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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

lawyersIn the first week in his presidency, Trump has swiftly moved ahead with absurd infrastructure projects: The wall, the keystone and Dakota pipelines. He also stepped without any second thought on the Geneva convention when he barred entry to refugees from seven Muslim countries. Actually, this statement is incorrect: Trump did not have second thought about the Geneva convention, he did not even know what it was.  Chancelor Merkel had to explain it to the poor fellow, and the duties countries which signed the convention  -the U.S. among them- have with the  the prisoners of wars, the refugees  seeking asylum.

While people from these Muslim countries – among them green card holders- were stranded in US airports this weekend, immigration lawyers came to the airports, to help them remain in the U.S. and protect their rights.  I have not always been lenient with lawyers. These lawyers command my respect.

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Hillary Clinton stepped in the Presidential race yesterday, Sunday April 12 2015, stating that “when family is strong, America is strong.”

Exactly the kind of line that gives me the creeps. The topic of family in politics is indeed always and everywhere sulfurous; It is the favorite topic of the far-right, who sees family as the repository of traditional values; it is for sure the topic of those who do not have much to say about policy in general, except that the essence of government is not to interfere with individual liberty.

The problem with family champions of all kinds is that they have to come from “above-reproach families” or be hypocrite. That makes life difficult for a lot of good folks who have interesting ideas beyond “making family stronger,” like Chuy García for instance, who is running for mayor in Chicago. Two weeks before Hillary’s official launch of her presidential campaign, Phil Ponce, a WTTW’s anchor, was rubbing into Chuy García’s face, the strong- family argument:  “Your son has been a gang member. Is he still one? If you could not control him, how dare do you pretend to lead us?”

I also wonder in what way policies aiming at “making family stronger” would help the cases of Michael T. Slager and Walter L.Scott. The former, a cop coming from a divorced family according to an April 13  New York Times article, shot the latter eight times in the back as he was escaping arrest. No reason whatsoever to shoot the man, Walter L. Scott, who happened to have the bad luck to owe $18,104 in child support, was facing an arrest warrant for it since 2013, and was scared to be arrested.

Why doesn’t Hillary Clinton leave the “strong-family thing” to the guys running against her?

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Michael Stratton (Photo Edwin Torres, NYT)

Michael Stratton (Photo Edwin Torres, NYT)

Today I found the December 16 issue of the New York Times, which at first, I did not remember why I kept. Now it is clear. There was an Eleanor Stanford’s piece that would perfectly fit in the depressing New York State of the Division of Child Support Enforcement website, to cheer up non-custodial fathers searching what is going to be their ordeal in New York State.

Eleanor Stanford is telling us that yes, there are ultimately good things coming out of a long period of unaffordable child support payments. It’s about a man, Michael Stratton, from Queens. One understands the man may have had glamorous times in the movie as an extra and as a stunt driver. Comes a divorce and everything is turned upside down. Piling child support arrears keep him at a disadvantage to get good jobs, and suspension of his driver license did not help either. I will spare you the financial ordeal of the poor fellow and get to Stanford’s conclusion: Michael Stratton still has a relationship with his daughter in college (how beautiful) and the whole thing has taught him a lesson in personal finance. The benevolent New York State lawmakers must have done something right after all.

Needless to say, there is no question asked on why the non-custodial father pays what he has to, irrespective of the income of his ex-spouse and his professional situation, and for so long (New York State is one of the few states, along with Indiana and the District of Columbia, where fathers have to pay child support until their kids are 21).

One cannot emphasize enough the importance of the role of journalists. When they fail to question the status quo, they help perpetrate it.

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I was in Colombia the last two weeks of August. I could not help but notice that the Colombian press follows very closely Karen Atala’s case. To my knowledge, Atala’s story got barely more than a blurb in the New York Times in July, and that’s a pity; there are important issues at stake and its outcome in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights might have important implications for custodial rights across the continent.

Karen Atala is Chilean. Until  2002, she was married to Jaime López, with whom she had three daughters. Then they separated and agreed that Atala would have the custody of the girls, with weekend visitations for the father. But the latter changed his mind when his ex-wife started a relation with a women, Emma de Ramón. The couple lived under the same roof with the girls. According to Natalia Herrera Durán (El Espectador, August 25) López reclaimed custody on the ground that “the sexual orientation of his ex-wife was putting the emotional development of the girls at risk,” and (why not?) the girls might get AIDS. López prevailed and in 2003, Atala lost the custody of the girls. After several appeals, the case ended up in the Chilean Supreme Court. Verdict -hang on-:  “the mother has put his personal interest before those of the girls. The girls might be confused about their sexual role and suffer discrimination in the future.”

