Below is the horrific and tragic story of a parent whose plea for monitored visitation for the safety of their child was ignored by Judge Algeo. The child died on his fourth court ordered visit with the other parent which was unsupervised. The post is dated November 9, 2011. The story is as important today, as the day if was posted and should be a reminder to us all of the importance of the issue and impact of divorce in this country.
I have also included my own response to another parent whose own attorney provided a copy of the post to their client. The attorney was concerned, that their client may have been placed in potentially the same scenario after the courts dismissed the evidence and testimony. The parent then went to the blog and commented on the story, telling of their circumstances. I provided additional information they may want to consider as an alternative to monitored supervision which was not ordered to ensure their child’s safety.
Additionally, Custody Calculations, has begun to advocate for the position that if the courts were required to justify their position in writing, that ignoring evidence/testimony would become more difficult. Maybe by the judges themselves, upon their own examination. Bias, and other factors not currently recognized by the system, may also become more apparent in this manner.
Attorneys, would also benefit, in understanding why a case was not successful and adjust that case presentation in the future, as well as in other cases in front of that judge or altogether. This could be a step in providing a more effective, stable and enhanced court environment, from the free for all that it is now. Would anyone argue that Family Law is not gambling, a crap shoot, if you will, even by the best of attorneys I don’t think so.
In regards to appeals, it would more quickly identify inappropriate rulings and judges who may need additional training and scrutiny. It would result in overturning bad decisions, while supporting good rulings, faster. In effect it would raise the bar for everyone in and around the system.
Finally for families the knowledge would allow for a better understanding of the success or need to respond with a more effective legal argument or maybe differently, altogether. Their case and their former spouse to conclude high conflict cases.
Additionally many parents are unaware that they may file an appeal to the rulings of the court. I have found most attorneys believe their clients are aware they can appeals. Which is an incorrect perception. If their clients don’t know this, what else don’t they know. Which is why I also advocate for a team of resources for a divorce and not a single attorney, especially in high risk/high conflict cases. Which is much for cost effective. Initially and in the long run.
Also my disclaimer. While this story deals with the death of a child while in a fathers care, my response would be the same if the situation were reversed and it was the mother who posed the risk.
I am not an advocate for one gender over the other. My position is always, first and foremost, the children.
The link for the story is listed below this paragraph, and I have provided a copy of the story for immediate review. http://cappuccinoqueen.com/?p=259#comment-2512
You may not remember me, but I will remember you for the rest of my life. I am Prince’s mother. The Prince who died on October 20, 2012. The Prince who died on just his fourth court ordered unsupervised visit with his father.
In case you still don’t remember me, I would like to take a moment to remind you. I was the woman who came into your court room in March of 2012 (and again in July 2012) begging you to keep my son safe from his father. You heard testimony from several women Luc had abused. I told you about how I had fled Luc’s house in July 2011 with my newborn son and the clothing on our backs – that was after Luc had raped my then 19 year old sister. You heard testimony about all the people who died around Luc (including the mother of his older son and his own mother) All the horrifying information we presented, however, was still not enough for you to choose to keep my son safe.
I watched my son’s body slowly shut down for nearly two days as I waited for the doctors to officially declare him brain dead. As I watched my innocent baby boy die, I thought about you. I remembered how you told us you hated Family Court. I remembered how you blamed me for falling in love with a con man. I remembered how you talked about fairy dust and how you explained that my son would need to come home with cigarette burns before you would believe Luc was abusive. I remember how you rolled your eyes, appeared to fall asleep on the bench, and openned up your computer as if to read your email – you did all of this as I pleaded with you to keep visitations supervised.
I am now a mother without a child. My heart breaks every time I think about all the things my son will never do. You never got to meet Prince, but your decisions made a significant impact in his life. My son loved books. He loved to smile, to laugh, and was just starting to run. The week he died, he just started to say “ball”. It was his first official word after “Mama”.
Do you have children Judge Algeo? Grandchildren? You told us that you made your Custody decision based on what you would do if he was your child. Would you have given your children to Luc in an unsupervised setting knowing what you knew about him? Would you have taken a closer look at that psychological evaluation or maybe appointed a psychologist to conduct the test if it had been your child? Would you have forced YOUR daughter to send her child to this man as punishment for having been lied to?
One of the hardest things for me to deal with is that I will never again have the chance to protect my son. Nothing I can do will bring him back to life. I can’t stop thinking about how my life would be different if I hadn’t trusted you – if I had fled the country – if I had simply refused to comply with the court order.
I will never get the opportunity to have a talk with my son. I will never see him have his first day of school. I will never see him graduate from High School and from College. I will never dance with him on his wedding day or hear him say, “I love you Mama.”
You said you hated Family Court – it showed. I hope you understand the incredible power you have and with that power – the unparalleled responsibility. If my son losing his life had little or no impact on your future decisions, I pray that you resign. If you still find yourself rolling your eyes in frustration and looking upon parents who sit before you with distain, I pray for those parents who have no choice but to sit before you.
If the laws are not designed to protect children, then they need to be changed. In my son’s case, it appears as though death was the only threshold for denial of visitation. I knew how bad this could get. I told you how bad this could get. You didn’t believe me. Hundreds of scorned women must come through your court room. Maybe this has jaded or clouded your ability to see the truth. I was not scorned. I was afraid. I was a mother trying to protect her only child. How terribly sad it is that you have become so jaded that when a mother comes to you pleading for your help, you dismiss her concerns as merely those of a scorned woman. Prince deserved better. He deserved to live just as your own child would have.
I have spent my entire career working to protect our country – to protect America. I wake up each day and fight for America – and fight for the freedoms you enjoy. I hope and pray that despite the system’s failure, I can continue to take my job as seriously as you should have taken yours. It was your job to protect my son’s basic human civil right to life. All the evidence was before you. All that was asked of you was to be cautious. You held the life of an innocent child in your hands – the life of my child.
You will forget me Judge Algeo. Of that, I am fairly certain. I will, however, never forget you.
Hera McLeod (Prince’s Mama)
My response to the second parent whose own attorney provided a copy of the blog to their client, after the evidence they submitted was dismissed by court:
Without having full knowledge of your circumstances, I can only assume that the attorney on your case fears for the safety of your son, equal to your concern. Which is why they provided a copy of the post for you to review.
There are some steps you can take outside of the courtroom on your own, to secure the safety of your son. This additional resource could also provide you with the evidence you need to factually again document the need to go back into court to obtain a more appropriate setting for the safety of your son.
Has anyone ever made the suggestion to retain a private detective to observe your son while he is in the custody of his father? A private detective could be the means by which, if your son were in imminent danger, they could immediately contact law enforcement to respond on an emergency, or if necessary before law enforcement arrive, take action to save the life of your son. But I caution you, you need to retain, an experienced, capable professional. I may be able to give you a referral depending on where you reside.
Because of the financial cost, I am aware this may not be available, but you should have the information/option so that you can make that decision yourself or take steps to secure funds to possibly intervene and save the life of your son. There may be another option available, less costly, but I would be more comfortable speaking to you directly.
A retired law enforcement officer, and now a Divorce Coach, you are welcome to contact me without cost for a consult. I may be ale to provide some additional information/resources that may be of assistance to your sons safety and your case. 702-675-5120 This is our coaching number and available to our clients 24/7. website is CustodyCalculations.com