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Augusta Court Fails to Allow Due Process: Children Gone

The rest of the story in this Augusta case is much darker that at first believed. It is also similar to other troubling stories, the damages revealed by families throughout this judicial circuit. When we contrast the order and beauty inside of Augusta National with what is Outside the Gates, it is for this reason: parents are set up to fail intentionally and children are being left in harm’s way, when there was evidence, testimony and opportunity to prevent poor outcomes. This reality is the opposite of what the world thinks of when they hear Augusta or think of The Masters Tournament. This case and others are pulling back the curtain.

Civil or Criminal?

At one time it appeared that Atlanta attorney Kathy Portnoy was properly advocating for her client, one who appears to have not gotten a fair shake throughout this case. The issue featured here in this news report?

A DFCS report was made available to the court by the father’s attorney and used by the judge in reaching a decision as he noted. The problem for the judge was that the report was not made available to the mother and her counsel so that she had a chance to cross-examine the report and be fully informed in her case. The report was never put into evidence and therefore was not supposed to be considered by the court.

If this report had been put into evidence, the guardian ad litem on the case would have been able to refute it, as she knew it was created as a part of the father’s legal team’s strategy to wrongfully cut the mother out of the lives of her children. This issue was resolved when the appellate court agreed that the judge erred in considering this report. [See VIDEO at the bottom of this page.]

The bad news is that it didn’t matter; the fix was in on this case, and the judge gave the father permission to remove the children from the state before notifying the mother. The mother learned her children were gone when they did not get off the school bus. They did not even get to say goodbye.

We now know this was not merely an “error,” and that it was intentional to cause the mother and children this unnecessary trauma. It was also intentional that this mother was not allowed to know what was being said or used against her, denying her right to a defense.

Have you been allowed to know what was being used against you, or to know that all available evidence is being used to support your case? The more news reporter Nick Lulli investigated, the worse this case looked as evidence surfaced – – evidence that was either not being used by the mother’s counsel, or was being ignored by the court.

This is an ongoing and larger story than we first realized, as the court is now expected by the father’s team to force an agreement on the mother, an agreement which is different from what she was considering, and one which she did not sign. Her attorney used up all of her financial resources and abandoned her. The timing on her withdrawal and how her presence was used to keep this mother in the dark is telling.

Court Watch on Augusta Family Court – April 17th – 9am. If the court refuses to allow a continuance as requested by the mother so that she can find counsel to help her navigate and defend her rights, it will become even more obvious that she was never meant to have a fair trial on these issues, or to have a fighting chance at parenting her children.
WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier
How can parents prepare ahead of time to learn the pitfalls in managing family disputes, especially involving children?

Request more information to learn about the hiring the best team for your needs. This case is another glaring example of what can go wrong when you rely on word of mouth and online marketing to make hiring decisions. There currently is no real accountability for attorneys who allow their clients to fail by withholding evidence and avoiding opportunities to prevail, or for others who use special relationships with judges to reach outcomes that are damaging to children and to good parents. This is just “normal” for Augusta and for other judicial districts.

Understanding GAL Misconduct via The Augusta Chronicle

Augusta news media have picked up what we think of as the HeartBeat of its citizens.

This is the burning desire of parents and grandparents to be able to nurture and provide for their children. And to keep them safe.

Housing and employment are critical as well, but in at least one case in every county we see these being taken wrongfully from good parents. The Roberson case in Augusta, as reported in by WFXG and The Augusta Chronicle, is a perfect example. Another case in Hall County is a stunning example of the court allowing fraud to occur for the sake of stealing property and work tools, while putting a child and father wrongfully out on the street. In Cobb County a mother is having to give up her profitable franchise business all because a guardian is dragging out a case to earn more fees, by saying a father indicted on child porn charges should have unsupervised access to children. Different cases, but the same pattern of fraud used to steal and destroy.

This burning desire to change this situation – for the sake of children – is not unique to Augusta, and as pointed out the damages caused by certain custody experts and other court professionals can be seen all around Atlanta. All it took was the will, the financial resources, the emotional tolerance and the time to start analyzing these cases, and to continue the work throughout Georgia. The damages here mirror what families around the country are experiencing.

It really boils down to corruption, which we often refer to as bad practices, because most people cannot picture what corruption looks like – how it plays out – at least not in family court.

As the Augusta Chronicle says so clearly, “It’s very, very wrong” and “stunning” in terms of the lack of accountability. In our analysis of over 100 cases in Georgia we’ve seen not one incident of professionals reporting on others they know to be clearly violating ethics rules and/or laws. This includes laws put in place to protect children from abuse, or to protect victims of violence or sexual assault.

