Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Flash of Genius"

I just watched “Flash of Genius”; the story about Dr. Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper.  The movie tells the story of how Ford Motor Company stole Robert Kearns’ design for the intermittent wiper and his lengthy legal battle that followed.  If you are unaware of the intermittent windshield wiper, it’s what makes your wipers run every few seconds in light rain rather than running constantly.  What I found to be most compelling about the movie is how similar my current legal situation is to Dr. Kearns. 

Dr. Kearns was an engineer and an inventor.  He developed the intermittent wiper in the basement of his family home which soon caught the attention of Ford Motor Company.  After a short time of working with Dr. Kearns, Ford decided to “go another direction” and decided not to go with Dr. Kearns’ invention.  A short time later, Ford began to put the intermittent wipers on its vehicles and it turned out to be Dr. Kearns’ patent.  

You may be asking yourself what does this have to do with the problems with the family court system?  Dr. Kearns had something stolen from him and then people told him that he couldn’t do anything about it.  “You can’t sue Ford.”  “You can’t go against Detroit.”  “You can’t represent yourself in a trial against Detroit’s lawyers.”  “Just because you spend some time in a law library doesn’t make you a lawyer.” 

I believe I share a common trait that Dr. Kearns had where the sense of right and wrong seem to override any fear or intimidation of the system.  People told Dr. Kearns that he couldn’t win; told him to quit; told him to settle.  Why do the people who fight the system sometimes get labeled as extremists?  How can a victim of a crime be considered the bad guy?  Fortunately Dr. Kearns didn’t listen to the other people and fought for what was right.   Dr. Kearns represented himself through a good deal of his legal battles with the auto industry.  Eventually he was awarded about $30 million in settlements from Ford  and Chrysler following his legal victories(at one point Ford offered Dr. Kearns $30 million to settle his suit before the trial was over but Dr. Kearns declined because Ford wouldn’t publicly admit that they took the intermittent wiper design from Dr. Kearns). 

Dr. Kearns took on a system that made their own rules and had the money and the time to outlast, buyout, or squash any little guy who stood in their way.  Dr. Kearns also felt that he had a responsibility to other inventors who had their ideas stolen from them.  I feel I have a similar responsibility to the parents and children who have fallen victim to the family court system. 

Sometimes I think that I am the luckiest person alive.  I have been representing myself for a year in a divorce/custody hearing and most people don’t question me anymore.  I have picketed law firms, filed legal pleadings and appeared in court by myself, taken on a crooked forensic psychologist/custody evaluator Dr. Edward J. Connor Psy. D., caused “Honorable” Judge Carl H. Taul to recuse himself from my case, and I have subpoenaed Judge Taul to testify at the final hearing of my divorce proceeding.  People used to say that I couldn’t do it and/or that I shouldn’t do it.  Some people said that because they worried about me and others said it because they didn’t want to deal with me.  Many of my friends and family didn’t necessarily doubt my ability to challenge the system as much as they questioned whether or not the system could be challenged.  The fact that I have been representing myself for a year and nobody has been able to stomp me out and I caused the Judge to recuse himself raises the eyes of the biggest skeptics. 

Dr. Kearns victories came at an incredible price as it cost him his marriage, time spent with his children, and at times his mental health.  Many people believe he should have settled.  The people who had been stepped on before Dr. Kearns are glad he didn’t.  There are many brave Americans that are willing to sacrifice their family life in order to fight for our freedoms in wars abroad and we call them heroes; yet the people who fight for our freedoms in our own backyard are labeled extremists or eccentrics. 

