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The Mechanisms of Civil and Criminal Courts Don't Exist in Family Court

Litigation News

TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES »Overcoming Judicial Bias

By Stan Perry 
Judicial bias may be conscious or unconscious. For example, there is the natural tendency of judges to feel more comfortable with lawyers who practice regularly before them, and to view lawyers from afar with suspicion, if not hostility. The best antidote I have found to combat bias against an out-of-town lawyer is to find the best local trial lawyer and hire her. You can gain instant credibility by associating yourself with a local favorite.

Too often, retaining local counsel focuses on who is perceived to have influence with the trial judge. Instead of influence, I suggest you look for the best courtroom skills. Even hostile judges appreciate excellence in the courtroom, especially excellence with a local flavor. It’s a mistake to ask a local lawyer to do nothing more than file pleadings until it is time to pick a jury. Instead of having the local trial lawyer sit on the sidelines, get her into the field as soon as you can and make her an integral part of your trial team.

Another antidote to potential judicial bias can be summed up in a single word: Listen. This is so very hard for lawyers to do, especially trial lawyers. Many times hostile judges will signal—if not flat-out tell you—what they do or do not want to happen in their court. Lawyers, however, are often too busy talking (or arguing) to pick up on these vital, and sometimes obvious, clues.

Recently, I was in a rural county in Texas before a trial judge who was not receptive our position. The judge mentioned, in passing, that the trial date was firm and he was not going to continue the trial. Only a few of the 20 or more lawyers in the courtroom were paying enough attention to hear the judge. Well, I heard it—and I based my discovery plan on the premise that the trial date was set in stone, and not the aspirational guideline my adversaries were expecting. When the trial date approached, we were ready, and they were not. Our timely preparation was an excellent antidote to the judge’s initial bias against my case.

Another story highlights the additional benefit of listening: you may avoid giving the judge a reason to dislike you. My local trial lawyer and I planned to divide oral argument between us, with him starting and me finishing. Five minutes into the hearing, however, it became obvious that the judge really liked and admired our local lawyer. So I decided it might be best if I never opened my mouth. To this day, the trial judge may think I am the local lawyer’s associate. I could have argued part of the motion and explained to the court that I have handled numerous cases like this one and they never have any merit and blah, blah, blah. My argument, however, would have forced the judge to defend his home turf and the local opposing counsel. Instead of that scenario, the court was entertained by two excellent local lawyers arguing about the meaning of law outside his circuit and whether it should or should not apply to our case. Had I interjected myself into this hearing, the tone and context would have been dramatically different.

Some judges are tired of arrogant, conceited lawyers marching into their courtroom and explaining how things are done in Dallas, Los Angeles, or New York. The local judge does not care. He has a courtroom to run and a docket to manage, and has done just fine without the bright lights of the big city. In this scenario, it is time for the trial team equivalent of a curveball or change-up: Have your youngest member of the trial team make the argument. Her fresh approach may eliminate some of the tension, and even resentment, the judge has toward the out-of-town, know-it-all lawyer. On more than one occasion, I have seen a hostile judge go out of his way to help a young lawyer argue a position. The judge who snarls at the experienced lawyer becomes, somehow, the judicial equivalent of the aunt or uncle trying to mentor a favorite niece or nephew.

Sometimes the best victory is the one that is never fought. I am still amazed at how many times lawyers demand to have their day in court when they have a pending proposal from the opposing side that is better than their best possible ruling from the court. It is almost as if the lawyer would rather lose in front of a hostile judge, even if this is inevitable, than reach an agreement with the other side. It is, therefore, imperative that you work, and work hard, to reach an agreement so that you can avoid these guaranteed losses.

There is no dishonor in reaching an agreement with the opposing side that might be better than a result you would get from the trial judge. In fact, the opposite is true; there is honor in working to get the best possible result for your client by agreement and avoiding the risk of appearing before a hostile judge. Sometimes even the most hostile judge will appreciate your efforts to avoid a hearing. This is particularly true when the dispute is over discovery. Discovery disputes are to judges what children fighting over broken toys are to parents: unnecessary racket. Even a hostile judge may reward your efforts to avoid making him hear a discovery dispute by being more receptive to your arguments on substantive issues.

Throughout your dealings with the biased judge, frame the issues so that if she rules against you, you have a record you can take up by mandamus or appeal. This is lawyering as a high art form. You are taking your loss, which is as sure as the sun coming up in the east, and turning it into a possible win or, at worst, giving the judge a warning that his or her conduct is subject to review by the court of appeals. If you play your cards right, the hostile judge may even make—you guessed it—a hostile statement on the record that gives you a perfect lead for your appellate brief.

Even if you lose the mandamus or appeal, your effort may ultimately reduce the judge’s hostility. It has been my experience that most hostile judges do not think they are being hostile; rather, they have busy dockets to run, they are tired of arrogant and insulting lawyers, and, often, they are just bored of the same old thing, day in and day out. Seeing their own behavior in black and white can, occasionally, take the edge off of a hostile judge.