What is glaring beyond belief in Augusta is that Superior Court judges knew that the guardian ad litem being appointed to child custody cases was preying on vulnerable women, trying to coerce them – and even a witness on a case – into having sex with him. Those who did not comply lost their children. Most still do not have their children with them, are devastated financially and emotionally, and Doug Nelson now has a new job. Would you be surprised to know that his new job is allegedly back in the court system?

Somehow our court system, or certain professionals controlling family court matters, decided it is okay to put profits over the needs of children, to just ignore laws and every rule governing professional conduct or judicial conduct.

Advocating_truth_MAC 2014

So as the number of families negatively impacted has grown, so has the beat gotten louder as more hearts have been broken.  Time for open discussion and greater public awareness.  Time to do something about these pounding hearts aching to have children returned and protected by loving parents.

We are not hesitant to ask for certain custody cases in certain jurisdictions to be reviewed and examined closely. The heated public discussion about what the reality is for parents being held hostage in these child custody fights demands that we follow through on this.

We hope more families will have a chance to recover now that public support is triggered and focused on the cause of their losses. So now we need to take a closer look.

The Augusta Chronicle in this opinion piece takes some of the guesswork out of the question being raised about why so many parents and children are being harmed in this process. What we are hoping parents will get for right now is that following advice blindly when facing a legal conflict in the family court system may not be the best approach.

Learn the process, talk to people who have been through it, and do due diligence on professionals before you hire or agree to subject yourself to someone else’s judgment or oversight.  All guardian ad litem and custody “expert” professionals are not created equal, that one thing is for sure. As treacherous as it appears to be in Augusta, Atlanta and in other areas in Georgia and the US, there are a good number of ethical and talented professionals, so if you have a good experience we encourage those names to be shared as well.

This is an excerpt that stands out and we expect much more animated debate around this topic in the coming months as more parents come forward after realizing that it was not just their imagination that something wasn’t “normal” or right on their case.

“Even though guardian ad litem reports are only recommendations that judges can accept or reject, both the woman in the Chronicle story and the divorced parent we talked to said their attorneys advised them not to report Nelson’s behavior, for fear of what he could do to them in his report.

We find that unconscionable, but also horribly bad legal advice – to sweep inappropriate behavior under the rug.

It shocks the senses to think of a court-appointed official preying on women who are in some of the most vulnerable states in their lives, while going through divorce with children.

The lack of accountability and responsibility in the system is stunning.”

Augusta has named Doug Nelson as one of the main custody experts who has harmed good parents and their children, but he doesn’t work alone in all cases. The next step is to determine which professionals teamed up with him to ignore evidence and guide cases to the wrong outcomes.

In some Atlanta cases we could see where Dr. Howard Drutman has worked with GAL Jim Holmes to suppress evidence of child abuse, and the same pattern has occurred with Dr. Drutman and other GALs in the Atlanta area, including attorney Larry Yarbrough who openly said he was working to protect the alleged molester in Cobb County (which the record reflects he has done).  This is just how they operate, when it is profitable and possible for this to happen. The rules, laws and needs of children just do not factor in with certain professionals, as the investigation into GAL Doug Nelson as proven for everyone. When parents attempt to stand up for themselves and fight to PROTECT their children, they are intimidated and retaliated against.

This is why we are adamant that this innocent father in Augusta be exonerated in his “criminal” trial in Columbia County. He didn’t do anything wrong…but he did work hard to fight for his rights to care for and protect his daughter. He was not allowed to have motions heard, has been jailed for many weeks now and key witnesses have been blocked from testifying. Can you guess who was involved in making this situation happen? Yes, a “doctor” acting as a custody expert. Check out the facts of this case and stay tuned to the news reports coming out.

Now that we know there is a problem, and we can see one source of the problem, let’s regroup on why it is so easy for this exploitation of parents and children to continue.  Join in as we work on #TurningTheTables on bad practices in Family Court.
By contrast, this mother’s case was damaged, with her children moved out of state without her knowledge, by the judge and the father’s attorney and not by the Guardians ad Litem who both recommended the children stay with their mother:

Call to Action: Investigate Child Custody Cases

Now we know… So, what is the next step?

Professional misconduct is leading to bad outcomes on child custody cases.  

More questions are coming about the appointments and management of certain professionals on these cases.  

Even bigger questions are being asked about whether or not child custody cases were “fixed” and whether good parents and children were harmed as a result.

Our attention this week is on a trial that should not be happening. The child custody experts in this Augusta case decided to restrict and punish an innocent parent, he fought back by doing what he believed was the right thing – using our Court system – and is now facing a jury trial on false allegations. It is clear the Court tends to convict him and put him away so that he and his daughter cannot recover from this.

