The Guardian ad Litem Who Stole Christmas, and then the Children (Jamie L. Manning, Hennepin County)

As the New Year begins, 2017 will mark 11 years that I have spent battling in family court with an abusive, personality disordered ex partner. 11 years – that is the entire length of my children’s lives.

The family court proceedings have now exceeded the entire length of my relationship with Martin A. Hegland. It is pretty pathetic to say I have a longer relationship with the Family Justice Center than a relationship that resulted in two children being born and pretty pathetic to say the halls of the cold, dark courthouse are as familiar as home. 

This poem is a rewrite of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas“. It is based on a true event from my family court case.

Before he won sole custody, Martin was court-ordered into supervised visitation after a therapist wrote a letter disclosing that my child had been choked by his father, and described in detail hands being placed around his neck. The therapist believed abuse had occurred, and attributed my son’s fragile emotional state and behaviors to abuse, and trauma.


Despite this, Guardian ad Litem Jamie L. Manning sympathized with Martin and eventually recommend sole custody to him. Jamie was aggressively pushing unsupervised visits  before the children had been stabilized, or were even comfortable with their father. Jamie’s recommendations were based solely on her own opinion, and completely disregarded other sources of information, including that of therapist working with the children. Ms. Manning also bullied those who opposed her. I lost count over the total sum of documented abuse allegations that had been documented in therapy, in CPS reports, in police reports, witnesses, medical reports etc.. and that number does not include private disclosures and drawings made by the children. And it was not just that allegations of abuse were raised but my children’s behaviors, and emotional state showed clear indicators of abuse, and severe trauma. To this day, my children have never fully recovered…and how could they, living in an abusive, dysfunctional home? To Jamie, none of that mattered – she simply did not believe abuse had happened, and any evidence saying otherwise was disregarded.

In fact, one visitation facility would not accept my family into its program because when my son was told he was going to visit his father, during intake, he had a severe meltdown and displayed violent behavior. Despite even this, Jamie worked hard to give Martin unsupervised visits.

Jamie personally recommended and made efforts to get my family into a visitation center that has  a long relationship with the court system; a facility known for following the direction of the courts and its GALs. A facility that also receives funding to get parents into its programs through a family court program. The facility is staffed by young, inexperienced interns who have little understanding of abuse and child trauma, and who were not able to meet the needs of my children during visits. Supervised visitations had been extremely difficult and not going well because both children suffered from PTSD, trauma and showed visible fear of their father during the visits (and after). The children displayed acting out behaviors, emotional problems and showed inappropriate play during supervised visits with Martin. The staff never intervened and never took any steps to alleviate the suffering my children surely experienced. Incredibly, it was considered a “success” by Jamie that my children attended visits, and their behaviors and emotional state were totally ignored.

Since Jamie refused to admit abuse happened, she needed another way to explain my children’s troubling behaviors, their poor emotional state.. and a way to silence abuse allegations forever.. So Jamie lied and said I am the problem, and if my children were taken from the mother (me) they would better adjust to living with their father (translation – children have no choice, and are forced to accept this horrific situation for their own survival). My experience is NOT unique, Jamie has done this to countless other mothers, and fathers as well. All across the State of Minnesota, other families have been victimized by Jamie L. Manning. I have also talked to several children who have since aged out of the system, but were appointed Jamie as their GAL. ALL of these aged out children described Jamie’s behavior towards them as being abusive, toxic and that she put her own agenda before their own needs and wants. ALL of these aged-out children were forced into abusive or unsafe custody situations due to the recommendations of Jamie. Who, in my **opinion** is a dangerous sociopath.

Some of these parents have come forward to talk about their horrific experience with Jamie Manning, that can be read in this City Pages Article: Separated From Their Kids, Parents Unite Against One Court Guardian by Susan Du

Jamie Manning, Guardian ad Litem

Jamie Manning, Guardian ad Litem

During this specific incident, it was Christmas time, and Martin was allowed supervised visits only.The facility did offer a festive holiday visit for families, that was a specially planned party. However, Jamie decided that was not good enough, and contacted my attorney and myself over the holidays, and demanded that I immediately hand over the children for an unsupervised visit with Martin. This visit was not court ordered. It came without warning. The therapists involved were not notified so they could prepare the children. When I objected, citing the court order, Jamie said if I did not comply that she would recommend to the court that custody be reversed and that sole custody go to Martin. My attorney was out of town, on vacation, and called me on behalf of Jamie. I will never forget the panic in his voice, he begged me to comply saying there was no other choice. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, I complied. I complied because my attorney was not available to meet with me or advise me of my rights. I was ambushed. In truth – Jamie was going to recommend custody to Martin anyways.

Numerous complaints have been filed against Jamie Manning with the Minnesota State Guardian ad Litem Board, with Suzanne Allegrio and with Laurie Kusek (program manager 4th District Court). Complaints have been filed by both fathers and by mothers, all whose children were wrongly taken from them and put into abusive or unsafe custody and/or visitation arrangements by Jamie Manning. And as I write, parents are still coming forward with horrific, real-life stories about Jamie Manning. And other parents are sharing stories from family courts across Minnesota, and other states. The State Guardian ad Litem Board refuses to acknowledge there is a problem with Jamie Manning, or any of its guardians. The State GAL Board will not investigate complaints about Jamie Manning; instead they engage in “victim blaming” and find fault with parents even when presented with evidence, witness statements and other collateral documentation that demonstrates misconduct on part of their GALs.

