Archive for the ‘famly law’ Category
An admittedly intemperate family court judge has been suspended without pay for the remaining years of his term by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
In one angry rant from the bench that has been viewed on YouTube more than 200,000 times, Putnam County Circuit Court Family Law Judge William M. Watkins III repeatedly told a pastor appearing before him to “shut up.” And this was far from the only time he spoke to parties using inappropriate language, according to the opinion (PDF) filed Tuesday by the supreme court.
In one hearing, the opinion says, when speaking to a woman who was seeking an order of protection against her then-husband in a domestic violence case, Watkins blamed the woman for “shooting off your fat mouth about what happened,” told her to “Shut up!” and then continued:
“Shut up! You stupid woman. Can’t even act properly. One more word out of you that you aren’t asked a question you’re out of here, and you will be found in direct contempt of court and I will fine you appropriately. So, shut your mouth.You know I hate it when people are just acting out of sheer spite and stupidity.”
The court also criticized Watkins for failing to make timely rulings, failing to comply with court orders to do so and failing to see that his staff timely completed required tasks, such as entering protective orders into the state’s domestic violence registry.
The Charleston Gazette says Watkins did not respond to a Tuesday phone call seeking comment and notes that the court entered an order that retains Deloris Nibert, a former Mason County family court judge who was appointed by the court in December to handle Watkins’ caseload after he took an emergency medical leave.
Watkins did not contest the conduct cited by a hearing board of the Judicial Investigation Commission when it recommended that he be suspended without pay for the remainder of his term in office, which concludes on Dec. 31, 2016.
However, he argued that the sanction amounted to removal from office, which the state constitution allows only the West Virginia legislature to do, by impeachment. Hence, the judge said, the supreme court didn’t have the power to suspend him for the rest of his term.
The court disagreed, distinguishing impeachment, which would also have stripped Watkins of his pension and prohibited him from serving in office again, from a suspension and saying that public policy requires that the court use its inherent powers to protect lawyers and litigants from a judge who is unable or unwilling to do his job properly.
It also censured Watkins for 24 violations of nine canons of the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which are printed in full in the opinion.
“Socrates said, ‘Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially,’” the court wrote. “We recognize that regulating the demeanor of a judge is a difficult task, because judges are human and may occasionally display anger or annoyance, and lawyers and litigants sometimes incite judges. Judges must also be allowed some flexibility in criticizing the performance of lawyers who appear before them. But a judge owes a duty to treat lawyers and litigants courteously, to hear them patiently, to study their arguments and evidence conscientiously, and to decide their cases promptly.”
In a concurring opinion (PDF), Chief Justice Brent Benjamin agreed that Watkins should be suspended without pay for the rest of his term but disagreed about the manner in which the court imposed this sanction.
Instead of using inherent judicial powers, which opens the door to potential misuse in the future for political reasons, the court should have simply imposed consecutively the one-year suspensions it is clearly authorized to impose under the state constitution, he wrote.
“While I have the utmost respect for my colleagues and the professionalism of our current court and share their belief that the admittedly harsh sanction in this case is fully justified, I fear how a highly partisan or polarized future court might misuse this expansive new precedent.”
PMA International always has safety as our leading priority. In light of this, PMA international will not release personal information and/or personal custody information about protective mothers and their children who are in active litigation. PMA International will not sponsor, endorse or support any event or activity that is engaging in the above due to the risk involved.( The only excepts to the above is at the discretion of PMA International’s Co-Founders and/or Executive Director Janice Levinson and Lundy Bancroft). PMA International advises protective mothers to be extremely cautious in revealing any personal custody details along with personal information about themselves and their children on the internet. Doing so, might prove to be very risky to you and your children’s personal safety and the outcome of your case.
Some safety tips for protective mothers to consider before deciding whether or not to reveal case details and personal information on the internet especially if you are in active litigation;
1. Posts on the internet create a historical footprint of you name and your child’s name which is very different if not impossible to remove.
2. Once your post is made public you have no control over who reads and shares your information.
3. Once your children become older they will most likely come across this information and this may affect your relationship.
4. Once older, your children’s peers will most likely come across this information and this may impact their friendships. In addition, this action may create your children being targets for bullies.
5. If you post personal details about your court case your judge and other court officials involved may read it and this might be used against you. Even if you post your information with the best of intentions, this does not mean court officials will see it the way you do.
6. You must be certain not to post your location or any information that could allow your abuser to find you or your children.
7. Do not use locator and map applications on face book and phones.
8. Be aware of pictures posted online that could reveal your location.
9. Caution your friends not to tag you in anything online that might reveal your location.
10. We all know when abusers are exposed the abuse escalates. Be careful about posting online custody information and personal details that could escalate abuse and endanger you and your children.
11. Be cautious and do your research on anyone asking for your personal and custody information. Also be very cautious with whom you decide to entrust your personal and custody information.
PMA International is an advocacy organization and we are not trying to discourage you from advocating for your personal custody case. We support protective mothers advocating for themselves in creative and cautious ways as to not endanger, themselves, their children and risk the outcome of their case.
