Connecticut: So how do you get the press to listen to your court story?

ANNE STEVENSON’S PRESENTATION AT THE BATTERED WOMEN’S CUSTODY CONFERENCE 2015!

I first became involved in this issue when a group of parents came to me and wanted their stories heard and asked me to find a journalist who would write them.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone I felt would tell their stories properly.  So I began to take on the task and luckily I have a background in journalism.
What I did is I reviewed around 200 cases in CT and I concluded that many judges, many court personnel are not corrupt.  But the question was, what happened when it became were?
I asked the question, what happened in your case?  Were there elements of fraud, was violent crime excused, did you lose everything you ever had in your whole life, your children, your jobs, your homes, your entire financial base, and sometimes your freedom.  Some people lost their lives.  Some people walk away with PTSD, depression, severe anxiety–quite simply, their brains don’t work like they used to.  Please know, this is not an anomaly.  You are not alone.
This is the result of my work, the article which appeared in The Washington Times entitled: “CT Court Employees Face Tough Questions Over Conflicts of Interest” For instance, there was the Susan Skipp case where they took her children, knowing she’d fight tooth and nail to get them back, then appointed all sorts of experts to the case who then falsely billed her.  Also about another case where the child had been raped and the child was given to his abusers and mother was denied access.
What I’d found out was that Judges and attorneys had established a private organization called the AFCC and were operating this organization out of the CT Judicial Branch and were getting federal grants for this organization to run programs and services within the Branch as well as training outside the branch.  So when litigants came to family court, the employees would sift through the cases and find those that would be suitable for their schemes to force parents into business relationships with unvetted, untrained vendors.
Judges had conflicts of interests and the Court was acting as a collection agency for the GAL’s associated with the AFCC.  Judges were calling payments owed to GALs child support, parents were selling their homes and going into bankruptcy to pay these fees.  GALs were accused of double billing, and not meeting with their child clients.  They also charged for hundreds of thousands of dollars for problems they themselves had created.  The result was the loss of parental rights, loss of employment, bankruptcy, bogus criminal charges, jail, and the loss of freedom if litigants didn’t pay.
In Connecticut activists showed that a group of parents stuck with the same professionals and proof that the money doesn’t add up can cause a raucous and get an investigation opened.
What are some of the bases for complaint:
1.  Conflict of Interest:   This is the real or seeming incompatibility between one’s private interests and one’s fiduciary duty.  N.J. Judge Melanie Appleby conspired with a lawyer to help in her custody matter, then assisted him in his cases.

2.  Fraud:  This is the intentional perversion of truth in order to induce a person to part with something of value or give up his or her legal rights.

3.  Racketeering:  This is organized crime which involves extorting money through intimidation, violence, or other illegal methods.  It includes a pattern of illegal activity such as bribery, extortion, fraud, and murder carried out as a larger conspiracy, etc.  Pennsylvania attorney Danielle Ross of Lackawanna County served as a GAL paid to represent the best interests of the child in family and juvenile court cases and make custody recommendations.  She was paid by court and family.  The Court would order her to be appointed and forced parents to pay her hundreds and thousands. Then at the same time, the county paid her a $38,000 salary and if parents couldn’t pay earned $50 per hour in those cases.  She was earning $400,000 per year.  However, it turned out she had billed the court and the family for services, double billed and did not report her billing to the IRS; this represented a form of racketeering.

Organized crime operating within the justice system itself is not just unethical or unfair, it’s a serious threat to public safety, particular when children are given to their abusers. 
Billing fraud is a threat to public safety  Children are put at risk when GALs don’t investigate properly.

However, putting children in harm’s way is more profitable for family court professionals.  Thus, GALs and family court professionals get less money if kids are safe; they get more money if they knowingly leave children in a position where they can get hurt and then earn money investigating the injuries that resulted from their inaction or improper actions.

