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NCFM-TC Says "Study" Group Is Biased and Anonymous Memorandum Documents Bias
Lobbying Minnesota Legislators
Research Supporting Joint Physical Custody
JPC Study-Final Report
Study Group Members
Meeting Information and Minutes of Past Meetings
Shared Parenting Stories
Why Joint Physical Custody?
JPC Friendly Groups
NCFM Says Study Group Biased
(Page Down for Anonymous Memorandum Documents Bias)
NCFM Says Joint Physical Custody Study Group Membership Biased
Submitted by Charlie Hurd, National Coalition For Men Twin Cities:
Contact Charlie Hurd at 507-995-5526 for more information.
January 23, 2009
In the spring of 2008 the Minnesota Legislature mandated a study of the presumption of joint physical custody after divorce or separation. The study was enacted after questions were raised during legislative hearings about the impact of such a change in family law. The job was given to the Minnesota Judicial branch in the spring of 2008. The report was finally delivered to the legislature on January 15, 2009.
Bias in Creating the Group
From the beginning, questions were raised by fathers and noncustodial parents about the wisdom of turning over the study to the judicial branch. Many fathers consider the judiciary to be part of a powerful system that disenfranchises them from their children, while at the same time draining their financial resources. They feared that a study group dominated by lawyers, judges, and domestic abuse services advocates for women, would ensure that the status quo in family law would remain intact.
Several areas of concern immediately became apparent. The study group would receive no funding. Sue Dosal, State Court Administrator, wrote in a letter to me, “Of course, this mandate came with no new resources, and our staff are already quite stretched to fulfill their current duties . . .” Because there was no funding and a fairly short timeline for the study to be completed, there was no formal application process put into place. Unfortunately, rather than choosing from a broad applicant group of public-minded citizens and experts, many in the group were hand chosen from those already known by the judiciary, and known to be against the presumption of joint physical custody.
Some of the members were chosen from suggestions by legislators. Apparently, Liz Richards of the Coalition for Battered Women; Jeff Edelson, an academic whose main focus has been on female victims of domestic abuse; and James Street, a poverty lawyer and domestic abuse prevention advocate for women, were suggested by Representative Paymar. All three had advocated strongly against joint physical custody before the study group was formed, and subsequently while with the study group. Paymar has lead the opposition to joint physical custody in the legislature, and holds a job in the domestic abuse industry. Apparently recommended by legislators favoring joint physical custody(probably by Representative Tim Mahoney or Senator Kathy Saltzman), Molly Olson of the Center for Parental Responsibility and Chad Barthelemy were chosen in an attempt to give balance to the group. Barthelemy was apparently added at a late date, and at the insistence of legislators, as a thirteenth member, when the overall lack of balance in the group became apparent.
Somewhat oddly, according to Mark Toogood, the study group administrator, only Representatives Mahoney and Paymar, and Senator Saltzman were consulted when forming the group. According to the legislation, the study group was to be chosen in consultation, “. . . with the chairs and ranking minority members of the budget and policy committees in the house and senate with jurisdiction over family law on the composition of the working group.” The chair of the Public Safety Finance Division was Paymar, and Steve Smith was the ranking minority member. The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee was Mee Moua, and the ranking minority member was Warren Limmer.
The remainder of the members were chosen by State Court Administrator Office staff, according to Dosal. She wrote to me that they used criteria that basically called for fair-minded, bright and independent people, who did not hold any particular position on the issue of joint physical custody. However, it should be noted that Judge Schellhas had chaired a judicial domestic violence
steering committee, and Pam Waggoner said in a news story "... that it's a bad idea to make a judge start with this presumption in child custody cases.” Another member was Jill Olson, a child support specialist with the Department of Human Services, hardly an independent or uninterested party. Glen Palm, although he works closely with Minnesota Fathers and Families Network, stated at a press conference a year ago that he was opposed to a presumption of joint physical custody, according to Molly Olson who questioned him at the conference.
The remaining members were Paul Masiarchin, Judge Kevin Eide, Sharon Durken of the Kinship Caregivers Association, and Irene Opsahl of Minneapolis Legal Aid, a group that tends to serve mothers more than fathers. No one was chosen by the State Court Administrator staff from a long list of possible candidates submitted by Molly Olson, leader of the Center for Parental Responsibility. The Center is one of the largest noncustodial parent advocacy groups in Minnesota and is a strong advocate for a presumption of joint physical custody.
