Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rights are Wrong in Family Court

Is it so hard to believe that a judge would routinely violate the most basic rights of those in her court?

Clearly, it should not be. The Seattle Times published a story about how King County District Court Judge Mary Ann Ottinger effectively sentenced an underage drinker to more than a year in jail. Ottinger apparently did not warn the young lady with the apparent drinking problem that she had a right to an attorney.

The full history of the young drinker was not explored by the article. It may well be that Ottinger saw a serious drinking problem and social menace in the making and felt the need to take about the only action at her disposal – throw this young lady into jail to teach her a lesson about where she seemed to be headed.

Now, in my book, there is never a good reason for a judge entrusted with enforcing and protecting our rights to violate those very same rights. Even when it seems to be for the best.

But, strangely, this happens on a regular basis in family courts every day in the State of Washington. Is there a special commission investigating any of these cases (as with Ottinger)? Has a newspaper or any other media bothered to look into it, as the Seattle Times felt a compelling need to do in the Ottinger case?

No, because the rights of a father simply do not measure up. As a matter of government policy, fathers are considered a menace and extracted from the lives of their children whenever the slightest excuse is presented.

Rights? Those are irrelevant when the arrogance of the state tells a family court judge that she should do what seems right.

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