Susan Titus Glascoff
Professional of the Year in Advocacy 2007 - Cambridge Who's WhoIndependent Advocate in Key Public Interest Issues
Executive Director, National Advisory Board, National Coalition for Family Justice
“The only thing necessary for evil to flourish
is for good people to do nothing.”
“Children learn what they live”
Type Of Projects: The National Coalition for Family Justice Advisory Board is the 501C4 Lobbying Arm of NCFJ, A 501C3 Non-Profit Organization. Glascoff is also a freelance advocate in many other public interest issues and projects.
Local, state, and national via major media, politicians, and other leaders but most are refusing to properly inform public even if given well- documented data re urgent need for judicial accountability. NYTimes started some (not family court) of dialogue when this hit the web.
• Identifying and raising awareness of the problems families routinely experience in divorce and custody issues through our nation’s Family Court system
• Advocating for systemic changes in our legal system
• Working for legal and judicial reforms (NCFJ conducts meetings and workshops, strives for justice, and obtains referrals for families considering divorce)
• Creating and facilitating various other advocacy projects in the areas of public health and education
• Increasing public awareness of the interrelationships between key societal problems via educating the media and government leaders
• Working to create and enforce accountability standards in Family Courts (and indeed all courts)
• Promoting conflict management programs in K-12 schools to increase children’s receptivity to learning
• Facilitating other programs to assist dysfunctional families and Devise Preventive Measures for Them and Society (Be sure to read #1-10 near end to see mere sample of outrageous cases & grave reasons why reform REQUIRED
• Forty Years of Professional Advocacy Experience
Hobbies/ Sports: Tennis, Biking, Sailing, Reading, Playing Bridge, Gardening, Birding, Walking our family Dog, Spending Time with my Grown Sons, Stepsons, and their Families
• Masters Degree in Health Advocacy, Sarah Lawrence College
• Masters Degree in Mathematics, Manhattanville College
Expanded Profile: (for quick summary please scan bold type plus some italics)
Advocacy and an innate need to stand up for those who have scant voice have been my passions since childhood. Even at the tender age of ten, I (inadvertently) helped to get an incompetent teacher fired. Having spent 23 years as the spouse of a Wall Street attorney, I am all too familiar with the legal shenanigans employed by those in power to use our country’s court system for personal gain. I am also very concerned that good lawyers and judges soon become tainted when confronted with our severely convoluted legal system. My thrust is the U.S. URGENTLY NEEDS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN DEBATE for JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY & LEGAL REFORM.
I have been privileged to receive many letters of commendation and other praise for my advocacy projects in the areas of public health and education. My research papers have been accepted for publication, graduate instruction, and incorporation into a hospital’s training program. Public advocacy on local and national (and some international) levels in consumer product safety, improving public education, teacher compensation, health issues, gender equality, and legal accountability has been my life’s work. I am a former school board member and math teacher and recipient of a Columbia graduate math fellowship. In 1986 the response from the president of the NEA (National Education Association) to my national education project, sent to over three pages of recipients, began- “Oh! If only your enthusiasm and insight could be bottled and shipped everywhere in the United States.” I will again be working on some healthcare issues soon, partly interrelating to legal topic here.
In 2003 I initiated founding the National Advisory Board to the National Coalition For Family Justice(501C3 since 1988) to expand NCFJ’s outreach efforts to educate the media, the public, and government agencies to view the big picture of interrelating dysfunctional issues. For instance, unfair courts impoverish entire families, though mostly mothers and children. Divorce and custody cases are “churned” to create as much conflict (i.e. litigation and legal fees) as possible. Delays, frivolous motions, and innumerable other unethical legal acts abound, all contributing to and compounding the emotional and mental harm done to children. Children learn what they live!
"Leave No Child Behind" can't happen without accountability being required of family courts because children must be receptive to learn. Dysfunctional families increase health costs. Children of divorce have higher school dropout rates, substance abuse, behavior problems, etc. Since judges have the say for all final serious disputes in our society, ALL of them MUST be held to the highest standards. Failure to do that undermines those who pour their hearts and souls into insuring justice. Since the divorce rate is so high, and since kids of divorce have among the highest divorce rates according to US census statistics, all INTERRELATED PROBELMS are increasingly compounding, meaning they WILL SPIRAL OUT OF CONTROL BY DEFINITION OF COMPOUNDING!
