Fulton County: Pay to Play (Part Two)

 

Why raise the issue of “Pay to Play” on these child custody cases?

It’s a simple matter of the public wanting to know why the damages to good parents and to so many children are what they are during and following a legal conflict:

Some of the questions the public is asking include, “How many high-paid attorneys and custody experts does it take to influence a judge to ignore evidence and the wishes of a child?”  This is a fair question raised in Fulton, Cobb, Forsyth and Dekalb counties in similar cases involving child abuse.  It is fair to ask also, “Should this influence be allowed to stay hidden?”

It is a bigger question because many of these cases had possible outcomes that were faster, less traumatizing and expensive for the parents and children.

But the damages are not just happening to children, or around cases involving abuse.

Evidence of addiction and other misconduct / foul play is being ignored where it will allow a healthy and innocent parent to protect themselves. This is while certain professionals on those cases earn higher fees from that keeping that parent caught in the process.  It just takes lying to the innocent parent in saying “Oh, that evidence doesn’t count, or that misconduct won’t matter to the Court,” then creating more uncertainty by faulting the innocent parent instead of using available evidence, and the perfect storm is ripe for increased professional gain.

Parents are being told that the “trends” in family law mean that leaving out evidence is appropriate, and that means the financial losses & physical / emotional harm to good parents and children…is all fine, too. So we invite the press to ask, are these “trends” in line with our laws?  We know for sure they are not in line with common sense or with what our children need to be healthy and supported.

So this question on this Fulton case becomes fair game:

Does it really make sense that a GAL on a case like this one is billing over $133,000.00?    Wouldn’t the evidence on its face suffice to provide the right answers to the court?  How is this “trend” good for our children or our state?

Because of this coverage on these unusually high custody expert bills, many more cases have surfaced revealing that “things just don’t make sense” around amounts billed and by whom, and when compared to the evidence and facts of the case – and when seeing the damaging outcomes for children.

See the story posted below for the reason reporter Jeff Chirico did a follow up story on billing records and money.  Note that we have not seen one case with an innocent parent where these same professionals worked this hard to use their influence over a judge.  If they have such a case, our analysts would welcome the chance to compare billing records and the advocacy involved.

There is nothing wrong with making  a great living, or with paying experts when you need and can afford them.

The issue we are raising is that “neutral”  or “child-focused” professionals and their billing practices are doing harm in ignoring evidence that would end litigation and provide protections.

The results are reflecting that more innocent parents are being damaged in spite of evidence that supports them, while the actual perpetrators are able to get evidence ignored.  Either way the children are harmed.

Based on what we’ve seen in this case and in others, if you are guilty of something, then you have a clear path to follow in how to avoid losing in court.  Our point here is that the evidence of this case is impossible to argue with; and certain professionals are working hard to keep out the evidence, even those whose job it is to be “neutral” and to protect the child. (This statement is true and is based on the analysis of dozens of local cases, so we are not amending this statement until we see evidence to the contrary – which we hope will be the case in this next trial.)

If you are a good, innocent parent working to protect a child and to protect your rights, then hiring is a very different matter.  Having significant financial resources and connections as this father does, does not guarantee that the professionals you hire will advocate as needed on your case.  Money does not buy loyalty, but apparently it can buy a cover-up.  The cover-up can work in favor of a parent who is guilty of abuse, but in a number of cases brought to us the cover-up is done to protect a parent and professionals who have lied to police in bringing false allegations.

This means that in other cases, the professionals hired by affluent fathers are allowing their innocent clients to be set up to fail around false allegations.  So, if you are a father who has been falsely accused and lost big, do not make the mistake of thinking that this case may be like yours.  It simply doesn’t work that way – not based on a large number of case evaluations done over a period of several years.

So here is a tough question that is asked of us repeatedly:

Why is it that fathers who have been arrested in different jurisdictions, with reports of abuse substantiated, can use these professionals to hold a child hostage and harm an innocent, nurturing mother?  Then on the flip side, why are fathers who have done nothing wrong and have supported the mother and children (even in the face of adultery and addiction), being condemned and destroyed?

This is happening because it is profitable, and because there is no transparency on these cases.  The next question obviously is “where is the accountability” – does it exist?  The recording and reporting of these hearings is critical for both the public safety – especially that of children who barely have a voice to be able to ask for help – and also for the sake of the public trust in our legal system and judiciary.

