Saturday, June 17, 2017

When Governments Oppress

I have become a fretter. Actually I have been that way for many years now. I quite often wake up at night and fret about my situation for a few hours. Specifically, I fret about the fact I am required to work for the rest of my life to pay people as a reward for criminal actions. In many cases, unquestionably criminal actions.

You might assume that I am most angry with my es-wife Spring but, oddly, that is not the case. In fact, I barely think about her. Sure she committed perjury, fraud and financially abandoned her kids. Worse, actually, she uses them as pawns to get money from me. If she was single she would be in jail for child abandonment. But she is who she is. She has never had much of a moral compass and I obviously failed in all my attempts to steer her onto a better path.

You may also think that what I fret over are the outdated, unfair and, ironically, demeaning to women, alimony laws. I do a bit but not as much as you think. Clearly the laws need to change and I have expended no small amount of effort on trying to get them changed. But in the end, there is a legislative process, albeit a frustratingly slow process, which can get the laws changed.

But what I fret over most is government corruption. Nelly Wince, an officer of the court, was able to unquestionably commit very serious crimes and get away with them. Judge Mearly, The Lawyers Professionally Responsibility Board (LPRB) and the country attorney's office all conspired to protect her. And clearly their actions are not unusual - this is the way the system works. It is blatantly and deeply corrupt.

Such corruption has a wide ranging effect. It isn't like judges, the LPRB and the county attorney limit their corruption to family court. Furthermore, everyone who sees such corruption loses respect for the law.  When the government is corrupt it encourages people to commit crimes. And not just the direct victims of corruption but everyone who sees it. It is truly a threat to our country and society. Just laws and the just enforcement of those laws are the foundation of our society. When that foundation is shaken through government corruption, society suffers.

When governments become the oppressors, it can be opposed via violence or non-violent methods.

Violence can take many forms. The United States was founded by people who took up arms against their government. Others decide to take direct action against the wrongdoers. Other still, commit violence agaisnt themselves.

An example of the latter is the recent suicide of Dr. Jan Nemec, a well know cardiologist and professor who was ordered by a judge from Minnesota to pay nearly half his salary to his ex-wife. In his daughter's words, "he saw an injustice that he could not tolerate".

Then there is the non-violent path. The path I align with.

Non-violent protest can take many forms. Divorce Corp is probably the most well know organization fighting corruption within the divorce system.

Individuals can also contribute to fighting corruption and crime on their own. This is the path I follow. I write this blog, I write the media, I write legislators and government officials. I've written the FBI. Sadly nothing has seemed to work very well. The forces of evil are strong.

But there is another option. One that has been used successfully in situations analogous to mine. A hunger strike. In the early days of the suffragette movement, many women in both the United Kingdom and the Unites States went on huger strikes. Many died. In the Indian independence movement hunger strikes were widely used. Ireland has a long history of using huger strike to protest injustice.

A hunger strike is powerful because it takes away the weapons of the oppressor. After all, what can they do to the victim that could be worse? Oppression always has an element of power. A hunger striker takes that power away. However, it should be noted that anyone going on a hunger strike must be willing to die on it. Idle threats will only backfire.

I'll comment more on hunger strikes in the future.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Modest Progress in Massachusetts

Massachusetts was the leader in alimony reform when it passed comprehensive Alimony Reform Action of 2011 however there has been a series of attempt to misinterpret legislative intent and subvert the law since then.  A new bill is now going through the legislative process to fix the this.

On recent bright spot is a recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that durational limits to certain alimony agreements that predate The Act is not unconstitutional. A sorely needed ray of hope on what is in Minnesota a gloomy day both on the weather front as well as the reform front.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why We Lie

The current issue of national Geographic's cover story is Why We Lie, which given how many people have lied to me during Spring's divorce suit against me is quite interesting.

I suspect that in many, if not most divorces, lying is rampant. Normally the person lying is one of the litigants (petitioner or defendant) and is often done at the encouragement of their lawyer. I am pretty sure Nelly Wince encouraged Spring to commit perjury and certainly Jon Wurst  encouraged me to, although  I declined to do so.

What is a bit usual with my situation is that Nelly Wince unquestionably lied in court. Normally lawyers are a bit more careful than that. Furthermore, the county attorney's office directly lied to me as well, telling me there is no law in the state against lawyers lying in court and stating that the term "Fraud Upon the Court" is not found in Minnesota statues.  Unbelievably sloppy. But probably both Nelly Wince and the county attorney's office knew that in the end it did not really matter as no one was going to take action against them.

