Thursday, March 19, 2009
Catherine Wilson, Bureau Chief
Retaliatory Court Harassment
In the February 12, and February 26, 2009 editions of The Guardian, this reporter revealed incredible abuses in the court system by a convicted felon who was manipulating the trust fund of an Asperger’s Syndrome child. The convicted felon in question was ex-New York State Senator, Joseph Pisani. As a long-term legislator, Pisani was influential in the political careers of many prominent Republican leaders, including Al
and Jeanine Pirro. Pisani was removed from office and disbarred when he was convicted of mail fraud and embezzlement. In the Guardian articles, we asked for a response from the Court. Last week we received the Court’s response.
On March 3, this reporter was served with a 200+ page motion from a member of the White Plains Courthouse. The attorney selected to issue
this payback to me is actually my ex-husband, Ray Powers, the legal assistant to Judge Nick Colabella in White Plains Supreme Court.
Colabella is a life-long Republican player who was aided in his early search for political power by Pisani.
This reporter was well aware that my revelation of Pisani’s latest abuses might trigger a retaliatory reaction from the Court, possibly from Colabella. However, even I could not imagine that they would stoop so low as to attack my children and to use their father as the messenger.
The Court’s response is sadly indicative of a pattern of abusive, harassing, and arrogant behavior in our legal system. To attempt to manipulate me into backing off on my whistle-blowing of the corruption in the Court, my ex was used to compose a motion that seeks to free him of his college cost obligations for our children. This motion was craftily and manipulatively conceived and clearly took considerable time and effort to compose,
possibly on taxpayers’ time and on taxpayers’ equipment to boot.
Some background on this motion: In his current position, Ray earns a base income of $130,000 with approximately another $60,000 in annual benefits. Ray receives heavily subsidized health and dental insurance, free eyeglasses annually, over six weeks paid vacation, paid sick and personal
time, and twelve annual holidays among his benefits. He will also receive a $76,000 annual pension and retirement health benefits that are completely subsidized by taxpayer dollars.
In today’s economy, these benefits are unheard of for those of us who either work for small business or are self-employed. I earn a fraction
of Ray’s income and must finance my health, dental, life, and disability insurance and my retirement myself out of that income.
When benefit costs are factored in, our comparative net incomes are 90 percent vs. 10 percent. Yet the judges in our local courts have consistently ruled that Ray, their co-worker, need only pay 60% of our children’s education costs, while I must struggle to come up with 40 percent. A commission contracted by the New York State Unified Court System in 2004 found that those with money, power, and influence in our court system are routinely able to manipulate the system to their advantage, and local attorneys who work on or finance judicial campaigns
are routinely rewarded with favorable decisions by those judges.
The commission referred to this preferential treatment as “system abuse”. Not content to be paying only a mere $6K a year at present for
our son’s $49K Syracuse university costs (Ray’s contribution was also “capped” at a maximum annual amount to boot), Ray is now seeking to deduct his college costs contribution from his child support payments. Apart from the immorality of trying to escape his financial obligations for his own child, the timing of this motion is extremely suspect. Ray has been paying these costs since last August. Why wait to file this motion
until now, two weeks after my articles appeared? Clearly this is payback. But the timing also reveals how attorneys manipulate and deliberately overpower their opposition.
Ray visited our son in mid-February in Syracuse and discussed his housing plans on campus for next year. In that discussion, our son revealed
that if he took a Resident Assistant (RA) job at one of the dorms, his room and board would be free but needed to do so immediately since the due date was imminent. His father, however, agreed with our son to simply double up on roommates to keep his costs down and forego the RA application. Why is this significant? Because in typical dirty lawyer tactics, Ray then waited to serve me with this motion until two days after the
due date for the RA applications had passed. So if his motion is successful and I am forced to pay the full cost of our son’s college education,
I have no way to try to reduce those costs for next year since it is too late to submit an RA application.
