Civil Gideon Movement Looks to Expand Right to Publicly Provided Legal Counsel

The Supreme Court’s 1963 decision in Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteeing low-income citizens the right to publicly funded defense lawyers in criminal cases had a momentous day in Philadelphia last week

On the same day, a group of private attorneys who take court-appointed cases representing indigent criminal defendants filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia and its court system, claiming that the low rates of compensation for attorneys and other experts violate their clients’ constitutional rights. And the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest section and a similar group from the Pennsylvania Bar Association concluded a year’s worth of work by holding a plenary meeting about expanding the right for the indigents to have lawyers in civil cases.

The planning for the “Civil Gideon: A Right to Counsel in Civil Cases” gathering Thursday was kick-started following the American Bar Association’s passage of a resolution to expand the right for publicly-provided legal counsel in civil cases where low-income people’s basic needs would be adversely affected without having counsel.

Both the state and city bar associations passed similar resolutions to the ABA’s resolution. Karen L. Forman, pro bono counsel at Saul Ewing, and Marsha Levick, legal director at the Juvenile Law Center, have been chairing the 15-strong Philadelphia Bar Association group. Dveera Segal, an associate professor of law at Villanova Law School, chaired the 19-member Pennsylvania Bar Association task force.

“There’s a huge pro se population in our courts,” Forman said. “And it reaches epidemic proportions.”

Debra Gardner, legal director of the Public Justice Center in Baltimore and coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, said the Civil Gideon movement started on a national level in 2003. In Maryland, the Civil Gideon movement started in 2000 with a project to seek the expansion through litigation of the indigent right to counsel on a broad basis in civil cases.

The movement is pursuing state-level efforts because of the conservative state of the U.S. Supreme Court and because of a lack of current desire to revisit a U.S. Supreme Court precedential decision with the current crop of justices, Gardner said. In the 1981 Lassiter v. Department of Social Services, the court ruled there is no 14th Amendment due process right in cases where the state seeks to terminate parental rights (the Supreme Court did hold a state court may appoint counsel), Gardner said.

“We’re urging people to think about what they can do in their states,” Gardner said. “I don’t think there’s a soul on this planet who thinks it would be wise to ask the current U.S. Supreme Court about civil rights to counsel.”

But given that the court has revisited issues about the legality of criminalizing sodomy and the execution of juveniles, Gardner thinks there will be a time to revisit Lassiter.

“We must have as the law of the land the rights to civil counsel in basic human needs cases,” Gardner said.

In the first test case of this effort in Maryland, Frase v. Barnhart, the court did not reach the issue of the right to counsel. But three judges in a concurrence said that they would recognize a constitutional right to counsel in some cases.

Gardner said her partners and she are looking for another “sympathetic contested custody case” where the court would have to address their constitutional civil Gideon arguments.

In other jurisdictions, Civil Gideon proponents will have to decide if they should start with an effort to enact legislation or if a court battle is the best tack, Gardner said.

In Maryland, the Civil Gideon’s legal arguments include:

* The Maryland Declaration of Rights is different from the federal constitution and has open courts and equal access provisions; the inability to afford counsel violates the right to access the courts.

* Under separation of powers, the judiciary is required to make sure the legal system of adversary justice works and that the indigent have access to counsel.

* That the Magna Carta and English common laws, which include the right to counsel for indigent civil plaintiffs with meritorious causes of action, apply to Marylanders because the constitutions’ framers intended that all English laws that existed on July 4, 1776, applied to Marylanders.

* The Maryland Declaration of Rights has a due process clause like the federal constitution, but that Maryland should reject the Lassiter decision.

Laura Abel, deputy director of the justice program at the New York legal think tank Brennan Center for Justice, said that an effort to expand the right to counsel in civil cases in New York started with the goal of finding “low-hanging fruit.” The goal, she said, was to find an area of law that wasn’t too controversial and in which a civil right to counsel could be established as a foundation for future efforts in other areas of law.

