When Paradigms Collide: Protecting Battered Parents and Their Children in the Family Court System


Amplify’d from www.thelizlibrary.org

Despite hopeful signs that

we will ultimately integrate the findings and theories of those who study

conflict, violence, and abuse, tensions among and between them continue

to have a direct impact on the family court system. In the context of custody

and visitation, the explicit preference that children maintain significant

contacts with both parents after separation and divorce and the tendency

to see marital dysfunction as the product of conflict rather than abuse

have led specialists in partner abuse to accuse family courts of ignoring

abuse and its consequences for both adults and children.


1970s saw increasing divorce rates, a growing fathers' rights movement,

a new body of popular literature favoring shared parenting, [FN11]

and a new body of social science research assessing the impact of divorce

on children. [FN12] The literature and the data on which

it relied either asserted or was interpreted to assert two propositions,

one negative and one positive. The negative proposition was that children

who lose contact with their noncustodial parents after divorce are likely

to experience problems. The positive proposition was that children resist

the negative emotional fallout of their parents' divorces most successfully

when they have generous ongoing access to both parents. On the strength

of these propositions, state legislatures and family courts mobilized to

support shared parenting through joint custody, "friendly parent"

provisions, and generous visitation for noncustodial parents.


custody and friendly parent provisions are intimately related. Joint custody

legislation has taken a variety of forms. The weakest form simply makes

it explicit that joint custody is an option for judges to consider. A much

stronger form authorizes joint custody when either party requests it, even

if the other parent is opposed. A third variety authorizes joint custody

only when both parents are in agreement but makes the willingness of one

parent to accept joint custody a factor in determining which parent should

receive sole custody. This disadvantages the "unfriendly" parent,

the one who was unwilling to share custody. Some legislation creates a

presumption in favor of joint custody, and while parental disagreement

may rebut the presumption, the legislation may then favor awarding sole

custody to the "friendly" parent who is willing to share. [FN13]

According to the Family Violence Project of the National Council of Juvenile

and Family Court Judges, in 1995, 10 child custody statutes included a

public policy statement concerning a parent's ability to allow the child

an open, loving, and frequent relationship with the other parent. Eighteen

states included such provisions in the list of factors a court must consider

when determining the best interest of the child. [FN14]

Even in states without joint custody or friendly parent language in their

statutes, many judges act on the belief that shared access is best for

children and sole custody is best awarded to the parent most willing to

share the child. [FN15]

In this context, if judges,

mediators, or family service officers interpret abuse as conflict and attribute

violence to conflict rather than to abuse, they may well conclude that

shared parenting is still both feasible and desirable. The parents just

need to set aside their own issues and hostilities and focus on the best

interests of their children. Mediators, guardians ad litem, custody evaluators,

and judges confusing abuse with conflict may also conclude that the parents

who oppose shared parenting are acting vindictively and subordinating the

interests of the children to their own rather than expressing their legitimate

anxieties about their own and their children's ongoing safety. Ironically,

within the friendly parent framework, a mother's proper concern about her

abusive partner's fitness to parent will negatively affect her chance to

win custody, not his. At the same time, the abuser's willingness to share

the children, which assures his ongoing access to his partner and allows

him to continue to manipulate and intimidate her, will, within the same

framework, make him appear the more attractive candidate for custody.


research is eroding the basis on which joint custody provisions rest. Earlier

studies of shared parenting, which tended to reach positive conclusions,

used samples composed of couples who were highly motivated and committed

to making joint custody work for their children. [FN16]

Beginning in the early 1980s, and swelling in volume as the decade progressed,

new studies have emphasized the limitations of those early findings and

have raised a series of questions. [FN17] The most recent

studies conclude that there is no convincing evidence that joint custody

is either more or less beneficial than sole custody for most children.

[FN18] More important, from the perspective

of this article, is the finding that shared parenting is contraindicated

if the relationship between the parents is characterized by ongoing conflict.

As Janet Johnston summarizes this research,


category of male-controlled interactive violence is particularly troubling

because it describes a controlling male who is prepared to use force to

gain compliance and who escalates his use of force if his partner resists

his efforts at control. Yet, this man is not viewed by Johnston as a batterer.

[FN37] When she adds that violence in these cases arises

primarily out of "a conflict of interest or disagreement" [FN38]

between the spouses, it seems plausible that the conflict might be precisely

about the man's desire for control. When she talks about mutual verbal

provocation [FN39] in these relationships, the echo of

the justification so commonly used by batterers, that their partners provoked

them by asserting independence or failing to comply with (often unreasonable)

demands, makes Johnston's account uncomfortable reading for those whose

primary constituencies are perpetrators or victims of battering.

Read more at www.thelizlibrary.org

Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life


Coercive ControlDespite its great achievements, the domestic violence revolution is stalled, Evan Stark argues, a provocative conclusion he documents by showing that interventions have failed to improve womens long-term safety in relationships or to hold perpetrators accountable.

Stark traces this failure to a startling paradox, that the singular focus on violence against women masks an even more devastating reality. In millions of abusive relationships, men use a largely unidentified form of subjugation that more closely resembles kidnapping or indentured servitude than assault. He calls this pattern coercive control. Drawing on sources that range from FBI statistics and film to dozens of actual cases from his thirty years of experience as an award-winning researcher, advocate, and forensic expert, Stark shows in terrifying detail how men can use coercive control to extend their dominance over time and through social space in ways that subvert womens autonomy, isolate them, and infiltrate the most intimate corners of their lives.

Elevating coercive control from a second-class misdemeanor to a human rights violation, Stark explains why law, policy, and advocacy must shift its focus to emphasize how coercive control jeopardizes womens freedom in everyday life. Fiercely argued and eminently readable, Starks work is certain to breathe new life into the domestic violence revolution.

