Hennepin County Family Court Chosen – Family Court Enhancement Project

I just have to wonder.. will this become a cover up or will the truth about injustice and corruption in Hennepin County 4th Judicial District Family Court be exposed?? And what will be done to help families who lives have been destroyed by the actions of Hennepin County Family Court?

The National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges reports that Hennepin County Family Court has been chosen to participate in the “Family Court Enhancement Project” (FCEP): http://www.ncjfcj.org/FCEP

The FCEP is a Federal project that studies how family court responds to families that have experienced or are at risk for domestic violence. The FCEP is a joint effort of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the Battered Women’s Justice Project (BWJP) and the National Institute for Justice (NIJ).

The Family Court Enhancement Project (NCEP) will work over the next 24 months in the following four jurisdictions: Cook County, IL; the State of Delaware, Hennepin County, MN; and Multnomah County, ORE.

(My note) Recent scandals involving bias, corruption and failure to protect battered women and their children in Hennepin County 4th Judicial Family Court include:

* Judge Stephen C. Aldrich (who was once on my case, and I can attest to his unprofessionalism) making disparaging remarks about litigants and battered women in his courtroom. Judge Aldrich retired in 2010 is enjoying a plush benefits package.

*Susan DeVries (one on my case, and the case of Holly Collins) family court psychologist has a previous complaint of bungling a sexual abuse case and false accusing a colleague of abuse. Due to the confusion and incompetence, it has been determined that the officials will never be able to correctly identify the true perpetrator.

*The Holly Collins case– a battered woman, Holly Collins, battles injustice in Hennepin County, and failures to protect her children from abuse. Holly lost custody of her children to an alleged abuser in 1992, after which the children continued to report abuse. For the safety of the children, Holly flees to the Netherlands with her children, where she is given asylum in 1997. A documentary movie was made about Holly’s experiences called “No Way But One”: http://nowayoutbutone.com/

The Hennepin County Family Court is on 4th Street ih Downtown Minneapolis, right across the street from a strip bar: “Minneapolis, Minn.Hennepin County Family Justice Center, Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota (Minneapolis) has a distinct Family Court with 9 District Judges, 6 referees, and 8 child support magistrates; they handle approximately 11,000 cases each year. The Court, presided over by Judge Anne McKeig, partners with the Department of Family Court Services, which offers mediation, early neutral evaluations, and full custody/parenting time evaluations.

AND

HENNEPIN COUNTY FAMILY JUSTICE CENTER:

  • develop and implement comprehensive judicial training on domestic violence;
  • identify and bridge philosophical differences regarding domestic violence as it appears in the family court;
  • improve consistency in the handling of cases among judicial officers; and
  • assess whether victims experience pressure in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) processes to reach agreements that are not in their best interest. ” (NCJFCJ)

The purpose of the Family Court Enhancement Project is to, “Since 2008, when they announced the National Child Custody Differentiation Project, OVW has supported inquiry into concerns from domestic violence survivors, advocates, and court staff that family courts are struggling to adequately consider the physical and emotional safety of children (and their parents) in child custody cases where domestic violence is present. Judges too have expressed concern about the balance between child safety and parental rights, and victim safety and batterer rehabilitation, but have not had access to Best Practices or Model Courts through which to imagine significant change…”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will adminster the program. The department’s National Institute of Justice will collect data from all four courts to assess the effects of any changes in the approach to custody and visitation orders.

 

Sources:

“Holly Collins Returns After 14 Years in Hiding”. September 24, 2008. By Beth Walton, City Pages: http://www.citypages.com/2008-09-24/news/holly-collins-returns-after-14-years-in-hiding/       (When this article was released, Susan DeVries was working on my case, and she suddenly quit and went into private practise. Susan DeVries ignored concerns about abuse, even my children were making disclosures. Susan DeVries pressured me into staying silent about my concerns, and told me “it happened in the past” and “you can’t prove it”.)

