Non Payment of Child Support Indigent Defense | Turner v. Rogers

Turner v. Rogers and its Importance in Indigent Defensemoney-from-feds-2016

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I wanted to take some time out of my schedule to discuss Turner v. Rogers while it’s still recent and I remember my thoughts on the matter.  First, I will provide some basic background on the case.  Then, I will discuss the basic legal and policy arguments of the case.  Finally, I will turn attention to my predictions and the importance of this case for indigent advocacy in general.

I. HISTORY OF THE CASE

What is this Turner v. Rogers case I’m talking about?  The answer, thankfully, is rather straightforward.  This case involves two indigent parents involved in a dispute over child support.  The mother, Ms. Rogers, brought a straightforward court claim against Mr. Turner for child support he owed to their daughter.  So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

The noteworthy aspect of the case is that Mr. Turner is indigent, a formal term for a person who is poor; presumably below the poverty line.  In terms of full disclosure, both Ms. Rogers and Mr. Turner were indigent parents.

The court in this case held Mr. Turner in contempt for failing to pay for his child support obligations.  A proper defense to this failure is an inability to pay based upon lack of necessary income.  If that’s the case, why did the judge hold Mr. Turner in contempt?  There is both a broad and specific answer.  The broad one is that the poverty defense is an affirmative one — one that a defendant must prove in order to avoid being held in contempt.  The specific answer is that Mr. Turner lacked an attorney, who would have certainly asserted this defense.

In these situations, a person can typically be held in either civil or criminal contempt, the specifics of which vary by jurisdiction.  This case occurred in South Carolina, where a person facing civil contempt may be incarcerated as a result.  That’s what occurred with Mr. Turner, who was sentenced to serve jail time for being what most us know in lay terms as being “a deadbeat dad.”

Mr. Turner appealed his case all the way up to the South Carolina Supreme Court on the grounds that he was entitled to have an attorney appointed for him since he could not pay for one on his own.  The South Carolina Supreme Court disagreed with his claim and, as a result, he petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear his case.Family Court vs Criminal Court - 2016

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Lawyers would rather try heinous murder cases rather than one family law case.

Family law is not for the faint of heart, and institute teaches best principles and methods ~ Tulsa WorldAmerica legal system failure 2016

Family law is a tough practice.

Children’s futures are at stake. Homes and any monies involved are being divided. Cases turn ugly in a moment, and attorneys representing their clients must be prepared for these sometimes unexpected mood shifts.

Family Court vs Criminal Court - 2016.pngSome Tulsa attorneys admit they would rather try a number of heinous murder cases rather than one family law case.

Judges have been heard to say they dread the controversial and contested family law cases because no one clearly is the winner and everyone loses when all cards have been played.we-need-a-winner-2015

Even attorneys involved in a family law practice have difficult times because of the twists and turns a case might have. Shane Henry, who practices family law with the Fry and Elder Law Firm, said he consistently lost cases during his first three years in practice and knew he needed additional training.

The question was where to go.

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Confused about what “best interests of the child” means?

…so are judges, attorneys, and especially psychologists. So don’t worry, you’re not alone…

“Best Interests of the Child”
– Fact or Lyrical Poetry?

Family Court Professionals Disclose the Truth – Weightier Matter

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  So are judges, attorneys, and especially psychologists.

AFCC_Tampa_Brochure_2006-3-1At AFCC’s 2006 national conference in Tampa, FL, family court professionals gathered to discuss whether “family” or “parents’” rights were compatible with the “best interests of the child” standard.  But in comparing “rights” to “best interests,” the discussion took an unexpected turn to a more fundamental question:

What does “best interests” really mean?

Does it take a Ph.D. to know the answer?

Do judges know any better than lawyers, psychologists, or parents themselves?

Does anyone really know what “bests interests” means and how to determine it for any child or family?

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Kangaroo (Family) Court Corruption Commission

Judicial Conduct Commission Renamed Kangaroo Corruption Commission | Leon Koziol.Com

It’s been awhile since Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas depicted family courts in America as “Kangaroo” operations, see In re Gault, 387 US 1, 27-28. But Abe never came across New York’s Commission on Judicial Conduct. Now that’s a kangaroo commission if there ever was one. Its members are appointed by corrupt politicians such as Sheldon Silver (now in federal prison), Dean Skelos (convicted of federal crimes) and Andy Cuomo (currently under federal investigation). Governor Andrew Cuomo  prematurely dissolved his own corruption commission when testimony (i.e. me) began implicating the politicians who created it.

Another entity, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, was created by the same trio of politicians in 2011 as part of a “Clean-Up Albany Act.” By 2015, state legislators were decrying it as “J-Joke” for its impotence. The chair of that Commission was recently named Chief Justice of New York’s high court by the same Governor Andy Cuomo who created both commissions. That should have all people visiting or doing business here very concerned.