I’m not an extremist and I think I’m too laid back to be eccentric.  I’m not a hero, I’m just a dad; but I’m a father who refuses to quit on my children because Dr. Connor is the only custody evaluator around; or lawyers won’t like me; or I may piss off a judge; or because I may not win in the end.  I refuse to quit if I can help other families avoid going through something like this.  Two bad attorneys forced me to represent myself.  A bad custody evaluation forced me to take on Dr. Connor.  Questionable conduct on the part of the Court forced me to question Judge Taul.  This isn’t a “flash of genius”, I’m just making sure people follow the rules.  (“flash of genius” was a test to determine a device’s patentability in U.S. Courts from 1941-1952) 

I understand why Robert Kearns refused to settle out of court.  Sometimes the difference between right and wrong doesn’t have a price tag. I wouldn’t take a billion dollars to back off of Dr. Connor because somewhere in that stack of money a child may have been raped, abused, or possibly murdered.  I’ve been contacted by other parents who have shared similar stories about their experiences with Dr. Connor.  There are too many horror stories about children losing their right to see their, more than capable, parents.  For some reason it seems that somebody picked my number to take on the system. 

I recently filed a 237 page complaint against Dr. Edward J. Connor Psy D. with the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology.  The Board reviewed the complaint and stated that there didn’t appear to be any “apparent violations” of the laws governing psychology.  Does that surprise me?  No, not really.  It didn’t really make me mad.  It’s just another move on this big game of chess.  Of course the Board decided to review my request to reopen the case when I sent the Assistant Attorney General of Kentucky, Mark Brengelman, a copy of the subpoena for Judge Taul and I informed Mr. Brengelman that if the Board still determined that there weren’t any “apparent violations” in my 237 page complaint, then I would have to subpoena the entire Board (9 members) to my final hearing to help give the Court a better understanding of what laws, if any, govern Dr. Connor’s profession.  Mr. Brengelman stated that the Board would resist any subpoena to testify in a civil hearing.  If the big guy has to verbalize that to the little guy, then there may be some concern on the big guy’s part. 

One of the things that, I believe, separate me from Robert Kearns is I think I’ll understand when the fight is doing more damage than cause I’m fighting for.  I believe in my heart that my little girls need both of their parents but if fighting for a cause somehow damages my little angels, then the cause isn’t worth fighting.  I know I’ve said that I wouldn’t comment on my soon to be ex, but the good thing is we’ve seemed to handle most matters out of the sight of our children.   Of course we don’t agree on a number of issues but a majority of the litigation and legal costs in the past year and a half have been a result of Dr. Connor’s conduct and the conduct of the former Judge.  I’m not out to get people; I’m out to stop them.  Sure I wish that Dr. Connor would have the opportunity to sit in a jail cell next to someone he screwed over in a criminal proceeding that Dr. Connor served as an “expert” mental health witness, but if he doesn’t I’ll just deal with it.  Unfortunately I’m not able to sit back and let other people protect Dr. Connor in order to prevent the ship from sinking.  The American auto industry free wheeled their way through many decades with little accountability which may provide some insight to their state of affairs today.  The family court system is controlled and regulated by lawyers, judges (who are lawyers), lawmakers (many of whom are lawyers) and mental health “experts” who make their living off of judges and lawyers.  Who is willing to take on this bunch and hold them accountable for their actions?  (I’m sitting in the front row with my hand up yelling “OOOOHHHH, OOOOHHHH” like Horshack on “Welcome back Kotter”) 

Thanks again for sticking around and please feel free to comment as I’m open for questions and suggestions.  If you have a topic in mind I would be happy to try to write about it.  Check back soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Intro to Dr. Edward J. Connor Psy. D.

Dr. Edward J. Connor Psy. D. is forensic psychologist in the Greater Cincinnati Area which covers Southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.  My spouse and I signed an agreed order of the Court to seek the services of Dr. Connor for a child custody evaluation.  My attorney at the time, Thomas Blondell, told me that Dr. Connor was the only evaluator he had ever used since he moved to Southeastern Indiana so I didn’t ask any questions.  I had absolutely no idea of what was in store for me. 

