Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I drove through the night from Richmond, Virginia through North Carolina, South Carolina, a whole lot of Georgia and finally into northern Florida brushing the Atlantic until I arrived at New Smyrna Beach just in time for sunrise on Friday morning.
I watched with a coffee and cigarette while a couple pulled up in their big car and cuddled while doing the same as me - I thought I should give them some privacy and left them to the sunrise.
A father who had contacted me about his own situation was in court before Judge Rowe (our new judge replacing Judge Doyle) and his ex had Kim Banister as her attorney too - I decided to join him firstly, because it was an opportunity to take a look at Judge Rowe and secondly, to give some support to a fellow parent-in-distress.
No names on this as Kim seemed to take umbrage at my presence - I was there to harass her client - someone I've never met and am unlikely to.
We all laughed at this - it's pathetic but don't laugh too hard!
Kim is an attorney primarily dedicated to acting for indigent mothers (and not so indigent but what the heck - the taxpayer is footing the bill so come on board one and all) I believe the run of the mill mantra is "Harassment, Fear, Intimidation" and it is quoted in any situation Kim doesn't like - don't belittle this strategy because it works as often as not.
Not in this instance though as Kim was adamant I was not to be allowed into the court room - it's a public forum came the response - I think Kim is a little rattled with not having her own way and a new judge.
How do I feel having my ex's attorney rattled?
Smugly ambivalent - what she does is none of my business all I focus on is the next step and planning playing chess in the jungle (sorry the legal process) but nice to see her reacting to me and not vice versa.
Speaking of which - Judge Rowe - hard to assess him at this stage, His Honor was polite and dignified and unlike Judge Doyle made no move to stop each side presenting their case. I felt he should have exercised more control over the proceedings - Kim has a habit of fillibustering when you are on a set allocated amount of time - I'll be watching for that when it's my turn with Judge Rowe and as Kim appears to have become a reader of my blog, now you know why I was there Kim ;)
The dad in this case is understandably ticked off - he hasn't seen his kids for a year and here he is trying to jemmy something out of his ex while the evening before his dad has been rushed to hospital and kept in.
Of course he's running hot under the collar but I told him what I tell everyone else - put your fists in your pocket, shut your mouth and stick your chin out.
After lunch at the Brickhouse and sweet iced tea and a pep talk from yours truly on "Keep your mouth shut!", he picked his kids up; I watched from a distance as they were dropped off and his son first hugged his dad but it was his daughter who made an impression on me - she just ran up to him and almost bowled him over - a far cry from the daughter who was supposed to never want to see him again. You cannot look at something like that and ignore the love involved - why that little girl had been denied contact with the dad she clearly loves and clearly missed is not sad, it is uncivilized, wholly avoidable and yet commonplace.
It is the currency of Kim Banister's world which is why I feel sorry for her and a great deal of pity.
I watched dad and sprogs drive off without a hitch - it felt good to see and I thought of Emily as I enjoyed another coffee and my last cigarette.
"Prat!" one wag exclaimed when he heard that. "Horses Ass!" was another.
Thank God he's been sin binned to small claims court and out of family court - he can do less damage there and then only to a bank balance and not a family.
Today, my day will comprise of going through the record sent up to the Court of Appeal in Daytona and making sure my index of papers is correct and properly matched so I can start writing up my initial brief for the appeal.
At the same time I have to get back to the court in DeLand because it is time to get some hearing time for the court to consider sentencing Sheila for her criminal contempt.
What an appalling thought - I'm asking for the mother of my child to be imprisoned - but what else can I do, Emily is more important than my feelings and if the court had stepped up to the plate and straightened her out years ago we wouldn't be in this mess today.
I'm looking forward to getting done and heading home as much as the sun and beach look inviting, there is just too much else to do but for my parent-in-arms in Alaska, I hope you enjoyed your time and so did the kids.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
One looked radioactive replete with "FLORIDA FIFTH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL" stamped across it - I poked it with a stick and as it wasn't breathing I proceeded to open it at arms length.
It was a response to a motion to supplement the record to which the opposition objected.
Blah, blah, blah - then - motion granted.
