Sad but true. Angeline Hassel's horrible experience with the courts and incompetent, arbitrary judges is not uncommon. Angeline's case involving domestic violence and child custody with an abusive UNNAMED DAD has played out in Queens, but really could have taken place in Florida, California, or Alaska--or any point in between.
From the vivirlatino blog.
An Open Letter to NYC Mayor Bloomberg on Domestic Violence
1:58 pm By Maegan la Mamita Mala
4 Dec 2009 This summer, I first wrote about Angeline Hassell and her struggle to be reunited with her daughter. Now, with Mayor Bloomberg elected to a controversial third term, a mother struggling within the family court system of NYC asks what he has done not just for her lately, but for the too many women and children caught within a web that promised to help them.
December 3rd, 2009
The Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor, The City of New York
Office of the Mayor
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
I remember reading in a newspaper that you stated, “The reason you ran for Mayor is because there’s no other job where you can have such a direct and meaningful impact on the day to day lives of so many people.”
Back in 2005 I had written to your office regarding my situation which involves domestic violence and immediately you had someone from your Domestic Violence Taskforce Unit call me back. I bring this up to say this – you were the ONLY politician that responded at that time when I reached out regarding my case. To this day I still have the original letter that I sent to your office. You were extremely helpful because you wanted to make sure that my daughter and I were safe. Your administration has consistently been in the forefront to bring awareness to domestic violence and you have implemented many resources such as the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and The Family Justice Center just to name a few.
Now here it is 2009 and it’s very unfortunate that after all of your taskforces efforts to ensure that my daughter and I were safe that those efforts may have been in vain. I say this because we have been thrust right back into the very same situation that made me seek your assistance back in 2005 by the Queens Integrated Domestic Violence Court itself. I know neither you nor Chief Administrative Judge Lippman would ever condone what has happened in this case especially given your continued pledge in the fight against domestic violence and especially with Chief Judge Lippman’s wonderful efforts from January 1996 to May 2007 in how he led the implementation of nationally significant reforms and contributed to the creation of the domestic violence courts which were put in place to solve problems. I am positive that what is going on in my case is not what you or Judge Lippman had in mind. As Mayor of New York City you have always said, “That you will hold everyone accountable for their actions and that you will not uphold them when they are doing wrong.” Which is why I felt compelled to write you this open letter.
As a result of my speaking out against the abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex-partner and voicing my concerns about my daughter’s well being, I took the time out to write a letter to Judge Morgenstern who was the previous Judge on the case at the time. She disliked the tone of my letter that reached her desk and issued a warrant for my arrest and then turned over custody to the respondent father. The supporting facts can be found on the following website: http://documentthesilence.wordpress.com
The mission of the Unified Court System is to promote the rule of law and to serve the public by providing just and timely resolution of ALL matters before the courts. For the past 10 months Judge Fernando Camacho has given one adjourn date after the other. What is even more disturbing is Judge Camacho presided in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court but also issued an Order of Protection against the respondent father. I thought Judges were supposed to review and read their cases? How it is after 10 months (almost a year) I keep hearing, “I’m sure you all are aware of my new appointment and I have been so busy that I have not had time to read the files, which there are a lot of files so when I have time I will get to it?” Is my six year old daughter and doing what’s in the best interest for her not important to the Judge because of his new appointment?
Since March 3rd, 2009 I have only seen my daughter a total of 9 times and for every one hour visit I was ordered by the court to pay $125.00 for each visit and for me just to talk with my daughter I was forced by the court to pay $32.50 for each half hour phone call that happens only once a week. Please keep in mind that if the respondent father fails to bring her for the visit or fails to pick up his phone for the call to take place I still have to pay the fee. Through all of this Judge Camacho never seems to find the respondent father in contempt of court. I have had to pay for court transcripts, expedited fee’s to have the court transcripts by a certain date, carfare, airfare, money for consultations, money for intake fee’s and here it is now December of 2009 and Judge Camacho still has done absolutely nothing in this case. Between my family and me we have paid close to $25,000 for all the fees incurred thus far. My family has had to take out loans and this is exactly why so many women and their families become drained and most times the women will just give in and take whatever the courts dish out to them. Not because the mother does not care about her child or children but because most times they become drained financially and eventually breakdown emotionally. How could Camacho as a Judge continue to let this happen and still not read the case files? All too often women who were abused by their former partner/spouses get taken to court by their abusers for custody of the child (ren) because by doing so it is their last recourse to abuse us all over again and the growing trend seems to be that the courts are aiding and abetting them.
Former Chief Justice Judith Kaye once said, “There is an immediate need for Family Court reform.” Now in the midst of my case I understand why she made that statement. When domestic violence is an integral part of a Family Court case Judge’s are supposed to use the American Bar Association’s Judge’s bench card which gives detailed information on how to proceed where domestic violence is involved. Perhaps someone should give a copy to Judge Camacho. There is much work to be done and way too many times we are seeing Criminal Court Judges overseeing Family Court cases without having any prior experience in family court. There needs to be a more effective means of consistent communication not just between the families and child(ren) involved in the family court cases but the child protection staff and the domestic violence task force unit as well. Our children are our future and we have to better serve them. New York City must address this and intensify its efforts so that the needs of women and children going through the family court process as a result of domestic violence will not be made to suffer long case delays as a result of continuous adjournments by their abuser or lack of knowledge by the Judge presiding over the case.
I am not just sending you this open letter for myself and my daughter but I am speaking for all women and child(ren) who have gone through this, women and children who are currently going through this and who are afraid to speak up. This is for those individuals who may not know how to speak up. Everyone needs to realize that people who abuse are sick and grandiose manipulators, abuse has nothing to do with color, social status, educational status or even religion. Domestic violence is an unacceptable form of behavior that is not an act of love but about power and control. There was a huge outpouring of support when singer Rihanna was assaulted but I must ask if she were not a celebrity would she still have gotten the amount of airtime coverage that she did? I think not. My heart goes out to her but what about women like me? The “ordinary” people who are not celebrities – we only get that kind of superstar attention after we have been murdered and then it’s too late because we can’t speak out against domestic violence from the grave. Stronger laws need to be enforced against this heinous act. This is a growing epidemic happening to women of all races and it must stop.
If this were one of your daughters going through this you would be consistent on seeking help. Which is what I am doing, please do not ignore this situation. Every election term politicians come out and ask us for our support and now I am coming to the “Politicians” asking for support to have the case be heard and all I get is a deaf ear and a blind eye. I wake up every day believing that there are still honest individuals in and out of politics who want to make sure that justice prevails for all and not just a select few. Please make me out to be right.
You have won the re-election for Mayor of NYC and on your site it reads, “Thank you New York, together we can make our city better than ever. Can’t wait for the next four years.” So I say this to you Mayor Bloomberg, “To help one constituent is to help many. I still have faith and the many thousands of women and children suffering as a result of domestic violence are counting on you as well.” Whatever happened to the old family proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child?” My daughter has been snatched from my arms, what about my child, where is the support from my village?