Few family law cases are as heartbreaking as those involving Parental Alienation, where one parent has turned his or her children against the other parent, destroying the loving bonds the children and the target parent once enjoyed. Many of my readers have experienced it in various forms and to varying degrees.
Feminist groups, including the National Organization for Women, contend that Parental Alienation is a myth and a ruse used by abusive fathers to win control of their children in custody cases. To pick one example of many, Helen Grieco, until recently the Executive Director of California NOW, calls Parental Alienation Syndrome a "scam."
(I have never denied that there are fathers who have alienated their own children through their abuse or personality defects, and who attempt to shift the blame to their children’s mothers by falsely claiming PAS. Yet parental alienation is a common, well-documented phenomenon. For example, a longitudinal study published by the American Bar Association in 2003 followed 700 "high conflict" divorce cases over a 12 year period and found that elements of PAS were present in the vast majority of the cases studied.)
Feminist attorney Barry Goldstein, Esq. of New York has been one of the leading advocates for this position, and was the primary attorney in the highly-publicized Genia Shockome case in New York. Shockome, lost custody of her two children, now ages 13 and 11, to her ex-husband, Tim Shockome after a contentious custody battle in which Genia accused Tim of abuse. The Shockome case was widely reported, including this sympathetic article in Newsweek magazine, and Shockome was a popular feminist cause celebre a few years ago.
Goldstein (pictured in a suit & tie alongside Shockome) has worked with or been a member of many if not most of the organizations seeking to discredit Parental Alienation and the fatherhood movement. He has practiced law in New York for almost three decades, has authored a book on custody cases involving allegations of domestic violence, and is scheduled to speak at the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference next week.
Last week Barry Goldstein, Esq. had his head handed to him.
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department imposed a staggering five-year suspension of Goldstein for his conduct in the Shockome case. The Court called numerous statements Goldstein made concerning the Shockome case "dishonest, false, or misleading." The Court also criticized Goldstein for misuse of funds in another case he handled.
Regarding the Shockome case, the Court criticized what it called the "pervasive nature of [Goldstein's] deceptive conduct"--conduct which it said included "false accusations" about the case and "noncompliance with multiple court orders." The Court wrote:
On behalf of his client [Genia Shockome], he prepared and filed with this Court a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a petition in a proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78. These materials contained sworn statements which were dishonest, false, or misleading.
Goldstein's fall is a tremendous embarrassment to many of our opponents in the battle to achieve shared parenting, reform family law, and protect children's right to a relationship with both parents after divorce. These include: the New York state chapter of the National Organization for Women; Justice for Children; The Battered Mothers Custody Conference; Stop Family Violence; The Leadership Council; and others.
Of far less significance but still worth noting, the Court's ruling further vindicates my position on the Shockome case--a position for which I was publicly crucified by our feminist opponents. This vindication is nice but not necessary--while Genia's publicly-stated version of the case seemed superficially compelling, anybody taking a good look at the court records in the case as I did would come to similar conclusions.
One of Goldstein's statements that the New York Court cited in disciplining him is his public contention that in the Shockome case "Without an evidentiary hearing or any written explanation, Judge Amodeo took the children from the mother who has raised them and sent them to the abuser." This is false--Judge Amodeo actually bent over backwards to be fair to Shockome, who lost her children to her ex-husband only after repeatedly violating court orders. Moreover, there was no evidence that the ex-husband was an "abuser," and the Court specifically repudiated this accusation.
I discussed the details of the Shockome case at length in my co-authored Shockome Syndrome. As I've noted on several occasions, the major feminist cause celebre custody cases of the past few years have been scams--Genia Shockome, Sadia Loeliger, Bridget Marks, and others.
The latest feminist cause celebre is the Holly Collins parental abduction case. The mother's version of events in this case is also problematic but I won't conclude anything about the case without knowing more about it.
My findings on Shockome can be found here.
The New York Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department imposed a five year suspension of an attorney found to have committed a laundry list of ethics violations in two matters. One involved misuse of funds entrusted to the attorney in connection with his representation of a not-for-profit tenants housing resource center; the other involved representations to and about a court in a domestic relations case where custody had been transferred from his client to her ex-husband:
The respondent represented Yevgenia Shockome, the mother in the child custody matter, and in a divorce action in the Supreme Court. The respondent wrote an article entitled, "A Call for Genia's Law by Barry L. Goldstein, Stop Family Violence," which was posted on a web site for the Battered Mothers' Custody Conference as part of a campaign to free the respondent's client, who had been imprisoned after being held in contempt by Judge Amodeo. One or more of the following excerpts from that article were dishonest, false, or misleading:
i. "Without an evidentiary hearing or any written explanation, Judge Amodeo took the children from the mother who has raised them and sent them to the abuser."
ii. "Judge Amodeo got around this in his decision by constructing a bizarre conclusion that he, the Judge, had caused the mother's PTSD."
iii. "At one point it was discovered that the court had erased two of the transcripts[,] further delaying the appeal."
iv. "The decision demanded that the mother stop therapy with her present therapist and instead use someone selected by the court."
v. "I had to make a motion to withdraw from the case in front of Judge Amodeo for medical reasons... The law requires that when a party loses an attorney for medical reasons, that she is entitled to at least a 30-day stay to obtain another attorney. Instead, Amodeo continued to make her come to court unrepresented, to face more abuse. After the 30 days has passed (with no stay) he decided that she had enough time to find an attorney."
vi. "The police were called and they found that the supervisor had attacked the mother and child."
viii. "Judge Amodeo called numerous conferences to attack and berate the mother for interfering with the phone calls and the father's relationship with the children."
The court rejected the following contentions:
In determining the appropriate measure of discipline to impose, the respondent asks the Court to consider, with respect to the escrow violations, that they were "technical errors," that "he was just an honest attorney attempting to help others," and that he has since corrected his ways. The respondent's witnesses testified to his reputation for cooperation, honesty, and sincerity.
While the respondent contends, with regard to the charges relating to the Shockome matter, that these disciplinary proceedings were brought by the Grievance Committee in retaliation and as a penalty for his criticism of Judge Amodeo and the courts, we find no basis for such a contention. To the contrary, we find the respondent's utter failure to appreciate the fact that his conduct exceeded the bounds of propriety as a courtroom advocate, his complete lack of remorse, and the pervasive nature of his deceptive conduct to be aggravating factors. Irrespective of the respondent's sincerity in his beliefs, his overzealous behavior which took the form of disparaging remarks on the court, false accusations about Judge Amodeo disseminated in a public forum as part of a campaign to pressure the court into changing its rulings, and noncompliance with multiple court orders, truly constituted conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
The attorney had no record of prior discipline.(Mike Frisch)