The New York low-hanging fruit: a bill has been introduced in the New York City Council to provide counsel for low-income, elderly New York City residents during eviction proceedings and foreclosure proceedings, Abel said.

Abel also noted that states have an uneven guarantee of counsel in civil cases, often limited to narrow situations (New York has a right to counsel in unemployment benefits case when the employer is appealing a decision in favor of the claimant.).

Pennsylvania already guarantees representation in some civil law situations, including counsel for people facing involuntary mental health commitments and counsel for children during involuntary termination proceedings of parental rights when one or both of the parents contest the proceedings.

But in housing matters and in child custody, Pennsylvania low-income citizens don’t have the right to lawyers and they can lose their rights if they are in a court case being litigated with a lawyer on the other side, Forman said.

State Rep. Kathy M. Manderino, D-Philadelphia, said that she hoped her remarks weren’t taken as a slam to the positive energy generated to the meeting. But she pointed out that any Civil Gideon effort in Pennsylvania must choose its tactics and targets carefully. A litigation approach might fail because prior court decisions ordering state funding for the court system have been ignored. “You can see where that got us,” Manderino said. “The Legislature basically ignores what the court says.”

— Amaris Elliott-Engel, Staff Reporter

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11 Comments on “Civil Gideon Movement Looks to Expand Right to Publicly Provided Legal Counsel”

  1. closerlook Says:

    Who is going to get a free lawyer and who isn’t? What percentage of the population can afford to pay a lawyer $200 an hour +? Landlords aren’t rich. When my mother had a stroke, I went to evict her tenant because she needed the house to pay for a nursing home. He got a free lawyer and a Spanish interpreter. Even though he had several months to move, because of a technicality in the date of mailing of the notice, he got to stay. The judge told me to “get a lawyer.” I paid $400 for a lawyer and gave two months’ free rent to get him out of the apartment.

  2. Arelarniveven Says:

    cialis permit to be a border to meals

  3. Justic Denied Says:

    It seems that the injustice system has trampled all over our rights.I support the civil Gideon movementbecause I along with my children have been a victim in the family courts.Good Mothers should NOT lose custody because they can’t afford counsel.Attorneys charge 350 an hour!!!on average and that is not affordable to most people.There is a bias that exists and the issue has reached epidemic proportions.The family courts cannot continue to rule in the wealthier parents favor and allow personal
    prejudice to enter into the descision.If there is not something done about this there will be alot more people going underground with their children.

  4. blackisbeautiful Says:

    My fiance and I were evicted illegally, that is, the landlord manufactured a pretextual reason (a “late rent payment” that was actually prepaid before move-in six months earlier) to evict us, when the real reason was that she hated Blacks.

    She was not the original screener who let us into the building, a beautiful, upscale highrise in Seattle. We barely lost our eviction case because the housing company amended its complaint without notice (at hearing) and the judge allowed them to do it. We barely lost the appeal because courts do not like to overrule themsolves.

    The appellate judge acknowledged that the lower court erred in allowing the amendment of the case, but that the housing company had established its claim of failure to pay rent, even though “last month’s rent” had been paid. That issue centered on the controversial definition of “last month”, i.e., whether it means final month of “occupancy” versus final month of a “lease term”.

    The rental contract did not define the term “last month” for its purposes, and it neither expressly nor implicitly gave the landlord sole discretion in deciding how to apply the pre-paid funds. We had never been late on a rent payment until the final month of the lease, when the landlord refused to apply the funds as we had requested.

    We filed a case with HUD and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR). Ultimately, the building manager in question was terminated for her actions, as was the Vice President of the company. We immediately withdrew our case with SOCR so that we would not have to take the case to state court in the case of SOCR finding “cause” for our claims. We have filed a federal claim with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, but have no representation and cannot afford to pay for services. My fiance is disabled.

    Civil Gideon is necessary to provide due process to all citizens. Contrary to encouraging frivolous lawsuits, it would actually reduce stress on the courts because court-appointed attorneys would serve as “screeners” for meritous and meritless claims.

