A Case for Investigation: A Call to Action

Judge Richard S. Bernhardt

The Robing Room


A CASE FOR INVESTIGATION: 

THE  ELLICOTT CITY, MARYLAND  FAMILY COURT  

RICO REIGNS IN HOWARD COUNTY, MARYLAND 

INTRODUCTION

I am Jill Jones Soderman, the Executive Director of the Foundation For Child Victims Of The Family Courts, (FCVFC). The work of the FCVFC is dedicated to protecting the Constitutional Rights of vulnerable children and Protective Parents transferred by Dependency, Juvenile and Family Courts across the USA, into the hands of abusers. The Case highlighted below  represents the work FCVFC does on behalf of its clients.

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The Ellicott City, Maryland Family Court Complex appears to be an incubating unit for developing a protocol for management of custody litigation involving high net worth individuals.  For many cases, FCVFC documented a legal process that involved the coordinated, cooperative affiliation of court actors, traditionally expected to act in a neutral, independent manner. Instead, we observed a ballet production coordinated to deliver a  pre fixe custody transfer that bears no resemblance to facts or child welfare. The children in this case were pawns, no more than ciphers in the transfer of wealth and suppression of crimes. The litigation process was geared to extorting maximum fees, through an extended period of illegitimate court proceedings, artificially created to increase court costs, attorneys fees and punish a targeted  litigant. The commentary of judges appeared to reflect a reality presented by testimony and evidence then followed by rulings that had no connection to the recent statements. The clear disconnect in court presented a window into irrational rulings. The disconnect reflected the fact that the rulings were impervious, unmoved by testimony and evidence. The FCVFC study of the Howard County court system provided evidence that each of the judges’ rulings were as if they have been directed  from behind the scenes. Their self-satisfying mouthings from the bench were meaningless as to the ultimate orders delivered, disconnected from evidence, testimony and the welfare of the children and the Protective Parents.

The case in question presented with issues of abuse, criminal behavior or mental illness, where the issues of fact are often not contested and resolution should be fairly reasonably handled, yet they became convoluted, and completely distorted.

The coordinated pattern of activity was spearheaded by the injection of dubious psychological theories of the case, articulated by multiple non-judicial actors,  who become empowered to make critical life decisions with decades long consequences.

The liberal use of unauthorized, unscientific – also called “junk science” theories are extravagantly, callously applied, under the  cover of “professional” expertise”. Naked bias, overreach and unfounded conclusions, based on the unquestioned, unexamined opinions of professionals not qualified to opine on the matters  before them offered with the illusion of fact, deferentially received by the audience responsible for their appointment.

The FCVFC staff viewed the evolution, systematization, assembly line production litigation of such practices in the Ellicott City Family Court. Good and decent parents, whose life histories, for no fault of their own were not flawless, found the facts of their own pasts, uncovered  and used against them. Unbridled manipulation of abstruse psychological theory is routinely used in these cases to make a parent who has themselves been a crime victim into the perpetrator of a next generation crime.

 Material uncovered in Forensic Psychological Evaluations became unscrupulously weaponized as court rules are crafted to preclude Due Process, equal access to discovery and evidence production. Material that should have been viewed with scientific rigor, neutrality, ethical caution as to interpretation, becomes material to be callously manipulated and crafted into and indictment of the targeted parent. The use of scripted, baseless, false narratives of lives and events become cut and pasted into a false diagnostic assessment to guide a litigation strategy, leading to custody and financial settlements that have no basis in law or the interest of the parties. 

FCVFC has full knowledge and documentation of multiple, high profile custody litigations of the nature described. These cases of which the FCVFC were involved date from 2014 to the present. They were litigated with the same  core group of specific lawyers for the litigants, presiding judges in Ellicott City, appointed court evaluators and assorted additional court actors all known to each other via service in high profile government appointment commissions.

However  imperfect as to the state of their psyches which led them to engage in seriously imperfect  partnerships / marriages, the large numbers of parents seen, fully separated from their children, never deserved the life changing, indefinite to infinite, life sentences they received. The coordination of non-judicial authority, paired with appointed court actors are given license to impose sentences beyond any statute of limitations for crimes ever envisioned.