In the forensic context where I work, women’s right to use whatever means are available to liberate themselves from coercive control derives from the right afforded to all persons to free themselves from tyranny not from the proximate physical or psychological means used to do this

The domestic violence model emphasizes the familial, cultural, interpersonal and psychological roots of abusive behavior. The coercive control model views the dynamics in abusive relationships from the vantage of the historical struggle for women’s liberation and men’s efforts to preserve their traditional privileges in personal life in the face of this struggle. The incredible strides women have made towards full equality, particularly since the l960’s, have been widely documented. These gains make it increasingly difficult for men to ensure women’s obedience and dependence through violence alone. In the face of this reality, millions of men have expanded their oppressive repertoire to include a range of constraints on women’s autonomy formerly imposed by law, religion, and women’s exclusion from the economic, cultural and political mainstream, in essence trying to construct a “patriarchy in miniature” in each individual relationship, the course of malevolent conduct known as coercive control. Although the aim of this conspicuous form of subjugation is to quash, offset or coopt women’s social gains (taking the money they earn, for instance), this strategy relies for success on the persistent inequalities based on sex that remain, including the huge gap in job opportunities and earnings that continues to advantage men.

More comments by the author, Dr. Stark.

But this is the first book to show that most abused women who seek help do so because their rights and liberties have been jeopardized, not because they have been injured. The coercive control model Stark develops resolves three of the most perplexing challenges posed by abuse: why these relationships endure, why abused women develop a profile of problems seen among no other group of assault victims, and why the legal system has failed to win them justice.

Against this backdrop, Stark analyzes the cases of three women tried for crimes committed in the context of abuse, showing that their reactions are only intelligible when they are reframed as victims of coercive control rather than as battered wives. The story of physical and sexual violence against women has been told often.

Read more at americanmotherspoliticalparty.org

Beware Family Court: What Victims and Advocates Should Know


Amplify’d from www.justicewomen.com
In Family Court a Victim Is on Her Own Against the Abuser.

In Criminal Court it's the State That Takes On the Abuser.

This is why criminal
cases are named in the form of 'The People (meaning the
state or society) versus John Doe', whereas family court
cases are named in the form of 'Jane Doe versus John Doe'.

The criminal court
system pits the immense powers of the state against the accused.
In marked contrast, family court is merely a stage set by the
state where two private individuals can come to battle out their
personal differences, using their own devices, with the state
acting more as a weak referee, and wielding very little power.

Family court and criminal
court are profoundly different in premise, structure, power, and
purpose. The moment a victim steps into family court, whether
to seek a restraining order, custody and visitation rulings, a
divorce, or any other family court order regarding her abuser,
she's literally opening the door for her abuser to launch unchecked
counterattacks against her, in an arena that was never designed
to deal with criminal dynamics, with the very real possibility
that the abuser may end up turning the family court against her.
In family court, an unprepared victim of family violence can be
as vulnerable to the perpetrator's abuse as she is in the home.

Most people mistakenly
think that the difference between family court and criminal court
consists mainly in the different issues these courts deal with.
It's a mistake that can seriously endanger victims of family violence
who too often trust that the family court system is built to protect
her in much the same way as the criminal system. Nothing could
be further from reality.

In family court, the
family issue at hand - whether custody, divorce, visitation, or
restraining orders, etc. - is deemed a private matter of such
minor consequence to the community that the two individuals in
a family court case are on their own; each responsible for investigating,
preparing, conducting, and defending their own cases. To be sure,
they are each free to hire their own private attorney to help
them if they wish - or if they can. But this factor also generally
serves to further disadvantage a victim of family violence and
to further empower a violent abuser, since it's usually the abuser
who controls the family funds and can hire a private attorney,
and the victim who cannot.

In Family Court an Abuser can Launch Free Ranging Counterattacks
against the Victim.

In Criminal Court, Counterattacks by the Abuser Are Forbidden
or Tightly Restricted.

Read more at www.justicewomen.com

The "Father's Right's" Movement: How to Legally Stalk, Harass, and Intimidate Victims of Domestic Violence after a Restraining Order has been Issued


The "Father's Right's" Movement: How to Legally Stalk, Harass,

and Intimidate Victims of Domestic Violence after a Restraining Order has been Issued


Amplify’d from www.thelizlibrary.org

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction

  • Historical Background
    of the Father's Rights Movement

  • The Quest for Dominance
    and Control

  • Mom, Country, and Apple
    Pie -- Why People Help Them

  • Differentiating
    Legitimate Fatherhood Groups from Illegitimate "Father's Rights"

    -- Ten Tips for Single Dads

  • IS There Bias
    in the Courts?

  • The "Father's Manifesto"
    - A Political Platform to Repeal the 19th Amendment

    -- Father's Manifesto Signatories

  • Practicing Law Without
    A License -- A Pro-Se Army

  • Use of the Internet
    to Disseminate Information

  • The Seduction
    of the Media

  • Father's Right's Advocates
    in High Places

  • How the Father's
    Right's Movement Hurts Men with Legitimate Disputes

  • Mein Kampf -- Indoctrination
    Tactics of The Father's Rights Movement

  • Brief History of
    VAWA and the Restraining Order

  • Are Restraining
    Orders Widely Abused by Women as a Tactical Maneuver in a Divorce?

  • Attacking Her

  • DOJ -- Profile of an
    Obsessive Stalker

  • "She Deserved
    It" -- How the Criminal Process Fails Victims

  • Malicious Prosecution
    and Abuse of Process in the Courts

    -- Victoria D.'s story

  • Vindictive Custody/Visitation

  • Intentional
    Infliction of Emotional Distress

  • Parental Alienation

    -- if Psychologists Discredit this Theory, Why Is it So Widely Accepted
    by the Courts?

  • Harassment of
    Judges, the Legislature, and Potential Jurors

  • Lawyers
    Who Knowingly Help Men Harass their Victims

  • Possible

    -- Screening of Pro-Se Lawsuits, Criminal Charges, Motions for Reconsideration

    -- Criminal Sanctions for Filing Frivolous Charges with State Administrative

    -- Tighter Enforcement of Stalking Laws

    -- Rule 11-type Pro-Se Sanctions for Abuse of Process

    -- Prosecuting Groups who are Practicing Law Without A License

    -- Law School Programs - Helping the Victims Fight Back

    -- Lawsuits against FR Groups under the VAWA as Unincorporated Associations.

    -- Legislative Action

  • A
    Proposed Constitutional Amendment
  • Many years ago, I encountered what
    appeared at the time to be a group of reputable men
    The second wife, new girlfriend, or
    female sympathizer of the Father's Rights movement is a queen amongst a
    retinue of attentive servants.
    It was these early, positive experiences
    with the Father's Right's movement which colored all of my experiences
    to come
    Background of the Father's Rights Movement
    The groups which call themselves "Father's
    Right's" groups are not members of the legitimate men's movement.
    Quest for Dominance and Control
    Read more at www.thelizlibrary.org

    (AZ) Proposed child custody changes explore ‘coercive control’ in domestic violence


    Amplify’d from azcapitoltimes.com
    An interim legislative committee is crafting pioneering child custody measures that promise to result in a collision between groups advocating for victims of domestic violence and advocates for fathers’ rights.