Other entities such as Judge Mearly and the Lawyers Office of Professional Responsibility rather than lying just ignored reality and failed to do their job. They were more careful.

The National Geographic article has a nice graphic on why people lie:


Certainly Spring lied for economic advantage and power over me. And probably for malicious reasons as well. Nor would I discount pathological reasons given her history of lying often for no discernible reason.

Nelly Wince lied for economic and personal advantage. She believes that "winning" in court even if through criminal means will be good for her career. Sadly she is probably correct.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Troublemaker

This week I read Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini. This is not a book I would have naturally picked up but it was selected by my book club, albeit without my vote. I had never heard of Leah Remini nor the sitcoms she had been in and although I knew a bit about the cult-religion of Scientology I did not have a huge interest in it. Nor was I impressed with the book once it arrived with its glossy photo of the author on the cover and, in a picture section, a photo or her at the Colosseum in Rome which she describes as "boring".

One of the things I love about my book club is that I read books I would not normally choose to read. Despite my initial impression, Troublemaker turned out to be an incredible compelling work.

Remini was raised in Scientology which is probably the most mis-named religion in the world. "Science" is just a Latin work for "knowledge" yet Scientology eschews education of all types.

Troublemaker is a memoir of Remini's life growing up in the world of Scientology and Hollywood with her ascendance in both. Eventfully, however, she was able to see Scientology for the controlling cult and criminal organization it is and break free. With Troublemaker she became an advocate against Scientology. She currently hosts A&E's Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath which is in its second season.

The book itself is self-deprecating almost to the point of being self-glamorizing. It is funny and often poignant. It is a world completely different from mine. But maybe not so different. Remini was in a controlling cult, I was married to a controlling person. Each time I wondered why Remini put up with Scientology I imaged others wondering why I put up with Spring. Scientology was Remini's religion and it was hard for her to leave. Spring was my wife and I had no interest in leaving her. To her credit, Remini was able to leave. I, of course, was not. Spring left me only because it allowed her to become even more controlling.

Some of the phrases used by Scientology officials were identical to ones that Spring and her lawyer used against me. That was bit unnerving.

Remini had the courage to go public for what she believes in. I have an incredible amount of respect for that. For my part,  I have hedged. I write this blog, I write legislators and the media, I post on the internet and I advocate for alimony reform. But my name is not public. I tell myself it is to protect my children but in truth that is only part of it. I fear that if I go public, I will be punished by a legal system where truth is no protection from people willing to hurt you. I fear I will end up in a worse position. Yet, my thoughts are changing on this. At some point they will no longer be able to hurt me because I will have nothing left they can take away. And even if they find a way to further hurt me, is it right that I allow such injustices to continue? Do I not owe society and my children my best effort in making the world a better place?

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.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Lies People Tell Themselves

I ran across a recent Scientific American article on how people deceive themselves.
We tell ourselves we’re smarter and better looking than our friends, that our political party can do no wrong, that we’re too busy to help a colleague.
The idea has been around for decades going back at least to Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene.

I first heard about this concept in Stephen Pinker's How The Mind Works, which is one of the more memorably books I have read. The concept is that basically there is an evolutionary war that has been going on regarding truth ever since humans became humans. Here is how it works: It can be advantageous for an individual to lie. Which leads to it being advantageous to be able to detect when someone is lying. Which leads to self-deception in order to thwart people from knowing you are lying. After all, the best way to fool someone into believing what you say is to believe it yourself. You, unknowingly, really believe what you say even though it isn't true.

But we are not mindless robots. We can think about our actions abstractly. One of the major differences between moral and immoral people is how introspective they are when it comes to their beliefs and actions. Moral people are always asking themselves if their actions are in alignment with their values. If you teach your kids not to lie but lie to them, you are not acting in alignment with your moral values.

If you are a lawyer who is sworn to act in accordance the lawyers rules of professional responsibility and within the law but do not, you are not acting morally.

If you tasked with ensuring that lawyers act in accordance the lawyers rules of professional responsibility and within the law but do not, you are not acting morally.