Another area of concern for fathers and noncustodial parents was the State Court Administrator staff, who helped to choose the membership of the study group and who worked with the study committee. Jodie Metcalf, who wrote most of the report and analysis portion of the study, is a Child Support Magistrate. My guess is that most people would consider her, by her position, to be unsympathetic or even hostile to fathers or noncustodial parents. The work group reporter, Nancy VerSteegh, was, “on record (and tape) as adamantly testifying at the legislature against joint physical custody,” according to Senator Saltzman in an email to Sue Dosal, that I acquired through a request for public data. It would be fair to say that most fathers and noncustodial parents would feel that Mark Toogood, a Guardian Ad Litem manager, has an interest in maintaining the current adversarial system of family law.
The study committee was dominated by people who benefit from current family law, advocates for women, and by those who oppose a presumption of joint physical custody. There were two judges (Eide, Schellhas) four lawyers (Richards, Waggoner, Street, Henschel), three working as domestic abuse advocates for women (Richards, Edleson, Street), and two working as child support advocates (Metcalf, Jill Olson).
It was also dominated by people who openly oppose a presumption of joint physical custody, including Richards, Waggoner, Street, VerSteegh, Edleson, Glenn Palm, and Metcalf. It appears that several members did not openly have a position on joint physical custody prior to the study. These include Eide, , Masiarchin, Durken, and Opsahl. Those in favor included Molly Olson and Barthelemy, both non lawyers, and both nonprofessionals in the field of family law. A clear majority (seven) of staff and study group members, who were either professionals in the field or lawyers, were openly opposed to a presumption of joint physical custody prior to the beginning of the study.
Only Molly Olson and Barthelemy, both non lawyers and nonprofessionals in the field, were in favor. Molly Olson and Barthelemy were also the only members who served at their own expense. It appears that by any measure that the group was made up of many members who were and are hostile to the idea and implementation of a presumption of joint physical custody. It seems reasonable to assume that the final report reflects these biases. Hopefully legislators will take this into account as they study the report.
Anonymous Memorandum Documents Bias
MEMORANDUM RE: JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY STUDY GROUP
February 26, 2009
The State Court Administrator’s Office failed to comply with legislative mandates
A. The State Court Administrator’s Office failed to consult with the chairs and ranking minority members of the appropriate legislative committees in the selection of members of the Study Group
The legislation authorizing the joint custody study group, 2008 Minn. Sess. L. ch. 299, sec. 25, contains the following mandate:
The state court administrator must consult with the chairs and ranking minority members of
the budget and policy committees in the house and senate with jurisdiction over family law
on the composition of the working group.
The Public Safety Finance Division would be one of the relevant committees in the House. The chair of that committee was Michael Paymar; the ranking minority member was Steve Smith. In the Senate, one of the relevant committees would be the Judiciary Committee. That committee was chaired by Mee Moua and the ranking minority member was Warren Limmer.
It appears that the only one of these individuals who was actually consulted was Michael Paymar. Steve Smith, Mee Moua and Warren Limmer were not.
The State Court Administrator’s Office is currently taking the official position that it did consult with the chairs and ranking minority members of the relevant committees. Copies of e-mail messages and other documents obtained from the State Court Administrator’s Office by means of Data Practices Act requests, however, do not bear this out.
On July 17, 2008, Sue Dosal, the State Court Administrator, sent an email message to Janet Marshall telling her “I want you to consult with Paymar and Foley’s office next week on the membership of this committee.” Rep. Paymar was the chair of a relevant House Committee. Sen. Foley was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he was not the chair or ranking minority member of that committee. Even if he were, however, the emailed directive evidences an intention to consult with only two legislative committee members. The requisite number of legislators to consult should have been at least four (chair and ranking minority member of at least one committee in the House and at least one committee in the Senate.)
It is clear from the July 17, 2008 email message that no effort at all was made to consult with the ranking minority member of any committee, whether in the House or the Senate.
There is not any evidence that Janet Marshall ever actually complied with Sue Dosal’s directive to consult with Paymar and Foley, either. No records of any such communications were produced in response to Data Practices requests for “copies of all notes, correspondence, documents and data of every kind and in whatever form stored or maintained, relating to: (1) the persons, officials and organizations from whom input was requested concerning the selection of persons to serve on the study group; (2) the process and actual selection of members of the study group established pursuant to said law.” Janet Marshall probably never followed through on the directive because on the very same day that she was instructed to contact them, Mark Toogood sent an email to the State Court Administrator asserting that he, and not Janet Marshall, was the “project lead on this and the primary point of contact....” From that point on, Mark Toogood proceeded to take charge of assembling and convening the group.
