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The Kafkaesque Family Court, Part 2

by Dr. Bandy X Lee
originally published on Medium, republished by permission

Continued from Part 1 of ‘The Kafkaesque Family Court’

3. Seal the Case, Break All the Rules, and Intimidate the Lawyers

Sealing the case is the third step in the Family Court formula for stealing children. American courts are open to the public for a reason: the nation’s founders believed that the right to a public trial is fundamental to ensuring transparency, fairness, and justice and for holding state actors accountable in cases of abuse of authority. Family Courts are exceptional in that they are allowed to blanket-seal their procedures, on their say-so alone, “for the protection of children.” Family Courts are also exceptional in that they are granted wide discretion with the law, supposedly to meet the unique and individual nature of “each family’s needs.” Above all, Family Courts are exceptionally given the authority to remove children from parents, for society acknowledges that this is sometimes necessary for children’s safety. However, the largely unknown reality is that these three conditions combined — total authority, no accountability, and no transparency — has resulted in Family Courts’ regular removal of children from fit parents, to transfer them deliberately to their predators, committing unspeakable human rights violations and allowing criminality and violence to flourish with impunity, away from all scrutiny of civilized society.

In my sister’s case, the Family Court created a “sealing order” to muzzle her from mentioning anything to anyone about her children. This is ironic, since the Court on the one hand insisted that there was no abuse, and on the other invoked the tightest “seal” reserved perhaps for the most heinous acts of sexual abuse. Most people did not believe me when I stated that the court “sealed” the records from the mother herself, preventing her from accessing transcripts, orders, and motions against her in her own case — so that she could not file any cross-motions or appeal any decisions — but the actual situation went further. The court prohibited her from talking to anyone about what is happening to her, even in private — and certain aspects about her case even with her lawyer! After she fired her lawyer and decided to represent herself, the lawyer could not — and eventually did not — give her her own file. More suspiciously, this so-called “seal” seemed only to apply to the mother, since the father had access to all sorts of records she had not seen, and was allowed to use the court proceedings to slander the mother and even to fabricate court orders to threaten others. This fits a pattern whose purpose is to side with one litigant to isolate the other, not that of protecting the privacy of vulnerable minors.

The Family Court constantly threatened the mother with incarceration with respect to the “seal”. She had to stop posting anything about her children on social media, for an innocuous comment such as, “Today is my child’s birthday,” could count as a breach of the “seal” and land her in jail — without any standards or limits, everything in this manner was based on whim. The “seal” also covered anything that anyone else might say about her situation — for which the Family Court blamed her alone. For example, if I wrote about my own personal eyewitness accounts of her children being abused, in ways are not only protected under the First Amendment but legally-mandated for a medical professional like myself, the Family Court judge could punish the mother based on her far-reaching, all-encompassing interpretation of the “court seal” — even though my articles did not contain a single piece of information I obtained from the mother (but some of it, incidentally, from the father’s lawyer!). When a third-party critic of Family Courts, unknown to both myself and the mother and without informing us, wrote an article about her case based on a lawsuit she filed against the children’s guardian ad litem — and wrote with more details than anything we knew — the guardian ad litem charged the mother almost 27,000 dollars!

The mother never received a copy of the “sealing order.” This was illogical, since a sealing order would only apply to orders subsequent to its issuance, and thus she demanded a copy of it. The Family Court, which had constantly been chastising her for breaching the “seal”, suddenly had trouble giving her any information about the original order. “It was a long time ago!” “Why don’t you have a copy?” “It’s in every file!” Only weeks later, the guardian ad litem enunciated a date: “I have in my billing records that I spoke to [the mother] on October 15, 2021, and she should know that that was when I told her about the Court’s sealing order.” Then, all of a sudden, the Family Court judge, the father’s attorney, and the guardian ad litem all repeated the same date, as if repetition created reality. But the mother knew this was a lie: the date happened to fall between two other court orders, one from two days earlier and another from three days later, which were almost identical to each other, with neither mentioning a “sealing order” happening in between. Further, the mother resided in a state of one-party consent laws for recording conversations, and she had recorded the entire ninety-minute conversation with the guardian ad litem. On no occasion did the mendacious the guardian ad litem mention anything about a “sealing order” — she had again lied, much like her more than 187 lies to the Court and counting, which were being documented with the local police.

