First Amendment Rights Protected

Pro Advocate Radio is needed as a Voice for Families, Children and for Professionals Committed to Resolving Conflict in ways that Serve the Needs of Children.

For bloggers, citizen journalists advocacy groups, etc.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/01/20/defamation-bloggers-supreme-court/4658295/

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.

The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.

Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press said the ruling affirms what many have long argued: Standards set by a 1974 U.S. Supreme Courtruling, Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., apply to everyone, not just journalists.

“It’s not a special right to the news media,” he said. “So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others.”

Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., now living in Port Townshend, Wash., was sued for defamation by Bend attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, after she made posts on several websites she created accusing them of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other illegal activities. The appeals court noted Padrick and Obsidian were hired by Summit Accommodators to advise them before filing for bankruptcy, and that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court later appointed Padrick trustee in the Chapter 11 case. The court added that Summit had defrauded investors in its real estate operations through a Ponzi scheme.

A jury in 2011 had awarded Padrick and Obsidian $2.5 million.

“Because Cox’s blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently,” judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote. “We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages.”

The appeals court upheld rulings by the District Court that other posts by Cox were constitutionally protected opinion.

Though Cox acted as her own attorney, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who had written an article on the issue, learned of her case and offered to represent her in an appeal. Volokh said such cases usually end up settled without trial, and it was rare for one to reach the federal appeals court level.

“It makes clear that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional journalists,” he said. “There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers.”

An attorney for Padrick said in an email that while they were disappointed in the ruling, they noted the court found “there was no dispute that the statements were false and defamatory.”

“Ms. Cox’s false and defamatory statements have caused substantial damage to our clients, and we are evaluating our options with respect to the court’s decision,” wrote Steven M. Wilker.

Improving the Divorce and Child Custody Process: What Matters?

A conversation for professionals and for parents interested in contributing to Solutions.

Solutions related to child custody disputes -including policy revisions & upholding fiduciary duty:

We hear that the Court is supposed to help parents arrive at something that is “in the best interests of the children” but that often is miscontrued.

It is most often just a notion that sounds good on paper or rolling off the tongue of a member of the Court.  It causes GOOD parents to assume that there is really nothing to worry about, that surely the Court will see the obvious…and the evidence…and allow them to continue serving their children well.

Sadly that is a myth. Actually it is more of a Trap than a myth.  Myths usually do not cause real, lasting harm.  A trap is something you are not meant to get out of.  Not in one piece anyway.

Disclaimer:  When we at M-A-C say, “Good parents” and “best interests” that can be applied to mean either Mother or Father;  this is not a gender issue.   Remove bias & restore accountability for Fiduciaries, ensure that laws & guidelines have ‘teeth’ and we can make rewarding progress.  For all parents.

Progress means getting rid of what merely sounds good, or lip service, and doing the hard work of helping parents resolve conflict, and getting help with dysfunctional behavior that led to the divorce or custody dispute.  

That statement is a big part of the solution:  proper counseling.

We have, at least in Georgia, some incredibly talented and effective healthcare and law enforcement professionals who are capable of amending and improving relationships between “high-conflict” parties.

These are resources that go largely untapped due to how the legal process is manipulated and controlled by a few who are not focused on “doing the right thing” — simply because it is assumed that it is harder work for less profit.  For certain Fiduciaries managing these cases, that is.

If you know how to identify legal professionals who will uphold Fiduciary Duty and apply their talent and experience to reach the best outcome for the family, then you have the best of all worlds:  the best legal minds doing legal work, the appropriate psychological or healthcare providers, along with law enforcement where called for.

So our mandate is to shift the focus to be: “Your bottom line as a professional improves as you Do the Right Thing, and uplift the Real Needs of Children and good parents.”   The guidelines and protocols are there to follow, which demands proper counseling — and parents are asking for it, children need it desperately, and it just isn’t that hard.

“Good parents” do not destroy children by undermining their needs just to get at, restrict or punish the other parent.  Period.  You don’t “split the baby up the middle” – you straigten out the parent willing to use the child as a pawn or weapon.

What currently exists in Family Law matters is something that is less about reality, or the REAL needs of children and parents, and more about doing favors and manipulating parties and litigation tactics to wear one party down, increase profits for the professionals, and reach an outcome that rewards the other party for being abusive.   That hurts good parents – no matter whether the “caregiver” and nurturing parent is the mother or father – and especially hurts the children.   Everyone who is owed a duty of loyalty and honesty here LOSES.   Unless they know how to prepare and avoid the traps…

Children & parents who have experienced trauma are counting on us. 

 We are determined that “Divided Families do not have to become Destroyed Families” as we are seeing in the current standard being set by certain practitioners of law.