Corrupt GALs have no incentive to close cases.  This is fraud, because the services would not be needed if not for the trouble caused by these service providers.  In order to discredit the victims of these scams, the victims are falsely diagnosed with mental illness or deliberately traumatized so they appear irrational and incoherent.  Violent and dangerous offenders are allowed to get away with their crimes, and victims end up being told they are making it all up.

After reading of these outrages in my articles in The Washington Times, parents went to the legislature and complained about the false billing and started a task force.  However, once the task force was put into place, low and behold the majority of people chosen for the task force were members of the AFCC.  Eventually, there was a big hearing before the legislature, which included 100 people who showed up.   These parents showed their representatives copies of their billing invoices, and this hit home with the legislature.  When you saw the financial loss on paper, it was considerable.

The parents had a state auditors report which I had located through freedom of information act requests showing that significant money and resources were missing from the coffers of the family services.  They also had evidence that the AFCC affiliated vendor CT Resources Group had double billed clients and improperly billed health insurance companies for services.

In Susan Skipp’s case the psychologist billed the insurance company with a coding that indicating that the child had major depression, but in court he said the child was fine.   It was clear that AFCC affiliation resulted in policies that  protected vendors, attorneys, and providers, but not consumers. Judges made decisions based on business interests.

The problem with the AFCC:  it was inbred, and funded with tax dollars and private donations.  The AFCC is a trade association founded by family court judges, court administrators, and professionals who appear before these judges.  This could be a court vendor hired to run vital services, conduct studies, for example mediation, dv screening, etc.

CT Resources Group also came up as a problem.  This was a private practice of  mental health evaluators who ran the GAL certification program, and conducted private evaluations of litigants,  Parents provided invoices from this group indicating billing irregularities.  Meanwhile through the FOI there was evidence in emails that providers were having private conversations with judges.

Judges were approving payments for services not provided and there was no push to sanction these guys.  Parents were afraid to come forward.  Still, the end results was that legislation was passed to reel in the GALs.  

What did parents do right?  They focused on the billing not the right and wrong of their cases.  

Currently, there is a federal law enforcement agency investigation into corrupt public officials in CT.
So how do you get the press to listen to your story?

Put together a press list; look for journalists who are the right fit for the type of story you are pitching–do your homework on that.  Make sure of the reputation and honesty of the reporter before you contact them.  Blog for someone else re their story.
Send out an email making initial contact reviewing your story briefly.   Never talk about your own case, focus on the money, don’t bash fathers, include fathers, refer to parents, talk about violent crime rates, do not traumatize others with your knowledge.  Keep it simple.  Don’t be a  conspiracy theorist.

Buzz Phrases.  Use sympathetic terms.  For example, instead of domestic abuse talk about violent crime, instead of father’s rights groups, talk about male offender advocacy groups, instead of judicial corruption, talk about extortion rings, organized crime, operating within the justice system. Talk about abusers getting custody, and professionals who deliberately place children in dangerous homes for profit.

When you meet with a journalist, be sure to appear credible, dress appropriately, i.e. dress like Arianna Huffington, clean, simple, no frills.  When it comes to things to bring with you to a meeting, include a cheat sheet, and agenda. Bring your invoices, bills, contracts, vendor names, and evidence of financial fraud to illustrate your point.

In order to obtain information on the corruption make Public Record Requests to the judicial branch, to the public  defender’s office, state controller, etc. seeking copies of communications, invoices, contracts, bids, etc. IRS filings are available via Guidestart, plus there is the Secretary of State’s Office Business filings.

Resources: Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press which includes a FOIA Letter Generator, federal or state specific. There is information on how to draft motions, administrative appeals, and complaints, etc.
Afterwards say thank you, email to the reporters, send a hand written thank you card to the editor at the newspaper and include followup with a phone call.
Posted in Family Court Reform, Probate, Social justice | Leave a comment

US District Court: Citizen Journalists Have Same Rights as News Media

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that bloggers have the same 1st Amendment rights as established journalists when involved in a defamation of character suit; as long as the issue is of public concern.

