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.

1 comment:

  1. it's really hard to be a dad... I'm going through a divorce too and it is nice to hear that there are people out there challanging a bad system...