WE CAN SAY THIS FIRMLY BASED ON CASE STUDIES WHICH WE WILL BE PUBLISHING SOON.

If you would like to receive white papers and case studies – or briefs related to cases involving misconduct – then fill out our contact form on www.MyAdvocateCenter.com.

You can also follow us on http://www.linkedin.com/company/my-advocate-center-llc.    If you decide to engage and contribute on this topic, joining the M-A-C Counsel for Change on LinkedIn may be your next natural step.

Simple ways to see our updates and excerpts of cases studies: Facebook.com/MyAdvocateCenter — @MyAdvocateCentr on Twitter

 

Most people agree, parent or not, professional or not, that children deserve the best that BOTH parents have to offer, right?   Sounds better than the “best interests of children…” whatever that might turn out to mean to someone focused more on profit than on helping children.

Children cannot get the best of both parents when both parents are left in a worsened state, often both emotionally and financially, and even physcially if home loss or medical conditions/illness result.

Children – tens of thousands of children each year – are experiencing more violence, addictive behavior, stress and uncertainty, as well as critical time with parents being lost…all due to an intentionally escalated and prolonged process.  More children turn to unhealthy coping skills as they react.

Want to interrupt cycles of violence and addiction?   Address what is happening in throes of legal battles.

Why is there so much trauma?   It can be due to the improper handling of Domestic Violence issues, or the loss of parenting rights, financial resources and homes, and sometimes due merely to the lack of honesty and loyalty from counsel.     All of these things destabilize parents and exacerbate anger, confusion, depression, anxiety…and all of this is absorbed by the children watching their parents and getting caught in the middle.

Who is watching these children to see what the effects on them are?

Teachers, healthcare workers, school directors, neighbors, family members and too often law enforcement as the dysfunction leads to juvenile delinquency.   But these people are not involved in the legal process and have no control over curbing the manipulation that is worsening the situation.  They feel their hands are tied.

Know that our perspective & value come from the collective strengths of many who have experienced loss due to breakdowns in communication, transparency & accountability around this legal process governing the division of children and other “property.”

What can you do?

Join us in contributing to the conversation about raising standards to mean something for children around how these cases are handled and governed, and do what you can to strengthen a parent who may be vulnerable in a “high conflict” legal matter or co-parenting.

Empower someone who needs to know how to better prepare and manage, and confront and hold accountable one willing to do harm.

 

Please spread the word that if someone is exploiting another who is in need of help and protection, and/or is disabled from PTSD or other qualified disability under the ADA, that ability to profit from their weakness is coming to an end.


The Looking Glass: How Children See Themselves

Why the focus on children for My Advocate Center?

Check out this video, then keep reading and join in on this event to learn more!

This is important for both parents and professionals.

We do what we do because that is what is missing from too many legal disputes related to divorce and child custody matters.

There is an enormous gap in how cases are handled that allows the needs of children to get dropped from the discussion.   Yes, it sounds good enough that the law says we are to decide and act on matters based on the “best interests of the child,” but what does that really mean?

Can you think of many examples where that was carried out in a way that meant something positive to the child involved?

Chances are, what you recall from your own case or that of someone you know is that your children lost out in more than a couple of ways.  That is sad given that the parties and the professionals claim to be working for the “sake of the children.”  Please consider this:

“Children get their earliest, most lasting impressions of who they are from what is reflected back to them by their parents.  These impressions become those ‘records’ in the jukebox of your child’s brain.”  This is the Looking-Glass-Self principle provided by psychotherapists to describe what happens, and you can read about more examples in the Parenting Roles section on the Focus on the Family website.  Please read their articles about both the Real Job of Mothers and the one linked here for Fathers.

Can you imagine what children are seeing in this looking glass – this mirror that IS the faces of their parents during a time of extreme tension, conflict, uncertainty, hostility, fear, duress?

If you care about children, then your focus should be on improving what is being reflected for children.  If a parent, especially the main caregiver is made to feel fear, then the child absorbs and learns fear – and there is no way around it…the child learns to see himself as fearful.  Anxious, Uncertain, Sad, Pained.  Naturally this leads to a greater need for attention, for self-soothing, and affects sleep, focus and relationships.  Not what you are going for?

If you are a Parent currently embroiled in a custody dispute, ask yourself & your spouse what your children are seeing, hearing, feeling.  Is it necessary?   Are you willing to change the dialogue & your actions to be geared FOR your children rather than just ABOUT your children?  If you aren’t certain how to have this discussion or what to do about increasing conflict, let us know.  The professionals we are aligned with get this.

The time to insert common sense and reason – on behalf of children – is before conflict starts to escalate.  Parents on both sides, as well as the professionals, need to consider what they are willing to risk around the child’s well-being before they go down the wrong path.

We have found that this is missing in the process, so everything we provide to parents, professionals & policy makers comes back to this one point.

