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.

Just What Did the Doctor Order?

The fewer words we use to describe this here, the better.

The more time you spend understanding what went into this article being shared around the globe, the more you can help solve this mystery in your own backyard.

Professionals focused on improving protections: please connect on these issues.

This is quite simple:

Ask court professionals to put protections over profit, rather than the other way around as they appear on this Cobb County, Georgia case.

Another expensive report in the way of protecting children? $$$

Another expensive report in the way of protecting children? $$$

 

Child abuse is a crime, and preventing crimes from being investigated and blocking the protection of children is a crime.  It’s time to stop calling this something that it is NOT.  

What is it?  #GALmisconduct  

What do we do?  We ask that the authorities #ReviewCases flagged for professional misconduct. That is step one.

Protecting Children from Family Violence

The stories are worse than the stats, so if you don’t have a strong stomach, just turn away.

But we dare you to watch and learn, and take a stand in your cases and in your courts.

Many injuries and deaths are preventable, so stop making excuses. #ProtectChildren

Yellow Ribbon for Kids

This campaign is being designed to bring kids home to the parents they need and love.

The only reason these parents are not able to care for their own children is that certain court professionals chose to put their profits over protection, over the needs of the children in divorce and child custody disputes.

No, this is not the case in every situation, but an astounding number of cases in Georgia and around the country are being exposed for professional misconduct – – that led to children losing good parents.

The Yellow Ribbon is the symbol and theme that we know well…for it says to us to expect a welcome home, and especially a welcome home from war.

This IS the war on our home turf that many parents are fighting, including those who serve and have sacrificed to support our military.  While they fought for our rights, many of theirs have been denied.

Missing parents? Yes, moms and dads, including many in our military, our veterans, have been told they aren't good enough... #YellowRibbon time?

Missing parents? Yes, moms and dads, including many in our military, our veterans, have been told they aren’t good enough… #YellowRibbon time?

 

Help restore these parents and children to each other.

#Stand4Heroes

#YellowRibbon4Kids

#MyAdvocateCenter

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.

Rome, Georgia and the Indictment of a Judge

Obviously we need more support for the Judicial Qualifications Commission to review cases and allegations of misconduct.

One story from Rome, Georgia reveals that law enforcement and the JQC are committed:

“ROME, Ga. (AP) — A grand jury in northwest Georgia has indicted a former judge on criminal charges including witness tampering and conspiracy to distribute drugs.

The seven-page indictment accusing former Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran of the crimes was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in north Georgia.

A grand jury handed down the indictment, charging Cochran with a total of six counts. Along with the witness tampering and drug distribution allegations, the other counts accuse him of depriving someone’s rights or conspiracy against rights.

Cochran’s attorney did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday.

The indictment states that Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission began investigating allegations of judicial misconduct involving Cochran around July 19, 2012. He resigned as Murray County’s chief magistrate on Aug. 15, 2012, which resolved the commission’s investigation.”

If you have reason to believe that your case involves similar issues of judicial misconduct, please contact the Judicial Qualifications Commission and follow the process completely to submit a complaint and the relevant exhibits to support your allegations.  From Augusta to Atlanta, and now in Rome, we can see that more oversight is needed.

Civil Rights DO Matter. Judicial Misconduct CAN be addressed, but you need to submit complaint forms and evidence to the JQC. The legal community is starting to focus on ways to restore the public trust that is being worn away by questionable practices that deny rights & destroy lives.

Civil Rights DO Matter.
Judicial Misconduct CAN be addressed, but you need to submit complaint forms and evidence to the JQC.
The legal community is starting to focus on ways to restore the public trust that is being worn away by questionable practices that deny rights & destroy lives.

 

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: Release Father from FALSE Allegations

CALL TO ACTION FOR MAY:  Ask the Augusta Assistant DA and the Court to not prosecute this innocent father.

COURT WATCH AUGUSTA: MAY 19-23 IN COLUMBIA COUNT. https://www.facebook.com/events/1424811577781088/

The Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are also asked to review this case and understand how this case went from a clear civil matter to what it is now.

This is wrong, and the same bad practices are affecting many good and innocent mothers and fathers in Georgia.

PRESS UPDATE:

WFXG Augusta Fox54 reported last night about the innocent father jailed for going to see his daughter.

This group of supporters is building in strength and number, and showing how effective you can be when supporting both fathers and mothers who are being damaged by the same unethical custody experts on these cases. 

This father believed he was not violating a court order when he went to see his daughter, but he had been set up to fail.

This is the problem created when certain attorneys use select custody experts to do the dirty work of suppressing evidence and creating or supporting what they know are FALSE allegations.  The attorney working this case with the father was told by the judge to stay on this case, but it appears the “work” being done was more that of a collection agent rather than advocate. Now is the time for all Augusta professionals to abandon the bad practices that undermine cases and damage children and good parents.  It is time to Turn this Around!  No, not too late…

What started this? A psychologist decided this father should not have such a strong bond with his daughter so he cut them off from each other for weeks (6-8 weeks). 