    The most dramatic changes codify the concept of coercive control in domestic violence, which is a pattern of behavior used to dominate an ex-spouse, the other ...
    Read more at azcapitoltimes.com


    Custody Disputes Now Tougher for Battered Moms


    It's been 25 years since Phyllis Chesler wrote "Mothers on Trial" to help women fight their child-custody battles. In this excerpt from her revised book, she reviews what's changed, for better and worse.

    Amplify’d from womensenews.org

    Custody battles can take a very long time. They range from only several years to more than 15 or 20. They may have profound legal, economic, social, psychological and even medical consequences for years afterward, perhaps forever.

    (WOMENSENEWS)--Going through a custody battle is like going through a war. One does not emerge unscathed. Yes, one may learn important lessons, but one may also be left broken and incapable of trusting others, including our so-called justice system, ever again.

    What's changed since I first started researching and writing about custody battles?

    Documented domestic violence does get factored in somewhat more than before. Where real assets exist, judges have the power to award more of them to mothers and children. Fewer mothers and fathers automatically lose custody or visitation because they are gay or because they have high-powered careers.

    However, certain injustices (crimes, really) that I first began tracking in the late 1970s have now gotten much worse. For example, battered women are losing custody to their batterers in record numbers. Children are being successfully brainwashed by fathers, but many mothers are being falsely accused of brainwashing. Worse: Children with mandated reporters--physicians, nurses or teachers--who report to them that they have been sexually abused by their fathers are usually given to those very fathers. The mothers of these children are almost always viewed as having "coached" or "alienated" the children and, on this basis alone, are seen as "unfit" mothers.

    I understand that this sounds unbelievable. But it is still true. The mothers of raped children, who are also described as "protective" mothers, are seen as guilty of "parental alienation syndrome." The fact that this concept, first pioneered by Dr. Richard Gardner and widely endorsed by fathers' rights groups, has been dismissed as junk science does not seem to matter. Most guardians ad litem, parenting counselors, mediators, lawyers, mental health professionals and judges still act as if this syndrome were real and mainly find mothers, not fathers, guilty in this regard. In 2010 the American Psychiatric Association was still fighting to include a new disorder in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders": the parental alienation disorder, to replace the debunked parental alienation syndrome.

    'Parental Alienation Syndrome'

    In 2009 and 2010 more than 50 mothers from 21 U.S. states and a number of foreign countries all shared their stories with me. Their cases took place between the late 1980s and 2010. Some cases are still ongoing.

    eloquent, beautifull

    In some instances, I spoke with the mothers in person or at length on the phone. Some mothers filled out questionnaires, but many also sent additional narratives and documentation. Some mothers sent me eloquent, beautifully written, full-length memoirs. Some wrote pithy but equally heartbreaking accounts of their marriages and custody battles.

    With a few exceptions, most of my 2010 mother-interviewees said that the system was "corrupt" and that lawyers and judges don't care about "justice," are "very biased," or can be "bought and sold."

    See more at womensenews.org

    The "Trial Within a Trial" Court-Appointed Custody Evaluators Waste Judicial Resources and Parents' Funds


    Page one: an illustration of the process

    Page two: a conversation by psychs about a child custody evaluation

    Page three: the same psychs discuss a diagnostic dilemma

    Amplify’d from www.thelizlibrary.org


    (1) The parties each have a limited but adequate amount
    of litigation funds. Each of them hires a lawyer.

    (2) Lawyer A subpoenas witnesses and gathers evidence pertaining
    to each of the statutory custody factors.

    (3) Lawyer B subpoenas witnesses and gathers evidence pertaining
    to each of the statutory custody factors.

    (4) The witnesses are deposed, and each party's evidence
    is examined by the other.

    (5) A date is set for hearing, for which the judge has
    allowed adequate time to hear all the evidence

    (6) At the hearing, the witnesses testify in court, and
    the documentary evidence is introduced into court, all in accordance with the rules
    of evidence that have been developed to help assure the reliability of
    the evidence, and subject to cross-examination.

    (7) The judge makes a decision. Maybe it's appealed. And maybe it's not. But for now at least, it's...

    (8) Done.

    The primary reason psychologists and other mental health professionals
    should be banned from the family court systems, except to answer
    limited and narrowly-defined questions actually within their expertise,
    is that their presence does not add value, but rather, wastes court, lawyer, and litigant time, money and resources.


    Consider two cases, below, simplified to highlight pertinent parts. In both cases, Parent A and Parent B are contesting
    custody. There are a number of statutory custody factors which the judge
    must consider. Some factors carry with them a presumption regarding how
    they are to be weighted or who has the burden of proof, and other factors
    do not.


    (1) The parties each have a limited but adequate amount
    of litigation funds. Each of them hires a lawyer.

    (2) Lawyer A subpoenas witnesses and gathers evidence pertaining
    to each of the statutory custody factors.

    (3) Lawyer B subpoenas witnesses and gathers evidence pertaining
    to each of the statutory custody factors.

    (4) The witnesses are deposed, and each party's evidence
    is examined by the other.

    (5) A date is set for hearing, for which the judge has
    allowed adequate time to hear all the evidence

    (6) At the hearing, the witnesses testify in court, and
    the documentary evidence is introduced into court, all in accordance with the rules
    of evidence that have been developed to help assure the reliability of
    the evidence, and subject to cross-examination.

    (7) The judge makes a decision. Maybe it's appealed. And maybe it's not. But for now at least, it's...

    (8) Done.

    Continued, next page: The Detectives
    and on page three: The Diagnosticians

    Belief in Benefit Where None Exists.

