Kudos to Jorge Fitz-Gibbons at Lohud.com for his article on tax fund abuses of the New York Divorce Industry, Court records shine light on tax-funded family court law guardians. Fitz-Gibbons focuses on lack of accountability in the system of taxpayer funded legal guardians and points out flagrant violations of New York law that costs tax payers millions of dollars a year.
Fitz-Gibbons asked Hon. Alan Scheinkman, Chief Administrative Judge of the 9th district of NY, important questions about the legal guardian assignment system and the responses illustrate a fundamental problem with the New York Divorce Industry - self regulation. Officials empowered to reform the predatory business practices of the Divorce Industry of New York don’t think anything is wrong with a system that bankrupts families and sucks up hundreds of millions of tax dollars with no checks and balances. New York lawmakers and judges don’t get it when their friends and family are living off of the broken system.
I’d like to focus on a quote from Hon. Scheinkman (directly copied):
Scheinkman said the public law guardian system is "significantly undervalued" with the $75 per hour cap, when privately paid attorneys charge between $400 and $500 per hour for the same matrimonial and family court work. .......
"But if they put in this time and they did the work, then I'm not sure what the issue is," Scheinkman said. "I'm not sure how you could get a better deal for the taxpayer. ... If you believe that it's important for children to be represented, wouldn't you want them to have really good folks and pay them a more competitive wage?"
First of all what data does Hon. Scheinkman have to evaluate the quality of a legal guardian's services? Does he have measurable criteria to quantify what constitutes a good or bad job by a legal guardian? Do clients of legal guardians submit reviews of their work? Is the work of legal guardians reviewed by peers to evaluate if children of divorce are getting the most effective representation? Is there an organization that monitors the work of legal guardians and judicial assignment practices in Westchester? If something is going wrong with legal guardians services what are the rights of children and parents to challenge the efficacy of the services?
I’ll save you the Google searches because there are no answers for any of these questions. There is no accountability for the work that legal guardians are appointed to do. They are appointed, they show up and they get paid by the hour with few strings attached until the case is disposed one way or another.
The concept of a legal guardian in New York is faulty to begin with. In the vast majority of cases the last thing a child of a contentious divorce needs is another attorney yet that is what judges order in the majority of divorce cases where custody hasn't been decided. Children are scared and confused in divorce, just as most parents are, and an unknown court-appointed lawyer calling children out of the blue does nothing to ease their minds. Any child is petrified when these strangers call or visit, if they even bother calling or visiting, and as attorneys they have little more than workshop training and instinct to provide support for children in these stressful situations. Of course there are extreme cases where a child may need independent legal advice but this is the exception and not the norm. Regardless of necessity, once a guardian is appointed their payment is court-ordered and they have very little actual legal work to do in the vast majority of cases.
In Scheinkmen's world New York State is getting a great value by paying a tax-payer funded legal guardian $75 an hour to do nothing when the attorney could be making over $400 an hour in private practice. Hon. Schemkmen diminishes $75 an hour but the reality is that many people would be quite happy with a $150,000 job which $75/hour translates to. Furthermore, attorneys volunteer to be legal guardians and only in rare cases will New York State pay $75/hour for a legal guardian. In most cases legal guardians are paid by parents and their rates are minimally $250 an hour. Even at $75 per hour taxpayer funded legal guardians are consuming tens of millions of tax dollars per year throughout NY State and there is no accounting of the fees paid privately to legal guardian. New York families are court-ordered to pay hundreds of millions a year to support the legal guardian system and it deserves scrutiny.
If a legal guardian consumes thousands of dollars of tax funds at $75 an hour, and does hardly anything but show up to court, is that really a value for New Yorkers just because the attorneys could’ve been paid more elsewhere? Clearly the answer is no, there is no value for taxpayer paying attorneys who have no real responsibilities, even at $75 an hour. Think of ‘supervisors’ in corrupt construction projects that have no responsibilities and are hired to sit around just because they have connections. This is exactly what the legal guardian system mirrors since the guardians do scant legal work in the vast amount of cases they work on, unless showing up is defined as work.