Formal Statement of Complaint Judge Stephen C. Aldrich: http://www.bjs.state.mn.us/Aldrich%20FORMAL%20COMPLAINT%20FNL.pdf

“Judge Stephen Aldrich Sent Out to Pasture” October 28, 2010. By Hart Van Denburg, City Pages: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2010/10/judge_stephen_a.php

“OVW and NCJFCJ Announce Four Court to Pioneer New Approaches in Custody-Decision Making” . November 8, 2013. By National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges: http://www.ncjfcj.org/FCEP

“Minnesota Court Chosen for Federal Project”. November 12, 2013. By MinnLawyerBlog: http://minnlawyer.com/minnlawyerblog/2013/11/12/minnesota-court-chosen-for-federal-project/comment-page-1/#comment-39832

“Should Judges Make Jokes?” By J. Trout Lowen. Minnesota Law & Politics: http://www.lawandpolitics.com/minnesota/should-judges-make-jokes/943c9d5b-31a5-4f7b-9d1c-153028cb2111.html

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About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. "Emily Court" is a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. Emily is fighting to keep her kids safe, and bring them home. Through writing and blogging, Emily is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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19 Responses to Hennepin County Family Court Chosen – Family Court Enhancement Project

  1. Cris says:

    I have no perspective on what a fight like this means for a mother who comes from a truly abusive home. I do however, have perspective on what this may do to a father who has been falsely accused, which is shown per research to be the case more often than not. It is devastating to fathers, children, grandparents and communities. Children need both of their parents and courts should be doing all that they can to assure that this is the case wherever possible.

    • M21 says:

      The Family Court Injustice blog deals with the plight of “Protective Mothers” who are abuse victims who escape domestic violence situations with their children, often risking their lives to do so. Protective Mothers then encounter a new form of abuse in family court, when their abuser uses the legal system as a tool for intimidation, harassment, control and revenge.
      There is a crisis in Family Court that is happening all over the world, where the Courts are actually awarding custody to the abusers, and forcefully deprive a fit, loving Mom of having a relationship with her children in proceedings that are unjust and illegal.
      .

      FCJ researches and tells the story of failures in the court system to protect victims of domestic violence –although there are other types and kinds of family court injustices taking place, that is not our focus (however, we welcome comments on family court injustice).

      I am Mother who has escaped domestic violence, been homeless as a result of the abuse and a desperate need for safety, and lost custody of 2 children due to injustice and corruption in family court. After the Court awarded the alleged abuser custody, my children have been mentally and physically injured numerous times. One child attempted to run away from alleged abuser dad’s home 4 times. And school reports show they are not doing well. Family Court failures to protect women and children from abuse are real, it does happen, and this injustice needs to be addressed.

      False allegations of abuse are horrible–they do prevent those truly needing help from getting it, and drain valuable resources. In Minnesota it is a misdemeanor crime to make a false allegation of child abuse in order to sway a custody ruling.

      It is also abusive–though often goes undetected or unrecognized-to make false allegations in order to wrongfully deprive a parent of custody–which is often an extension of abuse that happened during the relationship, now happening in the legal system. These allegations are usually made to further control or intimidate the victim. To discredit the victim so the allegations of abuse she makes are not believed. Or to hurt the victim by taking her children away. Typical allegations include: the parent is crazy/mentally ill/suffering from malicious mom syndrome/suffering from parental alienation. The victims was “not good enough” during the relationship–not good enough house keeper, not good enough sex, not good enough for me, not good enough cook etc. Or, the abuser will portray himself as a victim and elicit sympathy and support while demonizing the true victim. Notice the pattern here? The false allegations do not focus on the needs of the children but focus on the abuser–and their own selfish interests. These allegations lack proof or independent verification, they usually rely on eliciting sympathy and provoking a negative reaction about the victim to gain traction.

      Abuse victims are losing custody of children every day in family court. This is a travesty of justice–we need reform in family court..

      • Ms.Smith says:

        How many of us are there here in Minnesota? My story is exactly the same. I need some help finding Really Good help. Please let me know.

      • Ms. Smith- My understanding is that part of the problem in identifying the problems in family court is a lack of accountability for judges and court officers–the complaint process is usually handled by peers, professional (or social) associates, and there is no neutral, outside agency handling the compliant process. There may be no public records about the complaint and the result. And there are very few studies conducted on family court. So the numbers of how many…and what courts…can be difficult to determine but there is enough testimonies from parents, news reports and studies to prove there is a REAL problem in Family Court with systematic failures, bias, corruption and collusion.

        Getting help can be difficult…have you looked into any resources? You have our support!