If you get a biased or incompetent judge, where do you turn for justice, especially since judges routinely refuse to counter their peers? Appeals often are not the answer. Judicial discretion is wonderful with good judges, disastrous with bad ones. Generally, judges should not have final say on recusing themselves, closing or opening the courtroom, allowing cameras or not because they are humans with self interest. Indeed, anyone who works within the legal system must be required to keep higher standards than are now enforced. STATEWIDE CONTESTS WITH INCENTIVES FOR CONSTRUCTIVE, COMPASSIONATE SOLUTIONS CAN BE A GOOD START. An invitation for lawyers & judges to participate might say- “Do you want to be listed as part of the solution or part of the problem?” Those with credible outstanding complaints against them would have to resolve them first (Ditto those who want more pay as NY is currently requesting & is warranted for quality judges.) Emergency measures are needed for existing unfair court proceedings.
Starting April 2005, I mailed out an almost inch-thick highly-documented report entitled, “Report on Assessing the Big Picture Re Urgent Need for Broad Family Court Reform Nationally.” It has now been sent to about 100 -all major media, 20 senators, Yale Law School (I personally delivered it to an assistant dean at the law school), Dr. Phil (but note #3 below for how misguided I was to send it to him), Eliot Spitzer, the Jimmy Carter Foundation, etc. There is a one page summary, table of contents, and detailed outlines of each of its four sections to facilitate clarity and quick perusal. I called about 40 prominent authors who wrote about various aspects of related issues. I included a one page summary letter from 10 (one from Kent Keith, JD, Ph.D. mentioned below) of them along with their ideas for court reform. I prepared a summary of several of the rest. Seven presentations, one mine, to the NY Matrimonial Commission are included. However, Monica Getz’ (president & founder of the National Coalition for Family Justice) assessment when reviewing their report with Whitney North Seymour, Jr. whose father was one of founders of the ABA (Amer. Bar Assn.) was (I agree)- “They merely rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic,”- ditto most legal reform efforts. How about fact that Monica Getz attended a lecture by major law firm a few years back where one comment from podium was, “Gentlemen, if you want to divorce, see us first so we can show you how to be asset free?” Indeed, books are written on that topic. A post-divorce “look-see” re lifestyle must be established. The IRS has a legitimate interest, too, along with all taxpayers.
My report has 50 miscellaneous articles from widely varying sources where a scan of titles & a few key highlighted sentences help interrelate issues & focus on the BIG PICTURE. Additionally, there are several articles & letters I researched & wrote. There is a review of a 19 author-1996- “Expose- The Failure of Family Courts to Protect Children from Abuse in Custody Disputes,” prepared by lawmakers, lawyers, judges, & mental health professionals. It includes official testimony of one girl who concluded once she was a teenager that she & other family sex victims would actually fare better by telling no one. One author noted “protective parents & supportive professionals suffer for believing law has any relationship to justice.” So I ask, “Is this the United States??”
Responses- although I did hear about some (Denis Kucinich, Walter Cronkite, and a few others) minor attempts at exposing the issues and did receive a few short letters (one from Barack Obama) agreeing the problem needed attention, all readers can easily agree there have been no significant efforts that have broadly tried to inform the public & entertain serious efforts at establishing judicial accountability. I also suspect the report didn’t get past “gatekeepers,” such as Senator Biden’s. Ignoring it would counter he is a charter member of the Founding Fathers, established on Fathers’ Day 2003. The opening states- “We know the realities of violence against women and children- as witnesses and victims, as friends and companions of those who have suffered. That’s why we, men in support of our families, communities and workplaces, have committed to turn our private concern into public action.” A similar organization is Men Stopping Violence which states- “Men’s violence against women, serving to keep a specific group (men) dominant over another (women), is one manifestation of a system of hierarchical oppression that also includes racism, classism, and heterosexism… While tools differ, the purpose – power and control – is the same.” Indeed, many sources have posed that taking away custody from a mother, who had no serious complaints about her mothering prior to divorce, is about power & control, not wanting to pay child support which includes not only paying for food, clothing, etc. but adequate housing for custodial mothers.