Yeah there are so many taxpayer financed commissions these days that the public cannot figure them all out. Hell they all sound good, but what are they accomplishing? The third one (featured here) has kicked legitimate complaints against judges to the curb faster than its kangaroo sister commission in California (reported to have rejected more than 90% filed). It’s a nationwide epidemic calling upon the citizenry to make a stand. A rally has been set for September 17, 2016 at Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.  Be there !

As a result, this Judicial Conduct Commission has been renamed the Kangaroo Corruption Commission (KCC) by victimized litigants to accurately  describe the entity’s true character. Okay it’s not official yet, but we commoners who pay taxes and put up with their circus show like to be graphic with what’s really going on. We’re not so easily duped into believing that a catchy title with elite law firm members verify a genuine commitment to public service. They’re the foxes watching the chicken coup. So we call it as we see it.

Today I received yet another letter from “Jean M. Savanyu” clerk of the Commission advising me once again that Lewis County Family Judge Daniel King (“Dan King” as he introduced himself to my family court opponent on the phone) is just a-okay. Now for our 6,000 followers, you all know this can’t be right. Dan King has committed so much misconduct that anyone coming into “his” court should bring along a recorder (since he caused one of my secret custody proceedings to be unrecorded so his misconduct could be concealed).

Appealing such clear misconduct is equally impotent. In my case, the “honorable” Nancy Smith of the Fourth Department denied recourse against King when he issued a support violation order impossible to comply with because it required support payments to an agency without legal authority to accept it.

Dan King was simply abusing judicial office in retaliation for my (accurate) public criticisms of his incompetence (see listing below). Nancy is the only judge above trial level ever to be slapped on the wrist by the KCC for giving a glowing reference to a person she never met for personal and political gain as a judge. Does anyone seriously think she could be impartial here?

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Lawyers and Politicians Actually Want You and Your Children To Suffer

Why Lawyers & Politicians Actually Want You and Your Children To Suffer

You might have noticed that the theme of our most recent publicity messages center around “sharing the truth”.

And there’s a reason for this: we’ve been seeing a rather robust effort on the part of our opposition to blatantly lie to the Public in an attempt to thwart Family Law reform.

In reality, this is not new.  Because they’ve been doing this for the last forty years or so.

Never the less, you’re probably seeing a ridiculous talking point come up a lot lately.  I’ve seen it all over, and it’s probably best described by a Facebook post I saw in the Love and Iron newsfeed from NC Fathers.  Here is the opening post:

“In speaking w/ a NC Legislator yesterday, she exclaimed that in many cases the only reason a non-custodial parent would want shared parenting or joint custody is so that they could lower child support payments.”

I then followed up with a post to that thread describing my disgust with National Organization for Women (NOW) and other anti-equal parenting lobbying groups; because it’s become apparent that this is one of the universal talking points that’s being injected into the public commentary – I’m simply seeing it all over.  Basically, here’s  what they’re saying:

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Fathers for Equal Rights! #FatherlessDay

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Stress During Divorce

NEW STUDY ~ Children fare better when they spend time living with both of their parents.

This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most | TIME681ee-shared2bparenting2btrain2b-2b20155

Regarding the well-being of kids with divorced parents, the debate over what kind of custody arrangement is best rages on. But a new study, published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health,suggests that children fare better when they spend time living with both of their parents.

That goes against some current thinking that kids in shared-custody situations are exposed to more stress due to constantly moving around and the social upheaval that can come along with that. “Child experts and people in general assumed that these children should be more stressed,” says study author Malin Bergström, PhD, researcher at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden. “But this study opposes a major concern that this should not be good for children.”

The researchers wanted to see if kids who lived part time with both parents were more stressed than those who lived with just one parent. They looked at national data from almost 150,000 12- and 15-year-old students—each in either 6th grade or 9th grade—and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches, stomachaches and feeling tense, sad or dizzy. They found that 69% of them lived in nuclear families, while 19% spent time living with both parents and about 13% lived with only one parent.

Kids in nuclear families reported the fewest psychosomatic problems, but the more interesting finding was that students who lived with both of their separated parents reported significantly fewer problems than kids who lived with only one parent.

“We think that having everyday contact with both parents seems to be more important, in terms of stress, than living in two different homes,” says Bergström. “It may be difficult to keep up on engaged parenting if you only see your child every second weekend.”

Having two parents also tends to double the number of resources a kid is exposed to, including social circles, family and material goods like money.

“Only having access to half of that may make children more vulnerable or stressed than having it from both parents, even though they don’t live together,” she says.

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