Most evil in the world is the result of people not acting in accordance with their professed values.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Not So Fast, Sadly

Last week I wrote about progress in alimony reform in Florida. Twice Governor Rick Scott had vetoed reform legislation but this time the legislature created a bill that met all of Scott's objections. Now, however, it doesn't look like the Governor will even get the chance to sign it as legislative leaders have determined not to bring the bill to committee.

Life can be a bit discouraging. I just returned from an 11 day business trip and I have to be gone 4 days this week. I put in long hours just to try to make enough money to pay alimony to a person who left me, who committed perjury and whose lawyer clearly committed fraud. Furthermore my ex-wife did almost nothing for the children before she left and and even less since.  She is perfectly capable of working, an employment evaluation said she can make just as much money as me, but she doesn't need to because the divorce was the equivalent of winning the lottery for her. And slavery until death for me.

When, oh when, will it end.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Third Time The Charm for Florida?

Florida governor Rick Scott has twice vetoed alimony reform in Florida. But his reasons for doing so have been more related to tacked on child custody provisions rather than alimony reform itself. A new bill, which will hopefully not contain such provisions, is now making its way through the legislature

The text of the bill is almost comedic in in obtuseness. While reading it, I can't help but hear John Cleese from Monty Python's voice in my head.
What we now have with our current law is a litigious model that allows for arbitrary and unbridled discretion by a judge, and condones continued litigation without end. 
With attorney fees ranging from $200 to $400 per hour on average, a typical divorce can cost a minimum of $20,000, with high-income-earner divorces costing in excess of $200,000. But it doesn’t end there. Current law favoring permanent alimony forces divorced people to become bitter enemies until they die.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Marine Scandal Over Compromising Photos

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told senators he intends to solve issues in the Marines that prompted former and current Corps members to share nude photos of female service members online without their permission. He directly addressed female Corps members, and asked them to trust Marine leadership to "take action and correct this problem."

"I ask you to trust me personally as your commandant and when I say I'm outraged that many of you haven't been given the same respect when you earn the title Marine," Neller told them.

Time has his full statement.

Now one would think this scandal is something recently uncovered. But that seems unlikely as there have been reports for years on the matter that were simply ignored by the Marines. What is new is that the issue has made it into the news.

I find it interesting, and maybe even little hopeful, that bad and even criminal actions which may be tolerated for long time can suddenly not be so tolerated.

There is a lot of evidence that institutions will seek to protect themselves even at the cost of committing immoral and criminal actions. The Marines, with their current scandal,  have followed this patterns. The Minnesota OLPR (Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility) is another clear example of this. Although the very reason they exist is to make sure the lawyers code of ethical conduct is followed, they generally operate in a manner precisely opposite from that. They almost never discipline lawyers unless the lawyer has been convicted of a crime. When I submitted unquestionable evidence of unethical and criminal activity by Nelly Wince, they simply ignored it and have been been clearly conspiring to cover up not only Wince's actions but their own criminal behavior ever since. They keep digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole. They are operating in a classically corrupt manner.

Maybe one day, like with the Marine Corps scandal, they will have to come to terms with their actions.  Maybe one day justice will be served.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More on Vermont Alimony Reform

An article in Seven Days on Vermont's alimony reform efforts provides an update on the reform efforts of Vermont Alimony Reform headed by Rick Fleming. It also highlights some of the issues blocking reform.
"You're a man, you're a professional, and you've been married for 15 years. You're gonna get screwed."
People consistently underestimate the injustices in alimony awards believing that there are only a few "outlier" cases which are unjust when that is simply not the reality. Injustice is common where one party is willing to act unethically and unfortunately the lure of power and money is often stronger than people's conscience.   This is, in fact, the very reason we have laws - they are supposed to insure fairness and justice. With alimony, the law unfortunately often has precisely the opposite effect.

One of the main reasons that reform is so hard is because many people believe that any reform will predominantly help men given that men are the alimony payers 97+% of the time, They forget that many of these men have spouses and significant others who are also burdened with paying the alimony to the former spouse. Even if this were not the case, how will we ever have true equality without fair and just alimony awards? Do we want equality or not?
Fleming is also relying on his second wife, Amy, to make payments to his first one. If not for Amy, he said, "I would probably be living in the back of my car."

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why Isn't All Violence Bad?

Our society rightly condemns violence against women.  We even decry attitudes that are the foundation of the violence. But when it comes to violence against men we seem to glorify it. The tough guy is a hero and the man who is a victim of violence is weak. Maybe this is the reason that the vast majority of violence in our society is against men not women.