The truth around Family Court practices – what our case studies show – is that too often the wrong outcome is being intentionally created, causing the children to experience the worst of both parents, rather than what is best.

If the process and attitudes remain as they are in the legal arena involving divorce and child custody matters, then too many thousands of children will continue to be sacrificed for the sake of something much less important.  They are being sacrificed for the profit of a few.

If you are not willing to allow this to continue – if you want to be a part of the Solution and not a part of the Problem, then please connect with us and  help continue this discussion.

A Father’s Rights

Have you heard?

Good fathers are sharing experiences of finding out the hard way that they don’t stand a chance of getting a balanced/fair custody schedule or equal say, unless they play dirty, and spend a fortune if they have it to spend. Even then…it is very hard to prevail through mystery & uncertainty.  Hundreds of examples of cases resolved in an unfair & unbalanced way exist right here in GA, so chances are you’ve heard of a few or experienced this yourself?

Yes, men do believe they are being discriminated against when it comes to the legal process and custody issues.  More & more are reaching out to us, asking for answers, even though we don’t promote “Father’s Rights” specifically.  We vet each case regardless of whether the mother is being targeted or the father, and work toward restoring balance for the person who is being destabilized by foul play and illegal tactics.

Why are fathers calling M-A-C?  Because we are not here to advocate for one type of person over another, but to be the Voice of Reason.   We help to take out the emotion and injury, and replace faulty reactions or strategies with what makes sense.  It is easier for men to avoid loss in business than here in the family court process, because business practices are more transparent, more accountable, and often follow logic.  What is happening with certain family court professionals goes against all logic – – and, yes, even againt the law, the facts and evidence of the case, and against the needs of children.

We look at the reality and truth for the children involved – what type of parent are you and how do you work with the other parent to do what your kids need.

Are you managing to provide the best of both parents to your children?  Do you support the other parent as much as you should?   Do you support as if your children were able to tell you what they need and deserve from you both?  Do you conduct yourself as if your children are watching?

Guess what:  they ARE watching.  Even if they are very young.   They are absorbing what is happening, and this sets them up to fail both in their youth and later in life.  So take it seriously, and work on yourself first.

Appearances DO matter, but not the way we are often taught to think in this process; what matters is what our children are seeing in us, as well as how our cases are managed related to their care and emotional well-being.  Examples to clarify this point are available.  This is simply about child-centered common sense as it relates to achieving your desired outcome.

Mothers vs. Fathers:  Bad behavior and abuse happen on both sides of the aisle.  The wedding aisle, not just the political aisle.

We are here to help all types of parents look in the mirror and consider how to be better – before divorce (avoiding it if possible because it IS bad for children, and for you), during divorce and after – because that is better for children.  It really is very simple.

So, regarding “Fathers’ Rights,” are you ready?  They should be the same as a mother’s rights.  Your children deserve the best of both – if you are capable of cooperating in that effort, then that is what should happen.  Please look for more specifics in later posts or email us for faster answers.

My Advocate Center exists because we’ve seen the impact on children and know that during this process, around divorce and custody conflicts, is where some of the worst damage is done to children.   It has to change, and if you consider yourself a good parent, or project as a professional that you are here to serve children/families and claim you have talent and are successful, then use that to improve outcomes for children, rather than for your own bottom line.   The bottom line SHOULD be how children fare in this – what are they left with when the arguing is done, and how will they manage through the aftermath and into adulthood.

As you learn about My Advocate Center please do not focus on our posts about female victims of family violence and assume that we are here because we only care about supporting women, or that our main focus is on violence although that is a driving force & controlling influence in many cases.  We have heard and seen as many examples of poor case management and outcomes for fathers as we have for mothers.  Poor judgment by professionals or judges is not aimed at one gender or the other.  But it always hurts children, so that is what drives our work and research.  We will address family violence, abuse, foul play and related topics in another post.

For now we ask that you consider that much of the conflict does not have to do with discrimination against male or female parents, and that our mission is focused on how children are impacted when the rights of a good parent and caregiver are taken away or diminished.  Much of our work & research involves balancing results for fathers, especially for fathers who are acting as the primary caregiver in their family unit.  You might not be the “stay at home dad,” but you can still be the one emotionally connected to your children and ensuring their overall well-being.

If you are not in control of your situation around child custody, and believe that the lack of fairness is hurting your kids…if you want to learn the real reason why and then do something about it, let us know.   Ideally you are reading this before it’s too late and can work with us to PREVENT this from happening.  However, most parents do not question until after damage has been done and they realize that improving the situation is next to impossible.   We are here because we believe in “possible” and you are reading because you do as well.

Join us knowing that we exist to help you learn and benefit from our experience, insight & resources.

Your children are asking this of you, even if they are silent.