Defending Dads

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Jail for Justice — An Open Letter to the Media III

Imagine going into a court of law in the United States in response to a petition secure in the knowledge that opposing counsel was in collusion with the sitting judge.

Imagine court officials of such a base nature, they would play God with the life of a person about whom they know only what they might have heard from a biased attorney and what they’ve surmised after skimming over a case file riddled with lies.

Imagine that such persons were so intent on teaching you a lesson, they had little to no consideration for the peripheral damage their actions might cause.

Imagine being advised by your own attorney, who did not attend the hearing, to make a show of being respectful of, even awestruck with people you would avoid like the HIV virus under any other circumstance.

That’s what I faced Friday, July 22, 2016.

I don’t care what any God-awful lawyer or pompous county judges think of me, nor do my children or the people who know me. I do care that I am only one of many casually shafted by such people who make snap judgments not out of any sense of justice, but as the result of shameless, rampant cronyism within a government agency. It’s wrong and it needs to be addressed.

For your consideration:

  • The hearing held July 22, 2016 was the culmination of a petition for contempt of court originally filed March of this year alleging that I failed to comply with a property settlement agreement entered into July of 2015, to wit, I did not sign paperwork related to the division of my retirement plan;
  • It was known to all involved parties that I was not represented when presented with said paperwork;
  • I advised all involved parties that, prior to retaining new counsel, I would not sign any paperwork pending review by said counsel;
  • Regardless, opposing parties filed a petition for contempt of court on the grounds cited above and advised me of same;
  • Acting pro se, I communicated to opposing counsel my unvarnished observations of him, his behavior and my utter relief that he would soon be a distant memory to me;
  • Upon securing counsel, at a subsequent hearing which I did not attend, I was not found in contempt of court, however, the presiding judge still imposed upon me a $600.00 fine;
  • Already under considerable financial strain, I could not pay such fine;
  • Opposing counsel, whose implications that I had been less than a loving, devoted and supportive husband despite abundant evidence to the contrary absolutely litter the case file, seemed to take offense to my calling him out, here and via direct communication;
  • When I failed to remit payment within the time prescribed in the standing order, opposing counsel renewed his petition for contempt of court, demanding even more money though he was well aware of my financial responsibilities and that I was no longer employed;
  • At the July 22, 2016 hearing, acting de facto pro se, I offered valid arguments to which the presiding judge demonstrably turned a deaf ear; and
  • I was found to be in contempt of court, opposing counsel was granted his fee and I was ordered incarcerated for 2 months or until such time that the imposed fee was remitted to the county court’s administrator’s office.

For your further consideration:

  • The considerable financial demands made of divorced middle class fathers, including child support, car payments, auto insurance, mortgages, groceries, kids’ activities, entertainment and sundries, render absurd any order that I pay opposing counsel $600.00 for a petition that was denied;
  • Opposing counsel, while adept at smearing my name to suit his nefarious purposes, is paradoxically thin-skinned;
  • I have never seen a government agency act as a bill collector for an attorney in private practice;
  • Had I remained incarcerated for the duration of the two-month term imposed, I would not have been able to earn the money to meet critical financial obligations (I could have lost my home and car) including the fee imposed by the court; and
  • The psychological impact on my children of yet another unwarranted, court-imposed separation would have been cruel, unfair, incalculable, and for those responsible for such a circumstance, unconscionable.

The only conclusions to be reached are that opposing counsel and an elected county judge, both members of the Pennsylvania Bar Association expected to uphold the standards of that organization not to mention honor the public trust, were of the conviction that collecting $2,400.00 from an unemployed father of two was of far greater importance than anything going on in my life or those of my children, and failing that, I should spend two months in jail.

Really?

Learn more…

Jail for Justice — An Open Letter to the Media II

Bodhan Zelechiwsky and his cronies at the Northampton County, Pennsylvania courthouse are about as predictable — and interesting — as a bus route. I appeared there for a hearing July 22, 2016, a week ago today. As expected, the narcissistic Zelechiwsky flitted about the courtroom like a peacock, so desperate for attention, I thought he might trip over his own feet. As the presiding judge was clearly working by his own clock, we peons waiting for hearings scheduled for as early as 9:00 AM had to endure a 2-hour delay before he appeared. That a person so inconsiderate of the time of others could be either fair or impartial was a dubious prospect. When His Honor at last deigned to grace us with his magnificent presence, I could tell by the way he walked out of chambers how the day would go for me. I was prepared.

When I was finally called to stand before the judge, things went as I knew they would with two notable exceptions: (1) though I was visibly trembling with revulsion at having to play a role in that farce, I was able to make valid and coherent arguments (which were, of course, dismissed out of hand by His Honor) and (2) I was awarded an all-expenses-paid, all-inclusive weekend getaway to commence immediately!

It was all so convenient: A deputy opened a side door in the courtroom and escorted me through a labyrinth leading to the spa. At the front desk, I was asked to check in my street clothes and issued a fashionable jumpsuit of the finest fabric. I wish I had pictures, but possession or use of electronic devices by guests was against resort policy. Fortunately, there was a photographer on duty. She took three pictures of me, forward facing and both profiles. Apparently, the shots were so good, the resort elected to keep them.

Once settled in, I took a group tour of the grounds. There wasn’t much to see and the food wasn’t fit for sale at a truck stop, but the conversation was fantastic! I was enthralled with the backgrounds of and tales told by my tour mates. The last time I learned so much, I was in a classroom. The most important lessons were that the challenges I face dealing with Northampton County’s courts are staggeringly common and that short-sighted, desensitized divorce attorneys are merely a symptom of larger, systemic problems.

The prevailing sentiment among my tour mates is that the laws governing divorce and child support in the state of Pennsylvania are needlessly punitive and unfavorable to working class men inexorably dragged into the system by thoughtless, vindictive and/or self-centered spouses. As hostile as these laws are, those charged with enforcing them apparently do so with a heavy hand, destroying the quality of life for men who had the temerity to marry and father children.

Then, there were discussions of certain lawyers and judges so high off their own vapors that they seem to think themselves above the law. I heard many stories of men gifted vacation packages like mine, but for longer durations and under more absurd circumstances.

When my sojourn was over, any doubts I may have had about the course of action I’m taking were gone. Families are being demolished and the lives of hard-working, dedicated fathers are being ruined. How is this beneficial to the innocent kids caught up in post-divorce dystopia?

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