When it comes to violence agaisnt men by women, we seem to either cheer it or make it a subject for comedy. This Piranha Club  comic appeared in the Sunday paper a couple weeks ago:


Is it sexist? Clearly. You know an action or situation is sexist if by reversing the genders your attitude changes markedly. This comic would have generated an outcry if it was the man committing the violence agaisnt the women. In fact, it would be deemed so offensive I seriously doubt it would have even been published. Yet, because the woman is perpetrator and the man is the victim, it is comedic.

Such sexist attitudes also exist when it comes to alimony. If women had to pay alimony as much as men, it would be outlawed. And just as reducing violence against men and women is good for both men it women, eliminating alimony, or at least making it fair and equitable, would be good for both men and women.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Minnesota Alimony Reform - Good News

Some good news for once. A working task force with Minnesota Alimony Reform, the Minnesota Bar, Family Section of the Minnesota Bar, the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an attorney representing legal aide for lower income individuals,  a Senator to be named and Rep. Peggy Scott has been formed to craft comprehensive reform of Minnesota's spousal maintenance laws.

This is exactly the path Massachusetts followed to achieve reform back in 2009. Many state initiatives has failed because they have tried to push through legislation without the involvement of the bar association and divorce lawyer groups. In my discussions with lawyers and legislators many understand the fundamental injustice of the current system and are supportive of reform. But the political reality is that without widespread support from legal groups there is a reluctance to move on the issue. Political inertia is often underappreciated.

The goal is to introduce comprehensive legislation when the 2018 legislative session begins in January.  Specifically:
1. Eliminate permanent spousal maintenance from the statute.
2. Add durational guidelines - limit alimony based on the length of the marriage.
3.  Retirement shall end the spousal maintenance obligation.
4.  A second spouses income never allowed to be a factor in a modification.
5.  If the legislative intent of our Cohabitation Alimony Reform Law passed last year is not met... fix it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The OLPR Saga Continues

My effort to reform the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) continues. In January I had replied to their recommendation agaisnt my petition to improve the Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct. They have now replied back to me and I again to them. Both correspondences are below.

Some would say my effort is pointless because the OLPR is never going to admit that they operated in way completely antithetical to their purpose as an organization in my case and, as is fairly evident, in many others as well, That would be a de facto admission of criminality. Yet there may be someone within the OLPR organization who due to my letters actually looks at the facts and decides they do not want to be a part of what may someday be known as a criminally corrupt organization.  Not everyone wants to be the bad guy. Look to Elliot Richardson's actions during the Nixon administration for an example.

My response to the OLPR:

February 5, 2017

Susan M. Humiston
Director – Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
500 Landmark Towers
345 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN 55102-1218

Re: Your letter to me dated January 23, 2016 regarding Rule 6, Section A of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

Dear Ms. Humiston,

I view your letter dated January 23, 2016 not only with extreme dissatisfaction but find it profoundly disturbing.

Your organization has never once addressed the evidence in the complaint I filed against . Not in my original complaint against her, nor the appeal, nor in any of the subsequent correspondence I have had with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. If you really believe that Ms.  did not knowingly lie in court and commit fraud, then let’s have a discussion on the facts.  The evidence, I will remind you is based on publically available court documents and a hearing transcript. I would be more than happy to sit down with you and go through the evidence.  

It is because your organization has ignored the evidence against and has done every thing possible to shield her from the consequences of her violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and well as the law, that I believe your organization has acted unethically and criminally. How could I possibly not think this? 

We live in a political climate where telling falsehoods repeatedly and ignoring facts has become in vogue. I guess I am old school idealist because I believe is truth, ethics and justice.

You also seem to believe that getting away with a crime is the same as not having committed it. If in the 1920s an innocent black man was lynched yet no one, despite strong evidence, was even charged with the killing does that mean murder was not committed.? No, it just means the guilty got away with the crime. Just like , with your organization’s help, got away with her crimes. 

You state that your organization routinely disciplines lawyers who have not been convicted of a crime. That is an interesting statement given that your organization has provided me with information to the contrary. Please substantiate your claim. I am especially interested in cases where  lawyers  were disciplined for lying in family court.

There is a surreal Kafkaesque element to all this. The evidence that knowing lied in court and committed fraud is so clear and so solid  it is difficult to even imagine how it could even be stronger. If you have not carefully read the evidence, then I ask you to do so. Then examine your conscious and take action based on what is right. If you do not then for the rest of your life you will have to live with the realization that you stand with the bad people of this world.  

