The wealth exchanges in Probate courts are greater than the wealth exchanges on Wall Street.

This is a must see short film about the greed, corruption, and unseemly transfers of America’s wealth through probate courts and frivolous civil litigation. This film exposes corruption between lawyers, banks, judges and your PROPERTY RIGHTS! To depict what can fairly be characterized as “The Economic Rape of America,” Har Justice has released a documentary entitled America’s Secret Wealth Exchanges that provides an important look at the greed, corruption and unseemly transfers of America’s wealth occurring through probate courts and frivolous civil litigation.

Athena Roe “In Part 2, there will be guest appearances by many community leaders who are working to fix the broken judicial systems. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Legal Reform estimates frivolous litigation costs America $254 billion dollars per year, factor in $50 billion dollars for the divorce industry, over $1.5 billion dollars just for legal fees in probate (and growing significantly each day due to death) and we have financial waste at greater than $351 billion dollars per year! This is at the expense of the vulnerable and the legal system is one of the greatest contributors to economic waste and poverty”.

Athena Roe “For our loyal audiences and new viewers, the widow is conferring with three federal lawyers and FBI to investigate racketeering charges between the probate lawyers and the commercial real estate group. Where enterprises are covertly set up to delay probate and extort money from families, you will need to pursue attorney malpractice and fraud charges in federal courts. The judicial system is creating poverty in our country and the lawyers are extorting the widow’s savings and retirement in a fee churning racketeering scheme”.
In probate, these are the players in the enterprise to steal your property and estate assets: all real estate people, residential and commercial, asset management companies,  lawyers, banks, judges, public administrators. Even trust instruments can be abused. Again, never sign a personal guaranty on a real estate lease. The property managers will intentionally keep you from finding a tenant, not show the space, and fail to mitigate damages to STEAL your assets as in the widow’s case. Make sure your home is in a trust. Make sure you have POD and TOD on every single asset. These entities collude, trade your asset information, cut deals with each other essentially, “dealing your lawyers in” to see how much they can extort from your family, your inheritance, and leave you living in grinding poverty or asking for government assistance.  Probate and frivolous litigation are forcing our nation’s families into poverty and must be stopped. Call your law makers and demand reform now!
Be prepared to name a beneficiary upon death. Property that lists a transfer on death beneficiary (TOD), or a pay on death beneficiary (POD), passes directly to the named beneficiary, avoiding probate. You may name anyone you choose as a TOD or POD on your financial accounts, vehicle titles, and in some states, your real property. When property passes to a joint owner, TOD, or POD, it passes outside of your estate.

  • Your estate consists of all other property, not jointly owned or listing a TOD or POD. To avoid probate, you must ensure that all of your property passes outside of your estate, directly to a beneficiary or joint owner.
  • What’s the difference between TOD and POD? It’s mainly a difference in the type of account each applies to.[1] Although they are essentially the same, they are used in different circumstances.

This documentary is a must see for all Americans. America must demand probate reform so that the pillaging of estates by lawyers and non beneficiaries ends. America must wake up and demand better watch dogging of the judicial system which allows for an unfettered abuse of power. Produced and Directed by Athena Roe, J.D. of in collaboration with Shaun T. Lally of Still Focus Media. Source: HAR Justice presents, The Economic Rape of America’s Secret Wealth Exchanges    Usa Map

Posted in Probate, Social justice | Leave a comment

Connecticut Probate: Probate Court Administrator staff attorney / Lawyer fired for practicing in probate courts she oversaw

A Connecticut  panel of three Superior Court judges voted this week to fire a lawyer for doing private probate work — including work in the courts serving East Hartford and the Enfield area — while working in the state probate court administrator’s office, which supervises those courts, a state Judicial Department spokeswoman said.

The three-judge panel had held a multi-day hearing on a request by Judge Paul J. Knierim, the state probate court administrator, to fire lawyer Debra Cohen, who had worked in his office since 2005.

The firing was effective Monday, the day the three-judge panel voted, according to Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, the Judicial Department spokeswoman. She said the panel also ordered Cohen retroactively suspended without pay from May 29 through Monday.

