Ethics Matters

Mark Dubois: Anti-GAL Crowd Gives Rules Committee An Earful

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


If what I saw the other day at the Rules Committee hearing on proposed Practice Book changes is any indication, the Judicial Branch (and all of us) are in for a rough year ahead.

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What's being said

  • Victory

    This article is written by an uneducated person who obviously walked into the middle of a historic event. He must have been on another planet for the last year. It is clear that Mr. Dubois did not attend the long late hours of raw testimonies of 100‘s of parent in front on the GAL task force. He is not aware of the tireless work of State Legislators Minnie Gonzalez, Angel Arce and Edwin Vargas‘s to bring the broken GAL system to the attention of the public. He took lightly the House and Senate‘s stunning unanimous vote to rehaul the GAL system. What he can‘t ignore is the heartbroken parents who have lost their children and their money. A real parent‘s heart is their children and they will fight until their last breath so the GAL atrocities will never happen again. He is correct in stating the next session will be a free for all. Because our system is by the people for the people and free for all of us to express our views for as long and as loud as we want. The legislators and senators work FOR the people of the state of CT. We are registered voters and we pay our taxes. Thankfully, the uneducated can always relearn and hopefully Mr. Dubois can be one of them.
    It‘s going to take a lot on his part and his business will suffer with opinions like this. Thankfully opinions are not facts. March on Parents-March on!

  • Interest in what‘s really the best interest of children

    I really can‘t understand why there‘s such upset about the GAL bill. The bottom line is that we have accountability and transparency. What‘s so wrong with this? Just as GALs state, children need a voice; children deserve the best. The best typically consists of accountability and oversight. Why is this such a bad thing? A SRP questioned his GAL of 3 years ($325 per hr) in Judge Munro‘s courtroom today only to learn this GAL didn‘t know about the 16 Statutory Factors that quantify the best interest of a child. How does this happen? When there‘s no accountability and oversight. Our children deserve more.

  • David

    "What is also universal is the feeling that we are heading towards a system of two or maybe three "tracks" for divorcing couples."
    Adding complexity to an overly complex system is exactly the opposite direction we should be heading.

  • Elizabeth A. Richter

    I just recall Mark DuBois when I submitted a grievance to the Statewide Grievance Committee in regard to Attorney James T. Flaherty who represented me in family court. I submitted a detailed complaint to the Grievance Committee with numerous documents in regard to Attorney Flaherty‘s malfeasance in my case. In particular I objected to, among other things, the fact that Attorney Flaherty advised me sign an illegal document, that he refused to communicate with me or with my father who was a decision maker in my case, that he perjured himself in testimony before the court when stepping down from my case, and also that he had run up a massive bill of approximately $70,000 after only four months of work, including on my bill the work of additional attorneys I‘d never even met. Under Mark Dubois leadership, the head of the panel taking my case practiced law inside the region where Attorney Flaherty does business, which is a violation of Statewide‘s grievance procedure. Of course, that didn‘t bother Mr. Dubois one single bit. After my grievance was rejected with the statement that I was only bringing a grievance because Attorney Flaherty was bringing a collection action against me (not that he was not guilty of what accused him of), I found out that Attorney James T. Flaherty was suing approximately 70 other people, many of whom had similar stories to my own. He would run up massive bills, take people to collection, and then try to foreclose on their homes. I brought that to the attention of Mr. Mark Dubois as well, but Dubois did nothing about it. So what we have is a gentleman who is in the position and has the responsibility to stop attorney wrongdoing and protect innocent clients who does absolutely nothing. Respectfully, I would suggest that the CT Law Tribune tap somebody else to write their op-ed pieces. Because this Mark Dubois is a fake and a man of poor character.

  • D.S

    The State Senate, packed with attorneys, voted 35-0 in favor of the first ever family court and GAL system reform legislation. Many saying there was more to come. The House voted 129-0 in favor. 164 legislators, hearing from thousands of parents about what is terribly wrong with our family courts. And the vast majority of complaints were about unethical, unprofessional and abusive behavior by a small elitist few GALs who have co-opted the family court for their own personal profit and gain.

  • P. Szymonik

    Let‘s use the correct terminology. This is not an "anti-GAL" crowd, these are parents who have been abused and harmed by the rampant corruption in our family courts promoted by the AFCC and its membership - designed solely to personally enrich an elitist and troubled few at the expense of children, families and the practice of family law itself. This is not just an issue and problem here - but across the country and internationally as well. There is a reason why England called for the immediate halt to use of all "court appointed experts" in their family courts - and the above is the reason why. No attorney‘s personal opinion is worth $10,000, $25,000, $50,000, $400,000 after spending a few hours with a child. No one‘s opinion is. These people are not performing brain surgery. They are reporting to the court on 16 set criteria and as witnesses, PERIOD. The exact work the CT Children‘s Law Center does for.... $750/case flat rate. The SAME WORK. With the big difference that they get better results. Time for Mr. DuBois to stop making excuses and start paying attention - as the legislature did. In the actual best interests of the public.

  • Hector Morera

    I am somewhat confused. Did Mr. Dubois attend the same hearing that I did? Based on his characterization of the hearing, I believe he and I attended different hearings.

