May 10, 2011 Rep. Jeffrey Oligny appeared on behalf of Dr. David D. Vandenberg with a grievance against a Superior Court justice allowing a guardian ad litem to move the court, failing to provide due process or findings of harm, and other complaints…
From the decisions coming out of the Courthouse and from the Judges and Marital Masters to Arnold’s decision to ban….. across the board, all recording devices in Keene’s Court buildings, against the laws of open access to government, having the intended and chilling effect of creating a wall of secrecy and unaccountability within the Courthouses, violating the Constitution, the Rights of those appearing before him and his other officials within his courts, as well as the rights of those who can not or choose not to be in his Courtrooms but wish to know how the courts and the other court officers are performing and want to keep an eye on what the Judges are doing as the NH Laws and Constitution affords is the right of the people, there is questions of this judges ability to properly conduct himself in the Courtroom and there are questions about his ability to properly oversee other court business to the detriment of the people.
Intending to hide the Judges and their sins behind closed doors will not make those sins go away but instead will help strengthen the commitment and resolve of those who are fighting to change the inequities this system has brought upon the people and innocent children it continues to try to destroy.
The following Petition is one of but many already presented to the NH Redress Committee. One example of the controversy surrounding the NH Judiciary and the People they are entrusted to serve in a fair, equitable and lawful manner.
Ed Kelly asks, where does this end? It ends when the courts and the courts officers make fair and impartial rulings based on the laws and the constitution and not based how much money can be made by those involved with the courts. It ends when stories like the following story no longer exist.
NH: Legislature Holds Impeachment Proceedings for Master in Family Court
May 27th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The following was contributed by Fathers and Families Reader, David D. Vandenberg.
Anyone who has been forced to deal with the Alice-in-Wonderland procedures of family courts knows that one enters a totally different world than what we expect American jurisprudence is to be. One federal appellate judge, after reviewing a case in New Hampshire family court stated, “This must be what courts in Bolivia do.”
But it appears that at least one group, the New Hampshire General Court, or legislature, is taking real steps to end the abuse of families in family court. They are impeaching judges and marital masters, who have failed to comply with state and federal statutes and ignored constitutional protections.
Article 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution provides for the Accountability of Magistrates and Officers. To that end, the legislature, instituted a procedure for the Redress of Grievances. About 150 years ago, this committee was retired, until now.
In November 2010, a supermajority of constitutional Republicans was swept into office by popular discontent with the lawlessness and arrogance of state officers violating the rights of citizens. And where better to begin, but in a venue in which certain rights were summarily suspended decades ago: family court?
However, even before hearings of the Committee for Redress of Grievances began, opponents came forward with calls to disband the committee, claiming that the family courts were just fine. The Manchester Union-Leader, the Concord Monitor, and the Nashua Telegraph published editorials to disband the committee.
Still, supporters of the committee point out that the Judicial Branch has no independent oversight provision by the people and few complaints to the Judicial Conduct Committee have ever been successful. As one legislator put it, the General Court has a responsibility to ensure proper procedures are in place in the form of laws and that state magistrates and officers comply with law. If the magistrates fail to follow the law, then the will of the people, as expressed through the legislature, will be corrupted, as is now the case in New Hampshire family court.
David Johnson says his daughter was removed from him almost completely–he can see her in supervised visits only–contrary to independent assessments of the mother’s abuse. Mr. Johnson provides the following narrative of his last ten years in family court:
The child’s primary care physician testified twice about the mother’s abuses and neglect. In addition, the child’s psychologist testified that the father should be the primary custodial parent, because of mental cruelty endured by the child, being coached by the mother to make false statements about the father. The child’s physician also testified on behalf of the father. The mother told the court she left the child and her young cousin in a vehicle with the keys in the ignition with a loaded revolver in the unlocked console.
Parenting time was divided fifty/fifty, the father voluntarily paid for private school and after-school care, and supported the mother after the separation, including all the expenses of the home, yet he was ordered to pay so much spousal and child support that he could no longer afford his own home for himself and his daughter.
Within 24 hours of the father’s motion for primary parenting authority, the mother counterclaimed alleging the father’s sexual abuse of the daughter. Twenty-four hours after that the mother made the same false allegations to the police and was ignored. At the next hearing, the physician and psychologist testified a third time and reported still more abuses by the mother. The court ordered primary parenting responsibility for the father, yet ordered him to pay child support, contrary to federal law.
The court appointed a new marital master, Phillip Cross, who is now the subject of impeachment. Mr. Cross started to incrementally take parenting time away from the father, violating his right to due process each time in preliminary hearings.