Attribution: Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2014


 Also See: and Estate of Denial


Probate staff attorney accused of misconduct

Probate staff attorney accused of misconduct (CT)

A three-judge panel will decide later this month whether Debra Cohen should be fired from her post as a staff attorney in the Office of the Probate Court Administrator.
The hearing follows accusations that Cohen, who has been on paid administrative leave since last November, acted as trustee of people’s estates and paid herself more than $33,000 in conservator fees while she was also being paid for her supervisory role in the statewide probate office. She is also accused of keeping supervisors in the dark about that trustee work, going so far as to allegedly conceal fees she paid herself.
If true, the accusations, which are outlined in a letter from Probate Court Administrator Paul Knierim, represent a direct conflict of interest since Cohen was in charge of training probate judges and court staff and providing input to those same people about how to handle probate cases.
George Kelly, the attorney who will represent the Office of the Probate Court Administrator at the disciplinary hearing, declined comment about the pending disciplinary matter. Cohen’s attorney, Marc Mercier, did not return a phone call requesting comment.
In the letter, dated May 28, Knierim asked that Cohen be fired, and in the interim, her paid suspension be downgraded to unpaid while the three judges decide her fate. The hearing before judges Barbara Bellis, Robert Devlin and Maria Kahn is scheduled for Aug. 25-27 in Hartford Superior Court.
It’s unknown if the case has been referred to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. Probable cause for a grievance would have to be found before the office would investigate whether Cohen should be punished beyond whatever the judges determine.
The letter from Knierim says Cohen’s financial stake in four probate matters “constituted outside employment that impaired her independence of judgment” and colored her ability to give judges and court staff “sound, objective and independent” legal advice. Probate courts can approve trustee fees, impose fines for breaching trustee duties and exonerate trustees from personal liability.
In addition, Cohen didn’t provide her employer notice of the conflict of interest, Knierim wrote. On the contrary, she reportedly tried hiding her trustee duties from supervisors, who were alerted only after a probate court staff member found out that Cohen was acting as a trustee for the estate of John DeRosa and questioned whether a staff attorney should be doubling up as a trustee. Cohen was told by supervisors she had to resign her trustee duties immediately.
Despite that order, she continued acting as a trustee in three other matters, officials said. She also attempted to collect fees in the DeRosa matter, after being told not to do so, according to Knierim’s letter. The letter also alleges other financial misdeeds, including an alleged “deliberate attempt” to conceal how much she paid herself while acting as conservator of the estate of Sandra Brozna.
A hearing in East Hartford Probate Court found Cohen was ordered to reimburse $33,500 in conservator fees, but repaid only $10,000.
Probate Staff Attorney Accused of Misconduct
Allegations include working secretly as a trustee
Isaac Avilucea
August 15, 2014
The Connecticut Law Tribune
Posted in Probate | Leave a comment

Connecticut Probate: citizen from New York, who took a drive to Connecticut and found himself in the worst nightmare

This could happen to someone one Daniel Gross, a senior citizen from New York, who took a drive to Connecticut and found himself in the worst nightmare of his life.Conservatorship- …..

Daniel Gross said–they are keeping me for money! The laws are being abused, and the court is corrupt.
See full story at:
Boomers Against Elder Abuse
Diane WilsonThis was truly a sad story…..the beginning, I think, of the exposure of evil guardianship.

Norma Macleish Barber
My God! This man is obviously very mentally sharp.

  • Elaine Renoire
    Dan Gross was the first to say “isolate, medicate, take the estate!” He was quite a man!

Posted in Probate | Leave a comment

Connecticut: Probate / Family Court Reform Suggestions


August 8, 2014

The Coalition for Connecticut Family Court Reform ran a survey in May of this year to learn where members of CCFCR stood on issues. So we packed in dozens of questions we were interested in learning and launched a CCFCR survey with Although a larger sample size of litigants with experience going through family courts would have been preferred, CCFCR did have 90 people, at the point of compilation of this summary, fill out most or large parts of the survey. See link at the end of the summary below if you would like to still participate in the survey.  It is still open. We will update the information in a couple of months.


Summary of The Coalition for Connecticut Family Court Reform Survey Question:

What Can The Courts Do Better to Help Your Situation?



