Monday, May 30, 2005

Notes From A Newbie

Hello. I’ve been a Blog Sister for many months now, but have never made the time to introduce myself properly. So here goes.

My name is Marita Paige, and I live in the north-western part of the Island of Borneo in South East Asia. I work in the wildlife conservation scene here. I used to do a lot of jungle trekking as part of my work. Now I just do it for the sheer love of it.

I love animals, I love books, I love outdoor activities and exercise in general. I love travelling, but I hate plane rides and waiting at airports. I’ve been to Australia, New York, the U.K., Thailand and Singapore. And by the time I post this up, I would have been to Java.

I enjoy coming in here to browse the entries.

I can’t think of anything more to say, except that I will post entries here from time to time, and….come visit my blog!

Marita

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Immoderate Pact Song Parody

I'm very disturbed by the judicial filibuster deal made by the Senate "moderates." So I wrote a song parody which starts like this:

The Immoderate Pact Song Parody (Sing to When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

The "moderates" made a voting pact.
We're screwed, we're screwed.
The "moderates" got their power back.
We're screwed, we're screwed.
Their deal betrays our democracy.
We're stuck with dreadful nominees...

The rest of my Immoderate Pact Song Parody is here.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Discover the Internets

Maybe Jeff Javis and Jay Rosen will also be there to explain what it all means.

Via Shelley, another goodish smartass, and x-posted at Rox Pop.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

If y'all haven't already seen this one in the New York Times....

A new study sez: Blogs haven't displaced MSM.

The findings were announced at a conference yesterday in New York. Dave Sifry threw his $.02 in on the matter (see the article).

Curious indeed.

Tish G.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Other Bloggers Write About Presumptive Joint Custody

PandaAmanda and Barry at Alas have written posts about presumptive joint custody. Go read them. They're worth it.

Genia Shockome Letter from the Chair of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference

This letter to Mr. Spitzer was written by Mo Hannah, Chair of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference. Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General of New York State, has plans to run for governor against Pataki (Rep.). Spitzer is a Democrat, supposedly a relatively good guy, has gotten lots of good PR, litigated against the Wall Street corruption, etc. Please note that Ms. Hannah also mentions the unsolicited blind-copied e-mail from the New York court that I had received. This e-mail included a transcript of the hearing during which 7-months pregnant Ms. Shockome was sentenced to 30 days in jail.




Dear Mr. Spitzer:

I am writing to inform you that, due to the AG's recent intervention into the case of Genia Shockome, your future campaign for governor of the state of New York is likely to be vigorously opposed by the extensive network of political progressives, peace and justice advocates, and human/civil rights activists throughout New York state with whom I am affiliated.

I urgently request that you carefully re-examine the case of Genia Shockome, who currently is incarcerated in the Dutchess County Jail on the charge of contempt of court, 2nd degree. You may or may not be aware that on 5/12, your office intervened in this case involving a battered woman who is a Russian immigrant, seven months pregnant, and the mother of two young children who lost custody of them due to the highly questionable rulings of Dutchess County Family Court Judge Damian Amodeo. Ms Shockome has been incarcerated for 30 days without bail by Judge Amodeo--an outrageous injustice, in the eyes of a multitude of observers.

Many advocates for battered mothers across the state are carefully observing this case. Sadly, Genia Shockome's case fits the pattern we have seen, and continue to see, in family courtrooms downstate and upstate, in Manhattan, Albany, Long Island, and elsewhere: battered women who attempt to limit contact between their children and the children's abusive father are stripped of custody, forced to see their children only under supervision, bankrupted by expensive court-ordered evaluations, visitation fees, law guardian payments, and endless appearances in front of judges who revictimize them in the same way that Judge Amodeo revictimized Genia Shockome.

Although Genia Shockome is by far not the first battered mother that Judge Amodeo has sent to jail for contempt of court, her situation is particularly egregious for the following reasons:

1) as a Russian immigrant, English is her second language; therefore, she was unfamiliar with the legal language used by the judge and the court proceedings to which she was subjected;

2) On 5/5/05, she appeared before Judge Amodeo pro se, without an attorney. She had previously requested one and could have been granted one immediately at the judge's discretion;

3) she wrote at least twice prior to the 5/5/ court date requesting fair notice of the proceedings, which were required to allow her to prepare and therefore be properly heard at this appearance. She was given no such fair notice;

4) the in-courtroom behavior that led Judge Amodeo to charge her with contempt was little more than her well-meant attempt to get her objections on the record, as would be necessary for any future appeals of Amodeo's decisions; and

5) Even if her in-courtroom behavior had been inappropriate, instead of sending this pregnant, immigrant, near-indigent battered woman to jail for 30 days without bail, Judge Amodeo could have chosen to respond in any number of ways that would have been far more humane--e.g., by terminating or rescheduling the session.

An additional point relates to the propriety of the response by the court system to the outrage expressed over this case. In response to those who deluged Judge Amodeo with e-mails protesting his decision, the Communications Office of the Office of Court Administration e-mailed back a defensive rebuttal, along with an attached unrequested pdf file containing the word-for-word transcript of Shockome's 5/5 court appearance before Judge Amodeo. This action brings, to the minds of many of us, the thought that perhaps the Office of Court Administration doth protest too much.

On behalf of the multitude of concerned citizens of New York state and throughout the country who are concerned with this case and with the many injustices visited upon battered mothers by the family court system, I urge you to immediately investigate and insist on the immediate release of Genia Shockome. Then, and only then, will we consider you as a worthy candidate for governor of this great state.

For an indication of the public outrage generated by this and other family court travesties, please see http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?FreGenia&1

Sincerely,
Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Chair, Battered Mothers Custody Conference
518-210-2487
www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org


Interesting New News About The Genia Shockome Case

Update: I forgot to mention that this e-mail was blind-copied to me. It was meant for someone else, but I and God knows how many other people were blind-copied. Silverside told me she was blind-copied. This is very, very.... curious.

---

When people were first able to write to Judge Amodeo about the Shockome case, they were given a fax number. Well, the fax machine was eventually shut off. Then, there was an e-mail address. I wrote to the judge via e-mail, as apparently a lot of people did. I sent an innocuous, short letter that included a suggested reading:

Joanna L. Klass and Joel V. Klass, "Threatened Mother Syndrome (TMS): A Diverging Concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome." American Journal of Family Law, 18. 4 (Winter, 2005), pp. 189-192.

I don't like that the authors called this a syndrome, because it isn't one. Plus Parental Alienation Syndrome is junk science. I wish the authors would have merely discussed and explained the behavior of such embattled mothers, because that would have been sufficient. The article explains an abused woman's frantic behavior in court because she is afraid the court will give her abusive ex custody of the children. She is trying to protect her children from further abuse, and she acts out inside and outside court. She is scared, confused, and desperate.

Things get even more curious: I received an unsolicited letter yesterday from a person from the New York State Court with a very defensive boilerplate text about the case as well as an Acrobat file of the transcript when Shockome was sentenced to 30 days in jail. I understand that lots of people are receiving this email. My commenter Silverside and blogger The Heretik received the same e-mail. Heretik wrote to me in e-mail that he had received it.

It was a very defensive letter, defending the judge. I found it curious that I should received such a letter, with the court transcript as an Acrobat attachment. I thought such transcripts were private, certainly not to be sent to complete strangers who had merely written a note to the judge expressing their dissatisfaction with how the case was being handled. I've never heard of anything like this happening before.

Here is what Silverside wrote in my comments. She also received this unsolicited e-mail.




