
court judges who ruled Tuesday that California's Proposition 8,
which banned same-sex marriage, mentioned Jumbotrons, Frank
Sinatra, movies and Marilyn Monroe along with Supreme Court
precedents in their decision. . . . "Had Marilyn Monroe’s film been called ‘How to Register a
Domestic Partnership with a Millionaire,’ it would not have
conveyed the same meaning as did her famous movie, even though
the underlying drama for same-sex couples is no different," the
judges wrote. . . .
The judges wrote that in society, "We are excited to see someone
ask, ‘Will you marry me?’, whether on bended knee in a
restaurant or in text splashed across a stadium Jumbotron.
Certainly it would not have the same effect to see, ‘Will you
enter into a registered domestic partnership with me?’." . . . They even invoked Groucho Marx, William Shakespeare and
Abraham Lincoln -- all in one paragraph:
Judge Barbara Jaffe
02-06-12 -- New York
Judge Barbara Jaffe disagrees with me
on the issue I discussed here
regarding Natalie Munroe,
the elementary school teacher who still has her job despite
professing her contempt and dislike for her elementary students
and their parents on her blog. Thanks to Jaffe, Christine Rubino,
whose online comments about her students were infinitely worse,
has won a court challenge to
from her job teaching at PS 203 in Brooklyn, New York. The judge
is wrong, and I am right. The judge is also a fool.
. . . Imagine: last March, the day after a 12-year-old
Harlem schoolgirl drowned during a class trip to a Long Island
beach, Rubino posted a vicious rant about her fifth-graders on
her Facebook page. “After today,” she wrote, ” I’m thinking the
beach is a good trip for my class. I hate their guts.”
Attorney: Man adopts
girlfriend to preserve trust assets
02-03-12 -- An attorney
for the wealthy Floridian who legally adopted his adult
girlfriend says the move is not illegal and was made "with the
intention to preserve and grow the assets of the Trust for his
two minor children, even should he personally be unable to
continue his historical role in achieving these goals."
. . . As On Deadline noted
in a posting on Thursday,
John Goodman, 48, is being sued by the parents of Scott Wilson,
23, who was killed in a traffic accident last February,
according to The Palm Beach Post. . . . The newspaper, quoting a sheriff's report, says Goodman ran
a stop sign and hit Wilson's car in Wellington, Fla. . . . Wilson's parents have sued Goodman. The trial is set for
March 27. . . . The
newspaper says Goodman also faces a criminal trial on March 6 on
charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the
scene of a crash. He could face up to 30 years in prison.
LA to allow press, public
into child abuse cases
The presiding judge of Los Angeles' juvenile courts says he will
allow better access for the press and public on hearings for
child abuse and foster care cases.
. . . The Los Angeles Times (
reports Judge Michael Nash says the news media is presumed to
have a legitimate interest that allows them into hearings.
Judge: Abused boy looks like
concentration camp victim
Abused, starved and naked, a
9-year-old boy was rescued by neighbors when he was found on the
streets. A Miami judge Monday demanded to know how it happened.
01-30-12 -- Joseph Lee
studied a color snapshot of his 9-year-old nephew Monday as a
Miami child-welfare judge glanced at Lee.
. . . The judge was
looking for signs that Lee was as disturbed by the photo as she
was. But Lee simply stared at the picture.
. . . “I’m looking for words,” Lee said. “I was not aware
of any of this.” . . .
The photo, which was not released publicly, depicted a little
boy who had become so emaciated that his bones protruded from
his skin, and his eyes bulged from their sockets, Miami-Dade
Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said. She likened him to a
concentration camp survivor.
. . . The boy was discovered by police wandering his
North Miami Beach neighborhood Saturday — beaten, naked and
starving. His parents, 34-year-old Marsee Strong and 40-year-old
Edward Bailey, remain at the Miami-Dade County Jail on charges
of aggravated child abuse and neglect. On Monday afternoon, they
were still jailed and had yet to post $65,000 bail.