    Isn't it Time We Ditched this Bad

    Also see therapeutic
    jurisprudence index

    Psychology is not science -- or good law

    Arguments made by custody evaluators for not turning over test records and data, and why those arguments are wrong

    Why therapeutic jurisprudence must be taken out of our family courts

    "On the basis of the 'best interests of children standard', mental health professionals are not currently capable of offering scientifically derived opinions detailing an appropriate custodial placement for a child." -- Daniel A. Krauss & Bruce D. Sales, Legal Standards, Expertise, and Experts in the Resolution of Child Custody Cases, 6 Psychol.Pub.Pol.L.866 (2000)

    Otto & Donohue: Child Custody Law - Limited Science and a Flawed System

    Friendly Parent Concept, A Flawed Factor

    Guardians ad Litem in Custody Litigation

    Sound Research or Wishful Thinking?

    & Ramsey: Child Custody Evaluations: the need for systems level outcome
    assessments (2009)

    Psychologists and Custody Evaluation Reports - Illusions of Expertise,
    Ethics and Objectivity

    House of Cards - Psychology & Psychotherapy Built on Myth


    Coordinator Issues

    Emily Buss on Why children should not be deemed to have "associational rights" and why third party guardians ad litem, forensic psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals cannot possibly assess a child's interests in this regard. Her arguments apply to a wide variety of assessments.

    Reevaluating the Evaluators - Rethinking the Assumptions

    Evaluator Quotes

    Studies indicate that parents who are subjected to the forced and artificial arrangement of their families by third party evaluators have two to two and a half times the rate of relitigation of parents who do not undergo the custody evaluation process. See Ash, P. and Guyer, J.J. (1986b). Relitigation after contested custody and visitation evaluations. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 14, 323-330; and Johnston, J.R. (1999) Developing and testing group interventions for families at impasse. Final Report submitted to the Statewide Office of Family Court Services, Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of the State of California, San Francisco.

    CASE TWO, having the addition of a helpful

    (1) The parties each have a limited but adequate amount
    of litigation funds. Each of them hires a lawyer.

    (2) Lawyer A subpoenas witnesses and gathers evidence pertaining
    to each of the statutory custody factors.

    (3) Lawyer B subpoenas witnesses and gathers evidence pertaining
    to each of the statutory custody factors.

    (4) The witnesses are deposed, and each party's evidence
    is examined by the other.

    (5) A date is set for hearing for which the judge, peeved that the case didn't settle, and in the habit of avoiding responsibility for custody issues, allows inadequate time to hear the evidence.

    (6) At the hearing, the lawyers rush through an inadequate
    presentation of their respective cases. At the end of this inadequate cursory
    hearing, the judge does not feel that he has sufficient information to
    make a decision, and so his ruling, as he anticipated for that likelihood, is for the appointment of a custody

    (7) The parties are ordered to take a portion of their
    litigation funds and divert them to payment of the evaluator. When one
    party objects, the judge makes a snappy quip poo-pooing this objection
    and pointing out that the party had plenty of money to hire a private lawyer
    and issue lots of subpoenas and do depositions. (The delays also screw up decision-making on financial issues)

    (8) The evaluator,
    a psychologist or other mental health professional, not qualified

    by training to act as a judge or investigator or legal analyst,
    let alone pose as an "expert" in these matters, who nevertheless
    believes he is the "eyes and ears of the court" and
    all-around uber-mavin, commences his detective

            He reinterviews some of each party's witnesses
    and ignores others. He decides that he needs to hear from school personnel, doctors, and other
    "collaterals" who have not been introduced by either party
    and proceeds to send these people letters, and hold telephone and in-person
    interviews with them. Some of them he finds credible, and some not, and
    on his own, weights what they have to say accordingly.

            He second-guesses the parties' respective presentations
    of the various custody factors, and decides that some of them, such as
    "morality" are not relevant. He ignores legal presumptions or
    burdens of proof applicable to others, because he does not understand them.
    He applies a criminal law burden of proof ("beyond a reasonable doubt")
    to factors that strike him as being similar to criminal matters. To others
    that he feels come within some area of his "scientific expertise"

    he applies the standard of "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty"
    -- and if they don't meet that, discounts them altogether.

            He has the parties and the children come back and forth to his office for multiple meetings in different combinations. He also has all of them sit for a battery of psychometric tests. He decides that there are diagnoses
    that could be applied to one or both parties, as well as additional issues in the case that they could
    have but did not introduce, and so includes these.

            He does a home study in which he fantasizes about whether he would enjoy living as a kid in the parties' respective houses.... etc.

    (9) The custody evaluator issues a report with recommendations,
    which may or may comport with what the judge in Case One would have decided,
    but frequently are somewhat or altogether different, and in some cases are
    completely crackpot, the result of ignorant thinking riddled with bias. But let's not presume anything for purposes of this exercise, and say only that Party A likes the recommendations and Party B does not. If
    one or both parties now have been drained of available funds, an unhealthy, unjust, or unworkable settlement
    might occur at this point. If not...

    (10) A date is set for a second hearing, for which the court
    again allows inadequate time to hear the evidence because he thinks he
    can rely mostly on the court-appointed custody evaluator's recommendations. This second hearing is going to be primarily about, not the
    case, but the custody evaluator and what he did.

    Even though the court has shortchanged the parties' time at both hearings,
    the combined time, with the addition of multiple interim hearings and discovery squabbling, will now likely far exceed what the judge in Case One had
    to provide.

    (11) Lawyer A issues subpoenas and gathers evidence pertaining
    to the custody evaluator, his training, and the favorable and/or new witnesses and
    hearsay evidence he used in his report, in order to support Lawyer A's
    case at the upcoming second hearing. Some of this involves re-doing work
    already done for prior witnesses who, according to the evaluator,
    provided evidence different from their prior testimony.

    (12) Lawyer B issues subpoenas and gathers evidence pertaining
    to the custody evaluator, his training, his investigation process, his
    tests, and unfavorable and/or new witnesses and hearsay evidence he used in his
    report. Some of this is requires legal wrangling with a recalcitrant psych, or psycho-babble-specific work, which induces Lawyer B to hire a consulting forensic. Some of this involves re-doing work already done for prior witnesses
    who, according to the evaluator, provided evidence different from their prior testimony.

    (13) The amount of legal work for the parties and lawyers, and the complexity and cost of the case now has been increased exponentially. Exacerbating this...

    (14) Party B hires a reviewing evaluator to help him prove
    that the court-appointed evaluator was inexpert, untrained, biased, or
    otherwise did his evaluation improperly, and plans to move for a second

    (15) Lawyer A issues subpoenas and evidence pertaining
    to the custody evaluation reviewer, his training, his thinking processes,
    and depending upon how bad the court appointee apparently was, also may
    hire a consulting forensic...