The outcome of this case establishes the fact that protections afforded the news media are not exclusive to their realm, but are also extended to citizen journalists and bloggers.

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- we-are-citizen-journalism

Read the full article at: http://www.occupycorporatism.com/us-district-court-citizen-journalists-rights-news-media/

 

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Connecticut: Letter to the editor from a retired Connecticut Judge

 

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Anne Stevenson
Incredibly well written letter to the editor from a retired Connecticut judge about the difficult politics behind family court reform efforts.”

http://www.courant.com/…/hc-letter-lopez-wrong-to-scapegoat…

Wrong To Scapegoat Latina Legislator Over Email
An April 15 Courant editorial shamelessly accused state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez , D-Hartford, of disgracing the House based upon comments in a private email [“Disgraceful Display”].

Attribution See Full Story :
https://www.facebook.com/AnneStevenson123/timeline?ref=page_internal

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Connecticut Probate: AN ACT PROTECTING ELDERLY PERSONS FROM EXPLOITATION.”To criminalize the exploitation of elderly persons, prevent perpetrators from profiting”

AN ACT PROTECTING ELDERLY PERSONS FROM EXPLOITATION.

To criminalize the exploitation of elderly persons, prevent perpetrators from profiting from the exploitation, add certain financial institution employees to mandated reporters of suspected abuse of elderly persons and adopt the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

Connecticut-General-Assembly  

Aging Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.: SB-1005
Title: AN ACT PROTECTING ELDERLY PERSONS FROM EXPLOITATION.
Vote Date: 3/5/2015
Vote Action: Joint Favorable Substitute
PH Date: 3/3/2015
 

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Aging Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To criminalize the exploitation of elderly persons, prevent perpetrators from profiting from the exploitation, add certain financial institution employees to mandated reporters of suspected abuse of elderly persons and adopt the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

***Substitute language, as contained in LCO 4752, clarifies that all EMTs are now mandated reporters of elderly abuse and “professional patient representative” does not include state ombudsman staff; changes title.***

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Elizabeth B. Ritter, State Department on Aging:

“…As you know, the Department continues to grow and adapt to the changing needs of Connecticuts residents as we listen to concerns throughout the state. In fact, this led to the development of the Coalition for Elder Justice in Connecticut, the first truly public – private sector, non-political collaborative of aging disability and elder rights advocates and agencies.

…The Coalition already has several work groups addressing concerns included in this bill. The Financial/Bank group consisting of a Chair from Jewish Services in Fairfield, and members from the Department of Banking, Community Banking and Credit Unions, and the Departments of Social Services and Aging, has been researching best practices throughout the country to come up with an educational program to increase awareness and reporting of abuse without increasing mandatory reporters at this time. Our Department has also been working with DSSs Protective Services for the Elderly on how to combine our mission of programming and awareness with their mission of prevention of abuse within our financial constraints and will be adding appropriate Coalition partners, including the Chief States Attorney, who are specifically involved in prevention and prosecution of elder abuse. Consumer Fraud, Law Enforcement Education, Probate Court Concerns and Senior Safety are all workgroups in some stage of formation and operation.

I respectfully recommend utilizing the findings of these existing groups rather than duplicating their efforts in statute.

…As to the other issues raised in this bill, the Department on Aging supports improvement to uniform statutes relative to Powers of Attorney, appropriate criminal sanctions when elders have been abused, and tempered actions in passing changes to the statutes before adequate study has been completed on the scope of ramifications.”

Deb Migneault, Connecticuts Legislative Commission on Aging:

“SB 1005 criminalizes the financial exploitation of older adults, creates a civil cause of action for recovery against a perpetrator, expands mandated reporters to include financial agents and otherwise enhances protections for victims of financial exploitation.