At the final evidentiary hearing, the father still retained primary parenting authority, yet was unlawfully ordered to increase his child support requirement. Medical authority was granted to the mother, even though she had refused to provide prescribed medication. Mr. Cross refused reports from the child protection agency and human services with additional abuses of the mother.
Mr. Cross held a criminal contempt hearing against the father, hearings for which a marital master has no authority and in which the father was denied a criminal defense. Mr. Cross later termed the hearing a civil contempt hearing. Yet the father had primary custody of the daughter, not the mother. The father was convicted and jailed for nearly ten weeks, resulting in the loss of his second home, most of the father’s and daughter’s personal belongings, and the transfer of the daughter to the abusive mother.
New Hampshire family courts are filled with such cases, which the judiciary has misruled on. The New Hampshire newspapers have come out specifically against hearings in this case, after these facts were made public. Marital Master Cross may provide testimony about this matter, or the judiciary may send counsel to the supreme court to represent Mr. Cross. Who arrives for testimony remains to be seen.
The chair of the committee, Paul Ingbretson, is Mr. Johnson’s representative and neighbor and apparently drove Mr. Johnson, who became homeless, to visit his daughter. Critics cite the driving of David Johnson, paying for lunch, and sitting with the father and daughter as indicative of Mr. Ingbretson’s loss of objectivity, requiring the entire committee to be shut down. Speaker of the House, William O’Brien, and other attorneys have reviewed the matter and determined no conflict of interest exists. Still, Mr. Ingbretson has recused himself from this one case. Yet, the calls for disbanding are still coming.
More cases are in the pipeline and will be reviewed by the committee. While newspaper editors have come out against these hearings, the people of New Hampshire, through their legislators, expressed their serious concern about the inexplicable and lawless behavior of many judges and marital masters.
These hearings will go forward and cases like David Johnson’s and others will be given a public airing, so that the people will know just exactly what kind of judiciary they have, whether it’s up to the standards we expect in the US, or whether it is more like what one expects in a Bolivian court of law.
And from the opposition, Judge Edwin Kelly and his commentary follow. Mr. Kelly, a court officer who wants to continue with business as usual and continue keeping the public in the dark by disbanding the NH Redress of Grievance Committee, an illogical argument for NO OVERSIGHT in the Judiciary.
With all due respect, this wouldn’t be an issue if the facts weren’t true that time and again, it’s the Courts that have crossed the line. There needs to be accountability and transparency within our legal system. At this time that does not exist. There is a documentable, repeated history of bias and disregard coming from the NH Courts.
It’s not until 2/3’s through Mr. Kelly’s commentary that he finally acknowledges that he is one of the Judges against whom the Petition was filed.
A vested interest in the outcome? Would that cloud his judgment and cause a reaction to the Redress Committee that is less than impartial, such that it should be disbanded as he writes in his commentary?
A reason to undermine the process of the people? Make the illogical argument that there is recourse for bad decisions in the appellate system? For instance, a trip to Supreme Court that is out of the reach for far too many, due to the sheer cost it takes to pay an attorney to get you there? It’s not a valid argument for desiring closed courts with no oversight.
Mr. Kelly would like all to believe this illogical argument is sufficient enough oversight of a corrupt judicial system. Mr. Kelly would like all to believe that the wolfs watching the sheep, do so with the sheep’s best interest at heart.
Instead, Kelly's argument points precisely to the need of the Redress of Grievance Committee and points precisely to why the people are demanding the courts to get it's act together, make it's decisions right the first time or be subjected to scrutiny and oversight if they are not capable of handling the power that has been entrusted to them.
I pose these questions to Mr. Kelly……If the system is as fair and impartial as you purport, why would you or any of the courts officers be so opposed to the idea of transparency?
Why would you assert that somehow the parties have to accept the final judgment of the courts, when clearly you acknowledge that there is an appeals process that some never get to? An appeals process that could right wrongs for those forced to walk away due to a lack of money for lawyers.
The appeals process is available only to those that can afford it. Lacking the expertise to go Pro Se affords no viable option to those without it.
Mr. Kelly why would you so arrogantly suggest that those affected by bad decisions should just accept them and walk away?
Why would you so arrogantly suggest that accepting a wrong is right?
And is it a mockery of the system to question those in authority who have a motive and wish to hinder transparency and oversight?
Or is the mockery made by those that hinder transparency and oversight because they believe they are better than the rest of us?
And will the Judges and Marital Masters that go before the committee require that rules of evidence and the laws be applied in their defense of allegations made against them, which is a right not afforded to all who go before them?
Or is that the double standard?
Or will the ultimate decisions on whether to impeach or not be based on who tells the best story? The most convincing story, has the most witnesses, as is in the same tone they use in their own courts when making their decisions.