Working pro se (meaning without a lawyer) is daunting but not impossible (just impractical) - it feels like Daniel being fed to the lions though as yet, I have not had the opportunity to represent myself in court and is a delight I guess will be waiting for me down the road.
Bottom line - my motion has been granted - the appeal is on and a stack of evidence is in - including medical records and the Hague order for Emily to receive the medical treatment which has been ignored for so long.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Untangling the Bureaucracy of International Child Abduction
You have probably heard the story of David Goldman and his 5 year battle to bring home his son, Sean, who was abducted to Brazil from the United States.
Browsing the principal website on this case, BringSeanHome.org and the Forums within will soon show there are over 50 active cases that fall under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction involving children taken from the United States to Brazil. Behind this obscene number of cases there are the children and behind them, a bewildering array of acronyms used to describe the multitude of agencies that a left-behind parent must navigate.
The Hague Convention entered into force in the United States on July 1, 1988, and entered into force with Brazil on December 1, 2003. This article is designed to help you untangle this maze so that you will have a more complete understanding as you read through the postings in the Forums on Sean and David’s website but also of the tortuous bureaucracy that has grown around the Hague Convention.
Our journey today starts within the United States.
When a child is first abducted from the United States there are two tasks that a left behind parent must immediately do.
First, they must contact the Office of Children's Issues (OCI), created in 1994 in a consolidation of various departments within the Bureau of Consular Affairs, part of the United States Department of State (USDOS). OCI currently serves as the United States Central Authority (USCA) for two multilateral treaties:
· The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption; and
· The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
By an Executive Order, the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs was designated as the United States Central Authority.
From September 1, 1995, to April 1, 2008, however, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) a part of the US Department of Justice, processed incoming cases of children abducted from other Hague Convention countries to the United States. Although it currently does not have any official role in cases where children are abducted to or from another Hague Convention country, a left-behind parent is still likely to utilize their resources if the location of their child(ren) is not known.
The second task a parent must do is contact local law enforcement to file a missing person's report and request that the child's name be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
The NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information that can be accessed by federal, state, and local law enforcement along with other criminal justice agencies, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Local law enforcement will also notify the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) of the abduction. Taken from their website,
"Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization, with 187 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime."
Although this process should be without problems, many left-behind parents experience tremendous difficulties in registering their children in the NCIC and with Interpol. The following quote can be found on the Office of Children's Issues website,
"If local law enforcement is unaware of the legal requirements for immediate entry into NCIC, please let our office know."
Once the left-behind parent has gathered all of the information required for a petition under the Hague Convention, they then send it to the Office of Children's Issues which will then forward it to the appropriate Central Authority for the country to which the child was abducted.
In the case of David Goldman and my own children, the country is Brazil but there are almost 90 other countries who have signed the treaty.
Designated in 2001 as the Brazilian Central Authority (BCA), the Office of the Special Secretary for Human Rights (Secretaria Especial dos Direitos Humanos (SEDH)) receives Hague Convention applications submitted by parents seeking the return of or access to their children in Brazil and ensures that the application is filed through the Office of the Solicitor-General (Advocacia-Geral da União (AGU)) with the proper court.
The AGU represents the Brazilian federal government, directly or indirectly, in judicial or non-judicial instances, and provides legal advice to the government. The AGU will then file a civil lawsuit against the abducting parent in which the Brazilian government is the plaintiff. A left-behind parent also has the option of filing through a private attorney, in which case however, the AGU would normally not participate.
In addition, the SEDH (often interchanged with the term, BCA) serves as a point of contact for the left-behind parent and/or their attorney, the foreign Central Authority (in this case, the Office of Children's Issues) and the courts for purposes of obtaining information on the implementation of the Hague Convention in Brazil and the status of pending cases.
As noted before, petitions filed under the Hague Convention are considered civil lawsuits.
What if however, the parent wants to seek remedy under criminal codes?
There are a number of U.S. laws which the left-behind parent can use though ultimately however, the left-behind parent must work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an agency within the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) to pursue charges of kidnapping against the abducting parent.
I hope this article has served its purpose and that you now have a better understanding of the multitude of agencies with which a left-behind parent must communicate when their child is abducted.
© Timothy Weinstein 2009
This article may be reproduced in full and republished with attribution
This article may be reproduced in full and republished with attribution