Crisis In The Family Courts


Posted in Uncategorized by abatteredmother on May 7, 2010

clip_image001NOTE TO THE MEDIA: Trag·e·dy (trj-d) n. pl. trag·e·dies – 1. A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances…



Bad laws, bad decisions, bad judges, bad experts, bad ethics, bad ideas, and other things that are BAD FOR CHILDREN



clip_image001[4]ALANNA KRAUSE CASE, Marin County, California. A "hellish" childhood, placed into the custody of her father, attorney Marshall Krause, who she says was abusive.""If we forgot Alanna was a child, and we put her in this situation as an adult, she would be suing someone who beat her up and who denied her a relationship with her mother, and an attorney and a therapist who sold her out. The same [legal] standards should be applied to kids. There is this illusion that we are protecting kids, while we’re actually doing so much damage to them." — Richard Ducote, Alanna’s lawyer.

DEBRA SCHMIDT CASE, Alameda County, California. A convicted sex offender, an illegal immigrant, a man who molested his niece in front of his wife, raped his wife in front of one of his daughters, and later molested another child, Manuel Saavedra, received custody of his young daughters, but their mother, Debra Schmidt, was arrested and charged with kidnapping. For more information, see here and here. Ultimately, after six years (nearly half of cognizant childhood), Schmidt regained custody. See here.



clip_image002[4]MERRY MORRIS CASE, Palm Beach County, Florida. Merry Morris has been punished by the Florida family court for seeking that court’s help in securing her visitation rights to her two minor children. The punishment: $1.8 million and a warrant for her arrest when she failed to pay that amount. The Florida appellate system dismissed her appeal. Merry is now a fugitive because she faces the very real prospect that if she submits to the arrest warrant she will remain indefinitely incarcerated unable to comply with a contempt order she is not able to appeal.

            The Florida Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, refused to permit her appeal of this order, finding that she can be punished for the simple act of coming to court to seek assistance in enforcing her visitation rights Morris v. Morris. To their credit, Justices Anstead, Pariente and Quince dissented finding that the dismissal of Morris’s appeal "potentially fosters a serious miscarriage of justice, and violates the petitioner’s constitutional right to an appeal."

            [05/01/06] Merry has now taken two actions. First, she has invoked the common law writ of habeas corpus and petitioned the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal to consider whether her arrest warrants are "intolerable restraints? deserving of review under the law articulated at Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 401 (1963). A copy of that petition may be viewed here.

            Additionally, Morris has filed an action in the U.S. District Court of Florida seeking emergency declaratory relief that (i) Florida’s policy of punishing parents for seeking relief from Florida’s family court to enforce visitation rights is unconstitutional and violates public policy and (ii) Florida’s judge-made appellate rules which permits a Florida appellate court to dismiss an appeal — as the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal did here — violates both Florida and Federal Constitutional guarantees to due process.


clip_image004WENDY TITELMAN CASE, Cobb County, Georgia. Wendy Titelman is the mother of two daughters who wrongfully were taken from her by a Georgia judge September 15, 2000, and turned over to their father after the children claimed he had sexually abused them, and their mother reported this abuse. Their mother was jailed. Months later, the criminal jury was so outraged that after acquitting Titelman, they took it upon themselves to write a letter of complaint to Judge James Bodiford and the responsible District Attorney who had brought the charges. But it was to no avail: in all the time since, Wendy Titleman has not had her children returned to her.

            "Medical and mental health experts confirmed the abuse. And what did Georgia State officials do? Against the girls’ wishes, they took them from me and gave them to their father. Because I kept insisting that the Court protect them, the Cobb County, Georgia Superior Court punished me: I have not been allowed to see or talk to my girls since September 2000… a Cobb County Magistrate Court judge told me that I would never win in Georgia because I was dealing with the ‘good ‘ole boys who would stick together no matter what’… Judge James Bodiford, Judge Bo Wood, GAL Diane Woods, Elizabeth King, Ph.D., Lorita Whitaker, D.A. Patrick Head, the Kennesaw Police Department, and the Cobb County Department of Family and Children Services are directly responsible."