In response to an October 6, 2008 email from Charlie Hurd asking Mr. Toogood “which legislators you consulted with when formulating the membership of the committee?” Toogood did not say that he consulted with
Instead, he wrote, “Sue Dosal, State Court Administrator, consulted with Representatives Mahoney and Paymar and I believe Senator Saltzman.” Accordingly, it does not appear that he or anyone else in the State Court Administrator’s Office undertook to comply with Sue Dosal’s previous directive to Janet Marshall to consult with Paymar and Foley.
Of the legislators Toogood identified as having consulted with Sue Dosal, only Paymar was a chair or ranking minority member of one of the relevant committees. Saltzman and Mahoney were not chairs or ranking minority members of any relevant committees.
On November 17, 2008, after receiving a communication from Sen. Shieran (sp?) alleging improprieties in the formation of the Group, Toogood sent a memorandum labeled “Confidential” to Sue Dosal in which he stated that the official position of the State Court Administrator’s Office needs to be that “The State Court Administrator has fulfilled the legislative charge and did consult with the chairs and ranking members of the relevant committees in forming the study group.” In view of the emails that have since been uncovered through Data Practices Act requests, it is clear that was not a true statement.
B. The State Court Administrator’s Office failed to comply with the legislative mandate to ensure that the viewpoints of parent advocacy groups were represented
The enabling legislation specifies that “[i]n appointing members to the study group, the state court administrator must ensure that the viewpoint of parent advocacy groups...are represented.” 2008 Minn. Sess. L. ch. 299, sec. 25.
From the emails uncovered through Data Practices Act requests, it appears the only input the State Court Administrator’s Office received from a legislator regarding the selection of a representative of a parent advocacy organization came from Rep. Kathy Saltzman. In an email dated August 4, 2008, she urged that a member of the Center for Parental Responsibility be appointed to the Study Group. Again, Saltzman was not the chair or ranking minority member of a relevant committee, so receiving input from her did not bring the State Court Administrator’s Office into compliance with the legislative mandate.
Had the State Court Administrator’s Office followed the legislative mandate, then it would have consulted with Rep. Steve Smith and Sen. Mee Moua. Those legislators have had numerous previous contacts with representatives of R-KIDS of Minnesota over the past decade, and certainly would have known that R-KIDS of Minnesota is the oldest and largest parent advocacy organization in Minnesota. As a result of the State Court Administrator’s failure to comply with the legislative directive, no consideration at all was ever given to whether the viewpoint of R-KIDS of Minnesota was adequately represented in the composition of the Group.
The two other major parent advocacy organizations in Minnesota with an interest in custody issues, namely, Fathers4Justice and Families4Justice, were not contacted in connection with the formation of the Group, either. As with RKIDS, no effort at all was made either to ascertain their interest in participating in the Group or to ensure that their views were adequately represented on the Group
The manner in which the judicial branch convened and conducted the Joint Custody Study Group demonstrated prejudice against men (in this case, fathers)
Members of the judicial branch can be expected to deny that they have any particular bias or prejudice against fathers. It is politically incorrect, to say the least, to admit that one is biased or prejudiced, particularly when one is a member of the branch of government charged with the duty of administering justice in a fair and impartial manner. Nevertheless, there were several times during the course of the convening and operation of the Study Group when bias, prejudice, fear and hostility toward men, or at least fathers, was demonstrated.
A. Selection of attorney members of the Study Group
Some attorneys selected for participation in the work of the Group were either affiliated with battered women’s organizations or on record as being opposed to joint physical custody. Indeed, one of the attorneys selected for membership, Pamela Waggoner, has actually testified before the legislature in opposition to joint custody. Another attorney selected for the Group was Liz Richards. She is attorney for the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. Another attorney selected for the Group works for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, a legal aid organization that has expressly given top priority to assisting battered women and women who are facing a challenge to the custody of their children.
No attorneys selected for participation in the work of the Group were associated with fathers’, men’s or parents’ advocacy organizations. It does not appear that any attorneys that are on record as being in favor of presumptive joint physical custody were selected, either. Molly Olson, of the Center for Parental Responsibility, submitted the names of attorneys who work with fathers; attorneys who had no record of being opposed to joint custody; and attorneys who had no ties to organizations with an interest in opposing joint custody. The State Court Administrator’s Office did not consider any of those attorneys for membership on the Group.
