Editorial: Judicial Independence Under Attack In Family Law Controversy

Superior Court Judge Leslie Olear recently came within a hair of being out of a job when her reappointment after eight years in office succeeded in the House of Representatives on a close vote of 78-67.

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What's being said

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    "when a small group of embittered family court litigants wanted to make a statement about alleged problems in the family court concerning the appointment, cost, and supervision of guardians ad litem and decided to use a judicial reconfirmation hearing as a forum to do so."
    Oh my gosh! Do you hear yourself? I live in Atlanta, Georgia. It is very well known that Connecticut‘s family court is bad .... very bad. How do we know? Because we can‘t decide if our system is worse than Connecticut‘s. So, Mr. Editor, exercise those reporting chops and bone up on the news. THEN you can write your editorial with some intelligence.

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    No, Leslie Olear is a poor judge. That‘s why 67 legislators votes against her. If a tiny group of thousands of "embittered" parents are responsible for that, the point that she is a poor judge is glossed over.
    Stop blaming the parents- especially when they have the records of perjury, false documents, false affidavits, flagrant abuse of discretion, disregard for the most basic rights people have. Own up, in truth there is silence, in a mountain of lies you GALS are trying to spin to save your several hundred thousand dollar untraceable paperless tax man doesn‘t need to know income. I hope you are enriched by ramen noodles while you sit in orange jumpsuits. Common criminal thug thieves.

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    Judge Olear has made too many bad calls. There were about 9 judges up for reappointment this year. None of the other 8 were protested. And that is for a reason. It is because their track record did not demonstrate making devastating call after devastating call to CT families in crisis like Olear did. Limit the years for a Judge to be appointed. There are Judges that are incapable of being impartial. There are other judges whom carry a disdain for self-represented parties. Then there are others that will never rule against a party that is represented by their golf buddy or country club friend. If a 4-year term is good enough for the president, it should be good enough for a judge. Judicial independence breeds judicial corruption. Our government was made up of a system of checks and balances and made up of three branches so that when one branch goes haywire the other two can set it straight. I call the family courts in Connecticut the real ghetto of Connecticut. It‘s where the real pocketbook muggings and pocket picking are going on. It‘s where people are treated the worst and disrespected the most. It‘s where your child can be taken from you if your ex outspends you in legal fees. Connecticut family court is real ghetto. Limit the terms of judges. Do not reappoint the skewed ones that cause more discourse than peace, like Olear... and like a few other ones too.

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    There was a time in this country when “a small group of embittered” citizens felt slaves should be free, that women should have the right to vote, that schools should be integrated... need I go on? A failed system doesn‘t change overnight. It takes a lot of snow flakes to create an avalanche. It is not "judicial independence" that is under attack here. It is a failed system. The vote tallies on the Olear reappointment is one more flake adding to the mountain of snow necessary to eventually crush a system that is in desperate need of being scrapped and replaced. The cowardly nameless author of this editorial ignores the fact that the true cornerstone of a free society is that its citizens can, through democratic process, effect change. This issue is bigger than Connecticut. It‘s a national issue and at least some states and their legislators are willing to give voice to disenfranchised citizens. Go ahead. Hide behind the CT Law Tribune masthead and keep crying for the status quo. Some day you will look back on this editorial and be ashamed at your ignorance.

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    Shame the author of this piece didn‘t sign his or her name, the history lesson makes for interesting reading and, assuming the facts are accurate, it is indeed telling that for more than 150 years, legislators have been placing a proverbial rubber-stamp on renominations.

    The comments of the above referenced post are absurd. Legislators are certainly bright enough to understand the difference between voting on the record of a single judge vs. a masked vote condemning the system for which they work. Look at the results of ALL the votes for the day - - there were some judges that passed through with nary a single Nay vote, others had a dozen or two Nay‘s, but Olear garnered the record for the day with 67 Nays. SHAME too, because by all accounts, she deserved the boot . . . far less painful than the fate of many of her ‘customers‘ during her first term.

