Guest Commentary

Opinion: Judge Became Pawn In Debate Over Family Court Issues

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

   | 12 Comments

The Honorable Leslie Olear came before the General Assembly for reappointment on Feb. 26, having served the previous eight years with a stellar record. By all accounts, she is the type of judge that Connecticut deserves and needs: smart, hard-working and committed to doing what is fair and just.

What's being said

  • P.S.

    On April 25th, the State Senate passed a GAL Reform bill by a vote of 35-0. The House then voted and passed the bill by a vote of 129-0. So much for this issue only being one impacting "a small number of disgruntled litigants."

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    How about a few measures here? How many suicides occured within six months of her judgments? How many bankruptcies? How many appeals of her judgments? How many lost their retirement plan or spent it on legal fees? How many childrens college bank accounts were spent on legal fees. How many breadwinners, with no prior evidence of violent inclinations, were evicted from their home and removed from the life of their children under VAWA? Did she make any math errors and some one with an elementary school education should not make (such as adding a column of numbers wrong or failing long division)? And above all else - how many dollars in Federal matching funds did she garner for the court system under Federal Child Support Enforcement Act, Title 42, Chapter 7, subchapter 4, Part IV-D, sections 651 to 659? A small state like Connecticut that has a number of high earners can hit the high earners pretty badly trying to make sure that $900 million in child support, alimony and legal fees is owed each year to collect that $500 million in available Federal Matching Funds.

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    My family came here from a communist country. Perhaps Ms. Knox needs to be reminded our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not of the attorneys, for the attorneys, and by the attorneys.

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    Ms. Knox - A review of your background, and that of your firm, would suggest to some (if not many) that an insider would hardly be the best person to be reporting on "the issues" as you have purported to do in your article.



    To suggest that our State Representatives and State Senators are incapable of separating the two issues - - the vote to re-appoint a judge vs. problems in our Family Court system - - is both an outrage and insult to the intellect and experience of our elected officials! They come from every corner of Connecticut and within, they represent constituents young and old, rich and poor, male and female, every ethnic and racial group, regardless of any other affiliation, political, religious or otherwise. THESE ELECTED OFFICIALS VOTED ON THE RE-APPOINTMENT OF A JUDGE WITH SIGNIFICANT QUESTIONS AS TO HER PERFORMANCE AND FITNESS TO SERVE ON THE BENCH. They were NOT voting on the Family Court system. One will never know IF THEY WERE, how many more might have voted NO. Perhaps not. That is the point.



    Pull your head up from out of the sand and take a good look around. Then look in your mirror. Stop blaming parents for the shortcomings created by decades of fraud and corruption, and own up to what you and everyone else KNOW is a problem. Your article in and of itself may be a violation of your Rules of Professional Conduct and the oath you took when YOU became an attorney. You cannot pretend that you are unaware of dishonesty occurring in the courtroom. When will YOU, on behalf of the CT Bar, do something about it, rather than try to sweep it away long enough to pass the baton to the next Bar President?

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    When was the last time the Connecticut State Legislature voted not to reappoint a judge? If anyone wants to take this issue seriously, why isn‘t data collected, performance standards developed for judges, and judges held accountable?

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZTOT6DKfZ8
    This was shown at the LOB yesterday. There is going to be a major overhaul in the Family court system. The GAL hearing was one of the longest and most grueling in a long time. Parents are speaking up and elected officials are listening.
    http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2011/06/16/44588/
    Last year, the Appellate Court, the state’s second-highest court, asked Olear to explain her ruling before it issued its decision. Olear replied that the father chose to stand silent during the neglect hearing before Wilson, and that action amounted to him acknowledging being a noncustodial parent.

    “We find (Olear’s) articulation legally and factually troubling,” the Appellate Court decision said, noting that Bear determined that the father hadn’t stood silent at the neglect hearing.
    Stellar? In whose opinion?

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    Not knowing the particulars of this lady judge and her career in CT, I cannot really comment. However, 78-67 does not appear to me to be a "vote of confidence", if you catch my drift?
    I will say, as a CT native, the CT state judiciary does seem to have been overrun with women, with Chase Rogers at the top, so to speak. My own criminal trial in New Haven was planned and orchestrated by women: two lady prosecutors and two lady judges (out of three total). My trial judge was ___ ___ lady. My public defender team was headed by a woman, with one newbie male in the second chair. The supervisor was a woman. After a couple of "misdemeanor" convictions (illegally and unlawfully "engineered" by the Court itself), my probation officer was also ___ ____ female, and her supervisor was female. Where were the males, other than those stewpid turds standing guard at the courthouse entrance?
    I was an adult male with grown children, a veteran with a doctor‘s degree and a legally and lawfully registered business in the state for ten years. No prior criminal convictions. Within a very short period of time, I became destitute and homeless.
    Suffering full-blown PTSD brought on by the State itself, I sought "political asylum" in Massachusettts against the lawless, corrupt and incompetent State of CONnecticut.
    P.S., my trial trial judge, not named here--no doubt close friends with the smiling Leslie Olear above--subsequently became a family court judge in CT. Pity those who appear(ed) before her. She was totally lacking in "judicial temperament", and not qualified to be a metermaid. Not naming any names here, but some of you will know who I‘m talking about.
    Finally, I filed a 1983 civil rights lawsuit against the City of New Haven and State of CT for false arrest(s) and malicious prosecution(s) in the corrupt and incompetent city and state. I did this pro se, without the help of any lawyer or attorney. My cases were eventually docketed with the Supreme Court of the U.S., but denied cert. There is no statute of limitation on violations of Constitutional rights committed by the sovereign, state or federal. My issues and concerns have yet to be heard and addressed. The State gave me a "kangaroo court" and a false appeal--a non-appeal. They went thru the "motions", sleepwalking the entire way.
    I did not file a complaint with the Judicial Review Board because I had it on authority that my complaint would be deep-sixed and totally ignored. Habeas corpus was out of the question because the habeas court was in apparent disarray. My complaint against New Haven city police filed with the Civilain Complaint Review Board ten years ago has yet to be answered. Regie, I‘m waiting, and waiting, and waiting,...?!?
    The good news is, Mr. DeStePhony Mayor is history, and Rowland/Rell are long gone. Good riddance. Hopefully, things will be turning around in CT soon, but I for one will not be returning. Not now, not ever.
    Finally, this is as slanted an article as I‘ve ever read, re: CT judiciary. Kimberly Knox should not be permitted to post here again. Is she related to Amanda Knox?