Despite the legislative mandate to ensure that parent advocacy organizations were represented on the Study Group, it was only after Rep. Kathy Saltzman sent an email to Janet Marshall reminding her of that requirement and suggesting that someone from the Center for Parental Responsibility be appointed that the State Court Administrator’s Office considered complying with this part of the legislative mandate.
After receiving the email from Rep. Saltzman on August 4, 2008, Janet Marshall sent the following email to Sue Dosal:
[T]he “Dad’s Groups” were already talking down the membership. Perhaps we should just put someone from Molly’s group on as the replacement for Bill Allen.
It would appease them and that,
, is important at this time.
The only individuals or groups who, according to records obtained through Data Practices Act requests, had expressed criticism of the way members of the Study Group were being selected at the time that email was written were: (1) Charlie Hurd, an elected official who does not appear to be a representative of a father’s group; (2) individuals belonging to an Internet discussion board called MNFamilyLawReform (a forum for discussion of a variety of family-law-related subjects that includes custodial and noncustodial parents of both sexes; it is not a “dad’s group”); and (3) the Center for Parental Responsibility. The Center for Parental Responsibility is a parents’ group, not a “dad’s group.” Indeed, as Ms. Marshall notes in her email, it is operated and run by a woman, not a man, certainly not a father. The one Minnesota organization that really is a “dad’s group” – Fathers4Justice – had not issued any statements about the composition of the Group, positive or negative.
That being the case, the conclusion is inescapable that the State Court Administrator’s Office had a pre-conceived notion that fathers (or their sympathizers) would be uncomfortable with the composition of the Study Group. That betrays an awareness that there was something about the composition of the Study Group that was unfair to fathers.
The wording of this email is also revealing. Rather than suggesting that the inclusion of Molly Olson or someone from the Center for Parental Responsibility would be a positive opportunity to fulfill their legislative mandate, Ms. Marshall describes it as “
” that any attention to fathers’ concerns had to be given at all.
Ms. Marshall’s use of the term
is revealing, as well.
means “the policy of giving in to the demands of a hostile or aggressive enemy power in an attempt to keep the peace.” (
.) Evidently, Ms. Marshall perceived fathers (“dad’s groups”) as a hostile and aggressive enemy power. That explains why she described the inclusion of one of their kind on the Study Group as “
There is no record of any criticisms or complaints by fathers or “dad’s groups” that were expressed in a hostile or aggressive way. Accordingly, it can only be concluded that the judgment was based on pre-conceived notions. That is to say, it was founded not on fact but on prejudice; in this case, the stereotyping of fathers and/or men in general as hostile and aggressive.
C. Requesting the assistance of law enforcement upon being “peppered” with calls from fathers
On August 26, 2008, Mr. Toogood sent an email to other court staff claiming that he was being “peppered” with calls from fathers about the Study.
, when not used to describe adding seasoning to food, means “to pelt with many small objects or to beat or hit with short, quick jabs.” (
1053.) The choice of this word suggests a preconceived notion that every father calling in to express a concern about ensuring fair treatment of fathers is behaving violently and aggressively. It is the violent male stereotype.
As with racial prejudice, so other kinds of prejudice are often rooted in fear. There is some evidence of that here, too. Mr. Toogood concluded the above email by suggesting that Capitol Security be brought in to protect members of the Study Group during their meetings. No particular threat was cited, just the expectation that a large number of fathers would be in attendance.
D. Reluctant compliance and “finessed” non-compliance with legislative mandates
In the email communication to Sue Dosal and Judge Eide on August 19, 2008, Mr. Toogood identified the specific complaint of the callers who were “peppering” him as the fact that the Study Group did not have any unaffiliated citizen members. The enabling legislation required inclusion on the Group of a citizen who is not affiliated with an advocacy organization. Rather than thank these callers for bringing this oversight to his attention, Toogood automatically lumped all of these callers together as some sort of organized enemy force that was attacking him. Rather than trying to understand the callers’ concerns, or trying to comply with the legislative mandate that these citizens were trying to bring to his attention, Toogood’s reaction, as shown in email obtained through Data Practices requests, was: “
I personally don’t see the value
in having [a citizen member] on the group,
but wonder if we need to comply with the legislation
. Any guidance on how to finesse this issue?”