In dealing with a hostile judge, it is necessary to persevere. Sometimes a judge is hostile because he wants to avoid hearings or disputes, and one way to do this is to make sure that neither side wants to appear before him unless absolutely necessary. If you cannot get an issue resolved and judicial involvement is necessary, then stand strong and do not let the hostile judge intimidate you. After a while, the hostile judge will, grudgingly, grow to respect your perseverance, especially if your persistence is always professional.

I have seen hardened, hostile judges worn out by docile, introverted attorneys who refuse to go away and refuse to give up. It takes a very special touch, because pursuing the same argument the same way can quickly lead the court to perceive your persistence as disrespect of the court’s authority. One example of professional persistence is requesting individual trials in multi-plaintiff cases. A defense lawyer knows that individual trials are both critical to the defendant’s right to a fair and impartial jury and something the trial court would prefer to avoid because they mean more hearings and a more congested docket. The good defense lawyer raises the issue of individual trials at each opportunity—in connection with the scheduling order, decisions on which plaintiffs to depose first, the scheduling of experts and the challenges to experts—in a manner that is both respectful to the court and germane to the issue before the court. The key here is to persevere but not bore or offend the court.

Be a professional. Be careful not to lose your integrity when you lose a hearing. Don’t return a negative ruling or attitude from a trial judge with a negative comment or attitude. Rather, try to raise your professionalism each time the court is hostile. Self-reflection is important: what did you do right, what did you do wrong, what can you do to cure these mistakes, what other approach should you take with the court? If you can remain a professional, act with dignity, and learn from your losses, you will leave the courtroom with honor and dignity, and you will, eventually, overcome this judicial bias.

Keywords: Litigation, career development, judicial bias

Stan Perry practices law with Haynes & Boone, LLP, in Houston, Texas.

This article was adapted from a longer one that was published in the Summer 2009 issue ofLitigation.

   Adversarial v Inquisitorial System 


Coach Tony Dungy speaks out on the importance of fatherhood.


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Coach Tony Dungy speaks out on fathers abandoning their children and the importance of fatherhood in the home and in society.


The child does not want to visit or spend any time with the targeted parent. A Sign of Parental Alienation

The scholarly work Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Child From Parental Alienation (Darnell 1998), leading author and child psychologist Dr. Douglas Darnell listed some of the clustering signs of commonalities that form what has become known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS has striking similarities to NPD and the Stockholm Syndrome (Rawlings et al., 1994, pp. 401– 417), where the “victim sees world from abuser’s perspective” and “denies or rationalizes violence by the abuser.” 
The following are adapted from Darnell et al in relation to Parental Alienation (Syndrome): 
  • They have a relentless hatred for towards the targeted parent(s)
  • They parrot the obsessed alienator
  • The child does not want to visit or spend any time with the targeted parent
  • Many of the child’s beliefs are enmeshed with the alienator
  • The beliefs are delusional and frequently irrational
  • They are not intimidated by the court
  • Frequently, their reasons are not based on personal experiences with the targeted parent, but reflect what they are told by the obsessed alienator.
  • They have difficulty making any differentiations between the two 
  • The child has no ambivalence in their feelings; it’s all hatred with no ability to see the good
  • Victim identifies, enmeshes and aligns through the abuser and the abuser’s allies. Seeing things from the perspective of the perpetrators
  • They have no capacity to feel guilty about how they behave towards the targeted parent or forgive any past indiscretions 
  • They share the Obsessed Alienators cause. Together, they are in lockstep to denigrate the hated parent
  • The children’s obsessional hatred extends to the targeted parent’s extended family without any guilt or remorse
  • They can appear like normal healthy children until asked about the targeted parent that triggers their hatred (Darnell, 2003, 33–34)
These signs not only assist us in understanding Parental Alienation, but also help therapists identify children whose narcissistic and alienating parents drive them to a campaign of hate. Sandy Hotchkiss, author of the book on this most prevalent personality disorder: Why Is It Always About You? The Seven Sins of Narcissism, sums up a root cause of this mentality in America:
The ‘pseudomature’ child is the one who seems to have skipped right over childhood. Both the ‘pseudomature’ child and the ‘entitlement monster’ are bi-products of narcissistic parenting. The latter is held captive in a parent’s narcissistic bubble, while the former is forced out prematurely and forms a false Self that appears more competent than it actually is.
Both fail to separate from their emotionally bankrupt mothers, and they become what Mother, or Father, needs them to be rather than whom they truly are. (Hotchkiss, 2003, pp. 56–57)
In his scholarly work Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, Dr. Richard Warshak eloquently listed the areas like “corrupting reality,” which the NPA is especially renowned: “. . . To intervene effectively in a campaign of denigration, we must understand exactly how the child’s view of reality is being manipulated. Below is a summary of some of the most common strategies for distorting the child’s perceptions, beliefs, and memories of the target” (Warshak, 2001, pp. 202–203).
  • Manipulating names to disrupt children’s identification with the target 
  • Repeating false ideas until: they are assumed to be true and are embedded in memory 
  • Selectively directing the children’s attention to negative aspects of the target while ignoring positive aspects
  • Dropping the context of a target’s behavior
  • Exaggerating the target’s negative behavior
  • Telling lies about the target
  • Revising history to erase positive memories of the target
  • Claiming that the target has totally changed
  • Suggestions that convey in a covert manner negative messages about the target
  • Encouraging the children to exploit: the target
  • Projection of the brainwasher own thoughts, feelings, or behavior onto the target
  • Rationalizations that hide the perpetrator’s real motives and make the target look bad
  • Self-righteous tones intended to ward off careful scrutiny of the programmer’s reality distortions
  • Denunciations cloaked in religious dogma
  • Associating the label “the truth” with the programmer’s implanted scenarios
  • Overindulging the children with excessive privileges, material possessions, and low expectations for responsible behavior to buy their allegiance
  • Encroaching on the children’s time with the target and sabotaging their enjoyment of special activities
  • Instructing children to keep secrets from, spy on, and lie to the target
  • Conspiring with others to reinforce the programming
  • Programming the children to resist attempts to undo their indoctrination

