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 law is not for the faint of heart, and institute teaches best principles and methods ~ Tulsa World
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.
Some Tulsa attorneys admit they would rather try a number of heinous murder cases rather than one family law case.
The researchers predicted that, after the children whose parents weren’t divorced, the children who lived with one parent would exhibit the fewest issues. However, these children were actually significantly more likely to experience various health problems
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.
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.
…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.
At 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?
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?
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:
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:
NEW STUDY ~ Children fare better when they spend time living with both of their parents.
This Divorce Arrangement Stresses Kids Out Most | TIME
Regarding the well-being of kids with divorced parents, the debate over what kind of custodyarrangement 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.
Mom and Dad are divorcing or have been divorced and are now sharing joint custody of their children in the same city in Texas. One parent receives a letter from the other parent’s attorney requesting that this parent be allowed to relocate the children to another state so he/she may take a better job position with another company! This is a dilemma no parent ever wants to experience! Child Custody cases involving interstate relocation jurisdiction issues cause much heartache and are costly legal battles.
What can a Parent do to protect themselves from children being relocated away from the non-moving parent to another state without her/his consent? How may this affect the parent’s relationship with the children?
The Texas Family Code 153.002Best Interestof Child states “The best interest of the childshall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”
The Texas Family code does not elaborate on the specific requirement for modification in the residency-restriction context, and there are no specific statutes governing residency restrictions or their removal for purposes of relocation. Texas Courts have no statutory standards to apply to this context.
The Texas Legislature has provided Texas Family Code 153.001, a basic framework on their public policy for all suits affecting the parent-child relationship:
The public policy of this state is to:
Assure the children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;
Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
How does The State of Texas treat an initial Child Custody determination?
Texas Family Code 152.201 of the UCCJEAstates, among other things, that a court may rule on custody issues if the Child:
*Has continually lived in that state for 6 months or longer and Texas was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the legal proceeding.
*Was living in the state before being wrongfully abducted elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state. One parent continues to live in Texas.
*Has an established relationship with people (family, relatives or teachers), ties, and attachments in the state
*Has been abandoned in an emergency: or is safe in the current state, but could be in danger of neglect or abuse in the home state
Relocation is a child custody situation which will turn on the individual facts of the specific case, so that each case is tried on its own merits.
Most child custody relocation cases tried in Texas follow a predictable course:
Allowing or not allowing the move.
Order of psychological evaluations or social studies of family members
Modification of custody and adjusting of child’s time spent with parents
Order opposing parties to provide all information on child’s addresses and telephone #
Help to Prevent Your Child’s Relocation in a Texas Court by Preparing Your Case!
Does the intended relocation interfere with the visitation rightsof the non- moving parent?
The effect on visitation and communication with the non-moving parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child
How will this move affect extended family relationships living in the child’s current location?
Are there bad faith motives evident in the relocating parent?
Can the non-moving parent relocate to be close to the child? If not, what type of separation hardship would the child have?
The relocating parent’s desire to accommodate a new job, spouse, or other criteria above the parent-child relationship. A Parent’s personal desire for move rather than need to move?
Is there a significant degree of economic, emotional or education enhancement for the relocating parent and child in this move?
Any violation of an order or prior notice of the intended move or a temporary restraining order
Are Special Needs/ Talents accommodated for the child in this move?
Fear of child and high cost of travel expenses for non-moving parent or child to visit each other to be able to continue parent- child relationship.
What other Paramount Concerns would affect the child concerning the relocation from the non-moving parent?
At the Nacol Law Firm PC, we represent many parents trying to prevent their child from relocating to another city or state and having to experience “A Long Distance Parental Relationship” brought on by a better job or new life experience of the relocating parent! We work at persuading courts to apply the specific, narrow exceptions to these general rules in order to have child custody cases heard in the most convenient forum in which the most qualifying, honest evidence is available; cases where the child’s home state or other basic questions are clarified, and cases where a parent has the right in close proximity with their child regardless of other less important factors.
in Entry #5, we talked about the Tipping Point and how the most powerful thing that we can all do to stamp out family legal abuse, even if you’re where I was a year ago, homeless and living with your kids in a car, is to spread, spread, spread the word and organize, organize, organize.