  • Increase transparency.
  • Stop holding improper procedures.
  • Practice due diligence for “all parties” involved.
  • Stop being biased. Don’t stereotype.
  • Stop sexism in the courts.
  • Provide equality in justice.
  • Decrease legal fees.
  • Help even the playing field when a self-represented party who can’t afford representation is up against a party that can.
  • Stop aiding child abuse for grown ups with issues.
  • It’s a civil court which they guise up and say they handle criminal matters but they do not. Stop overlooking and avoiding child abuse and domestic violence.
  • Stop retaliating against parent that brings up child abuse and domestic violence.
  • Stop siding with abusers.
  • Stop punishing and traumatizing children instead of protecting them.
  • Stop giving custody to real abusive or neglectful people.
  • Learn about Parental Alienation and what to do about it.
  • Get experts to train the system on parental alienation and denial of parental access issues.
  • Keep GALs out of the system.
  • Courts and GALS need to acknowledge that parents and kids have rights.
  • Provide court appointed attorney that works in the best interests of “all” parents and children.
  • Provide oversight of lawyers
  • Stop fraternal society of judges, evaluators, attorneys
  • Stop extortion and racketeering methods.
  • Stop bankrupting families.
  • Stop destroying families.


  • Set up elections for judges.
  • Stop nominating cronies.
  • Change the format of ONE judge deciding a case and make it a panel of 3-4 court-employed professionals, include the judge, a LMFT, a GAL and a forensic accountant or whatever panel make-up needs are appropriate for the case.
  • Have a jury of peers instead of a judge deciding orders
  • 4-year terms for judges not 8-year terms
  • Hear BOTH sides before making a decision. Anything other than this is unacceptable
  • Stop allowing delay tactics in hearing and trial schedules
  • If an issue is coming up repetitively in court, solve it. It’s not getting solved if it is being repeatedly presented.
  • Judges need to get better at looking at all angles.
  • Consider that allegations are false.
  • Provide better equality in justice.
  • Judges need to make decisions instead of ordering expensive experts that are ignored.
  • Stop giving abusers that sit composed aid-in-abuse
  • Start seeing the parent that is upset as the normal, rational parent .– Start considering that the parent that sits composed may be the sociopathic abuser all about “winning” spite games.
  • Do not assign GALs and counselors to people who can not afford it
  • Investigate every JRC (Judicial Review Committee) complaint from parties and outside agencies and sanction judges where needed.
  • Have a conscience and have integrity.


  • Courts need to keep dates and times that were scheduled in advance.
  • Stop allowing attorneys to manipulate schedules to continue cases infinitely.
  • Judges need to be available during the dates scheduled.
  • Court should be responsible to pick up the expense when multiple lawyers are billing and court is canceled, delayed, and loses documents.

You can still participate in the survey. We will update the results in a few months.  Here is the link to


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Connecticut Family Court: Parental Alienation is a BIG PROBLEM in Connecticut


17 Alienating Behaviors a Parent Does
to the Child
to Alienate the Other Parent

The Following behaviors have been identified as alienating behavior by Amy Baker, Ph.D. and Linda Gottlieb, LMFT

  1. Badmouthing
  2. Limiting Contact
  3. Interfering with Communication
  4. Interfering with Symbolic Communication
  5. Telling Child Target Parent Doesn’t love Him or Her
  6. Forcing Child to Choose
  7. Creating the Impression that Target Parent is Dangerous
  8.  Confiding in the Child
  9. Forcing the Child to Reject the Targeted Parent
  10. Asking Child to Spy on Targeted Parent
  11. Asking Child to Keep Secrets from Targets parent
  12. Referring to Targeted Parent by First Name
  13. Referring to a stepparent as Mom or Dad and Encouraging the Child to do the same
  14. Withholding medical, academic, and other important Information for the targeted parent? Keeping targeted parent’s name off of medical, Academic and other relevant documents
  15. Changing Child’s Name to Remove Association with Targeted Parent
  16. Cultivating Dependency

The Following symptoms have been identified as behaviors seen in
children suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome –  by Amy Baker and Linda Gottlieb

  5. CRUELTY towards the ALIENATED PARENT with no remorse or guilt


Posted in Family Court Reform | Leave a comment

Connecticut: Stamford Probate Court worker says union push led to firing

Attribution From:


April 30, 2014

Stamford Probate Court clerk Kristen Rich recently testified in Hartford that probate court workers need the protections offered by a union, in support of a bill that would have allowed her and other probate workers to organize.

Then she was fired.

She said she was retaliated against for publicly supporting the bill, which failed to get out of committee. Her former boss, Judge Gerald Fox Jr., says she was not.

Rich filed a complaint with the state Labor Board claiming she was fired for trying to organize a union, and is fighting for the right to collect unemployment insurance.

“They stole my job. The job that I loved,” she said, a few days after filing a complaint with the state Labor Board. “They embarrassed me. Stole my opportunity.”