Gloria Steinem, at a fundraiser I attended (over 600 there) May 22, 2007 for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Fairfield, CT made several points. She reiterated that DV takes many forms (statistics show <50% is physical) but then emphasized that the primary trait involves DOMINANCE which BECOMES AN ADDICTION. She said new studies have found that trauma in the home is more serious and difficult to correct than that which happens to adults, even those who have been in prison camps. As one might expect, it is because children are still forming their self image. When they experience directly or witness abuse of any sort from those who are supposed to love them, that confuses them. They learn to think they deserve that treatment and it is the way to treat others. Ms. Steinem said, “We must uproot DV in its place of origin.” She noted men are being taught they must model the gentler more humanistic traits of females, but that females must also learn to model healthy assertive aspects of men. Some women are abusing that (I didn’t catch her exact wording). She mentioned that in the animal kingdom many females are fiercer than males, and so the implication is that human females also have the capability to be fierce, sometimes inappropriately. (STG -studies show kids get permanent brain damage from highly dysfunctional homes.)
Meanwhile, the insidious power of compounding interrelated problems is gaining momentum. AREN’T WE SMART ENOUGH TO DEVISE GENUINE COURT ACCOUNTABILITY? DON'T YOU CARE enough about YOUR KIDS to help start the needed dialogue? It doesn’t have to include a “witch hunt,” nor should it. But NYTimes recently reported that 51% of women aren’t married. Many wait to marry till 30s & then later to have kids. Could it be they want to be well established financially first? Could it be desensitizing some? Why are so many female judges showing scant understanding of stay-at-home moms (see some examples in numbered examples below)?
We “merely” need to recognize the self-centered and otherwise fallible tendencies inherent in humanity and create enforceable safeguards to keep them in check, while increasing promotion of our healthier traits.
Courts need lay review. School children and society in general need to learn FAR more about conflict management and the challenges of good partnering and parenting. Many programs already exist, but need expansion, etc!
Examples of court decisions defying reason in my opinion:
1) NYC- Dyandria Murray was sentenced to 3 years in jail by Judge Helen Sturm for contempt when she persisted in accusing detective ex-husband of abusing their daughter (which was confirmed by three doctors). Even so contempt normally maxes at 6 months.
2) Charlotte, NC- Liliane H. Miller, journalist & web designer, became a full-time homemaker & primary caregiver to both of her children since their birth. Six years after her former husband left the family, Judge Jane Harper switched full custody to him despite the fact that she ordered him to attend and complete an 18-week abuser treatment program. Liliane was later sentenced to jail for not paying her wealthy ex-husband child support (She was working parttime but judge said she wasn't trying hard enough to get fulltime employment). She did not regain custody of her younger son, although she did get her oldest son back after police charged his father with assaulting him. She only gets to see her younger son every 2nd weekend. When there are scheduling conflicts, her former husband alludes to bringing up child support issues again. He continues to have a "6-figure job." She was forced from her home by bankruptcy & foreclosure; 2 years later her home remains unsold, partly because she couldn’t afford maintenance, & now preventing her access to assets. She lost her job & was recently officially designated as suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- a common result of many who continue to be harassed by courts or from results of court decisions), enabling funding & other support for paralegal training for her.
Even worse, Four National Battered Mothers’ Custody Conferences (Liliane has been Vice Chairwoman and is member of my advisory board) in Albany, NY, have reported THOUSANDS of cases, the worst being custody awarded TO the parent credibly accused of sexual abuse. But remember- battering does NOT include physical abuse in >50% of cases, but statistics show emotional (often includes financial) abuse can be equally or even more harmful.
Protective parents, usually mothers, are routinely accused of trying to alienate the other parent when they attempt to protect their children. Credible statistics indicate fabrication of abuse is under 5%. Yet our prime concern is neighboring pedophiles, but few stop to consider how they got that way! Ditto lots of dysfunctional behavior. So I repeat - children learn what they live- indeed, isn't that what we usually want & train them to do??
