Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
The Enforcement Of New York State’s Domestic Violence Laws By Westchester County And The Need For Legislative Reform - Part II
Editor’s Note: The Court Report presents the second in a two-part series by Attorney Matthew Kletter. Part I appeared in our April 3rd edition.
• • •
By Matthew L. Kletter, Esq.
After one year in the system, Stockholm syndrome begins to set in. The person who has been targeted by DSS (and the local violence shelter) is ordered by a Family Court Judge to participate in “supervised visitation”. That person begins to believe that he/she actually did something so wrong as to warrant being separated from their own children. The children, who are in their teens, begin to believe the same and to refuse to participate in supervised visitation. In the meantime, during the entire period in which “supervised visitation” is taking place, which can last years, the parent subjected to “supervised visitation” is not permitted to explain to their children much of anything about what
happened between their parents (a nominal amount is permitted provided it is unbiased). As a result, the parent who is not in supervised visitation gains a home court advantage, permitting them to brainwash the children even though this, in and of itself, constitutes a form of child abuse. The private agencies that assist with this process routinely write-up the person in supervision for having used poor judgment with his/her children in order to increase their take.
For those who successfully complete the plan prescribed for them, there is ultimate graduation out of the system and resumption of their daily routine, including unsupervised access to one’s children. This can take anywhere from 9-19 months. Those who do not follow the guidelines of DSS and the courts, and fall outside of the system, frequently do not see their children until they reach the age of majority.
The Big Picture
You might ask, what’s really happening here that has caused this? What’s happening is as follows:
The local women’s rights advocates have hijacked the Westchester County Family Court system; they literally have been given multiple offices within the Westchester Family Court building. Federal dollars, $400 million annually, are flooding into the State’s supporting domestic violence organizations of every shape and form, e.g., Legal Services of Hudson Valley, My Sister’s Place, Mental Health Associates
of Westchester, WJCS, the Northern Westchester Domestic Violence Shelter, etc. Such intensive funding of these entities has served to solidify the power base of the local and state women’s advocates.
Judges are issuing TOP’s like candy to avoid risking their own jobs, to protect the County from actions that may occur in the event someone accused of wrongdoing proves to have posed a threat to others. The Judges are not truly exercising independent judgment, deferring as many discretionary decisions as possible to outside professionals.
Professionals in the County are prospering from the Orders granted by the Judges and, as a result, are silently perpetuating the system for their own benefit. There is an inherent conflict of interest that prevents lawyers in the system from acting zealously on their client’s behalf, i.e., they do not benefit by challenging what is happening. There are even lawyers in the County who specialize in filing TOP’s for female spouses They are viewed as champions by their clients and colleagues due to the fact that they know how to play a game that is fixed, fixed in the sense that a woman is almost guaranteed to prevail if she simply strikes first.
The end result is a social service agency supported by a judicial system in such a way that the original intent of New York State’s Domestic Violence Laws has been largely subverted. Enforcement of the New York State Domestic Violence Laws is no longer simply about protecting individuals from imminent harm. It’s become a means for rogue spouses to gain leverage in financial matters that short circuit custody proceedings.
Reform of New York State’s Domestic Violence Laws
Essentially what needs to change is as follows:
• New York State needs to adopt “no fault” divorce laws. A tremendous amount of time and resources are being devoted by the system at large to attend to maneuvers by spouses that are not based in reality but are designed to gain leverage in custody and support proceedings. Apparently, adopting “no-fault” divorce laws in New York State is easier said than done;
• Non-binding mediation should be mandatory prior to all matrimonial “Trials”;
• Temporary Orders of Protection should not be upheld for more than 15 days without some form of “Preliminary Hearing” so that both
parties have an opportunity to state their position before a Judge;
• Temporary Orders of Protection need to automatically lapse in the event a formal “Hearing” does not occur within 120 days of the date they are issued;
• New York State’s perjury laws need to be reformed to provide for stiffer penalties for committing perjury in a Court proceeding and lawyers who are found to be advising their clients to lie in their affidavits should be subjected to disciplinary proceedings;
• A person should not be able to be “indicated” by a Department of Social Services case worker who does not hold at least an MSW;
• Supervised Visitation should not be Ordered unless a preliminary hearing has occurred and the Respondent’s attorney has had an opportunity to cross-examine the Petitioner before the presiding Judge; and
• All expungment hearings should take place within six (6) months of a person being “indicated” or such status should automatically be
modified to “unfounded”.
• Permanent custody proceedings should not be held until the expungment process has been exhausted.
These steps would go a long way in making the system more just.
Based on my experience with the “system”, I believe that most of the people who run the system are good people. It’s thanks to the fairness of the people who run the system that I am where I am today, seeing my children properly (unsupervised). However, I remain very concerned based upon what I experienced. The “system” here in Westchester County, in particular, the Child Protective Services Unit of the Westchester County Department of Social Services and the Northern Westchester Domestic Violence Shelter, each need to be investigated by State authorities to determine the extent to which they are collaborating in conducting gender-biased investigations of citizens here in Westchester County resulting in false “indications” of individuals at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and
thereby resulting in the deprivation of those individuals Constitutionally protected access to their children and property. New York State’s Domestic Violence Laws need to be reformed so that they are less susceptible to abuse by people who seek to play the system to their advantage.
Westchester’s 2006 Businessperson Of The Year Released From County Jail After 17 Months
United States District Court, White Plains
Judge Stephen C. Robinson Presiding
The Westchester Guardian was pleased to learn, two weeks ago, that Terrence Chalk, Westchester 2006 Businessperson Of The Year, was released on bail from the Westchester County Jail where he had been detained on federal charges since October 31, 2006, some 17 months. Readers will recall that Mr. Chalk’s estranged twin brother Todd is an agent with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, with close connections in the FBI, who has come under investigative and judicial scrutiny for his seizure of the assets and estates of their father, their aunt and, most recently, their mother.
Terrence was interviewed over lunch in downtown White Plains several days ago. Asked how it felt to finally be out of jail, he exclaimed, “It
feels very good. It’s unbelievable.” When asked about what’s been happening with his parents’ and aunt’s assets, allegedly confiscated by his twin brother Todd, Terrence explained that their older brother, Al Chalk, apparently concerned with Todd’s activity, had hired a New York City Attorney, Joseph Gruner, who is now representing all three estates. Apparently there has been some concern by brother Todd, as Terrence explained, “Todd has transferred the title to her house back into mom’s estate.”
Additionally, he told The Guardian, “Todd was summoned to appear in Queens Supreme Court by Attorney Gruner to explain his disposition of dad’s estate, worth about $250,000.”
Contrary to previous information, Terrence told us he was not charged with identification theft. He explained, “My brother’s involvement in this case skewed the investigative team’s judgment.” Mr. Chalk explained that his case, “is now in the motions phase.” He went
on, “We are not seeking suppression. We are asking, where’s all the data?” He explained, “There were two databases, one of which recorded all of my and my employees’ activities. That database is nowhere to be found.”