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Archive for November, 2011

“The Other F. word” was shown at the Film Forum (New York City) last week. It is about punk-rock male artists, some of them very famous like Jim Lindberg (Pennywise). They also have families and try to reconcile their lives as punk-rockers and fathers.

As one of them funnily says, people have very low expectations about them as fathers. They are covered with tattoos and piercing. “They have obviously inhaled” and put anything there is to put on their nose and veins. They dress strange and you don’t expect them to be part of a parent-teacher conference in a school on the Upper-East Side.

Yet as fathers, they have it all. First, unlike the rest of us, they had difficult families. Perhaps that’s why they are happily married. And lucky them, they struggle to see their kids and succeed to see them. You almost regret not to be a punk-rocker dad when you get out of the theatre.

A f… ing must see.

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Gosh, I wish the New York Times had sneaked in Manhattan Family Court when I was a regular customer there, from 2001 to

Guantánamo

2009. But later is better than never. William Glaberson’s article from yesterday, Friday November 18, describes the making of  people’s family justice in New York City. Readers can learn what divorced fathers have come to know as they tasted family courts. It is Guantánamo right here in the city.

I guess many people don’t know the most important piece of news one learns from this article: Family courts in New York City are not supposed to be the secretive places they are. On the contrary, they have been ordered to be opened to the public since 1997. Yet it looks that for fourteen years now, the media has not been welcome there. Glaberson mentions arrogant cops denying reporters entry to court rooms, judges asking reporters to show their credentials to court clerks, who ask them to get the approval of the state’s chief administrative judge. As a result, accountability is nil. The little world of family court does as it pleases and prospers. Trials last what they last – mine lasted more than six years, law guardians sleep on the children’s  interests which they are to represent; unsupervised social-agency workers that supervise the visitations with your children have the leeway to bully you while you are trying to keep your relationship with your kids from deleting.

The media should not stop halfway in this most welcome attempt to lift the veil on the nauseating secrets of family justice in New York State. There is a lot of investigating to do about the work of  support magistrates, these gracious people who behind close doors decide about child support payments that too often put non-custodial parents in the red and sometimes in jail. And please, pay a visit to the nasty fellows of the Support Collection Unit on 151 West Broadway, in the City.

When is the reform of family justice be on the agenda of New York State Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman?

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Thémis

One of the many problems of the American justice system is that it is unnecessarily clamorous. Take perp walks for instance. DSK had his. Perp walks are there for the media to share in with the crowd the shame of those who are indicted, like in the Middle Ages the populace could scream at and insult those who were sentence to death on their way to the scaffold. These practices add absolutely nothing to justice.  The American justice system is unnecessarily clamorous because, among others, some law-enforcement officers and magistrates are elected. This creates a serious conflict of interests between the superior interests of justice and theirs. These elected officials have an incentive to call in the clamor of the regular folks on easy victims to justify their job and advance their careers.

I just found out about one of these new knights of law-enforcement: Sheriff Dart in Cook County, Illinois. Dart is posting pictures of deadbeat dads on his website and encourage all noble delators to rat on the monsters. One can bet that Dart’s P.R. operation at the expense of deadbeat dads rests on an efficient cooperation with the family court of Cook County;  After all, that’s only in family courts that turnips bleed. Let us suggest one bolder move to Dart for his anti-fathers law-enforcement practices: Have family court provide him with the list of unemployed divorced fathers and arrest them preventively. These folks are about to default on their child support payments anyway!

The question that I cannot help but ask myself: were fathers, divorced and not, gone fishing when Dart was elected in Cook County?

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Manhattan Family Court

I can’t help thinking last night  of a comment from a reader, Jay, on my last posting. Jay mentioned that in Canada, fathers have started occupy family courts years ago. Perhaps, fathers are less passive in Canada and this is why family laws are not as intensely biased against fathers than in the US, at least than in New York State.

In any case, Zuccoti Park is a only a few blocks from the infamous building of Manhattan Family court, on 60 Lafayette Street.  I visit it in my dreams. On the eight and ninth floors, the court rooms: that’s where fathers are striped from their rights to see their kids. Going down on the fourth floor, the little rooms without natural light,where the support magistrates lend an complacent ear to the mothers’ child support claims and expenses of all kinds.

I really would not mind to see the working of this inhuman bureaucracy disrupted for a while. Fathers for Justice USA, Fathers and families anything in mind? If yes, count me in.

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