The devastating result is stories like mine…

Twas the night before Christmas, in a cold, dark house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Gifts were wrapped, and set under the tree with care,
Alone, a mother folded her hands in prayer.

After the father had choked his son,
He was ordered into supervised visits, where he could hurt no one.
On Christmas, the children were abruptly taken from bed,
By GAL Jamie Manning, while visions of $$ danced in her head

Court order violated, the phone buzzed with  a clatter
Attorneys pulled from their vacation to see what was the matter.
Damn the children, Jamie made a decision in a flash
If she kept the litigation going, she’d be paid a lot of cash!

Tears fell on new-fallen snow
The children were frightened as they were forced to go
Back into the house they fled nearly a year before
Son got a black eye when he was hit with the door,
Trying to hold back Dad, who dragged mom across the floor.

Son learned that day to “be the boss just like dad
He raised his fists, and swore when he got mad
At age 5 diagnosed with trauma, PTSD
Underneath a child is really what he wanted to be.

The mother, now homeless, with two children to care for
Was served with custody papers, and assaulted once more
As her abusive ex fought for custody in Hennepin County
He wanted to make her pay, the children became bounty.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So too this mother gathered reserves of strength
Not understanding his abuse would go to any length.

And then, in a twinkling, Jamie Manning was appointed
Though just a Guardian ad Litem, she acts as if she is anointed.
Called the mother a liar, the children too, when they spoke about abuse
For every red flag Jamie had an excuse.

The judge was dressed in black, from head to his foot
And justice was tarnished, with ashes and soot
In courtroom 535, a family was destroyed
When corruption was deployed.

Jamie’s eyes – how they twinkled! Her dimples so merry!
Laws easily broken, children’s lives put at risk – how scary!
Jamie threatened to reverse custody if mother said no,
So unsupervised visit with abuser on Christmas, they must go.

The children know how to pretend – as abuse victims do
They put on fake smiles as they buttoned their coat, tied their shoe.
And tried to forget last Christmas – when Dad flew into a rage
He disappeared at the casino, and was upset when he got a page
Santa was waiting, with cookies and cheer,
Mommy just needed the car to take the kids to see him this year,
Dad was on a roll playing Texas Hold ‘Em
And not ready to throw in the chips, and fold ’em.
He came home angry and not very lucky
Child would forever remember “Daddy called me stupey”
And “Daddy call me fuckey”.

Children buckled inside, the car sped away
The snow fell silently this Christmas Day
Jamie was triumphant as she got her way.

The cycle of abuse spins its crazy wheel
Today rage will come to heel
He will buy expensive gifts, and demand their love
And for the rest of
The day things will seem fine
Until he becomes angry again, and crosses a line.

Son tried to be brave
But when he came home, he did cave
He ran into his room, fell on his bed
Shouted that he “wished he were dead”!
The “meltdown” lasted 20 minutes or more…
Jamie continued to keep score.

Jamie will write a report and say the visit went well
Ignoring that the children have been put through hell.
Jamie will lie and manipulate to protect the abuser,
To him, sole custody she will refer.
A devastated mother will now spend Christmas alone
Children taken from a safe, loving home.

The abuse will continue, and the litigation too
For the family court racket this is nothing new.

Twas the night before Christmas, in a cold, dark house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Gifts were wrapped, and set under the tree with care,
Alone, a mother folded her hands in prayer.

~ Emily Court, December 2016.



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. Written by 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. She is now fighting to keep her kids safe, and bring them home. Through writing and blogging, FCI 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".
This entry was posted in Children Stolen by the Government, Domestic Violence, Family Court Injustice, Jamie Manning Guardian ad Litem and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Guardian ad Litem Who Stole Christmas, and then the Children (Jamie L. Manning, Hennepin County)

  1. “Court order violated, the phone buzzed with  a clatter
    Attorneys pulled from their vacation to see what was the matter.

    Damn the children, Jamie made a decision in a flash
    If she kept the litigation going, she’d be paid a lot of cash!” —

    –I am rolling on the ground laughing right now. I’m not laughing at the situation, but I’m laughing because this is so profound. We must post this every Christmas for all of the “hero mommies” who have lived this exact nightmare along with our “hero” child/ren. This is so . . . abnormal?

  2. CB says:

    As I read some of these stories about Jamie L. Manning I totally agree with them. She doesn’t know how to due her job. I wonder if she has any children of her own, She is clueless about everything. We are not happy at all with her.

    • Emily Court says:

      CB- My advise is document everything. Have court watchers at every hearing. Do not confide in or trust Manning. Say as little as possible, and when you make a statement be sure you have evidence to back it up (and refute the lies that are surely coming). Filing a complaint with the GAL Board won’t be easy.. but will help you document what is going on, and build a case to remove her. My prayers are with you.

      I have documentation to verify, as fact, every allegation I have raised against Jamie Manning.. and there is still more to be exposed. In my **opinion** Jamie Manning is a dangerous sociopath whose reckless regard for the safety and well-being of children has endangered countless lives, and directly caused undue suffering to children. Manning is responsible for sending children to live with abusers. And in my case, my small child was suicidal after Manning not only recommended but gave legal advise to the abuser, that allowed him to gain custody.

      Manning also punished me for raising safety concerns and specifically told me not to talk about abuse. My children were physically, mentally, emotionally harmed due to Manning’s twisted, and plain evil, desire to give custody to an identified abuser. They have never recovered… and never experienced a real childhood.

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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