Are the scales going to be balanced? Or will they require the panel take seriously their evidence, likely to be in the form of documents, testimony and other evidence as they present it, so that fair and impartial decisions will be made?
Kelly fought hard and testified before the NH Senate in his efforts to squash HB259, a bill eventually killed by the Senate.
HB259 was a bill that would have made it a law in NH Family Courts to include that Rules of Evidence be followed uniformly by the judicial branch family division based on the New Hampshire rules of evidence for other courts in the state.
At this time NO Rules of Evidence apply in Family Courts.
Can Mr. Kelly be considered impartial in this discussion? Or is he trying hard to keep from the public what really goes on in his courts and what only those that have seen it first hand know of?
In answer to Mr. Kelly’s question “When does this stop?” It stops when the courts act in a fair and impartial manner to all who go before it and not until then.
In conclusion, if you have been wronged by ANY of the NH Courts Report It and Petition the House Redress Committee.
Judge Edwin W. Kelly his commentary and his argument and motivation to keep in check, the Status Quo:
Sunday, June 5, 2011 – Nashua Telegraph
See link for article:
Sunday, June 5, 2011 – Nashua Telegraph
See link for article:
Redress panel threatens autonomy of three branches
By EDWIN W. KELLYGuest Commentary
Our constitution requires that judges be "as impartial as the lot of humanity will admit." It also provides for three separate branches of government that are as independent of each other "as is consistent with the chain of connection that binds the whole fabric of the constitution in one indissoluble bond of union and amity."
Curious 18th-century phrases? Or pithy prescriptions for a healthy democracy?
I choose to believe the latter.
The founders called for neither a system of justice where judges were expected to be above the people or perfect in their decisions. Rather, they called for judges who reflected the people, judges as impartial as the lot of humanity will admit.
And recognizing that judges will err, our founders also established the mechanics of judicial review or, in modern parlance, an appellate system.
As for the relationship between and among the branches of government, our state constitution clearly stated that the executive, legislative and judicial branches function as a single unit, but retain strict independence from one another in those areas of government given exclusively to each.
From time to time, the natural tension among the branches, (also anticipated by our founders) can increase to the point where it threatens the delicate balance so necessary to our democratic form of government.
In my opinion, the newly created House Committee on Redress of Grievances has begun to move dangerously close to that imbalance. The committee has the exclusive authority to determine if any petition brought by a member of the House of Representatives will receive a public hearing.
Petition 5 seeks, on behalf of a litigant in a long-standing divorce matter, to override a court parenting order and return custody of the litigant's child to the petitioner through legislation; legislatively remove the court-appointed guardian; remove from office three sitting judges and two marital masters who had some involvement in the case, and order those judges to pay triple damages to the litigant for his losses, including child support arrearages and attorney's fees.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the judicial officers against whom this petition is filed.
After approving the petition for a public hearing and chairing the first day of hearing, the committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ingbretson, of Pike, announced to the committee that he thought he may have a conflict because he has served for an extended period of time as the supervisor of court-ordered child visitation for the litigant at the litigant's request.
The judicial branch also reminded Ingbretson of a letter he had written to me almost two years ago in which he stated that he had listened "at great length to (the litigant) and other knowledgeable witnesses" and had "read extensively the documents pertaining to his case" and had, as of September 2009, formed a conclusion about what he saw as "obvious failures to act in the best interest of the child."
Ingbretson finally agreed to step down in that case. But the proceedings on Petition 5 will continue, even though this litigant has had, at his request, a number of judges and masters removed from his case; hearings before at least four different family division judges, two family division marital masters, and a superior court judge, and has filed an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, resulting in a decision against his position.
When does this stop?
The committee, which is scheduled to hold its next meeting in Concord on June 9, also has before it two petitions in which Rep. Peter Silva, of Nashua, says the committee should consider impeachment proceedings against a Nashua judge for rulings he made in two cases involving children.
Like Petition 5, any review of these rulings should be conducted at the New Hampshire Supreme Court, not, I would submit, in a legislative committee room.
Our system of justice was not designed to allow those people who bring cases to the courts for resolution to continue these matters ad infinitum. At some point in time, the parties have to accept the final judgment of the courts. To do otherwise makes a mockery of the constitutional responsibilities and authority of the courts and the clearly stated constitutional demand that the branches operate independent from one another in issues given to their exclusive authority.
A process established by the Legislature that allows a case such as this to be brought to hearing by a clearly conflicted chairman, seeking legislative action to overturn valid court orders and make judges pay damages to a party who feels aggrieved, not only threatens the delicate balance between the branches, it completely upends it.
Judge Edwin W. Kelly is the administrative judge of the District Court and Family Division in New Hampshire.