Hawaii Parents: Get Involved in Reform of Family Court, Child Protective Services, Through Forum

article top

State officials, led by Chairman of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing Michael Kahikina, D-Waianae, and Director of the Department of Human Services Lillian Koller, will host a forum probing problems with families and children.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 13, beginning at 6 p.m. at Maui Community College, Kaaike Building, Room 105, located at 310 Kaahumanu Avenue in Kahului, Maui.


Rep. Kahikina says he knows there are serious problems with the system and wants to find out the reasons before the next Legislative session.

Parents for Justice, a parents’ advocacy group dedicated to ensuring parents, families and children are treated fairly and justly by Family Court and related agencies, encourages parents and others to compose their thoughts, identify their main problems and issues, and tell state officials what should be done to fix Hawaii’s broken family court system.

Those wanting to testify must sign up at the start of the hearing and should limit their oral testimony to about three minutes. For written testimony (in addition to, or instead of oral testimony), submit 10 to 20 copies of the written testimony at the start of the hearing.

”Problems Parents for Justice members see with the system include:”

*”Corrupt, incompetent or biased judges, lawyers, Guardian Ad Litems (“GAL”), custody evaluators, home study workers, Child Protective Services(“CPS”) employees, police officers, probation officers and others.”

*”Officers of the court allowing, promoting or engaging in violations of state law, including perjury, fraud, witness tampering and extortion. People violating such laws in court and judges do nothing to stop it.”

*Ex parte communications with judges and conspiracies created by “attorney only” meetings — which are purposefully kept off the record (so appeals can not reference these talks).”

*”Personnel discipline records are not made public, rather kept for lawyers and other practitioners or state employees — allowing violators to continue harming the unknowing and trusting public.”

*”False restraining order allegations and gender bias, which result in malicious prosecutions, jail time, abuse of process and loss of custody and/or visitation.”

*”Violations of and lack of due process. Pro se parties are prevented from presenting a meaningful case.”

*”Lawyers are too expensive because they have created a monopoly, lack of legal aid to poor families.”

*”Wrongful terminations of parental rights, improper adoptions, and foster care abuses.”

*”Violations of grandparent’s rights, wrongly affecting Kupuna and Ohana.”

*”Inadequate, incompetent or costly service providers for treatment centers, supervised visitation centers, court-ordered classes. Lack of standards, performance evaluations and measures of effectiveness.”

*”Unfair custody, alimony, child support and property division determinations.”

*”Lack of accountability and performance evaluations in Family Court and CPS.

*”Lack of ordinary citizen participation in Family Court and CPS policy-making, accountability, and reform processes. Family Court and CPS ignore complaints and feedback from their customers.”

*”Family Court is controlled by special interest groups like the Hawaii State Bar Association.”

”Some of the solutions include:”

*Establish a Family Court and CPS complaints process to evaluate all complaints, and set up a system to investigate and prosecute all violations of state or federal law.

*Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate all past and current violations of state and federal law.

*Establish a Family Court Bill of Rights which specifies the legal rights of families.

*Establish accountability, training and professional standards for all GALs and CPS employees.

*Make all Family Court or CPS related personnel discipline records public information and protect the public from unethical lawyers, other practitioners or state employees.

*Ensure judges enforce the law in their courtrooms with contempt proceedings for habitual offenders who abuse the legal process. Sanctions lawyers, GALs, custody evaluators and CPS employees who violate law or who act unethically.

*Make sure Family Court has sufficient and properly managed resources so lack of time is not an excuse for violations of due process. Ensure information technology systems track relevant data to fix problems.

*Ask judges to include in writing all their pertinent findings and conclusions for every order, ruling or judgment so the public can make sure their actions are lawful, proper, understood by the parties and subject to scrutiny upon appeal. Hold judges accountable by forcing them to explain their use of “discretion.”

*Ensure judges put all discussions and communications about a case or issue on the record so the resulting record accurately reflects all aspects of a case. Do not allow judges to hold “attorneys only” meetings behind closed doors, or conspire in other ways to keep families ignorant of the truth.

*Work to make sure the same judge presides over all aspects of a particular case, or related cases, so accountability and consistent standards are maintained for all parties. Establish consistent and accountable standards in Family Court and CPS across all circuits and situations.

*Ensure judges neutrally apply the law to the credible facts and circumstances of each specific case, and that judges do not apply bias, generalizations or other irrelevant factors to their rulings and do not take biased actions which favor their personal friends or are gender-based.

*Repeal the unauthorized practice of law statute and allow non-lawyers to help families protect their rights in Family Court in an affordable manner. Protect the families, consumers and citizens — not the lawyers.

*Ensure judges construe pro se complaints per existing federal case law and do not force parties to settle or make agreements by using pressure tactics.

*Ensure judges do not make any orders requiring parties to pay their own attorneys, mediators, experts, GALs or masters from marital or personal monies. Do not allow the Family Court to become a collections agency for lawyers or other practitioners just because judges can make certain orders.

*Fix the restraining order system — form a task force that is not dominated by gender-based special interest extremists. Punish parties for false allegations regarding abuse or domestic violence.

*Establish a means for the public to recall judges who must be removed from the bench before their next retention review. Make judges accountable to the public and ordinary citizens.

*Establish a means for grassroots ordinary citizens to hold Family Court and CPS accountable.

The bottom line is the community and the government need to make families the customers of Family Court, and children the customers of CPS — and treat them like customers, and stop all other special interest groups who abuse Family Court and CPS, and who are just to make money from the system.

”’For more information, contact Mitzi Sevilla of Parents for Justice at:”’ mailto:hawaiidivorce@yahoo.com ”’ or via mail at PO Box 403, Lahaina, Hawaii 96767 or (808) 278-3002 pager, (808) 243-0882 voice mail”’