Details will have to wait until after the 18th of April but the seriousness of the matter at hand cannot go without informing the public how much personal opinion plays a part in the control over our lives. Right and wrong, the letter of the law, and common sense (a long outdated term since nothing seems to be common about sense and sensibility anymore) have been shoved aside in lieu of personal opinion and politics.
Having been in and out of court multiple times over the past 14 years has shown me that no matter how much I hope for law and fact rendered upon truth, when it comes to a child and what is in their best interest, it all comes down to who the one wearing the robe sitting high above the common citizen approves of based upon their own personal opinion and what ‘they’ deem right and wrong.
In the state of Indiana the law allows a child to testify in open court, so long as the judge does not deny that right. If a judge denies the right of the child to testify in open court the judge then has the right to question the child privately in their chambers. Without anyone present, including attorneys or even a court reporter to make a sealed record of the conversation, no one knows what was said and what was not. This leaves the parents at the whim of the court, forcing them to place trust in another regular human being, for that is all a judge is. Judges are elected by a few people who take the time to get to know those running for the position of fact-finder and others who just mark ballots aimlessly or vote party line.
So what does a parent do when the child comes to them and says the judge said this or that about you? There is no formal record of the conversation save the judge’s personal notes. Get an attorney? It is what causes more confusion and frustration within the realm of family court than anything else. Laws are written by attorneys elected by the people. Attorneys confuse the law in court so more laws are written by other attorneys in order to properly explain itself or other laws. Laws become so ambiguous that the common person now requires either their own law degree to interpret the laws or are forced to hire an attorney to aid in the never-ending cycle of confusion. All the while, what matters most, the child, is being forgotten, or being told their words and emotions do not matter, because adults they do not know have a better understanding of what is best for them than even their own parents. Is it any wonder why more and more children are dying under the watchful eye of both the courts and local child protective services? Is it any wonder that the statistics of children being either placed or left with an abusive parent over a parent that can be there for their child and has no history of child abuse, either physical or emotionally, has a history of ensuring the child’s medical, dental, and psychological needs have been met, are staggering numbers today?
According to a 2008 article posted by the Leadership Council, after studies had been conducted in several states, Arizona “courts awarded joint or sole custody to the alleged batterers 56-74% of the time”; Brooklyn, NY: “Mothers were told by their lawyer, the law guardian or the judge not to oppose visitation, even when they felt it was unsafe or when their children protested”; Philadelphia Family Court: “litigants are often denied due process, and that applicable legal standards are “not always observed, particularly in the consideration of abuse in custody proceedings, leaving families at risk”; American Judges’ Foundation: “Fathers are often awarded sole custody even when their sexual and physical abuse of the children is alleged and substantiated… 70% of the time the abuser convinces the court to give him custody.” These are but a few examples of findings after multiple studies performed by various agencies in different locations across the U.S.
The political banter waging in relation to who would make the best president, senator, or representative often ignores the local level. While many have taken their legal rights and rendered them down to street justice, often times people try to take their plight back to the same system that is designed to self-police and protect its own integrity. In the latter form, the citizen is doomed to fail leaving the child without any protection because the system is broken.
It used to be said that the system is not broken it’s the people within the system that are broken. In essence that statement is still true. In the end, the system is us. We the people are the ones that decide who has the right to be judge and jury of our lives. So what happens when those who are elected lose sight of what they were elected to do? When they begin to believe they are the ones with the power to control the lives of those that gave them a limited right to judge us based, no longer upon law and fact but upon their own personal opinion?
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
~ Thomas Jefferson