    (...) At some point it's such a mess that no one remembers
    what the issues in the case originally were. Years may go by. Judges
    rotate and change. Parties run out of money. Lawyers withdraw
    for nonpayment. Tempers flare. Mistakes are made. Squabbling
    over discovery
    geometrically increases.. Because of the lengthy time in which
    the litigation continues, new events occur which have to be addressed.
    Temporary judicial orders based on inadequate and bad evidence have been
    repeatedly uttered, contested, and possibly appealed. A frustrated judge
    may order a parenting
    . One or the other party may be ordered into various supervised visitations or therapies at the recommendation of the custody evaluator, or of a guardian ad litem who thinks that custody evaluators know what they are doing. Parties positions harden and polarize. An inordinate amount of parental time and money, resources
    that otherwise should have gone to the family and for the children is
    forever gone... and it just goes on and on...

    An improvement, do you think?    

    ...Children need This?  
    Read more at www.thelizlibrary.org

    Why "Therapeutic Jurisprudence" Must Be -- and Will Be -- Eliminated From Our Family Courts


    Children need. . . THIS?


    The routine broad involvement of these expert witnesses must be recognized by the legal profession as the egregious misjudgment it is, as well as fostering ethical violations that must be addressed by state bar ethics rules.

    Amplify’d from www.thelizlibrary.org
    Lawyers' unacknowledged conflicts are destroying the quality of family law representation.
    One of the problems
    with the rise of therapeutic jurisprudence and the placement of non-legal
    systems into the courts is the subtle denigration of long-established precepts
    of lawyer independence and due process. One of the multiple ways this happens
    in the family courts is through the common development of multidisciplinary
    collegial relationships and business referral.

    Lawyers in these
    positions will be tempted to rationalize to themselves, as well as maintain
    the posture in the community at large, that the expert's opinions, even
    when they are adverse to his client, are scientifically valid -- even when
    they may not be, even if they are deeply flawed or completely bogus. These
    lawyers may rationalize to themselves that the validity of the science
    is not their responsibility because, after all, lawyers are not "scientists".

    The lawyer who naively
    or purposefully steps down the path of multidisciplinary practice, regularly
    exchanging referrals and engaging in other close associations with nonlawyer
    case participants (a practice that is encouraged by mixed-discipline organizations
    such as the AFCC under the Orwellian assumption that this somehow fosters
    justice and works to "improve" the courts) in fact has sold his
    professional soul to the devil -- literally

    The conflict of interest
    problems are inherent in the nature of the association. They exist even
    when there is no explicit association or referral relationship. They are
    not the same as having a professional relationship with another lawyer
    who regularly may be on the opposing side of a case, because unlike the
    lawyer colleague, these individuals are case participants -- witnesses
    or even parties. They are not akin to neutral judges or magistrates, the
    bailiffs or other courthouse personnel. None of these truly neutral courthouse
    persons advocates for a position in a case, testifies as a witness, or
    participates as a party proper (as do some GALs).
    Read more at www.thelizlibrary.org

    Exposed: Twisted Ethics of an Expert Witness, Forensic Child Custody Evaluator- Stuart Greenberg


    Mental Health Evaluators have absolutely no business in the Courts past the lining of their own pockets like this ‘perfect example’ below shows. Remove all GAL’s and MHP’s aka “ Therapeutic Jurisprudence” from our Family Courts, they are the crisis in America’s Family Courts.

    This is the perverted pig worm con man who offed himself when he
    (finally) was arrested for setting up a video camera in the women's
    bathroom of his office to tape women peeing. See more stuff on Stuart Greenberg right after he killed himself,
    posted at the request of numerous distressed former litigants:

    Seattle Times special report: Twisted ethics of an expert witness



    Stuart Greenberg was at the top of his profession: a renowned forensic psychologist who in court could determine which parent got custody of a child, or whether a jury believed a claim of sexual assault. Trouble is, he built his career on hypocrisy and lies, and as a result, he destroyed lives, including his own.

    By Ken Armstrong and Maureen O'Hagan


    Stuart Greenberg

    Enlarge this photo

    Stuart Greenberg

    The reporting for this story

    To uncover the secrets Stuart Greenberg had buried, The Seattle Times got court files unsealed in the superior courts of King and Thurston counties. Through a motion filed by the state Attorney General's Office, the newspaper also got an order lifted that barred public inspection of Greenberg's disciplinary history. Reporters obtained other documents — for example, Greenberg's emails at the University of Washington — through public-records requests, and interviewed colleagues of Greenberg, as well as parents he had evaluated.

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    quotesThis makes me sick to my stomach. Bravo for the Times for running is article. Whatever... (June 25, 2011, by SeaKat) Read more

    quotesGreat to see real in-depth journalism at the Seattle Times for a change. Well done! (June 25, 2011, by thirdman) Read more

    quotesThe Thurston County judge, if still on the bench, should be recalled for ineptitude. If... (June 25, 2011, by monroesilk) Read more

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    Earlier this year, a four-page document with a bland title, "Stipulation for Dismissal with Prejudice," was filed in a civil matter percolating on the King County Courthouse's ninth floor. Hardly anyone took notice. Most everyone had moved on.

    But that document — filed by lawyers tangled up in the estate of Stuart Greenberg, a nationally renowned psychologist whose life ended in scandal — signaled the end of a tortuous undertaking.

    Greenberg had proved such a toxic force — a poison coursing through the state's court system — that it took more than three years for lawyers and judges to sift through his victims and account for the damage done.

    For a quarter century Greenberg testified as an expert in forensic psychology, an inscrutable field with immense power. Purporting to offer insight into the human condition, he evaluated more than 2,000 children, teenagers and adults. His word could determine which parent received custody of a child, or whether a jury believed a claim of sexual assault, or what damages might be awarded for emotional distress.

    At conferences and in classrooms, in Washington and beyond, he taught others to do what he did. He became his profession's gatekeeper, quizzing aspirants, judging others' work, writing the national-certification exam. His peers elected him their national president.

    But his formidable career was built upon a foundation of hypocrisy and lies. In the years since Greenberg's death, while court officials wrestled over his estate, The Seattle Times worked to unearth Greenberg's secrets, getting court records unsealed and disciplinary records opened.