Fitz-Gibbons does an excellent job pointing out abuses of taxpayer money in the legal guardian system and his reporting illustrates how disconnected the insiders in the divorce industry are from the families they victimize. As I’ve maintained since I started this blog in 2011, only outside forces can fix the corrupt NY Divorce Industry. Self-regulation of attorneys and judges isn’t working and there’s just too much tax-payer and private money being ripped off by Divorce Industry to ignore.
Thank You Mr. Fitz-Gibbons for being part of the solution, all of us advocating for reform of the business practices of the Divorce Industry of New York commend your focus on this important issue.
Watching the Sheldon Silver corruption developments I'm thinking how the principles of corruption apply to New York matrimony judges. In the case of Sheldon Silver it's alleged he was paid by a law firm to steer business to the firm and influence judicial decisions while shutting down ethics inquiries. In the case of matrimony judges (matrimony is inclusive of family and supreme courts), the corrupt flow of money is reversed as money flows from elected officials to a small industry with no accountability to taxpayers and no proactive ethical supervision to worry about.
The crux of divorce industry corruption stems from massive sums that elected judges award to powerful attorneys and experts, and allow powerful firms and experts to squander in bogus proceedings. There are myriad active mechanisms for an elected judge to hand out money in contested divorce including fee awards, 18b assignments, legal guardianship appointments, custody evaluator appointments, financial evaluator appointments and more. Besides these active handout mechanisms a matrimony judge has passive tactics at their disposal to bloat legal bills such as last minute cancellations, bullying tactics that silence court arguments, pro se intimidation and countless other delay tactics. Hours of pre-hearing preparation are rendered useless when a judge bullies, cancels, delays or ignores procedures. No doubt, elected judges play an active role in the New York divorce fraud that rips off New Yorkers of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Is a judge that helps an attorney bloat legal bills corrupt? Is a judge that intimidates pro se and cuts off productive discourse corrupt? Is a judge that allows blatantly false statements to be used as the basis of critical decisions corrupt? Is a matrimony judge who ignores published courtroom procedures corrupt when the costs of litigants soars? Is a judge who favors a powerful insider attorney corrupt?
In my uneducated viewpoint the nature of matrimony courts in New York has a very big role in answering the question of what constitutes corruption. First off there is a huge amount of money flowing through each court process from legal and expert fees to court costs to equitable distribution awards. There are no limits to the fees in divorce and it's not uncommon for families to lose all their assets to an out of control divorce process. Matrimony courts are civil courts and as such there are no constitutional protections of due process and no public access to the courtroom so everything happens behind close doors. Furthermore there are no juries so a judges whim rules the case with immense ramifications for families. Finally, there is no proactive supervision of the courtroom behavior of elected judges or review of their fee awards. To top it all off, once a judge makes a ruling the only way to appeal is to go the same appeals court and processes that large companies and powerful tort parties use. The cost of printing seven copies of a transcript for an appeal is enough to bury the appeals of many New Yorkers let alone the time and outrageous legal fees and risks of appeal.
Surprising as it may be, there is no accounting of a judges fee awards which makes hiding corruption quite easy. There's no effectiveness ratings for any appointed resources such as a legal guardian or expert and experts aren't required to register their fee awards. Court-appointed neutral custody and financial evaluators are allowed to become expert witness for either party once their neutral reports are complete. Fees often double after the court-ordered work is complete and of course none of these experts fees are accounted for.
Bottom line is that New York divorce courts are a gross mix of elected officials, shady ethics and zero accountability. The results are quite predictable and without criminal and ethics investigations the state of affairs will never change in New York divorce courts. Elected officials, lots of money, no supervision and no accountability is a recipe for corruption that New Yorkers blindly accept as the status quo.
I've been speaking with a few people in miserable divorce proceedings and one commonality between all cases I speak with is a grumpy, angry judges. At the root of most divorce industry rip offs is Judges who's loyalty to the Divorce Industry supersedes their responsibility to the voters who elected them (in New York) and the tax payers who pay their salaries.
Rude judges are gold mines for the Divorce Industry. I speak with so many frustrated, honest parents who simply can't afford an attorney and have simple issues that see their cases blow up by the scalding of a grumpy judge who won't even listen. Rather than try to sort through issues, grumpy judges demand that tax payers spend tens or hundreds of thousands on the Divorce Industry rather than try to solve simple matters without attorneys. I speak to people who prepare for weeks with their attorneys and convince themselves that they have air-tight arguments only to find their lawyers blasted by rude judges and sent out of the court with nothing accomplished in the court date. Think of the gift the grumpy judge just handed out. First of all they got a big ego boost by being able to yell without response, then they toss you out before they have to do a minute of work then your lawyer bills you for the court appearance and preparation that has to be done ALL OVER AGAIN.
