Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NZ Fathers Coalition reponse to Judge Boshier's proposed Family Court changes.

Here is my response as a member of the New Zealand Fathers Coalition to the Dominion Post article relating to changes proposed by the Principal Family judge Peter Boshier, who is in favour of adopting a more formal and forcible approach to Family Court proceedings.

I am rather anxious that he advocates the need to jail parents who break the law during custody disputes, while at the same time he states;
"The court cannot guarantee to always get it right."

The court should have a moral obligation to get it right. Surely in the interests of natural justice it should be imperative that all clients of the family court be treated fairly and without bias?

The learned judge should be directing his considerable resources into addressing the paramount issue of the balanced administration of law, because injustice hurts no matter what legal jurisdiction it occurs in.

No wonder the family court is a breeding ground for false allegations and unhappy client's, who are best described as disgruntled male litigants and confused children.

It can hardly be described as a civil and a caring court. It seems as Peter Boshier is concerned about the image of the Family Court, which is hardly in the best interests of any children and decent fathers' unlucky enough to be caught in the adversarial world of Family Court litigation.

"To bring more formality to Family Court proceedings, judges would resume wearing robes, courts would be made bigger and lawyers would have to stand to address judges. In a speech to a public law seminar earlier yesterday, the judge said he also wanted better security in courtrooms, saying he "drew breath" every time someone opened a briefcase in court.

How this could be in the best interests too all the clients of family proceedings is beyond my comprehension, as obviously litigants in person are feared and discouraged, which is hardly fair principles in a court of justice. Common sense would indicate if any person with enough moral mettle and genuine compassion to put their side of the story across in a polite and dignified manner to a Family Court judge then surely they must be a parent with credibility and acceptable parenting standards? I would have thought that it clearly shows everybody that they are a responsible parent worthy of future access. It is so obvious that they only want to form loving bonds with their alienated children otherwise they wouldn't have bothered turning up for the hearing in the first place.

His comment about the brief case is ridiculous. This is just another slap in the face of disillusioned parents seeking fairness and natural justice in the Family Court. Many top criminal barristers tell fathers that they cannot help them in the bias and male unfriendly environment of the Family Court. It is a well-known accepted fact that the Family Court is guilty of unlawful gender discrimination. Any honest court worker and member of the legal fraternity with any integrity will tell you this is the case.

Here is an example;

When Family Court protection orders are served Without Notice, interim custody is automatically awarded to the mother who is termed the custodial parent, while the respondent or forced client in proceedings is usually the non-custodial father. The protection order clearly sets out the consequences of a breach of this order. Police automatically seize any firearms and tell the respondent to proceedings that he must forfeit the right to maintain a firearm license and any future control of weapons. Police tell him that he is not a fit and proper person. He is also told that he must attend a stop violence programme.He is in no doubts this is serious karma and he is only millimeters from a prison cell. Often he does not see his children for years as the counsellors, lawyers and psychologists have created a file number in a secretive gravy train system from which they make lots of money. Court appointed children lawyers and psychologists never bother to witness the interactions between a respondent and their children.These unscrupulous people supply fabricated and tainted opinion that is treated as gospel by Family Court judges.

When the forced client to Family Court proceedings gives notice as a respondent that they wish to defend the allegations and validity of the protection orders they are told they will get a hearing within 40 days, however more often the hearing is six or so months later. Meanwhile the distraught non-custodial parent, who is eager to challenge the often-malicious false allegations contained in Family Court affidavits can do nothing about his precarious position .The respondent is usually a bewildered dad. He feels sorrow and despair at the hopelessness of the situation. He has lost his sacred primal priority, his family. He usually suffers from psychological distress and anxiety, which is very detrimental to his over-all health. With the tragic increase of New Zealand men represented in suicide statistics I have no doubts figures would correlate with the number of fathers facing the insurmountable odds of trying to gain impossible access rights or custody of their abducted children in the Family Court.
" How hard are these men to be driven in the best interests of the child? Their suicides give the answer. So that's in the child best interests of their children!"

John Hirst author of the book called the Kangaroo Court.

While the estranged father constantly worries over his children's welfare he can be convicted in the District Court for a breach of the protection order for trying to contact them. Police view even sending a text message, a Christmas or Birthday card to his children as a criminal offence. He gets convicted in the District Court for trying to make contact with his children and then he faces the same judge a month later in the Family Court at a defence of protection order hearing. Is this in the best interests of the confused children, fairness and natural justice? Needless to say, the now familiar judge denies the respondent the right to submit court evidence that could easily clear him of all the domestic violence allegations. The protection orders are stamped as final and based on flimsy prima facie evidence that there had been psychological and emotional abuse. The father leaves the court in a dismal state. He is stressed, because he faces years with the daunting proposal to undergo supervised access to his children. Nobody from within the judicial system listens to him and he is fobbed of a scumbag father.

