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.

 

About Public Information Officer

Deb Beacham of Atlanta is the founder of My Advocate Center, Inc., a Georgia non-profit corporation created in 2011 to serve the rapidly growing needs of families and children caught in conflict.

What is Solutions-Based Journalism?
Researching and reporting are being leveraged in the development of creative solutions to help families preserve their time, energy, financial resources and homes for the benefit of their children. Public awareness and engagement are key so Ms. Beacham launched programming for professionals serving families, reaching more than a million listeners across the metro Atlanta area. Pro Advocate Radio will be announcing its next series in 2017.

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