    The GOD SYNDROME of many of these family court judges who pander to their long-time friends from the Bar is indicative of the problems throughout our state (and country). Look to the details on a case by case basis and you‘ll have a hard time defending the TRUE FACTS - judges are breaking the law on a routine, daily basis in Connecticut Family Court. Worse yet, they know it, but also know they are untouchable. If you thought the Olear hearings were heated, wait until the same hearings in 2015 and 2016 - you‘ll be in for an ear full as more legislators will be armed with more specifics. AND THEN that board won‘t light up like a Christmas Tree, it will look more like a Stop Light in Time Square at rush hour. RED EVERYWHERE. Let‘s hope Judge Olear enjoys her next 8 years, she‘s got a lot riding on it.

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    It‘s not "judicial independence" that is at risk, as this editorial propagates, but the complete unchecked power of judges to do anything they want, regardless of the facts, law and procedures, and help anyone they want, without fear of accountability through non-reappointment. It‘s no wonder that an ed board chaired by a former Supreme Court justice would circle the wagons when a judge‘s re-appointment is rightfully challenged by those whose lives and livelihoods she has harmed unnecessarily and without justification. Unfortunately, as another post observes, there are no meaningful checks and balances on the Connecticut judiciary, because too many of those on the Judiciary Committee are practicing lawyers who are looking out for themselves by refusing to ever vote down a judge, knowing of the culture of repercussion, and because the chair, Gerald Fox, does not have the guts to make an example of a judge, which would do more to reform bad judging than any task force or legislation. It‘s remarkable that it does not even take a judge losing his/her job for propaganda such as this editorial to be printed... just an "almost". That should speak volumes about the priority of the judicial elite being to protect judges first, even if justice will suffer.

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    The problems plaguing the CT Family Courts today are a result of years of unchecked balances within the system. Like a cancer that goes untreated, it metastacizes. The need to recognize the gravity and scope of the failures of the courts and GALs is necessary if we all are sincere about obtaining success. Certainly parents and families who have lost access to their children (absent abuse and neglect) have reason to be profoundly disturbed with what they witness and experience in family court.

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    Judicial Independence requires that the judiciary enforce the laws as legislated by the people, and separation of powers allows the legislature to restrain abuses within the judicial branch. The legislature needs to act now to reform the family laws and follow suit with States from across the country in an effort to end abuses and injustices in the family court. Its time for Connecticut to step up and begin the process of reform. Connecticut has lagged behind for far too long. Credit to those in the legal community who are speaking up about these problems, and to the legislature who are listening to their constituents and fulfilling the duties of their office.

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    Many parents and family law attorneys – are quite disappointed in today’s editorial. Although we respect your opinions, this editorial is quite frankly, not based in fact.

    Recently a former Supreme Court Justice was approached by a state senator. This former justice was asked to read the articles recently posted about the problems in our family courts and to let the senator know if parents were crazy or onto something.

    The former Justice took time to read everything and reported: “They are not crazy.”

    He offered that as much as parents are complaining about Guardian ad Litem, they are also right to hold judges accountable. Because the actual issue is the close relationship between the judges and how they misuse GALs by handing their judicial authority to them. This relationship – must be broken. Because this is the horrific and actual flaw around the issue of “judicial independence and integrity" and what has harmed so many children and families in this state. GALs, are not judges.

    If anyone doubts this in any way, they only need to look at who comprises the family court system’s “Family Commission." Not a single parent, citizen or taxpayer, is on this commission. Rather - it is comprised of GALs, and the judges who hand millions of dollars worth of money to them - forcibly taken from parents under the threat of imprisonment.

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    Our government is functioning exactly as intended. When one of our branches of government goes astray and forgets the Constitution and the rights of citizens, then the other two must step in to take corrective action. This is what happened, and will continue to happen, until the rampant abuses and crisis in our family courts is properly and effectively addressed. The divorce and legal industries - are no longer in control of the message, because they have more than prove that they are incapable of policing themselves and acting in an ethical, professional and constitutional manner. This is a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. And the people are now speaking.

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    More divorce industry propaganda. THOUSANDS of parents have complained to legislators as victim of family court abuse, dysfunction and corruption. Get the story straight and stop covering up for judges who rip children away from parents for no good reason, ignore abuse and neglect of children, and work to financially devastate parents and families to enrich a small group of elitist attorneys and GALs who the judges had business and millions of dollars to. Connecticut is the only state where judges are not elected or held to any standard excellence and performance - and that must change. Citizens, taxpayers and votes are no longer tolerating the status quo and demanding much better.

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