Fatherhood Coalitions Charalambous Weighs In On Court Report
Massachusetts News, April, 2003
Fatherhood Coalition co-founder and spokesman Mark Charalambous weighed in on the court report, telling MassNews, "The VCMC report identifies organization and management and leadership as the core problem impacting the courts. It finds that caseloads in the Trial Courts have not risen significantly. Assuming the numbers are correct, this nonetheless masks some compelling research and data that the authors apparently chose to ignore.
But perhaps the biggest problem faced by the Courts is the explosion in pro se litigants (people that represent themselves in court, without an attorney) in Probate & Family court cases. This issue is of such importance that the Pro Se Committee was established in 1997, in response to a 1995 symposium jointly sponsored by the Probate and Family Court and the Flaschner Judicial Institute. In April of 2000, a new administrative position was created to deal exclusively with the increasing number of pro se litigants: the Pro Se Coordinator.
At the time of this report, hard numbers were not available, though there was universal consensus that the number of pro se litigants was increasing. However, the annual report from the SJC in Feb. 2000 did provide some numbers for the amount of pro se litigants in P&F Court:
|From a broader perspective, the courts have responded to laws that have increasingly taken matters that were once considered personal and private into the legal arena. This is only to be expected when a society dismantles cultural norms and embraces moral relativism.|
"In family court, clients who represent themselves account for 69 percent of those who petition for guardianship of minors; 31 percent of those filing for divorce; 34 percent of those trying to establish paternity; 50 percent of those who file contempt complaints and 57 percent of those seeking modification of court orders."
Other information in the Pro Se Report makes the VCMC caseload increase figure of the Trial Courts (only 0.5%) appear disingenuous. If the caseload figures were broken down by the various courts that comprise the Trial Courts, a different picture would emerge.
According to the Pro Se Committee Report, "In the twenty year period since 1979, filings in the Probate and Family Court have increased 49% from 105,820 in 1979 to 158,074 in 1998. In contrast, the Superior Court reported 58,785 cases commenced in 1979 and 39,050 in 1998."
So, caseloads have clearly increased in P&F Court, though they may have declined in Superior Court and perhaps other courts.
So what is behind this explosion in pro se litigants?
Many if not most of these pro se litigants are fathers in custody, domestic abuse and child support cases. They have chosen to go pro se not just because they cannot afford legal representation, but due to their belief, based on their prior court experiences, that men cannot receive justice in our courts when their antagonist is female (in domestic relations matters).
Many of these fathers, having no previous experience with the law, have in fact become true experts in the law... out of necessity, not out of pleasure or gain. This also accounts for the explosion in appeals of criminal cases, also recognized by the courts in their own reports. Over the past twenty years, getting divorced has in fact become a process of criminalization for many fathers. They are criminalized as a result of boiler-plate abuse protection actions routinely used in divorces and family breakups, as well as in inability to keep up with exorbitant child support awards.
The Pro Se report states: "Although the Department of Revenue represents the financial interests of the moving party, who is most often the mother, the father is generally pro se."
Many men have come to reject the courts as a place where justice is possible, and have instead adopted a completely antagonistic posture to the courts. To them, the courts are outside of their moral universe, and constitute an alien, occupying government that controls the most fundamental aspects of their lives: their access to their children, their freedom to choose how to earn their livelihood, and simply their freedom from incarceration for what amount to political "gender crimes". The latter includes contempt of court for failure to come up with money to pay child support or court fees as well as bogus, trumped-violations of ch.209A abuse protection orders.
The moral bankruptcy of the courts is best exhibited by their use of guardians ad litem (GAL) to make custody recommendations in contested custody cases. The overwhelming experience of fathers when they finally see these reports, we can attest, is flat-out incredulity.
Yet when the legislature decides to examine the issue, they appointed a lesbian State Senator (Cheryl Jacques) to oversee the investigation. Her report quotes liberally from a gay homosexual who "trains GALs". The examples given in the report are practically uniformly critical of fathers, and the report concludes that GALs need to be better trained in-- what else? -- domestic violence, so they can better see through these batterers-in-sheep's-clothing.
Turning reality (and decency) on its head, it's been said that finding a non-homosexual GAL in the Hampshire P&F Court system is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The average father in divorce court cannot understand how such dysfunctional people -- who are incapable of having intimate relations with the opposite sex -- can be empowered to make decisions about their children.
Similarly in the matter of child abuse. The courts have overreacted to the real and heinous abuse of children by adults by removing any disincentives for unscrupulous and evil people willing to fabricate allegations. Every woman in the commonwealth knows that if she chooses to break up her family she can have her ex-husband's head on a platter if she chooses. She is given a choice of weapons to use, and once allegations are made, the father is guilty until proven innocent.
From a broader perspective, the courts have responded to laws that have increasingly taken matters that were once considered personal and private into the legal arena. This is only to be expected when a society dismantles cultural norms and embraces moral relativism.
Thanks to years of victim-feminist indoctrination, the courts have been trained to give knee-jerk responses to women claiming to be "abused". Judges are trained to believe that when a man raises his voice to his wife, he will eventually kill her unless there is state intervention.
The courts make no distinction between normal family conflict and real domestic violence, largely because the law doesn't.
Faced with these inherently anti-father, anti-family attitudes prevalent throughout the court system, many men have decided to go pro se. Father's rights and legal self-help groups are growing in number and effectiveness. These men learn the law and represent themselves. And they are presently tying up the courts because of their insistence on a justice that they will never likely see.