The PMA International Team
What Does The Quote That “58,000 Children Are Sent to Live With Abusers Every Year” Mean? / E.J Perth U.S.A Regional Director , Healing and Prayer Administrator- PMA International
By E.J Perth
What does the quote that “58,000 children are sent to live with abusers every year” mean?
Actual Quote: “According to a conservative estimate by experts at the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence (LC), more than 58,000 children a year are ordered into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States. This is over twice the yearly rate of new cases of childhood cancer.”
This number is an estimate, the link below explains how the LC came to that number in 2008. I have not seen current numbers.
CONTACT is explained as ,”This number includes BOTH those who are left in the sole care of an abuser and those who are required to have unsupervised visits.
“The LC admits they used estimates because there was a lack of information in certain areas.
The LCl says courts often fail to detect family violence so children’s lives are put into danger, “Once placed with an abusive parent or forced to visit, children will continue to be exposed to parental violence and abuse until they reach 18. Thus, we estimate that half a million children will be affected in the US at any point of time. Many of these children will suffer physical and psychological damage which may take a lifetime to heal.”
WE NEED UPDATED studies and evaluations to get current information, and be able to analyze trends in family courts, and what its failures are today. Updated info will also help determine how interventions in family court are working.
Common Responses After Losing a Child (for Protective Moms)/ E. J Perth PMA INTL. USA Regional Director, Healing & Prayer Network Administrator
I feel it is important to distinguish the loss and being related to family court proceedings because often times the process involves factors that re-traumatize the family and prolong any possibility of stabilizing the family. In essence, there is a distinct type of grief that follows losing a child due to unjust proceedings that villify a parent trying to protect their children.
Mothers who loose their children in family court proceedings often experience (and report):
* Character assassination and/or emotional abuse of the mother (who may be labelled as having “Parental Alienation Syndrome” or “Malicious Mom Syndrome”)
* Minimizing past abuse and its affects/Minimizing the current danger
* Legal proceedings that deny a mother of her legal rights
* Feeling threatened or coerced by court personnel
*Expensive legal or court costs, often resulting in severe financial hardship (I have heard of mothers losing their home and being forced to work several jobs, in which their contact with their children becomes even more limited)
* Inability to protect children combined with valid concerns the children may still be in danger
* Children forcibly removed from the home (a majority of these mothers were primary caregivers)
* Mothers denied contact with children–these children are oftn abruptly, and without warning removed from their homes, their community, their friends and any connection to the mother
* Mothers being compelled into supervised visitation to see children, and may be exposed to other abusers (I have actually heard of a woman who took the bus to supervised visitation, and was stalked by an alleged abuser when leaving the premisis)
* Inability to get help or support for herself. Mothers may have their medical and psychological records subpoened by the court and/or their abuser, in which she degraded or labelled based on the findings and then forced to “prove” she is a fit mother. Mothers may also become isolated because they feel others do not understand their situation. It is common for people to feel overwhelmed hearing these stories and then to be unable to provide support. The financial depletion caused by family court may also limit a woman’s ability to seek help. Not to mention the woman may be so overwhelmed that she does not have the energy to get the help she may need.
* DV by Proxy ; the abuser manipulating the children, or using them in ways to hurt, intimidate or harass the mother (Ie using children to send messages to the mother, telling the children false information about the mother, threatening to harm the children, threatening to take the children, etc..)
Mothers who loose their children in this way often experience:
* Physical Illness (including but not limited to headaches, ulcers, vomiting, fatigue and exhaustion)
* Anxiety/Panic Attacks
* Guilt/Shame/ Self-Blame, particularly around issues that they failed or could not protect their children
* Flashbacks (The court proceedings may trigger memories of abuse, or legitimate fears)
* Binge Eating and/or Lack of Appetite, Nausea
* Shock (A combination of all these factors, feeling numb, unable to perform daily tasks, feeling as if she is living in a fog, lack of memory/concentration, tremors/trembling, hot flashes etc)
* A surge of emotion/adrenaline
* Post Traumatic Stress
* Avoidance (Especially around areas that remind them of their children. It would be common to even avoid social places and friends)
* Fits of Crying — There are often triggers. (When I lost my child, I remember avoiding the grocery store because I would pass my child’s favorite treats, think of my child, and start to cry. It got to the point where I could not even remember what I wanted in the grocery store because I was so upset.)
* Memory Loss/Concentration Difficulties
THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE MOTHER IS MENTALLY ILL OR UNSTABLE, these are typical responses to the loss of a child in combination with the extreme stress of being involved in family court proceedings that are perceived as unjust, and which a mother has no control over. It takes time to work through the grief and emotions of losing your child, and being involved in family court proceedings–these response may emerge and change as the mother processes what has happened.
I found it helpful to be part of a domestic violence group, hosted by a battered women’s shelter. The group is confidential and does not keep records. I was able to talk with other women and learn tools on how to cope, and rebuild my life. There is hope–Stay strong.
Blessings ~ EJ Perth, PMA Intl.USA Regional Director, Healing & Prayer Network Administrator
If you have anything to add to this list, please add a comment. Please keep remain respectful. Any derogatory language will be deleted. Remember PMA is a NO ABUSE ZONE! Thank you for keep it friendly 🙂
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