    Narcissistic children often become like their narcissistic alienating parent, but one should wisely keep in mind that “narcissistic traits may be particularly common in adolescents and do not necessarily indicate that the individual will go on to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 660).


Why Targeted Parents Lose In Family Court

"In the best interest of the children."

More often than anyone knows, lawyers, guardian ad litem's, doctors (other mental health professionals ) sometimes even parent coordinators become involved in dishonest, one-sided favoritism to end custody disputes. I noticed it wasn't isolated, it was a pattern and the professionals were siding with the parent abusing the child.

I have discovered that there is an undermining of the legal process going on but it's difficult to detect. Every time I'd come across it, I would ask with disbelief, "why ?" That's a question I found no answer to for a very long time.

In some of my case investigations, I found a strong bias from professionals against the Targeted Parent ( T.P. ). {1.} That was a shocking revelation to me.

I work exclusively in cases involving Parental Alienation. This is a problem that will surface in the most difficult kind of family law case's. I'm a consultant in hostile custody disputes. The parents are constantly at war over visitation and many other kinds of shared custody issues. The parental alienation becomes a medical problem for the children caught in the middle.

Fathers Gain Respect From Experts (and Mothers) -

"In the last 20 years, everyone’s been talking about how important it is for fathers to be involved,” said Sara S. McLanahan, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton. “But now the idea is that the better the couple gets along, the better it is for the child.”


Should Parents Lose Custody Of Obese Kids?

Doctor Says Parents Should Lose Their Obese Kids
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Judicial Accountability Court Ordered Parental Alienation

We The People are not going to sit idle while Corruption continues...

Plaintiffs have hereby posed the following questions to the Federal Court: Jan 23, 2015 — A. Do child custody proceedings and family laws violate substantive due process rights of fit parents, as contrary to the United States Supreme Court Jurisprudence that state courts are not to enter the family realm without a compelling interest? B. Does a…Read More

Featured Image -- 1287Jan 25, 2015 — Excerpt from an upcoming RICO case: "Furthermore, the averments as stated herein speak to a violation by the Defendants of…Read More  

Family Court Proceedings Violate 6th Amendment Rights and Miranda Law

Kindly consider our chart setting out the seven (7) basic forms of or avenues to judicial accountability. These are the ways that judges…Read

Featured imageFamily Court Proceedings Violate 6th Amendment Rights and Miranda Law Jan 25, 2015 — Excerpt from an upcoming RICO case: "Furthermore, the averments as stated herein speak to a violation by the Defendants of Plaintiffs’ Sixth Amendment rights, as this persecution of the Plaintiffs was quasi-criminal in nature. As such, the Defendants violatedRead More

There are thousands of other parents in the same situation! We can change the world by putting an end to this.  

United States Supreme Court: Grant Writ of Cert filed November 4 to determine whether child custody proceedings and family laws violate the rights of fit parents, and whether children have reciprocal rights to the care and custody of their parents?

Child custody proceedings are daily affecting the lives and fundamental and constitutional rights of millions of parents, children and families. Each year, 5.7 million domestic orders are decided in state courts, dominated by divorce. Add cases reopened to modify support, custody, visitation, and we have an epidemic.

Featured Image -- 1213

Karin Wolf has brought an action under The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and 42 USC §1983 to combat fraud andRead More  

U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, President of the United States: Abolish the Tyranny of State Family Courts and Enact Federal Legislation That Provides Strong Procedural Protections to Families and Makes Child Sexual Abuse a Federal Crime in th

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