If you are a professional who wants to see these cases adjudicated according to evidence and laws, and to ensure the safety of children and the rights of good parents, please look into this case and attend the hearing if possible.

If you are a parent who is uncertain about where to turn to safely navigate situations involving real or false allegations, contact us first.

* This post and this story are posted here together so that following the outcome of this case is easier.  CBS Atlanta did a thorough job investigating and reporting, and was threatened by Dr. Howard Drutman.

 

This is an excerpt from CBS Atlanta’s coverage on this story:

FULTON COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) –

CBS Atlanta News has learned attorney James Holmes is revising his $133,000 bill in a custody case, in which he served as a guardian ad litem, after reporter Jeff Chirico questioned his fees and his recommendation.

As a guardian ad litem, Holmes is responsible for advocating for the best interest of a 10-year-old girl whose identity CBS Atlanta News is withholding.

Last month, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger ordered the girl live with her father despite allegations he had sexually abused her. Holmes and a court-appointed custody evaluator, Howard Drutman, recommended that the girl’s father receive primary custody of his daughter.

CBS Atlanta News obtained an e-mail Holmes sent to the parties, indicating his fees for working on the case from Spring 2012 through April 22, 2013 totaled $133,000.89.

Fulton County Follow Up: Pay to Play (Part One)

Update on Fulton County CourtWatch:

Please learn more about what parents go through when trying to support children who report abuse.  This article is helpful, so please click here to read.

Judge Goger allowed a hearing this past week on whether or not he will allow press to record an upcoming trial.  Good arguments were made about the potential risk of the “digital footprint” that video and audio recordings present, but risk to whom?

Is the risk greater for the experts ignoring evidence, or is it greater that the child will not get the protection and freedom deserved?   It might be worth comparing this case to others to see what these same experts are doing, and what the fallout is for the children involved.

The risk that press coverage presents is that whistle blowers might be validated, and those involved in “pay to play” might not get as much bang for their buck.

The whistle blowers around this case were certainly attacked, and even accused of conspiring with each other.   That was as interesting as claiming that “recording this hearing reduces the dignity of the court.” Opponents of the press recording said a “digital footprint equals digital ranting” and “this case already has too much attention, and too many blogs.”

The conclusion of that hearing: Judge Goger chose to use GAL Jim Holmes’ version of the Order, which said press could record the trial but only if Jim Holmes received the full recording from the station.  We are not sure how this protects the girl’s interests…or what caused Mr. Holmes to add that strange condition to the order.  To help balance out this issue, large numbers of concerned citizens will be in the courtroom recording notes on what is said and done by this GAL and other experts who are clearly not interested in supporting the evidence presented by this child and her therapists who reported abuse to the police.

Attorney Jeff Bogart is the father’s attorney.  Custody expert Carol Webb is advising the father along with his attorney.  Jim Holmes is the GAL, Dr. Howard Drutman is the custody evaluator and therapist supporting the father is Danielle Levy.  This is why recording this trial is important: What Matters is whether the judge hears an unbiased presentation of the evidence and whether the experts represent accurately what has transpired on this case.

The hearing transcript around the question of allowing press to record the trial will reflect that the father’s attorney made a clear misstatement of the facts of the case.  But his concern for the child’s future and current well-being is to be commended.  Our position is that if you are truly concerned for the child’s health, then do not misrepresent the facts, as these facts serve to ensure protection of the child.  If you mean it when you say, “She deserves a clean shot at a healthy life,” then allow her to get the right treatment and to have access to her mother and to safety.

“This is far greater than a custody case,” was another true statement made.  Where this child lives is important, and for her to be able to have her health and mother back as her caregiver are critical.  But what is being revealed in this case is more than about custody.  It raises many questions that will only get bigger throughout this trial.  When Jeff Bogart claimed in frustration, “This case has already been a CIRCUS” and “the previous press coverage was unnecessary,” he invited even more answers to the foregoing questions.

Thank you to all the professionals present who made solid arguments, and by doing so help make us better advocates here as well.  With each case that we observe and report on, we learn more and do better for both the public and for your profession.  Our collective goal should be to better support children, help parents give children their best – the best of BOTH parents – and in doing so we can help to restore the public trust.  Currently that trust has been destroyed by the professional misconduct in so many of these cases.

