… New Jersey, and facilitated by the so-called family courts in New Jersey and Nebraska. It is a letter written to the family court in New Jersey, with the hope of raising awareness, within the court and within the nation, that the system is broken at best, and at worst it is designed to destroy, and there is at least one man who is not going to tolerate it any more. Is there any integrity, any conscience, within the family court industry? Perhaps when they respond we will know.
3 February 2011
Judge Hany A. Mawla
Superior Court of New Jersey
Hunterdon County Justice Complex
65 Park Avenue
Flemington, NJ 08822
Re: Foster v. Foster – Docket No. FM-10-162-08 -NJ
Dear Judge Mawla:
Please accept this letter as a Demand for Accountability. As you are aware, this case is over 42 months old, and I am herewith demanding multiple explanations and justifications for the actions of the various players. I am well aware that you only recently took this case. I am well aware that some might say this letter is in an unacceptable format and that the court should not consider it. I am also aware that you have the power to impose various sanctions for what I am presenting. But I must answer to Higher Authority, and my conscience will no longer allow me to do anything less.
In the course of public service over the years, I have sworn and subscribed an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution for the United States of America and the constitution for the state wherein I conduct my life. Most recently, I swore to sacrifice my life, if need be, for that defense. To that end, unless or until I am presented with written and signed explanations that support the constitutionality (state and federal) of the actions to which my family has been subjected, I am compelled by conscience to be the arbiter of that constitutionality and to reject any and all actions that might lead me or force me to act contrary to those documents. I consider my commitment to the Constitution to rest on a very firm foundation; perhaps best stated by President Calvin Coolidge when he said, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”
Superior to the constitutional constraints and directives on my conscience are those imposed by my acceptance and faith in my Creator God. Jesus died for me so that I would have life. And He has commanded me to speak truth. To that end, I reiterate what John and Peter said in Acts 4:19,20, after they were ordered by the Sanhedrin to take actions contrary to Jesus’ teaching. They said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
What I have seen and heard and experienced in the last months is nothing less than unconscionable, and the harm done to my children strikes the conscience of everyone who hears about it. As you are well aware, my case is not unique. The family courts (judges, attorneys, custody evaluators, and various other experts and employees) across the nation routinely abuse the litigants and cause great emotional and material harm to their children. I cannot pretend that the present system is acceptable, that it has to be this way, or that, as attorneys like to tell me, “Yeah, we know it’s flawed, but it’s the best we can do.” Nonsense. It is severely broken and must be fixed. To the extent that I can stand up for the necessary change, I will, by resisting unconstitutional and unbiblical orders and by widely publicizing the story, which you have within the files for this case, and which I will attempt to summarize in the following paragraphs.
My wife filed for divorce in August of 2007, just three months after my father passed away. She certified that she had been working against me for about ten years, which necessarily was working against the well-being of our family. At the time of her filing I had recently completed a business plan for an out-of-state project in the hospitality business, I had two partners for the project and, with the reasonable expectation that the project would provide my income for at least the next two years, and for the balance of my working years if I chose, I applied myself to that task. I was to be the project manager and general manager of the LLC that we would create.
The divorce complaint was not complex so I decided to answer it on my own. In the course of the first few months I attempted to speak with my wife in an effort to settle the matter quickly and inexpensively, and as painlessly as possible. However, in November of 2007, my wife’s attorney, Mark Z. Segal of Fox Rothschild, LLP in Princeton, N.J., wrote to me and threatened me with a restraining order if I spoke to my wife. He followed up with a second letter explaining his reasoning that I was “attempting to sabotage the proceedings.”
Indeed, that is exactly what I was trying to do, because I knew how badly divorces could go. So here we are, 42 months later, thanks, in large part, to Mr. Segal and his successor from Fox Rothschild, Jennifer Weisberg Millner, and the case is still on-going.