    In addition, providing court-appointed attorneys in civil cases would level and equalize access to courts, and that would serve a regulatory function that would, ultimately, discourage illegal behavior/actions by companies and agencies that might otherwise behave recklessly.

  5. The attorney, was not following the Rule of Law, and seemed disturbed in his illogical thinking, that he could get the judge to sign anything if they were going to stop a pro se from being able to find justice. As characterized with his exceptionally precocious Orders that would deny all due process to a disabled pro se (not by choice ) person, in the court system.
    By the fact the Florida judges allow the attorneys to make out their Orders, its no wonder the court system is turning out such offensive and unreasonable illogical and unlawful orders. Its no longer the judges doing their own duty of care, it’s the attorneys making his decisions for him, that the Orders are lacking in orderly continuity with a cohesiveness to the Federal Statutes or even with State Statutes made by our legislators.
    In other words citizens that are disabled and insolvent are inconsequential in America in procedures of calculating who gets their due process, and fairness.
    “Despite diligent searches, Edna Jane Favreau has never been able to locate any written legal opinion for a dismissal of a case like this one before the court issued the Complaint on the matter of the unfinished Constructive Trust created when her assets were put into the hands of her violent abusive husband who was found guilty of harming her and was sentenced to a year in jail for that crime. After a through search it must be concluded that no written opinion was ever issued,” that making violations of her civil right to justice. Casting the court officials, and officers, as unethical, in its attack on this disabled victim.

    “State Officials aided attorneys in huge swindle of Disabled Victim of Abuse,”
    The “objective” of our court system is to give out justice. However everyone seems afraid to speak up for fear– they will lose their jobs. Investigative reporters have posted their findings on the Internet but no one will listen.
    The State courts and clerks brag they are not afraid of the Federal Laws or TFB and say: “only what goes on in the 18th Circuit matters.” (clerk Johnson)
    Clearly, there is a conspiracy, led of course, by lower court judges and officers of the court, who are in cahoots, with the attorneys to keep any insolvent pro se citizens out of their courts as they look for job security.
    Court services, are being denied to Disabled Americans despite the ADA laws.

    The investigative reporters did the work for TFB and FDLE but pettifoggers, (persons that uses unscrupulous unethical methods to put spin on the facts of cases– (especially lawyers or politicians that are comrades that clearly conspire to undo the United States Constitution and remove the part called ‘We the People’

  6. florence patton Says:

    Let God be the judge
    Battery in the Brevard County

    Statement of Facts by Florence Paton
    Members of my own family including me are not the only ones who have
    beentraditionally abused and battered by husbands and fathers and then by the
    courts.Battery on women and children is still virtually ignored and continued in
    many ofthe nation’s courts. Countless women and children have been denied their
    rights inthe courts of Brevard County, Florida, and it is hoped that they will
    also comeforward and bear witness to the pattern of abuse.
    I certify that this is a true and correct account of the events taking place
    related to the dissolution

    of my divorce from Francis Berger, occurring from November 1990 thru June 2002.