If it is determined that she was targeted after supporting a union movement, then it will be a black eye for a probate system that has had to undergo drastic changes in recent years after financial problems forced it out of extremely dated practices. One of those changes was to more than halve the number of probate courts in the state, and that in large part is what led to the unionization effort.

Not just estates and trusts

The Probate Court system is more than 300 years old in Connecticut. Its elected judges primarily oversee decedents’ estates and trusts, but they also handle issues affecting children, the elderly, people with intellectual disabilities and those with psychiatric problems, including the appointment of guardians, emancipating minors and the sterilization of adults with intellectual disabilities.

For years the probate courts operated as nearly independent political fiefdoms. In 2005, financial problems brought the system under very heavy scrutiny involving legislative hearings that would eventually lead to an overhaul of it.

At the time, John H. Langbein, Sterling professor of law and legal history at Yale law schools, called Connecticut’s system a disgrace and scandal blaming the multiplicity of courts, use of people who are not legally trained as judges, allowing practicing attorneys to sit as judges, incentive fee system and the self-serving opposition to change mounted by probate judges to protect their turf.

Some of those issues were addressed in 2009 legislation, which reduced the number of courts from more than 100 to 54 and also requiring judges to be admitted to the bar.

Judge Paul Knierim, the state Probate Court Administrator, said those reforms have helped the court modernize and other reforms are still being made.

He said the reduction in the number of courts and the centralizing of payroll and other back office support positions has saved the state millions of dollars, and now the probate system is no longer losing money. About 75 percent of the system is covered by fees and 25 percent from the general fund.

Reform helps spark union drive

But the consolidation led to job security concerns among court staff members. They serve at the pleasure of the judges, who are elected, so theoretically, when new judges enter office they can dismiss all the current staff at the court and bring in their own people. Some court workers have said they lack job security because of this system.

Knierim took issue with this claim, explaining that judges rely on the experience of existing staff when they come into office. Their next election ultimately hinges on how they are perceived in the community and so having good staff is one of the keys to being re-elected, he said.

Wages and raises were another concern that was exacerbated by the consolidation. Before the modernization of the courts, judges had discretion over wage rates and hiring, and pay rates were different all over the state. When the courts were consolidated and the pay rates along with them, those workers earning higher amounts in similar positions then found it difficult to get raises under the new system. Although the consolidation of courts occurred in 2011, Knierim said the courts are still working on providing a new merit-based raise system that would be standardized across the state.

Although the judges no longer have discretion over wages, they do over hiring. And that fact is central to what spurred Rich to testify in support of proposed bill 5066.

She was growing worried about her future in the office of Judge Gerald Fox Jr., Stamford’s probate judge, who is set to retire this year. Probate judges are not to hold office after the age of 70. Rich was also concerned by her relationship with her boss. She said the two have had differences and after several conversations believed she would lose her job when a new judge is elected.

It’s a job that she said she loved. “I felt like I was helping people. Like I was making a difference,” she said of the estate cases she worked.

The problem of raises was an issue too. After seven years working as an assistant clerk, she said her salary went from about $30,000 a year to just $31,000.

Sitting in the lobby of her apartment building on Washington Boulevard this week, Rich said with some irony that she originally started to look into a union as a way to protect her job and to provide some protections and access to better benefits for herself and other probate court workers.

She and staff from three other probate courts testified in support of the bill, and 15 other probate court workers sent letters of support. In her testimony, Rich said she no longer felt secure in her position due to the impending change in the judgeship and that the court system was not responding to the needs of staff. Others also testified to insecurity of their positions, lack of pay and loss of benefits when the probate court system consolidated in 2011.

Difference of opinion

She took a vacation day to testify on February 18. When she came back to work, a few days later, she said she was verbally attacked at her desk by a part-time clerk, and then the Chief ClerkRoselyn Ramist got involved in the interaction.

Ramist, who would not discuss the particulars of Rich’s firing, said she recalled the event differently and that Rich had an outburst. She agreed that she and Rich had had their difficulties, but she said it was neither those differences nor Rich’s interest in the union that led to her dismissal.

“She making a mountain out of a mole hill,” Ramist said of Rich.

But Rich said points to the court’s response to her application for unemployment insurance as evidence that her firing was a deliberate effort by the office to punish her for her support of the union. She showed two letters, one from Ramist and one from Fox, that confirmed her termination, and both were signed cordially wishing her well.