            Wendy has written a book, A Mother’s Journal: Let My Children Go! which details the systematic corruption and professional incompetence of the lawyers and mental health professionals involved.


ILLINOIS LEICHTENBERG-CONNOLLY CASE, McLean County, Illinois. March 31, 2009: "Jack and Duncan Connolly’s mother, Amy Leichtenberg, blames Judge James Souk for allowing her ex-husband to have unsupervised visitation with her boys and for her sons’ deaths. Now, she and her friends are taking action. ‘She knew this was his intentions from the beginning because it was never about the boys it was to hurt her and she told the judge that, she told him and he didn’t listen… It is his fault these boys are gone, it is definitely Judge Souk’s fault,’ Tuley said. ‘He single-handedly handed down an order for Michael to have visitations with those boys unsupervised and because of it they’re dead.’ …"

            More:,0,3316104.story?page=1 "Amy Leichtenberg worried this day would come, and she begged the judicial system to prevent it. In court documents dating back to 2005, she detailed her estranged husband’s threats against her family and fought unsuccessfully to keep him from having unsupervised visits with their two sons…"

            And yet more: David Lynch, the local prosecutor is quoted as saying, apologia: "I doubt very much that the judge failed in this case" and "A court cannot stop a visitation unless it finds the visitation would be dangerous to the child’s mental, moral or physical health" and "A judge is going to say look at what happened to those two kids. Should I be overly restrictive to a very good parent because they might be that one in 10-thousand or one in 100,000." Somebody please ask Mr. Lynch how the hell he could possibly describe a man with a history of being this much of an abusive asshole toward his wife as a "very good parent".

This is the crux of the problem. These men are most assuredly NOT "very good parents" and it’s time the courts stopped automatically granting men the benefit of the doubt while doubting the credibility and motives of the women who know them best and who also happen to be the people who care the most about the children.

            Oh yes… a psych most assuredly did opine in this case, in the usual way, that Connolly was not a threat to himself or the children. Useless. The same guys who claim women emotionally abuse kids by "alienating" them from abusive men — and then have little problem removing children from the custody of their mothers — speciously fret and hand-wring over paternal rights and strained make-believe arguments that the children will suffer some kind of harm if they don’t get lots of time with fathers — and oh, it’s all the women’s fault because she’s not letting him see the children. (It was something else she must have done that provoked his prior abusive behavior against the mother when that excuse wouldn’t have worked)…

"According to the records, a Bloomington psychiatrist found in April 2008 that Connolly was depressed and unable to work because of ‘his inability to see his children under normal conditions.’ …a month later, the psychiatrist said in an evaluation submitted to McLean County Judge James Souk that Connolly did not seem suicidal or homicidal. Souk awarded Connolly unsupervised visits."

            Difficult? It’s not that difficult. Listen to the women. Stop granting depressed, obsessive, and/or control-freak abusive men visitation or "timeshare" rights. Listen to the mothers. Listen to the mothers. Listen to the mothers. Stop assuming that the default positions in custody cases are that women are unstable vindictive crackpots, and that men are being unfairly badmouthed. Father’s attorney Todd Roseberry is, of course, surprised.

            Good for McHenry County Judge Suzanne C. Mangiamele who took the claims seriously enough that while the divorce case was pending before her, Connolly received only supervised visitation. But why was he getting any visitation at all? The man repeatedly had threatened to kill the children’s mother, as well as others. Leichtenberg’s attorney, Elizabeth Vonau, said "Everybody knew he was capable of this. There were repeated threats he would harm her, repeated threats he would get back at her and harm the children or take them from her."

   "Connolly never hurt Leichtenberg or their sons but scared her because he called often, sometimes threatening suicide and other times trying to intimidate her or persuade her to come back to him…" He "never hurt her"? What? Of course he did! He threatened her life and abused her for years through the courts. That should have been enough. These mothers are not vindictive crackpots, and it’s not mothers in the news day after day after day who prove they are the lunatics by hurting other people. These mothers are the persons in the world who love the children best and who know the father best. The mothers. Not the psychs, your honors. Really. Women don’t keep children from helpful, supportive men who aren’t threatening to take custody, harm them physically, harm the children, or harm the mothers’ abilities to properly care and provide for their children.

