Judge Holds Mother in Contempt; Refuses to Hold Scheduled Custody Hearing



From: Parenting News Network™


Daytona Beach – A mother who has been separated from her children for more than three years was denied a hearing today to reunite with them and instead was held in contempt by a Volusia County judge. 

Linda Marie Sacks, an Ormond Beach mother, arrived this morning at the City Island Courthouse in Daytona Beach for a scheduled hearing (Case 2004-30312 FMCI) asking for unsupervised visitations and total contact with her daughters, ages 13 and 15. But Volusia County Family Court Judge Shawn L. Briese declined to hold the hearing, which had been on the trial court schedule for six months, and demanded instead that Sacks submit to a deposition by the opposing counsel during the scheduled hearing time. 

Sacks filed for divorce in 2004 after her daughters began acting out sexually. The eldest daughter, at age 8, drew a picture of the father as an erect penis during a therapy session and made a disclosure during Sunday School that she had performed a sex act on her father. Sacks has spent six years in the family court trying unsuccessfully to protect her daughters. 

Justice for Children, a Houston-based national child advocacy organization, has written a letter to Volusia County law enforcement authorities, including Department of Children and Family Administrator Reggie Williams, expressing concern that the allegations of sexual and physical abuse of  Sacks’ daughters was never properly investigated. 

In April 2007 Judge Briese (Case 2004-30312-FMCI) ruled that the child lied, gave the father sole physical custody of the daughters and placed the mother on supervised visitation. In the last three years, Sacks has had only 63 hours with her daughters at the The Family Tree House Visitation Center in Daytona Beach. 

In 2008 the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals in Daytona Beach reversed that decision,(Case 5D07-1682) and ruled that Judge Briese had abused his trial court discretion, violated the mother’s due process rights and ordered the custody case be retried in the lower court. Despite the appeals court ruling and numerous motions to have him removed from the case, Judge Briese has continued to deny Sacks full-contact with her children. 

Instead, just a few months after the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruling, Judge Briese quickly set another custody hearing, denied to admit any of the mother’s evidence or witnesses and again ruled that Sacks be allowed only supervised visits with her daughters. 

Sacks, this time as a pro se litigant, has again filed an appeal with the Fifth District Court (Case 5D09-3752).  Recently, the appeals court denied the father’s attorney’s motion to strike the mother’s appeal brief. Within days the father’s attorneys, James L. Rose and Leonard R. Ross of Daytona Beach, filed a subpoena in the lower court demanding Sacks appear for a lengthy deposition and filed a motion to end the mother’s two-hour a month supervised visit with her children. 

Florida Rules of Civil Procedures Rule 1.310 (d) dictates that a deposition being used to harass a party can be terminated. Rule 1.290 (2) also states that a party cannot be forced into a deposition 20 days before a hearing.

Sacks was found to be in contempt of court after she refused to take part in the deposition and only asked that she be able to have her hearing time. 

During the hearing today, Judge Briese at first agreed with the mother’s filed objection to the deposition saying the Ross has had years to take the deposition. But when the Ross complained that the mother is speaking to national organizations about the case, Judge Briese changed his mind and demanded Sacks submit to the deposition.

Judge Briese said today that the mother will not be heard about being reunited with her children until she does submit. The hearing to see her children was scheduled for three days. 

The mother will be back at the courthouse at 1:00 P.M. in hopes that hearing will be allowed to begin, but has already been told by the trial court judge, if you don’t allow the deposition, you will not get your scheduled hearing time. 

Today Sacks filed an emergency motion to request a hearing before the Seventh Judicial Circuit Chief Judge J. David Walsh to ask that Judge Briese be disqualified from the case but was denied by Judge Briese. 

Read more about Sacks’ battle to protect her children in the January 2010 MomLogic magazine article.

Custody Crisis: Why Mothers Are Punished in Family Court

Is Judge Briese trying to violate this mother’s right to free speech and punish her for speaking to national organizations?

For more on the cover up of child abuse read about the long history of this denial of reality in the meticulously detailed book by Lynn Sacco called Unspeakable.

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