I was wondering if anybody else got this package too. Pretty hyper-defensive response from the court head honchos to a simply worded email. And releasing a matrimonial transcript, something usually classified as private, to the public at large without any special request is particularly strange, virtually unprecedented. They must be really feeling the heat to go into overdrive like this. And doesn't Spitzer have better things to do, like go after organized crime figures or white collar ripoff artists on Wall Street? Nah, he's gonna beat up on a pregnant woman who's already in jail and doesn't speak English as her first language and didn't commit any real crime at all. Basically, she's there for a grade-school violation blown up large: speaking out of turn. Oh yea, big threat to public safety this one.




This certainly is an interesting turn of events. As I get more information, I'll post it.

Massachusetts - Presumptive Joint Custody

Massachusetts will soon be hearing testimony for and against HB 919, a bill for a presumption for shared parenting.

The term "shared parenting" sounds good, but it is nothing more than a euphemism for joint physical custody. Good parenting cannot be legislated. Shared parenting has little to do with parenting, and everything to do with dividing up the time a child spends with each parent. It turns parents into calendars who are overly concerned with their schedules.

The bill seeks to cut the following section: "When considering the happiness and welfare of the child, the court shall consider whether or not the child's present or past living conditions adversely affect his physical, mental, moral or emotional health." It is a bad idea to cut this section. The child's present or past living conditions should be of paramount concern when deciding custody. A child can have "frequent and continuing contact with both parents" without having a shared parenting order in place. A presumption that [...] the parents shall have shared legal custody and shared physical custody of said child" places adult demands over the happiness and welfare of the child. It also treats all families as if they are the same, and they are not.

Custody should be determined on a case-by-case basis. One particular form of custody, such as joint custody, should not be forced on parents when other forms of custody would be more appropriate for them and especially for their children. Joint custody is already an option for parents who choose to try it on their own. There does not need to be a presumption for it. 90% of parents settle without the need for court intervention in deciding what form of custody is best for them and for their children. Most parents do not choose joint custody because they recognize how hard it would be on them and especially on their children. They also recognize that in most cases the mother had been the primary caregiver of the children, and they believe she should continue in that capacity. That is why mothers most often get sole custody. It is not due to bias against dads in court. When dads make an issue of custody, they get some form of it more than half the time.

Courts are not biased against fathers. Lynn Hecht Schafran found in "Gender Bias In family Courts", published by the American Bar Association Family Advocate, that "Despite the powerful stereotypes working against fathers, they are significantly more successful than is commonly believed. The Massachusetts [gender bias] task force, for example, reported that fathers receive primary or joint custody in more than 70 percent of contested cases."

"The various gender bias commissions found that at the trial court level in contested custody cases, fathers won more than half the time. This is especially significant in light of the fact that not only do fathers win more often in court when they take these cases to trial, but also that an overwhelmingly higher percentage of fathers gain primary custody -- by any means -- than were ever the primary caregiver of their children during marriage. Statistically, this dashes the argument that 'only the strongest cases are taken to trial,' and in fact indicates an extraordinary bias against mothers and the value of mothering and mothers' work."

Last week, California rejected a presumptive joint custody bill. I had testified against that bill. An earlier bill from 1996 had also failed. New Hampshire recently sent one off to study, which means that the bill is dead. Maryland has rejected presumptive joint custody twice already. I had provided testimony against the bill both times. Presumptive joint custody has been rejected in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U. K. The Guardian reported in an July 2004 article entitled "Divorce Plan Puts Children First", that Lord Falconer, the constitutional affairs secretary, said: "There cannot and will not be an automatic presumption of 50-50 contact. Children cannot be divided like the furniture or the CD collection."

While joint custody may work for parents who freely choose to try it, joint custody has been shown to be detrimental to children who are exposed to conflict between their parents. When one parent wants joint custody and the other doesn't, there will be conflict between those parents that joint custody will not aleviate. Paul Amato noted in his article "Contact With Non-custodial Fathers and Children's Well-Being that "In a large California study, Maccoby and Mnookin (1992) found that joint custody is sometimes used to resolve custody disputes. They found that joint custody was awarded in about one-third of cases in which mothers and fathers had each sought sole custody. And the more legal conflict that occurred between parents, the more likely joint custody was to be awarded. Three and one-half years after separation, these couples were experiencing considerably more conflict and less co-operative parenting than were couples for whom joint custody was the first choice of each parent."

The children's needs are often ignored when people talk in favor of presumptive joint custody. Joint custody asks a lot of children. It is harmful to children who cannot handle the restrictive schedule. Many of them cannot handle the shunting back and forth between homes very well. They also must keep track of which home they are to be in on a given day, which is stressful for them. They lose track of their friends, and their extracurricular activities suffer when parents pay too much attention to when the children are to be with them. They miss birthday parties, sleep-overs, and evening school activities because their parents are too concerned with the joint custody schedule. Many children like to join theatre groups, bands, and sporting events that are unfairly subjected to the joint custody schedule, where their parents focus more on when the children are supposed to be with them, than on what their children would like to do with their own time.

In the cases where joint custody has worked, the families had these qualities in common: the parents had an amicable relationship, their divorce was amicable with little or no conflict, they had higher-than-average incomes, they had only one child, neither parent (especially the father) had remarried, they lived within close proximity of each other, they had flexible job schedules, the child could handle the joint custody arrangement, and the parents chose freely between themselves to try joint custody and they chose to make it work.

There should not be a presumption for joint custody in Massachusetts. It ignores the desires of most parents, who don't want joint custody. It also ignores the contributions of the primary caregiving parent, most often the mother, and it ignores the needs of children. It ignores the child's development as the child ages. Hopefully, Massachusetts will reject a presumption for joint custody, as California recently did.

Shockome Case Makes Poughkeepsie Journal

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pregnant woman gets 30 days in jail for spat with judge

By Larry Fisher-Hertz
Poughkeepsie Journal

For five years, Yevgenia Shockome has been locked in a bitter divorce and child custody dispute.

An IBM software engineer who emigrated from Russia nine years ago, Shockome said Tuesday she'd learned some hard lessons about the American legal system during her court battle.

Her case took an almost unprecedented turn last week when she landed in jail — the result of an argument with a judge in Dutchess County Family Court.

Judge Damian Amodeo cited Shockome for contempt of court Thursday and sentenced her to 30 days behind bars. In his citation, Amodeo said Shockome had accused him of "lying" and "conspiring to fix the case, and thereby was guilty of disorderly, contemptuous and insolent behavior. ..."

Seven months pregnant and clad in an orange jumpsuit, Shockome talked about her case as she sat on a wooden bench in the visiting room of the county jail Tuesday.

Plight no surprise

She said she was distressed, but not surprised, by what had happened to her.

"I grew up in Russia, in a system where the state oppressed its people," the 32-year-old mother of two said. "Now, I come to America and this happens."

"People ask me, 'Do I love America?' I say yes, in my dreams of what America is, yes I do," Shockome said. "But the reality? No, the reality is something different."

Shockome has maintained almost from the outset of her case that Amodeo and others involved in the proceedings have unfairly sided with her husband, Timothy Shockome. Amodeo awarded Timothy Shockome sole custody of the two children, ages 8 and 10, last year. Timothy Shockome reportedly moved the children to Texas last week.

Amodeo is barred by law from commenting publicly on the case, said Joan Posner, his law clerk. But Yevgenia Shockome said her ongoing dispute with the judge reached a new level of animosity during her appearance in court Thursday. She said the stage was set for the argument before she even got to court because Amodeo would not tell her what issues would be discussed. She said she needed to know because she is no longer represented by a lawyer in her custody battle.

