Saturday, May 20, 2017

Not Just Me

As I have stated before, people have a hard time believing the situation I am in. Many are surprised that lifetime alimony or even any alimony still exists. When I tell them that I am required to pay Spring alimony until the day I die despite the fact that the custody evaluator ruled she was not the primary parent, a vocational evaluation that determined she could earn just as much money as me, the fact that she left me, good evidence of crime on her part and absolute evidence of crime by her lawyer not to mention all the assets and money she took as part of the divorce as well as the fact that she has never provided a dime for the kids and, despite joint custody, that they spend most most of their time with me, the response I get is typically, "how is that possible?"

The next false assumption is that my case is somehow unique. It isn't. Unfortunately, no one really knows how many people are in similar situations because there simply are no good statistics.

The Minnesota Alimony Reform site has a nightmare stories section where people can post their experiences. A recent posting by a woman demonstrates pretty clearly that I am not alone.
My husband had a stroke in November 2015 and was paying $13,000 a month to his ex-wife from his divorce in 2002. A year before his stroke (2014) the judge clearly saw the injustice from the divorce and reduced his ex-wife’s alimony to $5800 a month. She quit her $100,000+/year job a few months before the divorce so she could get a substantial amount of alimony for life. Finally, after paying well over $1,000,000 to her since 2002, the reduction to $5800 a month was a great relief, but after years of working many more hours than he would have, had he not needed to pay $13,000 a month in alimony, he suffered a stroke in November of 2015. Believe it or not, his ex-wife has now appealed the reduction in support, even after he suffered a stroke less than a year after the reduction in spousal maintenance. Now we have to not only go back and fight the appeal, but we have to go through the legal process of an additional reduction based on his inability to work any longer. He is 65 years old and unable to work, but she still wants $13,000 a month, which was never intended to be a lifetime amount. She has hardly worked a day since the divorce and basically became entitled and chose to remain unemployed even after the children graduated from high school in 2008. It is as though she still expects the alimony to be paid to her forever and has chosen to live as though it is welfare. My husband did not miss a payment in over 15 years of alimony and now, after having a stroke, we have to fight this for our own survival. It is truly unbelievable.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Resilience

Like most parents I often repeat my words of wisdom to my kids. One of my favorite lines is, "I can only do three things for you - give you opportunity, give you advice, and be an example on how to act. The rest is up to you."  (I do like that line!)

I ran across an article on resilience that is kind of like that. Even though I have heard it before, it is good to hear it again as repetition reinforces.

Tips for Resilience:
Tip #1: Give yourself permission to feel lousy.
Tip #2: Trust that you control your fate, not the other way around.
Tip #3: If you don’t know what to do, look to your values
Tip #4: Recharge with some exercise.
Tip #5: Set realistic goals.
Tip #6: Tell your friends how you’re feeling.
I will admit I can often feel lousy (Tip #1) and depressed. Even hopeless. It just seems so unbelievable what has happened to me. How can a modern society treat people so unfairly?  To have to work the rest of your life to pay someone who so clearly acted unethically and criminally is just wrong. To have a government that not only permits but encourages and rewards criminals is disheartening to say the least. I want to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity but my dealings with the justice system make that very difficult.

The reason I write this blog and advocate for judicial and alimony reform is because it gives me some amount of control. (Tip #2) I have to do something that will, if not benefit me directly, help others and just maybe make the world a better place. I fear I would spiral down otherwise. And who knows, it could be that a post on this site or one of numerous letters I have written may have already prevented an injustice. I like to think that.

My values (Tip #3) are really what keep me going. I can hold my head high. I am better than those who have acted unethically and criminally to obtain power and money. If anything, I am even more cognizant of how my actions reflect my values than I was before. What those without a moral compass fail to understand is that there is great comfort in being true to your values.

Although I am not as active as I once was (at my peak I was running marathons and doing triathlons) I am far more active than most. (Tip #4)  I still run, although no longer as far nor as fast, and do ten pull-up every day I am home and 30 push-ups when traveling. People often overlook the value of physical exercise. Nor do I forget that the mind is part of the body and needs to to exercised as well. I read National Geographic, Scientific American and Discover cover to cover each month. I am also an avid book and web reader with wide ranging interests.

I am a goal orientated person by nature (Tip #5) but it is not easy when it comes to my struggles with the legal system. There are days I would rather do anything than think about what has happened and continues to happen to me and my children. My goals tend to be short term now such as sending letters to all the directors of the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility, or keeping this site updated.

Although I do not talk about the injustices I have received from the legal system much with my friends, I do occasionally, and am grateful for their support. (Tip #6) I am especially blessed that the the girl I have been with for over five years now has been there for me. I am not sure where I would be now without her but I am sure it would be a much worse place.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Moral Imagination

A new study from Harvard University finds that immoral actions are often viewed as impossible.