Please ask how this case relates to the news stories about the misconduct of the GAL operating in this same district who has been guiding case outcomes according to what served his needs.

Specific to the now resigned former GAL and local magistrate judge Doug Nelson, help us ask, “Who knew what and when did they know it?”  That question is asked in all seriousness, as it is becoming apparent that court officials stood by as this abuse occurred.

Thanks to this report in Augusta on a growing number of cases, the justification for opening up these cases is clear. http://www.wfxg.com/story/25437114/advocacy-group-calls-for-re-opening-of-custody-cases  

Please keep in mind that the women in these news reports, the ones harassed, manipulated and intimidated by this GAL, are not the only ones to lose in these situations and they are not the only ones injured in the underlying cases.  

Some women have lost their children because they would not comply with the demands for sexual favors.  These cases need to be reopened and children returned to the mothers they miss and need. Other women have been traumatized in different ways, which includes some being threatened with jail or going to jail when they tried to fight back for their children.

Good fathers have also been harmed because certain officials stood by while cases were mismanaged and evidence ignored that would have allowed these fathers to have better outcomes, and a better life with their children.  

This story and these issues are affecting everyone. Including the father who is on trial in the Augusta area this week – for what started as FALSE allegations around one of these custody cases in this court district.  Just like the court officials knew that Doug Nelson was causing injury to mothers and to their child custody cases, related officials and custody experts knew that this father is innocent and that evidence and testimony that could exonerate him is being disregarded.

Where there is smoke there is fire…and this case has overlapping issues, meaning this case needs to be halted and this father exonerated due to the professional misconduct involved.  

Get involved, and tells these professionals and court officials and local law enforcement that children, parents and grandparents deserve better than this.  

What will it take to start revisiting the rulings made based on custody reports by this GAL and his associates in Augusta, Georgia?

 

WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

Green Light on Needs of Children

Who is STOPPING good parents from caring for their children?  …stopping them from WORKING so they can provide for children?

Spotlight on Augusta, Georgia and on Columbia County for what the local Superior Court and law enforcement agencies know is being done improperly to a good father.   He is a good, hard-working man who loves and misses his child, and he deserves our support and attention from our leadership and news media.

A Candlelight Vigil is being held to light up the dark and drafty space surrounding the detention center where this man is being mistreated.   See this event page to RSVP and watch for updates.

Now that this case has been investigated by others outside the local system in Augusta, we are giving the “Green Light” for people to raise awareness about the dangers to every parent in this area who might pass through this court system.  

WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

The situation described in this video is disturbing, but it is also disturbing to us that a good father…also seeking to protect his daughter…is being held in jail on false allegations.  There are some very interesting similarities on these two cases.  Both involve DFCS, law enforcement and certain child custody “experts” and the numbers and rulings just do not add up.  Both are leading to damages to these children.  Damages that can be avoided and that should be corrected.

We are asking law enforcement and our state and local leaders to bring transparency into this father’s case and into Augusta to see why so many good parents are unable to care for their own children, why they are losing their property and jobs, and their health.  

The evidence of these cases dictates that these are the wrong outcomes.  What’s next? #GreenLightAugusta

What about the laws?  Are they being followed?  Keep asking, and show up for these families.  Follow #NeedforGreen to learn more about what is holding back good parents, leaving families in worse shape than before.  

This story from Texas is now going viral, and it is closely related to what is happening in Augusta, and all over Georgia:

 

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.42.50 PM

Please study local cases and ask questions, especially of Judge Michael Annis about judicial procedure and the use of evidence to exonerate innocent parties.  It appears the evidence was ignored here and a good father jailed because he stood up for his rights to parent and protect his daughter.  

He is fighting for his right to work and to provide for her — and for the chance to recover from what was done wrongfully to him in his divorce and custody case.

This father who is being held wrongfully, denied clean clothing for a week, being denied phone calls…is now writing letters to his daughter so that she knows she is not being abandoned by him.  Help him ensure these letters get to his daughter so that she doesn’t believe that he has abandoned her?  This is critical for her…not just for him.  (Please understand that THREE fathers in metro Atlanta have taken their lives after this type of custody case and mistreatment by court professionals.  We do not need another tragedy, and another Fatherless Daughter, for the State of Georgia to get the point: it is time to intervene!)  

Video testimony is helpful in getting what this is like, the reality for people in this situation, so please take a few minutes to watch this, and see that what happens to this woman in court is the SAME as what happened to this man who is now in jail in Augusta – away from his child who needs his protection and support.

This father wants to get back to work, so that he can pay child support, plus manage the outrageous fees put on him by these court professionals.   Let him out.  Let him work.  Let him defend himself. Give this child her father back.