Governor Deval Patrick
Massachusetts State House
Boston, MA 02133
August 3, 2009
Dear Governor Patrick,
Thank you for the opportunity to attend your recent town hall meetings in Boston and Wareham.
At the Wareham meeting I and others spoke about the injustice faced by men and fathers in the probate and district courts. Although these problems originate in bad law, such as MGL 209a, how the law is being interpreted and implemented by judges have made a terrible situation much worse.
I must respectfully disagree with your assertion in Wareham that your judicial nominations have been exemplary. Our Coalition has monitored your Governor’s Council judicial nomination hearings since last summer. Overall, we have seen nominees who put judicial ‘expediency’ before justice, particularly in regards to issues of child custody, child support and restraining orders.
They do not appear to share your philosophy about the need to ensure basic fairness.
You already have the discretion to make a positive change in selecting judicial nominees through your Executive Order 500. The Judicial Nominating Committee (JNC), composed entirely of Bar members, appears to be little more than a trade association hardly representative of the people of the Commonwealth. A diverse JNC made up of citizens from different walks of life, as already outlined in the Executive Order, would ensure that a range of voices are heard when screening judicial nominations. No more than 25% of the JNC membership should come from the Bar. It is a step you can and should take immediately.
Other actions, both legislative and within the judiciary, are also needed and to this end we appreciate your facilitation of meetings between Justices Carey and Mulligan, chief legislative leaders and with men and fathers. We will be pleased to take part in such discussions.
Thank you again.
Chair, The Fatherhood Coalition
PS: I have enclosed our organization’s flyer on abuse of the domestic restraining orders. Since the brochure was first issued in 1996 the unjust situation faced by men and fathers has not improved.