. . . The boy and four of his siblings were placed in the
custody of Lee, a maternal uncle who was ordered by the judge
not to allow the boy’s parents any contact with him. Lee also
agreed to adopt the children if their parents are unable to
regain custody. The boy also has an 18-year-old sister who is
Judge no more: Warner banned
from Alabama bench
01-27-12 -- Former
Montgomery County family court Judge Patricia Warner and the
Judicial Inquiry Commission filed an agreement Friday that
forbids Warner from ever serving as a judge in Alabama again.
. . . Warner has lived in North Dakota since abruptly
retiring from the bench last June, days before an ethics
complaint containing 74 separate charges was filed against her.
. . . Under the terms of the agreement, the Alabama Court
of Judiciary found that Warner created "the appearance of
impropriety" in a child custody case, in violation of Canon 2 of
the state Canons of Judicial Ethics.
. . . The remaining 73 charges against Warner --
including accusations of mishandled cases and entering orders
without hearings or evidence to support them -- were dismissed.
Outside Judge Sides with
Prosecutor, Says Judge Jones Should Step Down From Family Court
01-23-12 -- Concluding
the latest battle in an ongoing war between a Nevada family
court judge and at least some members of the local prosecutor's
office, an outside judge brought in to hear a recusal motion has
determined that Judge Steven Jones should step aside from a
child welfare case. . . .
Earlier, Jones banned an assistant Clark County
prosecutor, Michelle Edwards, from his courtroom after she
helped expose his romance with another member of the
prosecutor's office, the
Las Vegas Review-Journal
reports. But it is Jones who should step aside, because he
earlier admitted he is biased against Edwards, Judge Susan
Johnson ruled in a 10-page opinion.
Wife of Man Paying Alimony
Despite Advanced Alzheimer’s Among Those Pushing Reform
01-19-12 -- The wife of a
72-year-old man still paying alimony despite advanced
Alzheimer’s is part of a reform movement seeking to change the
laws in several states. . . . Linda Morgan of Lehigh Acres, Fla., says her husband,
retired physician Michael Morgan, has been paying alimony since
1992 when his 36-year marriage ended,
reports. As Michael Morgan’s disease progressed, the Morgans
sought to change an alimony agreement reached in mediation. But
judges refused their request and even ordered the Morgans to pay
Judge in immigrant custody
battle orders 5yo girl returned to mom in Mexico; 'illegal' dad
stays in Queens with new girlfriend
Mexican parents' plot to come to
America together fails; dad makes it, mom doesn't
01-09-12 -- A federal
judge ordered a 5-year-old Queens girl removed from her father's
custody Monday and returned to her mother in Mexico after the
couple's border-crossing scheme went awry.
. . . "This is a tragic and heart-rending case," Judge
Jack Weinstein said, noting that the decision was based on
international law and not who is the better parent.
. . . Weinstein directed the lawyer for the child's
father to bring her to Brooklyn Federal Court Friday so a
guardian could take her home to Puebla to reunite with her
mother. The lawyer, Steven Ross, said he may ask the U.S. Court
of Appeals for a stay of the judge's ruling.
. . . Angelica Mota filed suit last year seeking custody
of little Elena under the Child Abduction Remedies Act of the
Hague Convention. . . .
The child was born in 2006 to Mota and her husband Jose
Luis Rivera Castillo who later entered the U.S. illegally and
settled in Queens where he works as a custodian at a private
Judge allows thousands to
join child support lawsuit
Suit alleges state is creating
modern-day debtor's prisons by jailing parents who don't pay
01-03-12 -- Thousands of
parents facing possible jail time for failing to pay child
support can join a lawsuit that says lawyers should be appointed
to represent them if unable to afford counsel, a judge has
ruled. . . . In a Dec.
30 order, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter
granted class-action status to a suit filed last year against
the state by five parents who had been jailed for child-support
debt. . . . Georgia is
one of the few states nationwide that does not provide lawyers
for indigent parents facing civil contempt in child-support
proceedings. The state already struggles, because of budget
shortfalls, to provide lawyers to indigent people charged with
criminal offenses. . . .
The lawsuit contends Georgia is creating modern-day
debtor's prisons for those jailed when they have no ability to
pay because they have lost jobs or are disabled and unable to