One of the funniest examples I heard was from a friend in White Plains Supreme Court. A motion was being presented by a powerful attorney in White Plains but when the Judge reviewed the documents there were hand written remarks based on pre-court discussions. The Judge told the powerful attorney that she had enough staff to have the document typed and adjourned until the attorney retyped the document. The powerful attorney put on a great show in her pink Christian Louboutin pumps and demanded that the Judge reconsider but it was too late. Great show by the attorney but total bull shit. The angry pink-pumped lawyer billed my friend $500 an hour for the re-type, adjournment and travel time. By being a complete asshole the Judge bought the powerful attorney three or four new pairs of hot shoes while the child who raised the abuse allegation never had their case heard after lawyer money ran out.
Angry Judges who adjourn at the last minute cost the citizens using the courts tens of thousands of dollars on each adjournment. Judges who take children from pro se litigants and torment parents in closed door court rooms cost uncountable damage to children and families.
One of funniest things I hear is they mythology that judges hate people who make more money than them. I know plenty of people in Westchester who make more than the 140k a Supreme Court judge makes and somehow this income inequality upsets judges to such a degree that they are justified to any abhorrent behavior. Countless lawyers have told me not to argue modifications because I make more money than a Judge. Somehow this is grounds for a judge to become a total jerk to a taxpayer. Mind you that I didn't seek election to get my job and I can be fired tomorrow while Judges are never fired in New York and are voted to 10 year terms.
The reason that Judges can torment citizens rather than help them in New York at least is because of lack of supervision. Elected judges hand out hundreds of thousands or millions of fees to a small group of attorneys, experts and guardians and there's not a single entity in New York that reviews the fee assignments and business dealings of Judges and their assistants. The administrative judges who run the local New York courts have no right to monitor the court room demeanor or procedures of divorce or family law cases and the only people who have the authority to monitor a judges behavior is the Judicial Conduct Commission. The JCC is staffed by volunteer judges and has no funds for proactive enforcement. So in other works a Judge can be a total jerk in court and be a blatant employment agent for the Divorce Industry and no regulatory authority will every know or care.
This is why my advice to everyone is stay the hell out of court. You never have an argument of a combative jerk of a judge won't let you speak. You'll never win a case if a Judge decides to be angry at you if you make more money than them.
So I'll close with a question; Who do you New York Family and Supreme Court Matrimony Judges work for? Taxpayers or the divorce industry? Where should an elected Judges responsibility lay? Taxpayers or the divorce industry? Should the fee awards of elected judges be counted and monitored? Should judges demeanor be monitored in civil court, where there's no constitutional protections of due process and no jury?
The Divorce Industry of New York is immune to any scrutiny at any level of government or law enforcement. I maintain it's one of the most disgusting examples of a joint criminal venture between a state and a private industry that you can find in the USA. Any unwitting victim that walks into a New York Divorce Industry fraudster could lose everything they have based on trickery, unethical business practices and fear tactics. Elected Judges help the system along by creating hostile courtrooms that bully taxpayers and intentionally aid the corrupt divorce industry by prolonging matters, adjourning cases at the last minute and favoring insider attorneys.
New York turns a blind eye to the financial ripoff schemes of the Divorce Industry by establishing volunteer, self-enforced ethics committees that rely on a part-time staff to review the business practices of the Divorce Industry. Judges and Lawyers are only accountable to taxpayer funded, secretive ethics committees while court experts and the judges administrative staff, who carry on the day to day corrupt activities have no accountability to anyone. Elected Judges order tremendous fees for their friends in both family and supreme court. An elected judge can easily order $200,000 fees for a single person in a single divorce case with no questions asked. However, this situation is exacerbated in the Family Court system.