    The Eighteenth Judicial Circuit of Brevard County has failed to protect women
    and childrenagainst violence, failed to administer justice, failed to recognize
    and apply the laws of the Stateof Florida and the United States.
    My name is Florence Paton. I was married to Francis Berger. This is my statement
    of certainfacts in my case, which is only one of many examples of the abuse that
    women and children havesuffered in the hands of the gender biased Florida
    Judiciary in Brevard County.
    Francis Berger and I were married in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in November, 1990.
    We moved toFlorida in 1991. There are two minor children of the marriage. I have
    three children from aprevious marriage. Throughout the marriage there was
    verbal, physical, mental and sexual abusetowards me by Francis Berger. He also
    physically and mentally abused our children, includingthe three children from a
    previous marriage. There was evidence that Francis Berger sexuallyabused the
    I was naturally concerned about the safety of my children left unsupervised by
    the court in thecare of the Francis Berger. My concerns were substantiated by
    the findings of protectiveinvestigators of the Florida Department of Children
    and Families, various psychologists, andtriers of the facts.
    I separated from Francis Berger in March 1996, attaining an injunction for
    protection order fromJudge Warren Burke. Francis Berger violated the order by
    breaking in and burglarizing thehome, stalking and continually harassing myself
    and the children. He refused to abide by thecourt order by not attending the
    Batterers Intervention Program, not attending AlcoholicsAnonymous, and not
    complying with child support and visitation orders. Further abuse to theminor
    children commenced following his limited visitation with them.
    Numerous court proceedings were initiated by Francis Berger. The Florida
    Department ofChildren and Families initiated a dependency action against him,
    and he charged me with failureto protect the children. Francis Berger received
    supervised visitation.
    Judge Bruce Jacobus became the judge for the case in late 1996. He was informed
    of the stateactions and the non-compliance of Francis Berger with the orders of
    the court. I was forced tosell the family home due to non-payments of the
    Francis Berger. Judge Jacobus allowed the saleof the home, ordered that the
    Francis Berger receive half of the proceeds from the sale, eventhough the monies
    did not actually belong to us because they were loaned to me by my parents,and
    placed a judgment against the Francis Berger for arrearages of non payment of
    child support
    in the amount of approximately $2700.00. The judge permitted Francis Berger and
    his attorney

    Henry Martocci to proceed with false statements, fraudulent motions and verbal

    Judge Edward Richardson was the next Judge assigned to the case. He allowed
    continuousdelays by Francis Berger and his attorney, Henry Martocci, and the
    trial was stalled. He refusedto complete the divorce issues. Numerous motions
    were commenced by Henry Martocci andFrancis Berger. The judge ordered overnight
    visitation to Francis Berger. This resulted inallegations of sexual abuse by
    Francis Burger during the visitations, and a hearing wascommenced by the
    Department of Children and Families. Judge Richardson stated that he wouldlike
    to see them prove sexual abuse – the Department attorney requested a recusal of
    this abusivejudge.
    Judge Jere Lober became the next judge on the case. In 1998, after numerous
    delays andcontinuances by the Francis Berger’s attorney, the state began their
    proceedings before him.Many witnesses were not called. Francis Berger and his
    attorney further abused, intimidated andharassed me, my three older children,
    and various witnesses in the courtroom and surroundingareas. Judge Lober made no
    attempt to end the abusive, unethical and unprofessional behavior inthe
    courtroom or surrounding areas.
    Judge Lober also refused to let the minor children testify privately in
    chambers, stating: “I’m notgoing to be in any room alone with those two
    children. If they are going to testify, it will be righthere in open court, in
    front of both of these people.” The Department of Children and Familiesattorney
    advised me that she felt there was enough evidence presented to the judge, at
    least onthe physical abuse issues, that it was not necessary to put the children
    through that.
    At the end of this trial, Lober stated that if this had come to trial in ‘96 or
    ’97, he would havefound the children dependent. No order of visitation or
    otherwise was issued by Judge Lober. Hestated that Henry Martocci assured him
    earlier that morning that he wasn’t going to go after theDepartment for costs.
    Judge Lober was not aware of extensive evidence and witness testimonythat should
    have been presented. To add insult to injury, he made many insulting
    statements,comments, and facial gestures towards me throughout this trial. One
    statement was about hisrecollection of an old Broadway song that he felt
    described the situation: “Those Men That Putus On.’ His statements were
    documented in our motion for recusal.
    The issues were tried in November 1999 before Judge W. David Dugan. After a nine
    day trial,Judge Dugan entered a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. On
    January 21, 1999 heentered an amended final judgment of dissolution of marriage
    that added the additional findingthat there had been evidence of the physical
    and verbal abuse of the minor children, and thatFlorence Paton would be the
    primary residential parent of the minor children.
    As a matter of fact, ample evidence and testimony had been provided to the court
    showing theextensive abuse suffered by my three children from a previous
    marriage, the two children fromthis marriage, me, and the family pets at his
    hands. The abuse consisted of hair being pulled outby the roots; being thrown
    around bodily; being choked; head slammed into walls; shaking;punching;
    screaming; name calling; sexual abuse; gripping and choking the family dog;
    holdingthe dog under water; slamming the dog into cement walls. Many experts,
    police officers, and

