For Immediate Release

The Fatherhood Coalition Files Federal Suit Seeking Overturn of 209A Restraining Order Law

Federal complaint accuses Massachusetts Family Court judges of violating the Constitution by discriminating openly against males

BOSTON, SEPT. 7, 1999—The Fatherhood Coalition and six individual men today filed a federal anti-discrimination lawsuit against the judges in Massachusetts state courts.

The suit alleges that Massachusetts judges are routinely violating the U.S. Constitution. It specifies violations of the 5th and 14th amendment rights to due process, of the 14th amendment right to equal protection, and of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The suit asks the federal courts to step in and stop widespread anti-male discrimination in Massachusetts Probate courts. The plaintiffs also seek a ruling that the 209A restraining order law violates the U.S. Constitution, ask for an immediate injunction against enforcement of it.

"Under public pressure, the Judges of the District Courts punished male litigants in restraining order cases harshly and unfairly. For example, writing a letter or sending a Christmas card to a child can be grounds for two years imprisonment for a 'restraining order violation.'"

The lawsuit asks for an injunction against the unequal administration of justice in the areas of domestic violence and abuse petitions. It asserts that each of the six individual male plaintiffs and the Fatherhood Coalition have suffered gender-based discrimination by the justices in the Probate and Family Courts and District Courts of Massachusetts.

The lawsuit was filed this morning in Federal District Court in Boston, and announced at a formal press conference on the statehouse steps.

Defendants in the suit are the roughly 40 justices of the Probate and Family Courts. These women and men adjudicate dissolutions of marriage, alimony and child support, child custody and visitation and division of marital assets.

The suit charges that the plaintiffs "and other men similarly situated" have been irreparably damaged by the "customs and rules" of the commonwealth’s courts which, in restraining order situations:

Summary of Individual Cases

A summary of the individual injustices referenced in the group lawsuit:

The suit asks the Federal Court to find the Chapter 209A law unconstitutional and to forbid the courts from further enforcement of it.

The suit also asks the Federal District Court to "issue declaratory and injunctive relief" and to command the Family Courts "to adopt measures to prevent discrimination against men in the Probate and Family court system."

The suit was drawn up and filed by lawyer David C. Grossack of Hull.

The plaintiffs in the suit include: James Nollett, 40 Franklin Street, Woburn; James Carroll of Bedford; David Merchant of Vermont; Donald Roines, of Hull; Richard Scanlon of Duxbury; Earl Henry Sholley of Holliston, and The Fatherhood Coalition, whose members, says the suit, "consist predominantly of persons of the male gender who suffered the kinds of injuries described herein."



For further information, contact:

Earl Sholley
CPF lawsuit coordinator

David Grossack, Esq.
Lawsuit attorney

John Flaherty
CPF Co-Chairman

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman





CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994


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