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Holding Judges Accountable

From the desk of Jill Jones Soderman 

The formation and founding of the Foundation for Child Victims of the Family Courts was directly precipitated by the suicide death of a 12-year-old child whose life course towards suicide was set for him early on by the coordinated unrelenting actions of the Patterson, New Jersey, court system. This was not simply a tragic suicide but a murder that could have easily been avoided at any step of the process even up to the moment that this child made this final ultimate decision to take his own life.

I can make these definitive statements because of my very long and intimate association with the beginning of the end of his life and the final acts and moments of his life of which I was a spectator and interloper, engaged in the battle for his life. Ultimately, in my own way, I was a victim and survivor of this course of history that continues to unfold.

The Beginning

In 1999 I was continuing in my own grief recovery from the sudden and unexpected death of my young husband as a result of pancreatic crisis. My life was split between my NY psychoanalytic and psychotherapy practice which involved individual, family and group psychotherapy and psychoanalysis and my life in NJ which involved clinical practice as well as a major investment in working with a local domestic violence shelter in my city – Strengthen Our Sisters.

The domestic violence shelter was a chaotic environment where I worked with women who were survivors of terrible domestic violence. I also worked with their children. When I had been working there for some considerable period of time, I had the honor of being asked by a then staff member to see her children. What I initially presumed to be a routine process of engagement for assessment, support and ongoing treatment evolved into a life altering mission that was inescapable and led to great insight into a world I didn’t yet know existed.

The children consisted of three young, extremely hyperactive, intelligent and loquacious bonded little brothers ages ranging approximately from 3 to 6. The immediate chemistry with the family was inescapable.

Their blonde, blue eyed mother was a former resident of Kansas. She created an exotic picture with three bouncy boys with gleaming black eyes, straight black hair and suntanned skin. The boys were incredibly close, protective of each other and articulate.

I came to understand very quickly that they had tremendous enthusiasm for the extremely cramped and humble circumstances of the clapboard house residence that they lived in at the shelter. This was a place where they felt incredibly free, relieved and safe from a parent who I came to deeply know as a brutal, cruel, sadistic and controlling psychopathic abuser.

My journey with the family that began in 1999 in the Strengthen Our Sisters domestic violence shelter residence and in my own home that was not far from the residence began in an extremely positive and constructive manner. I was able to assist the family rapidly with securing a protective order for the children and the mother as well as reestablishing the mother’s primary familial relationship in Kansas with her mother and father, the grandparents, who had never seen the children. They agreed to open their arms to the family in crisis.

My initial dealing with the Patterson Family Court involved accompanying the mother and children to the courthouse to seek a protective order. I was able to secure the services of a court advocate who was a truly wonderful person, adept at negotiating the court processes. She assisted the mother and children in a manner that they had never been helped before, having very little expertise in dealing with court matters.

I had never engaged in this type of assistance before. I thanked the advocate for her services and her kindness to the family, but I also wrote a thank you letter to her with a copy to the court. I sent a copy to my client and asked for her approval before I sent it. I was rewarded with a vicious phone call from someone at the court and a mass of questions. The person who called wanted information such as whether I had known this person before, had any prior dealings with her, and whether there were any financial exchanges between us.

The letter thanking the advocate for her service to me as private citizen volunteer was maybe four or five sentences long and just meant to bring attention to the kindness and effectiveness of this person in facilitating the navigation of court processes as there was essentially no one else to ask for help. I simply stated she was helpful. The amount of scrutiny I encountered at that time should have aroused suspicion about what was to come.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think anything further of it. The children were ecstatic at the prospect of meeting grandparents and leaving New Jersey. There was closeness between the boys. They had general positivity about the situation despite some anxiety. That sense of wellbeing was short lived.

The Court Process

The next steps had to do with notifying all parties to gain agreement to the children’s trip with the ultimate goal of the court’s approval for them to remain in Kansas.

The initial judge had approved the transfer then somehow withdrew from the case. He was replaced by Judge Margarate Mary McVeigh. The steps that followed involved a proposed appearance in court.