    witnesses to the abuse testified at trial. In part, the trial judge stated that
    the court was concernedwith the circumstantial evidence of child abuse, that
    there was overwhelming evidence ofphysical and verbal abuse of me by Francis
    Berger, which continued after separation, as well asevidence of verbal and
    physical abuse of the minor children. Judge Dugan was concerned withthe fact
    that Francis Berger refused to attend Batterers Intervention although ordered to
    do so. Heordered that I be awarded primary custody of the minor children.
    Francis Berger was ordered tohave supervised visitation at the Salvation Army
    visitation center. Any exchange of informationbetween him and me was to occur by
    exchange of notes during supervised visitation with thechildren.
    But Francis Berger made no attempt to access visitation with the children. He
    made no attempt topay the child support as ordered by the court. Indeed, he made
    no attempt to comply with any ofthe trial judge’s orders.
    On February 9, 2000 Francis Berger filed notice of appeal of the trial judgment
    in theconsolidated cases. On April 20, 2000 Judge Dugan entered an order denying
    my motion for anorder vacating the administrative assignment of this cause to
    Judge Vincent Torpy. On April 24,2000, Judge Torpy granted Francis Berger a stay
    only to the extent that he would have alternateweekend visitation. But he did
    not find him in contempt for non-payment of child support nordid he make any
    attempt to assure that Francis Berger would comply with the court orders.
    Thejudge entered the visitation order without even reviewing the evidence, and
    accepted on facevalue the perjury and fraudulent motion provided by my
    ex-husband’s attorney Henry Martocci.
    On April 26, 2000 Judge Torpy entered his order denying my motion for permission
    to relocateto Canada, on the grounds that the court did not have jurisdiction
    over that matter in the absenceof an order from the District Court of Appeal
    permitting the trial court to proceed thereon. Hedeclined to hear this motion in
    chambers. On May 8,200 The District Court of Appeal of theState of Florida
    entered its order denying my motion for a review of the stay order. On
    Friday,May 15, 2000 Judge Torpy made the statement, “Those are American-born
    children. I want themback on American soil. I am giving custody to Francis
    Berger.” In short, Judge Torpy denied medue process, did not review the evidence
    of severe abuse or expert opinions, and ignored appealcourt procedures.
    Judge Torpy, when advised by my counsel that his actions were inappropriate,
    advised FrancisBerger’s counsel to make a motion for a change of custody, and
    said he would have a hearing onMonday, May 18, 2000. The specific issue, of the
    violation of the shared parental responsibilityprovision of Judge Dugan’s
    amended final judgment, was not noticed or pleaded, but was raisedby the trial
    court. On May 18, 2000 Judge Torpy entered his order on Francis
    Berger’semergency motion for temporary change of custody. The order provided the
    Francis Berger withten continuous weeks of visitation with the minor children to
    commence on the date that thechildren were returned to Brevard County, Florida.
    I appealed this order.
    Judge Torpy entered an order on May 18, 2000, in response to Francis Berger’s
    emergencymotion for an adjudication of contempt, finding that I was in contempt
    of the shared parentalresponsibility provisions of the amended final judgment as
    well as the stay order and the orderclarifying the stay order. Now Judge Torpy
    had provided Francis Berger with makeup visitation

