Imagine you’re invisible for one day. You could do anything for or to anybody in the world, but not yourself, and get away with it. What would you do?”
Teenagers dream and debate such fantasies, and who wouldn’t relish a chance to take one day to right the wrongs, help the needy, or get revenge? But it’s just a fantasy, right?
Maybe not. Family court litigants know very well that judges have immunity for their actions—right or wrong, legal or illegal, kind or malicious, sensical or otherwise. For family court judges, psychologists, and many others who also claim immunity, it seems, this is no fantasy at all. In fact, it’s a daily occurrence.
And can malice be corrected on appeal? Forget about it. Family court professionals have so much discretion that appeals are meaningless. Sue them in federal court? To quote judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo at a recent hearing in California Coalition’s lawsuit against San Diego County Bar Association, “Go ahead and try it”.
And she’s right. Litigants from family court are regularly dispatched in civil rights lawsuits. California Coalition regularly consults with litigants and attorneys who are facing the ominous family law behemoth in federal court, and the picture is grim. The confluence of a “perfect storm” of immunity, abstention, and jurisdictional restrictions on family court matters makes federal court a dream for most family court litigants, who are quite literally at the bottom of the totem pole in priority for federal courts. Criminals, immigrants, corporations, employers/employees, gender/race discrimination, administrative bodies, maritime, garage tinkerer inventors, foreign ambassadors, and heck, even abortion clinics get more priority than America’s core institution: Family.
And the judges, psychologists, and others know their malice, prejudice, or fickle decision-making is practically the final word in virtually every situation. Combine that wide-open discretion and a weak group of family lawyers who’ve long since abandoned their duties to represent their clients zealously, instead adopting rules that permit them to impose the repugnant biases of judges, evaluators, and even outsiders with an ideological or political agenda—and you have the recipe for the modern tyranny of family court.
So for some judges, the “what if” scenario is not merely a fantasy. They can, quite literally, do anything they want to or for anyone they want each and every day in their courtrooms. Don’t like it? Want to take an appeal. “Go ahead and try it.”
And it’s informative to watch family court professionals—particularly judges—exercise that enormous discretion. We’re reported previously that many judges express discomfort with the lack of legal precedent. Judges are lawyers first, and most are more comfortable interpreting law rather than making it on a case-by-case basis.
But others seem to enjoy it—indeed relish in the ability to direct the lives of others at their whim. Some, such as Judge Silberman in Los Angeles Superior Court, like to play “daddy” and take over authority in a family. Other versions of “God-play” (or Demon if you like) are abundant. Judges seem to have convinced themselves that they know your children better than you. They justify intervention by noting “mom and dad couldn’t agree, so we have to step in.” They fail to note, however, that mom and dad are ordinarily spun out of control in a Carrollesque labyrinth of family court lawyers who wield dogma and ideology to nourish entitlement, hatred, fear, and bias, churnning cases through needless motion and paperwork, and harvesting unearned fees. Angry, frightened, or otherwise emotional parents react irrationally and become wards of the system run by their predators who shake their heads at the “litigants behaving badly.”
For a while at least. Once the client is out of money, their attorney suddenly disappears, or ends the case quickly in order to begin the bill collection process against their own client or an adversary. Sadly, many parents never wake to the fact that their own attorneys have stolen their present in exchange for a far-off promise of some future gain that never arrives. Yet parents, many of who remain intoxicated by the venomous ideology for years afterward, can’t see the the abundant evidence of their own rape, or continue to cling to an ideology that, without exception, blames the ex-spouse for everything, including the “victim’s” own stupidity.
So we thought we’d turn the tables and ask you to put yourself in the same place as family court judges and some other professionals are in every day:
If you knew you couldn’t get caught–what would you do to or for a family court professional?
If you could, at your work, do anything you wanted to a family court psychologist, attorney, GAL, social worker, or other divorce industry professional who walked in for services you ordinarily perform, what would you do? If you’re a banker, would you empty their bank account and give it to a church, or fill it with a million dollars from someone else? If you’re a cop, would you expose a secret about them to their spouse or children, or the other way around? If you’re a social worker would you wisk away their children and give them to distant relatives? Sell their car or house from under them at your real estate firm? Spit in their food if you work at Burger King? Force them to take classes in your favorite subject at the school you teach at even though you know they hate it? Hand them a Bible from your church? Or hand them a bomb from somewhere else?
Before you get carried away, know that the purpose of our experiment is to tell you something about yourself. We believe
that what you would do can tell you more about yourself than the person you would do this to or for. We know that family court professionals given this level of discretion daily respond very differently. Some would clearly take away your house, because they often do. Some would take away your kids on a whim because they make a living of doing so. But others would not, and regularly do not, even though they have ample opportunity to do so.
Is it true that “power corrupts—absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Putting yourself the in same position as judges are in every day can perhaps help you understand the temptations these professionals regularly face, and how they are so very easy to succumb to.
So, given absolute power, how corrupt are you?
Enjoy the thought experiment–just thoughts, not suggestions for now (though maybe family court professionals should think twice before biting into that juicy Whopper from now on). We’ll follow up on our best answers in coming weeks.