The Custody Evaluation that started it all. As the issue of the custody evaluation deals with an unbelievable amount of information and the history of both my divorce and criminal cases, I will be writing separate blogs about different aspects of the custody evaluation. On August 19, 2009, I received word that I no longer could exercise parenting time with my 3 and 5 year old daughters. Without warning Judge James D. Humphrey terminated my parenting time with my daughters claiming that I was potentially dangerous. Humphrey’s Decree, filed on August 18, 2009, based his findings on selected portions of the child custody evaluation completed by Dr. Edward J. Connor of Connor and Associates on August 29, 2007, but unfortunately Humphrey did not rely on the section where Dr. Connor recommended I could continue to care for my daughters nearly half of the time as I had during the course of my 2.5 year divorce. He relied on Connor’s analysis of my criticisms of Dr. Connor. Humphrey wrote, “The Court is most concerned about Husband's irrational behavior and attacks on Dr. Connor. Frankly it appears that these attacks have been an attempt at revenge for taking a position regarding custody contrary to Husband.” The problem is I never questioned Connor’s decision; I questioned how an unlicensed psychological professional doing custody evaluations for courts could claim he had difficulties understanding a person with ADHD. I questioned how a psychologist could file a report with “numerous errors and oversights” and then charge the parties to correct his errors. Most of all I questioned how a court and psychologist could deny a father the evidence in Dr. Connor’s case file that I would be entitled to if I had a lawyer.
When I appealed Judge Humphrey’s divorce decree to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the Court ruled on my divorce panel per curiam, which means the three judge panel remains anonymous. From everything I have researched and been told, that was one of the first anonymous per curiam decisions from the Court of Appeals since the 1960’s. It was only during my incarceration for the criminal conviction that I learned who actually wrote the decision. My criminal appellate lawyer Michael Sutherlin informed me that Appellate Judge John Baker pulled him aside at some gathering and told him Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote the anonymous decision upholding Judge Humphrey’s ruling. The reason I lost my children and went to prison was I criticized Dr. Connor and the Courts for giving conflicting reasons as to why I was not entitled to the case file from Dr. Connor’s report. Indiana Code (IC) 31-17-2-12(c) states:
The investigator shall make the following available to counsel and to any party not represented by counsel:
(1) The investigator’s file of underlying data and reports.
(2) Complete texts of diagnostic reports made to the investigator under subsection (b).
(3) The names and addresses of all persons whom the investigator has consulted.
Justice Friedlander went on to write:
“We first note that I.C. § 31-17-2-12(c) does not require that Dr. Connor’s entire case file be provided to Daniel. All the items specified by statute were provided. Other than his belief that I.C. § 31-17-2-12(c) was violated, Daniel asserts no other basis on which to find that Dr. Connor’s report and testimony were inadmissible or should have been excluded from evidence.”
Judge Friedlander lied. It was impossible for him to know what Dr. Connor provided me because there was no official record of what I was given. Judge Baker even told my lawyer he should file a complaint against Friedlander for his actions in writing the decision. The proof that I did not receive the information to which I was entitled did not come until after I was arrested when Dearborn County Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard submitted Dr. Connor’s evaluation as evidence against me in my criminal trial. The problem was it was Dr. Connor’s own personal marked up copy documenting the mistakes. The other problem was that everyone claimed I was irrational and dangerous because they claimed I posted sensitive information about custody evaluation report on the internet. It was one of the reasons Humphrey took away my parenting time. After Judge Friedlander wrote I had all the information to which I was entitled, Dr. Connor gives Prosecutor Negangard a piece of evidence I was prohibited from receiving during my divorce proceedings. Connor’s marked up copy demonstrates there were errors in the report, which Connor charged $700 to fix. What is even more remarkable is the fact Connor, the Court, and my ex-wife fought tooth and nail to prevent me from having the information because they said I would put it out in public, yet neither Prosecutor Negangard, Connor, nor my ex took any precautions to protect the confidentiality of the report before it was submitted as exhibit 9 in my public criminal trial.
So take the opportunity to browse Dr. Connor’s copy of the child custody evaluation report in my divorce. Pay attention as there are many concerning aspects to this report. For example: Dr. Connor wrote that my ex’s parents “expressed a concern whereby Mary (3 years old at the time) stated that Audrey (17 months) ate some of Tansy's cat food and Daddy ‘spanked her real hard.’” The question that begs an answer is what is the significance of the statement? Connor never asked me about it. Connor did not report the issue as child abuse. Connor never interviewed Mary about the incident. Connor never explained how it was relevant. If Connor felt I was beating the children for eating cat food, he should have done something about it immediately. The only thing the statement does is confuse the reader which is the exact opposite of what Dr. Connor is paid to do. Just as Connor stated the concerns about my daughters getting hurt if they wandered in to the old barn unattended. Connor claimed he had concerns about me being able to keep the children safe from the barn, which was 45 yards from the house yet he made no mention of any concerns of me being able to keep the girls safe from the road, which was 15 yards from the house. The most important thing to note is Connor’s parenting recommendation:
“We again believe that Melissa should be the primary residential parent and that children should have time with their father during the times that their mother works. If Dan can arrange his schedule accordingly, then we believe this would be a benefit to the children.” “Currently, Dan has the children every Wednesday during the day and overnight and every Friday during the day and overnight and every third Monday during the day and overnight and equal weekend time. Therefore, if our calculations are correct, Melissa generally cares for the children four days a week. We see no reason why this schedule should not remain intact at this time.”
Despite the professional opinion of his own expert stating it was the best interest of my children that I should be able to continue to care for them nearly half of the time, Judge James D. Humphrey arbitrarily decided I was too dangerous for even supervised visitation with my daughters and cut off all parenting time without warning. And Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush said I was dangerous because I obsessed on the internet about Judge Humphrey eliminating a very capable parent from the lives of two little girls.
Read on and be sure to take the information in Dr. Connor’s report with a grain of salt because I do not know how much of the information is accurate, which is why I always claimed they went to such lengths to keep the case file out of my hands. Stay tuned as more information will be posted soon.