My divorce case is in the Ripley Circuit Court because we lived in Ripley County Indiana.  Dr. Connor’s office, Connor and Associates, PLLC, is located in Erlanger, KY, but he frequently does work for neighboring Indiana courts.  I went through the evaluation process in an honest and forthcoming fashion.  I didn’t lie, exaggerate, bad mouth my wife, etc… I was honest about some not so flattering things in my history.  I had a good time playing with my girls during the observation sessions.  I thought it was a lock that we would get joint custody because the kids were comfortable with both parents and I felt I presented myself as a calm, rational, and responsible father.  Then I got hit by the Mack Truck (aka Dr. Connor’s August 29, 2007 evaluation report) that tried to take my girls away.  

“Dan can certainly provide childcare for the children but we believe that minimizing the time he has with the children will in fact, sustain their existing bond.”  You’re probably asking the same question most people ask; “what the hell does that mean?”  What makes it even more confusing is that two sentences prior to that statement Dr. Connor wrote “it is clear that the children are very attached to both parents.”  Dr. Connor said that I couldn’t communicate because of my “severe” ADHD.  Dr. Connor mentioned several times throughout the evaluation that he couldn’t understand me.  He put broken, out of context quotes of mine in the evaluation and claimed that I had difficulties communicating.  Dr. Connor’s main reason why my time with my little girls should be minimized was because I couldn’t communicate.  It was truly the worst day of my life. 

Try telling an attorney that an evaluator is lying about you.  Try telling an attorney you feel like you are in the Twilight Zone because the report you just read wasn’t about you.  My attorney, Thomas Blondell, kept saying “I don’t know if it’s a bad evaluation.  I’m not a psychologist.”  (I did later find that Mr. Blondell was a child advocate in Cook County, Illinois so he was probably very familiar with evaluations.)  Mr. Blondell did nothing except for listen to me and bill me.  He eventually “fired” me in mid February 2008, citing communication problems (how convenient); but I feel it had more to do with not wanting to go against the only evaluator that he has ever used, and being mad that I picketed my former attorney’s firm.  When I went to get my case file, I found that Thomas Blondell had left Wood and Lamping for another firm without telling anyone the status of my case.  A couple of weeks later, he filed to run in the Democratic Primary for Dearborn Superior Court Judge.  Luckily he got shellacked in the primary. 

Dr. Connor encouraged people to submit, in writing, any concerns about errors in the evaluation.  I began writing a rebuttal in October 2007.  I wrote three or four drafts in an attempt to get an objective but firm response to an evaluation, which I thought was horrific.  By horrific, I mean Dr. Connor confused the names of my daughters throughout the evaluation.  On February 19, 2008, I hand delivered my 17 page written response to Dr. Connor.  In a letter to the Court dated February 21, 2008, Dr. Connor wrote “Mr. Brewington’s documents indicate that there are numerous errors and oversights in the report” and offered additional sessions to correct the “numerous errors and oversights.” 

I know what you’re thinking.  How can there be numerous errors and oversights in something as important as a child custody evaluation?  Better yet, Dr. Connor expected us to pay for the additional sessions to correct the “numerous errors and oversights” to the tune of $350.00 a piece.  But getting a shot to redeem myself was worth the money. 

Dr. Connor seemed to be less cooperative when he found out I was representing myself.  I didn’t set out to act as my own attorney.  [NOTE: if you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, do not tell a prospective lawyer that you were screwed by a custody evaluator and your second attorney fired you after he found out you picketed your first attorney’s office.  They tend to avoid contact with you.]  I was forced to go at it alone.  I decided to get a copy of the case file, from the evaluation report, as I was entitled to per Dr. Connor’s agreement that my wife and I signed.  I thought it might provide some insight to things like what happened when Dr. Connor tried to contact my brother Mark but his phone was disconnected.  (My brother’s name is Matt and he has two contact numbers; none of which had been disconnected.)  I requested a copy on March 6, 2008.  On March 11 Dr. Connor said I wasn’t entitled to it because it contained my wife’s confidential information.  On March 25, I reminded Dr. Connor of his agreement.  On March 26, Dr. Connor stated that he would “be happy” to release the case file to me once he got verification from the Court that I was representing myself.  On March 27, Dr. Connor “interpreted” the Court’s ruling that I was not entitled to the evaluation case file.  On April 16, Dr. Connor wrote Mr. Brewington is in fact correct that our contract indicates that we will provide the representing attorneys a copy of the case file, but given the circumstances we feel a court order is necessary given that Mr. Brewington is representing himself pro se.  On August 4, Dr. Connor stated that there are state and HIPAA laws that prevent him from releasing the case file without a court order or my wife’s consent.  Judge Carl H. Taul gave several reasons as to why he wasn’t going to order the release of the case file.  Kentucky Revised Statue 403.300 (Dr. Connor’s practice is in KY) states that the evaluator has to release the file to the representing attorney OR directly to an unrepresented party.  BTW, I still don’t have a copy of the case file.  