However, in the past, you may have been trying to have an intelligent conversation with someone about family rights when they say something truly asinine, such as:
“Well, someone has to pay for all those deadbeats.”
Say, what? What does something that happened in someone else’s family situation, in someone else’s life, have to do with me? Even if there are millions of authentic deadbeats out there (and, there’s not, but even if there were), that’s not a justification to indenture me and kidnap my children.
If you try to ask what “all those deadbeats” have to do with you and your children, the ignoramus will probably spout some pseudo-intellectual claptrap, replete with circumlocution, about how the status quo (i.e. family legal abuse) somehow works out to the betterment of society in the big scheme.
This is just one of the many ignorant things that you probably have encountered while trying to get through to people. Well, for all their pseudo-intellectual attempts at philosophical fencing, there are two things you have going for you that cannot be overcome with fancy words and a smug attitude, two things that absolutely grind any opposition to a halt. These two things simply cannot be argued with. They can, of course, be denied, but that’s different. They cannot be argued with.
One of these things was covered in Entries #3 and #4, Our Rights as Parents (Parts I and II). Our rights, of course, can not be debated. They are self-evident. Check out Entries #3 and #4 if you haven’t already.
What’s your testimony? It’s what you and your children have lived. It can’t be debated. YouLIVED it! It can be denied. You can be called a liar, but you can’t be debated. You LIVEDit!
So, when I tell people about living in a car, homeless, as a single parent family of four, in spite of having a full-time job because so-called “child support” did not leave us with enough money to pay rent. When I talk about crying as a grown man while I put my children’s beloved toys in a dumpster as we downsized our worldly belongings so that we could fit them into a car instead of an apartment, that’s my family’s testimony. We lived it.
When I talk about sitting on my then-5-year-old’s bed at 3:30am watching him try to sleep as he practically coughed up a lung, knowing that so-called “child support” had made my bank account negative so that I couldn’t even go to the store to get him cough syrup, it’s my testimony. All I could do was wonder if he was really serious enough to take to an emergency room, knowing that if I did, that would cause ANOTHER financial crisis.
No one can debate these things. They are testimony. They were lived, and that’s powerful!
I have even given my testimony to so-called “child support” workers over the phone when I have had occasion to have to communicate with them. Once, one of them even said she was “sorry my family had to go through that”. Yes! It really happened ladies and gentlemen. The lady actually said she was sorry. (But, I hope, since all those phone calls are recorded by her Orwellian masters, I hope she didn’t get in trouble for expressing some humanity.)
No one can argue with your testimony.
I know other people’s testimonies that include:
Being sent to prison simply for having Parkinson’s disease. (This man used to make six-figures, but his disease advanced until he was 100% disabled and unable to work. His case’s judge refused to lower the victim’s so-called “child support” so-called “obligation” by even one penny.)
Being told by Family (dis)-Services themselves that they don’t care if your children cannot go to school if they suspend your driver’s license.
Being told by Family (dis)-Services themselves that they don’t care if your children’s mother now has a live-in, violent felon boyfriend, because all they want is their money. Yes! They actually said this!
Being imprisoned without actually committing a crime in case after case after case after case.
Being homeless and sleeping in a truck (in spite of having full-time work) in the middle of the winter at below-freezing temperatures. At least, in my own case, it was seven of the warmer months of the year. The man I am referring to now was doing it in January!
So, when people want to debate, when they want to argue, don’t! Just give them your testimony.
Don’t take the bait to debate! Just give them your testimony. The only way they can fight your testimony is to accuse you of lying and that just makes THEM look bad.
So, remember, keep discussions about you and your children’s rights and your testimonies, and you can’t lose.
Ultimately, it will be the sheer weight of our combined testimonies as a persecuted underclass that will finally topple the Berlin Wall of Family Legal Abuse that has been erected by the courts between us and our children, between us and our life’s earnings.
I will traveling to Jefferson City, Missouri this summer to visit with state legislators and those august individuals need to see YOUR testimonies by the thousands! By the tens of thousands! They need to be buried in dump trucks of them! If you have even a little time, send your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’re doing all of us and your children a favor when you do.