Rather than delving into the moral arguments on why you shouldn't steel the candy bar sitting on a coworkers desk, it is mentally more efficient to just view doing so as impossible.
“When people do something immoral, people tend to say things like, ‘No, that can’t be right,’ or ‘I can’t believe it,’” Phillips said. “There’s a sense that the brain treats these kind of things similarly to how it would react if someone told you it is possible to turn your hat into a candy bar, or something equally impossible.”
The authors conclude this is a good thing:
 “We think this might actually help people act morally in the real world,” he said. “Maybe it’s easier to do the right thing if your brain is designed to treat the wrong thing … as if it were impossible. Because if you admitted something was possible, it might start to feel pretty tempting.”
But I do wonder if this same mental construct also makes it more difficult to believe that people who actually have committed immoral acts really did so.  

In may case, do the immoral and/or criminal acts committed by Spring, Nelly Wince, Judge Meealy, The Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Bernie Sonsang and others simply seem impossible because they are so bad? Does this perception blind people to the truth despite the evidence? Is this the reason my search for justice has, so far, been fruitless? It is an interesting, albeit disheartening, idea.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Madness!... Madness!

At the end of the the famous David Lean movie, The Bridge on the the River Kwai, British Major Clipton witnessing the struggle between British officers to blow up the bridge they had forcibly built for the Japanese in Burma during WWII, mutters, "Madness!... Madness!"

I think of that line often. Never more so than in relation to alimony reform and family court corruption.

In the movie, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson drives his men to design and build a quality bridge to show the superiority of the British. This despite the obvious military value of such a bridge to the enemy. When Nicholson discovers that commandos have planted explosives to destroy the bridge he alerts the Japanese. However, in the end the wounded Nicholson realizes his error and falls on the plunger setting off the destruction of the bridge.

I imagine many of the lawyers, judges and others who so willfully commit unethical and criminal acts are a bit like Nicholson. They don't realize they are betraying their country, their profession and indeed humanity itself. I like to imagine that some at least, like Nicholson, will recognize their error in the end.  However, I will admit that is a hope which seems to grow ever fainter.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Osage Murders

The Native American Osage nation once held much of American Midwest but were gradually pushed off their land in the 1800s first to Kansas and later to what was considered wasteland in Oklahoma. Unlike most tribes they purchased their reservation in Oklahoma. Then in the late 1800s oil was discovered on their land. Almost overnight the Osage became immensely wealthy. Sadly the old adage of money being the root of all evil reared its ugly head and many were murdered for the wealth.

A new book by David Grann, "Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI" tells the story of what happened.  Wikipedia article here.

In a nutshell, what happened is that whites started marrying the Osage and then killing them off to inherit the money.  Virtually all local law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecutors, coroners and politicians at best turned a blind eye if not actively participated in the murders.  Sound familiar?

However there was one local law officer who had a conscious. His name was James Monroe Pyle. He understood what was happening and worked to do something about it. He gathered evidence and presented it to the federal Bureau of Investigation, which soon was to become the FBI.

When I tell the story of my divorce, people are often skeptical that the children and I could have been treated so unjustly. Oh it is easy of most to accept that my ex-wife Spring committed perjury as it is common knowledge that people lie in divorce court in order to get more money. But they assume that our institutions would prevent any large injustice from occurring. Until they look at the evidence which clearly shows that Spring's lawyer Nelly Wince lied in court and committed fraud, that Judge Mearly acted unethically, that the Country Prosecutor's office lied to me, and the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility conspired to cover up Nelly Wince's unethical and criminal actions.

A fantasy of mine is that someday my story or a similar one will garner public outrage through he efforts of a modern James Monroe Pyle law enforcement official or maybe a journalist and the cesspool of crime that exists within the divorce system will finally come to an end. I just hope I live long enough to see it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ethics

Tomorrow is Easter which a good reason to talk about ethics. I host Easter as I usually do most the major holidays. I rather enjoy it. It is nice to have the boys home from college and good to get together with the family. As I write this I have all my cooking, at least what I will do today, done. I just need to put out a few more decorations and do a final cleanup. We will also put a couple baskets together for the young kids who live next door.

No one is perfect, I am certainly not, but I find it incredibly disheartening when people act persistently and overtly in an unethical manner. I can easily forgive an action done in the heat of passion but I struggle with people who seem not to ever care about anyone but themselves.