3) Brooklyn, NY- Chana Taub was denied the right to divorce by alleged unanimous jury vote. Presiding Judge Carolyn Demarest, closed the court for jury picking, refused to allow the jury to consider Taub’s husband had filed for divorce, but had withdrawn that motion. Judge Demarest also refused to allow renowned expert domestic violence witness, Dr. Evan Stark, to testify that he concluded from an intensive interview that Chana was a victim of domestic violence, even though NY requires grounds for divorce & Chana was filing on gounds of Cruel & Inhuman Treatment! Four of Taub’s children over the age of 18 gave sworn testimony regarding domestic violence by Mr. Taub. Earlier, Judge Sarah Krauss ordered that a wall be built dividing the Taubs' house, then ruled that Chana needed an order of protection. Isn't that a contradiction?? An appeals court upheld wall the decision. Judges have allowed the wealthy husband to impoverish his wife, starting foreclosure of their home, meanwhile allowing him to collect rent on 2 buildings in her name. Chana has had many orders of protection, usually given after a lengthy runaround process. She was harassed repeatedly when she attended court proceedings until I lodged a formal complaint, which has helped but not totally resolved the situation. Appeals to higher authority re several highly questionable court issues have yielded few results here (or in thousands of cases across the country).
Dr. Phil solicited Chana to appear on his television show. By all appearances, he understood and was very sympathetic to her plight. After flying Chana to film a segment & working with her to determine relevant questions, Dr. Phil spoke briefly to her husband by phone. He then did an about face, not checking documentation, & not asking any prepared questions, implying that Chana was lying when she said the problem is corrupt courts.
On May 14, 2007, Chana Taub filed for divorce under new grounds, this time in NY County. Judge Laura Drager disallowed the filing, saying she would not counter another judge’s decision. She told Taub to appeal again to same judge on certain issues (which were denied before) or to return to the appellate court (that already refused to change the order of Judge Sarah Krauss for “the wall” to be constructed through the center of Taub’s home). When told of the unfairness Taub and her children had experienced, Judge Drager stated that “…[it] could not be her concern.” When told that the financial maintenance Taub had been awarded from her millionaire husband was insufficient to pay even the most basic living expenses for Taub & her children, Judge Drager countered that Taub was “…now allowed to collect rent…”, ignoring the fact that the “rent” for the one building allowed Taub did not even cover its own expenses, as Taub’s husband has shown with supposed low rents. Drager also refused to hear of the numerous orders of protection. She ignored that Taub was filing under new grounds. She interrupted Taub’s attorney when he tried to tell her that Taub’s husband had simply taken custody of her youngest son, 16, almost two years ago, & that son has not visited since. She did not permit time to hear many unfair issues, one being that father had children publicly intimidated while they were testifying in court.
Judge Laura Drager also implied that Taub was “forum shopping”, despite the fact that her lawyer had made a formal request for such venue change long before the jury trial, citing numerous instances of bias by several judges in Brooklyn. (Should claims of bias surprise anyone familiar with Brooklyn courts? Judge Garson was convicted of accepting bribes to unfairly fix custody and finance in divorce. He was sentenced 6/05 to 3-10 years. The case took years to finally reach resolution, following years of many people complaining of his abuse, & most continuing to have to deal with the results). Chana's request for change of venue was denied, though Judge Laura Drager stated that, if Chana ever got all the issues resolved with Judge Demarest, she would be allowed to file for divorce in NY County. The jury verdict was March 27. The judge didn’t dismiss the case until May 1, AND by June 1 hadn’t signed orders re her rulings, such as Chana’s right to collect rent from & manage her own property (needs to be two of her properties in order to cover even modest living expenses) & have husband restrained from harassing her, etc. During the trial the judge accepted the husband’s 2005 tax return, long requested and still obviously false because it cannot have been filed because it is joint & Chana hadn’t signed it (he forged her signature on some prior returns). He bounced the last two maintenance checks (which didn’t even cover mortgage) before end of the trial & has paid nothing since. The Brooklyn & NY courts disregard is amazing! Husband's attorney repeatedly saying no more money was available for support went unremarked by judges. OR they countered that Chana didn't need more because she had gotten some money from family safe & refinancing home, while they ignored sworn affidavits for legal bills far greater. Hmmm... this is of course ALL free, not time consuming, not emotionally harmful to the kids or mother, right?