…Additionally, SB 1005 offers enhanced protections of which we are supportive, including the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (Sections 9-53). These sections contain provisions that aim to promote choice and autonomy and prevent and detect Power of Attorney abuse. UPOAA creates greater transparency and oversight about the agents actions and set forth the powers that an agent cannot exercise unless specifically authorized to do so by the individual. Additionally, it lists circumstances under which a third party may legitimately refuse to accept a power of attorney or provide sanctions for unlawful refusals.”

Roderick Bremby, CT Department of Social Services:

“…In 2014, the Department referred close to 100 cases of financial exploitation to the Office of the Chief States Attorney for criminal investigation, which is significantly greater than in previous years. Reports of financial exploitation account for approximately 25% of the reports the Department receives.

…The proposed changes to the protective services and criminal statutes, and the addition of a “Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney Act” would go a long way toward deterring financial exploitation of elderly persons and creating meaningful consequences for those who are convicted of such exploitation. They add important changes to current law relating to oversight of individuals who have power of attorney. These revisions would reduce the financial burden imposed on the state as a result of the misuse of authority by powers of attorney.

…For these reasons the Department supports this proposal.”

Nancy Shaffer, Connecticut State Long-Term Care Ombudsman:

“…The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program supports this proposal, but with a specific recommendation: Section 4 (a) of the proposal defines mandated reporters to include “(8) professional patients advocate”. I ask the Aging Committee to add the language “(excluding the Office of the State Ombudsman)”. Per the Older Americans Act, the Ombudsman Program is not a mandated reporter. The work of the Ombudsman is designed to be resident-centered and directed.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Natasha Pierre, State Victim Advocate:

“Financial exploitation of seniors, a form of elder abuse, is on the rise and often goes unreported. The elder may experience shame, embarrassment, fear and guilt, coupled with the devastating reality that a trusted caretaker or family member is responsible for the abuse. Further, as the elder ages, mental and physical limitations may increase the elders potential for abuse. Elders are likely to suffer financial, emotional and social harm as well as physical health effects.

…Senate Bill No. 1005 will make it clear that any person who violates the trust and welfare of an elderly person for personal financial gain will face harsh consequences.”

AARP:

“…Several provisions outlined in SB 1005 are intended to fight elder financial exploitation and abuse. The proposal also provides additional mechanisms to detect and report potential abuse…In particular, AARP supports adoption of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (sections 9-53). Powers of Attorney are essential tools for delegating authority to others to handle financial matters in many situations. It is a legal document used by an individual (the principal) to name someone else (the agent) to make financial decisions and act on the principals behalf. To be useful as an incapacity planning tool, a POA must give broad authority to the agent. A Power of Attorney, whether general or durable, is private; there is not the same level of court oversight as there is for a guardianship or conservatorship appointment. State laws often are unclear about the duty owed by the agent to the principal. This combination of broad consent, lack of oversight, and unclear duties makes it possible for agents to misuse their authority.

…While the Act cant prevent bad actors from committing theft and other forms of abuse, it does set forth clear agent duties and prohibitions that will make civil actions and criminal prosecutions more effective.”

Connecticut Bankers Association:

“The CBA has been diligently working with the Department of Aging and a task force including a broad group of key stakeholders, to create a public/private partnership for the voluntary reporting by banks of actual or suspected elderly fraud.

…While the Bills provisions are well intended, we are concerned that the language creating the new mandatory reporting, significant fines and criminal prosecution for perceived non-compliance will create several unanticipated and negative consequences. This will likely cause over-reporting “to be safe” and not address the complexities of effectively identifying and reporting to protect elder customers. Also, and importantly, is the potential for lawsuits from elder customers, their family members or those with Power of Attorney designations who do not want the bank reporting any activities, or telling them what to do with their monies. These provisions will also highlight a lack of capacity to address the flood of new reporting to law enforcement and those agencies that will receive those reports, as their resources are already stretched thin.”