It was my understanding that the client was a pro se litigant and it was our job to put together a witness list that supported the evidence for the protective order and ability to leave the state of New Jersey. The client did not retain an attorney for the court appearance. Not knowing better, I assumed it would be a simple and direct process.

Multiple witnesses were willing to come forward. They wrote and signed affidavits of exactly what they knew and had seen and heard. There were approximately five very simple direct eye-witness statements that were part of an elaborate school record that documented abuse and trauma in the children by well respected experts and advocates. All were willing to be present by video hearing or any other method of appearance that was required of them.

The school was small enough that the staff and the teachers were familiar with the children and the mother and their circumstances. They were very cooperative. The statements from the school seemed like very straightforward non acrimonious statements.

I met the children and mother at the courthouse in Patterson. They were enthusiastic about the prospect of going to court, only slightly anxious. The children were energetic but well behaved. They were excited to have teacher witnesses present. They were happy to feel that they were going to be heard and protected. We had no reason to believe otherwise.

We thought we had a solid case prepared. However, each of the five days that we presented ourselves in court from 8:30 AM till 4:30 PM Monday through Friday ended in not being heard or spoken to.

We never did enter the courtroom. We never appeared before the judge of record Margaret Mary McVeigh.

When I joined the family in the courtroom lobby that first day, I was accosted by what I came to understand as three family court attorneys, all extremely polished. I was told that if my presence in court was known and I thought to testify in any way that I would never work in my field again.

My response was to immediately contact by cell phone the state attorney’s office. I filed a complaint with the state inspector both by phone and then in writing within 24 hours, explaining my circumstances. I was advised by the family court administrator to report the events that occurred.

I immediately forwarded a letter to Judge McVeigh’s court clerk.

The week of sitting in the pews of the court lobby ended and the witnesses that I had gathered scattered, never to be seen again, though I had extensive volumes of statements and documents.

At some point after that presence in the vestibule outside of the court rooms of the Patterson Family Court, I received a letter from the director of the licensing board of the state of NJ stating that Judge McVeigh had filed a complaint against me. A custody evaluator by the name of Paul Dasher had filed a complaint with my licensing board stating that I had appeared at a court hearing, written a report, failed to provide both sides of the court proceeding with a copy of my report, and that the parental alienation custody evaluator was outraged by my behavior.

No court appearance was in fact ever scheduled nor took place in the week of attempting to bring protective action for this mother and children in the court of Judge McVeigh. No report was ever written by me or presented to anyone. I briefly met Paul Dasher about whom I later was to become more informed than I would ever wish to be.

I did not see or have any arranged court appearances before Judge McVeigh

The Outcome

Two days before the children were to leave for Kansas the court notified the mother that they were to report to evaluator Paul Dasher, PhD, and that he would be making any and all decisions with regard to anyone involved with or engaged in their case and custody evaluation.

Subsequently, Paul Dasher presented a report to the court assessing the children’s mother as being a parental alienator. He deemed the numerous very serious accusations and documentation of not only brutal domestic violence but also child physical and emotional abuse as false allegations. The Dasher report outlined a confidential diagnosis of parental alienation and found the mother in contempt of court.

Within short order the Department of Children and Families was ordered to take custody of the children who were then to be placed in foster homes and/or to be delivered to the care of their father. The children were to only have supervised visitation with their mother.

The subsequent tragic downward spiral of deterioration of the physical and emotional health of the children and their functioning was accompanied by a termination of engagement of the court’s even minimal acknowledgement of my presence in the case.

My ability to have any meaningful engagement in the work of the case was severely curtailed. The only help I could offer was to continue writing complaints concerning the bad actors in the case.

As the case unfolded and I was informed of actions that were detrimental to the children, my written complaints against the Patterson, NJ courts continued, which was extremely controversial as it involved publishing further documentation and advocacy for the children in terms of seeking proper medical and psychiatric help through St. Claire’s hospital – a positive and powerful force in the community.

In retaliation, complaints from the NJ courts continued against me, as did the false defamatory statements dealing with my portions of engagement with the mother and children.

Critical Backstory

Prior to being removed from involvement with the mother and children, I met with the father in my office in New Jersey for more than five hours. I met with him individually, I met with him with his wife, I met with him with his children, and altogether as a family.