Early in 2008 I felt I had to hire an attorney because of Mr. Segal’s hardball tactics, so I retained the counsel of David Perry Davis. When I handed Mr. Davis my retainer check, he stated that I would get most of it back, based on the fact that I had already answered the complaint, had attended the first scheduling conference, and his opinion that it was not a complicated case. It is relevant to note here that, from my understanding, Mr. Davis’ typical divorce case is less than $5,000 and Mr. Segal’s is about $100,000. That, in itself, raises serious questions by informed individuals as to the ethics of “family court” lawyers like Mr. Segal. Yet such lawyers abound and are obviously embraced and rewarded by the courts.
Following the prohibition against me “sabotaging the proceedings,” one of Mr. Segal’s and Ms. Millner’s actions included suing my father’s estate (which, in effect, was suing my severely disabled mother) and trying to attach my father’s estate to the divorce complaint, in attempts to get money from the estate. This action was brought despite the reasonable and obvious precedent that parents of divorce litigants have no financial liability to support a plaintiff. Of course they lost the case, but not after considerable legal expenses for my father’s estate.
In the spring of 2009, at great expense to me because I had to pay my lawyer plus I had to travel 1,400 miles to attend, we had our mandatory “early settlement conference.” Ms. Millner attempted to gain some headway with the mediating attorneys by accusing me of domestic violence. I was shocked at the accusation, but I was quickly appeased when I looked at the other attorneys for their responses – they were basically rolling their eyes at the absurdity of the claim. After hearing Ms. Millner for some time during the preceding session just between attorneys, they had Ms. Millner accurately pegged as being nonproductive and antagonistic.
Most recently, as we appeared before you in December of 2010, Ms. Millner informed you with some delight in her voice that I had been “a guest” of the Holt County Sheriff. Apparently she was trying to embarrass me, but indeed, I was his “guest” and with no shame. I had appeared before Nebraska District Court Judge Mark Kozisek, and he apparently thought it better that I be held in jail in order to clear the courtroom rather than have an audience hear what I had to say. As yet no one has told me the lawful foundation for my being jailed. Unfortunately the bailiff, a gentleman whom I pass periodically on the road and wave to and whom I have seen in stores and we exchange greetings, was obviously rattled by the whole experience. I felt compelled to apologize to him as he escorted me upstairs. He knew I had not done anything that warranted jail, and if you talk to the jailer you will find that the whole experience did not rattle me. I know that Jesus predicts such treatment for those who stand up for truth. He said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
With regard to the experience with Judge Kozisek, the story began in the summer of 2010. I went into the office of Thomas P. Herzog, the Holt County Attorney (part-time) for an appointment with his assistant. She had sent me a form relative to pendente lite child support, and I requested that we meet in order for her to answer some questions. I had a list of questions that included inquiries into her office’s participation in the federal reimbursement funding program pursuant to Title 42 USC Section 658a. She did not want to answer them so she called Mr. Herzog to come into the room. He refused to answer the questions, became loud, ordered me to get out of his office, and called the sheriff. When I was out the door and onto the sidewalk I heard him telling the sheriff that there was a guy in the office who was refusing to leave. I considered that fairly bazaar behavior for a public official, when all I was asking for were a few yes or no answers to some questions.
With that background from the meeting in Mr. Herzog’s office, we move ahead to the fall, in front of Judge Kozisek. I was there with regard to a child support execution order being filed in Nebraska, from New Jersey. The letter I received in the mail was not clear to me, I did not understand the ramifications of the proposed order nor did I understand what options I had in court, but I had the opportunity to be heard, so I went to court. Judge Kozisek stated a list of arguments I had available to me, which would have been very helpful to have at the time of the original mailing in order that I could have adequately prepared to state my position, so I basically sat defenseless. Then Mr. Herzog called his assistant to the stand and questioned her with regard to my previous appointment with her.