I repeat my request that my letter dated January 7, 2016 as well as this letter be passed on to all Directors and Assistant Directors at the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility and that you confirm that you have does so to me. If you do not then I will simply have to do so myself.

OLPR letter to me:

Sunday, February 5, 2017

South Carolina Reform

Wyman Oxner from SC Alimony Reform wrote a feed back letter on their efforts at alimony reform in the state. Well put I say.

Reform the state’s alimony laws
To the editor:
It is time for the archaic alimony laws in South Carolina to be reformed in order to make the laws fair for both the payer of permanent alimony and the payee.
Our organization, SC Alimony Reform, has been trying to reform the laws for going on seven years, but we have been scuttled by a few members of the legislature each year. I believe we have enough votes in the legislature to reform the laws if our bills are allowed to have an up or down vote. I believe that everyone should have the right to retire without the burden of permanent life time alimony.
Our legislative supporters have re-introduced the following Senate bills that would:
  • Create public policy seeking equity for both parties. No one form of alimony would be preferred over another.
  • Create transitional and fixed-term alimony which would give judges more options.
  • Allow payers to seek a reduction or an end to alimony at retirement.
  • Bar consideration of subsequent spouse’s earnings.
Our House Representative supporters have also re-introduced a comprehensive bill that includes the main points of the Senate bills.
It is time to bring South Carolina into the 21st century and bring our alimony laws up to date. No person should have to pay another person for the rest of their life simply because their marriage failed.
— Wyman Oxner, Orangeburg, S.C.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Types of Alimony in Massachusetts

I ran across a nice article from a law firm in Massachusetts regarding the four types of alimony provided for in the Commonwealth. Remember that Massachusetts passed comprehensive alimony reform back in 2011. Minnesota Alimony Reform is trying to achieve similar reform in Minnesota.

General Alimony, which can go on indefinitely, is defined as:
General term alimony is typically awarded in longer term marriages, but can be awarded regardless of the length of the marriage. Massachusetts’ law provides that alimony should not exceed the recipient spouse’s need or 30% to 35% of the difference in income between the spouses.
The length of time general term alimony is awarded for, depends on the length of the marriage:
  • Marriage of 0 – 5 years: General term alimony awarded for no more than 50% of the number of months of the marriage.
  • Marriage of 5 – 10 years: General term alimony awarded for no more than 60% of the number of months of the marriage.
  • Marriage of 10 – 15 years: General term alimony awarded for no more than 70% of the number of months of the marriage.
  • Marriage of 15 – 20 years General term alimony awarded for no more than 80% of the number of months of the marriage.
  • Marriage of over 20 years: The court may order alimony for an indefinite length of time for marriages for which the length of the marriage was longer than 20 years.
There are provisions for ended general alimony upon the cohabitation of the person receiving the alimony or the retirement of the person paying the alimony upon reaching normal full retirement age.

This is hardly radical reform which may be the reason the legislation passed the Massachusetts legislature unanimously and was widely supported by women's groups and bar associations.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Vermont Alimony Reform Progress

Rick Fleming, president of Vermont Alimony Reform, has a well written letter to the editor in the Chester Telegraph.

A reform bill did pass the Vermont Senate this session but unfortunately will not be voted on in the House due to scheduling constraints given the lateness in the session. Although I am sure this is disappointing to our friends in Vermont, it does bode quite well for the future.
Vermont Alimony Reform's legislative goals are:

