As a Frenchman having lived thirty years in France, I thought I knew a lot about inefficient bureaucracy and lengthy, procedural justice. I was wrong . Manhattan Family Court is champ.
I am on trial since June 13 2002, when I was accused by my ex-wife, Claudia Brodsky, of having broken the cochlea implant of my daughter Camille. My trial has entered its six years with no end in sight. My trial out lengths the Nuremberg trial, which dealt for four years with the war crimes of the main leaders of Nazi Germany. Lenghtwise, Saddam Hussein’s trial , 1 year and sixteen days, does not even compare to mine. Family Courts take more time to render justice in cases of alleged domestic wrong doings than international or and national tribunals to do so with perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
Why ? I guess a mixture of both prejudice and cynical cost-benefit analysis. Family Courts follow the wind: a porridge of cheap consensual values served by politicians who would not dare to improve the welfare of single mothers with serious reforms, such as subsidized child care or universal medical insurance, and posture as the defenders of single mothers and children. The outcome: a Guantanamo- like situation for fathers who even before proven guilty, are deprived of their rights to see their children normally. Their rights are lost in the process, but not their duties to pay child support, whatever their financial situation.
In Family Court, evidence contrary to the charges does not matter. In July 2002, a ACS (Administration for Childrens Services) case worker,Ylonis Tingue, paid me a visit at my place. She saw the room of the girls, checked that there were no chains and torture instruments. She also asked me to do to her what I did to Camille, my daughter– squeeze her jaws with one hand– which I did. The outcome was a letter where she stated that “Brodsky’s accusations were unfounded”. At no avail. It did not keep the sentence from falling: supervised visitations. I would learn that supervised visitations last for ever, with the blessing of the law guardian and the Court. All it takes is an abusive mother who kept them from heading to the resumption of unsupervised visitations.
The Court machine gasps and destroys relations but never chokes. During a trial, the incompetent, ill-founded and inefficient public justice system provides a living – and a fat one- to a bunch of private businesses as incompetent and inefficient as the Court itself, such as that of Docteur Berrill ‘s. Berrill is the director of the New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science. Berril was in charge of the forensic evaluation; the bill: $3,000 for a report that has been written during the half-time of a football game and that everybody finds worthless, Judge Sturm herself. The report is produced in January 2004, Berrill testifies in 2005. Adding to everybody’s despair but Brodsky’s, Judge Sturm orders a complement of forensic evaluation by somebody else. I categorically refuse to waist more time. The trial will not resume until 2007. The only thing worth something in Berrill’s report, the recommendations that I communicate with my children via email and receive medical report, school’s report cards are not enforced. The law guardian and the Judge do not budge.
At the end of my cross-examination on May 2007, I had a chance to express my claim: the end of this nonsensical trial with a judge’s decision saying that I am not a child abuser, and that unsupervised visitations can resume. This will not get me to see my girls, who willy-nilly have sided with their mother but at the very least, the record will be straighten up. The judge persists with judicial harassment; she orders that another psychological evaluation of my girls be conducted by some impartial institution. I refuse. Recently, I learned that the judge has finally come to her senses. She wants a prompt end to the trial and for that purpose, she wants lawyers on both sides to abstain form closing statements. I have no objection in closing this farce without them. The end on May 2, 2008 ?