She stated that I had asked questions that were “inappropriate”. That was an extremely vague statement, subject to broad and potentially damaging interpretation. One could easily interpret such a statement to mean I was making personal advances toward her, or worse. For my defense to the accusation, I had to cross-examine her, and ask about the nature of the “inappropriate” questions. Eventually she agreed that I had asked about the federal program, and then I asked her further questions to which she admitted familiarity with the program. Judge Kozisek soon realized where I was going with the questions and he would not allow me to continue. So I very calmly attempted to quote a supreme court opinion regarding a judge’s attempt to block the truth and he ordered the bailiff to take me away, without explanation as to my crime.
To the informed individual, it is apparent that the federal program presents a significant financial incentive for courts to impose impossible child support and alimony orders, and I can only surmise that Judge Kozisek did not want that revealed in front of a courtroom full of people, especially when some of them were likely there regarding such family court orders.
As a result of the protracted divorce, I kept putting off starting the project that I put together in 2007 because the divorce prevented me from devoting my full attention and energy to it. But with every expectation that we would eventually proceed, I continued to lay the groundwork, I arranged for housing in Nebraska, and eventually moved there with my older daughter. But two years later, at a time we had originally expected to be finishing up the project, the investing partner decided to back out as a result of the crashing economy. So, as a direct result of this deliberately lengthy, complex, and expensive divorce, I lost at least two years worth of a good salary, plus a significant share in the business we were creating. Both partners are willing to testify to these facts.
In the fall of 2008, I began laying the groundwork for a marketing enterprise for an agricultural product under development by a friend in New Jersey. I was well acquainted with the product, I had used it, I had been involved in a small way in some of its application, and I saw a great potential for its use here in Nebraska as well as the strategic advantage of this location, central in the U.S., to aggressively market it. Through the winter of 2009 I worked with one of the future partners to develop a business plan and, in the spring of 2009 an LLC was created. I had brought together the product developer, a friend with an MBA, and a friend who is a lawyer with contract law expertise. After creating the LLC we worked for over a year developing strategies and alliances, making too few sales for any salaries or other individual remuneration, but with the intent to make an aggressive market push in 2011. Throughout the development of the business, there was concern from the members about limiting my involvement until the divorce was over, based on the fear that the Fox Rothschild attorneys would somehow come after the LLC. The fear was reasonable, based on the previous actions attempting to involve my father’s estate. Consequently, in late summer of 2010, after I had located an investor who agreed to buy into the LLC in order to provide a very modest salary plus expenses for me to devote my efforts to full-time marketing, two of the partners’ concerns over the divorce caused them to refuse the proposal, refuse the investor, and I lost another job. This was a direct result of my wife’s attorneys’ actions in the divorce, and the three business partners plus the investor will all testify to that fact.
In November of 2009, my wife moved for pendente lite child support. Our younger daughter, who now lives with my wife, has always been well taken care of with regard to her material needs. Meanwhile, it was my understanding from my lawyer and various other authorities that I would not be responsible for child support as long as our older daughter lived with me and was going to college. The motion was heard in January, and Judge Ann R. Bartlett bluntly stated that the court didn’t care about our older daughter. Further, by her actions, she did not seem to be cognizant of nor care about the fact that the economy had crashed and unemployment was soaring. She said that if I couldn’t find work here I would have to move. That was an exceedingly unreasonable statement, considering I am in the middle of a region with the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and in the area where I used to work, around Princeton, N.J., many of my friends and business associates there have been entirely without work because of the crashed economy. Judge Bartlett went on to order pendente lite child support payments of $1,167 per month, retroactive to November 1st, 2009. That order for child support, for one child, is only a little less than the median income for my home county. Considering all factual circumstances, there is no objective rationale for Judge Bartlett’s order, and thus my concern about a bias on the part of the court, created by the incentive for the state to receive federal funding through the federal reimbursement funding program.
The fact is that Judge Bartlett’s order for pendente lite child support is impossible for me to comply with. Yet, as is extremely common in family court, I have now been criminalized as a direct result of that impossible order.
