And in case you're wondering: No, it isn't Wendy G. (see my previous posts if you aren't familiar with the Wendy G. case). But there are striking similarities between the case I'm writing about today and Wendi's, including the crucial decision by the judge to refuse to hear evidence.
The mother is Ann M. She has six children, but four of them are adults and thus are no longer subject to court orders. But the two who are still minors, ages 15 and 17, refuse to go on visits with their father. I had the opportunity to speak with Ann at length today and hear her account of what has taken place (which this post will barely scratch the surface of).
The family reports that the father has a long history of serious assaults against the kids. They say that, for example, he pushed one of his sons down a flight of stairs and on another occasion grabbed his daughter by the throat as if he was going to strangle her. He threatened to shoot himself in front of the kids, and on repeated occasions threatened to kill himself by various means. One of his children was afraid enough of him that he would sleep with a knife under his pillow, and testified to that in court in front of Judge Hulsing at a hearing three weeks ago. None of the four children who are now adults wants to see him.
These reports from the family represent serious violence and the potential for lethality. However, parallel to what he did in Wendi G.'s case, Judge Hulsing simply refused to consider the reports. Then, at the most recent hearing, the minor children (17 year-old boy and 15 year-old girl) appeared at court and were prepared to speak to the judge, but he refused to hear from them, despite their age. And he refused to allow the mother to speak about anything other than whether the visits had taken place.
In the brief time that she was permitted to speak,, Ann told the judge that her children had gone on the previous visit but had been frightened by his driving, so when he came to pick them up the next time, the children refused to drive with him and said they wanted to take a separate car (with the 17-year-old driving) to his house, following him. The father was angry and drove away, and then he failed to show up for the next three scheduled visits. Ann went on to tell Judge Hulsing that the children were present at the court and wanted to tell him in their own words what had happened.
But Judge Hulsing refused to hear from the children, and apparently was not interested in whether the father had actually been the one to choose not to have the visits. He would not allow Ann to say anything more, and he ordered her directly to ten days in jail because her children had not gone on the visits. (And he apparently was unmoved by the fact that he had heard testimony before from one of the older children about how afraid he was of his father.)
Adding to the inappropriate behavior on Judge Hulsing's part is that Ann M. was unrepresented at the hearing, but had a lawyer present who was ready to represent her as soon as he could get prepared on the background of the case. She requested a two-day continuance from the judge so that she could be represented at the hearing, and Judge Hulsing refused, ordering her into jail immediately.
What possible pretext could there be a for a judge to jail an unrepresented mother when she would be able to be represented in a very short time?
Rachel, one of Ann's adult children whom I was able to speak with at length, visited her mother in jail and wrote about her experience on Facebook: "As most of you know, mom is in jail right now for not forcing her teenage kids to their father and get into his car for parenting time... She has been crying all day. She is cold (and needs me to bring her socks when i come visit her tomorrow.) For her ONE visit per week. She said it is a very sad and dark place there, but she had gotten to share Jesus with a lot of women... She is innocent and Judge Hulsing a terrible judge. He would not even listen to ****and ****. Please pray for my mom right now!" [I edited out the children's names.]
I spoke with Rachel yesterday and she told me that when her mother (who is in her mid-fifties) was released from jail two days ago she had lost weight and was badly shaken by the experience. She was kept in terrible conditions in the prison and was freezing cold when attempting to sleep.
In our conversation, Rachel confirmed the long history of violence and terrifying behaviors by her father toward her and her siblings.
There is also important evidence, including written documentation, indicating that Judge Hulsing has engaged in ex parte (private) communications about this case with people who are involved in it. If true, this would indicate another type of misconduct on Judge Hulsing's part, and a severe one. (I will write further about this issue soon.)
It would appear that there is an urgent need to focus on Judge Hulsing's conduct. Given what we know about the Wendy G. case, we now have two recent examples where Hulsing is refusing to follow proper procedure or consider the evidence, and is punishing mothers and children severely for their efforts to protect themselves and each other from what they describe as long and serious histories of abuse. With these examples in hand, we can reasonably worry that Judge Hulsing may have violated the rights of other parties as well; misconduct this extreme is unlikely to be isolated to these two cases.
I am therefore putting out a call for any parents who have received inappropriate treatment, failure to follow procedure, or destructive rulings from Judge Hulsing to please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to collect as many of these stories as we can track down, to help us establish whether there is a pattern of unjust behavior on Judge Hulsing's part.