Over the period of five hours, the family was provided dinner and were in session that lasted from 8:00 PM until 1:00 in the morning. Much of that time the father sat in an armchair with a copy of the Quran open in his lap, reading from it in Arabic, interpreted intermittently by his wife.

The mother of the boys arrived dressed in a burka, a cage from top to bottom, completely covered. Over the evening, off came the hajib and other pieces of the burka to reveal a blonde woman with a red cotton turtleneck t-shirt and sneakers. As the family prepared to leave, the hijab and burka went back on and the exhausted mother and children went out the door.

The meeting remained confidential as per agreement with the family. It was never the subject of exposure in terms of the court. There was, however, a period where both legal and forensic referrals were provided to the court, though they were ignored.

It was not long after that confidential meeting that the children were fully removed from all contact with their mother and completely isolated in the custody of their father.

The oldest child, my explicit patient, underwent many psychiatric hospitalizations and was treated psychiatrically and psychopharmacological treatments of antidepressants.

It came to be my understanding based on the medical records and the consultations I was later privy that the child was subject to psychiatric malpractice by having ever greater amounts of antidepressants foisted upon him even though there are black box warnings of the adverse reactions of treatment of children with psychiatric medications for depression. The direction for dosing is to lower amounts, not to raise the amounts, and not to add additional polypharmacy.

That was not the course of treatment followed by the medical team that I had access to after the child’s suicide death.

My intensive work with the child ended when DCF took full custody of the case and I was discharged, though I continued to be a point of contact for treating authorities.

Paul Dasher continued to be the prime authority with the family court. Judge McVeigh was removed from adjudicating the case after it was demonstrated that her written complaint against my license was a fraud. She was removed from the case and from family court but was actually promoted to the richer killing fields of probate court in which our paths continued to meet as elderly wealthy clients whose estates she gutted and lives she destroyed sought me out as a consultant on their cases and advocate for their causes.

The father of the 12-year-old who gained control of the case continued to work with Paul Dasher. He sued his lead attorney in the custody case for business fraud and had his license removed.

My home in New Jersey was the subject of an arson attack which burned my home to the ground, destroying not only massive amounts of personal property and my education records but also resulted in the death of two family pets – a puppy and a kitten.

The father’s attempted pursuit to destroy my life and my career did not stop there as he was known to me as a driving force behind seeking the pursuit of the removal of my New Jersey social work license. However, because my extensive academic training extended to both forensic and mediation and arbitration services, my professional life and my extensive licensing continued. My professional career spirited me towards additional training in understanding institutional administration and criminal forensic areas of expertise. I excelled as a cum laude graduate of advanced degrees in criminal forensics and human sexuality expert.

The elements that involve truth that militated against outside forces being able to impact the course of history involved first and foremost the child’s mother’s agreement to cooperate with DCF and the court and to disavow any further adversarial engagement against the court despite the fact that the very clear medical and psychiatric directives from St. Claire’s hospital stated that the child should never have any engagement with the father as long as he lives, that the level of trauma and abuse could never be mended and no attempt in that direction should ever have been considered.

The mother felt that she had no choice but to work with the court because the alignment of the court and DCP against me gave her no option.

The position of Strengthen Our Sisters, St Claire’s Hospital, and me were medically and scientifically very clear.

Judge McVeigh was ultimately removed from the family court judicial engagement prior to the final term of her full appointment. My complaints continued against Judge Margaret Mary McVeigh because of her unimaginably cruel pursuit at obdurately insisting upon destroying the lives of court litigants who resisted her willful instant control.

Her obsessive pursuit of destroying the lives of all elderly court litigants who had the misfortune of experiencing family conflicts that caused them to fall prey to the malevolent jurisdiction of a judge whose sadistic pursuit of power and driving her victims into complete and total financial vanquishment was the subject of many published articles.

I was witness to the work of Paul Dasher and his despicable unconscionable merciless destruction of the one family with whom I had a front row seat to his complicity with their dissolution and destruction. There was nothing that I could do to intervene in order to have any impact as I had no family authority to support me in combatting his malicious presence.

