One Hand Clapping

Norm Pattis: Chief Justice Seems Lost In Family Law Controversy

The Connecticut Law Tribune

   | 6 Comments

You know the state's Judicial Branch is bleeding when the chief justice takes to writing opinion pieces. I am not referring to legal opinions, mind you. I mean op-ed pieces designed and intended to influence lawmakers, as in the piece Chief Justice Chase Rogers penned, or had penned for her, in The Hartford Courant the other day.

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    My children have suffered at the hands of the Connecticut family court system; so I understand the sentiment expressed here. I differ from many readers because I have presided over more than one thousand family related cases in fifteen or so years of public service on a trial bench in a foreign jurisdiction. In my opinion, Mr. Pattis is too quick to criticize Chief Justice Rogers. The Chief Justice is charged with implementing policy via three basic means. First, as the leader of the judicial branch, she educates the other branches of government about judicial needs, including the impact legislation may have on court operations. She must do this while maintaining judicial independence and while avoiding the appearance of impropriety. Second, she refines judicial policy within the judicial branch itself as she directly oversees the various administrative divisions. Third, she may define and refine specific policy and law within supreme court opinions. If the opportunity arises wherein she may comment directly upon these issues from the bench or in the course of her administrative responsibilities, she is offered very broad discretion. Members of the public may read her published opinions but they will not see or hear much about her day to day actions pertaining to judicial administration; so they cannot easily understand her goals. She may comment publicly, provided she does not impugn the integrity of the court system. Let us not condemn Chief Justice Rogers for her acknowledgment that GALs operate without sufficient regulatory oversight. Let us thank her for joining in our cause to accomplish that end.

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    Nice to see the truth spoken. This notion of family relations workers and GAL‘s and therapeutic interventions under order of the court is crazy. Less not more is the understatement of the year. Our juvenile court process is not any better than the family court system, and it too is set to blow up once angry and injured parents find a way to get together. And well they should. Parental rights went out the window in Connecticut some time ago. Strangers to the family do not have a superior knowledge of what is best for children, and lawyers especially do not superior surrogates make. The state intrusion into personal family matters is out of hand, and judges as a rule are happy to invest their faith in the opinion of attorneys claiming they represent the child‘s best interests. Rarely have I seen a GAL recognize the central role that parents play in the lives of their children. Separation of children from one or both parents is the norm and not the exception from what I have seen. It is disturbing. Our legislators should decline to succumb to the position of industry insiders and should insist that our courts rule on the evidence rather than generate it.

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    Attorney Pattis‘ 03/14/2013 article featured in the New Haven Register titled "Family court needs a new start" resonates from my heart. I have been struggling with custody issues at 235 Church for 3 years now and get nowhere. The revelation of this article today is ironic to me because yesterday while I was at court, I was reading the 2013 article over and over again asking myself why am I doing this?!?!? (Yes I clipped it and keep it with my court folder). Like Pattis put it, ”It is part murder and part suicide” My 4 year old daughter regularly watches domestic violence occur in her Mother’s home, she gets hit with a belt, she is left alone in the home with her 9 year old brother and they walk to the park without supervision. This is amongst a laundry list of other neglect.

    Both my daughter’s therapist and I called DCF regarding these concerns and DCF has since validified. Family relations was made aware of this during our meeting yesterday and told me that I am perpetuating the problem and that I am exaggerating the issues while being dishonest. This was said with the utmost disgust. PERPETUATING THE PROBLEM? My child openly verified these activities with DCF!

    As a father it’s my duty to protect my daughter and to teach her right from wrong in order to help her become a happy productive and strong individual. The only way I can protect my child is to seek the help of the court to enable me to limit her exposure to such neglectful activities, to make rational decisions on her behalf and teach the right and wrong that my Mom and Dad taught me as a child.

    Am I protecting my daughter or hurting her by involving the court? I want to take Pattis’ advice and “walk away and don’t fight… “ but I feel that I would be neglecting my duty as a father.

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    "Goodness gavel, Chase, don‘t you get it? Complainants are aching for less, not more, state involvement in their lives."

    Yes, please someone get the message!


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    I second the motion that Attorney Pattis be elected to the role of Chief State Justice. Oh wait, I was just reminded that we are the only state in the country that doesn‘t elect judges or allow the public any input into how they perform and whether or not they should be reappointed....

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    I vote for Atny. Norm Pattis to be the next Chief Justice. But I don‘t have a vote, nor do any of the individuals that come before Connecticut‘s family courts. Wouldn‘t it be better if we did?

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