In the Family Court system elected judges not only court order massive fees to experts and attorneys, but they also assign taxpayer funded attorneys to poor New York families via the 18b program. I analyzed the 18b assignment patterns in White Plains Family Court and as I've reported extensively in my blog, 80% of the 1028 assignments in Q42013 went to about 30 attorneys while about 65 attorneys shared 20% of the assignments. The top attorneys were appointed over 70 cases while over 20 attorneys had fewer than 2 assigned 18b cases. Something seemed odd to me with such a top heavy assignment pattern. After more research it came as no surprise that the attorneys who receive the most 18b case assignments also have the most retained cases as well.
I was watching the highlights of the arraignment of Hannah Graham's alleged murderer and the Judge was livid about the idea of the same attorney representing the accused in two cases. The Judge said there was no way that the attorney could do an adequate job in both cases. Now juxtapose this reaction against the status quo in New York. In Virginia a judge is so concerned about the rights of a predatory killer that he demands the attorney not overbook himself, but in a New York Family Court, where the lives of children hang in limbo, our elected Judges are quite comfortable assigning cases to attorneys with over 100 active cases. There are over 100 attorneys on the 18b roster for White Plains Family Court yet the interest of poor families is put behind the interests of judicial favors to powerful attorneys.
When I did my accounting of the 18b system for one quarter it was clear that New York does it's best to obscure any traces of crimes of this industry. In my view I thought I had a story . When elected judges are handing out over 4 millions of dollars in 18b fees, in one quarter alone, to about 30 lawyers while about 65 attorneys split less than a million in fees I thought that this top-heavy assignment patter would raise some interest. Nope. It's all good in New York. We are all good if our elected judges are handing out millions of tax payer dollars to a small group of attorneys with no supervision or accountability of the level of service provided. We have bidding processes in every aspect of government, but in this little fantasy land in Family Court money flows freely with no questions asked from elected officials to a small group of insiders.
The only accountability for the 18b program is a report that shows the expenditures filed by the County Executive. I've asked County Executive Astorino's office multiple times for the 18b expenditure report to see if my calculations would be in line with actual expenditures. I wrote more than a few times that Astorino had violated the law because he didn't file these reports but then I learned about FOIL. No way was Astorino's office going to be helpful to an ordinary Joe like me so I finally filed a FOIL request to see his 18b expenditure report. What I found is illustrative of my point that New York lets the fraud of the Divorce Industry persist by simply sticking it's head in the ground and not looking.
Astorino's reports show that each year Westchester County taxpayers are paying about $18,000,000 to fund the 18b program. However, there's no breakdown of Family vs. Criminal court, no tally of which attorneys receive the money and no report of the efficacy of their legal services. I submitted further requests to get the detail of the reports but was advised that the scant reports that I've attached are all the accounting New York requires. Astorino submits a top-line number and that's the end, no questions asked. With money so tight in Westchester County it's great to see $18mil of taxpayer money going to the local legal industry with no accountability whatsoever - every year.
So as I began, I'm shutting this blog down soon. It's a huge time suck, it hasn't changed a thing and it's earned me a few lawsuit threats and strange investigations. I want to pursue other blogging interests so this will be the last post for a long time. As always I urge any victim of the divorce industry to file a complaint with the US Justice Department in your region.
Like me, many of the readers of this blog want to stop the corruption and predatory business practices come to an end. No one likes being bilked for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees, not to mention suffering through life-shattering stress, simply because they need to use the tax payer funded divorce and family courts of New York. No one wants their children and/or businesses to be used as tools of extortion by the predatory divorce industry of New York. No one wants to be bullied and emotionally tortured by mean judges in court rooms with no juries. No one wants to see tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of lawyer fees flushed down the toilet when a collusive legal secretary for a judge works in cahoots with a court insider to cancel a court date at the last minute. However, this predatory behavior will continue forever because this is the accepted business practice in New York.
I've written hundreds of blog posts, filed complaints with ethics committees, encouraged others to do so and tried to get the attention of the press to draw light to the abuses of this predatory industry all to no avail. Simply put, no one who could help give a shit about it. It's easy to write off all the victims of this predatory industry as wackos or hysterical. It's easy to listen to the hollow arguments of the Divorce Industry and nod your head as very rich fraudsters speak in calm legalize to explain a predatory system.