Mag Morelli, LeadingAge Connecticut:

“Prevention of elder abuse is a priority for LeadingAge Connecticut members and we therefore support the intent of this proposed bill which is to extend the current statutory reporting requirements and protective services for elder abuse to include the financial exploitation of older adults.

…We do have questions regarding some of the new and amended definitions contained in the bill. For instance, in the definition of a “person who stands in a position of trust and confidence,” in line 36 we question whether the intent was to place an “and” instead of an “or” between (A) and (B). We also note that the definition of “neglect” now varies from its use in other similar statutes and we ask if the definition of “caretaker” should be clarified.”

Jill Nowacki, Credit Union League of Connecticut:

“…We are extremely concerned that mandating reporting of suspected financial abuse will put credit union employees at the risk of civil and or criminal penalties and could make the credit union liable should an employee make an error in reporting suspected financial abuse. We are fearful that a credit union member bring an action for damages against the credit union for revealing private information.”

Jeryl Gray:

“…I respectfully submit to you my opinion that this bill number 1005 unfortunately is just more business as usual in what we have so tragically learned is such a corrupt state, tragically learned that our “public servants” are in fact the perpetrators of the public corruption and tragically learned that abject lawlessness has truly destroyed the ironically named Constitution State.”

Marjorie Partch:

“…Many, many innocent citizen families in Connecticut are being injured and even destroyed by the systemic corruption that has taken root in the “Constitution State”.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None expressed.

Reported by: Richard Ferrari/Art Mongillo Date: 3/10/15

 See the  Raised Bill [pdf]

Posted in Probate, Social justice | Leave a comment

Connecticut: Resident wins Appellate Court reversal, “The question that this raises is pertinent to consider: is justice unaffordable for many?”

New Canaan resident Michael Nowacki speaks at a Town Council meeting in March 2014. (Aaron Marsh photo)

New Canaan resident Michael Nowacki claims a trial court violated his U.S. Constitutional rights in two 2012 convictions of him it reached, and the Connecticut Appellate Court has now said it agrees.

In a decision published Tuesday, March 10, in the state’s law journal, the Appellate Court reversed one of Nowacki’s convictions and ordered a retrial for the other, finding in the latter that the trial court violated Nowacki’s rights to present his defense — which he did during the trial himself, without retaining legal counsel.

The Advertiser is now asking what no news outlet thus far to report on Nowacki’s successful appeal yet has. In the charge for which the Appellate Court ordered a new trial — where the appeal judges’ argument largely hinges on one witness not being called and Nowacki’s own attempted, related testimony being limited — what would that witness have said about a key legal point of this case?

Michael Nowacki “The story posted by the New Canaan Advertiser is generally factual and represents fair minded journalism which journeyed into “news analysis” which provided validation that the testimony of Susan Schultz would have been “probative” and “corroborating”. My thanks to Aaron Marsh and Greg Reilly for the comprehensive review of some landmark issues of due process and equal protection which have the potential to be substantive and precedent setting affirmations of that fundamental constitutional and civil rights can only be upheld if we challenge trial court decisions which compromised the integrity of those who framed the language in the Constitution of the United States.
However, this decision in no way compensates me for the cost of defending these liberties, which in this case rises to $100,000. The question that this raises is pertinent to consider: is justice unaffordable for many?”

For more information on this article, please click on the link below:: http://ncadvertiser.com/46563/appeals-court-the-question-they-quashed-at-nowackis-trial/

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Connecticut: Has Our View of Corruption Been Corrupted?

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Supreme-Court-pic
There’s a new anti-corruption task force in Connecticut replete with billboards asking the public to report the corrupt. This hour, we explore the history of corruption and our complicated attitudes toward it.

Comment below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.