No support mechanisms are in place that can help this father, so he appeals the decision to grant the protection orders firstly to the police who respond;
" I appreciate the frustration you feel. However, there is nothing the police can do as matters currently stand. We investigate complaints of alleged offending not alleged false allegations made in context of proceedings in the Family Court for the advantage of one party over the other. That is one of the functions of the Family court; to sift truth from lies."

Desperate to commence meaningful access to his children the respondent then files an application to discharge the protection order in the Family Court, as instructed by police. After an emotionally exhaustive court hearing the same Family Court judge declines his version of events and the protection orders remain in place. This is a psychological blow and further adds to his over -all depression. He struggles to understand justice and the law when police had advised him the Family Court was the best place to sort out the truth of the matter.

Still extremely unhappy that he cannot put his side of the story to the court he approaches the High Court and is granted a hearing. He is the appellant and the New Zealand police are the respondents. The appeal is dismissed, however the High Court Justice writes;
" Furthermore, while I have every sympathy for the predicament in which the appellant finds himself, the essential thrust of the appeal is his contention that the original protection orders were invalidly made. With respect, that is something that must be determined on an appeal from the Family Court in relation to those protection orders, and not in these criminal proceedings."

This father's troublesome beef with the judicial system hinges on the words;
"The essential thrust of the appeal is his contention that the original protection orders were invalidly made."

Surely a High Court justice would not say that if he knew what skulduggery had gone on to justify the existence of the protection orders in the first place. Who is accountable for this mistake. How could a systematic failure and cumulative errors cause so much damage to a totally innocent father, his children and his family? Paternal is not a welcomed word within the doors of the Family Court.

Not out for the count yet, he pursues issues and makes an application for special leave to both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. He is told that the matters raised are serious and complex, however jurisdictional obstacles exist that do not allow him to being able to file appeal material in either court.
He faces up to the harsh reality that criminal proceedings that have resulted from the implementation of the protection orders built on spurious grounds will remain in place permanently and that they cannot be defended through our present court appeal system. Meanwhile the years slowly meander on in the Family Court. After several years as a forced client he feels sorrow and carries a resentment towards a gravy train of professionals feeding from all the miserable parental alienation and adversarial tactics for effect. On the other side of the coin the father has difficulty in finding any professional support available to address his concerns. Police, lawyers and judges continually confront him.

Disillusioned with the blatant gender bias and lack of balance of the system he approaches the Human Rights Commission and gets a hearing as the plaintiff that is finally adjudicated by the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT). The defendants are the New Zealand Family Court, police and Child Youth Family Service. He claims that he is a victim of unlawful male gender discrimination and after many memorandums filed by Crown Law it is determined that the matter be struck out in its entirety and the only matter remaining is the question of costs. The HRRT award substantial costs to be paid by the plaintiff to the Ministry of Justice.

So a male respondent is tarred with the domestic violent tag for eternity on the balance of probabilities of emotional and psychological abuse. He then tries to vindicate himself as the appellant and plaintiff through the appeal process which proves another total exercise in futility.He writes to all the politicians and gets fobbed off time and time again. His future job prospects and ability to travel overseas are obliterated, because he is stereotyped as a DV deadbeat dad totally unfit,not worthy of any favours or privileges from society. I mean to say, this dad has court protection orders around his neck, and is a danger to all children in New Zealand society even though the judicial system turn a blind eye to factual submissions presented by him that prove his innocence.

It doesn't matter that the protection orders were nothing more than a litany of lies.
It doesn't matter that the judicial system breached the Bill of Rights to achieve its desired persecution of this father.
It doesn't matter about the police and prisoner beatings !
It doesn't matter that this man has endured a round room prison cell and punitive psychiatry!
It doesn't matter that a District Court judge has said
" On some occasions criminal breaches of the protection orders do display, in his view, a degree of overreaction by police which has an adverse effect on this fathers health."

What makes the story so sad is that the affected children grow up with many problems because they have been brainwashed by a totally unfair and callous system. It is despicable that children are coached into thinking that dad is a bad parent when his only crime is his loved and sorely missed children.

Justice must always been seen to be done fairly and it should be a priority that the court gets it right and allows no scope for false allegations that can fester on for years making some people rich and others totally heartbroken.

The Family Court needs a radical rethink. It's totally out of step with judicial fairness and it has moral obligation to the children and fathers of New Zealand too get it right.

Peter Burns
New Zealand Fathers Coalition

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