My Advocate Center is here to help encourage transparency, and not to incite anger or disrespect for the Court.  We do not promote rantings. Other blogs that incite negative emotion are not associated with My Advocate Center, as our focus is on solutions and clear, positive answers.  We check facts and consult with court staff, law enforcement, healthcare providers and policy makers to ensure the right perspective is presented. Our purpose is not to promote one side or the other, or to be antagonistic; it is to be thoughtful and constructive.

The point is that children deserve the truth to be heard and to receive protections where called for, regardless of who the “protective” parent is or who the alleged perpetrator is.  The family’s resources should also be preserved for the benefit of the children as well, rather than drained away and withheld from parents working to care for these children.

Where “Pay to Play” is enabled and encouraged using these custody experts and “reunification” experts, this is a problem requiring our community and state help to find solutions.

Note to good fathers: what applies here can be said for your cases. You and your kids are being hurt by the same issues.  Children are being given to unhealthy parents while good parents are being cut out of their lives.  That is a BIG problem.  Please watch our Court of Appeals and Supreme Court dockets for more on these cases.

 

Rally on Fulton County Courthouse Steps

When: July 8th, Monday after the holiday weekend.  During the lunch hour, 11am to 1pm.

Where: Fulton County Courthouse

What: #RALLY4Kids

Who: Concerned parents & those who support families and children, including church members, neighbors and co-workers.

Why are hundreds of people emailing and calling for help? 

Because it seems that certain judges are not allowing good parents to protect and care for their children.

Is it just because of judicial bias against a certain gender or against the color of a parent’s skin?  Or is there some other influence we cannot see or anticipate?

This message is not just coming from hundreds of people in a small area of Atlanta.  There are tens of thousands nationally saying the same thing.  But next week we are focusing on two judges, in one courthouse.  #FultonCounty #Georgia

The messages you can help us share here on Facebook, on Twitter, and over the phone or in email:

Serve the #NeedsofChildren 

#StopChildAbuse

#ImproveFamilyLaw by bringing attention to #FultonFamilyCourt and the actions of certain judges on certain cases.

Help us ask, “Why are you suppressing evidence of child abuse?”

“Why are you locking out good parents when their children need them most??”

“Why would you take a child from a great parent, take away that parent’s rights and steal their money, just to reward someone who is paying to suppress evidence of wrongdoing?”

“Why would you put a child into the hands of someone believed by several professionals, including law enforcement, to be abusing a child?”  And, “Is it OK to allow expert witnesses to be intimidated and prevented from supporting a child they believe to be suffering from abuse?”

Is this how the legal process and our laws are supposed to work?

What are we missing here?  We would really like to know what “best interests of the child” means in YOUR reality, because things aren’t adding up – not in a way that is HEALTHY for our children.

We would appreciate as concerned citizens, tax-payers, parents and neighbors being able to see if there is something we just don’t know about why our Courts are enabling misconduct and rewarding foul play.  Is there a good/legal reason for allowing children to get hurt, and to repeatedly be hurt?  If we are wrong on drawing conclusions in all of our CASE STUDIES across all of these cases, across all of these court rooms, then we would love for you to show us why these patterns of conduct make sense to you.

Please, discuss this with us and help us understand?  We know it is not because we don’t have access to talented, bright, law-abiding attorneys and psychologists, or access to good judges.  Correct?

Our community is filled not only with parents, friends, family, church members and neighbors; it is filled with educators, doctors/nurses/therapists, law enforcement officers and business people.  They all want answers and are tired of hearing the same terrible stories.

Many from all over our society are asking us to explain, because it just DOES NOT MAKE SENSE why you would NOT FOLLOW LAWS that are designed to PROTECT CHILDREN AND PARENTS.

Does this make sense to anyone you know??  Follow this event and talk to us:  On Facebook & On Twitter

Why is My Advocate Center promoting this event and these messages?

Simply because we need to, as so many children are being hurt.

Contact Us to learn more, join the rally or just see how you can help.

What’s next?  Parents, professionals and even policy makers are asking for intervention.  They are asking what THEY can do to stop the misconduct leading to injury of children.  So next we will be revealing case studies and answering questions with our panel of experts and officials in a larger Town Hall setting.  Date/Location TBD.

For now, please join these caring families, neighbors and church friends next Monday, July 8th at lunch time.   

Use your time and your voice to ask these Fulton County Judges and attorneys to change what they are doing to our children and their parents.