LITIGATION  FRAUD ACCOUNTABILITY – CIVIL CONSPIRACY

FCVFC confronts judicial malfeasance and attorney failure to represent clients, playing to the bench and eschewing proper client representation.This article lays out the hallmarks that comprise the pattern of unlawful acts defined in terms of two or more parties acting in concert to  inflict an injury on a third party, that results in damage. It is critical to note that the nature of litigation malfeasance is of a nature of equal opportunity exploitation, preying on power and wealth. The spoils (children) go to the victor is depicted by the clash of titans. The litigant that has more money to pay to defeat an opponent at all costs may extend  useless, worthless litigation that results in mind boggling, irrational judicial decisions, ultimately resolved in Appeals Court overturns that attest to judicial malfeasance and corruption that should have been confronted and interrupted mid litigation.

In the  Custody Case (i.e., Case# 13 – c – 17- 111078) presented below , the father is the disenfranchised Protective Parent. In the presented Case we are suggesting a claim of, at minimum, civil conspiracy. Civil conspiracy is represented by a broad pattern of actions, reactions and interactions, coordinated among parties, to commit unlawful acts. These acts are implemented through a litigation circus with side shows of ex parte communication, due process violations and violations of equal access to the court.  Further, communications throughout this case have been used to coerce exposure via judicial manipulation imposition of contempt orders and multiple civil rights violations.

Every case in which children are transferred into the hands of abusers, through the imposition of false narratives, suppression of evidence and back alley, street fighting tactics, the rule of law is eroded. We are seeing Protective Parents wrongfully removed from the lives of their children  by lawless courts such as that presented in the protocol perfected and now functioning on steroids, in the Howard County, Ellicott City court. The cataclysm described represents a personal crisis for the children and Protective Parent at the center of this example and social crisis, now having reached a public health crisis status. 

A link has been provided  to a Howard County Family Court Case that is offered as a clear exemplar of judicial malfeasance, improper attorney coordination and affiliation of litigation process. The designation from the onset of the case to a prefixe “winner”, is based on a false narrative, judicial support for experts that are incompetent to the positions held, block experts that confront a false narrative, to support a designated client, specifically the client with the best ability to outspend their 

EXEMPLAR CASE – HOWARD COUNTY – ELLICOTT CITY 

CASE# 13 – c – 17- 111078

The noted Case is presented because it is  fully and completely documented.  Further, this case is flawlessly emblematic of the issues generically referred to in the introduction.  Our request to bring attention to a matter that must be addressed as a public health crisis, not only in Maryland, but across the United States is well represented by presenting the facts and compelling issues in this case 

FCVFC was contacted by the parent who was originally the Defendant, (later switched to the Plaintiff) because he had seen published writings by staff of the FCVFC. He found the articles and documents alarming, as his  case was moving in the direction described. His alarm rapidly increased as events unfolded.

CASE SUMMARY

Pre Litigation History

Mr. and Mrs. X. were both forty years old.  They were members of the same Maryland community as the children, acquaintances at school and in the community.  In college, they dated, became engaged and married as of 11/22/2003. Mr. X. graduated from college with a degree in engineering.  His work career took him into the area of commercial real estate, where he thrived.

Mrs. X. did not have professional goals at that time and worked in her family’s very lucrative business.

The children at the time of the Case were 13, 11 and nine years old, respectively.  All of the children were in good health and were academically, socially and athletically engaged.

Presenting The Problem

Mrs. X. began to present with a compelling picture of drug and alcohol addiction, which despite a series of rehabilitation treatment interventions over the next two plus years were not successful in avoiding movement toward separation and then steps toward divorce.

Separation was compelled by the collapse of the marital relationship, as well as clear and present danger to the children. Mrs. X was unable to care for the children in their daily lives.  Impaired judgment with regard to assessment of levels of intoxication allowed Mrs. X. to drive while intoxicated.  She engaged the children in the use of the interlock system (to unlock the system so that she could drive).  She was involved in a number of driving accidents in which the children were passengers in the care.  The children were traumatized and terrorized by the experiences to which they were subject.

By mutual agreement, the couple separated, leaving physical custody of the children to the father with the hope that this further step would motivate  the mother’s treatment progress. The separation agreement drafted by Mrs. X’s attorney granted liberal visitation and contact with the children, joint custody, decision making, planning, with Mr. X. having ultimate authority if there was an impasse. 