    Those records are a testament to Greenberg's cunning. They show how he played the courts for a fool. He played state regulators for a fool. He played his fellow psychologists for a fool. And were it not for a hidden camera, he might have gotten away with it.

    Stripped of all defenses

    In summer 1984, Cathy Graden, a 27-year-old surgical nurse from Woodinville, was summoned to King County Superior Court for an emergency hearing in her child-custody case.

    Her lawyer said a psychologist's report was behind the hearing. But Graden wasn't allowed to read the report. Nor was she allowed in the courtroom while the psychologist testified.

    The psychologist, Stuart Greenberg, had been hired to help resolve a custody dispute involving Graden's only child, a 4-year-old boy whose bright, goopy finger-paintings Graden taped up all over the house.

    Although appointed by the court, Greenberg was paid by the parties. He had interviewed the boy and both parents, and run a half-dozen tests with impressive names (the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist, the Michigan Screening Profile of Parenting ... ).

    Graden figured she had nothing to fear. She taught Sunday school; she did volunteer work; she had taken care of her son when the boy's father moved to Alaska after the couple's divorce. "I thought there was no way I could possibly lose this," she says.

    Greenberg had arrived in Seattle five years earlier, hired by the University of Washington. A letter written by the department chairman called Greenberg a "last-minute replacement" for a psychology professor who'd resigned. Greenberg's credentials "were on hand," because he'd applied for some other position.

    His credentials were acceptable but not extraordinary. He had a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where his thesis was a word salad: "Stimulus and Response Generalization of Classes of Imitative and Non-imitative Behavior as a Function of Reinforcement, Task, Cues, and Number of Therapists." On Washington's psychology licensing test, one examiner marked Greenberg's professional judgment as "good," his knowledge and skills, "okay."

    Teaching, Greenberg earned just $15,300 his first year. His second year, he was assigned only a single evening class. He left the university and moved into private practice. He picked up court appointments in Western Washington as a custody investigator, expert evaluator, arbiter, mediator, guardian ad litem, special master. He became enmeshed in the court system, buddying up to lawyers, judges, fellow experts.

    On the stand, he radiated confidence. "He was just kind of a notch above the rest of us," says Nick Wiltz, a fellow forensic psychologist. "He was able to present reports and information in a very powerful way."

    But Greenberg also demonstrated dubious judgment and a cavalier attitude toward his ethical obligations, which forbade even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

    In the early 1980s, Greenberg befriended Stanley Stone, who worked in King County as a family-law commissioner — a position akin to judge with the power to appoint experts and approve their fees. On the side, Stone speculated in oil and gas, wooing investors with fantastical claims about the fortunes to be made by digging holes in Kansas.

    Although Stone likewise needed to avoid conflicts of interest, his investors included lawyers and expert witnesses who appeared regularly in family court. One of his biggest investors was Greenberg. The psychologist put in $41,250 — expecting, years hence, a whopping return of $891,000 — and encouraged other courthouse regulars to invest, saying he had "the utmost confidence" in Stone, a good friend.

    When the investment vehicle went up in smoke, some investors sued, making the enterprise public. Afterward, Stone says, lawyer disciplinary officials admonished him for a breach of ethics. Greenberg could also have been vulnerable to disciplinary action, but his Department of Health licensing file shows no evidence of that ever happening.

    Cathy Graden didn't know about any of this. Nor did she know that her ex-husband's lawyer was also an investor, coming on board after Greenberg touted the potential rewards to her. That made them limited business partners — her ex's lawyer and the expert witness who would testify about her parenting.

    The report Greenberg filed in court eviscerated Graden. It said she posed a grave danger to her son; that she was "probably" sexually abusing him; that she was psychologically unstable and possibly paranoid. Greenberg's report said he had interviewed the boy's day-care provider — and this provider suspected Graden of abuse and said Graden had encouraged day-care employees to beat her son.

    In court, testifying, Greenberg described Graden as "quasi-psychotic," but said the diagnosis was tricky, because Graden might appear "quite normal." She would likely deny doing anything wrong to her son, Greenberg said, or alternatively, she "might genuinely not remember."

    By the time Greenberg finished, Graden, out in the hallway, had been stripped of all defenses — and without a clue to what had just happened. If she appeared normal — well, Greenberg said she would. If she denied hurting her son — that was part of her disorder. If she challenged Greenberg's work or motives — she was paranoid.

    At the end of the hearing, Judge Donald Haley said: "The doctor has convinced the court." The judge ordered the boy turned immediately over to his father, with Graden allowed to visit only if supervised by a therapist.

    Greenberg was accustomed to such influence. Do judges follow your recommendations? he was once asked. "Typically," he said.

    But in this case, Graden refused to go away. She obtained a copy of Greenberg's report. She interviewed the people he quoted. She wore a hidden recorder while meeting with him.

    And what she learned, she turned over to state disciplinary officials.

    The day-care provider, Krista McKee, told The Times that Greenberg "took what I said and just turned it upside down. He made it sound like I said something about Cathy that I just did not say. I never thought Cathy beat or abused (her son) at any level."

    Greenberg also mischaracterized what the boy's therapist told him, twisting benign commentary into an urgent call for the boy to be removed from his mother's care.

    Greenberg's work violated a host of ethics rules and laws. If he suspected Graden's son was being abused, he was required to report that to police or Child Protective Services. But he'd done no such thing.

    Most disturbing of all, Graden's was not an isolated case.

    In 1990, after an investigation that dragged on for years, the state Examining Board of Psychology filed a devastating set of disciplinary charges against Greenberg. The charges, 18 pages long, alleged misconduct in four cases between 1983 and 1986, including Graden's.

    The board accused Greenberg of being incompetent and unethical. Of being dishonest or corrupt. Of misusing psychological tests and misrepresenting the results. He was accused of demonstrating bias; reaching sweeping conclusions on hearsay; violating confidentiality; and ignoring damning information about one parent while loading up on another.

    In one custody case, he conducted a bizarre analysis of the father's new wife, a flight attendant. He reviewed some letters she may have written (although Greenberg wasn't sure), and some photos of the father's son with temporary tattoos — birds and a dragon, on his shoulders and belly button.