The fact that the State Court Administrator’s Office was not certain whether it needs to comply with the law is disturbing. It reflects a belief that the State Court Administrator’s Office may not always need to comply with legal requirements. That would certainly explain the failure to comply with other legislative mandates set out in the enabling legislation.
The belief that the State Court Administrator’s Office does not need to comply with legislative mandates -- that is to say, that it is above the law -- was also demonstrated in its response to Jamil Jabr’s attempt to exercise his right to obtain information about the Study Group pursuant to the Data Practices Act.
On November 6, 2008 Jabr, in his capacity as the president of Fathers4Justice, sent a Data Practices Request to the State Court Administrator. The entire text of that request is reproduced below:
This is a request for access to public data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13.
I request all recorded information collected, created, received, stored, maintained, communicated or disseminated by you; all recorded information collected, created, received, stored, maintained, communicated or disseminated by the Office of the State Court Administrator; and all recorded information collected, created, received, stored, maintained, communicated or disseminated by any person or entity appointed, delegated, employed or assigned by you or theOffice of the State Court Administrator, to convene a study group pursuant to Minn. Laws 2008, Chapter 299, Sec. 25, regardless of physical form or method of storage. This request includes, but is not limited to, copies of all notes, correspondence, documents and data of every kind and in whatever form stored or maintained, relating to the persons, officials and organizations from whom input was requested concerning the selection of persons to serve on the study group; the process and actual selection of members of the study group established pursuant to said law; and the selection of organizations and individuals to invite to speak to, or otherwise provide information to, the study group.
Please let me know when I can come in to inspect these records. Also, please let me know if you can provide copies of these records to me and, if so, the cost.
In response to this request, the State Court Administrator’s Office, through Mark Toogood, called Mr. Jabr and left a voice mail message asking him to call Mr. Toogood so they could talk about it. Mr. Jabr then sent Toogood an email asking for clarification of what it was that Mr. Toogood wanted to discuss about the request. Toogood responded with the following email to Mr. Jabr on November 17, 2008:
It would be helpful to know what your concern is so I could respond directly to them. I am sure that, as a taxpayer, that you don’t want me simply wasting time to no clear end.
Mr. Jabr responded to this email on the same day, as follows:
I'll overlook the insinuation that I am wasting time and taxpayer dollars. My pursuits, like the request for data, are on behalf of the membership. I was quite sure that the request for data was properly submitted. As such it is representative of membership inquiries. Is the request for data a problem?
Rather than providing the requested copies or suggesting a time when Mr. Jabr could come in to inspect them, Mr. Toogood, on November 17, 2008 sent Mr. Jabr the following email message:
Jamil-- It is not clear why you are making your request. I believe I can give you a straight answer to your request once I know what the underlying concern is. Again, I am quite sure you would prefer that I spend my time making sure the custody group is getting its work done in a substantive and fair manner than simply recreating a paper trail for you.
Mr. Toogood’s responses to Mr. Jabr’s request violated the express mandate of Minn. Stat. §13.05, subd. 12, which states:
Government entities may not require persons to identify themselves,
state a reason for, or justify a request
to gain access to public government data.
(emphasis added.) The Rules on Public Access to Judicial Records say basically the same thing.
The State Court Administrator’s Office eventually provided copies of some records to Mr. Jabr, but only after the Office had started to receive similar requests from other individuals, such as Charlie Hurd.
E. The “You people” mentality
One of the earmarks of prejudice is the treatment of individuals as a single group and then ascribing a single personality, or a single set of thoughts and ideas, to each and every member of the group. It is most commonly practiced by bigots in connection with racial minorities. It is why a member of a racial minority understandably becomes offended when s/he is referred to as “You people.”
The same phenomenon was reflected in the State Court Administrator’s Office’s dealings with individual men. For example, after Tim Kinley, the president of RKIDS, had not received a response to his request to speak during the so-called “Public Listening Session,” he wrote to Mark Toogood to ask whether he had been selected to give oral testimony at the Session or not. On October 24, 2008 Toogood wrote back: “You were unfortunately not selected...but some of your colleagues were.” Kinley wrote back the same day, asking, “Could you please tell me...who my colleagues are?” Toogood provided no answer to that question.
F. Biased framing of the issues
An August 13, 2008 Memorandum from the Study Group chair (Hon. Kevin Eide) describing topics for the Group’s bibliography listed,
: “Impact of presumption of JPC laws on battered women” and “Research on importance of fathers to healthy child development.”