At no point in any of the discussions, past or present did Mr. X. ever disagree with joint custody or shared parenting. The court record clearly demonstrated on every possible level that Mr. X. supported, cooperated, assisted with every treatment intervention and every court order.

THE CHILDREN

The children were raised to be outspoken, thoughtful, independent thinkers.  They each excelled in every aspect of their own lives – school, sports, friendships, community.  The children very clearly articulated their well founded, well documented reasons for intense antagonism and mistrust of their mother.

The children were exposed to frightening, life threatening experiences while in the custody of their mother. These experiences were thoroughly documented in police records, accident records, and police reports. Based on statements the children made to their own therapists and to the two court evaluators, the court ordered reunification therapist and the Best Interest attorney who has generically represented the children as a group, clearly articulate, in factual detail the bases of their original concerns and then the reasons for their growing antagonism toward their mother.

Initial experiences in visitation following the parent’s separation deepened the children’s hostility to ward their mother.  These experiences were fully documented throughout the record, and ignored at every decision making level.

Non Alcoholic / Non Addicted Spouse Blamed For Children’s Trauma Response To Mother’s Neglect And Abuse Of Children

As the children resisted contact – visiting / calls with their mother and were openly resisting contact with her – therapeutic intervention focused on:

  1. A) Mr. X. was expected to physically force the children to meet with their mother – and speak to her by phone.

If the children refused to leave his car – the message from court authorities was that corporal, punishment, physical force should be implemented.

When Police were called by their mother, the police refused to use physical force  to return the children who ran from her, or refused to leave the car or their home.

Mr. X. reasoned and punished the children for not working with their mother, but on the record, refused to apply physical force.

Court ordered Therapists recommended that Mrs. X. withdraw from contact with the children – that she not attend their games, or seek contact with the children, outside of court authority.

That which was disregarded, though documented, that when the children did meet with their mother, there was a significant level of discord between the children, their mother and her extended family.

  1. B) Mr. X., as per direction of the  therapists, he was to take responsibility for his wife’s addiction and encourage the children to work with her – because, in effect, her behavior was not her fault – nor her responsibility.
  2. Mr. X. was diagnosed psychiatrically – incorrectly to the point that statements made would be viewed by any responsible practitioner as defaming and libelous.

The basis of descriptions of Mr. X. that were then used to define his character and interpersonal dynamics all came from verbal accounts  imparted by Mrs. R. during undocumented interviews with evaluators #1 and  #2.  All medical and psychiatric records related to Mrs. R’s medical / psychiatric status were completely sealed off from any scrutiny.

The Reunification Therapist, directed therapeutic processes and reporting, demanded major control, oversight and scrutiny of Mr. X’s court ordered “treatment.”   Such oversight included choice of a therapist and then HIPPA releases for all parties – therapists and lawyers to be able to speak with his therapist, ask questions and direct the course of treatment

      EXHIBIT

  1. D) Demands were made through the court to force Mr. X. into court ordered therapy under review and supervision of court actors. Articulated directives  to manage and control his interactions with his children deference to his wife, to shape his thoughts and actions toward his children – apologizing for his role in generating his wife’s addictions are specified *

      EXHIBIT

The intent of these directives were implicit in the formation of the improvised psychological profiles and reflected in the financial interim payment schedule.  The constitutional violations related to freedom of thought, speech, privacy liberty rights to parenting children are legion throughout the numerous Motions filed by opposing counsel, piled on by the Best Interest Attorney, each of the multiple therapists, who were then supported by his own lawyers, (until lawyer #4).

Mr. X. was vilified, humiliated in court by Court psychological evaluators, court appointed therapists and the opposing counsel, representing Mrs. X.

Mr. X. was treated as a criminal, threatened repeatedly with jail sentences  for not responding rapidly enough to directives from therapists and opposing counsel for questioning orders that Constitutionally violated rights to privacy and even self  incrimination. Statement and recommendations by therapists were treated as if they were Orders from the judge.

Contempt Orders requesting jail time re: 

A.  Demands for  HIPPA releases to access and share information about Mr. X. were put forth by opposing counsel, supported by the cotillion of therapists, evaluator and the BIA, all of whom conspired to put forth hearsay, unsubstantiated testimony providing an entirely erroneous personality profile of Mr. X.