Crazy you say?  This barely scraps the surface.  I’ve subpoenaed former Judge Carl H. Taul to testify in the final hearing.  I invited my first attorney as well.  If the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology don’t get their act together, we may see all nine of them at the final hearing as well.  I know that anything I write can be used against me in the trial, but everything I write is true and I don’t slander my soon to be ex because I feel I would be letting my little girls down.  I’m just here as an advocate and to provide a little entertainment because it’s always funny when “professions” whine about being picked on by the unrepresented dad.  I’m going to make a push to add more by this weekend, in the meantime, don’t forget to stop by for more information.  Thanks.




Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hello, my name is Dan, and I’d like to welcome you to my blog.  As I have never done a blog before, this first one is just a little introduction.  I was a fairly ordinary guy two years ago; wife, 2 beautiful daughters, a house, dogs, etc… until I received divorce papers.  There wasn’t any adultery, abuse, or drug or alcohol abuse; she just wanted out.  I don’t want to elaborate on the situation because unfortunately divorce has become a part of everyday life.   I’m here is to tell the shocking stories revolving around a self-represented father who is taking on the Family Court System with a whole new strategy. 

My story begins the same way as many others who are served with divorce papers; feelings of fear, anger, anxiety and all of the other emotions that accompany what is to come.  Nobody ever says “divorce really isn’t that bad.”  The only divorces I had ever heard about had been physically, emotionally, and financially draining.  You hear about bad judges and attorneys.  You worry about getting an attorney.  You worry if the attorney really cares.  You don’t have the ability to determine if your attorney is doing a good job in your court case because you don’t know how the legal system operates.  You hear that the judges don’t like women or they don’t like men.  You pick an attorney based on the gender of your kids, your own gender, the gender of the judge, or because someone told you that it was good to have a Male/Female representing you.  As a male, I hear “they will never give you custody over the mom.”  My attorneys kept telling me that we had to be careful in dealing with Judge Carl Taul because you never know what kind of mood he’s going to be in.  MOOD HE’S IN?  Excuse me; I’m the one facing losing the right to see my children.  Didn’t we elect this guy?  Doesn’t he make a decent living at what he does?  Why did he run for re-election if he didn’t like to be a judge?  I don’t have those attorneys anymore.  I fired my first lawyer, Amy Streator of Kellerman Law Offices, for not turning in the required documentation to the Court and my second lawyer, Thomas Blondell who is now with Zerbe, Garner, Miller, and Blondell LLP, fired me after I picketed my first attorney’s office. 

I’m sorry… did I wonder off?  It’s easy to do.  That’s why I’m here.  The system makes things this complicated.  The gender thing shouldn’t be an issue.  If a judge is having a bad day he or she should suck it up and be professional.  If an attorney doesn’t like the hassle of divorce cases, then the attorney needs to find a line of work that doesn’t have such a monumental impact on families and children.  This isn’t a corporate merger; it’s a divorce and there are real people at stake.  And this story wouldn’t be complete without Dr. Edward J. Connor Psy. D., of Connor and Associates, PLLC, and his ongoing efforts to obstruct my access to the case file from the bad custody evaluation. 

Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or even criticism.  I’m just trying to help bring an awareness to the problems that exist and to help take some of the fear out of the process.  Check my website for more information.  I can’t give any legal advice as I am not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.  Please check back.