GUESTS:

  • Deirdre M. Daly – United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut
  • Noah Rosenblum – Ph.D. student at Columbia; law student at Yale Law School, where he is an articles editor at the Yale Law Journal
  • John Joseph Wallis – Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland

Lydia Brown and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

The Colin McEnroe Show  10:57 am Wed February 18, 2015
Listen 

Attribution listen and see to full story at :
http://wnpr.org/post/has-our-view-corruption-been-corrupted

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Connecticut: Emotional Prevue of Legislator & Parent Testimony

Emotional Prevue of Legislator & Parent Testimony

State Rep Dan Carter (R) – Lost Confidence
State Rep Edwin Vargus (D) – Shop of Horrors
State Rep Minnie Gonzalez (D) – Parents in Visitor Gallery say Vote No
International Human Rights Journalist Keith Harmon Snow – Destruction of an Entire Life deserves a bullet
Parent Andrea Cota Eiger – SIGN AWAY CUSTODY OF YOUR SON! (Has not seem him for 5 years).
Parent Michael Nowacki – Judiciary giving Legislators a snow job! See in video above.
___________________________________________________________
Michel-Nowacki-Hartford
CT State Troopers escort Michael Nowacki out of the confirmation hearings
for Attorney Maureen Murphy and others held before the Connecticut Judiciary Committee February 22, 2012.
  In his public statement, Michael Nowacki continued to challenge members of the Judiciary Committee for their sanction and participation in judicial abuse.  (c. keith harmon snow, 2012)

Circle of Appreciation

STATE REPRESENTATIVE MINNIE GONZALEZ RECEIVES
THE CCFCR CIRCLE OF APPRECIATION AWARD

State Representative Minnie Gonzalez was presented with a first-ever Circle of Appreciation Award Friday, June 20, 2014 at 5pm in front of The House of Representatives at the state capitol in Hartford. This occurred directly following a ceremony in which Governor Dan Malloy signed our state’s first-ever family court reform bill into law in his office.

CCFCR advocates celebrate with State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez after presenting her with The Circle of Appreciation Award. Pictured from left: Vernon Leftridge; Peter Syzmonik, CCFCR Chairman; Sara Littlefield; Atty. Mark Sargent; State Rep. Gonzelez; Al Cuseo, Probate Court Reform Advocate; Marisa Ringel, CCFCR board member; and Atty. Maureen Markowska

CCFCR advocates celebrate with State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez after presenting her with The Circle of Appreciation Award. Pictured from left: Vernon Leftridge; Peter Syzmonik, CCFCR Chairman; Sara Littlefield; Atty. Mark Sargent; State Rep. Gonzelez; Al Cuseo, Probate Court Reform Advocate; Marisa Ringel, CCFCR board member; and Maureen Martowska, J.D. & CCFCR board member

Attribution see full story :
http://eyeonconnecticut.com/the-coalition-for-connecticut-family-court-reform/state-rep-minnie-gonzalez-receives-ccfcr-circle-of-appreciation-award/

Also See: Connecticut: Federal Task Force Established To Investigate Corruption
http://fairfield.dailyvoice.com/news/federal-task-force-established-investigate-corruption-Connecticut

Fairfield-Daily-VoiceThe Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force seeks to bring corrupt officials to justice

The Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force seeks to bring corrupt officials to justice Photo Credit: File Photo

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly has announced the formation of the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force, which aims to investigate corruption among public officials as well as local, federal and municipal employees.

The Task Force includes representatives from the FBI, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the Inspector General’s Offices of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Mattei, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit, is coordinating the task force.

The task force will investigate corruption that threatens public resources, the electoral process, and fair economic opportunities for citizens and businesses. It will also attempt to expose corruption within public and private institutions that misuse taxpayer dollars.

The FBI will serve as the lead investigative agency.

“With the assistance and cooperation of these partners, the Connecticut Public Corruption Task force is well positioned to successfully root out and put an end to public corruption within our area,” said Patricia M. Ferrick, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven office.

“Public servants are entrusted by all of us to act in the best interests of the public they serve. It is important for the United States to bring to justice those who betray that trust.”

The task force has been conducting several investigations in the past few months. Most recently, it arrested the former Finance Director of Plymouth, who was accused of embezzling more than $800,000 from the town.

