Judge, Why don’t you listen?

Submitted by Linda Carnahan, carnahan@crtelco.com

Your honorable Judge:

I have been appearing in and out of your courtroom now for a total of 9 years. The issue is always the same–the safety of my son.  You see, I never married his father for obvious reasons, drinking and drug abuse, plus the fact that he was unfaithful to me when I carried his son. This may not mean a whole lot to you, but it gave me insight to what our life would be like if I did marry him. The battle began, the fact that I refused to marry hm, gave him fuel to the fire. He decided to hit me where it hurt, my child.

I came into your courtroom, got court orders restricting him from drinking and doing drugs around our son, yet on one occasion I went to his house and found him drunk with my 15 month old son. I called the police and they refused to do anything about it, I was always and still am told that this is a civil matter to take it up with the judge. My son has come home with pinch marks on his leg, his pediatrician told me to tell his dad not to do this anymore, or he would have to call DCFS. He should have done this when my son told him his dad did this to him. He has and continues to call my house drunk to fight with me, to talk to his son, who he knows he cannot be drunk when in contact with him.

He was arrested in 1995 for possesion of drugs and drug paraphenalia, tried and found guilty. There was never anything in the paper about this, can you imagine my surprise when I found this out in July 2000? Yet my attorney tells me that I cannot use this in court because it is over 5 years old, even though he has perjured himself in your courtroom the last 5 years, denying any type of drug or alcohol related charges. Is this a fair justice system?

My son is now 9 years old, the abuse continues and you allow it. I wonder how you would feel if it were your child? He refuses to go with his father, locking himself in the bathroom, hitting himself in the head, yelling and screaming, I hate him, I hate him. You ordered counseling — what about the abuser?   You force my son into counseling, but he is not the one with the problem. This is not something new, it has been going on for 9 years.  Look at the court documents, it is always the same thing, I am fighting for my son’s safety, he is fighting for more visitation, and to lower the child support. This time the case has been going on for over a year now, with no end in sight. You have depleted me financially, I am going to have to file bankruptcy, I cannot afford an attorney anymore.

This last case, he filed to lower child support, more visitation, then 4 days later he pulls up in my driveway driving a brand new 2000 truck bragging about what it cost him. Of course, if you lower his child suppport, which you did, he can pay for this truck. The court ordered counselor has diagnosed my son with severe post traumatic stress disorder resulting from unsupervised visitation with his father. There are 2 documented DCFS indicated reports against his father, a police officer and a counselor testified in my son’s behalf, yet you still allow unsupervisied visitation. Why?

You ordered all 3 of us into counseling, he calls on the phone, my son and I go on a weekly basis, we are not allowed to testify to this in court, heck we only had one hearing with you. The cop and the counselor testified, and yet you still found me in contempt of court, fined me $900.00 to be paid to his attorney, and told me if I did not force the visitation, I would be jailed.  Well, your honor, I have forced the visitation, only so that I may not go to jail, that my son would not have to go live with him for 6 months as you have said, and for what? So my son continues to be abused? Why do you keep continuing this case, and why do you refuse to let it go to another judge as you so stated in July?

The counselor has made a report to you, I have read it, yet you still allow these unsupervised visits.  DCFS, the police, and the counselor cannot understand where you are coming from, neither can I.  Perhaps if you took the time to review the documents, listen to the testimony, you could answer my questions instead of quoting an article you read in Ann Landers.  Do we let Ann Landers rule our decisions? If we do, this is a sad time. The counselor told me that only in LaSalle County does this kind of stuff happen, that the judges are for the father’s no matter what happens to the child, that the best interest in this county is the best interest of the father. As I said, this man has never been a father to his son, he has never taken the time to know him, he sits in your courtroom and tells you he loves his son, how can you love someone, yet continue to hit him in the head, yell and scream at him, lock him in the house, take him nowhere, refuse to let him have anything, tell him if he refuses to go with him, his mother will go to jail?

This is just a little of what goes on, yet you refuse to acknowledge any of this. You refuse to interview my son, you refuse to appoint a gaurdian ad litem. Why? I am just a working mom, trying to raise her child to the best of my ability, yet he is being forced into a situation that makes him unsafe. I do not understand all of this. I cry everynight, reliving this nightmare. The counselor told me that my son will never be close to this man because of all the abuse, yet you say, the father has rights too–what about my son’s right? How old does a child have to be to have the right to be safe?