  1. Spousal support should be designed to encourage self-sufficiency and independence for the lower earning spouse through the use of training and transitional spousal support with specific guidelines and formulas to give Family Court Judges direction and guidance, resulting in greater consistency, predictability and fairness throughout the state. Spousal support should not be designed for lifetime maintenance of a pre-existing lifestyle while in the marriage. Formulaic factors could include such items as number of years married, career or professional development constraints such as parental/familial obligations, and physical/mental health considerations. Calculations should not include assumptions of future potential earnings of either spouse based on past economic performance.
  2. Spousal support terminates upon the recipient’s remarriage or cohabitation. Spousal support should not include support and maintenance of a former spouse’s new partner, either directly or indirectly.
  3. Current payors with modifiable judgments or agreements should have the right to file for a modification/reconsideration based upon the new guidelines until an established date, with specific written reasoning entered to the Court record by the Judge for denying any such attempts at modification.
  4. A spousal support obligation terminates when the payor reaches the National Full Retirement Age. 
  5. Establishing a predictable end date will allow the payor and payee an opportunity to plan and save for retirement. Everyone deserves to retire!
  6. Specific guidelines for the term and amount of spousal support should be capped and based upon documented and reasonable financial NEED rather than accustomed lifestyle, with a maximum of 30 percent to 35 percent of the difference between the incomes of both parties. The intent is to create parity between the parties until the lower earning spouse becomes self-sufficient, and NOT based on judicial assumptions of future potential earnings of the paying spouse.
  7. The Family Court must honor all legally binding prenuptial agreements, final stipulations and/or contracts between the parties.
  8. A subsequent spouse to the payor’s income should never be considered when a payor remarries, either directly or implied.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Erica Manfred on Lifetime Alimony


Although it is a few years old now (which in the Internet age doesn't mean what it used to) I felt compelled to email Erica Manfred regarding an article she wrote in the Huffington Press, Should He Pay If He Trades in the Old Model After Decades of Marriage?

Here is what I sent her:
Dear Ms, Manfred,
I read your article on the Huffington Post, "Should He Pay If He Trades in the Old Model After Decades of Marriage?" and would like to make a few comments that you will hopefully take into consideration. 
There is a myth that they typical lifetime alimony recipient is, as you describe, a woman over 50 who stayed home and cared for the kids while her husband worked and eventually he left her for a younger women. There is zero evidence for this. In fact most divorces are actually filed by women. 
My own situation is quite the opposite of the one you describe. My wife left me when we were in our late 40s. Despite a custody evaluation that she was not the primary parent,  an employment evaluation that she could make make just a much money as me, my paying well into the six figures for legal expense (including her legal expenses), her taking most the marriage assets, joint custody of the kids (although they spent most their time with me) and my paying all expenses for the children, I have to pay her a massive amount of alimony until the day I die. I can never retire nor can remarry because that would oblige my new wife to pay alimony to my ex-wife should I become disabled. 
I'll emphasize that I did nothing wrong and acted ethically throughout the divorce process. She committed perjury and I have absolute unquestionable proof that her lawyer lied in court and committed fraud. 
Now you probably do not believe me or if you do think that my situation is highly unusual but that is sadly not the case. Minnesota Alimony Reform (http://mnalimonyreform.com/) has many such stories. (I am from Minnesota) 
All assents earned by either party in a marriage are joint and split jointly. I understand rehabilitative alimony where it is necessary - although in most cases it is better to just get a bigger slice of the assets at the time of the divorce and be done with it. But this idea that men need to work till death for a woman who left him can only be justified if you believe women are less capable than men. We can never have gender equality until lifetime alimony is eliminated or at least half the time is paid by the women. Note that currently some 97% of the time the man is the one who pays. 
It is easy to find one off stories of people, men and women, who have suffered injustice in the family law system. Rulings are inconsistent, often arbitrary, and corruption is endemic. Although I am sure you did not intend to, stories that give only one side of the story will not make things better. What we need are clear laws, consistently implemented with safeguards for those who need it. In short we need fairness and justice. 
It would be great if you could write a more balanced article regarding lifetime alimony.  
Thank you for your time.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility

I have mentioned before my petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court to change the lawyers rules of ethical conduct to at least make it a bit more difficult for the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) to shield lawyers from the consequences of breaking their ethical rules. That is what I hoped for anyway. However, the OLPR  recommended agaisnt the change and the petition was denied.

After much thought, as well as a broken printer/scanner that took quite a while to fix, I have to decided to break with my custom and post not only their letter to me recommending agaisnt the petition as well as my response to them but am also listing the OLPR director names. I am doing this because I believe the OLPR has acted in my case as well as numerous others in a clearly criminal manner. I feel I have given them every chance to right past mistakes and act ethically and within the law. However, they have consciously determined to act in a manner totally at odds with with the very purpose for which they exist. The OLPR has, in fact, become a criminal organization. Those of of us who believe in a just society need to recognize this and seek to reform it. By publishing the names of the directors I feel I am simply doing my civic duty.

Without further ado below are the names of the OLPR directors, followed by my letter to them and their letter to me.