Daly encourages citizens to report corrupt activity by calling the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.

“We call on public servants, the vast majority of whom are honest brokers, to not look the other way when they see indications of corruption,” said Daly. “We cannot overstate the importance of citizen participation in our fight against corruption, and we urge all citizens to assist us in this effort.”

Posted in Family Court Reform, Probate, Social justice | Leave a comment

Connecticut: COURT REPORTERS SCAM FAMILY & PROBATE COURT LITIGANTS AND CONNECTICUT TAXPAYERS TO THE TUNE OF THOUSANDS!

During the proceedings of the 2009 subcommittee on audio recordings, I was struck by the fact that three dozen court reporters and court recording monitors spoke out about the sanctity of audio recordings and vociferously opposed making them available freely to the public.  See article at the following link:

http://divorceinconnecticut.blogspot.com/2014/09/judicial-restrictions-on-access-to.html

As you may or may not know, it remains the current policy of the Connecticut Judicial Branch that it will not distribute or sell copies of the audio recordings that it makes itself of legal proceedings.  These are part of what is considered to be the official record of a case. 
 
Court Reporters and Court Recording Monitors jealously guard these recordings from the hands of members of the public or litigants because they state they are concerned that the audio recordings could be tampered with.  Of course, litigants often state that if anyone was to tamper with them, it would be Court Reporters!
 
The only way to find out what is on those audio recordings is through court reporters who are solely authorized by statute to make transcripts of those recordings for a fee upon request.  It is through this monopoly on the production of court transcripts that court reporters have been able to develop one of the most lucrative scams in the history of the Connecticut Family Court system. 

http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20091223/4-judicial-workers-pay-fines-in-scam

The link is now broken see story below with screen shot from google: This is Google’s cache of http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20091223/4-judicial-workers-pay-fines-in-scam. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Feb 9, 2015 00:37:53 GMT. The current page could have changed in the meantime. Learn more
Tip: To quickly find your search term on this page, press Ctrl+F or ⌘-F (Mac) and use the find bar.

See above link re Stamford court monitors fined by Ethics Committee for overcharging public for transcripts. Now some of them claim they can’t produce transcripts of portions of a hearing, but can only produce the full hearing–despite a state statute providing that any party is entitled to a transcript of whatever portion of a hearing they order.

4 judicial workers pay fines in scam

4 judicial workers pay fines in scam

By Brian McCready, Milford Bureau Chief

POSTED: 12/23/09, 12:01 AM EST

Four state Judicial Branch employees, including an Orange woman, have paid $500 civil penalties to the Office of State Ethics for allegedly using their state positions to obtain financial gain.

The four employees allegedly overcharged the public for documents, and were forced to make restitution, according to OSE officials.

The four court workers are Kathy Jordan of Orange, Sharon Haas of Stamford, Deidre Clement of New Fairfield and Mary Fjelldal of Stamford.

According to the consent orders finalized with the Office of State Ethics Monday, all four are court monitors for the Judicial Department at the Stamford Court Reporters Office.

Court monitors record and transcribe proceedings in Superior Court, an OSE statement released Tuesday says. Despite a mandatory price schedule, each of the four allegedly overcharged members of the public for the reproduction of transcripts, according to the statement.

State law prohibits employees from using their public office or position to obtain financial gain for themselves.

“By overcharging requestors in excess of the amount allowed by the mandatory price schedule, the four monitors allegedly used their state positions to obtain financial gain. In the consent orders, the four court monitors deny any violation of the Code of Ethics,” the OSE statement says.

In addition to the civil penalties, Jordan, Haas, Clement and Fjelldal also agreed to reimburse members of the public $207.75, $371.25, $528 and $212.50, respectively, the amounts of the overcharges, the OSE statement says. As a further part of the settlements, each will provide a detailed invoice to all future requestors, specifying the per-page rate charged, the total number of pages and the total amount due.