        (Video) Family Court Corruption – Bill Windsor of Lawless America and Carver County Minnesota Victims:

        (Video) Protective Mothers Alliance International – Janice Levinson (A mother who lost custody of children to an abuser in unjust family court proceedings, becomes co-founder of PMA International with DV Author and Expert, Lundy Bancroft. PMA International is raising awareness of family court failures, and supporting protective mothers and their children. ):

        (Video) Family Court Corruption – Whistleblower Emily Gallup Exposes California Court Misconduct (Sacramento Family Court News):

    • M21 says:

      An Australian study (Brown et al., 1997) found the overall rate of false allegations during divorce to be about 9%, similar to the rate of false allegations at any other time. Schuman (2000) reviewed research that found a range of 1-5% for rates of deliberately false allegations, and 14-21% for mistaken allegations.

      It is also important to note that when false allegations are raised, it is not always mothers accusing fathers. Nicholas Bala and John Schuman, two Queen’s University law professors, reviewed Canadian judges’ written decisions where allegations of either physical or sexual abuse were raised in the context of parental separation. They examined 196 family law cases that were adjudicated between 1990 and 1998. The results revealed that the judges felt that only a third of unproven cases of child abuse stemming from custody battles involved someone deliberately lying in court. In these cases, the judges found that fathers were more likely to fabricate the accusations than mothers. Of female-initiated allegations, just 1.3% were deemed intentionally false by civil courts, compared with 21% when the man in the failed relationship brought similar allegations..

      Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation

      Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Myths that place children at risk during custody disputes. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47.
      http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html

      • M21 says:

        “10 Custody Myths and How to Counter Them” by Commission on Domestic Violence Justice & Safety for Victims of Domestic Violence: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/cdv_enewsletter/custodymythsandcounter.authcheckdam.pdf

        Includes statistic and facts, all fully cited on:
        –Abusers Gaining Custody of Children
        –The Rate of False Allegations in Custody Cases
        –Fit Mothers Don’t Lose Custody
        and more…

      • M21 says:

        Interesting..

        Our qualitative assessment of the data showed that distinguishing between actual abuse and false allegations cannot adequately help to clarify the family dynamics. Rather, it tends to conceal the fact that even a false allegation usually originates from a sexualized atmosphere in the family.

        The main family structures which were observed without exception in our sample generally already existed before the separation phase and had corresponding effects on the child which must be considered in the evaluation.

        “Allegations of sexual abuse in child custody disputes.” by Günter M, du Bois R, Eichner E, Röcker D, Boos R, Klosinski G, Deberding E.;
        University of Tübingen, Germany.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11289649

      • M21 says:

        “FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE – OR NOT? UNDERSTANDING THE REALITY OF
        DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT” by Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault: http://www.ccasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Fact-Sheet-on-Myth-of-False-Allegations_Final.pdf

        Topics Include:

        — False Reporting of Child Abuse During Divorce & Child Custody is Rare
        “Generally, abuse is vastly under-reported: child sexual abuse happens to about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys, yet only about 1.8 cases per 1,000 children are reported each year..”
        –Disclosing Abuse for the first time in divorce or custody proceedings does not mean the abuse was made up
        –Legal trends don’t favor mothers in custody proceedings
        –Attacks on victim’s credibility are a common tactic among abusers
        –“It is imperative that victims are not blamed or judged because blame and judgment deter them from reporting abuse and taking steps to break free from abuse…”
        –Recommendations

        And more..

  2. I admire you for writing this blog, I am a grandmother of a baby girl removed from her family after a fall from a baby swing that resulted in injuries. CPS was informed within 12 hours that what caused the initial call was unfounded. 4 days later we went to court and the county not only failed to report the doctors mistake but have attempted to charge my daughter with a felony. The baby has been out of our care for over a month and we still have not been allowed to present any evidence, the swing had been recalled, the doctors had made a mistake, and CPS outright lied and said my daughter was not complying with recommendations of her public health nurse. We have a letter from the public health nurse stating that she was never contacted and that she had not yet ever met with my daughter. I am outraged by the lack of justice in this case, Wednesday at 11 Am we will go to court once again, and my daughters attorney still says she will not be presenting evidence. Thankfully we got a call from the guardian this AM and she is recommending the baby to be returned home and the case be dropped with prejudice. After this is all said and done I too will likely start a blog and try to reach out to others CPS have wronged. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Blessings to you and your family

    • M21 says:

      Karen-

      I am praying that your beautiful grand daughter is returned safely to your family soon. Thank you for your kind words, and raising awareness of CPS abuse.