    with the minor children, with the makeup visitation period to be determined at
    such time as thechildren had been returned from Canada to Brevard County,
    Florida for the purpose of suchvisitation. No prior custody or visitation order
    in this case had been awarded such substantialcontact. There was no evidence
    that it would be in the best interest of the children. Judge Torpywas clearly
    punishing me hence placing the children in danger.
    On June 3, 2000 I filed a notice of appeal of the above two non-final orders
    which had beenentered by Judge Torpy. Francis Berger’s motion to consolidate the
    appeals was denied by theFifth District Court of Appeal. Around June 13, 2000
    Francis Berger filed a motion to dismiss orabate his own appeal on
    jurisdictional grounds as well as his claim that I was in contempt of theprior
    orders of the trial court. On July 14, 2000 the appellate court entered its
    order denyingFrancis Berger’s prior motion to dismiss or abate the appellate
    proceeding. On September 20,2000 the Francis Berger renewed his motion to
    dismiss or abate his appeal. The Fifth Districtdenied his motion to dismiss or
    abate the appeal on September 29, 2000. October 4, 2000 FrancisBerger filed a
    motion to the Fifth District Court to permit the lower tribunal to proceed
    withcertain matters during the pendency of appellate proceedings. That motion
    was denied onOctober 12, 2000.
    On or about November 1, 2000, the two minor children were removed from my
    custody inCanada, against our will, and placed with their abusive father to be
    returned to Florida. He hadarrived in Canada in late October 2000 to take
    custody, after he and his attorney submittedfraudulent affidavits and false
    statements to the Canadian courts and to law enforcement and theAmerican courts.
    Again, this was done due to unlawful, illegal orders obtained by Francis
    Bergerand his attorney Henry Martocci through fraud, perjury, illegal
    activities, corruption, battery andthreat of battery.
    There was no prior judicial order preventing the children and myself from
    leaving Florida. Toreiterate, I had legal custody due to a nine day evidentiary
    trial in 1999, where Judge Duganfound overwhelming evidence of physical and
    emotional abuse to me, and clear evidence ofabuse to the children. Judge Dugan
    had strong concerns of molestation of the children by FrancisBerger – criminal
    charges were pending at the time against Francis Berger for sexual molestationof
    the children; Francis Berger did not take advantage of supervised visitation nor
    did abide bythe order of the court; he simply appealed the order and continued
    his battery through unlawfuluse of the courts.
    After the arrival of the children in Florida on November 2, 2000, Judge Torpy
    held a hearing inFlorida which I attended by telephone in Canada. I was denied
    due process of law. I was denied acontinuance in order to obtain an attorney. I
    was ordered to supervised visitation in the state ofFlorida. No notice was
    advanced of this hearing and I did not have an attorney to represent me atthis
    time. I informed Judge Torpy of the order from the Fifth District denying
    permission for thelower court to proceed. The only testimony was that of Francis
    Berger’s attorney, HenryMartocci, consisting of fraudulent statements and
    fabrications which were objected to by methroughout the proceeding. The laws,
    the orders from the Fifth District Court of Appeal, priorcourt orders , and the
    evident abuse of the children and myself were ignored. The children wereleft in
    the care of the abuser.