Our son may have to drop out of Syracuse completely as a result. Given the far-reaching political influence of Ray’s boss, Judge Colabella, whose friends and golfing buddies include George Pataki and Donald Trump, and the obvious determination of the Court to pay me back for daring to reveal their corruption and abuses, it is clear that they will punish my children, and jeopardize their futures to boot, to force me to back off on
my investigations of their corruption and abuses. After all, Pisani, the surrogate judge, Scarpino, and the administrative judge, Nicolai, were the individuals who stood idly by and risked the life of an innocent Asperger’s Syndrome child.
If they clearly don’t even care about the health and safety of a handicapped child, why would they care about an able-bodied child’s college education? What hope do my children, or anyone else’s, have for justice with such individuals at the realm?
Employing dirty pool tactics, like deliberately stalling until after critical due dates are passed to punish and victimize opponents, are far too commonplace by both the attorneys and judges in our legal system. Litigants and defendants are routinely pressured, harassed, and manipulated to surrender their rights, sign unfavorable agreements, or simply acquiesce to the abuse. With a minimum of effort this week, the Guardian quickly uncovered other examples of these dirty tactics. One woman wrote to us of her experiences in local Family Court. She wrote: “My attorney took a retainer, and assured me that he will fight for my best interests and convinced me that I will do very well in the divorce proceedings. I mistakenly
trusted him. Months later I discovered that I was not kept informed, court documents have been drawn up by the opposing attorney on my behalf, my court dates were cancelled and postponed because he was unprepared or had taken other clients’ cases.
And when I appeared in court for a court date, three or four other clients were also there so that he was representing all of us and charging us all for the same time. When I questioned him, I was told that if I didn’t agree to the way he was representing me he will no longer represent me and I should find another attorney even though he now had my retainer plus other monies and I had no more money to hire someone else.
Ultimately my attorney only wanted to take the easy way out and simply agree on my behalf with whatever the opposition wanted for his client as long as the opposing attorney did all the work. All my attorney had to do was coerce and intimidate me into agreeing and if I didn’t he threatened that I would ‘get nothing’ until I ‘cooperated’ which was what happened. My attorney simply did not inform me of critical court dates and basically told the opposing attorney to draw up whatever agreements he wanted. However, my attorney gave the ‘illusion’ that I had a say by
asking me to draw up my own documents the way I wanted, asking for what I wanted - the only problem was all my input although submitted
was ignored yet I was billed. In addition, in court the ‘judge’ who was handling my case, represented herself as a judge but unbeknownst to me at the time she was actually a mediator who treated me as a disgruntled wife, threatened what she would do to me if I went to trial and sided with the opposing attorney while my attorney sat silent. This case was my nightmare for two years and I was becoming physically ill from the stress. I
finally gave up just to end this.”
Another story from an attorney: Lawyer husband and Judge went to law school together but Judge does not recuse himself. Grants custody to alcoholic husband which Appellate Division reverses and remands for determination on visitation. Judge before recusing himself, in retaliation, appoints known horrific Forensic Jennifer Flynn Campbell (another judge’s daughter). Campbell tells new judge that custody should be with father (despite Appellate Division ruling) and children are shipped off to notorious boot camp in the hills of Texas for deprogramming on Parental alienation and mom and siblings given no access, visit or calls, or knowledge of 7 and 9 year old girls. is Rachel’s Foundation has history of lawsuits and criminality - brought up to Campbell at trial, judge aware - none the less Judge permits.....AS ABUSIVE ALCOHOLIC FATHER (PUNCHED
HIS 14 AND 16 YEAR OLD BOYS) regularly practices in that part AND he and this new judge are on same AA or NA meetings....
These tactics are not limited to Westchester County courts. Local attorneys submitted their tales of horrors from surrounding courts: “Suffolk County Judge and ‘conjoined counsel’ demand that mother sign ‘temporary’ stipulation giving father residential custody despite clear evidence that under father’s care 2 young daughters, 6 and 4, were subject to physical violence resulting in father’s removal from house.