"Connolly benefited from a system designed to overlook past indiscretions in favor of giving children a chance to maintain relationships with both parents… he bamboozled people. He was cagey and manipulative.",0,2218136.story

            Giving "the children" a chance? Now they are dead. Let’s stop with the euphemisms and pretexts. These are bad laws. Amy Leichtenberg and her children were failed by bad laws that serve primarily to give men rights. Mothers don’t seem to be able to "work the system" this way, because they aren’t believed, they frequently are the upset attached parent, they often have far less funds to litigate, and it’s just a father-lovin’ mother-denigrating world. "Leichtenberg spent the last four years documenting what she considered to be dangerous behavior."

            Listen to the mothers. Listen to the mothers. Listen to the mothers. Leichtenberg pleaded — pleaded — with the judge. What the f— did he think she was so worked up about? Did he discount her as some kind of "woman scorned"? She was the one who left Connolly. (Women usually are the ones who leave.) What kind of inherently misogynistic attitude leads people to hold these biased perceptions that they don’t even realize they hold. Women beg these judges… out of lunacy? vindictiveness? Hysteria? Weakness of mind? Some kind of pathetic "enmeshment" with the kids? Because they can’t handle life? To get those juicy big child custody awards that so often go unpaid anyway? Just another "high conflict custody case"?

            No. That’s projecting onto women the motives and thought processes of these abusive men. That’s what these MEN believe they would do were tables turned. They believe this way because they are not mothers. And judges often rule as they do because for one reason or another, they just don’t like the litigating mother as a person as much as they like the man — as if this is relevant to what’s in kids’ interests. It’s a mother-hating, woman-disrespecting world. Doesn’t help when she’s got reason to be stressed, harassed, made crazy and angry. (The court whores of course also will bias toward whoever is the more compliant person who likes them best, i.e. is most willing to pay them, but in the rare case that is the mother, that only tends to correct the pervasive pro-male bias.)

            Your honor, if some litigant who had come before you behaved toward you in the manner this man behaved, threatened your life and so forth, would you be inclined to hire him — EVER — to care for YOUR children? Would you be saying "Well, even though he threatened to slit my throat six months ago, and violated restraining orders umpteen times, now he has a job and a rented apartment, so that must mean he’s okay; he can have my kids for the weekend." Do the effin’ rules of reality change when it’s other people? Or is it just that we’re too damn enrenched in the delusional ideas of sperm rights and women’s wrongs in this world.

            See, at this website WILL HE KILL?





            Every week in the news, every week, sometimes every day, men in custody cases and relationship separation cases rape, batter, and kill women and children. It’s below the fold on some inside page if at all, if it even makes the news at all. It happens again and again and again and again. (But when the relatively rare mother kills, it’s headline news for months.) And don’t forget the ubiquitous tittering by the neighbors, duly quoted for "balance" all about what a nice guy, and how he was tormented and so forth. Usually it’s written up as if it’s an inexplicable snapping, and too often without a whiff of mention of the nearly always-present reality of a history of his being a control freak or depressive and that she left him or threatened to leave him, or to take some of "his" property, or cause him loss generally by breaking up "his family". (That last item, take note, is all about his surroundings and accutrements and possessions. It should not to be understood as "take his children" which is a specious use of faux projection by the propagandists, a pretext for the loss he’s actually flipping over.) And in the majority of the rest of those so-called one-in-ten-thousand cases, the ones in which he doesn’t kill, he’s still battering and abusing her through the court system, for years, over his custody "rights". It’s got to stop.

            People are calling for Judge Souk to resign. They should be calling for the ouster of the psychs as well, who mislead courts with snake oil and give them covers to hide behind. Let’s pinpoint exactly what the catalyst for this horrible, horrible failure of the court system was. A psych speculation as to risk, an opinion that had no business being uttered in court because psychsjust don’t have these prediction skills.

