Dear Claudine Dombrowski was in another hearing this past week on January 28th. She sought to be able to have a normal relationship with her child after being denied it for 10 years. I was there as were other court watchers, and I will tell you that nothing makes a court behave more than having a front row full of people taking notes furiously through a hearing. After years of having her rights being walked all over by Kansas courts, she finally got some justice.
Claudine is part of the lawsuit against the United States with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, ten mothers and one adult child survivor of the process. The case claims that U.S. courts, by frequently awarding child custody to abusers and child molesters, has failed to protect the life, liberties, security and other human rights of abused mothers and their children. She had been brutally abused by the father of their child, yet he received full custody and she has had supervised visitation for the past six years. Visitation she could not afford because the father disabled her to a point she cannot work anymore (100% disabled, and now us taxpayers take care of her on subsistence-only monies). The court and the court whores were able to completely overrun her rights with no witnesses there. This time there were folks there for her, and Judge David Debenham (Division 13, Shawnee County) had to follow the law.
The witnesses heard such things in court as “First Amendment Rights” and “Constitutional Right” that had never been said before…and this from the judge. I focused on what was happening at the opposing table while the hearing was going on.
Opposing attorney Jason P. Hoffman seemed hyper-focused on blaming Claudine for expressing her views on various blogs. Eventually the judge stopped this and said she had a “First Amendment Right” to express her views out there on the internet, as long as it didn’t involve her child’s image and name. Guardian ad Litem Jill Dykes rolled her eyes frequently during the hearing, including when Hoffman asked Claudine if she had degraded dad to the child, and Claudine answered no. I wonder if she ever wondered about dad’s own actions. I don’t think so. Dykes smirked during discussion of the tribute video made after her mother’s death. This wasn’t the only display from the opposing table though. Hoffman snorted when Claudine was asked if there were problems during a visitation if the child could contact anyone, and she answered yes. The father hung his head and placed hand over his eyes when testimony was given that the father had not provided child for supervised visitation on previous attempts by Claudine to see the child.
As a final act, Jill Dykes tried to have a document admitted that was written by their visitation supervisor, and the court refused to accept it since it was hearsay evidence. Normally, Claudine reported that the court would take everything before this hearing, so I suppose Jill Dykes expected it would be business as usual when she brought this “letter” to court. Surely she would know she could not legally admit it. But then a court full of watchers prevented that.
During the closing arguments, opposing attorney Jason P. Hoffman spewed those infamous words “parental alienation at it’s worst.” Apparently he is not aware that the National Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges have warned judges not to accept claims of “parental alienation” because of it’s use by abusers to keep children from their victims, just as this father had kept the child away from Claudine for years. This is what they say about it:
2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases
C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34
Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38
The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.
Congratulations to this mother and child, as they begin their first unmonitored visit in six years, being given two precious hours to spend together. The visit began just a couple minutes ago, and my thoughts are with them. The court needed to build up to full visitation, since access has been denied so long. Court will reconvene in a month to expand the visitation.
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6 Comments »
As one of the scribbling observers in this courtroom, I must say that I was appalled at the general conduct of Mr. Hoffman and Ms. Dykes. They made no effort to present any genuine objections to Ms. Dombrowski’s mothering abilities, and they certainly presented no evidence. What I heard was harping on her political activities–which had no bearing on her parenting and was completely irrelevant. I really wondered if I was in China or North Korea, rather than Shawnee County, Kansas. I also felt that the ONLY reason the judge did not cave was that there were out-of-town eyes and ears who were bearing witness. Thank goodness the winds are finally changing.
Comment by silverside — January 31, 2010 @ 2:24 pm
Wa-hoo! Congratulations!!! Great job!!!
As a next step, I think a letter to the presiding judge politely inquiring whether the judges have gone to school for domestic violence training would be in order.
Also, I think an e-mail blitz to local media outlets prior to the next hearing would be appropriate. Someone will need to be spokesperson for the group. . .prepare a press release to be timed with the barrage of e-mail messages.
Finally, I think you and Claudine need to be guests on BettyJean’s blogtalkradio show. . .increase the exposure.
Comment by Anne Caroline Drake — January 31, 2010 @ 2:57 pm
[...] who lost her kids to her uber-rich Florida husband with a history of crack abuse. And, Claudine Dombrowski ~ who lost her kids in Kansas because she was disabled by her ex-husband’s abuse. Go [...]
Pingback by Bravo, RightsforMothers & Claudine Dombrowski! « Anne Caroline Drake — January 31, 2010 @ 6:21 pm
This has been due for a long time with a victory for the child. I know mom and child have a lot of catching up to do, and I am happy this family may begin to heal.
There is no wall that Claudine will not break down if the truth needs to be exposed. She is a leader in the battle to expose the corruption that occurs in domestic court, and a rock for those who are in the horrific battle to gain basic human rights.
Comment by Melody Gerow — January 31, 2010 @ 7:44 pm
We were on BettyJean just before the battered mothers custody conference- I am more than happy to do what ever I can to expose the madness of the disposable mother in our society.
Thank you to my awesome Court watchers!!!- it made all the difference in the world I would have been lost without you!!
Comment by Claudine Dombrowski — January 31, 2010 @ 9:14 pm
Parental Alienation at it’s worst? What a load of crap from the people who keep a child from her mother – a mother who was raped (and the perp father found guilty), and beaten with a crowbar (and the perp father found guilty) and beaten with a hammer (and the perp) father found guilty.
I hope the women who support the theory will read this and know that the theory is a sham used to shield abusers. How can Claudine be a parental alienator when her child lives with the man who raped and beat her and was found guilty of doing so?
Comment by PA FRaud — January 31, 2010 @ 9:31 pm