OLPR

Director:

  • Susan M Humiston

First Assistant Director:

  • Patrick R Burns

Assistant Directors:

  • Timothy M Burke
  • Craig D. Klausing
  • Cassie Hanson
  • Kevin T. Slator
  • Siama C. Brand
  • Megan Engelhardt
  • Joshua H. Brand
  • Binh T. Tuong
  • Amy M. Mahowald
  • Mary L. Galvin

My letter to the OLAP:
Susan M. Humiston
Director – Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
500 Landmark Towers
345 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN 55102-1218
Re: In Petition to Amend Rule 6, Section A of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility and Letter Regarding the Matter Received by me dated October 12, 2016.
Dear Ms. Humiston,
I am writing to express my extreme dissatisfaction with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility's recommendation against adopting the rule change I petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to make regarding Rule 6, Section A of the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility. The petition was denied by the Supreme Court. 
My petition sought to amend the Rule to include:
The investigator assigned, if a lawyer, shall not be in active practice in the same area of law that the lawyer under investigation practices in. The investigator assigned, if not a lawyer, shall not be a person who works in a profession which commonly receives referrals from lawyers who practice in the same area of law as the lawyer under investigation. 
In your response you state that sufficient safeguards are in place already. This is difficult to understand  given the facts in the complaint I filed against [Nelly Wince] with your office. Indeed the behavior of your office had been blatantly unethical and clearly criminal.
I will remind you that:
  • My complaint against [Nelly Wince] is backed by the strongest, clearest evidence possible. It is difficult to understand how a reasonable person could think otherwise. The evidence, which was sent to you, is also available at:  http://www.divorceinjustice.org/p/evidence.html. It is available to the public at the courthouse as well.
  • The original investigation never addressed the specific complaints. 
  • The appeals process, likewise, did not address the the complaints. 
  • The investigator was a person who makes his living off referrals from divorce attorneys. Your claim that this does not create a conflict of interest is difficult to understand. 
Furthermore, the “appeals process” you mention in your letter is rather opaque and consists of nothing more than a letter addressed to your office.  
It is evident that your office does not work to enforce the Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility but rather works to shield lawyers from complains that they broke the rules. As far as I can gather your office rarely, if ever, takes action against a lawyer unless they have been charged by law enforcement with a crime. I doubt you have ever disbarred or even reprimanded a lawyer for lying in Family Court which is the very reason it is so common.  And if you do not believe that it is common for lawyers to lie in Family Court you are simply out of touch with reality. 
The Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility are like the Iraqi Constitution under Saddam Hussein - a nice document but not followed.      
The devastation caused by the failure to take action of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against lawyers who break the rules is enormous. It harms the innocent, including many children, and drives many victims to self-destructive behavior including, tragically, suicide. It also creates a culture of crime which is the logical outcome when people see that the privileged and powerful are able to operate outside the law. 
I doubt you consider yourself unethical and a criminal. Pretty much no one, no matter how badly they  behave, does. But your actions clearly demonstrate that you are. 
Please ensure that this letter is passed on to all Directors and Assistant Directors at the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility and confirm that you have does so to me.

Sincerely,

.cc Minnesota State Senator <>, <> - Minneapolis StarTribune, Minneapolis FBI 
OLPR letter to recommending against my petition (you may want to download the second image to more easily read it):





Sunday, January 1, 2017

NPO News

The National Parent Organization (NPO), whose main mission is to promote shared parenting, has become bigger thorough the merging in of the mainly Florida focused Family Law Reform which now operates as NPO Florida.

In April of 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed an alimony reform bill because he objected to a provision in the proposed legislation that would have required the court to presume shared parenting was in the best interest of the children.

Although I disagree with Governor Scott on shared parenting, I do believe it is a mistake to combine alimony reform with shared parenting legislation. The reality is that alimony itself is often the reason many couples fight over shared parenting in the first place. It is simply harder to argue you deserve alimony if you don't want primary custody of the children. The result is that children often become tools to maximize income for a parent that really does not want, or should not have, the responsibility. Mixing alimony reform and shared parenting just makes it all the harder to make progress as the Florida situation demonstrates. Take alimony out of the picture and battles over parenting become much less contentious. This clearly benefits children.

Although I ended up with joint custody of the kids, Spring fought it every step of the way. I have no doubt she would have readily agreed to joint custody, or even me having primary custody, if alimony was not in the picture. After all in practice we have both been quite content with me being the primary parent.