When a good, nurturing parent is cut off from a child who truly needs that parent…it causes severe damages for both.  Can you imagine being the parent your child relies on the most, and being told you have to avoid seeing her and that she can’t be told what is going on?  

Can you imagine also having your career taken from you, your vehicle and work tools, so that you have to leave town to find income to pay the fees put on you by this same custody “expert” who is destroying your child?

She now feels abandoned and confused, and it will take time to learn the depth of her suffering. How can she know what has really happened to her father and why?

Because this father has been denied medical treatment, and is being denied a real defense with full access to the evidence and testimony to support his case, the court found him guilty on civil contempt charges. He is now facing the criminal charges that would not exist but for the bad practices of the custody experts on this case.

Keep it going advocates, supporters and Augusta news media! 

If you are outside of Augusta or interested in learning how good parents are being set up to fail, and how our child custody laws are being undermined and our criminal justice system is being misused, this is a good case to examine and follow.

Parents around Georgia and the US who are struggling with similar cases: this is a true team effort here. This group has found a way to strengthen each other, and to leverage the information and tools demonstrated by @MyAdvocateCentr in the Atlanta area cases and news reports. Find people in your area and repeat what we are doing in Augusta – – this is possible!

Augusta:
Keep telling this court:

“Protect children first.”

“No More Fatherless Daughters – and Children deserve the Best of Both Parents”

“False allegations hurt children.”

“Open up the custody records and cases associated with GAL Doug Nelson and Dr. Jody Frey, and others.”


WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

 

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If you haven’t yet read “Green Light Augusta” and seen the series of stories here in Georgia spelling out how parents and professionals are pulling together to undo and recover from bad family court practices, this is a good time to get up to speed and take action.

You’ve heard most likely about false allegations being used to give one parent an advantage over another, right?

Now we can show how certain custody experts play a key role in carrying those false allegations through the process to help the Court reach the wrong outcome in select cases. Join the Augusta Court Watch going on now.  

Observe, learn, ask questions and report on how this innocent father is being treated. Ask what can be done to ensure the available evidence and testimony are used to not only exonerate him, but help him restore his life and career – and more importantly get his daughter back in his care.  We are expanding on this case and other critical situations on Facebook and Twitter, and using LinkedIn as well.

#GreenLightAugusta

See this Event Page on Facebook to join & follow the updates.

We know that a GAL in Augusta was guiding the Courts there to take custody away from mothers who would not give in to his demands, but other very harmful situations are happening involving fathers as well.

This post is about yet another case manipulated and “thrown” by suspect practices inside of a child custody case in the Augusta district.

Now – this week in early May 2014 – this father is being held while a jury is selected, when he knows that transcripts and other evidence and testimony have been blocked by this court in the past, so that he could not prevail. It is a dire situation for him and his family, but the community is beginning to rally around him.  How can YOU help out? 

Will you be there to watch how the court handles the evidence and testimony?  Will they continue to deny him due process and insist that he serve time when it was the custody experts who suppressed evidence and set him up to fail?

The court has left him jailed for many weeks without bond and has denied him due process throughout his custody case and now into this criminal case (one that never should have been taken in the criminal court to begin with). He was taken into custody because he mistakenly believed he should be allowed to call his daughter and to see her before he left town to start a new job.  

WHY was he having to leave town to start a new job?  Because the Court and these custody experts made him turn over his work vehicle and tools – and all of his premarital assets – to cover their fees.  Fees that were NOT necessary on this case. He lost his ability to work there near his daughter, so he was forced to take a job out of STATE in order to earn enough to pay both child support AND the outrageous and unnecessary fees on his case. He merely wanted to say goodbye to his daughter before leaving town. He tried to file an appeal to better manage an unmanageable custody outcome, and the Court chose to jail him instead of allowing him to move forward on appeal.

Can you even fathom how complicated and challenging it is to defend yourself against something like this?  Unfortunately this is the reality in many counties when the wrong custody experts get involved in your case. This is the reality for many families in the Augusta and Atlanta areas.

Back to this case and to this father.  This is URGENT that leaders and news media learn more and investigate this case!

His daughter needs him and misses him, and doesn’t understand why her good father cannot provide for her as he was doing before this case was interfered with like it was.  The mother in this case was led to believe it was right to allow the Court and police to believe he posed a threat, when he did not. Now she and her daughter are unable to get child support, and her daughter faces losing a devoted father on top of that financial support.

Yes, this case shows the same issues as the cases that have been in the Augusta and Atlanta news.  The custody experts used on these cases should be investigated and have their billing records and reports thoroughly reviewed.