So here's yet another concrete example of the fact that divorce reform doesn't matter to anyone who could help. I recently wrote letters to lohud.com, our local paper in White Plains to see if they would report on the 18b abuses I've reported on my blog. Crickets. One of the largest tax frauds in New York is simply not interesting. Here's the letter:
CC: Lee Higgins
David McKay Wilson
September 15, 2014
Dear Mary, Lee and David,
CE Rob Astorino is becoming increasingly brash in his criticism of Gov. Cuomo on ethics but CE Astorino is grossly negligent in his own backyard in one very serious abuse of the taxpayer money – the 18b legal representation system. The 18b system provides taxpayer funded legal assistance in Family Court to poor families and children. The only accountability for how this money is spent according to the 18b law is via accounting that the County Executive is required to file by the 18b law. In my research County Executive Astorino has never filed an 18b accounting report for White Plains Family Court. I’ve made repeated verbal and written requests to Astorino’s office for this report yet they fail to point to the location of the report or disclose it’s content.
Why does this matter? This matters because over $100 million in legal fees are handed out by elected judges in White Plains Family Court every year to a very small group of court insiders. In my analysis of Q42013 Family Court 18b assignments in White Plains 80% of the 1028 active 18b cases were assigned to only 38 attorneys generating over $41mil in legal fees while 65 attorneys shared only 178 cases worth less than $900,000 in legal fees. This is a very alarming top-heavy case assignment pattern and as a tax payer funding this top-heavy assignment I’m outraged that Astorino will not do his job as required by law to account for 18b spending.
NO OTHER elected officials in Westchester County has the power to hand so much federal and local tax money directly to a small group of professionals with no questions asked as Family Court judges can do. There are no tests to determine of the top 38 attorneys are providing good service to the poor parents and children they represent and there’s no review of the effectiveness of the representation they receive. Why are poor families being pushed to a small group of attorney, many of whom have over 100 active full-rate and 18b divorce cases simultaneously while there are 24 attorneys registered in the 18b program who have only a single 18b litigant assigned to them? The top 10 18b attorneys had 458 active 18b cases while the bottom 50 attorneys had 106 18b litigants. I run a divorce reform blog and it’s no surprise to me that the top 18b attorneys are the most powerful in Westchester Family Court and the attorneys I hear the most complaints about.
Before County Executive Astorino goes around criticizing Gov. Cuomo on ethics, which he deserves, Astorino has to clean up the filth in his own jurisdiction. While there are many complaints about the NY Divorce Industry, this is one area where concrete proof shows that elected officials are favoring a small group of professionals and showering them with millions of taxpayer dollars. Astorino has power by the 18b laws to question how this money is being spent and attack the corruption that operates openly in the Family Court of White Plains. Astorino is negligent by abdicating his responsibility to file and publishing an accounting of the 18b assignments by our elected judges in White Plains Family Court. These reports shed light on the immense tax payer handouts that court insiders receive from elected judges and are a glaring symbol of the corruption that so many families suffer in the White Plains Family and Matrimony Court System.
Watching Ray Rice's life come apart due to his own stupidity I can't help thinking of all the parents in New York who lose access to their children forever because of the mere allegation of abuse. In New York, and according to many, in New Jersey and Connecticut, the mere allegation of an ill-temper can cause a parent to be banned from their parents completely, without any supporting evidence whatsoever. If Ray Rice were going through a divorce in his home town of New Rochelle and his wife had a powerful attorney he undoubtedly would be banned from seeing his children or at least be required to use humiliating supervision at a rate of $150 an hour.
If Ray's wife simply claimed she was hit or the child was hit, even without video, he could face the penalty of not seeing his kids ever again. Of course even no-job Ray Rice has enough money to fight and would be able equalize the playing field in some regards but many parents can't afford to fight temporary rulings that ban a parent from their child with no due process in preliminary hearings. On the other hand, Ray Rice and others like him with lots of money for the right attorneys could easily have their spouse banned from their children with the right attorney with nothing but unproven allegations. There are so many hands to feed in a NY contested divorce including open-handed charlatan 'forensic psychologist' earning court-ordered rates exceeding $350 an hour into the mix, visitation supervisors, legal guardians, attorneys, experts, etc. that kids become pawns if ripoffs.