Over the years from 1999 to the present I have been aware from a distance of the cruel and malicious acts of destruction engaged in by Paul Dasher, destroying the lives of many children and all who love them, but I have never had an opportunity to work with a family who was emotionally or financially in a position to tackle the challenges associated with properly prosecuting and eliminating the dangerous presence of Paul Dasher.

There have been cases and situations in which I in my various areas of expertise with regard to psychiatric diagnosis assessment, forensic litigation assessment, evidence preparation, and discovery management have been successful in terms of litigating and prosecuting malevolent professionals whose careers have been involved with destroying innocent children and protective parents.

A case in point

There are many cases in point and many bad actors with whom I have quietly and anonymously worked behind the scenes as a paid consultant to attorneys and in death review. I have had the satisfaction and skill development to pursue the litigation and prosecution of all levels of professionals who have, in their professional capacity, wielded power and authority to deeply harm children and protective parents.

A case in point involves the litigation and ultimate prosecution of Judge Michael Maggio from Faulkner County, Arkansas.

Federal Judge Michael Maggio was a cog in the wheel of a young woman client of the Foundation very early in the Foundation’s development. She was an incest survivor. She married the sexual abuser who took advantage of her as a very young teenager. They had two children together, whom he went on to sexually abuse and briefly gained custody of.

She was married at 16 and had two children by the time she was 18. Her husband was a prominent member of the community because his family owned the local gun and grocery store.

Our client was an exceptionally beautiful and brilliant young woman, the third of fourteen children, all incest subjects of their violent cruel sadistic father but also incest subjects of sisters and brothers who engaged in sexual activity with each other. It was part of the living hell of thirteen people living in a large cabin in an impoverished, ignorant and violent family community in which family pets were randomly shot and children were dragged to bedrooms at will. The tales of violence, abuse and savagery were graphic and horrendous, documented in thousands of pages of both legal documents and personal diaries.

Judge Maggio became involved at the point that our client was seeking to protect her young children. Her daughter was six and hospitalized when she attempted to run into traffic to be run over so that she would not have to be returned to her father. She was hospitalized for approximately 6 months, thrived there, and hoped to never be returned to her father.

DCF did in fact return her and her sibling to the father where they were brutally abused.

The father was also responsible for the sexual abuse of a young teenager who himself was response for the abuse of a young teenager who then killed himself. The young man who our client’s husband assaulted was sent to jail for life before he was 21 years old because of the suicide death of the child.

Judge Maggio was one of the many judges in the path of this young woman’s drive to protect herself and her children.

Before we were engaged in the case, Judge Maggio stated in his transcripts on the case that because the mother was herself an incest victim, he assumed that the mother was projecting onto the children her own experience and that therefore she was not a credible witness to their abuse.

The clearly documented history articulated by the children (four and six years old at the time) was initially not enough to secure the return of custody to the mother. The court of Judge Maggio released the children to the abuser father when the 6-year-old would have preferred to kill herself by running in front of a car as opposed to returning to him.

At that moment in time, the only immediate recourse that we had was to disseminate the information of blatant tawdry inhumanity and indecency of this self-satisfied prig and his unconscionable decisions about these children. We sought exposure of the many bad acts of not only Judge Maggio but his associates as well. Contact with Log Cabin Republican in depth criminal investigations resulted in the ten year jail sentence of the judge, the removal of his law license and his position as a judge.

It muted him as a danger to the community and society at large.

The goal of the Foundation for Child Victims of the Family Courts is to assess the criminality, the venality and the psychiatric disorders that comprise a danger to the public at large and to children especially.

It is our goal to seek damages and litigation against each of these people so that the public may finally benefit and recoup some degree of satisfaction and comfort against the transgressions they have experienced.

This series on holding judges accountable will be continued. This current article will be included in the book Family Court Corruption Two: Holding Judges Accountable.

The Greek philosopher Socrates held deep religious conviction. He was regarded with suspicion and dislike, but he believed in the argument of writing and spent much of his life involved in dialogue and debate. This is an homage to Socrates who spoke the truth and died in honor of preserving the truth.

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