Harassed, this mother believing she would ‘lose custody’ altogether and it would be temporary after a hearing....hearing then was declared a mistrial so ‘temporary’ now turns out to be permanent without any finding at all...” “Nassau County Judge signing an Order that says parties ‘stipulated
to grounds’ which Judge tried to force by our member refused..but he issued order anyway saying they stipulated..this we have proof of.”
“Same Nassau County Judge called police witness who was due to testify and told him not to come to court (tampering with witness)... Cop calls litigant, litigant calls me, she taped cop saying Judge called, transcribes tape, following day confronts judge who recuses himself.”
“Nassau County Supreme Court Judge forces litigant to not testify to her husbands’ battery since she got scared after he beat her up and he said if you go forward we’ll lose everything and she dropped charges. Later when she tried bringing it up in court, Judge threatened to jail her if he now
testified to beating.”
Of course, women are not the only victims of such judicial manipulation. Men are also abused by our court system, however, less frequently. One father reports: “More Long Island: I had given my attorney 14 names, witnesses to support my quest for custody. He brought none. I gave the Law
Guardian a binder of evidence, witnesses, photos, etc, along with a check for $5,000, and it was clear from things he said to me that he never looked at the binder. I argued for nearly two hours in the hallway with my attorney telling me to face reality, men don’t get custody, before relenting and agreeing. The Judge, McGuirk, gave me the standard rundown, ‘Were you pressured?’ etc., and I agreed to the custody arrangement. I felt like a prisoner who had been tortured and finally signed a false confession.
His coercion to sign his house over to his wife or the judge threatened him with jail. His case was particularly egregious because the wife is an escort and the house is still being used for her escort business with his kids there!!!!”
Unfortunately, the Courts do not seem to learn from their prior bad behavior, even in my case. My ex kept a list of Judge Colabella’s kickback appointments to local political bosses and contributors on our home computer, out of sight of State audits. When the FBI conducted their investigation of the corruption in the White Plains courts, I gave them a copy of this kickback list.
The Court found an extremely creative way to punish me in retaliation. Ray had been successful in getting the Court to make me cosign a $75,000 equity line with him on our house to “pay expenses”. We split those funds in cash and split the monthly payments for over a year with no problem. But after I went to the FBI, the Court then ruled that “since I was still living in the house, I should pay the equity line”. In full.
It would be bad enough that I was court-ordered to finance Ray’s personal expenses except I had evidence of what he so desperately needed the money for when he asked for this loan. Ray had used his $37,500 share of this equity line to pay o his credit card debts, charges that included $800 Bed & Breakfast weekends, Match.com membership fees, $150 dinners at local romantic inns, and liquor store charges, all incurred on his personal credit card while we were still married. And no, none of this was spent on me.
So, to retaliate against me for daring to reveal the millions of dollars of annual kickback appointments in our local Courts to the FBI, I was court-ordered to finance Ray’s adultery! I have actually been court-ordered to cut a check monthly to finance my ex-spouse’s philandering!
And since the loan to pay his credit card charges for his adultery expenses is against my house, if I don’t pay these bills, I will lose mine and my childrens’ home! But the Court did not learn from their prior abuse of me. That court order did not stop me from revealing their abuses, indeed it
was the catalyst that inspired me to start an entirely new career of investigative reporter and crusader against abuse and corruption wherever it is found. As one attorney told the Court after that decision “all you did was turn her into a fighter”. Back then, the Court lashed out at me in retaliation.
But now they are attacking my children. It’s one thing to make “Mama Bear” mad. But when you attack “Mama Bear’s cubs”…….. Our Westchester Courts should hang their heads for this shamelessly manipulative response to the Guardian’s exposure of their abuses and their use of
innocent children to do so. All the Court’s response did here was to prove the Guardian’s initial reporting of the abuses and manipulation of victims before our local Courts.