More opinions:

When the Justice System Fails You

Another Family Wiped Out By Dad



clip_image006CLAUDINE DOMBROWSKI CASE, Shawnee County, Kansas. Claudine lost custody of her baby daughter Rikki to Hal Richardson, the man who did this, thanks to Judge James P. Buchele, who refused to permit adequate testimony at trial, shortening it to benefit his docket, and also ordered Claudine to move back to Topeka to live near Richardson, for the sake of their "co-parenting." WHAT?! Richardson is a man with multiple criminal convictions for violent behavior (Battery, Attempted Battery, Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer, Obstruction of Legal Process, Possession of Marijuana and violation of Open Container law), a man who has beaten and raped Claudine multiple times before and after her divorce from him, a man who has threatened to kill her and her child.

            Worse, Judge Buchele also ordered Claudine not to call the police any more without the permission of her case manager. When Judge James Buchele retired, Judge Richard D. Anderson affirmed Buchele’s previous orders, including the illegal prohibition on Claudine’s being able to call the police.

            But don’t blame the judges alone. Stupidity rarely works its evil in a vaccuum. A truly egregious outrage requires that could-be good men do nothing. Guardian ad litem Scott McKenzie deserves a substantial portion of the credit for this travesty. I ask, how in hell can this happen in the United States of America? For more information, also see


clip_image008KELLY STRATTON, Covington, Kentucky. Two dead; thankfully, not the child or the mother (who was in jail while this happened). But how did this mother of a little girl end up in jail for 60 days for contempt of court, causing her to lose her job and home, and rendering her unable herself to protect her daughter, who was sent into the temporary custody of her (now dead) maternal grandmother? How couldKenton Family Court Judge Lisa Bushelman possibly have given this "father" Charlie Johnson any visitation rights? More importantly, how in hell is it that the law guardian could possibly have had "equal concerns" about the mother’s and father’s parenting skills?

        "The lawyer had equal concerns about the mother’s parenting skills. While the mother had custody, the girl was tardy at least 25 times and absent at least eight times from elementary school. She was late to school seven times in February."

        But the father "was charged with raping a child in 1994 but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of gross sexual imposition", was "also convicted of two counts of theft in 1989, aggravated burglary in 1989, disorderly conduct in 1991 and carrying a concealed weapon in 1991", and had been charged numerous times with domestic violence after violating several protection orders but that those charges had been dismissed."

        "‘The youngster needed therapy to deal with her parents’ fighting,’ guardian Lisa M. Wenzel said in one report." Her parents’ fighting? Nothing but a mutually squabbling mother, recalcitrant because a dangerous convicted child rapist wanted his custody rights? How unreasonable of her…

"But each parent had positive attributes, Wenzel said." How could anyone make this kind of claim unless she were completely incompetent.

        And Judge "Bushelman ordered that both parents would have joint custody… [the abusive, dangerous, child-rapist father] was given visitation three times a week…. [and then] in a May hearing, Bushelman found [the mother] in contempt of court and ordered her to serve 60 days in jail." We could guess why. Visitation "interference"? Failure to supply yet more harassing discovery? Or rudeness to the judge? Step down from the bench, please, Judge Bushelman. Two people are dead, and it appears that you were a catalyst. You are too susceptible to father’s rights crap and therapeutic jurisprudence drivel.

        Two people now are dead; thankfully, not the child or the mother. It does sound like the grandmother, hero Betty Hamilton, the mother’s mother, may she rest in peace, deserves a statue erected in her honor.



clip_image009AMY CASTILLO, Montgomery County, Maryland. Amy Castillo, a pediatrician, and primary parent to three small children (Anthony, 6, Austin, 4, and Athena, 2), twice was denied her motion to restrict Mark Castillo’s visitation rights. Not only that, she was fined for "visitation interference". Her children are dead now, murdered by their father in a hotel room in Baltimore, March 31, 2008. "A long-running custody battle…" "Amy Castillo filed for a protective order in December of 2006 and claimed Mark had threatened to kill their children to make her suffer. She requested that the order be permanent but a judge denied the request saying there was no evidence of abuse." You can find the case records at