Just recently, in December of 2010, Ms. Millner moved the court to bar me from presenting any testimony with regard to custody and/or parenting time, purportedly because I had not yet made a final payment to William D. Campagna, Ph.D., our court-appointed custody evaluator. Notwithstanding the fact that I simply do not have the money to pay him, Dr. Campagna’s credibility is severely lacking, in my opinion, based on my conversations with him, his treatment of my children, his treatment of another child whose mother I have spoken with at length, and based on his presumed-to-be-scientific evaluation and reporting practices. Dr. Campagna’s original retainer was $6,000 and his bill quickly rose to $10,000. Our last interviews with him were in the summer of 2008. Many circumstances have changed significantly, not the least of which is that our minor daughter is now two and a half years older and my wife lives in an apartment rather than a house on a farm, which is what our younger daughter had enjoyed up to and including the time of those last interviews. We will certainly have to go for another round of interviews with Dr. Campagna in order for him to prepare a new report that could be considered accurate and constructive. At what cost will those interviews be conducted, and how does the court propose that I pay for them?
During my sessions with Dr. Campagna, he spent a significant amount of time talking about his accountant getting after him to collect unpaid bills and about his opinion of the family court system. He discussed these and a variety of other totally irrelevant matters while the billing meter was running. I had assumed that his $6,000 fee was a set amount for the task at hand, and sat through his chattiness. I would have stopped him, and carried a pocket recorder to all subsequent sessions, had I known his bill was increasing by the minute. Further, he made some statements to me that he contradicted in later communications, leaving me questioning his credibility.
Back to the motion to bar my testimony, I remind the court that Ms. Millner lost the motion. Despite the loss, the court ordered me to pay Ms. Millner’s court costs. As has been consistent throughout this case, all common sense and reason and even human decency eludes me in this action. Ms. Millner attempted, for the second time actually (she brought the same motion a year earlier and lost), to deny me very fundamental parenting rights that she knows, and I twice heard the court state, the court is reluctant to do. Given her professional experience, the fact that her motion was unlikely to stand, and that there was clearly no aspect of the motion that could have benefited the case in general or our minor daughter in particular, the fact that I have been ordered to pay her fee defies rational explanation. With regard to her fee, when I consider the damage that Fox Rothschild has caused my family, and the degree to which they have enriched themselves in this case, my conscience will not allow me to make that payment, even if I had the resources to do so.
During the course of this case, Ms. Millner has accused me of delaying the process and that I am at fault for its longevity. The record belies the accusation, however. It is true that I have required extensions and have been late with some filings, but certainly not to the extent of years. Although, as the record shows, Ms. Millner and Mr. Segal have been overtly antagonistic toward any manner of amicable resolution and have thereby prolonged the case, there is a question of perhaps broader significance that needs to be answered. What role does the court itself have in the length of this case? In particular, but not limited to, the court administrator and/or the N.J. State budget, who or what is accountable for the lack of judges in Hunterdon County and who is accountable for this case apparently slipping through the cracks? The attorneys and courts have justified themselves in attempting to engage me in what amount to nothing more than spitting contests over paying legal fees and punishing me for asking questions, yet the State’s responsibility to keep cases moving has radically failed, and to the detriment of litigants and their children.
We were scheduled for trial in June of 2009. That trial was adjourned indefinitely, apparently for lack of funds to hire sufficient judges. My lawyer told me that at the time. You confirmed it at our last motion hearing. At variance with those two statements, Eugene Farkas, Trial Court Administrator, directed his secretary to tell me on 17 December 2010 that he was unaware of any instances where trials have been delayed. Where lies the truth?
A few facts regarding the scheduling of the trial are clear. One is that nineteen months after the trial adjournment we still have not had a trial. Another is that, at the time that the trial was scheduled in 2009 I had the benefit of an attorney. Because of the circumstances described above, I can no longer afford an attorney. Who is accountable for putting me at such a disadvantage? What about our children, don’t they deserve some closure on the matter so that we can all move ahead without lawyers in our lives? Who is accountable for their loss? I have lost substantial business opportunities as a direct result or the delay. Who is accountable for that financial loss? And how can the court justify actions, punishing me for lack of financial resources, when it is clear that the court system created the problem? These are serious questions, for which I demand answers.