June3, Heraldo Rivera Show- fairly lengthy scheduled interview of Chana, her lawyer & sister was permitted a mere 2 min.. There was no time to mention case was part of a national problem. Heraldo did at least call decision "outrageous." Show was most interested in the bizarre wall. Also, ISN'T INSPIRING DIALOGUE ABOUT URGENT NEED FOR JUDICAL REFORM MORE IMPORTANT THAN RE-SENSATIONALIZING INTEREST IN PRINCESS DIANA'S DEATH, REVIEWED FAR LONGER FIRST? Media must increase focus on less sensational issues!
OTHER MEDIA have expressed interest & are being contacted. Another legal issue is- one is not supposed to contact media while case is ongoing. But what is one supposed to do when bias, etc. persists? Reversing decisions is harder.
June 11 Partial Update- June 4 Chana Taub's attorney received Order that Judge Demarest said she signed June 1 granting CT right to collect rent from 2 buildings. BUT, May 1 judge had said she could collect May rent, but that now was changed to June, but that,too, had already been collected by husband. Also, mortgage on one had recent bounced checks & other outstanding bills, some quite old, for which wife has just received request for payment. Last non-bounced maintenance check was from February. These are among several issues being ignored by judge.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO FACED WITH AN UNJUST COURT?4) Queens, NY- A man on my advisory board had to pay so much for court-ordered forensics, custody evaluations and general divorce proceedings that his children’s college fund was totally depleted and his livelihood harmed. He was not able to regain custody after one of his children was sent to the hospital with a head wound inflicted by the stepfather.
5) Robin Abraham, Esq., (FL)- in a 17min. hearing, to which she was not invited, lost custody of her 4 year old daughter to her ex husband, a physician. She hasn't seen her since because she was accused of parental alienation. There was hospital evidence of sexual abuse. Robin is on my advisory board.
6)Another member of my advisory board was awarded only $550 per month plus modest social security to support 4 children. Her ex continues to live a much higher lifestyle in his home in the exclusive Long Island Hamptons. The marital home was in another name. There was ample court testimony that he was physically and emotionally abusive. Court records were sealed re the fact that he had alcoholic problems (many such records get sealed). The wife/mother fears to mention that his drinking frightens children when they are visiting him (or to legally review issues from past). She has no proof other than what the children tell her. Courts often don’t believe kids. Like many single mothers in custody disputes, she dares not complain for fear she will lose custody & doesn’t have hard proof re lots of issues. The law often has requirements that make obtaining justice impossible. Frequently, results defy common sense when multiple observers note glaring inequities &/or dangerous situations.
7) Lucy Broome, (MA) is in her sixties and eligible for food stamps even though she was married over 20 years to a pediatrician. She got the house in the divorce, but sold it to pay for her children's schooling. She appealed many times in family court to get some of her ex's pension, but to no avail. A Brandeis University study several years ago found that many divorced women over 63 are part of the poorest segment of our population. Lucy is on my advisory board.
8) I only will mention only a few aspects of my long-past case (I seek nothing in that regard any longer, & have no desire to embarrass my ex, etc.) to help further emphasize why we must have far greater court accountability. Many attorneys refused to take my case for fear of opposing his huge law firm. Years later when I sought legal help, one large firm agreed to help only because “we have never seen this level of manipulation.” (Indeed, I have since noticed that reasonably similar manipulation is quite common.) They helped some but basically backed down. My ex was being sued for fraud and said he couldn’t give much because of that, and if anyone sought more he said he’d simply “put it all offshore.” I felt helpless re visitation issues because legal proof is virtually impossible to obtain, no matter how upset kids get (Physical abuse wasn't part of my case; emotional issues were quite extreme). There have been numerous repercussions, which I won’t detail, but suffice it to say prolonged trauma interferes with kids’ self-esteem, ETC., which on varying levels affects far more than just them.