Spring committed perjury not once but on many occasions. She has never used a dime of her income for the children or myself. Nelly Wince clearly broke her ethical oath and committed fraud. The evidence against her is of the highest possible standard. Judge Mearly ruled, apparently, based on his relationship with Nelly Wince. The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) criminally conspired to shield Ms Wince from the consequences of her actions. The county attorneys office lied to me outright. If you don't believe all this look at the evidence on this site. No one has ever questioned the facts.

In my last post on the OLPR, I pasted in a letter to the director asking that my letter and previous ones be sent to all the directors and assistant directors. As she has not done that, today I mailed a letter to them myself. Below is an example.

I suspect that my pointing out unethical and criminal activity is no more than a minor irritant to those who commit such actions. Like a Klu Klux Klan member involved in a lynching in the 1930s, they are confident that the system will protect them. But they shouldn't be too confident. Possibly they should consider a jump over to the good side lest they risk being permanently listed with the bad.

---------------------------------------------------

Patrick R. Burns 
First Assistant Director – Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
Burns Law Firm PLLC
1624 Harmon Place, Suite 300
Minneapolis MN 55403 

Dear Mr. Burns,

I am writing to make you aware of my experience with the  Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. (OLPR) because I am unconvinced that the OLPR leadership, including the current director Ms. Humiston, has made you aware it despite my repeated requests to do so.  

First some background. After divorcing me six years ago, a divorce I neither expected nor wanted, my ex-wife ended up with most my assets, no financial responsibility for the children whatsoever, and permanent spousal maintenance of over $30,000 per year. This despite the fact that the custody evaluator ruled that parenting had been joint and an employment evaluation found she could make just as much money as me. And I'll note that custody was joint. 

I currently have no possibility of retirement as I am required to pay spousal support until the day I die. Nor can I ever remarry as that would make my new spouse liable for spousal support to my ex-wife. It would also allow my ex-wife to seek and increase in spousal support. 

I have struggled to understand how this could have happened. Part of the reason is that my ex-wife committed perjury but a far more important factor is that her lawyer, , committed fraud.  She knowingly lied in court in complete violation of the lawyers rules of professional conduct and in doing so clearly committed a crime. This is not my opinion, I have absolute evidence of this.  

The evidence was submitted in a complaint to the OLPR; however, the complaint was dismissed without ever addressing the facts. Likewise an appeal was dismissed. 

As the investigator was a divorce mediator, a person whose livelihood directly depends on referrals from divorce lawyers, last year I submitted a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court asking for a change in the lawyers rules of professional conduct to bar the appointment of investigators who receive as a normal course of their business referrals from lawyers in the same practice area as the lawyer being investigated.   The change was opposed by the OLPR and the petition was not accepted 

I have exchanged quite a few letters with Ms. Humiston regarding the matter but she has been unwilling to address any of the issues I have raised.  I have also asked her to pass my letters and concerns on to all the OLPR directors and associate directors and confirm to me that she has done so but she has not complied. I do not know if she is intentionally keeping the information from you or not but I feel it is my responsibility to inform you so I am writing directly to all the OLPR assistant directors.   
Additional detail on my case including the evidence against as well as my concerns and select correspondences with the OLPR  can be found at http:www.dirceinjustice.org/  (search for OLPR)  I have also been in contact with the media as well as the FBI on the matter as I believe the OLPR actions constitute criminal conspiracy. 

Organizational theory studies show that when organizations are accused of misconduct, the tendency of of the members is to circle the wagon and deny the accusation no matter how strong the evidence is. This is exactly what is happening with the OLPR. It takes a strong moral fiber to admit that an organization you are a part of has acted unethically and criminally. 

I encourage to look at the evidence. Look at the facts. If they do not clearly show that (pseudonym of Nelly Wince on www.divorceinjustice.org) clearly and egregiously acted in violation of the lawyers rules of professional conduct and that the OLPR inappropriately took no action against her then I would be happy to sit down with you and go through the evidence.  To date, no one has ever addressed the facts in the case. 

Now you may think this is a divorce case so no one will care and my quest for justice is doomed to fail. Possibly you are correct. Or maybe not. Things can change pretty quickly in our world. All it would take is a reform minded FBI agent or an ambitious investigative journalist and all could be exposed. As directors you have a responsibility and I hope you take that responsibility seriously.  You now have clear knowledge of improper actions by the OLPR. What are you going to do about it? 

Sincerely,

Friday, April 14, 2017

Virginia Alimony Reform

There is a well worded letter to the editor in in the Bristol Herald Courier regarding alimony reform in Virginia.
In 2013, New Jersey Alimony Reform hired Rutgers University to survey public feelings about lifetime alimony and 75% said it’s wrong to award alimony based on length of marriage or to award amounts more than enough to meet basic needs.
More information on reform efforts in the state can be found on the Virginia Alimony Reform site.