But now, the office is fighting her application to collect unemployment.

In order to collect unemployment insurance, a worker has to be dismissed, according to the State Labor Department. If that dismissal was for gross misconduct, then the person is not eligible to collect. Generally, a person who is fired because the employer is not satisfied with his or her work is still eligible for unemployment benefits and the burden of proof for misconduct is on the employer.

A union that has come to Rich’s aid, Connecticut Council 4, AFSCME AFL-CIO, supports Rich’s claim she was being punished. Council 4 filed the complaint with the State Board of Labor Relations on her behalf, identifying Rich as a lead union organizer.

“It’s very clear that Kristen was, in our view, retaliated against for exercising her rights,” said Larry Dorman, a Council 4 public affairs director.

Dorman said this is part of the larger fight on probate workers’ behalf. He said they are workers who have no rights or benefits other than what the judge gives them.

“She was lobbying to change the law with a bill as a private citizen,” he said.

Knierim, as head of the probate court system, is named in the suit, but said he has no knowledge of the specifics of the case and is filing to have it dismissed.

Judge Fox likewise denied that he fired Rich for union activities.

“She was not terminated for any union activity, period,” he said by phone Tuesday. He said he could not say why she was terminated, because it was a personnel matter.

He also debunked the idea there will be a massive change in staff when a new judge is elected in his place this November.

“That doesn’t happen,” he said. “An incoming judge would be well advised to retain the institutional memory of the clerks that are there.”

He paused and then added, “It’s rare that an employee is terminated.”

For Rich and the Council 4, they see this as the probate court judges trying to protect political fiefdoms that have come under assault in recent years and believe it’s an attempt to intimidate people.

Rich said it seems to have worked as people who were for the union are now “terrified.” AS for her, she said, she’s not backing down.

“I’m not lying about this,” she said.

Comment at


oh my ! she sez retaliation took place ! ya know what ? BIG FFFN DEAL.
she can go right over to the website of the EEO and it takes all of 5 minutes TO FILE HER STATEMENT and she has at least 4 or 5 months to do this and BE HEARD.
was SHE FORCED INTO BEING A CLERK in the hallowed halls of a probate court ?
How many out here WOUND UP in a 10 minte hearing that they wanted NO PART OF and the lying social workers and their loiyuuuhs spewed 100% scatology,unsubstantiated bs,and all without due process and their family members wound up wards of these bs courts with basically NO WAY OUTTA IT.
SHE can waltz over to the EEO,file and get a lawsuit or a settlement all wrapped up FOR FREE……and OOOOOH YES people, IF WHAT SHE CLAIMS IS VERIFIABLE,it gets done. How to verify this ? why her employee record to begin with.
WE CANNOT EVEN FIND LEGAL REPRESENTATION IN TEXAS to present our cases of RETALIATION and deliberate blocking of a suitable guardian.
Never mind attempting to find a lawyer to simply ASSIST with filing complaint on the federal level where these LIARS have NO IMMUNITY-
the lawyers are beyond cowards and as for the texas bar disciplinary counsel ?
another JOKE. They have more than their union,they are a troika as mafia is TOO GOOD A TERM for them. The mob doesn’t mess with the disabled and fragile,they RESPECT THE FAMILY as long as you RESPECT THEIRS.

How many WISH we had it as easy as filling up a form and getting OUR CASES DEALT WITH AND FOR FREE ?
sorry, I have absolutely ZERO empathy here.
IF she were EXPOSING the mess these courts are with backdating etc I’d seek her out and get a collection etc in her name.
Where are OUR civil rights activists and alleged protective agencies ? Why they’re too busy with the rights of convicted prisoners,illegals and still carrying on ABOUT ACCESS as the INNOCENT are being illegally detained,isolated,denied familial association,privacy,exploited……..they look the other way.
They are beyond FRAUDS.


Stamford court worker says union push led to firing
Rob Varnon
April 17, 2014

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Connecticut Family Court Update: Bill S.B. No. 494 It passed passed 35-0 in the Senate and 129-0 in the House

Sen. John Kissel

The General Assembly passed a bill Friday that would change how Connecticut’s family court system operates when it comes to contested child custody cases.

The bill gets one step closer to reforming how guardian ad litems, who are appointed in custody cases to represent the minor children, operate in the family court system. It passed passed 35-0 in the Senate and 129-0 in the House and is headed to the governor’s desk.