“The Code of Ethics seeks, first and foremost, to prevent public officials from using their positions for personal, financial gain, beyond what the law allows,” OSE Executive Director Carol Carson said in the statement.

OSE spokeswoman Meredith Trimble said the issue was brought to their attention by another state agency. She said OSE would not have any control over whether the employees were disciplined.

“Regarding any agency personnel matters, we don’t know how this was handled administratively by their agency. That, we wouldn’t get involved in, because it is not under our purview. Our statute allows us to impose civil penalties, which we did,” Trimble said. “How agencies subsequently handle any ethics matters would be up to the management, HR department and in keeping with that agency’s own internal ethics policy, if applicable.”

Trimble said education is the key to ensuring abuses do not occur. The OSE has a number of training options to ensure that state employees know and comply with the ethics law, she said.

“We do free in-person training at state agencies, hold free quarterly trainings at our offices, offer free training DVDs to any requesting agency, provide an interactive, online training … as well as a Web-streaming training video and plain-language guides to the Code of Ethics,” Trimble said.

Attribution see full story : http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20091223/4-judicial-workers-pay-fines-in-scam

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Connecticut: Public Corruption Task Force uses Billboards to Combat Corruption in Connecticut

imageCourtesy of FBI New Haven Bureau
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Corruption-Bridgeport-Billboard

Local legislators said Wednesday they support the creation of a task force to combat corruption in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force was formed earlier this month and consists of representatives from the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, as well as the Inspector General’s Offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said in a statement that the task force’s responsibilities include investigating and “rooting out” elected officials, federal, state and municipal employees who use their position for personal gain at the expense of the public good.

“Connecticut’s unfortunate recent history with corruption is well known, but so is this office’s history of combating corrupt activity,” Daly said in a statement. “Our efforts have been aided by a dogged media and courageous, conscientious citizens, business owners and public officials who have provided information about corrupt activity in their midst.”

The task force has already spent months at work and was involved in the arrest of a former finance director in Plymouth accused of embezzling more than $800,000 from the town, according to a statement.

To raise awareness of the task force’s mission, the New Haven division of the FBI installed billboards in Hartford, Bridgeport and Waterbury.

The billboards ask motorists to “Report corruption now!” by contacting the task force at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Information from: http://www.myrecordjournal.com/southington/southingtonnews/6904923-129/corruption-task-force-uses-billboards-to-announce-its-presence.html

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Connecticut: Public Corruption Task Force The corruption tip hotline, 1-800-CALL-FBI, operates 24/7.

It Is Still ‘Corrupticut’

“It’s a sad commentary when the feds feel a state merits its own round-the-clock corruption unit.”

Political corruption in Connecticut is like this winter’s snow: It just won’t stop.

Which is why federal agencies are having to set up a serious stakeout here.

The U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI and four other federal agencies are forming the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force to root out all those who use their public position for private gain. The corruption tip hotline, 1-800-CALL-FBI, operates 24/7.

It’s a sad commentary when the federal government feels a state merits its own round-the-clock corruption unit.

In a way, federal investigators and prosecutors are doing what they have done here for years: taking the lead in draining corruption cesspools.

The reason why it’s fallen to them to watchdog Connecticut corruption is because the state legislature refuses to hand state prosecutors the tool to do it — the investigative subpoena, which would give them the power to compel witness testimony.

For years, lawmakers have turned up their noses at requests by the state’s attorneys for this tool, although it is common to virtually all other states.

What are legislators afraid of? Now that they’ve been called out by federal law enforcement officials, they can hardly refuse to respond. Lawmakers should give the state’s attorneys subpoena power this session.

Thickheaded and Greedy

You’d have thought that public officials would have gotten the message that corruption doesn’t pay after so many Connecticut lawmakers, staff members, mayors and even a governor have gone to prison or been sentenced to a lifetime of infamy for selling their offices.

Attribution see full story : http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-corrupticut-20150208-story.html

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