March 28, 2010

RE: In STRONG SUPPORT of S.C.R. 91

Dear Legislators:

Thank you for continuing support of S.C.R. 91, a very important piece of legislation.

Divorce, Custody and Domestic Violence (DV) are tricky waters to navigate, not to mention full of emotional turmoil.  As best you can, you introduce and implement legislation that gives informed statutory guidelines to the judiciary and the public. If these laws are knowingly ignored, it is a travesty of justice.  In relation to DV, this undertaking is complicated and can be dangerous.  Accordingly, accountability of the judiciary is a sensitive issue and must be handled with respect; nonetheless, a firm hand.  S.C.R. 91 is respectful and specific.  It deals with matters of life and death and should be given due weight and unequivocal process.

We must remember that DV and Intimate Partner Violence is a crime, not a family problem.  In any other court, assault, rape, inappropriate touching, failure to care for a child, harassment, stalking, perjury, etc. would be considered very serious criminal offenses.  Disallowance of the rebuttable presumption in Family Court has catastrophic and generation consequences.  It is also illegal.

Over the past few years, you have heard many stories and read many letters from your constituents that include allegations of severe abuse of judicial discretion.  Even numerous and recent 2009 appellate findings have revealed this same trend.  It’s obvious there is a serious problem of judges legislating from the bench.  While they retain wide discretion, violation and disregard of law is not inclusive.

Family Court operates on the weakest standard of proof, “preponderance of evidence”. This means as little as 51% of the evidence supports the decision.  Even with this weak standard of proof, it appears rebuttable presumption is being ignored to the harm and disadvantage of the Victim.  AngelGroup is seeing a disturbing pattern evolve.  Included in this pattern is the illustration that even if the judge, operating in “good faith” at the beginning of case finds no DV, his/her refusal to seriously consider new evidence presented by the Victim is a blatant violation of Canons.   The Abuser uses the Family Court as a sophisticated weapon, and when a judge refuses to acknowledge that prior decisions were issued in error, no correction is forthcoming; the abuse continues.  This is an unnecessary choice.

It is logically argued that if litigants feel they’ve been wronged by the court, they have the option of Appellate Court.  What is being conveniently left out of this thought process is ‘Reality’.  A simple timeline serves to edify:

  • Victim leaves abuser with child(ren), hides from abuser and often leaves with no money, assets; only what they can carry
  • Abuser, who has issues of “control”, often controls assets
  • Victim files TRO and court begins
  • Victim is accused of alienating child
  • Victim is taken to court and asked for evidence of abuse. If no abuse can be proven, Victim is accused of lying, TROs dissolved, rebuttable presumption denied, and Abuser is given joint custody
  • All statements of DV are considered ‘irrelevant’; discrediting Victim further
  • Assets and Child(ren) given to Abuser because they have the “ability to provide”, as stated in a recent hearing by CWS, calling this “best interest”.
  • Victim is left child-less and penny-less as the reward for the desire and related action to be free of physical, mental and psychological harm
  • Victim is forced to watch child(ren) growing up in care of Abuser, in fear for their safety and often left with little or no contact with child(ren); further “control” by the Abuser

Bottom line, Victims have no resources to pursue correction at the appellate level.  This gives a ‘false read’ and could be partial motive for the running theme of unequal distribution of assets by specific renegade judges.

In essence, by disregarding rebuttable presumption, the court is a willing participant in continuing the chain of abuse.  Without protection and accountability, victims of DV will never come forward.  As it is, there is an INCREASE in request for services and state aid, but a DECREASE in complaints filed.  This is a telling indicator that spells disaster for citizens as well as the State’s budget.

Presently, I am aware of MANY DV victims that have trusted Family Court to deliver justice.  Instead they’ve received more abuse in the courtroom; abandoned to financial and emotional devastation.  They’ve become dependant on state aid such as Med-Quest and Food Stamps, burdening tax-payers.  Though destitute, they are saddled with unrealistic child support payments by renegade judges who on one day distribute “property” to the Abuser, the shift positions and falsify or allow falsification of state and federal mandated “Guidelines”; driving the Victim further below the poverty line and criminalizing their poverty.  It is common knowledge among CSEA, Food Stamps, Med-Quest, etc. but the fraud against court clients and taxpayers continues. No doubt, this oppression is partially responsible for the $515 million in overdue child support, as reported by The Honolulu Advertiser, March 14, 2010.

Attorneys have shared with AngelGroup their great concern about the corruption they’re seeing in the Family Court.  They ascertain is that it is either “politically motivated” or there is a financial benefit. Either way, this undermines the public’s confidence and the rule of law.  Additionally, many are aware of “payoffs” for custody evaluator and Guardian ad Litems.  Hawaii’s children are literally for sale.

We have before us a brilliant opportunity to works towards correction.  The Legislature has authority to provide oversight if the Judicial branch is not applying the law.  We respectfully request that you apply this oversight.  We respectfully request the Judiciary cooperate to the fullest extent in order to preserve life, liberty, the public’s trust, and invested tax dollars.

AngelGroup


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