"Judge Amodeo scheduled this proceeding, but he would not tell me what it was about," she said. "I wanted to know so I could prepare."

Over the past month, Yevgenia Shockome said, she had repeatedly asked Amodeo to recuse himself from the case because she had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him April 6. He refused.
During Thursday’s proceeding, Amodeo was outlining what he said were some of the facts of the case — some of which she believed were untrue, she said.

"I kept saying, 'I object, I object,'" Yevgenia Shockome said.

"(Amodeo) asked me to stop talking and I did," she said. "But then when he said more lies, I said, 'I object' and he said, 'That’s it. One more time and you’re in contempt.'"

‘"He said something else I don't remember. I objected again, and he said to the (court) officers, 'Take her into custody.'"

In court documents outlining his decision awarding Timothy Shockome custody of the children, Amodeo said: "For the most part, the mother has provided (her children) with good, wholesome and beneficial care over the years." But he said he had come to believe she had falsely accused her husband of abusing her and the children.

"Her false, misleading and exaggerated statements, claims and allegations are not with respect to minor issues but rather relate to the matters which are at the very heart of the controversy in this case," the judge wrote in a decision dated May 10, 2004.

Amodeo also noted an attorney appointed as law guardian to the children, Frank Marocco, also recommended Timothy Shockome be granted custody.

Friends and supporters of the children’s mother disagreed.

Jennifer Shagan, founder of the Dutchess County Chapter of the National Organization for Women, said she had an open mind about the case when a friend asked her to attend some of the Shockomes’ court proceedings.

"She had every group imaginable — battered women’s advocates — behind her in the courtroom," Shagan said. "She knew I was skeptical about putting my group's name behind her cause until I had all the facts. But the more I learned, the more suspicious I became about the Family Court system. I get calls about it from a lot of people in Dutchess County."

Shagan said she was shocked to learn Yevgenia Shockome had been jailed.

"It's unprecedented, 30 days in jail for what she did," Shagan said. "She didn’t pose a threat to anyone"

Praise from neighbor

Town of Poughkeepsie resident Caroline Barden, who said she had been Yevgenia Shockome’s neighbor for the past 3 years, agreed.

"Our kids became best friends, and Genia is an extraordinary mother," Barden said.

"I will say Judge Amodeo was extremely fair to me when I testified at the trial and (Timothy Shockome’s lawyer) objected," she said. "But it was very disturbing to learn she was in jail."

"I didn’t sleep (Monday) night worrying about her. To think of her in jail, seven months pregnant, that makes me nuts," she said.

Yevgenia Shockome, meanwhile, said she hoped she would soon be released. An amateur track performer, she said she had won some medals for the Hudson Valley team in the Empire State Games in 2004.

"Last year, I represented Dutchess County," she said. "This year, Dutchess County puts me in jail."

Proof That The Blogosphere Can Make An Impact

I'd like to thank the following blogs for writing about and linking to my posts about the Genia Shockome case:

Mental Health Update

Thoughts Of An Average Woman

Willow Tree

The Disenchanted Forest (For some reason I can't get the link to work, but this blog mentioned the Shockome case.)

Bitch, Ph.D.

Alas, A Blog

Pinko Feminist Hellcat

I hope I didn't forget anyone. I think I got everyone. If I did, e-mail me, and I'll include a link to your post.

Thanks to bloggers, the petition to free Genia Shockome from jail received over 300 signatures in less than 48 hours. Shockome remains in jail, but word is out that people are protesting the decision. An article has also been written. I'm on my laptop, and not on my iMac, so I don't have access to that article right now. I'll update this post later to include that information. As I receive more updates, I'll post about them.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

i'm hype. about. sri lanka. but. not. leeches!

Debz was telling all of us at BK that one of her friends went trekking in some parts of the hulu jungles of Malaysia. She had lots of leeches bites. Couple of months later, her friends commented on how pale she looked. She, being a heavy flow kinda person, also noticed that her monthly flow had been greatly reduced. She went to the doctor. He gave her pills. However, it remained the same. She went to the docs again. He advised her to get an Xray done. There was something in her body.

They (surgeons) cut her open and found a huge leech inside, practically feeding off her.

What the bloody fuck!

I am terrified. Paranoid and plain terrified. The leech which bit my leg was not found. Could it be...?

Single Mother Homes Do Not Cause Social Ills

I've written before about how fatherlessness statistics blame single-mother homes for all sorts of social ills. I've debunked those statistics on my web site page, Myths and Facts About Fatherlessness. From Barry at Alas, I have found that Stephanie Coontz has done her own work debunking the claim that single mother homes cause all sort of social ills. Below is an excerpt.




From an op-ed by Stephanie Coontz in the LA Times: OurKids Are Not Doomed

Tying such dire predictions of social decay to divorce and single motherhood seemed credible in the 1970s and 1980s. But a funny thing happened in the 1990s: Almost every negative social trend tracked by the census, the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Justice declined.

Teen birthrates fell by 30% between 1991 and 2002. The number of violent crimes in schools was halved between 1992 and 2002. Teen homicide rates dropped to their lowest level since 1966. Teen suicides decreased by 25%, and drug abuse, binge drinking and smoking all fell.

Yet the number of couples living together unmarried increased by more than 70% over the decade; the population at large increased by only 13% during this period. Gay and lesbian parenting became more common. The number of families headed by single mothers rose five times faster than the number of married-couple families.

Obviously, attributing the improvements of the 1990s to the continued increases in families headed by single moms is as absurd as blaming all the social ills of the 1980s on divorce.

Single parenthood does increase the risk that teens will get into trouble. But so do poverty, parental conflict, frequent school relocation, parental substance abuse and even an emotionally distant relationship with married parents.

Studies show that the majority of teens who exhibit serious behavior problems have five or more separate risk factors in their lives.




As Barry said, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I feel like my nasty big sister stole my jump rope...

In case y'all didn't notice, Arianna Huffington started a blog.

(heavy sigh)

Blogging, in general, seems to me to be a populist medium. So what's the deal with someone who has every possible medium of communication at her disposal saying to the rest of us by starting a blog?

When I read the Washington Post article on this, the image of a Round Table conference at the Huffington Conclave popped into my head...and the Grande Damme of all this asking all the advisors "Vat is a blog and how do I get you all to do this thing for me so I look like I'm one of those Little People?"

I wonder sometimes about the future of blogs...that the quantifying and qualifying of blogs is something like the whole .com thing, and that we might see a massive bust after this celebrety boom.

In general, though, she's just bugging the bejezers out of me!

Tish G

(oh, I've got a new baby meta-blog here and chronicled my Mother's passing here.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Madness Is Back

I've been traveling and unable to post for a couple of weeks. So I thought I'd celebrate my return with a poem:

The Madness Returns
By Madeleine Begun Kane

I've been gone for two weeks.
Did I miss something good?
Didn't keep up with the news,
Though I know that I should.

I see Dub's not impeached,
And DeLay''s not in jail...

The rest of The Madness Is Back is here.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Genia Shockome - My Web Site

These are the Genia Shockome pages on my web site. If you haven't signed the petition to release her frojm prison, please read these pages and sign it.

Genia Shockome: A Bad Custody Decision

Genia Shockome - Press Release and Petition

Genia Shockome - Petition

[Trish's note: Go to the first link to sign the petition. I've included the text of the petition here for convenience.]

ANNOUNCEMENT:

The Petition to free Genia Shockome from the Duchess County, NY jail and to stay the judgement rendered by Judge Damian J. Amodeo on May 5, 2005 allowing the removal of her children from the State of New York is now active and online to be signed by as many people as possible.

