Fathers Say Norfolk County Courts Are Worst in State for Children's Rights
'Hotbed of Feminist and Lesbian Activity'
By Ed Oliver, Massachusetts News, November 2001
Two courts in Norfolk County are exceptionally hostile to children and are quite possibly the most anti-family courts in the nation, according to the Fatherhood Coalition, whose members have run the gauntlet of all the courts in the state.
Earl Sholley, the Southeastern Regional Coordinator for the Coalition, identified Dedham Probate Court as the worst offender, followed by Quincy District Court.
Some members of the group have picketed the Dedham Courthouse once a week since June.
They say the building is a "hotbed of feminist and lesbian activity."
Sholley told MassNews that one of the reforms they are calling for is the removal of childless and/or lesbian judges.
"We think that most of these individuals have a particular agenda. It's not just an orientation. It's a lifestyle agenda that they are pursuing," he says.
He wonders how, with that mindset, they can adjudicate the law fairly in issues involving a traditional family with a mother and a father.
"I see a proactive agenda within the political establishment to bring these individuals into positions of authority, such as judgeships, department of revenue, department of social services. They're actually cultivating this type of orientation, this type of lifestyle.
"There should be a full investigation. What we really need is a blue-ribbon citizens panel to investigate some of these issues, to dig into them a little bit more."
Asked why he suspects these judges are lesbians, Sholley answered, "Well, I've come across too many in the system. We have Angela Ordonez sitting in the Norfolk County Court. There was an article in the paper when she was appointed. They highlighted the fact that she was a member of the Gay and Lesbian Bar Association in Boston.
"There are other judges that have been brought to our attention who are thought to be lesbians, although we can't say for sure. We suspect Paula M. Carey who also sits in the Norfolk County Court, just appointed there full time. She used to be a circuit judge, we understand she might be a lesbian."
Asked what it would matter if she were a lesbian, Sholley replied that by definition, this is a woman who wishes to avoid relations with men and wants to maintain her relations only with other women.
Outraged fathers point to Judge Carey's recent decision in the Joshua Preston case as yet another egregious example in Dedham Probate Court of a man-hating judge issuing a custody decision against the best interests of the child, because of her prejudice.
According to Sholley, Judge Carey stunned the courtroom when she awarded custody of Preston's daughter to the mother even though evidence showed the mother to be abusive to the child. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) had strongly recommended that the father should get custody.
Sholley pointed out that Carey is also the judge who will be deciding the Harry Stewart custody battle, which is another case where the man went to jail even though all evidence of child abuse and spouse abuse in the family pointed to the mother.
"We know of many cases of lesbians who are Guardians ad Litem, women's advocates, abuse protection advocates. There are law firms which have special pro-bono committees set up to help women, for example, in abuse cases. There's a particular one in Boston called Foley and Hoag; it used to be called Foley Hoag and Eliot. They have a domestic violence abuse prevention project.
"We think many of these groups have a number of people who are pursuing a political agenda, either a lesbian or a radical feminist agenda. Those two are pretty much paralleling one or the other anyway.
"Initially, when the National Organization for Women was formed, they were interested in equity issues and they had a lot of valid arguments. Now we've come a long way. Women pretty much have access to all the types of jobs in society that they would want to do.
"So it's gone beyond that. It's no longer just equity; it's now a gender issue. Many of these people feel that their gender is the superior gender. But ironically, statistics tell us otherwise.
"Lesbians, for example, have the highest rate of abuse and domestic violence than any other group in our society. Between 50 and 60 percent of lesbians are in abusive relationships. That's even higher than for gay males, quite a bit higher as a matter of fact.
Heterosexuals have a rate anywhere between 10 and 15 percent in most studies."
"I'm familiar with four studies that show the lesbian connection to be high, including Dr. Warren Farrell who wrote a number of best selling books.
"Dr. Farrell has a lot of credibility because he is a former president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. He understands these issues better than most people. He's a professor of psychiatry; he teaches at three major universities; he's on all the major networks all the time on various issues, especially male/female relationship-type issues.
"He recently wrote a book about father child reunions. Simon and Schuster, which has published previous books of his, refused to publish this one because of the controversy involved. The controversy is that his research indicates that single parent dads do a better job of raising children than single parent moms."