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    Another inside slant from the CT Judicial Court System who is fighting tooth and nail to keep their money making machine in place. Change is going to happen and has happened throughout history. The judicial can not stop it. Those who resist change will ultimately find themselves not part of the change.

    Is Olear another one of our fine judges like Munro, who had children to known pediphiles, ask Sunny Kelly‘s son. A boy who is a true victim and sufferer of the people we are supposed to respect and honor. Editor please read this:
    http://www.cga.ct.gov/jud/ldcc/Testimony/January 9/Kelley, Sunny.pdf

  • not available

    As a resident of Massachusetts I have no idea how I ever got on a list for the Connecticut Law Tribune, however I am glad that I did.

    In Massachusetts the standard that the court must use in determining parenting plans is the best interests of the children. Unfortunately that is seldom the result.

    According to this article:

    " the inevitable question of which parent will retain custody of those children and what visitation rights will be granted to the other parent."

    is what must be done. Clearly this is not a best interest doctrine, but it is also unclear if this is Connecticut law.

    The only people I have heard profess this doctrine are lawyers and the judges they become.

    Too many lawyers refuse to acknowledge the role their profession has played in making family courts the despised courts they now are.

    When "no fault" divorce became the standard some thirty years ago, the idea of one parent being the winner and the other parenting being the loser was not part of the dialogue.

    The judicial profession would be well advised to stop blaming others for the mess they have had a direct hand in creating. The problem is not one of funding, but of attitude. Litigants should be treated as equals, not as winners and losers.

    Regardless of which parent that loses it is always the children that lose the most.

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    Perhaps if these families had real representation on the committees and task forces currently investigating child support, alimony and family court they might not need to stage this type of protest.
    Massachusetts was able to accomplish this with alimony reform 2 years ago when representatives of all groups were able to come together and agree on reform.
    We are certain that not only is the current system not perfect, it is radically broken.
    Making pawns of the families without involving them in fixing the process only invites radical behavior.

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    Judge Olear is one of the finest Judges I have ever appeared before in my 27 years in the bar, almost exclusively in the area of family law. I hope to say more in a follow-up opinion piece about the issues that inappropriately affected her re-appointment but I was compelled to immediately voice my support of this fine woman who is an exemplary example of the qualities we should expect in a Connecticut Superior Court Judge.

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    Kimberly Knox you are not reporting on the whole picture. You are reporting from a family court insider‘s point of view; an insider that doesn‘t seem to care about coming out on the street level and putting your ear to ground to listen as to what is truly going on in this Judge‘s courthouse and several others in this state. There is a very good reason this Judge was nearly NOT reappointed. If you interviewed the many litigants that stood before her and reported in a more balanced fashion you would have had a better impact on helping your readers understand what the core issues really are. Right now your words represent more of the same from a small group of insiders controlling courthouses to the detriment of the public. The public is loosing our trust in the family court of Connecticut. It is from consistently bad rulings coming down from Judges such as The Honorable Judge Olear that cause this distrust to grow. Having the public distrust our judicial branch is not a stable place for Connecticut. The reason why this Judge has such a good record on paper is because litigants are not permitted to submit reviews on Judges and most of them are too fearful of retaliation to submit a complaint to the Judiciary Review Board. Even those members of the public that have found the courage to submit a complaint have those documents dropped in the process without any serious review of them going on. This is a VERY SERIOUS issue for the state of Connecticut. Reporting as yours going on is going to make things worse not better. I am sure I will not be the last to comment on this highly controversial topic that pits family court insiders against the public instead of where it should be which is in a place where we can have confidence the family court will help in resolving disputes. We would like the helpful service from these Judges that they are paid with our tax dollars to generate. instead, what we have currently; is a place where family court disputes are exacerbated and people coming there for help actually come out more harmed than the harm they went in with. Just because someone is a Judge does not mean that they are beyond getting fired like the rest of us if we do not perform our job to the job description set forth. What are we supposed to not ask more from our Judges and government? There are many good Judges doing a fantastic job. Judge John Turner, Judge Heidi Winslow. But there are others that over and over again you hear members of the public suffering over their rulings. It‘s the same handful of names of Judges that pop up whenever we are hearing from a traumatized party. Some of these Judges are not fair. And that is not fair to the public to be force to stand before them.

    The risk is coming from people maintaining that the status quo is fine and the way it should continue. I will guarantee if things do not change that this crisis will grow deeper. That is the real risk here not what you claim.

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