    Based on those dubious materials, Greenberg concluded that the woman showed signs of a personality disorder: "Highly abstract thinking, schizoid mentation, hysteroid defense mechanisms, and / or exhibitionistic style." He never interviewed her, or the father, or the son.

    Greenberg could have fought the board's allegations. Instead, he admitted violating professional guidelines in each of the four cases. He had been seeing a therapist for four years, he told the board, because he was "unable to fully empathize" with parents in child-custody cases and was not sensitive enough to the impact of his opinions.

    The board and Greenberg agreed on a severe punishment: a three-year suspension from doing parenting evaluations. Afterward, he could resume only if the board was convinced he was competent.

    Graden got her son back in 1989, when the boy's father died in a work accident. Her son was 4 years old when taken away, 9 when he returned.

    Saying one thing, doing another

    In 1992, prosecutors for the U.S. Air Force asked Greenberg to be an expert witness in the court-martial of a sergeant accused of raping his 15-year-old stepdaughter. Because Greenberg's suspension applied only to child-custody cases, he accepted.

    In articles published in professional journals, Greenberg distinguished forensic psychology from therapy: the latter assists a patient, the former, a judge or jury.

    Forensic psychologists should avoid psychiatric diagnoses, Greenberg wrote. In therapy, patients have reason to be honest. That's because they want help. But in court settings, they have incentive to lie. A criminal defendant might want to seem insane, and a parent fighting for custody, as normal as can be.

    People taking psychological tests can surmise which answers will lead to which results, Greenberg wrote. Attaching a diagnostic category to someone's description of unverifiable feelings provides "unjustified credibility."

    One particular diagnosis — post-traumatic-stress disorder — is especially prone to abuse, Greenberg wrote. Someone claims to have experienced something horrific, and describes symptoms consistent with distress. A clinician diagnoses PTSD. In court, this diagnosis gets used "in a circular argument" to prove the horrific event occurred.

    Greenberg preached caution. He practiced something else.

    In the Air Force case, Greenberg had the stepdaughter take the Beck Depression Inventory — 22 questions, multiple choice. The first question: 1. I do not feel sad; 2. I feel sad; 3. I am sad all the time and I can't snap out of it; 4. I am so sad or unhappy that I can't stand it. She chose 3. He had her take the Beck Hopelessness Scale — 20 questions, true or false. Question 7: My future seems dark to me. She marked true.

    After eight tests and 10 hours of interviews, Greenberg diagnosed the teenager with post-traumatic-stress disorder. (He charged the Air Force $12,360 for this work.)

    To Sverre Staurset, the sergeant's lawyer, Greenberg was key to the prosecution's case. He vouched for the stepdaughter's credibility — believe him, you believe her.

    Unbeknown to Greenberg, Staurset had rounded up the state disciplinary documents in which Greenberg admitted to conduct both incompetent and unethical. With those records, the lawyer destroyed Greenberg on the stand.

    "It was worse than a deer in headlights," Staurset says. "He really came apart. There was nothing left of him."

    With Greenberg discredited, the sergeant was acquitted.

    For an expert witness, credibility is everything. Greenberg knew that if those disciplinary records remained available, his future looked dim.

    Hiding his past

    A missing sentence. That's what made all the difference — that, and the state's lack of mettle.

    During the disciplinary proceedings, Greenberg had signed a five-page stipulation admitting that he had misquoted witnesses, misinterpreted test results, reached damning conclusions on flimsy foundations. But the document was also supposed to say: "That by entering into this agreement, Dr. Greenberg does not admit to any violation of statute or administrative rules governing the practice of psychology."

    "That is boilerplate," says Terry West, who was the Examining Board of Psychology's program manager at the time. "That's standard language in any stipulation."

    A lawyer for the state dropped the sentence while merging some documents. Boilerplate or not, that missing language represented an opening — and Greenberg seized it. He let the state know he was thinking of suing. The examining board caved.

    Nick Wiltz, the board's chairman when Greenberg was suspended, says: "The thing dragged on and on and on. Then, suddenly, because of this error by this inept assistant attorney general, the case blew up completely."

    In spring 1993, the board's departing chairman, David Gossett, wrote an open apology to Greenberg, published in the board's newsletter. Greenberg had been "exonerated" of "all allegations," Gossett wrote. The apology asked "all persons" who had kept an earlier board publication describing Greenberg's suspension to return their copies or destroy them.

    For Greenberg, this wasn't enough. The agency's paper trail was still publicly available, meaning he might still be confronted on the witness stand with his past admissions.

    So Greenberg went to court, asking for the state to be barred from releasing any records about his past suspension. In a remarkable twist, the Examining Board of Psychology joined in this request. Here was a public body — represented by another public body, the state Attorney General's Office — asking the courts to forbid the state from complying with its public-records requirements.

    In King County, Judge R. Joseph Wesley refused to go along. So Greenberg went south, to Thurston County. In 1995, Judge Daniel Berschauer agreed to place the state's records off-limits to the public; also sealed was the entire court file describing Greenberg's secrecy request.

    Within a year of getting his disciplinary history sealed, Greenberg was giving seminars to other psychologists on the ethics of parenting evaluations.

    Greenberg also fended off another kind of challenge. Cathy Graden, the mother who temporarily lost her son, sued Greenberg, accusing him of falsifying evidence against her. But Greenberg cited a decades-old principle — that, as a court-appointed expert, he was entitled to the same "absolute immunity" accorded judges — and Graden dropped her suit, figuring it was doomed.

    Greenberg used the same argument to squelch other lawsuits. He became such an expert on this shield that the American Psychological Association would ask him to deliver an address on: "The Liability and Immunity of the Expert Witness."

    'Laundering priests'

    Although Greenberg attracted a lot of work, his judgment raised doubts.

    The Roman Catholic Church sent priests accused of sexual abuse to Greenberg, to get his take on whether they could be returned to ministry without endangering congregants.

    "He was really the go-to guy for the Archdiocese of Seattle, and for the Jesuits, when it came to evaluating and laundering priests," says Ken Roosa, an Anchorage attorney who has represented hundreds of people suing the church.

    The enterprise was shrouded in secrecy, making it hard to say how many priests Greenberg evaluated. Asked during one lawsuit, Greenberg estimated "10 to 15."

    What's clear is how easily one priest deceived Greenberg.