The State Court Administrator’s Office incorporated those ideas into the Notice of Public Listening session that was initially issued on October 27, 2008. Interested persons were instructed to choose from a list of pre-formulated issues, among which were:
“2. Impact on mothers of adopting such a presumption, including with respect to domestic violence.
3. Impact on fathers and father involvement of such presumption.”
Framing the issues for the Group and the public in this way reflected and required adherence to the following beliefs: (1) only women are victims of domestic violence; and (2) mothers are so obviously important to healthy child development that no research evidence of it is necessary, but we’d need some convincing evidence before we’d be able to say that fathers are important to children.
The framing of the issues in this way cannot be excused by ignorance. Molly Olson had ensured that each member of the Group had received an individual copy of Tom James’s book,
, in which hundreds of scientific and governmental studies debunking the myth that domestic violence is an exclusively male phenomenon are referenced and discussed. Rather than take that information to heart – or explain why not -- the Study Group leadership simply chose to ignore it. Such stubborn adherence to a belief, even in the face of clear evidence of its falsity, shows how deeply anti-male prejudice is rooted within the judicial branch.
It was only after the State Court Administrator’s Office received complaints about the biased way in which it was framing the issues that it published a revised public notice. This time, the two described issues were framed as follows: “Implications for cases involving domestic violence,” “Impact on custodial and non-custodial mothers” and “Impact on custodial and non-custodial fathers and father involvement of such a presumption.” (October 13, 2008 revised public notice.) In his message accompanying the revised Notice, Toogood did not acknowledge that the original wording was sexist. He did not apologize for any offense that may have been caused by the original sexist wording. Rather, he wrote, “Please...accept my apology for the change” – as if being free of sexism and discriminatory language is an inconvenience.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The conclusion is inescapable that the State Court Administrator’s Office did not comply with the legislative mandates for the formation and operation of the Joint Physical Custody study. Rather than attempt to approach the issues in a fair, neutral and objective manner, the goal all along appears to have been to maintain the
(in this case, the judicial preference for sole maternal custody) while struggling for ways to “appease” the disenfranchised by creating a false impression of neutrality, fairness and objectivity.
The manner in which the Minnesota judicial branch conducted itself in connection with this project was offensive, disgusting and outrageous. At the very least, it reveals a serious need for education, diversity and sensitivity training. Perhaps some refresher courses on the Data Practices Act and constitutional law would also be in order.
Because of the failure to comply with legislative mandates, the results obtained by this Study Group cannot be considered valid. Further, the legislature needs to remember that it was the judicial branch that created the preference for awarding sole custody of children to their mothers in the first place. The manner in which the judicial branch conducted itself in connection with this project demonstrates that the attitudes and beliefs underlying that prejudice are still present, though today they may find expression in different ways. It appears that there would need to be a sea change in judicial prejudices, attitudes and beliefs before it would make any sense to delegate this kind of legislative function to the judicial branch again.
R-KIDS of Minnesota also was not allowed to present its views to the Study Group during the so-called “Public Listening Session.” Email correspondence between Toogood and Tim Kinley, President of R-KIDS, dated October 24, 2008 shows that Toogood was aware of Kinley’s affiliation with R-KIDS, because he directed correspondence to Mr. Kinley to the RKIDS address even though Mr. Kinley had provided only his own personal address to him. It is not clear why the State Court Administrator’s Office excluded RKIDS both from participating in the Group and from giving even five minutes of testimony during the so-called “Public Listening Session.” The perception, however, is that the judicial branch is wary of RKIDS because it has taken the lead in grassroots lobbying for increased judicial accountability.
Another attorney member of the group, Irene Opsahl, is also a legal aid attorney.
Bill Allen is a marriage and family therapist who has done significant work with unmarried parents. He is not specifically an advocate for fathers or parents. He was invited to participate in the Group, but declined. July 30, 2008 email correspondence between Mark Toogood, Sue Dosal and Judge Kevin Eide shows that the State Court Administrator’s Office originally had hoped to find another “person of color” or “judge of color” to fill his spot before the email from Rep. Karen Saltzman came in. Evidently, the need to “appease” so-called “Dad’s Groups” superceded the desire to include a token minority on the Group.
They also reflect a belief that only mothers ever get custody of children, so that joint custody is something that could only affect the involvement of fathers with their children. While it is true that courts traditionally award sole custody of children to mothers, that is not always the case. Some fathers have custody of their children. Some non-custodial parents are mothers.
Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren’t Supposed To Know
(Aventine Press 2003.)
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