“This in the minds of some people will be viewed as a minor step or a small step, but considering all of the parties that came together to gather around the table and hammer out these issues I believe it is a significant step forward,” Sen. Eric Coleman said. “I have confidence and optimism that it will serve to improve and alleviate some of the complaints that have been raised and brought to the Judiciary Committee.”

The bill brings transparency to the billing practices of guardian ad litems by requiring the court to call for one and it says if a parent is unable to pay the fee they would be prohibited from using a child’s college savings fund or ordering payment from credit card accounts. In contentious cases it also allows the parties to choose a guardian ad litem from a list of 15 presented by the court.

In addition, the bill gives the parents standing to file a motion to remove a guardian ad litem or attorney for the minor children. That was a provision that advocates for reform insisted upon, Coleman said.

The bill does not cap the amount a guardian ad litem would be able to charge.

Sen. John Kissel, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that when a public hearing on the issue starts at 10 a.m. and ends at midnight, legislators need to take notice.

Lawmakers heard about how family court in some areas of the state was “incestuous,” Kissel said. “There was self-dealing and bills were generated in the tens of thousands of dollars. And people lost their homes, their retirement accounts, college funds.”

“How at the end of the day can a system that does that to people be working in the best interest of children? It can not,” Kissel said.

CTNJ file photo
State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez

Kissel and others recognized Rep. Minnie Gonzalez of Hartford for all her hard work on the issue. Gonzalez took up the cause of the parents who felt they had been financially damaged by their guardian ad litem. Gonzalez was able to use the nomination of Judge Leslie O’Lear to draw even more attention to the issue and it was that closer than usual vote in February that got interested parties to the table.

For the complete article, please click on the link below:


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Connecticut Family Court: Businessman spends over $300,000 doesn’t get to see his kids

This is the guy who initiated the Connecticut Task Force. He has spent over $300,000 in legal fees and he is still obstructed from seeing his kids without justification. Connecticut is the epicenter for family law corruption reform. It will be too late for me but change is coming. Future generations will not fall victim to corruption, greed and Title IV-D misdeeds.

PS- If you ever wondered where deadbeat parents are created, look no further than family law. There are bad parents but the majority are not.


March 31 2014 Jerry Mastrangelo

See Many Other Local Stories Regarding Connecticut Family & Probate Courts Below.

March 31 Mark Sargent

March 31 Marisa Ringel

The Coalition for Connecticut Family Court Reform (Southport, CT

Mar 30, 2014 – Greetings, The Coalition for Connecticut Family Court Reform is a group of advocates … made to our Connecticut Family Court system and legal practices that work unde. … Join us and be the first to know when new Meetups are scheduled.


Amend SB00494

On April 1, 2014, the Judiciary Committee voted to send their version of Bill SB00494 to the entire legislature for vote.  Their version of the bill does NOT address the issues raised by the public during public hearings held on January 9, 2014 and on March 31, 2014.

We respectfully ask the entire State Legislature to amend Bill SB00494 to address the concerns raised by the public as follows:





Posted in Family Court Reform | Leave a comment

Connecticut Family Court: We respectfully ask the entire State Legislature to amend Bill SB00494


Amend SB00494

  • Petitioning Connecticut State Legislature

This petition will be delivered to:

Connecticut State Legislature
Gov. Dannel Malloy

Amend SB00494

On April 1, 2014, the Judiciary Committee voted to send their version of Bill SB00494 to the entire legislature for vote.  Their version of the bill does NOT address the issues raised by the public during public hearings held on January 9, 2014 and on March 31, 2014.

We respectfully ask the entire State Legislature to amend Bill SB00494 to address the concerns raised by the public as follows:
1.  Assign GAL’s in Family Court cases ONLY after abuse and/or neglect has been identified as a concern and a hearing has been held to substantiate the claims.  Otherwise, the judge has the option of ordering an outside evaluator to investigate claims made by the parties in contested matters.
2.  Create or modify an independent entity, to provide oversight of all GAL’s / AMC’s who are appointed in Family Court cases.

3.  Create a written Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics to which all GAL’s and AMC’s must adhere otherwise face discplinary action from the oversight entity or removal from assignment.

4. Provide a clear definition of the role of the GAL / AMC.  At the minimum it should include the following, home visit which each parent and child(ren), discussion with and prepare report or evaluation of the 16 statutory factors involved in the determination of best interests of the child.