    I returned to the state of Florida in January 2001. Since then there were
    numerous motions filedcontaining false statements and information; there were
    fraudulent court proceedings, continuousbattering in the courts by Francis
    Berger and his attorney; successful attempts to delay theproceedings of the
    lower court and those of the Fifth District Court of Appeals. All legal
    rightswere effectively denied to the children and to me. The children have been
    kidnapped, and deniedprotection.
    On February 9, 2001 a rehearing of the November 2, 2000 hearing was to occur.
    Judge Torpyallowed a modification hearing instead. He suggested to Francis
    Berger’s counsel that theyshould consider having me attain a bond in order to
    secure my presence in Brevard County. Hesaid that Francis Berger would not be
    held in contempt of court for not obeying any court ordersbecause he did not
    blame him for disobeying them. Judge Torpy also said that I had testified thatI
    did not know for certain if the Francis Berger was sexually abusing the children
    around thetime I was testifying. “You believe he is sexually abusing the
    children right now, don’t you?”was the question asked of me, and I replied, “I
    hope in my heart that he is not.” So I hadanswered the question as it was asked.
    No question of knowledge or beliefs of past sexual abusecommitted on the
    children was asked, and I had seen evidence of such abuse.
    March 5, 2001 Judge Torpy entered another order which I duly appealed. Henry
    Martoccicontinued to harass, verbally abuse, and threaten in the court hallways
    in February, March andMay 2001. On or about May 24, 2001, I sought an order of
    protection from the Brevard Countycourt. Judge Rainwater denied the request and
    forwarded it to the Florida Bar for review ofprofessional misconduct. Henry
    Martocci’s unethical and unprofessional behavior portrayed apersonal vendetta on
    me and my family due to previous Florida Bar proceedings. In thoseproceedings –
    Case no 1998-32,033(18B) and 1998 -32, 145 (18B) – the Florida Bar refereefound
    Henry Martocci guilty of violating Rule 4-8.4 (d) for engaging in conduct in
    connectionwith the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of
    justice, including knowingly orthrough callous indifference disparaging,
    humiliating, or discriminating against litigants, jurors,witnesses, court
    personnel, or other lawyers on any basis. Henry Martocci indicated during
    thosedisciplinary proceedings that he would not get off the case “no matter
    what,” which was exactlywhat the referee thought he should do before the abuse
    worsened. Despite of and because of theBar proceedings, Henry Martocci and
    Francis Berger continued to abuse and threaten me, myfamily , my attorney, and
    numerous witnesses throughout the years of these proceedings. Heeven threatened
    my father with physical harm. Henry Martocci (now deceased) was
    publiclyreprimanded by the Florida Board of Governors for his misconduct, placed
    on two year’sprobation, and ordered to attend a psychological evaluation.
    Again and again, both Francis Berger and Henry Martocci continued to batter me
    using the legalsystem as their weapon .They submitted numerous motions
    containing fabrications and falsestatements, requested hearings in order to
    further confuse the issues and to obstruct justice andto batter me into
    intimidated submission to their abuse. The court continued to entertain
    thesemotions and scheduled hearings. In April and May, they scheduled hearings,
    including a hearingon an attempt to suspend my supervised visitation with the
    children. Judge Torpy found thatthere was not any evidence to support my claims
    that my children were subject to abuse, but Ihad ample evidence to the contrary,
    and I showed that the children feared living with their father.

    At a scheduled hearing in or around July, 2001, Judge Lober recused himself and
    informed methat he had informed Henry Martocci and Francis Berger that the
    hearing was canceled, and thatnone of the current proceedings should be
    occurring. And on July 6, 2001 the Fifth District Courtof Appeal opinion (case
    no: 5DOO-440) affirmed the Amended Final Judgment. Mandate wasissued July 25,
    2001. But my children were not returned to me.
    The case was assigned to Judge Tonya Rainwater in August 2001.On August 10,
    2001, The FifthDistrict Court of Appeals opinion (case no: 5DOO-1539) reversed
    the successor judges’ ordersand affirmed the Amended Final Judgment again.
    Mandate was issued October 12, 2001. But mychildren were not returned. Judge T.
    Rainwater just ignored the higher court orders and thechildren remained with
    their abusive father. In September, the court entertained another
    hearing,admitting that the higher court had affirmed the dissolution order.
    However, the children werestill not returned, and were left in the care of the
    abusive father. In November, at a hearing, JudgeRainwater still refused to
    return the children as mandated by the Fifth District, yet allowed me tovisit
    the children every other week rather than the supervised visitation at a local
    Henry Martocci and Francis Berger proceeded to submit false information and
    fraudulentaffidavits to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, requesting that the
    higher court dismiss theappeal of the temporary order of Judge Torpy of March
    2000 (case no: 5DOI-1957) . Theyfalsely stated that I agreed that my former
    husband should have custody of the children, amongmany other false statements.
    On April 5, 2002 the Fifth District Court of Appeals opinion (case no: 5DO1-
    1957) was filed.That opinion re-affirmed the Amended Final Judgment, dismissing
    the appeal of the successorjudges’ orders with directions. A Fifth District
    judge stated that they do not understand why myrights under the Amended Final
    Judgment had been denied by the lower court. But opinion by aFifth District
    Court Judge, who was not involved in any of the prior appeals and was not
    awareof the extensive abuse, stated that the lower court was to have a hearing
    on the matter in sixtydays and the burden of proof is on Francis Berger. That
    judge, Judge Pleus, had prior affiliationwith Judge Torpy.
    Francis Berger’s hearing for temporary custody, took place on July 1, 2002. The
    presiding judge,Judge T Rainwater, reserved a decision in order to review some
    of the court files. JudgeRainwater once again gave temporary custody to my
    former husband, and in doing so she wentagainst all laws. In early October 2002
    I received a call from my attorney informing me thatthere was another hearing
    taking place. I questioned the reasoning for the hearing and informedmy attorney
    to relay to the judge that I did not want to participate in the continuing fraud
    andcorruption, among other things. And in November, I found out by chance that
    yet anotherhearing was taking place in this case. I was not properly notified of
    that hearing, but I appearedat the hearing and informed Judge Rainwater that she
    was going against the laws, ignoring themandates from the Fifth District Court
    of Appeals, denying the children protection, and, ineffect, that she and the
    court was denying us of all rights. I informed her that I would notparticipate
    in their fraud and corruption. I also informed her that God is real and that she
    couldnot buy her way into heaven. Let God be the judge.