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/FreGenia/petition.html

Thank you.
Liliane Heller Miller
Co-Founder and Vice Chair
Battered Mother's Custody Conference
lrhmiller@bellsouth.net
http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/

---PETITION---

In regards to the case of Yevgenia (Genia) Shockome, Duchess County Family Court case number 29594,

We, the undersigned hereby PETITION the named judges, oversight agencies, and commissions to:

I. Immediately stay the May 5, 2005 judgement of Duchess County, NY Family Court Judge Damien J. Amodeo that allows for Genia Shockome's children to be moved out of the state of New York;

II. Remove Judge Damien J. Amodeo from the New York Matrimonial Commission;

III. Investigate and remove Judge Damien J. Amodeo from the Bench for:

a. Flagrant violations of the New York State Code of Judicial Conduct, including allowing his personal biases to supercede the evidence;

b. Human, Civil, and Constitutional rights violations, including refusing to stay the proceeding when Genia Shockome lost her attorney due to medical problems;

c. Failure to follow New York State statutes and rules of Civil Procedure;

d. Failure to follow the guidelines set forth in the Duchess County Domestic Violence Bench Manual, including making threats and attacks on domestic violence advocates who were present in the courtroom to support Genia Shockome.

ADDRESSED TO:

Associate Justice Sondra Miller

Chair, New York Matrimonial Commission

The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct

The Honorable Judith Kaye, New York State Chief Judge; Chief Judge, Albany Court of Appeals

Judge Francis Nicolai, Administrative Judge of the 9th NY Judicial District.

Judge Joan Cooney, Family Court Administrative Judge

Yevgenia (Genia) Shockome, seven months pregnant and with medical complications, will be sitting in Poughkeepsie, NY City jail this Mothers Day after being incarcerated for 30 days "without bail" on the order of Duchess County, New York Family Court Judge Damian J. Amodeo. Her children are spending Mother’s Day scared and frightened, alone with the abuser on their way to Texas. They will never see their beloved mother again during their childhood unless the New York Appellate Division intervenes and stops deferring to the biased Judge Damian J. Amodeo, whose rulings have consistently favored the children's father, despite good evidence that he abused Genia and the children throughout their marriage (and, of course, throughout the separation as well, through abusive family court processes).

Genia, who appeared pro-se before Judge Amodeo on Thursday, May 5th, was held in criminal contempt for too-vigorously objecting to the judge's decision to allow her abusive husband to move their two children (ages around 7 and 9), to Texas--thousands of miles away from Genia, who had been their primary caretaker since birth, until around three years ago, when Amodeo gave the father sole legal and physical custody.

Having lost supervised visitation rights and having not seen her children for around eight months now, Genia may never see them again. One shocking twist to this sad tale is Judge Amodeo's own admission that he--and not the father--induced the post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks that Genia suffers from.

For complete information, please go to http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/genia

Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Chair, Battered Mothers Custody Conference
518-210-2487
www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org

E-Mail Judge Amodeo And Express Your Outrage

Remember, this is not a relocation case. It is a bad custody decision/abuse case.

---

DAMODEO@courts.state.ny.us

Genia Shockome, 7 months pregnant, has appeared hundreds of times before Duchess County Family Court judge Daniel Amodeo during the past four years. Genia will be sitting in jail this Mothers Day after being incarcerated for 30 days on the order of Judge Amodeo. Her crime was "contempt of court"; Genia, who appeared pro-se before the judge on Thursday, May 5th, was held in contempt for too-vigorously objecting to Amodeo's decision to allow Genia's abusive husband to move their two children (ages around 7 and 9), to Texas--thousands of miles away from Genia, who had been their primary caretaker since birth, until around three years ago, when Amodeo gave the father sole legal and physical custody. Having lost supervised visitation rights and having not seen her children for around eight months now, Genia may never see them again. All of this has happened to Genia, a Russian immigrant, IBM engineer, and former Mother of the Year, due to the rulings of Judge Amodeo, which consistently have favored the children's father, despite good evidence that he abused Genia throughout their marriage (and, of course, throughout the separation as well, through abusive family court processes).

One shocking twist to this sad tale is Judge Amodeo's own admission that he--and not the father--induced the post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks that Genia suffers from. Amodeo made this claim to justify his determination that Genia falsely claimed that her husband's abuse had caused her to develop PTSD falsely (which is estimated to develop in around 75% of battered wives).

If Genia were to happen to be in jail when she gives birth to this next child (whose father is not Genia's husband), she stands a high risk of losing custody of that child to the state.

If you're not outraged, you haven't read this carefully enough. Register your outrage with Judge Amodeo and the Duchess County Family Court.

Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Chair, Battered Mothers Custody Conference
518-210-2487
www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org

Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Chair, Battered Mothers Custody Conference
518-210-2487
www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org

Not A Happy Mother's Day - A Pregnant, Abused Mother Spends Mother's Day In Jail

I've posted several posts about the Genia Shockome case. It's an outrage. She is 7 months pregnant and was abused by her husband. There is evidence that her children were sexually abused by their father, yet this judge has awarded him custody, sent Genia to jail, and even gave the abusive father permission to relocate. This is not a relocation case. It's a bad custody decision and an abuse case. I wish I did not have to post something like this on mother's day, but it's yet another case that shows how mothers, especially abused mothers, have to put up with hell from the court system. This judge should not even be on the bench.

More On The Genia Shockome Case

GENIA SHOCKOME CASE
Poughkeepsie, Duchess County, New York
Yevgenia Shockome, Case No. 29594

On Friday, May 7, 2005, Yevgenia Shockome, a pro se battered mother seven months pregnant, who already had inexplicably lost custody of her children to her abuser three years before in Judge Damian J. Amodeo's Duchess County Courtroom, was jailed on Mother's Day weekend for objecting to Amodeo's order permitting her abuser to move with her children to Texas. [liznote]

Links to more information about this case:
http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/Important%20Legal%20Documents.htm
http://www.scamsandscandals.com/genia.html

BAD JUDGE:
Honorable Damian J. Amodeo
Duchess County Family Court Judge
50 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
email: damodeo@courts.state.ny.us

Contact Sondra Miller, head of the New York State Matrimonial Commission, to express your outrage about Genia Shockome's case and to call for the removal from that commission of Judge Damian Amodeo, the judge who summarily threw this pregnant battered non-custodial mother into jail. Ms. Miller's e-mail address is somiller@courts.state.ny.us




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 7, 2005

Contact:
Stop Family Violence - Irene Weiser
607-539-6856 / 607-435-3010 (cell)
iw-stopfamilyviolence.org

Barry Goldstein Esq.
914-968-0922 (w) / 914-643-3142 (cell)
barryg78-aol.com

Judge Sends Pregnant Mom To Jail For Mother's Day, Gives Custody To Abusive Dad

On Friday, a seven months pregnant mother of two and former "Mother of the Year" was sentenced to a month in jail for protesting the judge's decision to allow her abusive ex-husband to move thousands of miles away with her children.

The judge currently serves on a commission appointed by the Chief Judge of New York State to improve the family court's handling of custody matters.

Judge Damian Amodeo, family court judge in Dutchess County, charged Genia Shockome, former Dutchess County Mother of the Year, with criminal contempt and sentenced her to thirty days in jail without bail when she objected to his decision to allow her abusive ex-husband to move with the children to Texas.