This means, if the state-as in a judge- wants to infringe or terminate this fundamental liberty interest, he or she had better apply the process due to a parent first. Otherwise, its action is explicitly forbidden. Id. at 721. If the state cannot show that it has a narrowly tailored compelling interest, then the state cannot touch the fit parent’s right at all. Ibid. No other avenue is constitutionally available to accomplish state action, which will adversely affect a parent’s fundamental liberty interest.
If a parent appeals an adverse action by a state which has affected his or her fundamental liberty interest, the reviewing Court must apply the Strict Scrutiny standard of review, to determine whether the state action was indeed achieved without the state showing that it had a narrowly tailored compelling interest to take the action it did. Id. This is a compulsory standard. It’s not an option. Nowhere does it say that if the reviewing Court has sat down and collectively decided, for whatever arbitrary reasoning, that it should apply a lesser standard, that it can do so.
That being said, tell me. Where exactly do Grandparents’ “Rights”, come from? When a parent is brought before a Court and his or her fundamental liberty interest is at stake, there are only TWO competing interests here- the parent’s and the state’s. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 759-60 (U.S.N.Y., 1982). If the parent is fit, then the child’s interest, coincides with his or her fit parent’s. Id. at 745, 748, 760-761 (1982). The child’s interest does not stand alone. As such is the case, where exactly-constitutionally- does the Grandparent’s so called “interest” fit into the equation? I can tell you where-nowhere- because they don’t have any “rights”- not under these United States’ Constitution..
The Justices who decided Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), deliberately failed to apply the Strict Scrutiny standard of review, to the threatened fundamental liberty interest of the mother in that case for this precise reason.
Instead, it applied a less stringent standard, having nothing to do with the 14th Amendment, so that it could leave room for the individual states, to concoct their own particular processes by which each could infringe or even, as in my case, terminate the liberty interests of fit parents, by averting the Due Process Clause. In other words, applying the wrong standard gave state legislatures the power to enact laws granting such “rights” to grandparents to intervene into divorce and custody disputes. Under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, this “standing” does not exist.
Because of the Troxel Court’s “instructions” as the state of Georgia refers to the case, Clark v. Wade, 273 Ga. 587, 603-604 (2001), this state claimed that it had the power to sever my custodial relationship with my child, remove her from my home, terminate my legal rights to her and “award” “custody”, to her paternal grandparents- all without finding me unfit. Isn’t that something? After serving my country and vowing to die if need be, to defend the United States Constitution, my own rights were snatched right from under me. It said that it had the parens patriae power to do what it thought was “best” for my child. It had and has, no such power. Neither does any other state.
Number 1., Washington, 521 U.S. at 721 says the state can’t do anything with a child without first proving that it has a narrowly tailored compelling interest.
2. The state can’t achieve such interest without following the bifurcated steps established in Santosky, 455 U.S. at 745, 748, 760-761 .
3. Before we even get to any of all this, the state is explicitly prohibited from applying the best interest standard between a parent and a third party to begin with. Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 303-304 (1993).
Nevertheless, there are parents across America whose constitutional rights to their children have been deprived by state action, under color of law. This has been a collective, nationwide violation, extending from the top of our judicial system, to the bottom. This is the state of America today.
But for the United States Supreme Court’s decision in 2000, I would not have been robbed of my right to continue to have the home that I had established for my child, or my right to continue to raise her, so long as I was fit.
I know that such willful deprivation is actionable under federal civil and criminal law against state officials. I also know that one must request relief from the very defendants and perpetrators who have violated him or her- a futile effort that I learned the hard way. My question is, what happens when the willful deprivation comes from the top?
***I am a paralegal. I am not a licensed attorney. Anything I’ve posted here or on this site, may not and should not be construed as legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, please consult with a licensed attorney. If you are in Cobb County, Georgia, good luck.
Award-Winning and Prize-Winning Author of Access Denied, The Wretched, The Roots of Evil, The Ghost of Clothes, Omonolidee, First Words and Unzipped: The Mind of a Madman, The Deeper Roots of Evil, along with numerous short stories, poems and articles.