They have an agenda and it is to ensure the current inequality carries on whereby judges currently award custody in the vast majority of cases to moms marginalizing dads to 4 day a month visitors. A parental bond is impossible to maintain with 14% visitation.
It is pretty clear they have Jim Beall in their back pocket. Parental Alienation is largely used by a custodial parent to teach children to hate the non-custodial parent. This pretty much guarantees them custody and if a child was brought into the dispute to choose - guess who they would pick. Beall is a very misdirected man who represents a clear danger to dads. His campaign finances should be investigated to see who may be providing undue influence.MJM
By Ted Cox
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Michael Newdow thinks California’s family-law courts are broken. He’s not alone.
PHOTO BY KYLE MONK
Michael Newdow is no stranger to controversy. First, in 2000, he filed a lawsuit against the Elk Grove Unified School District in an attempt to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, arguing that the phrase “under God” was an endorsement of religion. Then, in 2006, he attempted to have “In God We Trust” removed from U.S. currency. At the end of 2008, Newdow filed a suit to keep Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. from uttering “so help me God” at the conclusion of President Barack Obama’s inaugural oath.
For various reasons, all three lawsuits were dismissed. But that hasn’t kept him from focusing on a new target: the family-law system.
“The entire family-law system is unconstitutional,” Newdow told SN&R. “It deprives people of their rights to their relationships with their children.”
In 2005, 2006 and 2007 Newdow informed the speaker of the Assembly of his intent to file suit under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 526(a), which allows taxpayers to file grievances against government waste.
“You waste incredible amounts of money,” said Newdow. “People spend millions of dollars—literally—on individual cases that should be going towards the family.”
The complaint names as defendants California Superior Court Judge James Mize, Presiding Judge Eugene Balanon, State Attorney General Edmund Brown, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Controller John Chiang.
But when Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s office responded to his notice, suggesting that Newdow send his complaint to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he decided to hold off. In the meantime, he’s looking for additional plaintiffs.
“Maybe I’ll file it anyway,” Newdow said. “I doubt the Legislature will do what I want.”
Newdow believes that pitting two parents against each other from the outset of custody cases just sets the stage for trouble.
“My argument is that that’s why we have custody battles and custody wars, because we set things up to be that way,” he said.
Like Newdow’s previous cases, the chance that he could revamp the family-court system by way of a taxpayer complaint is a long shot. But reform is needed; ask just about anyone who’s trudged through the legal muck of child-custody disputes, and you’re certain to hear a horror story.
Connie Valentine is a founding member and current policy director of the Sacramento-based California Protective Parents Association. CPPA was formed 10 years ago partly to deal with what she calls abuses in the family-court system. In those 10 years, Valentine’s organization has assisted with thousands of cases. She said that the biggest problem in family-law court is a lack of oversight.
“When there’s no effective oversight, things fester and abuse of power can occur without any ability to change it,” she said. “The reason that there is no effective oversight is that most of the people who are involved in family court do not have lawyers. And if you do not have a lawyer, that means you don’t have money.”
Having no money in the family-court system, explained Valentine, means you can’t file costly appeals to challenge court rulings.
Valentine said that a second pressing problem is the unregulated cottage industry of mediators and other professionals who hold enormous sway over court rulings.
“The court has, in good faith, decided that they need assistance,” Valentine noted. “One judge is not enough to handle all the problems that they’re seeing.” The solution has been to hire mediators that hear cases and make recommendations to the court. “Now if it’s a good mediator, that may not be such a bad thing if they’re balanced and unbiased,” she continued. “But if you happen to have a bad mediator who’s biased and decides they like one person over the other—because of their looks or their gender or their persuasiveness—then you’ve got big problems, because the judges rely tremendously on their mediators.”
Another problem, said Valentine, is that children often don’t have a direct say in custody cases. Instead, attorneys report on behalf of minors. Oftentimes what the attorneys report conflicts with what the children themselves say. The solution is to let children speak directly with the judge.
“A 4-year-old in criminal court can testify against their abusers,” Valentine said. “We can certainly take children and talk to them in family court.”
Family-law attorney Barbara Kauffman feels another problem is a lack of uniform training in domestic-violence and child-abuse issues among judges and court appointees. “There are theories being taught that are all over the map,” she said.