"In the divorce proceeding, Shockome testified that her husband forced her to participate in group sex and that he refused to change the children's diapers because he became sexually aroused -- charges which he never denied" said Barry Goldstein, Shockome's attorney. Reports by a court appointed investigator found that Shockome's husband had physically sexually and verbally abused her throughout the marriage and that Shockome suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

Amodeo previously awarded custody to the children's father despite indications of his abusive behavior; that decision currently is under appeal.

"The actions by this court, which have placed two young children and a pregnant mother in great danger, represent an all too common minimization of the seriousness of domestic violence and an egregious misuse of judicial authority" said Irene Weiser, executive director of StopFamilyViolence.org, a national activist organization based in New York.

"It is frightening to think that the judge responsible for such reckless decisions has been appointed to New York State's Matrimonial Commission to help improve the way family courts address these serious family situations," Weiser continued.

Weiser has recently been asked by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to suggest revisions to their judge's guidebook that addresses investigation and decision-making in custody cases involving domestic violence.

"Research shows that half the men who abuse their wives or girlfriends abuse the children too, and there is no evidence to show that such abuse declines post separation. Children who grow up with abuse are more prone to behavior problems, depression, eating disorders, suicide, school failure and increased drop out rates, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, adult criminality, and are more prone to becoming involved in abusive relationships as adults," says Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Siena College, whose professional focus is on couples therapy and dynamics of abuse. Hannah is the organizer of the annual National Battered Mother's Custody Conference.

"The family court's first priority must be to protect the children's safety, not to punish the mothers who report the abuse," Hannah continued.

The Matrimonial Commission, created in June 2004 by New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye is charged with examining every facet of the divorce process in New York and recommending reforms to correct existing problems. The last public hearing of the commission will be held on Monday May 9th, from 11 am to 8 pm at New York County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey Street (between Broadway & Church Street), New York, NY. Press is welcome to attend.

StopFamilyViolence.org is a national grassroots activist organization with over 30,000 members nationwide; 2500 members reside in New York state. StopFamilyViolence.org works to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for people whose lives are affected by violent relationships. The appellate brief on the Shockome case can be found at the following link http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/Important%20Legal%20Documents.htm


Irene Weiser
Stop Family Violence
331 W. 57th St #518
New York, NY 10019
iw@stopfamilyviolence.org
607-539-6856
**************************************
www.StopFamilyViolence.org
the people's voice for family peace
**************************************




Background:

Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.
Chair, Battered Mothers Custody Conference
www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org

May 7, 2005: Genia Shockome, 7 months pregnant, has appeared hundreds of times before Duchess County Family Court Judge Damian Amodeo during the past four years. Genia will be sitting in jail this Mothers Day after being incarcerated for 30 days on the order of Judge Amodeo.

Her crime was "contempt of court."

Genia, who appeared pro se before the judge on Thursday, May 5th, was held in contempt for too-vigorously objecting to Amodeo's decision to allow Genia's abusive husband to move their two children (ages around 7 and 9) to Texas -- thousands of miles away from Genia, who had been their primary caretaker since birth, until around three years ago, when Amodeo gave the father sole legal and physical custody.

Having lost supervised visitation rights and having not seen her children for around eight months now, Genia may never see them again. All of this has happened to Genia, a Russian immigrant, IBM engineer, and former "Mother of the Year," due to the rulings of Judge Amodeo, which consistently have favored the children's father, despite good evidence that he abused Genia throughout their marriage (and, of course, throughout the separation as well, through abusive family court processes).

One shocking twist to this sad tale is Judge Amodeo's own admission that he -- and not the father -- induced the post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks that Genia suffers from. Amodeo made this claim to justify his determination that Genia falsely claimed that her husband's abuse had caused her to develop PTSD falsely (which is estimated to develop in around 75% of battered wives).

If Genia were to happen to be in jail when she gives birth to this next child (whose father is not Genia's husband), she stands a high risk of losing custody of that child to the state.

If you're not outraged, you haven't read this carefully enough. Register your outrage with Judge Amodeo and the Duchess County Family Court.

###


More Background:


Barry L. Goldstein, Esq.
Attorney at Law
486 Midland Avenue
Yonkers, New York 10704
914-968-0922

At the first Battered Mothers' Custody Conference, Yevgenia Shockome received a standing ovation for her courage in seeking to protect her children in the face of her abusive husband and even more abusive judge.

She received the Mother of the Year Award in Dutchess County in 2003 for the love and caring she gave to her children and outstanding parenting skills.

She is spending Mother's Day, seven months pregnant and with medical complications in the Poughkeepsie City Jail. Her children are spending Mother's Day scared and frightened; alone with the abuser on their way to Texas.

They will never see their beloved mother again during their childhood unless the Appellate Division intervenes and stops deferring to the biased Judge Damian Amodeo.

Genia's husband abused her throughout the marriage. He had little to do with the children before the separation, but did engage in physical and sexual abuse of the children. When the mother decided to separate from her abuser, he threatened that he would take the children and destroy her life. It would be one of the few times that he told the truth.

The abuser used phone calls to harass the mother and to create an illusion that she was interfering with his ability to speak with the children. He would call her a few times harass and threaten her and then call back immediately when she was angry to tape her response.

Judge Amodeo called numerous conferences to attack and berate the mother for interfering with the phone calls and the father's relationship with the children.

In July of 2002 the judge, law guardian and Genia's attorney pressured her to accept joint custody with her abuser. Once her Order of Protection from criminal court expired a few weeks after the settlement, he stepped up his harassing phone calls and other abuse. He filed a new petition for sole custody and to deny her any contact with the children and she obtained a new Order of Protection from a different judge.

At the first hearing the judge permitted the father's attorney to speak at length making many representations that they never even tried to prove at the trial. Amodeo never gave Genia a chance to respond, but instead stated he was inclined to take the children from her. She was yelled at, talked over and threatened. The court had moved up the first appearance forcing her to appear without an attorney.

On January 17, 2003 without an evidentiary hearing or any written explanation, Judge Amodeo took the children from the mother who had raised them and sent them to the abuser.

The mother was denied anything but supervised visitation and has never had a meaningful visit with them since. Having made this error, Judge Amodeo refused to consider any evidence that contradicted his views and instead relied on his bias, ignorance and closed mind to determine the outcome.

The trial did not start until June of 2003 and the judge gave out trial days sparingly so that there would be no decision until May of 2004. All the while the children were denied a meaningful relationship with their mother while the father could suppress the children's ability to express their feelings. The trial itself was unbelievably one-sided. The abuser was the only witness he presented to support his case. Much of his testimony concerned the phone tapes he made. He didn't realize that the tapes demonstrated his abuse. He called his victim 15 and 20 times a day as late as 1 AM. Even the court's evaluator who favored the father called the calls excessive and harassing.

The mother had 11 witnesses including five experts. The experts included the son's therapist (who was not selected by the mother) and a therapist who treated both parties based on the judge's own order. One of the witnesses was the school nurse who was also neutral but very concerned about the harm to the children of the judge's order. She described the daughter before she was taken from her mother as skipping around school laughing and giggling while holding hands with a friend. After she lost her mother she would walk around school alone, head down very sad.

In the middle of the trial Amodeo decided to appoint a new evaluator because the old reports were useless. I asked that the evaluator be someone with expertise in domestic violence and child abuse. Judge Amodeo said he wanted someone who knew a little about domestic violence and child abuse, but not too much because such experts always find abuse.

All of the experts including the evaluator concluded that the mother suffers from panic attacks and PTSD as a result of the father's abuse. The evaluator even acknowledged that the father abused the mother physically, verbally and emotionally throughout the relationship. She also agreed that there was no alienation. Nevertheless she said the mother was too angry to have custody because she continued to complain that the father fed the children too much junk food, did not dress them appropriately for the weather and let them watch adult-oriented television.