Now that the mother had a date, October 15, 2021, she returned to the clerk of court, who confirmed that there was no order in her records for that date. She called several times and had me call as well; the clerk of court and her assistants all agreed that there was no such order and there could not be one if not in their system. The mother returned to the Family Court and demanded a copy: the original order should have a statement of reason for the “seal” if it is legitimate, and that the Court did not notify her, so that she could not appeal it in time, mirrored the father’s manner of filing for divorce but deliberately withholding notification to her for months, so as to compromise her defense through deceptive means. A month since her initial request, all of a sudden, everyone connected to the Family Court simultaneously produced a copy of the “sealing order” — including the lawyer she fired a month earlier for not returning any messages or calls!

A note needs to be made about this lawyer: like every other Family Court lawyer the mother had — and she had to go through several — this lawyer changed her demeanor 180 degrees upon entering the case. Far from defending her, the lawyer refused to file any motions and simply sat through all the critical deadlines — as seemed to be her unspoken role for the Family Court. Firing this lawyer did not improve the mother’s case. Other lawyers who showed an effort to mount a defense were just as immediately shouted down: “I almost had a heart attack!” exclaimed one, who entered the case fervently but fell silent after the first session. We would indeed come to hear about lawyers who lost their licenses for trying to defend their client in Family Court; Family Court judges are said to have total control over their autocratic fiefdoms called “courts”, and lawyers must comply, regardless of who hired them. Therefore, when the lawyer the mother fired for never responding to her immediately sent in a copy of the “sealing order,” unsolicited, via FedEx, a month after her firing, this was all but confirmation to the mother that some kind of collusion was happening behind the scenes. Indeed, when the mother tried to seize the opportunity to try to get her file from her previous lawyer, the intractable unresponsiveness resumed.

Having received a copy from three different sources, all within a day or two of one another, the mother returned to the clerk of court, who told her that the October 15, 2021, order was just recently “manually entered” — four months after the supposed “issuance” date! Having been a respected government official before becoming a mother, in charge of the entire Ground Zero coordination after the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City, the mother was never one to overreact or to be groundlessly paranoid. Yet, even she could not help but see that there was something undeniably suspicious. Indeed, two years of research has led me to the theory that these illegitimate gag orders and all-encompassing “court seals” are the reason why this travesty of justice in the Family Courts is not more widely known, and why victimized parents cannot defend their own cases, let alone mobilize. Indeed, I believe that there is nothing more threatening to Family Courts than sunlight, and there is nothing more terrifying to their protected litigants than accountability. Whereas those entrapped in the system are many — child abuse, domestic violence, and divorce are very common across all fifty U.S. states — they are isolated from one another and threatened with gag orders, “court seals,” incarceration, and hospitalization, as Family Courts abuse the full “discretion” available to them without oversight to strip litigants of their legal rights, their children, their health, and their belongings, and to use the very systems in place to protect victims of violence against those very victims.