What I have presented thus far is only a portion of what my family, friends, and church consider being atrocities against my children and me. We all hold the reasonable expectation that the family court’s primary concern is for the welfare of the children. But it is impossible to argue that this case has been conducted for the benefit of our children.
This simple case has held our family in limbo for months. For over twenty percent of our younger daughter’s life, the family court has conducted what can only be described as an ongoing assault against us. You cannot vilify and criminalize a father, for doing no more than trying to take care of his family, without also assaulting the entire family. You cannot require, or even allow, through the court’s process, that a father expend all of his financial resources, without also assaulting the entire family. You cannot cause a father to lose substantial work opportunity and income, without also assaulting the entire family.
So I am demanding accountability of all the players in family court. I am demanding, from the conscience of the family court, a written explanation as to how this process has, or potentially will, benefit our children.
I am also demanding from the court a written explanation as to how one attorney can routinely resolve divorces for less than $5,000, while another routinely exceeds $100,000, and how the court allows such a variance. In this case, I am very comfortable stating that there are at least several thousand men and women in jail today who have caused less damage to individuals and society than Mark Z. Segal, Jennifer Weisberg Millner, and Fox Rothschild, LLP have done to my family, including and perhaps especially to their client, my wife. Yet these players freely go about their business and are even glorified by some of their peers for their actions. So I further demand a written explanation as to how and why such actions are allowed and even encouraged by the court.
I have reasonable concerns with regard to the court’s practice of requiring a custody evaluator, and with regard to Dr. Campagna’s suitability in particular. I am demanding from the court a written explanation as to how the court can justify making such financial demands on litigants, especially those of limited means. Further, I am demanding an explanation for the alleged benefit derived from custody evaluators in general. Specifically, I am demanding a written account of Dr. Campagna’s achievements before the court, including challenges to his credibility and expertise, complaints about his services, and the record of his professional and personal background upon which the court depends. If the court can justify ordering litigants to pay for his services, I expect that the court can demonstrate that he is of the highest caliber in his field.
I understand that you are new to the case and that you have inherited what I would describe as an abomination in our judicial system and an insult to our society. I also understand court process, the necessity for appropriate process, and the fact that this letter radically departs from that process. But I lack the resources for the process. I have neither the time to pursue various motions on my own nor the money to hire a lawyer to handle them for me. Overshadowing all of that, the process in this case has proven itself a failure. It is a failure to problem solving and it is a failure to seeking justice. Process only favors more process, which favors lawyers and profits. Honest lawyers admit that the process is broken in general, and perhaps no more severely than in family court where it is probably the most damaging to individuals and society.
Regardless of the adverse consequences that you or others might choose to impose on me for writing this letter, I must stand up and shine a bright light on the wrongs of the day. Considering what I have described above, if I acquiesce to what I know is fundamentally wrong, then I allow the same to be done to my neighbor. I am compelled by Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-39 where He said, “Love the Lord your God with all our heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.” I must stand up in God’s truth, power, and love, and denounce wrongs, with the hope of protecting my neighbor from also becoming a victim. If this letter causes one judge or one attorney to rethink his approach to a case or, better yet, if it causes one couple to reconsider their desire for divorce or at least reject the family court status quo and seek amicable resolution of the controversy on their own, then my purpose will be well served and will glorify my God, and any adverse repercussions to my life will be but a small price to pay.
I am comfortable in the knowledge that I have acted honorably throughout this process. And I am comfortable in the fact that I have at least attempted to bring resolution to the matter. In addition to and as a result of my efforts that were squelched by Mr. Segal right at the beginning, I filed an ethics complaint against him in January of 2009, with the hopes that the bar association would intervene with some reasonableness. Alan G. Frank, of the District VII Ethics Committee in N.J., returned my complaint and said they do not hear complaints while litigation is ongoing. A year later, in January of 2010, I wrote a letter of complaint to the N.J. Supreme Court, at the suggestion of an attorney friend. The Supreme Court never responded. How can I conclude anything but that the totality of the judiciary is unaccountable?