There is no absolute right to earn the money that Ray Rice earned as a great player and his own mistakes have cost him the privilege of an NFL career, despite his abilities - yet he's still a parent. Sadly though, there is no right to be a parent in New York and and unproven allegations can cost children their parents for the rest of their lives, even if they keep their jobs.
Luck for Ray Rice and his daughter that he's not in a New York Divorce.
The Rockefeller Drug Laws blindly handed out jail sentences of 15 years to life to anyone in New York convicted of selling more than 2 ounces of cocaine, marijuana and opiates. While this law seemed like a good idea in the seventies it ended up ballooning the prison population of New York and costing tax payers millions of dollars to incarcerate so many people. Over time these New York laws were repealed and scaled back but not before ruining the lives of many people rotting away in jails for no good reason. These laws destroyed the lives of many who made small mistakes and posed no real threat to society by applying a one-size-fits-all punishment regardless of circumstance.
In this regard, the Bradley Amendment is the same as the Rockefeller Laws since the BA created a one-size-fits-all punishment to anyone who builds up child or spousal support debt over $1,500. The Bradley Amendment seemed like a great idea, who doesn't want children supported by parents? The Bradley Amendment attempted to fill the gaps between different state laws to create a uniform penal code for support offenders. The Bradley Amendment federalized divorce and gave local courts unprecedented powers as divorce debt became a federal debt that is enforced beyond the grave and makes debt immutable for any reason. Unlike the Rockefeller Laws which at least had constitutional protections for offenders, there are no constitutional protections for divorce. In fact, the Bradley Amendment removes due process explicitly by removing any right of appeal and judicial discretion. States that don't participate in these networks will be denied federal grants from HHS, which makes up a huge part of many states budgets.
The Bradley Amendment mandated a nationwide computer network so that parents can be tracked all over the country. Punishments of the BA include 65% wage garnishment, jail, destroyed credit, tax refund garnishment, loss of professional and drivers licenses and much more. These punishments follow parents past the grave and, regardless of circumstance, can never be changed. A parent who becomes ill with cancer and loses income is treated the same as the parent who hides income and refuses to pay support. A parent who loses their job for any reason is treated the same as a parent who chooses to disappear and avoid their responsibilities. Even a parent who is taken hostage in Iraq is treated the same as a parent who chooses to stop working rather than pay.
Since the matrimony and family courts of the USA don't have constitutional protections many of the proceedings that lead a parent to a state of arrears are unfair and without due process. Since each state funds child support courts differently and have different laws for support modifications it's often impossible to get modifications in support in a timely fashion. For example, in New York a support order can't be changed for any reason within three years of a final verdict. Support arrears can start in the preliminary components of a divorce trial which can last years. For example, if a divorce proceeding takes 2 years until final verdict and support was set in the first hearing, which is common, it could take five years until a parent in New York can even ask for a modification. If a parent loses their job or business during the divorce, which is pretty common, by the time the five year mark comes and adjustment is allowed, it may be too late and tens or hundreds of thousands of arrears can be accrued which translates into financial jail that can last to the end of a parents life, and beyond.
It's time to take another look at the Rockefeller Laws of Divorce, the Bradley Amendment. Not every parent who accrues arrears is bad and not all support rulings are just. This federal legislation from 1986 was sponsored by the payment providers who benefit from big computer collection networks. Just as the Rockefeller Laws failed New York and ruined lives with uniform punishments that remove judicial discretion the Bradley Amendment is destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of responsible parents who are hard working and honest. It's time to repeal or at least re-examine the one-size-fits-all approach of the Bradley Amendment.
Sad to report another parent who lost everything to the corrupt Divorce Industry of White Plains and with no hope left of seeing his family decided to take his life. This parent lost everything he had in a sham trial about ten years ago. The divorce lawyer of the living spouse took 100% of the proceeds of their house closing while the family still owed hundreds of thousands in legal fees.
There had been no criminality, no child abuse of any type and besides the fighting of two intransigent, frustrated parents there was no history of police intervention. One parent hired a classic 'insider' white plains attorney while one parent couldn't afford a full-time attorney. The parent without the attorney lost complete access to their two young children. No calls, no emails, no letters, no birthday wishes, no supervised visitation, no contact - at all. This was a parent that was deeply committed to the lives of the children and was involved in all aspects of school and family life. However, in the court of White Plains, especially for pro se litigants, evidence and humanity have no voice. Those who pay the right people win and those who can't pay lose everything.