The evaluator testified that she assumed the mother's complaints were exaggerated. She assumed this because she relied on biased witnesses who had no personal knowledge. Later in the trial the father was seen by a witness permitting the son to run around outside without a jacket on a bitter cold winter day. Knowing he had been observed the father admitted that the boy did this frequently.

The mother's PTSD was crucial to the case because if the father abused the mother even the judge admitted she should have custody. PTSD cannot occur without either an extremely traumatic event or a long series of traumatic events. In other words if the father's behavior caused the mother's PTSD as all the experts agreed, the mother would have to have custody. Judge Amodeo got around this in his decision by constructing a bizarre conclusion that he (the judge) had caused the mother's PTSD. In fact some of the experts had testified that the judge retraumatized the mother with his abusive and threatening manner.

If a judge could abuse a person so severely as to cause her PTSD clearly that judge should never be involved in her case and in fact should not be a judge.

Judge Amodeo's decision maintained it as a Custody-Visitation Scandal Case. The abuser was given custody and the mother had nothing but supervised visitation. The decision demanded that the mother stop therapy with her present therapist and instead use someone selected by the court.

The case was immediately appealed and motions for immediate relief were filed. The Appellate Division has refused to grant any temporary relief and even refused to consider an Amicus brief filed on behalf of Justice For Children. At one point it was discovered that the court had erased two of the transcripts further delaying the appeal.

At this point we are waiting for a new order from the Appellate Division to require the other side to submit their responding briefs.

While the appeal has been pending, the abuser and the court have sought to continue to harass and abuse Genia. I had to make a motion to withdraw from the case in front of Judge Amodeo for medical reasons. His abuse and threats were endangering my health (I had a heart attack several years ago). He demanded medical proof and my medical doctor and therapist sent affidavits saying it was unsafe and unhealthy for me to continue given the particular circumstances in Amodeo's courtroom.

The law requires that when a party loses an attorney for medical reasons that she is entitled to at least a 30 day stay to obtain another attorney. Instead Amodeo continued to make her come to court unrepresented to face more abuse. After the 30 days had passed (with no stay) he decided that she had enough time to find an attorney.

That supervised visitation was designed to protect children from abusive or unsafe parents. Even the evaluator admitted that Genia is a safe parent. Supervised visits are inappropriate for protective mothers like Ms. Shockome. She was kicked out of the first program for allowing her children to hug and kiss her.

The next program was run by an unethical individual who is facing a criminal investigation. The courts no longer use her program. Nevertheless there was an incident in which the mother was taping the children while they played an air hockey game. The supervisor fell asleep during the game and the tape caught her sleeping in the background. When she woke up, she created an incident seeking to destroy the tape because she was sleeping. In the course of the commotion the children made negative remarks about the judge and law guardian (although nothing about the father). Judge Amodeo used the incident to further interfere with the mother's relationship with the children.

Later there was another unscrupulous visitation agency that demanded over $200 for a visitation (the mother's finances have been destroyed by excessive child support and legal expenses). During the visitation, the supervisor lunged at Genia and her son and knocked them to the ground. The police were called and they found that the supervisor had attacked mother and child. Nevertheless, Judge Amodeo used this as an excuse to end all visitation.

On May 5, 2005 the mother was forced to again come to court without representation. Judge Amodeo sought to issue a decision permitting the father to move the children to Texas even before the Appellate Division could rule on the appeal. Genia sought to protect her right for an appeal by objecting. She also mentioned that the judge was lying (which he was). The judge treated this as if it was contempt and ordered the mother, seven months pregnant and with health complications, to jail.

Judge Amodeo's abuse has had a disastrous affect not only on the Shockome family, but on all battered women. Already we have heard that women and staying with their abusers and being beaten by them because that is safer than having the abuser and judge abuse her like they did to Genia.

Domestic violence advocates have to warn women in Dutchess County that it may not be safe to seek an Order of Protection. We are asking people to stand up for this courageous woman. We must rally around her and TAKE BACK THE COURTS.

No woman should ever again be abused by the court system like was done to Genia. We welcome suggestions and involvement to change this system. I wish I could say that Damian Amodeo is the worst judge in the world and all we have to do is get him off the bench. The reality is that there are all too many Damian Amodeos. Let us work together to create a GENIA'S LAW to make sure the courts are safe for battered women and their children.

All text in this message is first amendment protected discussion of the law and procedures of the court. No text in any message may be construed to be legal advice within the meaning of any state unauthorized practice of law by any member. All text in any message is presumed to be first amendment protected freedom of speech on issues of importance to the civilian population of the United States of America.

###




WARNING:

If you've furthered your own professional interests with a cavalier disregard for facts, research, law, or just plain old common sense or compassion, and have hurt innocent persons, particularly children, in the process, then watch this page, because we're going to be naming names and there are a lot more of them to come...

It is important to us that the facts on this website be accurate. If you are aware of a fact error on these pages, please contact the webadmin immediately; proved errors of fact promptly will be publicly retracted and corrected, and in the interests of fairness, opinion rebuttals by any individual named herein promptly will be published upon such individual's request.


Outrage - The Genia Shockome Case

OUTRAGES:

Bad laws, bad decisions, bad judges, bad experts, bad ethics, bad ideas, and other things that are BAD FOR CHILDREN

GENIA SHOCKOME CASE, Poughkeepsie, Duchess County, New York. On Friday, May 7, 2005, Yevgenia Shockome, a pro se battered mother seven months pregnant, who already inexplicably had lost custody of her children to her abuser three years before in Judge Damian J. Amodeo's Duchess County Courtroom, was jailed on Mother's Day weekend for objecting to Amodeo's order permitting the father to move her children (whom she has not been able to see for months) to Texas. Apparently, Amodeo got pissed off because she called him a "liar" in response to... what I guess we would call "bullshit" if it emanated from someone other than a judge. Amodeo previously had given custody to the children's father despite indications of the father's dysfunctional and stalker-like behavior. That original bad decision currently is on appeal. This latest act by the judge is inexcusable.

            Incredibly, Judge Amodeo sits on New York State's Matrimonial Commission, which is supposed to help improve the way family courts function. Amodeo touts the following credentials: Member, NYS Matrimonial Commission, 2003 to present; Member, NYS Parent Education Advisory Board, 2001 to present; Member, NYS Universal Case Management Committee, 1999 to 2001; Member, NYS Committee on Automation and Technology for Judges, 1993 to 1996 Member, NYS Judicial Institute Committee, 2000 to 2002; Member, P.E.A.C.E. Advisory Committee, 1994 to 1999; Member, 9th Judicial District Committee to Promote Gender Fairness in the Courts, 1990 to present; Member & Past President [1986-1987]; Dutchess County Bar Association, 1968 to present; Member, Dutchess County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, 1989 to present; Member, Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council, 2000 to present ;Member, Dutchess County Juvenile Justice Task Force, 2004 to present; Member & Past President, Hyde Park Rotary, 1968 to 2004.

            What's this man doing involved with all these domestic violence, parenting education, and "gender fairness" committees? Looks like a suspicious agenda to liz. Let's get this pig off the bench. We need judges who engender actual respect, not incompetents who jail pregnant immigrant mothers whom they've tormented and wronged, who in turn -- because of the judge's own offensive behavior and inappropriate decisions -- have come to confuse this honorable office with the rude jerk who happens to wield its power.