  1. The consortium also has consistently pressed to choose the personal therapist for Mr. X. and to exclude the highly reputable representative chosen by Mr. X (Dr. Michael Stone MD)

The level of exacting rigor for compliance with punitive orders that were legally questionable because of their incursion into violations of constitutional rights create the impression of an autocratic proceeding having no resemblance to a litigation process.

This level of compliance with court direction was responded to by recommendations to comply, completely, accompanied by the constant refrain “you will lose your children if you do not ……”.  Attorney #4 responded to  unconscionable court orders with an onslaught of laser focused scholarly legal.   

LITIGATION PRACTICE

Mr. X. was forced to work with four attorneys before he finally experienced a litigation defense, as opposed to constant refrain to be silent and comply with court orders that made no sense legally,  criminally, rationally.

A.- Appointment of Evaluators:

Evaluators #1 and #2

Applied the precepts and interventions of discredited  junk science – “Parental Alienation”. 

The evaluator defined Mr.  X. in the most toxic, malignant terms, assigning responsibility to him for causing all of his wife’s problems, assigning responsibility to him  for “alienating” the children from their mother. 

No evidence of any of the behaviors ascribed to Mr. X. – or the children were ever produced or existed as per any discernible evidence, testimony, or personal history,

The evaluator ignored the multiple statements of each of the children that he placed on the record, in the report as they described their fears of their mother as per her willingness to harm herself and or them, to blame their father…..”to make herself believed”. 

The judge suspended further engagement of this evaluator because the recommendations for complete separation from their father, and multiple attendant punitive measures toward the children were so extreme, that he wished to engage a second opinion before considering these measures.

The judge gave lip service to concerns about the children re:  multiple sources of trauma and then in each and every one of his rulings, he ignored his own protestations from the bench, which included a prolonged, detailed description of a personal experience with his own mother which, the judge noted (repeatedly) haunted him over the years.

The Judge suspended evaluator # 1 and Sua Sponte replaced evaluator #1 with evaluator #2. (We refer to evaluator #2 as ‘the closer’)

Evaluator #2 is well known to subscribe to exactly the same junk science concepts and punitive measures towards children and protective parents  as evaluator #1. Evaluator #2 is a supervisor and mentor of evaluator #2

and well known to support and subscribe to the same obscene, deplorable

techniques as evaluator #1.

Evaluator #1’Cost Mr. X………..$ for an evaluation that was in total cost 

Evaluator #2  engaged for a fee of $45,000., as opposed to the $25,000 Fee of evaluator #1.

In an emergency Pendente Lite Hearing – the judge who expressed concerns about the recommendations of evaluator #1 implemented an emergency custody transfer of all 3 children for Monday.  

The Hearing on Friday instructed the children’s Sua Sponte Transfer to the sole custody of their mother. 

SUA SPONTE CUSTODY TRANSFER OF CHILDREN MID TRIAL

Pre-Hearing Of Custody Evaluations Or Critique Of Evaluations were presented

The children’s explicit, documented thoughts, feelings, fears and wishes, elicited by their therapist in drawings and notebooks, weekly sessions, were totally ignored.  Further the children’s comments were used against them and their father as they were each ridiculed and belittled in the court record.

Statements made by each of the children quoted by evaluator #1 as to their reasons for fear and dislike of their mother were totally ignored.

Mr. X. was ordered to implement transfer planning, meeting with the reunification therapist, the children’s therapist and his attorney,  

B- Pattern of Legal / lawyer malpractice, malfeasance, and collusion among attorneys:

The Lawyers (prior to lawyer #4)offered / provided no defense for Mr. X.  The attorneys failed to request opposing expert witness testimony.  Further, they demanded constant compliance by their client with court orders issued by opposing counsel that were detrimental to the client and the children

The children were offered no representation  and not even the pretense of a voice within the litigation process, despite the fact that they were first hand witnesses to the relationship between their parents and their mother’s behavior that engendered their  estrangement from her

Extensive ex parte communication – refer to billing

Extensive Ex parte communications are being documented through the interactions between parties via transcript testimony – How else could you have known this…….. unless you spoke with…….