    In 1993, the Jesuits sent Father Jim Poole to see the psychologist. Greenberg interviewed Poole for 10 hours and administered nine tests. Poole admitted violating his vow of chastity, but only to the extent of kissing and sexual touching with women.

    Greenberg wrote reports saying he believed Poole was being honest and that therapy arranged by the Jesuits had "substantially remedied" his problems. "I must say that I do not think that he is conning me or himself," Greenberg wrote.

    But in recommending that Poole be returned to ministry, Greenberg missed the most horrendous aspects of Poole's history. The Jesuits would later settle more than a dozen lawsuits that accused Poole, decades earlier, of raping or molesting girls as young as 6.

    Poole denied raping anyone but admitted French-kissing one child dozens of times, saying: "I found it a way of trying to get across how much she was loved."

    Confronted, in a lawsuit, about his misreading of Poole, Greenberg said: "The data is that psychologists are no better than anyone else at determining when someone's lying based on interview."

    Greenberg also lacked judgment around the office, some employees say. Jacquie Pickrell, a psychologist who worked for Greenberg in the mid-1990s, says he violated boundaries with women employees and seemed a "narcissist."

    One morning he came into the office, looking horrible. He told Pickrell he'd had a dreadful night. He described vomiting — "in horrid detail," Pickrell says — while a foot from her face.

    When Pickrell advised him to go home, or at least not infect others, Greenberg went into his office, shut the door, and pouted. The next day he told Pickrell she had hurt his feelings, that he was sick and had needed a hug.

    Two other women employees described being "weirded" or "creeped out" by Greenberg. One said he rubbed her shoulders; tried to make her go with him, alone, on a business trip to Alaska; and wondered aloud, while shopping for supplies, if other people in the store thought they were lovers.

    An orchestrated performance

    As the 1990s rolled into the next decade, Greenberg's past problems faded away.

    He published in peer-reviewed journals and spoke all over the country. He chaired the committee that wrote a national certification exam for his field. His peers elected him president of the American Board of Forensic Psychology.

    His hourly rate rose to $450. His fees in individual cases were known to climb from $8,000 to $12,000 to $20,000 or more. He got a 39-foot boat — "More Like It," so named because he'd had a smaller boat, saw a bigger one, thought, that's more like it, and bought one to match. He owned two houses on Capitol Hill — one for home, the other for work. His wine collection was worth $25,000.

    On the side he worked at the UW as a clinical associate professor. The UW heard whispers of a troubled past, asked the state, and was told there was nothing to worry about. (The judge's sealing order prohibited disciplinary officials from saying more.)

    To testify as an expert, a witness must be found qualified. Greenberg turned this into an orchestrated performance. He would hand a script to the lawyer who hired him.

    Question: "Doctor, isn't it true that one of your articles has become one of the landmarks in the field?"

    Response: "Well, my article with Dan Shuman on the differences between assessment by therapists and assessment by forensic examiners has been reprinted often, yes."

    Greenberg's script had 32 questions in all. His answers had the effect of whispering: I am objective. I am humble. I am a giant in my field.

    The hidden camera

    This is the story Greenberg later told police:

    He needed an air purifier. He searched the Internet. A gadget popped up that only appeared to be a purifier. The white plastic box, about 8 inches high, whirred like a purifier, but inside was a hidden camera.

    Greenberg placed an order. The item was shipped to him on June 6, 2007.

    Greenberg said he planned to spy on contractors remodeling a $1.8 million house he had recently bought for a new home-office. Instead, he installed the camera in his office's bathroom, used by employees and people getting psychological evaluations.

    His staff became suspicious. On July 3, a psychologist who worked for Greenberg devised a test. She placed an aerosol can in front of the purifier. If this device was a camera, this would block the view. Within half an hour, Greenberg entered the bathroom, shut the door, and moved the can.

    In a scene caught on videotape, he then fiddled with the lens, stared into his camera, smiled and masturbated.

    Police arrested Greenberg that afternoon. A detective interviewed him in a small room. Greenberg gazed at the room's video-camera, pointed down at him. In court Greenberg had intimidated. Now his voice was barely audible. He sighed, over and over.

    Greenberg told the detective he couldn't resist seeing his employees in partial undress. "I enjoyed it. ... It was fun; it was exciting. ... I didn't do this a lot. I'm not minimizing it. I know it's bad. But I didn't do it a lot."

    News of Greenberg's arrest went public. At the UW, a colleague informed the psychology-department chairman that Greenberg gave an annual lecture to students titled "Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychology." "Ironic, I know," she wrote in her email.

    Three weeks after his arrest, while awaiting charges, Greenberg committed suicide in a Renton hotel room. He was 59.

    He left three notes on his hotel bed. In one — addressed, "To everyone I hurt" — Greenberg wrote: "I am inadequate. I just don't know. I am sorry."

    He didn't say who "everyone" was. That would be for the courts to decide.

    The damage done

    When Greenberg died, his personal worth was estimated at $1.7 million. But the claims filed against his estate eclipsed that.

    There were claims filed by employees who had been secretly videotaped in Greenberg's bathroom. There were claims filed over cases in which Greenberg failed to finish child-custody evaluations, or did work now deemed tainted or worthless.

    Before Greenberg died, some parents in child-custody matters hesitated to criticize his evaluations, fearing any complaint might cost them their children. But since his death, parents have come forward, with women describing bullying tactics, saying he demanded intimate details about their sex lives, and dared them not to answer.

    Once the circumstances of Greenberg's downfall became public, courts agreed to take a second look at some of his more recent cases.

    In one of them, Greenberg had recommended joint custody in a case where the father had been convicted of beating the mother. Drenched in blood, she had gone to the emergency room and received 15 stitches in her head.

    Greenberg branded the mother, a Microsoft employee, as emotionally unstable, saying she complained too much of the abuse she had suffered.

    "I was beaten by my husband, and I was beaten up by the system," the woman told The Times. "I was accused of being crazy for not liking being beaten."

    After Greenberg's arrest for voyeurism, the woman's lawyer asked to have Greenberg's report tossed out. A King County judge agreed. A new evaluator was appointed — and came to a very different conclusion.

    Under the new parenting agreement, the mother is in charge.

    Ken Armstrong: 206-464-3730 or karmstrong@seattletimes.com; Maureen O'Hagan: 206-464-2562 ormohagan@seattletimes.com