4. Order a Psychiatric Evaluation

Now that “parental alienation” has been alleged, the children taken, and the court records “sealed”, ordering a psychiatric evaluation is the fourth step in the Family Court formula for a total custody switch. Everywhere women say that they accepted the requirement of a psychiatric evaluation, “because it was supposed to be just a formality”; “because I knew I never had any problems”; and “because they insisted on it so much, I thought I would get it over with.” Yet, the “psychiatric evaluation” — seldom performed by a psychiatrist — would almost universally seal their fate of permanent separation from their children. Since they were often the children’s primary caregiver, this separation would be the equivalent of a “life sentence” for the children (since the trauma they suffer translates into a lifetime of inner torture) and a “death sentence” for the mothers, occasionally fathers (their children being lost to them, as if they were dead, is a fate worse than death for a loving parent — and a shocking number actually die). I realized that there was a reason I never had a Family Court case in my twenty-five years of working as an expert witness for the courts; Family Courts do not use the same experts as the other courts but have their own “pool” they like to draw from. This “pool” consists of some of the most poorly-trained, unqualified, and unscrupulous “professionals” I have encountered in my career, charging five to twenty times my fees, while sometimes holding only a master’s degree in an unrelated field, and producing the kind of reports I could never have imagined…. Yet I, who have received only deference in all other courts for having the highest-level training from the best institutions in the country, Family Courts look for every excuse to “disqualify” — if they even allow me to get to the point of being vetted (which they try to prevent at all cost).

This is how it unfolded for this case: more than two years passed since the mother had seen or heard from her children, since their being abruptly taken by force, never to return to the mother who raised them all their lives or the only nurturing home they had known. They so far passed three Holiday Seasons, two birthdays each, and one graduation without their beloved mother or any of their relatives and former babysitters on the mother’s side — essentially all their former caregivers. The mother was anxious for an evidentiary hearing and repeatedly submitted evidence, but nothing resembling due process occurred; nothing approaching any purposeful activity occurred through repeated court meetings, either. All that the Family Court seemed interested in was stalling time — and for children aged seven and nine, this was an extraordinary stalling of time.

The last time the mother had access to her children’s school and pediatric records, which was a year and a half ago, her daughter had gone from perfect attendance to missing almost one-half of days of school since the abduction. She had also suffered a shoulder injury that an orthopedist noted was neglected for months; tests were ordered, but no follow-up occurred. Both children were average height and weight before the abduction, but now they were the smallest in their classes. Photographs that other parents smuggled to the mother showed her daughter prematurely wearing eyeglasses and with facial deformities characteristic of high stress hormone release. Her son lost so much weight, people said he looked like a “cancer patient,” and his inappropriate, ill-fitting clothes (as they outgrew their unworn, plush and abundant clothing waiting for them at home) made him an obvious target for bullying. An occasional insurance bill that arrived revealed frequent emergency room visits, botched Strep throat therapy, premature dental surgery, untreated severe seasonal allergies, and improperly handled Covid exposure. These prodigy children, who read 400-page novels by age five, memorized encyclopedias by age six, and conducted science experiments by age seven, previously of perfect emotional and physical health, were deteriorating by every objective measure — and this was despite the father and the children’s guardian ad litem doing everything they could to conceal everything.

The guardian ad litem initially stated that the mother needed to write a message to the children in order to see them again — but then ignored her numerous emails and rejected 100 percent of messages the mother proposed. In the interim, the guardian ad litem sent her own messages to the children, stating that their mother wants nothing to do with them; that their mother has abandoned them; that they will not see their mother for a long time; and that their mother no longer loves them. It was apparent from her lies that this guardian ad litem had no intention of allowing the children to see their mother (her consistent pattern also became clear from a half-dozen other litigants who similarly suffered under her and reached out to me, based on my articles). Soon, in accordance with the Family Court “playbook”, the requirement ratcheted up to a “psychiatric evaluation.” Even though an evaluation was never a requirement for the mother to see the children she successfully raised all their lives, much like the “sealing order,” this was supposedly determined “long ago,” in a “court order” she has not seen but which was supposedly dated several months back from when she first heard that it was a requirement.

The guardian ad litem was charged with finding a psychiatrist, but the first psychiatrist she chose — who is accused of charging exorbitantly for questionable evaluations — recused himself, no doubt in fear of my easily finding him out, being in the same field as he. Then, for the next nineteen months the guardian ad litem could not find a single “qualified” psychiatrist….

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