C – “Therapist Roles in Facilitating Fraud – Malpractice, Malfeasance, Collusion with Attorneys

MEETINGS PLANNING THE CHILDREN’S TRANSFER USED AS A “SET UP” FOR FRAUDULENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES AGAINST THE FATHER  – SET UP BY THE ATTORNEY FOR THE MOTHER- NEITHER THE ATTORNEY FOR THE MOTHER NOR THE MOTHER WERE PARTIES TO  THE CONFERENCE CALL OF SAT. AFTERNOON – MAR..     

THE  3 PLENARY MEETINGS WERE PHONE CONFERENCE CALLS:

Transfer Meeting #1 – 9 PM Fri. evening following Pendente Lite

Hearing – Mar……..    Attended by children’s therapist, reunification therapist, trial attorney for Mr. X. – discussion of transfer mechanism and no contact constraints as per court order  – Children were unaware of the transfer order as Fri.3/ 

Transfer discussion with children was planned for Sun. afternoon  3/ as each child had sports events and social dates over the weekend – involving sleepovers with friends

Sat. afternoon meeting with Mr. X.., children’s therapist, reunification therapist and attorney #3 – resulted in false charges of DV threats and suicied threats constructed  by Mr. X.’s attorney ( EXHIBIT – CONTENT OF THIS MEETING AND HISTORY AND RATIONAL FOR ISSUES RAISED BY Mr. X – ALL FACTUAL CONTENT IS DOCUMENTED IN COURT RECORDS AND STATEMENTS OF THE CHILDREN  EXHIBITS ATTACHED

The  content of this meeting 3/ ….. 1  PM IN THE AFTERNOON – is fully and completely documented through contemporaneous notes taken by Mr. X and  FCVFC consultant who was in contact with Mr. X. at he time of each meeting Fri,. 3/ …. Sat. 3/ ……. Sun. 3/ 

The evening of 3/ – Mr. X. was not aware that his lawyer, in collusion with the attorney for his wife contacted the Maryland Commissioner’s office and had his wife file an emergency ex parte motion for DV, expediting the pick up order for the children from  Mon. at 5 pm to Sat. evening 3/

A report generated by two parties issuing the complaint, not present on the phone call, communicated hearsay evidence to a court of a false and defamatory nature. 

The parties colluding to provide false information to the court included “Mr. X’s attorney, The children’s therapist, The reunification therapist. All parties paid by Mr. X. employed by him under confidential fiduciary covenant, conspired with his wife’s attorney and  her lawyer to provide additional fire walls of separation between himself and his children – just forced from his custody that afternoon – see exhibits*

The allegations of conspiracy to file false charges against Mr. X., to libel and defame him, to cause further trauma to his children and to deprive him of avenues of evidence against false claims, must be viewed in the bad faith spirit in which these acts were entered into.

Mr. X’s attorney and the reunification therapist made massive demands and lodged huge complaints against Mr. X’s delay in signing over HIPPA rights for these various actors. Their demands  to have access to personal treatment personnel for reasons articulated in the attached exhibit*, once received, these parties so interested in separating the children from their father confirmed their  self promotion aspects of their coordinated efforts in generating the DV complaint articulated in the convoluted Emergency Ex Parte hearing generated by his wife and her attorney.

On Sat. evening at approximately 9 pm, Mr. X. received a knock on the door from the police with the Emergency Order to remove the children with all necessary force, to be transferred to an “undisclosed” location.

Mr. X. has not seen or spoke with his children since the date of Sat. Mar.

Their status and well being are communicated through the assigned BIA whose communication with the children as per her initial tenure was to ext them while they were at school to make sure that they cooperated with evaluator #2, or else they would be removed from their father’s custody.

The children did cooperate with evaluator #2, though their animus to him was made clear.

Conclusion

The final cost of litigation was $533,000.  The Protective Parent who was an objectively excellent parent, emotionally healthy, competent and well functioning human being lost custody of the children to an alcoholic parent who the court designated as disabled and in need of in need of full-time Nanny assistance.  The cost of the Nanny assistance was to be paid for by the children’s father who was excluded from their lives as per the direction of the coercive therapies which were ordered by the “therapists.”  The “therapists” functioned as nothing more than a factotum of a racketeering ring that operated extensively under the protection of the Howard County Court system.

For more information on this matter, feel free to contact the FCVFC at 866-553-6931.