By Dr. Leon Koziol
Parenting Rights Institute
This month I completed an expensive business plan for the Parenting Rights Institute to secure major funding for an initiative to reverse the escalating process of criminalizing fathers in our nation’s family courts. It is based on my thirty years of litigation experience, countless case studies across America and ten years of courageous reform efforts in a conscientious stand taken against my profession. Below is the powerful opening statement behind this latest initiative. Please do your part by promoting it, sharing it and supporting us financially.
Over the past half century, western society has seen an alarming transformation in fatherhood, from its traditional respected status to an incompetent, violent, absentee reputation. We have seen this trend in politics, entertainment, school districts, child rearing and social institutions. The act of denigrating a male parent or blaming him for a myriad of problems has become fashionable, even encouraged without so much as a critical footnote from mainstream media.
The infection of social thought with dad stigmatization might not be rectified any time soon, but when reverse sexism obtains legal protection, it is the duty of a self-governing people to respond. That duty begins in our family courts because this is where protected discrimination is most blatant and harmful to all society. A Supreme Court Justice once described these tribunals as “kangaroo” courts, but conditions since the time of that opinion have only seriously worsened.
This prospectus will show how that occurred, why corrective action is urgent, and it comes from a parental advocate who successfully litigated complex cases in federal and state courts for over thirty years. The goal is to raise sufficient funds behind a research, watchdog and lobbying entity to properly police and reform a self-regulated judicial bureaucracy where support enforcement and domestic violence by fathers obtain state prosecution but false accusations, clear perjury by spiteful moms, custody abuses and extortion through incarceration are ignored or covered up.
For background, during the 1970s, Congress began legislating laws to track down absentee fathers to ease a growing welfare burden. Well intentioned, these laws were never divested of male parent targeting. Exemplary is a January, 2016 “Dead Beat Dad” crusade by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Over time, the scope of enforcement practices was enlarged to include all “noncustodial parents.” Its effect was to merge good, bad and absentee dads so that federal funding could be vastly increased while jeopardizing the long term viability of social security.
In a quest to maximize state revenues under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, performance quotas were devised based on the number and magnitude of child support orders manufactured in family courts. The new rule of law became a profit motive for lawyers and lawyers on the bench. Through these “incentive grants,” judicial impartiality was sacrificed to the almighty buck with much less value placed on father-child relationships. In callous manner, family judges were incarcerating dads to alarming levels for a debt euphemistically termed “child support.”
In other debt instances, such imprisonment would be unlawful. But with children as its pretext and contempt of court as a weapon, the unconstitutional debtor prison was functionally resurrected with no public outcry. Gradually, these tribunals were rendered inherently prejudiced against fathers who may have simply been the victim of a bad economy. Lawyers were retained often with borrowed funds on a good faith belief that basic rights would avert the horror of being caged like an animal. No one came to the rescue because foxes were guarding the hen house.
In one of the most ironic twists, girls, women and moms were slaughtered along the way. Their own fathers, brothers, sons and partners became victims while countless dads recognizing the futility of fighting for their parental rights simply walked out of their children’s lives. This only added to the epidemic, undermining the original goals behind these laws. As the carnage grew, so did the number and variety of beneficiaries in the way of evaluators, “experts,” psychiatrists, pharmaceutical companies, mediators and more. They turned sparks of conflict into forest fires.
At first blush, the notion that courts are criminalizing fathers for profit is a hard pill to swallow. However, stripped of all the legal jargon and propaganda, draconian enforcement practices have been making criminals of non-criminal parents for many years while inciting crimes of horrific proportion including those committed by fatherless children in our schools, communities and workplaces. If those debtor practices were limited to the standard income and asset executions, we would not have the dubious distinction as the most imprisoned nation in the “free” world.
Despite profound advancements in equal rights for women, minorities and newly recognized classes of people, the Census Bureau continues to report that nearly 85% of parents paying child support are fathers. If those statistics were recorded for male employment, women would be rioting well beyond Trump’s White House. A review of public warrant lists shows that as much as 20% of arrestees are connected to support. Inmate lists follow the same pattern. Nearly all are fathers with veterans and minorities most vulnerable to suicides, violence and drug addiction.
Fatherless children are often a factor in mass shootings. Even where dads remain active in separate parenting environments, their authority is countermanded by judges purporting to act in the “best interests” of children they can never truly know. The emasculation of men, a futility in asserting a father’s basic rights and the sexist stigma of “dead beat dads” promote abandonment of vital parenting roles which have stood the test of time. This is a system which presumes that a dad has no desire to support his offspring while torturing the very incentive for doing so.