Imagine losing all of your assets, access to two young children for the rest of your life and then, after taking your own life, the children aren't even aware because one parent has completely erased the other. This is NOT what federal and state funded courts should be doing in the US. Sadly the US Constitution doesn't apply in New York matrimony courts so there's no civil rights protections, ethics enforcement or scrutiny of the elected officials running these corrupt courts. Preet Bharara, the FBI and DOC are rushing to find the culprit for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo release but when it comes to defending families and fighting the corrupt Divorce Industry of New York the DOJ and Preet Bharara don't think it's worth the bother. There are no big payoffs like they get when fighting with banks, there's no headlines to be grabbed when fighting celebrity nude photo releases and there's no panache in defending the civil rights of children and middle-class families.
Hopefully this terrible loss of life and destruction of a family will lead to faster action on attacking the corruption of public officials that's so prevalent in New York Matrimony Courts (family and supreme).
Always amazing how fast the Justice Department and FBI will rush to get involved in headlines while ignoring rampant corruption in the Divorce Industry of New York. Four years since I've been reporting on judicial corruption and poor ethics policing of the predatory Divorce Industry with clear data points there's no response from Preet Bharara or the FBI. Jennifer Lawrence has a booty shot on the Internet and the FBI races in.
As I first reported years ago, New York grants a license to steal to the Divorce Industry backed up with volunteer, part time ethics and twisted laws that place the Judges, Experts, Attorneys and their staff who comprise the system above the law. We elect our Judges in NY and no other elected official has the ability to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars directly to a small unregulated group of insiders like Family Court judges have via the 18b system. Signs of abuse are rampant yet this massive abuse of taxpayer money doesn't make the radar of tough guy Preet Bharara.
Someone posts a naked picture of a celebrity and Preet calls in the troops but when a family is financially and emotionally ruined by a predatory industry you can hear a pin drop.
As reported July 23rd, 2014, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino called Gov. Cuomo the most corrupt Governor in New York history. My message to Rob Astorino is before criticizing, do your part to clean up the corruption that operates openly in the family and supreme courts in White Plains. If Astorino wants to prove that he can do a better job than Cuomo at attacking corruption of elected officials then now's the time to act. County Executive Astorino has a very unique and powerful role to fight corruption of elected judges yet he's been abdicating his responsibility, and breaking the law, by not doing his part.
Astorino can help fight corruption in the NY Family Court by filing 18b expenditure reports as required by law and making them available to tax payers for review. The biggest fingerprint of corruption that I've found in the Westcehster County Divorce Industry is an extremely top-heavy assignment pattern of court-appointed 18b counsel in family court. In my analysis there were 1028 active 18b cases in Westchester Family Court in Q42013. 850 of these cases were assigned to 38 connected attorneys while 61 attorneys shared 178 cases. The top 38 attorneys are assigned so many cases that they could never do a good job or the families they are supposedly helping with average handling 28 cases and the top handling over 70 cases. Moreover, the top 38 18b attorneys are splitting over 45mil in tax payer funded legal, expert and expense fees handed directly to them by elected judges while the bottom 61 attorneys split $890,000 in tax payer funded fees. 18b costs are buried in the UCS budget and there's virtually no accounting of the money spent in family court if Astorino doesn't do his job.
No other elected official in Westchester County can hand out so much money directly to close friends with no supervision as an elected Family Court judge! The only check and balance for the 18b program is the accounting that CE Rob Astorino is supposed to provide, by law, to the tax payers of New York. However, Mr. Bigmouth Astorino has refused repeated requests for these reports. This is a clear violation of law and contributes heavily to the corruption that grips the contested divorce industry.
The fundamental reason that the divorce industry can rip off families and destroy the lives of children in Westchester as a business model is simple - no one with authority is watching and holding judges, court staff, attorneys and experts accountable to even basic levels of ethical business practices - including Astorino. Rob Astorino could easily shed light on corruption in the Westcehster familly court by publishing 18b expenditure reports and he must act to prove that he's better than Governor Cuomo.
Before Astorino runs around criticizing Cuomo he should fight corruption in his own back yard.