clip_image010FAMILY COURT JUDGE NICHOLAS Del VECCHIO, accused child molestor, sex harasser, and all-around creep in Clark County, Nevada. The outrage is that it took the Judicial Discipline Commission almost two years to investigate, getting its first complaint in May 2006, and not filling charges until March 2008, all the while this man remained (and apparently as of March 23, 2008, remains) sitting on the bench, deciding family law cases  (of all things), and being a member of his county’s domestic violence taskforce. The child molest complainant is herself a lawyer. With charges like this someone please explain why this man was not removed immediately from this particular position of authority pending completion of an investigation? Or at least moved into some other court where he wouldn’t have been potentially able to sympathize with other men accused — falsely or not — of being child sex perverts!!!? Has the world lost its marbles? For more information, see and



clip_image012GENIA SHOCKOME CASE, Poughkeepsie, Duchess County, New York. On Thursday, May 5, 2005, Yevgenia Shockome, a pro se battered mother seven months pregnant, who already inexplicably had lost custody of her children to her abuser three years before in Judge Damian J. Amodeo‘s Duchess County Courtroom, was jailed on Mother’s Day weekend for objecting to Amodeo’s order permitting the father to move her children (whom she has not been able to see for months) to Texas. Apparently, Amodeo got ticked off because Shockome called him a "liar" in response to… her perception of what I guess we would call "bullshit" if it emanated from someone other than a judge? Amodeo previously had given custody to the children’s father despite indications of the father’s dysfunctional and stalker-like behavior. That original decision was of dubious merit in the first place. This latest act by the judge seems inexcusable. The hearing transcript does not seem to support these sanctions. Was Genia rude? Maybe she was! She also was unrepresented, upset, and with child-protective pregnancy hormones cursing through her body. In any event, absolutely none of her behavior in court should have had any bearing whatsoever on what was in her children’s interests.

Incredibly, Judge Amodeo sits on New York State’s Matrimonial Commission, which is supposed to help improve the way family courts function. Amodeo touts the following credentials: Member, NYS Matrimonial Commission, 2003 to present; Member, NYS Parent Education Advisory Board, 2001 to present; Member, NYS Universal Case Management Committee, 1999 to 2001; Member, NYS Committee on Automation and Technology for Judges, 1993 to 1996 Member, NYS Judicial Institute Committee, 2000 to 2002; Member, P.E.A.C.E. Advisory Committee, 1994 to 1999; Member, 9th Judicial District Committee to Promote Gender Fairness in the Courts, 1990 to present; Member & Past President [1986-1987]; Dutchess County Bar Association, 1968 to present; Member, Dutchess County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, 1989 to present; Member, Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council, 2000 to present ;Member, Dutchess County Juvenile Justice Task Force, 2004 to present; Member & Past President, Hyde Park Rotary, 1968 to 2004.

What’s Judge Amodeo doing involved with all these domestic violence, parenting education, and "gender fairness" committees? Doesn’t seem to jibe with this case, and looks suspicious. We need judges who engender actual respect, not ones who jail pregnant immigrant mothers whom they’ve admitted to traumatizing, which causes the litigants in turn — because of the judge’s own inappropriate behavior or decisions — to lose respect for and confuse this honorable office with a man who happens to wield its power.


NATALIE GIBBONS CASE, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Judge Nathanial P. Proctor apparently believes sexual freedom should reign in the bedroom. He’s the judge who a while back struck down North Carolina’s sodomy statute.

clip_image013            Well, we’re all for "sex positivism" and privacy for consenting adults too, even ones who get turned on by the idea of fucking animals — but we do NOT think it’s okay for a father to be watching pornography while in his bed with his two little kids (a boy, age 9, and a girl, age 10). Judge Proctor professes to not think so either. But then he wagged his finger at Dad — who, notwithstanding proof otherwise, continued to deny that it even happened — and refused to assure the childrens’ safety and well-being. When their mother, Natalie Gibbons, understandably horrified at what has been going on when these children have been in the custody of their father, and baffled at the complete refusal of the state to protect her children in the way the state would have if some other man — or even their mother — had been in bed with a little girl and a little boy watching porn videos, and did not want to turn her children back over into their father’s unsupervised custody, Judge Proctor responded — by throwing the mother into jail.

Demand that this man be removed from office. His priorities are very confused — to put it as politely as we can and refrain from speculating as to why he’s more protective of abstract notions of privacy and adults who like buggery and bestiality, than he is of two children.


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