WARNING:

If you've furthered your own professional interests with a cavalier or deliberate disregard for facts, research, law, or just plain old common sense or compassion, and have hurt innocent persons, particularly children, in the process, then watch this page, because we're going to be naming names and there are a lot more of them to come...

It is important to us that the facts on this website be accurate. If you are aware of a fact error on these pages, please contact the webadmin immediately; proved errors of fact promptly will be publicly retracted and corrected, and in the interests of fairness, opinion rebuttals by any individual named herein promptly will be published upon such individual's request.


An Abused, Pregnant Mother Spends Mother's Day In Jail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 7, 2005

Contact:
Stop Family Violence - Irene Weiser
607-539-6856 / 607-435-3010 (cell)
iw@stopfamilyviolence.org

Barry Goldstein Esq.
914-968-0922 (w) / 914-643-3142 (cell)
barryg78@aol.com


Judge Sends Pregnant Mom To Jail For Mother's Day, Gives Custody To
Abusive Dad

On Friday, a seven months pregnant mother of two and former "mother of the year" was sentenced to a month in jail for protesting the judge's decision to allow her abusive ex-husband to move thousands of miles away with her children. The judge currently serves on a commission appointed by the Chief Judge of New York State to improve the family court's handling of custody matters.

Judge Damian Amodeo, family court judge in Dutchess County, charged Genia Shockome, former Dutchess County Mother of the Year, with criminal contempt and sentenced her to thirty days in jail without bail when she objected to his decision to allow her abusive ex-husband to move with the children to Texas.

"In the divorce proceeding, Shockome testified that her husband forced her to participate in group sex and that he refused to change the children's diapers because he became sexually aroused -- charges which he never denied" said Barry Goldstein, Shockome's attorney.

Reports by a court appointed investigator found that Shockome's husband had physically sexually and verbally abused her throughout the marriage and that Shockome suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

Amodeo previously awarded custody to the children's father despite indications of his abusive behavior; that decision is currently under appeal.

"The actions by this court, which have placed two young children and a pregnant mother in great danger, represent an all too common minimization of the seriousness of domestic violence and an egregious misuse of judicial authority" said Irene Weiser, executive director of StopFamilyViolence.org, a national activist organization based in New
York.

"It is frightening to think that the judge responsible for such reckless decisions has been appointed to New York State's Matrimonial Commission to help improve the way family courts address these serious family situations," Weiser continued.

Weiser has recently been asked by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to suggest revisions to their judge's guidebook that addresses investigation and decision-making in custody cases involving domestic violence.

"Research shows that half the men who abuse their wives or girlfriends abuse the children too, and there is no evidence to show that such abuse declines post separation. Children who grow up with abuse are more prone to behavior problems, depression, eating disorders, suicide, school failure and increased drop out rates, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, adult criminality, and are more prone to becoming involved in abusive relationships as adults," says Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Siena College, whose professional focus is on couples therapy and dynamics of abuse. Hannah is the organizer of the annual National Battered Mother's Custody Conference.

"The family court's first priority must be to protect the children's safety, not to punish the mother's who report the abuse." Hannah continued.

The Matrimonial Commission, created in June 2004 by New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye is charged with examining every facet of the divorce process in New York and recommending reforms to correct existing problems. The last public hearing of the commission will be held on Monday May 9th, from 11 am to 8 pm at New York County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey Street (between Broadway & Church Street), New York, NY. Press is welcome to
attend.

______________________________________

StopFamilyViolence.org is a national grassroots activist organization with over 30,000 members nationwide; 2500 members reside in New York state. StopFamilyViolence.org works to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for people whose lives are affected by violent relationships.

The appellate brief on the Shockome case can be found at the following link
http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/Important%20Legal%20Documents.htm

###

Irene Weiser
Stop Family Violence
331 W. 57th St #518
New York, NY 10019
iw@stopfamilyviolence.org
607-539-6856
**************************************
www.StopFamilyViolence.org
the people's voice for family peace
**************************************

Grace


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My parents married in June of 1946. My dad [Gunnar] was 21. My mom [Grace] was 23. This picture was taken in front of the house on the corner of 36th & Bloomington Avenue in south Minneapolis, where my dad grew up. His parents were August and Matilda. Longtime readers of this blog will know that Matilda was the original Tild.

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Grace and Gunnar were married at St. Petri Lutheran Church in Nielsville, Minnesota, my mom's home town. Nielsville is located about 18 miles south of Crookston, up in the NW corner of the state, that area aka the Red River Valley. This photo was hand-tinted by Grace's youngest brother, my Uncle Helmer.
Isn't she beautiful?

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Here we have the young marrieds doing their utmost to look suave, sophisticated and worldly during a trip to Washington DC in 1947. No, don't smile. Don't show your teeth. We are very serious and very grown up adults here! Not to mention sharp dressers. Smoooth.

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This is one of my alltime favorite pictures of my mom. I think it was taken in 1947, or maybe 1948. One day Grace and Gunnar attended some kind of outdoor picnic with Grandma Tild and Grandpa August, and as you can see, Grace and Grandma Tild are washing up the dishes after lunch. Grandma Tild looks pretty harmless in this photo, but in actuality she was a domineering, fire-breathing old battle ax who never missed an opportunity to make my mom's life the proverbial Living Hell. Now look at Grace. Check out the defiant gaze, and especially the jutting lower lip. My mom was so pissed off at her horrible fiendish mother in law that day, you can almost see steam coming out of Grace's ears.
Go Mom! Priceless.

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It's 1954 and my dad took this picture of his family in front of our house on 54th and James in south Minneapolis. My sister Diane is 6, and I am 2. I have absolutely no memory of ever being shorter than my mother, but apparently I was for a little while, and this photo proves it.

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Today I am a Lutheran. Or something. This photo was taken at Mt. Olivet on my confirmation day in 1965, and it's the only time I have ever seen my mom, me, my dad and Grandma Tild all together in one photo. Also, please note that at age 13 I am taller than my mother, which in my world always seemed to be the natural order of things.

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I didn't stop growing until I reached 5'11", as you can see in this photo of Gunnar, Grace and me taken around the time my sister got married in 1968. Both of us girls turned out to be much taller than our mother, and I believe that had a measurable effect on our personalities.
Grace was a 5'6", bubbly, strawberry blonde Betty Grable look-alike. She was warm and funny and talked a blue streak and drew people to her like moths to flame; like bees to honey; like whatever to whatever [insert favorite simile of your choice here]. I felt like King Kong standing next to her, and whenever possible preferred to step back into the shadows and let my mother shine. I don't remember ever begrudging her that. It's possible I did at the time, but I don't remember it now.

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Mom had been a widow for 5 years when these photos were taken in 1984. She was 61 years old. My dad, Gunnar, died in 1979 at the age of 54. He died of congestive heart failure, complicated by scar tissue on his aorta and an enlarged 'athlete's heart', both consequences of having rheumatic fever when he was a child.
Grace continued to be out and about a good deal of the time, as she and Dad had always been, with a social life I'd have killed for.
She did volunteer work at the Shriners' Hospital; went out to dinner with her Eastern Star chapter, and her garden club, and her 500 club, and "the St. Mary's gang", all the gals she'd roomed with at a boarding house downtown near the Basilica during WWII, when they were all flighty young singles working at Honeywell, assembling steering controls for bombers by day, and dancing the night away every night. She always said that in those days she wore out a pair of shoes a week, from all the dancing.


