What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Question Number One: What is a GAL?

Now that we see how prevalent the misconduct is and how extreme and lasting the damages are, we are developing the dialogue about what to do next.

You have to understand what a Guardian is and what they are supposed to be doing before you can properly review and judge their work, so let’s start here.

The news station reporting on the GAL misconduct and the bad case outcomes in Augusta, Georgia, asked us to explain more about the GAL program in Georgia.

They asked us, “What is a guardian ad litem, and is what we are seeing in Augusta the norm?”

We are opening the discussion for professionals and parents to work together to help improve this situation. The Augusta Chronicle ran a great summary of the GAL program, so please read that and let’s revisit how to improve this system so that we can avoid more of the same, and improve outcomes for children and families.

Please also connect with us via LinkedIn, and professionals may join the Counsel for Change group to contribute privately as we work on answering and correcting what is is wrong.  

Help Break the Silence about GAL misconduct that has been leading to harm to children and good parents.

Help Break the Silence about GAL misconduct that has been leading to harm to children and good parents.

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

Judge Rules: States “Something Wrong with You” for Molesting a Child

It is a good day in Georgia when evidence and testimony are allowed into Court, and allowed onto the record, showing that a crime was committed against a child.  

This is the lead-in to this story in The Daily Report, crediting Oprah Winfrey’s show with giving a teen girl the courage to report the crime committed against her when she was younger:

“A man who was convicted of child molestation after an Oprah show prodded a teenage girl to report him received a 20-year prison sentence and some stern words from a Cobb County judge.”

This should not be such a surprise that this happened, but based on large numbers of cases we have seen this is not happening as often as you would hope given the evidence and testimony available to the Court.

We posted about this story recently because the Court so clearly stated, “You have a hole in your soul…” for molesting a child.

The Court found this man guilty and it will be a long time before he is out of prison. There is more in his history that supports keeping him in jail, but our focus here is not on his time being served, but on the fact that the Court did not shy away from the damages to the child, to the egregious nature of the crime and did not help to deflect the evidence and testimony, or to explain it away.  

The Court in this situation did not act to allow a crime against a child to be covered up, rewarding the criminal and highly-paid court professionals to help “deal” with the crime by denying the evidence.  

This is quite the contrast from what is happening in many Superior Court cases when profits are driving the conduct of family law attorneys and court-appointed child custody experts.  It is one thing for a criminal defense team to use laws and due process to help protect a client against charges.  But what is happening on child custody cases in Georgia, where attorneys and Guardian Ad Litems are choosing not to advocate for children, or attorneys for their own clients, is something completely different. (Please note the emphasis online in comparing Augusta “Outside The Gates” to our Atlanta news stories.)

If there is money to be made from helping to keep evidence off the record in a criminal matter, while denying a child protection in a child custody case, there is much that can go wrong.  My Advocate Center is working with news media and local and State leaders to show that much IS going wrong on these cases in Georgia.  

Sadly, there is repeated interference with rulings that should lead to larger investigations and, most importantly, to the protection of children. 

There are pending cases in Fulton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Forsyth County, Columbia County and Richmond County where My Advocate Center has seen enough evidence and heard enough testimony to know that teams of investigators are needed to correct these situations.  Law enforcement and ethical attorneys have a different opinion of this situation, and are not the problem.

Our hope is that real investigations can happen before more children die, and before more parents commit suicide due to the trauma of seeing their children suffer and having their rights removed on top of the loss of all of their property and income.  Parents are in dire straits, and it’s time for our State to take action.  This cannot continue being swept under the so-called “rug” as it is a filthy, soaking-wet, and thread-bare “rug” at this point.

Below are some examples of coverage on the story in which the Court properly recognizes the nature of the criminal and rules to protect children:

 

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse.  WHY?

One Judge Properly Calls a Crime Against Children what it is…TERRIBLE.   We are asking that more Cobb County Judges wake up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse. Why not allow investigations based on the evidence & testimony available?

 

In other sections of this website you will see reports about good parents who are falsely accused and even imprisoned when evidence exists to exonerate them.  It is the same problem in those cases, that for some reason certain professionals do not want evidence and testimony heard that would lead to proper rulings based on our laws – and based on common sense and what would serve the needs of children.  

If you have not seen the Divorce Corp. or No Way Out But One documentaries, now would be a good time to get up to speed by watching those.  The Kids for Cash documentary is also being screened in Atlanta in June, so you will not want to miss that if you care about what certain judges are doing — abusing power while exploiting those who fall under their power.

 

 

 

Atlanta News Radio – Family Court Reform

The gavel dropped to open the 2014 Georgia legislative session, right after this brief segment aired.

All News 106.7 and Scott Kimbler reveal what is going on behind the scenes at My Advocate Center regarding Family Court Reform.

Help us serve the real needs of children who are not being protected due to foul play and hidden influence in certain family court cases.

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