Front Page NOW says family courts corrupt, harms children

Front Page NOW says family court corrupt, harms children

By Troy Anderson,    Staff Writer




This article was previously published in the Daily News, Los Angeles, California on June 25, 2002   




The family court system in California is "crippled, incompetent and corrupt" and enriches judges, attorneys and mental-health professionals at the expense of children, according to a new report to be released today by the California branch of the National Organization for Women.


After a three-year inquiry, the report's authors concluded that the state's family law courts have developed into "full employment programs" for private court mediators, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, educators and attorneys.


 "What we are seeing is a lack of ethics and proper courtroom codes in the family law system," said Rachel Allen, public relations director for NOW.

"As a result, judges, attorneys and other personnel are lining each other's pockets instead of acting in the best interest of the child."


 Family courts, part of the Superior Court, are devoted to cases involving divorce, child custody, paternity and similar issues.  Los AngelesSuperior

Court Spokesman Allan Parachini said the inquiry was an interesting project, but the family court judges would like to see the report before making comments.


 "We have some questions about the methodology in terms of how the data was [sic] developed and to what extent this is randomized data," Parachini said. "Our position would be that our system does the best job it can, that it obviously can be improved, but we do not feel we are complicit with ... money grabbing."


 The report was based partly on court files, interviews with people involved with child-custody cases and data from 300 parents who filled out an extensive Internet questionnaire.


Authors of the report charge that organizations purporting to provide nonprofit continuing education and support services for family law attorneys are a form of corporate fraud with an ulterior motive for perpetuating a corrupt system.


 The report follows the April release of an audit by the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Association that found judges treated themselves to golf tournaments, ocean dinner cruises and other outings with money from an obscure fund, started in 1960, partially supported by child-custody and support cases.


 The association found that judges were not improperly influenced in legal cases by funds contributed by attorneys and clients involved in child-custody and support cases.


NOW will release the report today and, along with the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch, will hold a press conference in Los Angeles. The conference is scheduled after a hearing in the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal involving a Sierra Madre resident who lost custody of her daughter in 1998 after alleging that the father had abused the girl.

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