By Dr. Leon Koziol
Civil Rights Advocate and Director
Parenting Rights Institute
Another killing of a civilian took place in San Francisco this week, adding to the growing carnage and riots evolving from the George Floyd murder. Add more to that carnage now with the silent death of another family court victim, Gary Woodruff.
As an accomplished civil rights attorney for more than two decades, I warned of such carnage in countless forums, news conferences, editorials, website alerts and peaceful protests. I was viciously persecuted as a result not unlike my counterparts in China who sought to protect whistle blowing doctors trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Here in America, I was targeted not only by law enforcement, but by judges of the highest order. I took a conscientious stand against court abuses and over-billing practices in our nation’s divorce and family courts. Indeed I sacrificed beyond anything an American should for this vital cause.
I was motivated, in part, by the number of dads and veterans committing suicide each day as a result of needless separations from their children and draconian support enforcement practices. Such practices are designed to maximize lawyer fees and court revenues under the Title IV-D program.
Racial minorities remain the predominant victims. Indeed an unarmed dad, Walter Scott, was murdered by a cop in South Carolina in 2015 while running from a support warrant at a traffic stop. Like the George Floyd brutality, such practices lacked real accountability due to politicians catering to special interests.
Filling jails with support debtors is lucrative under Title IV-D. Any doubt can be dispensed by reference to the “kids for cash” scandal in Pennsylvania where two family judges were convicted of taking bribes from detention center contractors based on the number of juveniles they could send them.
I attended the Walter Scott funeral, upstaging a national media interview of Congressman James Clyburn. He was dodging the core issue under Title IV-D which contributed to the murder, but eventually promised a meeting on the subject before the same media.
However he reneged on that commitment to the time of the George Floyd murder, even after our lobby visit to his office last year during our 3-day Parent March on Washington. So is it police brutality we are fighting or something more sinister and prevalent in our justice system?
Make no mistake, court corruption is real, and I experienced it first hand in judge chambers and closed hearings, over the telephone, and in off-record social exchanges. This is the “elephant in the courtroom.”
After all, we can rightfully convict the police involved in the George Floyd murder, but what about the countless victims of discriminatory practices in our courts where we seek justice? Try to take on such a powerful society and you’ll end up like me, especially without any legal protection and no backing from any special interest group.
I was never charged with a crime, never reported for child neglect or abuse, and never found guilty of any malpractice. But over time, my whistle blowing activity resulted in the loss of my licenses, stellar reputation, livelihood, father-daughter relations and ultimately a secret “shoot on sight” support warrant concocted by a racist judge, Gerald Popeo and a county sheriff, Robert Maciol.
Prior to this witch hunt, I obtained a $300,000 recovery for a race victim against that Sheriff Department. And Judge Popeo was publicly censored in 2015 for serious misconduct by a judicial commission but never removed. He consequently managed an assignment to my family court case to avenge that censure three years later.
Now, a loving dad, Gary Woodruff, becomes just another statistic. After 18 years of family court battles, he was permanently alienated from his only son as I was from my two precious daughters. He was subjected to draconian support collection practices that seized $1,000 of his $1,100 disability checks.
Gary also lost the employment he did have due to the pandemic, and thanks to the likes of Nancy Pelosi, his relief checks were re-routed to a “custodial parent” residing with a rich guy and a 22 year old son who did not need it. When subjected to an eviction from his home by the Florida Department of Revenue, it was all he could take. He suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly.
But that does not end the persecution even after a death that has been described as a court-induced murder. Gary’s emergency contact, Glen Gibellina, attempted over the past week to obtain the body of Gary Woodruff for a proper burial but red tape prevented it due to the alienated son’s superior authority. So as Glen put it during our Monday conference call, the body remains on a slab at the morgue.
God bless humanitarians like Glen Gibellina for attempting a proper send-off for his friend.
We will be discussing all this on tonight’s nationwide conference call of the Parenting Rights Institute, 7pm ET, Thursday, June4, 2020. It’s free, highly informative, and open to all. We hope to chart a better course for meaningful reforms and direct them to the memory of Gary Woodruff, Walter Scott and all the other needless fatalities of a corrupt domestic court system. Call (605) 313-4427; access# 583326.
These conferences open with casual discourse as callers come on. We follow with guest speakers, tonight Glen Gibellina, and continue with question-answer sessions. They conclude with open discussion about personal ordeals. We conduct them every Monday and Thursday as a public service during the Covid-9 Pandemic.