Sholley said the problems are systemic in Massachusetts, but not as bad as in Norfolk County, where some extremely bad decisions have been made.
"We are familiar with another book called Father's Rights, written by Jeffrey Leving who is an attorney out of Chicago and does divorce cases all over the country. It's his opinion that Massachusetts is the worst state in the country for divorcing fathers."
Sholley says that Norfolk County is the worst in the state.
"I would say without a doubt Norfolk County seems to be leading everyone else in the number of really bad decisions and is the worst court in the state. There are other bad ones: the Middlesex Court in Cambridge is a particularly bad court, the Essex County Court, the Springfield Court has made some really bad decisions, and some of the others have also.
"I think part of that is the fact that the domestic violence agenda really started and was promoted in Norfolk County. William Delahunt, who is now a Congressman, pushed the domestic violence agenda when he was the district attorney from Norfolk County. They got a lot of notoriety on 60 Minutes a number of years ago where they were cracking down on domestic violence. It was considered to be the best court in America to keep women safe. The converse of that is, sure, they keep women safe but they're harming a lot of innocent people in the process.
"When you decide that you're going to demonize one group of individuals or go after one group of individuals to keep another group safe, automatically you're stepping on liberties and rights, and that's exactly what's happened.
"Due process has been suspended for men and fathers in these types of cases. It's no different than the Jim Crow laws of the south. Now we have what I refer to as Jane Doe laws here in Massachusetts, where you're basing it on some external characteristic. In one case it was race and color. In the present contemporary situation, it happens to be gender and the person's status, in this case, fatherhood.
"Andrew Klein, the former chief probation officer, was forced to resign because of corruption involving conflict of interest. They were making money illegally. They set up a non-profit organization to which they were sending people from the Quincy District Court to be drug tested. The authorities found out about it, in fact the Chief Justice over there, Justice Black, was removed from probation matters and he's retired now.
"Andrew Klein was eventually vindicated by a jury. However, it left a black mark on his record and he resigned. Now he's doing what he was doing before, he's doing domestic violence seminars.
"Klein wrote a thesis on domestic violence. One of our members who is a professional researcher and academic, an expert in these matters, checked out Klein's thesis and said it's very flawed and filled with a lot of inaccuracies and misrepresentations. The thesis is much like a large part of the feminist agenda. It is based on myths and misconceptions and frames the issue according to the particular beliefs of the radical feminists.
"Therefore, much of what's being done around the country right now is based on Andrew Klein's thesis and what the district attorney's office did in Norfolk County. So that's a real feather in their cap. They point to it with pride, but it's left a trail of broken lives. We are looking at fathers who have committed suicide, fathers who have been kept from their children, the most important thing in their lives, for years. Some of them just give up; they just walk away from it.
"You can understand why some of them actually don't even pay child support. If you go back and look at the statistics of the fathers who get visitation on a regular basis with no interference from the spouse, 90% of those fathers pay child support on a timely basis.
"So, why isn't that telling the court something if they know that to be true? Why can't we move to what we all want and that is a presumption of shared parenting? A lot of this conflict could be resolved immediately if the legislature passed a bill for a presumption of shared parenting.
"When two individuals divorce, when they decide there are irreconcilable differences, if they're proceeding on an equal footing and there is a presumption of shared parenting, then a lot of this conflict and this foolishness with unwarranted restraining orders would come to a screeching halt. You'd still have a few and those probably would be deserved, they would be needed.
"Of course there is a percentage of people abusing their partners, and we don't deny that. But much of the data is now showing that women abuse men just as much, if not more, than men abuse them. Certainly, we should not have stopped talking about husbands and wives and started labeling everyone as a 'partner,' as the state has done.
"Thirty states have some form of shared parenting or joint custody. If we would follow that example, a lot of the conflict and our reason for being here would no longer exist."
MassNews called Norfolk County Probate First Justice David H. Kopelman's office for comment. A judge's lobby spokesperson said it is not Judge Kopelman's policy to speak to the press. Kopelman's office referred MassNews to the SJC's office which also had no comment.