5.  Cap fees paid to a GAL unless agreed to by BOTH parties.

6. Prior to presenting a list of 5 GAL’s to the parties, draw by chance from a larger pool of GAL’s the 5 names.

7.  Require that the Judiciary solicit public input for any publication concerning the role of GAL’s prior to release of said publication.

8.  Provide clear guidelines for removal of GAL’s /AMC’s so as to avoid wide discretion in the judicial authoriity to make such determination.

9.  Prohibit the admission of hearsay by the GAL into evidence.

10. Require that all GAL files be discoverable to all parties.

11. Eliminate PB 25-61 rule in which all evaluations are given to the GAL.  All evaluations should be delivered to the court directly by the party who performed the evaluation.

12. Provide guidelines to use in determining whether a GAL’s request for an extension of time is acceptable.

13.  Provide guidelines for when a GAL appointment shall end.

14. Revise the wording of Section 5b to read “WILL” or “SHALL” in lieu of “MAY” as currently shown.

15. Require that all GAL’s / AMC’s be mandated reporters to DCF of child abuse / neglect.

16. Require that the Judiciary establish mandatory training requirements for all GAL’s / AMC’s to properly identify violations of CGS 46b-56 (c) (6).

Only until such time that these amendments are made should Bill SB00494 be passed into law.

Thank you.

History Behind Bill SB00494

A previous peition was created to bring to the attention of the CT legislature the abuses by GAL’s in the CT Family Court system.  Over 700 individuals signed that petition.  It can be found at the following link … http://www/
Subsequently a Task Force was established to study in part the role of the Guardian Ad Litem in CT divorce cases.  This was long overdue.  Sadly the Task Force was set to fail as legislators placed two industry insiders as the co-chairs who made it very clear from the start that they did not consider GAL reform an issue.  This is evident in the tape recorded Task Force public hearings.
Despite the two co-chairs attempts to prevent it from occuring, on January 9, 2014 over 60 parents testified in a public hearing about the horrors occuring in the CT Family Court System in particular attention to the conduct of GAL’s.  The video of their testimony has been viewed over 6000 times.  It can be found at the following link ….
The Task Force produced a report which did not address the concerns raised during the January 9 hearing by the Public.  However, a dissenting group within the Task Force whose views represented those of the many victimized parents, prepared a separate Minority Report.  This dissenting group was led by Rep. Minnie Gonzalez and Rep. Ed Vargas.
In response to the Task Force, the Judiciary Committee put forth proposed Bill SB 494.  However, the public only received 4 days notice to prepare for a public hearing on March 31, 2014.  Despite the short notice a large number of the public appeared and testified against Proposed Bill SB 494 as it does not go far enough to address their concerns.  The testimony from March 31, 2014 hearing can be viewed at the following link …


Posted in Family Court Reform, Probate | Leave a comment

Connecticut: “uncover which court shafts citizens worse – probate or family.”

Cool Justice: Courageous legislator on CT Family Court: ‘It sure ain’t America’

     Submitted by CT House Democrats. Edwin Vargas

Pay no attention to the men and women behind the curtain.

Submitted by CT House Democrats. Minnie González


All is well in Connecticut’s family courts.

It’s so swell in family court, the administration of justice is probably even better than that of this state’s outstanding purveyor of kleptocracy, the probate court.

Just kidding.

This ground is incredibly fertile for responsible legislators and reporters to uncover which court shafts citizens worse – probate or family. Both courts share the shield of doing much of their business out of public view.

Aggrieved parents who have not been able to see their children for years put so much heat on the legislature and the judicial branch that even Chief Justice Chase Rogers has acknowledged some sort of reform is needed. Rogers characterized the system as not “totally broken.” Many of these parents trapped in the system have shelled out huge sums – tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars – not only to regular lawyers, but also to court-ordered and unsupervised guardians.

For example, a Torrington parent testified on Jan. 9 before a legislative task force that he has spent more than five years and $50,000 unsuccessfully trying to enforce visitation with his child. That’s small change compared with many of the horror stories told during a 15-hour hearing that day.

