Maybe the Hon. Robert E. Mullen, Deputy Chief Judge who gave a presentation along with Judge Susan Longley at the recent meeting of the Joint Standing Committee of the Judiciary missed what has been going on this past year. If they are to be believed Guardians ad litem are wonderful and the noise currently being made by concerned citizens is limited to a handful of people. According to them.
A year ago there were only 5 people in the state that voiced concern about Guardians ad litem that we were aware of. A year later we know of almost 400 people who have been touched in a negative way by a Guardian ad litem. These are people from all parts of the state. They are children, parents, grandparents, friends and co-workers who have all experienced the pain that results from a Guardian ad litem that is under managed and with no oversight. One has to ask where Deputy Chief Judge Robert E. Mullen and Judge Susan Longley are getting their information? Are their opinions based in any kind of reality or fact? Or is it based on the bubblegum reality that the divorce industry paints for their constituents – the courts and those representatives that have a vested interest in perpetuating the money machine known as Guardian ad litem?
On January 31, 2013 The Deputy Chief Judge gave a presentation that covered much of what the Judiciary and those in the Divorce industry have told us before in the past. That there is a process for complaints. That there are rules and standards the courts and Guardians ad litem live by. While all of this looks good to those of us looking in from the outside – the reality of those on the inside is not as good or clear. For instance there is no process that explains what a lay person needs to do to file a complaint. The Rules and Standards which are displayed for everyone to see are meaningless words to be used at the courts convenience. There is no informed consent – so that parents know how the information they are about to give to a Guardian ad litem and courts can be used against them. How their Constitutional rights may be violated. These are just a few of the issues that the divorce industry have ignored or are blaming on the parents and families caught up in the process.
“Guardians ad litem are wonderful” according to Deputy Chief Judge Robert E. Mullen but there is mounting evidence to show there are very real problems. The Judiciary has known since 2006 of problems with its rostered GALs and the lack of oversight and management of these court officers. Some of the issues are listed here:
1. 2006 OPEGA report that highlighted 11 areas that need reform or correction
2. 2008 report by Maine’s Judiciary that pointed out areas of concern
3. The National organization First Start which has rated Maine with a ( F ) for three reports
4. The National organization Center for Judicial Excellence which pointed out problems with Maine
5. In less than ( 1 ) year over 400 people have come out to question the actions of Guardians ad litem in a custody dispute.
6. In less than ( 1 ) year over 60 consumer complaints about GALs that are rostered in Maine.
7. Chief Justice Saufley who spoke in March of 2012 and who pointed out some of the horrors that divorcing families have had to experience at the hands of Guardians ad litem – sexual abuse, questionable billing practices, predatory practice, lack of management and lack of oversight to name a few of the items from the list she presented.
8. 2012 May 31 in Portland at the court house there were numerous consumer concerns about the role of Guardian ad litem – with follow up letters to the Judiciary
9. For this legislative session ( 5 ) bills dealing with some aspect of Guardian ad litem reform have been presented.
One has to ask Deputy Chief Judge Robert E. Mullen and Judge Susan Longley if the situation with Guardians ad litem are really “peaches and cream” then where is the proof – that is proof other than the shop worn ‘statistic’ of two Guardians ad litem in five years having been disciplined. Currently divorcing families have a loaded weapon pointed at them if a Guardian ad litem is brought onto the case. With no limitations, controls and immunity Guardians ad litem will leave a path of destruction in their wake. All of this is done with the blessing of the courts and ‘in the best interest of the child’. It is time to bring about reform so that future families are not crippled.