But -pardon my French- Karen Atala has balls. Also, she is a judge. That helps. She held steady while dragged in the mud by the Chilean press – which calls her “the lesbian judge”-  and under pressure to give up on her workplace.  According to Dominique Rodríguez Dalvard (El Tiempo,  August 28) the experts that testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -whose sessions were held in Bogotá- asserted that “if Atala’s sexual conduct does not affect the living conditions of the girls, her sexual orientation is irrelevant.” One wonders why it did not occur to the Chilean Supreme Court.

Atala has argued in court that “being deprived of her girls has destroyed her identity and her personal dignity.” Gotcha!  To all fathers living in the U.S. doomed to get second-rate custody of their kids in gender-biased family courts (and loose it if any accusation of wrong parenting, founded or not, is brought against them), Atala’s words strongly resonate. Thanks to her courage, we might learn that if national family laws and courts suck, there is hope for justice somewhere. We cross our fingers awaiting the verdict of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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I found by chance an old New York Times article about this twenty- one-year old kid – Evan Emory. Evan Emory made a video singing for first graders, then edited the lyrics with his own, sexually explicit lyrics.  The first graders look like there are listening to profanities. Then he shows the video in a nightclub and posted it on YouTube.

That’s it. No kids have been exposed to pornography nor hurt. Just plain stupid. Sentence: no computer for you for a while, a few months cleaning playgrounds and writing a meaningful essay on pornography, starting with the erotic subtext in Perrault and Grimm tales.

Emory is unfortunately contemplating much more: Tony Tague, the Muskegon (Michigan) County Prosecutor charged him with manufacturing child pornography, which carries up to twenty years in prison and the label of sex offender.

This people must be watching to much of the repulsive Chris Hansen’s MSNBC  show “To Catch a Predator.

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On the first days of this new year, the New York State Justice system is crawling under problems. New York State Judges are

Dog the Bounty Hunter

asking for the first pay raise in twelve years; they are even considering forming a union-like group (these folks are so nineteenth century!); The justiciables of the State of New York too are having problems of their own. Theoretically, they are presumed innocent.  Yet, they will rot in jail while waiting for a trail unless they can buy a bond to remain free. The problem is that the New York bail system is as well regulated as the US financial system. Bondsmen surrenders defendants when they feel like it and then seize part or all of the the collateral of the bond’s buyer. This is not helping already overcrowded State prisons.

As usual, the family court system has eluded the attention of the press. However it stinks as much as the rest. It takes one flimsy accusation of abuse and your right to see your kids is gone. And there is no buying of a bond that would allow you to see them. You are now under the regime of supervised visitations. Your trial will take years and during all this time, your only option to see your kids is through the private sector, with one of these totally unregulated businesses called Family Something, that will pretend to assess your parenting abilities and whose activity is not even checked out by the law guardian -the lawyer of your kids- and the  family court judge.  The outcome of the mix of biased law, private sector involvement and lack of regulation is that non-custodial parents on trial loose their rights to see their kids.

What is the solution? Certainly not more market in the justice system. Let us start by regulating all these loose cannons that the justice system is working with.

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Tiger Woods

It was impossible to miss Tiger Woods ‘ apologies. It was everywhere. What this poor fellow said sounded totally foreign to me. Whom in hell was he apologizing to? To advertisers or TV channels whose revenues might be affected by the fall of the star? Then be clear man, talk to them. Because if you are talking to me, you missed your target. I have no claim on your moral rectitude. And around me, I don’t see anybody who does either.

Thanks to Tiger Woods’ exercise in contrition, do-gooders and most of the media had their attention diverted from much

Gregory Taylor

more important apologies. Apologies that matter.  That of the Wake County (North Carolina) district attorney, C. Colon Willoughby Jr. to Gregory F. Taylor. Why? Taylor had just been cleared by a special state innocence commission -unfortunately the only one in the nation- of the accusation of murdering a prostitute in 1991. He was wrongfully convicted and spent 16 years in jail. I wonder if he accepted the district attorney’s apologies.

Every time I go to Manhattan Family Court, I read on the wall at the entrance “exact and equal justice for all” (Jefferson). There is a bunch of non-custodial fathers who would not mind to see family courts taking on seriously the apology business.

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Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.