The task force also heard testimony regarding an entity called the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) which allegedly functions like a vendor and has had questionable practices, ties and relationships with judges, guardians and other court officials. Questions about AFCC have been raised in news reports by The Washington Times, which posted a 2013 opinion by the Connecticut Commission on Judicial Ethics stating: “An appearance of impropriety would arise if a Judicial Official serving on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization or member of the Judicial Office’s staff were to refer clients to the nonprofit organization.” At its worst, the AFCC operations have been likened to that of a racketeering enterprise. This could be fodder for the U.S. Justice Department, which disclosed to parents in January that it is conducting a review of the training that Connecticut judges and support staff receive regarding family court cases relative to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As expected, lawyers, judges and guardians have circled the wagons to protect their turf. Lackeys in the Legislature can always be counted on to help. This is particularly true in the Judiciary Committee – traditionally a stepping stone to a judgeship – where 25 of the 44 current members are lawyers. All too often, these supposed representatives pull their punches or, worse – attack the complainants – when the subject is judicial misconduct.

How dare citizens demand to hold their public servants accountable, especially those who wear robes?

Still, something had to be done to contain the outcry. Why not form a task force to study the problems?

How about rigging the task force by putting those alleged to be at the heart of wrongdoing in charge?

That’s just what Senate President Don Williams and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey did. They appointed guardians at litem and attorneys Sue Cousineau and Sharon Dornfeld as co-chairs of the so-called Task Force To Study Legal Disputes Involving The Care & Custody Of Children.

This is not honest government. This is just a charade. This is proof that citizens cannot trust the Legislature to protect them – they have to act on their own.

Sadly, this is business as usual. Our alleged leaders used a similar process in the ongoing decimation of the state’s Freedom of Information law.

Every now and then, however, some legislators step up for justice. In the probate courts many years ago, it was a young representative named Chris Shays, who was jailed in his quest to expose corruption.

Today, we are blessed to have at least two legislators with the courage to speak the plain truth without regard to their own standing or well being. I call them Minnie Quixote and Edwin Quixote. They are state representatives Minnie Gonzalez and Edwin Vargas, both of Hartford. Coincidentally, like Shays, they are not lawyers.

“The system is broken … the system is letting these people down … they are losing their houses, they are losing their money,” Gonzalez said to Al Terzi and Laurie Perez on Fox61’s Real Story, telling of tearful testimony by victims of family court who have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawyers and guardians with virtually no hope of justice.

Dornfeld, for her part, said in a mass email last week that the disgruntled masses represented by about 80 witnesses at the January hearing “have found a few sympathetic but uninformed legislators, who led an attack on the reappointment of family judges.” I tried to reach Dornfeld by phone, but there was no answer at her law office.

A former Supreme Court justice now in private practice went so far as to misrepresent statements by Vargas and throw up a red herring about a threat to judicial independence because court spectators have included legislators. Message to Ian McLachan, the former justice: If a judge changes his or her demeanor because the public is watching, maybe that judge isn’t fit to wear the robe.

Here’s what Vargas actually said about the family court judge who barely gained reappointment in a 78-67 vote: “I’m not saying this is the only one that doesn’t deserve reappointment. There are quite a few of them.”

Here’s how McLachan misquoted Vargas in The Connecticut Law Tribune: “A [lawmaker] said about Judge [Leslie] Olear, ‘well, she’s not a bad judge … ’ ” Taxpayers have a right to expect better from any judge, much less a former justice like McLachan with a cushy pension who can’t get his facts straight.

Vargas also took some heat from WNPR’s John Dankosky on a recent Where We Live segment, allegedly for using hyperbole when describing the wretched, unchecked and unaccountable operations of Connecticut’s family courts. Dankosky took issue with Vargas citing North Korea as the Connecticut family court paradigm.

“The fact is,” Vargas told me, “family court is run like North Korea. In North Korea they can deprive you of your freedom and your wealth without due process. In family court they can deprive you of your freedom and your wealth without due process. They don’t kill you, like in North Korea, but for some parents not being able to see your child is like being killed.

“It sure ain’t America.”

Vargas is correct. This is Connecticut, where the phony task force thus far has been able to tank serious reforms recommended by Gonzalez Vargas and others. The recommendations and the suppressed reforms, reported succinctly by The Hartford Courant, include limiting the fees of guardians to $10,000.

In a positive development, Judiciary Committee members including Gonzalez, and senators Ed Meyer and Gary Holder-Winfield pressed judges on some of these issues during a hearing televised live on CT-N that began Monday morning and was expected to run into the evening.

Andy Thibault is a contributing editor for 21st Century Media’s Connecticut publications and the author of Law & Justice In Everyday Life. He formerly served as a commissioner for Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission. Reach Thibault by email at Follow him on Twitter @cooljustice.



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