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This is Grace on Christmas Eve 1987. She looks tired, as well she might, considering she'd had a mastectomy three months before, and was undergoing a 6-month course of chemotherapy at this time. Her doctors were fairly confident they'd gotten all the cancer, so they said the chemo was really just a precaution, to make sure the cancer hadn't metastasized into the lymph nodes. Grace was tolerating the chemo well, altho the steroids made her face look kind of puffy and she also said the steroids gave her manic bursts of energy when she couldn't sit still or stop talking. Everybody who knew her wondered how she could tell the difference.

This turned out to be the last photo ever taken of my mother.

Less than two months later, on the morning of February 12, 1988, Grace called my sister and brother in law at 4:45 AM. She'd been out dancing until past 1 AM, then had come home and settled into bed but suddenly felt "kind of funny". It was strange, she said; like she couldn't catch her breath. My brother in law told her to hang up and call 911 right away. Grace lived only a few blocks away from Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, and the paramedics could reach her within minutes if necessary. She agreed to call 911, and hung up. My sister and her husband waited for a minute or two, then called 911 to confirm that Grace had called. Yes, the dispatcher said, and the paramedics were already on their way.

BIL then jumped in the car and headed for Grace's house, about 15 miles away. When he got there he saw a policeman standing at the front door, which was all splintered and off its hinges. The paramedics had arrived within 3 minutes of receiving Grace's call, yet she was already unable to get to the door, so the paramedics had to use a crowbar to break the door down. The policeman said that Grace had had a heart attack; she was alive but it was "very serious". The EMTs had taken her to nearby Fairview Southdale, all the while frantically working to revive her.

My sister called at about 5:30 AM and told us what was happening. We then picked her up and drove to the hospital together. I was seven months pregnant with my first child at the time.
We arrived at the hospital within 20 minutes of getting the call. My BIL George met us at the entrance and said: "I don't know how to say this, but Grace has passed away."

The cause of death was found to be pulmonary embolism: a large blood clot had formed somewhere in her lower extremities and had travelled upwards through her system to ultimately become lodged in a spot near the juncture of her heart and lungs. Death came very quickly; within minutes.
Grace was 64 years old.

It's a long time ago now; 17 years; so the pain has had time to get dull and familiar and I don't feel it as sharply as I did then. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her and wish she could see my kids as they're growing up. Well, maybe she is seeing the kids somehow; I hope so. I guess what I want is to be able to see her seeing the kids.

And these days I've started thinking of how she died as being rather a good way to go, since we're all gonna go sometime, some way. Think about it: Grace lived her life fully and actively and joyously right up to the very last moment. No drawn out withering away for her. No watching her slowly become unrecognizable as disease consumed her.

She went to a party on that last night. She went out dancing til past 1 in the morning. She went dancing.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Housekeeping Liberally


Image hosted by Photobucket.com I'll bet there are a lot of us out here who would like to participate in the weekly get-togethers sponsored by our local Drinking Liberally chapters, but who for a variety of reasons are unable to take part.

In my case, I cannot attend for two reasons. Reason One: After smoking a pack and a half a day for 14 years, I quit smoking 20 years ago this October. Altho I have never had even a single puff off a cigarette in the years since, still not a day goes by that I don't find myself in a situation where I would kill for a cigarette just to help me mentally survive the next five minutes.

And the number one cigarette craving situation is...? Yes, that's right: a social gathering. And what kind of social gathering makes me crave cigarettes the most? You got it: a social gathering in a bar. And what kind of social gathering in a bar? Uh huh, the kind where I've never met any of the other people there. I would light up my first Marlboro within seconds of entering Liquor Lyle's, and after that I'd never quit. I'd smoke everything in sight and I wouldn't stop until I was reduced to a wizened dry husk of a creature who finally fell down dead in a cloud of bilious yellow-gray smoke and the paramedics would have to pry the last cig out of my grotesquely gnarled nicotine-stained fingers.

Reason Two: if I had a cigarette in one hand then I'd have to have a drink in the other, and I Can't. Hold. My. Liquor. Ever since the onset of menopause I haven't been able to handle even tiny amounts of alcohol. The last time I had a drink was on New Year's Eve, when we went out to dinner at a local steak house and I drank half of a very small glass of white zinfandel; no more than 3 oz., tops. By the time we left the restaurant my skin had started to glow bright red and my body temperature had risen to over 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When we got home, I went down to the basement, turned off the furnace and stood in a corner radiating warmth in the direction of the airducts, thus keeping our entire house heated all night long. Ultimately, that 3 oz. sip of wine helped us reduce our January fuel costs by over 50%. By Grapthar's Hammer, what a savings!

So, since I can't show solidarity with my fellow local liberals by Drinking Liberally, what can I do instead? As usual, a bit of the old AgitProp will have to do. I think it does pretty nicely, too.


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Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Posted simultaneously-- What multi-tasking skills!-- here and here.

The Runaway Bride

Over the past few days, we've all found out how Jennifer Wilbanks got a serious case of Cold Feet and faked a kidnapping so that she wouldn't have to get married this past Saturday.

The wedding was to be a massive to-do--600 guest, 14 bridesmades and groomsmen, and, considering her fiance's father is a fomer mayor of Duluth, GA, alot of social pressure and responsibility.

I understand how she could have got cold feet. Marriage is hard. The odds aren't good. And when there is alot at stake at the social level along with the personal, it could make a girl freak.

Many people don't seem to understand how marriage is not just about love and living happily ever after. It is a social contract between families as well as individuals. It is also a social contract with one's secular community and one's community of faith (if one is involved in one).

With marriage, two people are not only promising to "love" one another but also to build a stable home where the individuals involved will care about and for one another into old age. And if there are children, they will raise those children to be productive members of society.

And if y'all don't believe how marriage can be about the social contract between two individuals and an entire community, look at the way the community of Duluth GA, not just Wilbanks' fiance, his family, her family and friends, are saying about her now. The community is feeling "betrayed" by the kidnapping hoax, and some are now calling for Wilbanks to be thrown in jail, or to at least pay for the overtime in the police investigation.

There isn't much sympathy from the community at large. And very little understanding over how a young woman from such high circumstances, whose marriage appeared to be a three-ring circus of joy, could run away from it.

Isn't the type and kind of wedding Jennifer Wilbanks, her finance, and all that extended family and friends planned every little girl's dream?

Perhaps not.

Perhaps Jennifer Wilbanks realized that there would be far more people involved in her marriage than she may have wanted.

Perhaps the thought of that much hoopla and the doors it would close after it was all over became far too much for Jennifer Wilbanks to bear. Perhaps what she really wanted was freedom, not all that personal, family, and social responsibility. Perhaps she wasn't ready for it, but didn't know or understand that she had the option to call it all off--that, sure, everybody would be seriously pissed off, but that faking a kidnapping might piss off more than just her immediate and massive group of family and friends.


Maybe all she wanted, after all, was her privacy and her freedom.

I don't think the community's anger is at the amount of overtime she owes the police force. I think it has more to do with her cold feet--and that the betrayal of the situation is more about how she denied them the fairy tale vision that her wedding was scripted to be...and the beautiful children and the perfect example of a loving couple that her life was supposed to be.

And I wonder how many of us can identify or sympathize with Jennifer, or if we are, like the community, self-righteously angry at her because she threw away such such a grand send-off and the projection of so much perfection.

Personally, I think she should have packed a bag, emptied the bank accounts, and left an "adios buddy, catch you later" letter. Do the good chicken-livered thing and end the relationship from a few states away. But I don't believe that crminal penalties are in order for a case of bad judgement predicated on the feeling of being stuck like a mouse in a humaine trap.

I'd be curious to hear how other Blogsisters feel about what Jennifer Wilbanks did.

Tish G.