    Mr. Dubois‘ characterization above completely disregards the message that the Pro Se speakers were making.

    1. First of all the article completely left out the fact that the first speaker, Michael Nowacki made it very clear that his purpose of speaking to the Rules Committee was to request that they make some recommended changes to the Practice Book to address the statutory changes enacted in PA 14-3.

    2. Secondly, many of the other speakers made recommendations which are required to the Practice Book to properly enforce PA 14-3. The speakers included statements to support the recommended changes to the Practice Book in the same manner that the lawyers who used anecdotes or facts to illustrate and support their positions. I do not understand why it is acceptable for the lawyers to present facts to support their position but not acceptable for the Pro Se speakers.

    3. I spoke almost last in our group. I recommended the creation of Practice Book section PB 25-70 to address the new requirement for removal of GAL‘s. I gave substantive recommendations on what should be included as a minimum in PB 25-70. Nowehere does the article above state that.

    4. May I suggest that you and all the readers of this story read the written testimony that I and others submitted to the legislature on January 9, February 14, February 19 and March 31. In it, you will not see emotional tirades or rants but calmly and intelligently expressed concerns about unethical practices that occur every day in Connecticut Family Courts such as complete disregard for the Practice Book, CGS and Federal laws and suggested recommendations to address these issues.

    Once again, I must say I do not understand why the article above completely left out what is stated in our written testimony.

    As for any statement that implies that the Pro Se‘s who spoke are engaging in vexatious litigiation to manipulate the courts, I can only say that is completely false. They are victims of unethical behavior which has been allowed for far too long to occur in the CT Family Court system. They are just looking to address conduct that has hurt them and their families.

    I spent over an hour early this morning speaking to a victim of the unethical behavior that occurs in the CT Family Court system. This person is on supervised visitation. Apparently the GAL on this person‘s case is aware that the person‘s ex spouse fraudulently produced a report which landed this person on supervised visitation, yet refuses to correct her mistakes. These are crimes. CGS 53a-156 covers willful and intentional perjury. Yet the person who did not commit the crime and this person‘s children are suffering because of this crime, not the persons who committed the crime.

    I welcome the opportunity to speak to the author or any other person face to face to clarify any misunderstandings you may have over the testimony.

    I can be reached at 917-821-6951.

    Thank you.

    Hector Morera
    Glastonbury, CT

  • Elizabeth

    What a god-awful, one-sided article. I cringed the entire time I read it. The author so blatantly refused to even entertain the thought that perhaps wrong really is happening in the courts. As if over a hundred parents, strangers to each other, telling the same story must all be liars? That there couldn‘t possibly be corrupt GALs abusing their position? The author is either ridiculously naive or (more likely) purposely trying to skew the story. How sad. All these families felt so mistreated and financially attacked, they finally came together and have the smallest chance of being heard, and here is one more rat trying to discredit them. Why? Story after story of the same GALs billing up to a hundred thousand dollars, yet somehow never actually seeing the children, siding with the exact same attorneys over and over and all this article says is ‘this can‘t have any truth .. pity the GALs who now don‘t feel safe.‘ ?? Imagine what a GAL would have to put a family through for them to want to cause them harm. To be so distraught tires were slashed? This is not a case of ‘I didn‘t get my way, so I am bitter‘. This sounds like ‘an individual with too much power and no check & balance system hurt our families and children, that we need to take action.‘

    Shame on the author of this article. His agenda is clear.

  • Patrick McCabe

    I have to wonder why it is that those that are part of the system (lawyers and judges), refuse to acknowledge that they could be wrong. The rest of us realize that they wrong, what is wrong with them?

    Not once in this article does the author explain what is wrong with the argument put forth by these people that see a problem with the courts and want to change it.

    During the time that I have tried to bring about change in the Massachusetts family courts, I have never seen a high-conflict, complex, self represented case. What I have seen is judges that won‘t follow our laws but have no problem sticking it to families.

    Never in my life have I seen such disrespect and abuse as when I am in family court setting. Parents losing custody of their children for who knows what reason. Supervised visitation when there is no history of violence and no charges pending, etc, etc.

    These lawyers and judges just want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend the Family Courts are perfect, if the litigants would just realize it. These people are unfortunately opposed to anything that would move the courts in the direction of functioning properly.

    Mr. Dubois alleges that he felt sympathy for some of these people, but where is the sympathy were is the reaching out to resolve the problems to bring about a better tomorrow? No, from what Mr. Dubois wrote, he would rather that things went back to business as usual.

  • Mark Shaw

    I am not anti-GAL or pro-GAL. I did go through a divorce in Connecticut and ultimately gave up on the state’s ability to administer a family court system. Courts where judges and their delegates (GALs/AMCs) use discretionary powers to allocate family equity in a haphazard manner is a giant seam through which our social fabric is unraveling. The violence families are exposed to in these processes has lasting effects that should lie on the conscience of every professional who profits from divorce cases.
    After hearing endless claims of abusive relationships, fraud and other criminality from the bench where I would await my own divorce hearings, I am convinced the parties in contentious divorce cases in Connecticut principally pursue tactics to manipulate the discretionary powers granted to the courts. Someone with a conscience needs to address that. Maybe then the Rules Committee can go on with its business.

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