  3. mandydee says:

    Am I permitted to discuss this on my twitter?

  4. L.S. says:

    Lots shady stuff going on in Hennepin Co. I doubt things will ever change. I haven’t seen my kids in over a year and the judge has made it clear whose side he is on–and it is NOT the side of truth or justice.

  5. I see FCInjustice has a twitter account. About two days ago I posted a series of tweets on how the National Governors’ Association, “Family Impact Seminars,” Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (and key state-level leadership, i.e. Governor, heads of HHS, and others) managed to push through TANF diversions to marriage/responsible fatherhood promotion, deliberately bypassing representative government, and with a very, very religious flair in some cases. They have MANY links to evidence showing that the public is being tagged with the bill, and of cronyism at the state level. TANF is part of the U.S. Code which affects billions of dollars of funding to the states, and is helping further centralize our country, undermining state and local integrity of ANY court systems. This problem is far greater than our children being harmed — that’s nothing compared to the scale and amount of harm THEY face as adults if our generation doesn’t wise-up and start changing conversations and spending habits.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Smart mothers, when they read the names of some authoritative-sounding group, will, FIRST, determine who they are when it comes to paying, or receiving benefits of (revenues) from taxes. And think twice before giving free publicity to groups which already have it: Once as public civil servants, and Again, through their incorporated identities, or fiscal agents (if they’re not an incorporated identity). Language sound different?

    RE:
    “The FCEP is a joint effort of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the Battered Women’s Justice Project (BWJP) and the National Institute for Justice (NIJ).”

    Who is the Office of Violence Against Women? Corp. or Govt or neither

    ~Who is the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges? Corp of Govt or neither?
    ~Who is the Battered Women’s Justice Project? Corp. or Gov’t or neither?
    ~Who is the National Institute for Justice? Corp. or Gov’t or neither?

    Once you answer all those questions (I have already, and it’s EASY to find out on-line), then the next question is, who is paying their bills. From that, we can see who’s the big guy and who’s not so big.

    Here’s a clue: the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts considers BWJP a partner. AFCC promotes parental alienation. So why would they be partnering with a group which protests it? What do both have in common interest

    Ask better questions to get better answers. I just posted also as “tellJeanPfann” (A wordpress identity taken for help with a specific family situation) under Abusers Getting Custody for more links. Both are the same person, and I’m a family court survivor from the area some of the groups you advertise above come from, and have read their tax returns. Why don’t you find some before doing free PR for any of them.

    It’s 2014. Try something different and take clues from somewhere more sensible. Or, don’t.

    • Emily Court says:

      Let’s Get Honest or Jean-

      I generally welcome any feedback, thoughts or personal experiences on FCI with the strong belief that reforming the broken family court system should be a transparent process, with the courts held accountable to the public. The victims and their children have been forcibly silenced, and deserve to be heard. And those with solutions or ideas need to work together for meaningful change, we all have something we can contribute to the cause.

      So I am open to hearing what you have to say. But at the same time, it sounds like your comments are a bit criticial against FCI personally, which is not necessary.

      I don’t advertise groups, I share information and allow others to speak for themselves. I don’t censor or judge comments. The only comments I will remove are those to be spam or to be abusive or threatening. Advertising means you get money for promoting a group or business. I don’t get any money or personal incentives for my blog. This ALL comes from the heart.

      Second, you don’t have to like or agree with what I post. That is fine. You are free to add your information and thoughts but don’t go on a personal attack about anyone. How are we supposed to achieve changes in family court if we can’t hold a respectful discussion? I posted your comments in entirety and did not say anything personal about your views–in fact I am still open to talking about the issues.

      Yes, I agree with you about being skeptical about the FCEP. I also have concerns. You seem to be well aware of the problems in Hennepin County–recent scandals include the Holly Collings case, the discredited court psychologist Susan DeVries (that is a whole other post!), Judge Stephen Aldrich making jokes about abuse victims on the bench and a pilot program targeting poor, minority fathers for fatherhood programs funded by the government (exploitation!). I agree it makes you wonder if there will ever be justice.
      But in my opinion I can’t just shake my head and walk away. I think raising public awareness of the FCEP and putting pressure on them to investigate these problems is important. Let’s hold their feet to the fire, and let them know we have a strong base of supporters who are watching, and demanding change.
      And let’s keep fighting…the lives of DV survivors and our kids are worth it.