There is no refund or accountability when recipients of these welfare styled benefits spend their tax-free “awards” on drug abuse, gambling or vanity excesses. Meanwhile, judges charged with the highest duty of safeguarding our rights are eroding them instead. An antiquated “child custody” system remains “the law” in most states in lieu of progressive shared parenting because custody and support “wars” are lucrative whereas co-parenting is not. For the same reason, the damage caused by this revenue generating scheme is highly suppressed from public knowledge.
Money has become the priority in place of our children’s true best interests turning family courts into a socialist industry while making a mockery of our constitutions. Criminals, even violent felons, often receive lower sentences, less stigma and far greater rights than dads do here. They have freedom from self-incrimination, indigent free counsel, stricter due process protections, mandated disclosure, highest standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, jury rights and more.
In shocking contrast, a father can be incarcerated for extended periods without so much as an accusation of a crime and none of the rights just cited. And it can be wrapped up in a matter of months, even weeks. So reckless has it become that a contempt prosecution can be commenced by mail service of a summons with boldface capital letter warnings of arrest and imprisonment for up to seven years. Any non-appearance is ruthlessly answered by an arrest warrant instead of the standard default for other civil cases with an undertaking (bail) as a condition for release.
Should an errant debtor be fortunate to avoid immediate incarceration on a warrant, he will be “released on his own recognizance” no differently than an accused rapist. The entire process has been turned upside down with only the prosecuting parent given the benefit of free counsel. Indeed, when viewing the substance and not the formalities of these “family” court cases, they bear all the trappings of a criminal prosecution without the necessary constitutional safeguards.
In short, these “constitution-free zones” facilitate the easy imprisonment of fathers for profit. Worse yet, unlike any other targeted member of society, a debtor can become a revolving door inmate for an indefinite term of confinement, theoretically to the extreme of life imprisonment as a repeat offender. This is achieved through other draconian practices such as “imputed income” (judge speculated earnings), accruing monthly support obligations during incarceration, and a federal felony conviction should a father cross state lines under circumstances of flight.
Collection practices mirror those of loan sharks and underworld figures. Family judges know that payment will be made by high risk loans, employers or loved ones. The fleecing process is backed by the power of confinement. It was this sort of civil contempt, depicted as “keys to the jailhouse,” which landed California attorney and judicial whistle blower Richard Fine in solitary at age 70 for 18 months. As the Los Angeles County Sheriff aptly decried on CNN, such cells would have been better occupied by criminals given early releases due to prison overcrowding.
The most ominous aspect of this court process is that the parent who has been advised to war against the other has little knowledge of the potential magnitude of destruction until it is too late. The children may suffer most in the end while the lawyers and beneficiaries simply walk away from the damage they cause when the money has all been tapped. Then they blame the outcomes on their clients. There is no honor, remorse or concern for any of the carnage because this is “the law” without any mention made of the bar associations and special interests which produced it.
In consequence, meaningful reform efforts have failed across the board. Protests have likewise been suppressed through abuses of a parens patriae power that would be the envy of the FBI, CIA and IRS. Viet Nam veteran Thomas Ball protested by burning himself alive in front of a New Hampshire family court. Unlike the self-immolation he tried to copy in Morocco resulting in global media coverage, this one got little notice. They merely swept his ashes into a sewer. Still, he left a manifesto showing how to construct Molotov cocktails for attacking courthouses.
What little reform may be evident is focused on symptoms such as domestic violence prevention. Its futility is borne out by such cases as an upstate New York police investigator who committed a murder-suicide leaving four children without either parent. A high conflict divorce led to the easily obtained protection order against the dad followed by career damage and the confiscation of weapons. When support court left investigator Joseph Longo subsisting on marginal income, it was the last straw. He resorted to a common kitchen knife to register his form of protest.
The tactic of child exploitation to serve an illicit purpose is not new. It has been routinely employed by tyrannical regimes throughout history. For example, Adolph Hitler advised in his book, Mein Kampf, that if the state simply declares it is acting for the benefit of children, the people will “happily” give up their rights. Here, the tyrant is not so much a person as it is a giant bureaucracy and the illicit nature is not a war machine but an insatiable taxing monster. It has been unleashed on sensitive family relationships with little regard for the higher laws of nature.
While all this background was not known by Walter Scott on April 4, 2015, the gist of it was when he fled a child support warrant at a traffic stop in South Carolina. A “repeat offender” of child support orders, he had done enough prison time without commission of a crime and was shot dead in the back five times unarmed by a white officer. It would have been publicized otherwise but the horrific act was captured on cell phone by a concealed pedestrian. That event was blamed on racism, but as we shall see, our family courts were now killing for money.
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