9) Mothers' Day May 11, 2007: a press release by StopFamilyViolence.org entitled- "Mothers File International Complaint Against THE U.S." recounts-"…ten mothers, one victimized child (now an adult), & leading national & state organizations filed a complaint against the United States with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. The case claims that U.S. courts, by frequently awarding child custody to abusers and child molesters, have failed to protect the life, liberties, security, and other human rights of abused mothers and their children."
10) Legal bills for all of the above are well into the six figures, the Taub case nearing $1 million each (husband initiated many side harassing suits) placing wife way in debt. But whether it is a divorce case or ANY legal case, cases often drag on for years, frivolous motions abound. ACTIONS OF MANY OF US ARE OFTEN STYMIED BY FEAR OF SUIT. Defensive medicine costs tons of money!
So I repeat, PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN DEBATE is urgently needed as catalyst for ideas & to create demand for genuine court accountability before we do too little too late! How can we be respected leaders otherwise? This is NOT a male-female issue, it is a human issue. Our legal system is not often enough resulting in fair solutions. There often are two sides to many issues where a better compromise can be devised. Children learn what they live. Most/all types of abuse are known to cycle. In general suing is too easy re many issues in America. Honest accidents DO happen. The definition of compromise means neither party will get everything they want. Multimillion dollar awards should be extremely rare. Years ago it was reported that we litigated in the U.S. 10X more per person than in England. Individuals pay lawyers, but everyone pays to support our excessive court system!
NY Times front page 5/31/07- 'Wide Disparities Found in Judging of Asylum Cases' by Julius Preston"...."A new study by 3 law professors analyzes 140,000 decisions by immigration judges....finding vast differences in the handling of claims with generally comparable factual circumstances." STG-_doesn't this BEG the question that such behavior can't only be regarding judges handling immigration cases? Also 5/31- re "detente" between sexes- new research we're "becoming more alike in attitudes towards balancing life at home & work." STG- Hopeful, & we must promote that MUCH more in EVERY conceivable way!! 6/03- article re "percent of women having only one child doubled last generation... more working full time, delayed child-bearing & fertility, divorce...." Article did NOT assess WHOM- STG- "Hmm.. more educated/divorce fearing? #s will wreak havoc- power of compounding!" Also 6/03- Editorial noting new book about Supreme Court Judge Thomas says two Washington Post Journailists question, "why the justice who has faced the greatest hardships regularly rules for the powerful over the weak, & has a legal philosphy notable for its indifference to suffering." However, also stated is that "He had an absent father & an often-absent mother. Much of his chiLldhood was spent being angry and hurt." Hmmmm..... says STG!!!!! BUT SHOULDN'T WE STOP SUCH JUDGES FROM JUDGING & ESTABLISH SENSITIVITY CRITERIA TO BE GRANTED &/OR MAINTAIN BEING A JUDGE ANYWHERE IN THE U.S.????
”KIDS KANT WAIT”, SO NEITHER CAN WE!!
Helen Keller- "None are so blind as those who WILL NOT see.”
“The germ of destruction of our nation is in the power of the judiciary."
-Thomas Jefferson, 1821
The lack of checks and balances was Jefferson’s concern. By definition, the power of compounding, in terms of interrelated and expanding issues, is about to skyrocket. Let's find the cure first -now!
Kent Keith, JD, PhD (BA Harvard, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford), wrote, 2001- Anyway, The Paradoxical Commandments- Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World, which incorporated his paradoxical commandments which he first wrote in 1968. They were heralded worldwide and used by Mother Teresa. #2 stated- “If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.”
He summed up the theme of his project by saying- “Nothing is more important than what happens to the children. If there is hope for our children, there is every hope. If there is no hope for our children, there is no hope at all. The future of the world depends on the kinds of people today’s children will turn out to be.”
Those currently needing help with divorce issues can visit the National Coalition for Family Justice at http://www.ncfj.org.