      • (I was back here in looking for a web page on “Family Court Enhancement Project” which seems to have disappeared. It showed several work group members (in a colorful graphic format) of which it was pretty clear that many of the membership were AFCC members or direct collaborators, including some of the judges. This meant that while it looked multi-disciplinary and inclusive, in fact it wasn’t. My point (in the June 2014 comment) was that it’s a very good habit to look up the business identity and if possible, tax returns of systems-change or advocacy groups in general. As to “Battered Women’s Justice Project” they indeed were not a separate business entity (despite a very colorful and active website, and presenting frequently under that name) from their fiscal agent, Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (“DAIP”), website duluthmodel.org, and based in Minnesota. …..

        Regarding you don’t advertise groups because you aren’t taking money for your blog. I think in contexts, it’s pretty clear I was using the term in a general sense. I was not implying you are paid by anyone to post their links. My main points in the comment were stated in the first two paragraphs.

        I’m curious how those on-line, including mothers possibly dealing with custody challenges once they get free from domestic violence, might be able to learn how the federal government has set in place grants to the states and private entities to help them lose custody of their minor children to formerly violent and abusive fathers, if those protesting mothers losing the custody to violent fathers in highly public and official manners (i.e., on their advocacy group websites)– when those groups consistently fail to mention it ON their websites?

        I survived marital violence and as to the family courts, my children are now “aged out” but I do have a perspective on what information was censored and by whom, in these matters. It sheds light on where the DV groups, in general, stand on full-disclosure of what they actually know. They do know about AFCC, federal grants, access visitation and fatherhood both, and a good deal more.

        My blog was set in place six years ago with the purpose of letting both men and women who were deprived of timely and adequate reporting on some of the interlocking directorate of tax-exempt groups which help churn custody cases, increasing profits to some, and losses to others. Wouldn’t you want to know if someone in a case had been bribed towards a certain outcome? What then if the bribes come from public funds?

        You can learn a whole lot from learning a tax return, and it’s an expedient reality check as well. Highly recommended finding more of them and thinking about what’s on them. FOr example, as to FCEP — how could a group which didn’t even exist before 2013 suddenly become THE consultant among four major entities involved? (NCJFCJ, BWJP,NIJ and the OVW as I recall)? Would it be helpful (or not) to know also that the group from which BWJP sprang was itself about 96% (i.e., mostly) government-grant funded all along? Where’s the public input with that setup?

      • Emily Court says:

        Let’s Get Honest-

        Thanks for your feedback. I can tell you put alot of thought into it, and am sorry for what your family has been through in family court.

        I think you are confusing me with someone else. I don’t recall talking to you about money or promoting blogs.

        At this point, the FCEP seems to be really lacking in transparency. There needs to be a place where updates and goals are being reported.

        Another concern I have is the lack of public feedback. I think there should be public “town hall” type forums on family court issues. And there should be, in the least, a way to collect data and get input through an anonymous survey. There should be a way to ask families to volunteer to share their experiences, and have an experienced team research the court record to identify targeted concerns, and what the response has been. There needs to be more of an effort – period – to include the public in this process.

        Thank you for your hard work and research, I will visit your blog to read about what you are saying about the funding.

        Regards, Emily

  6. J.D. says:

    Wow! Reading your story is like reading my own. In my case Judge Robben reversed custody and gave the twins to their abuser. I went from having sole custody to just a handful of visits a year. No holidays, no vacation, to schedule to increase time, nothing. My kids are not doing well, and have anxiety, depression and lots of issues making friends. Even their grades have got worse. What can be done to hold these judges accountable?

Comments are welcome on FCI. We appreciated thoughtful and respectful comments/feedback that offers a variety of views. Any view or opinion represented in the blog comments are personal and belong to the respective commentor. This blogger reserves the right to moderate comments for suitability and may remove or edit comments that contain abusive or offensive language, images, links or accusations. Comments may also be removed if they contain personal information, identifying information or sensitive details about your location, case, minor children, those involved in your case. Please do not post full articles from other sites, as it could be a violation of copyright or intellectual property laws. Thanks for visiting!!

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