This is a letter to the court, with a demand for reply from the court. It is one more attempt at finding an explanation and justification for the events of the last 42 months. It is not my intent that this letter be in any way construed to be a motion to which my wife’s attorneys must reply. I wish to minimize, to the best of my ability, any further actions requiring her attorneys’ involvement and requiring any further fees from her. I remind you that I attempted to prevent this protracted and expensive litigation over three years ago, but the Fox Rothschild team was intent on pursuing it. At their hand, we have already expended the equivalent of two good college tuitions. If we consider my lost income, we can more than double that loss. It is unconscionable.
Perhaps this entire letter can be summarized by posing one simple question. In light of the facts, can all of you involved in this case stand before my daughters and explain to them that this process has been out of concern for their well-being and for their benefit?
The afore-listed demands are all reasonable. If we exercise our rights to life, liberty and property as given to us by our Creator God, and protected by the organic documents of our nation, then we must necessarily demand accountability of those who seek to enforce any and all actions that might adversely impact any of those rights. That is, quite simply, the intent of this letter, accountability, a question which we will all answer one day, in the presence of God. If the court refuses accountability, and cannot explain where accountability lies for the damages we have incurred, but states that the actions and proceedings are acceptable, then the picture of our nation that has been painted by this case is very sad, indeed. The entirety of this case has been antithetical to the Bible and to the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our nation was founded. But it is no surprise, as we as a nation have become wise only in our own eyes, and we have increasingly ignored President George Washington’s admonition in his farewell address that, “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.”
Very truly yours,
Julius Andrew Foster
48710 875th Road
Emmet, Nebraska 68734
Cc: Jennifer Weisberg Millner
New Jersey Supreme Court
Thomas P. Herzog
National Writers Syndicate
There are at least parts of this story that are familiar to many people. The manipulation and abuse are all too common. The incentives for the judges, through the federal reimbursement incentives program, create an obvious conflict of interest in the minds of reasonably informed people. The incentives for unscrupulous lawyers, like Mark Segal, to prevent negotiations that might sabotage his $485 an hour fee must be stopped. Indeed they must be prosecuted as criminal abuses of families and of the judicial system.
What about the abuse that the system inflicts on women who are dragged to the depths of selfish human behavior by this system that encourages them to use the process to destroy their spouses, the fathers of their children, and promises them great financial awards by the court? Has anyone studied the outcome from that abuse? By acceding to this system, women destroy relationships with friends and extended family that will never be repaired. And what about their consciences when they stop to realize the damage they have caused?
Husbands and fathers might be wrecked financially, but they can recover from that. Children will be wounded, but with faith and love in their lives they can heal. But for the wives and mothers who have destroyed multiple relationships, and who must carry in their consciences the deeds that they have done, how well do they fair after divorce? I contend that in many divorce cases the women are the greatest victims, and all at the hand of their own lawyers. The lawyers tell them, this is the way it has to be done.
We have been brainwashed by the lawyers to believe that divorce is a private matter between a husband and wife and, as friends and family, we should hold our opinions and our counsel to ourselves. That lie only allows the abuse. That lie only allows the lawyers to control the entirety of the process. That lie only allows the perpetuation of the highly profitable family court industry.
These stories need to be told. The abuses and abusers need to be widely publicized.
Drew Foster has experience in both appointed and elected political positions, including mayor of East Amwell Township, New Jersey. From firsthand experience he appreciates the awesome responsibility with which public officials are entrusted. And he believes that it is each individual citizen’s responsibility to aggressively hold public officials accountable. He has also been a guest host of radio talk shows, and knows how powerful a force the media can be in exposing government abuses.
Drew can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
See Also: Child Support Is A For-Profit Government Fraud
by Bruce Eden
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