    Now it is evident that Francis Berger, Henry Martocci, with the help of various
    officers of thecourt, judges, clerks and others, all of whom I can name, have
    ignored opinions and mandates ofthe Fifth District Court of Appeal. Further harm
    was inflicted on the children, my family, and mesince then .Our rights have been
    denied and great harm has been inflicted due to gender bias,citizenship,
    battery, retaliation, corruption, fraud, illegal activities, and disrespect for
    I was denied due process of the law, child support, medical attention, review of
    sexual abuse andphysical injuries. Expert testimony was ignored. Evidence of
    sexual and physical abusevanished. Records appertaining to criminal charges
    against my former husband for sexual abuseof minor children disappeared.
    Transcripts were altered, perjury committed and permitted andcondoned,
    fraudulent motions and false affidavits accepted, victims were ridiculed and
    harassedin court by perpetrator, judge and attorney. Battery within the courts
    was permitted. Recordswere sealed and withheld from me. Valid motions and
    hearings were refused. The orders of theappellate court were ignored. Return of
    minor children as ordered was refused. The court assistedthe kidnap of children
    by their father and his attorney. False statements, affidavits, and
    otherfraudulent information were submitted to the Canadian and American courts,
    to the Canadianpolice and others by Francis Berger and Henry Martocci. Domestic
    violence and other abusewere ignored. All legal, moral, civil and other rights
    were denied. Justice was blocked andsubverted.

    Members of my own family including me are not the only ones who have been
    traditionallyabused and battered by husbands and fathers and then by the courts.
    Battery on women andchildren is still ignored and even continued by many of the
    nation’s courts. Countless womenand children were routinely denied their rights
    in the courts of Brevard County, Florida, and it ishoped that they will also
    come forward and bear witness to the pattern of abuse.
    © 2010 Florence Paton
    Editor: David Arthur Walters
    Permission granted to David Arthur Walters
    to publish this article at will

  7. Jane Stewart Says:


    The court officers violated the express terms of the ADA Act of 1990, and the mandatory language of its own regulations by delaying service of the disabled victim’s Complaint about how court officers and Officials unlawfully handle cases filed by disabled victims, who arrive at pre-trial, only to find her attorney had sold out to the other side, and went skiing with the funds the disabled victim paid the attorney to take her to court.
    Why are the court officers getting away with not following the Laws or Rule of Law?
    How can this be? who is supposed to investigate all this ?

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