From Jakkie Pidanick–NJ judges dismissed from case saying they violated Due Process repeatedly in custody cases

This is very sad.  When judges repeatedly deny parents hearings on custody, automatically give sole custody to one parent over the other without a hearing, etc. it clearly violates due process.

These litigants should also file for a writ of mandamus (supervisory order) and the NJ Supreme Court should tell the family trial courts they MUST hold hearings and listen to all the evidence regarding what is in the best interests of the children.

I don’t know about providing every litigant a free lawyer.  Maybe that can be done on a sliding scale, but who would fund that cost?  Perhaps some of you creative parents out there can think of a way (bake sales and Etsy sales?)

Read on below:

Judges Freed From Dads’ Challenge to NJ Custody Laws

P.J. D’Annunzio, New Jersey Law JournalJune 27, 2017    | 1 Comments

Judge Julio Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Julio Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Carmen Natale

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of several New Jersey family judges from a lawsuit brought by fathers challenging the constitutionality of the state’s child custody laws.

On June 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of 14 Superior Court judges, holding that the judges were not proper defendants in the case.

According to Third Circuit Judge Julio Fuentes’ opinion, the fathers claim that the family courts deprived them of custody of their children and interfered with their rights to the care, custody and control of their children, without a full hearing, in violation of the 14th Amendment.

They specifically allege that court policy denies parents a plenary hearing when one parent loses custody. The fathers further claim that, although mothers and fathers are theoretically treated equally in custody disputes, in practice courts favor mothers. Additionally, they maintain that New Jersey discriminates against indigent parents by not providing them with counsel in a divorce proceeding or other family disputes that results in a loss of custody.

The Family Part judges who were named as defendants in the suit were Lawrence DeBello, Timothy Chell, Kathleen DeLaney, James DeMarzo, Madelin Einbinder, Marlene Lynch Ford, Christopher Garenger, Lawrence Jones, Severiano Lisboa, Anthony Massi, John Tomasello, Sherri Schweitzer, Nancy Sivilli and Maureen Sogliuzzo.

Fuentes said that, before the validity of the plaintiffs’ claims could be addressed, the question of whether the family court judges should even be party to the suit had to be answered. The case was filed under the Declaratory Judgment Act, with the fathers seeking declaratory and injunctive relief relating to the rulings the judges made in their respective custody cases.

The answer hinged on whether the judges in question are neutral arbiters of the New Jersey custody statute, or if they have enough flexibility under the statute and policies that they become enforcers, Fuentes said.

“In this case, because we conclude that the judicial defendants have acted in an adjudicatory capacity and not in an enforcement capacity, they are not proper defendants,” Fuentes said.

“To be sure, the best-interests-of-the-child standard statute gives state court judges broad discretion to determine a custody situation. State court judges also have broad discretion to decide motions on the papers under New Jersey Supreme Court and Appellate Division precedent,” he added.

However, he said, “the state court judges themselves do not have any right to initiate these actions. Instead, a parent must initiate a custody dispute. Nor were the state court judges here given any administrative function.”

Jersey City-based lawyer Paul A. Clark, who represented the fathers, said the the U.S. Supreme Court “has repeatedly allowed state court judges to be defendants when state courts violate federally guaranteed constitutional rights,” and the Third Circuit “has also now adopted an extremely narrow interpretation of the Declaratory Judgment Act which largely eviscerates it.”

“That said, the Court has simply sidestepped and avoided the serious problem here which is that New Jersey, through its court system routinely strips parents of the fundamental right to the custody of their children, and does so in summary, often ex parte proceedings,” Clark said in an email. “Because the Third Circuit decision only said that the judges named as defendants were not the proper defendants we will continue to pursue suits against New Jersey naming other defendants.”

Benjamin Zieman, of the state Attorney General’s Office, who represented the judges, did not respond to a request for comment.


2 thoughts on “From Jakkie Pidanick–NJ judges dismissed from case saying they violated Due Process repeatedly in custody cases

  1. My son’s ex-wife for over a year and not together for over two years, had the children removed from her custodial custody for having abused her prescription drugs. The children were placed with her parents who live a few doors away. My son lives in PA, about 1-hr away from their NJ location. He was not notified about this until until 4-days later when a DCPP intake worker phoned him because the OTSC hearing was going to be the next day. That was four months ago! He has had to have supervised visitations, lost all summer vacation, and we just found out DCPP is putting the kids back in her care! My son’s supervision has not been lifted and DCPP is recommending he take batters intervention! His ex and her parents have falsely accused for years of so much and now their have even escalated to them saying he tried to murder her! Oh, and because of “past history” which was also false accusations, and terminated as unfounded 2-years ago. No finding. Also, The police found empty prescription bottles in an empty cheeto’s bag in the trash and she finally admitted she tried to kill herself…She has texted the most vulgar hateful lies. In her discovery she said my son broke her jaw, dislocated her jaw, threw her down the stairs and slammed her head against the step over and over again, sexual intimidation, you name it, he did it to her. She has NO evidence what-so-ever and yet the judge agreed with DCPP to give the children back to her custody and my son is still supervised. This is the 2nd cycle of this. He was doing nothing but sitting in his livingroom on a Saturday night when this all took place.(he was with someone) She accused him of being a 2 time “registered” child abuser which is also FALSE!!! She blamed him for why she has her mental problems and the entire thing has gone from her geting the children removed from her custody to my son having to prove his innocence – Not they have to prove he is guilty. They have no medical records of any kind. The judge said he wasn’t going to prove who’s telling the truth. Just going by the psychologist’s recommendation which was also tainted because DCPP gave her false information about my son. So when he said he had never been charged with DV she said he was in denial because DCPP said he had been several times! The police had gone to their house because of domestic “disputes” not violence. He was never arrested or charged for anything EVER. Now they want random urine tests from him – but not durg tests from her! He isn’t the one who caused all of this. He did absolutely NOTHING but it has all been turned upside down against him! He has all the police reports proving her lies and how delusional she is. NOBODY CARES! I feel so helpless and am in disbelief! I wonder is this America??? All he wanted was uninterrupted parenting time and he’s never had one weekend without some incident where he is accused of something by either she or her parents. He is a great father. He makes them pancakes and every meal is made at home. he plays games with them….He has decided not to take the batterers intervention because he has never beaten or battered anyone and the have no evidence that he did. All they say is, “just because we don’t have the evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen~!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Is this America????????????/

    • Dear Barbara; I am going to publish this, but typically we ask that anyone making claims about a lawsuit also send us the file stamped pleadings to back up what they are claiming and a verification sheet. I hope you understand. If you want to call me about your case please do so at any time. I am sorry this happened to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s