I support a call for the investigation of family courts by the DOJ. The problem is currently overwhelming and perhaps part of the problem is that each case differs from every other one. The only time we seem to acknowledge the problem as a society is when murder or sexual abuse has been clearly proven. Terrible damage can be done in ways that are difficult to prove in court, and indeed that will be dismissed as emotional ranting.
In my opinion, the first port of call needs to be a thorough evaluation of the judges in family court. Each one must have a full background check, and full transparency of each decision must be able to show that concern for the entire well-being of the child has been the motivating factor.
I will not detail my own case, but when I read that one of the judges who has ruled in it has been removed from the bench, it both relieved and frustrated me. Her past orders are not being called into question. I wonder if by simply moving her to another branch, the establishment avoids having to reopen cases that have been devastating for many families. Had she been charged with a crime, the process would be long and expensive, and perhaps given families the right to object to her previous orders.
Judge Robin Sheares, who jailed mom for keeping son from visiting rapist dad, transferred
BY WILLIAM SHERMAN (NY Daily News)
The Family Court judge who jailed a Brooklyn mom who defied a court order to send her 9-year-old son to visit his jailed serial rapist father was transferred Wednesday, the Daily News has learned.
Top court administrators transferred Judge Robin Sheares to Brooklyn Civil Court for violations of the state Code of Judicial Conduct – including biased behavior in her tirades and decisions from the bench, sources said.
The highly unusual transfer was the direct result of an investigation by The News into her decision on June 10 to sentence Sukhwant Herb, 29, of East New York, to a minimum of 50 days on Rikers Island.
Herb had ignored Sheares’ demand that she send her son Sean to see his dad, Sean Jonas Sr., in an Arizona prison.
“I don’t want my son in that environment, seeing the prisoners in jumpers, and the slamming of gates, the noise. My son is 9, and it’s horrible, horrific,” she said in a call from jail two weeks ago. Jonas Sr. was convicted in 2003 of raping three women in Phoenix and is serving 27 years.
Sheares released Herb from prison two days after Herb spoke to The News, which revealed that Sheares jailed Herb, who had a clean record, without offering her bail.
In handling the case, Sheares “was inaccurate and remiss on the law, and held ex-parte conversations – speaking to one party in the case – with the father’s family outside the presence of the other party, the mother or her lawyer,” a source said.
That violated “fairness and the code of judicial conduct,” the source said.
David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration said, “It is our policy not to discuss judicial assignments.” Sheares did not respond to a request for comment.
Told of Sheares’ transfer, Herb, who is black, said, “I find it a little disappointing that a black woman who has worked so hard to get to this position has lost it, but everything has consequence. She was harsh and unfair to me and my son.”
Her lawyer, Dale Frederick, praised the move.
“Removing Sheares from Family Court helps bring back confidence in the judicial system,” Frederick said. “I objected to her on the manner in which she handled the case, including no bail, her inability to remain impartial and my client’s unfair incarceration.”