Kauffman recounted one instance where she sat in on a training session taught by a fathers’ rights advocate. Judges and mediators were in attendance. “He was spouting off about how most domestic violence is mutual. And [the judges and mediators] were just sitting there raptly listening to this.”
Efforts are underway to fix these and many other problems.
State Sen. Mark Leno has asked the Legislature’s Joint Legal Audit Committee to investigate Sacramento and several other counties’ family courts. The audit will look at, among other things, the criteria used to assign mediators to cases.
Assembly Bill 612, sponsored by Jim Beall, would eliminate the use of controversial theories—namely Parental Alienation Syndrome—from family-court proceedings. Adherents of PAS argue that one parent alienates their child against the other. PAS opponents argue the theory is unscientific and is often used to place children into the hands of abusers.
A.B. 375 would prohibit courts from using last-minute ex parte hearings to determine child custody, except in cases where the child is in immediate danger.
A.B. 1050 “would require the family court to consider and give due weight to the wishes of a child in making an order granting or modifying custody, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation.”
Of course, reforming the system itself isn’t the only problem. As Kauffman, puts it, “In family law, everybody’s on their worst behavior. There is an incentive to lie about finances, about children.”
With attorneys, mediators and child psychologists collectively raking in millions of dollars in fees for their services, there’s an invested interest in making custody cases as nasty as possible.
Newdow’s case, even if it seems far-fetched, may simply be effective in the way it calls attention to a broken court system.
“The things that happen to these people are absolutely horrific, but it’s such a typical thing. That’s what’s so amazing,” said Newdow.
At stake here is more than just winning legal battles.
“Every parent, if you gave them the choice of being paraded around naked on a leash or losing their right to be a parent to their kid, all of [them] would say, ‘Hey, take my clothes off right now,’” said Newdow.
Follow up by Mike Murphy on June 26, 2009
Posted 06/25/2009 12:26PM by BKLAW: You are a lawyer and know full well PAS has passed both the Frye and Mohan tests for scientific veracity in North American courts. In Bates v. Bates 18th Judicial Circuit, Dupage County, IL Case No. 99D958, Jan 17, 2002. * Court ruling that the Parental Alienation Syndrome has gained general acceptance in the scientific community and thereby satisfies Frye Test criteria for admissibility.[excerpt]
There are many more in the USA and dozens in Canada that passed the Mohan Test which states "Expert evidence must be necessary in order to allow the fact finder: (1) to appropriate the facts due to their technical nature, or; (2) to for a correct judgment on a matter if ordinary persons are unlikely to do so without the assistance of persons with special knowledge."
R. v. Mohan [2 S.C.R. 9] 1994
Admission of expert evidence depends on the application of the following criteria:
* necessity in assisting the trier of fact;
* the absence of any exclusionary rule;
* a properly qualified expert
It is true both genders alienate children but most studies show about a 2-1 ratio tipping toward mothers. As it is largely a function of custodial parents and mothers are by far the custodial parent, this makes both scientific and logical sense. Feminists, if you care to read their blogs, do not believe in PAS at all and are particularly loud when a mother loses custody due to her abuse of children. Many of your feminist colleagues in law schools call it junk science. Those of us who are targets will clearly tell you it is not. You also don't have to be a rocket scientist to discern the difference between real abuse and PA. If a child has a realistic estrangement from a parent through abuse this can be determined by intelligent questioning. Even abused children want a relationship with their parents and often wonder why this parent strikes them. They sometimes develop a "pleasing" response to it and will do most anything to stay in the good graces of the abuser. Not so with PAS.
What I haven't heard from anyone is a legal presumption of shared and equal parenting with co-residency of the children. If you want to reduce divorce, increase positive social outcomes for children, get rid of wasteful tax funded collection agencies for support and save taxes, enact this legislation. Where does your so called protective parent organization stand on this? They are against it for the same reasons they deny PAS exists. It will give dads equality and they will lose their entitlements.
@Posted 06/25/2009 5:51PM by tloff
You need to do more research as you are just plain wrong with respect to the science. Since when did Wikepedia pass legal tests for validity. See above for the real tests. An alienator is not a loving parent. They have lost impulse control and let their hate for their ex over ride their love of a child. There is no such thing as deprogramming. Read the literature. In most cases the alienating parent, male or female has one or more serious personality disorders.