Stephen Doyne and San Diego Family Law Courts Under FireWritten by: Chris Print This Article
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What started with a dispute over allegedly fraudulent credentials and work history of San Diego County, California, family law section 730 child custody / psychological evaluator Stephen Doyne is expanding to encompass the entire family law court system in the county. Flying about are accusations of corruption, irresponsible conduct, law violations, and other problems committed by judges, judicial staff, lawyers, and the large community of “professionals” associated with the San Diego family law courts who make their living off the conflict and misery of divorced families from which they profit and in some cases encourage.
Psychological Evaluator Stephen Doyne, Ph.D. Sued for Fraud
Local TV channel KGTV (channel 10) news aired a story about the problems with psychological evaluations in the county and with Stephen Doyne in particular. Doyne is being sued by father Emad Tadros who is deputy head of psychiatry for Scripps Behavioral Health Services which is a large health care organization in the area.
Tadros is suing Doyne in relation to a psychological evaluation he performed connected with a child custody dispute. Based upon court records, the problem case involves both Tadros and mother Yvonne Leijen. Leijen filed a paternity claim in 2004. In 2009, she filed domestic violence actions against Tadros. Oddly, she filed actions on the same day in two courts — both Central San Diego and North County Vista courts. Such filings are routine tactics in California child custody battles, even when no domestic violence exists.
Doyne is claimed to have misrepresented his credentials and work history. To pump up his reputation, he lists a diploma-mill certificate from an organization that has even issued such a certificate to a pet cat.
“I think it’s a big deal to have misleading credentials, particularly when you are a child custody evaluator that the courts refer people to,” pointed out Angelucci.
While Dr. Doyne is a licensed psychologist, questions remain, for instance, the “Diplomate” title Dr. Doyne uses.
In a letter filed in court documents, Dr. Doyne signs his name and calls himself a “Diplomate of the American College of Forensic Examiners.”
The college, Angelucci says, is a “sham organizations” that “sells fake diplomas.”
“They’ve given credentials to a cat,” he said.
The cat was named Zoe. D. Katze. The American Bar Association Journal reported how the housecat was credentialed.
The I-Team called the American College of Forensic Examiners for a comment. They were told they could not have any information without the signed consent of the member they were calling about.
Doyne claims to have taught at universities including Alliant University, University of San Diego, and University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Yet these organizations have reported to the court that there is no record of his employment with them.
Doyne Failed To Perform Basic Duties
One of the basic duties of a 730 evaluator is to talk with mental health professionals working with the family. Tadros and others claim that in their cases, Doyne never made these basic professional contacts. As Tadros is a psychiatrist, he’s familiar with the standards for mental health care professionals and believes that Doyne is an unethical fraud who doesn’t do the job he was hired to do.
But the mental health professionals are not hired by the court. They’re hired jointly by the parties in the custody proceedings. Tadros was in Doyne’s office to decide whether to hire him to perform a 730 evaluation in his 2005 custody case. “Doyne reassured me,” Tadros continues in his court declaration, “that he was Board Certified in his line of work of forensic psychology and that the evaluation would be confidential. I trusted and relied upon Doyne’s representations about his credentials and about confidentiality, and on that basis I entered into an agreement with Doyne for him to be the custody evaluator.”
Tadros, who is a psychiatrist and the vice chief of Scripps Behavioral Health Services, came to regret the decision to hire Doyne (for $8000) upon observing the latter’s methods. “Being a board certified psychiatrist,” Tadros states in a lawsuit he later filed against Doyne, “I noticed that Doyne’s performance was poor and substandard. I also noticed what appeared to be unethical practices, such as billing for things that never occurred, and incorrect billing records.”
Tadros adds that Doyne “never contacted my therapist even once as the court recommended. In addition, I was never able to confirm the validity or truthfulness of Doyne’s contact with the mother’s therapist.”
Doyne turned in his custody evaluation on September 30, 2005. He signed it as a “Diplomate of American College of Forensic Examiners.” Unhappy with the findings in Doyne’s custody evaluation and deeply suspicious of his professionalism, Tadros began investigating Doyne’s qualifications. He discovered, his court declaration says, that “The ‘American College of Forensic Examiners’ and the ‘American Board of Forensic Examiners’ are sham organizations known as ‘vanity boards’ or ‘certification mills’…run by the same con artist, Robert O’Block, who sells fake mail-order credentials and ‘diplomas.’ Both of these organizations have specifically been exposed as mail-order credentialing shams in various media and professional journal articles, including…a Wall Street Journal article that called the American College of Forensic Examiners a ‘mail-order credentialing organization for which the applicants need only pay $350.00 and pass an ethics exam.’ ”
A 2002 article in the online journal of the American Bar Association chronicles how a psychologist obtained from organizations, one of them affiliated with O’Block, several professional certifications for his cat under the name Zoe D. Katze.
Child Custody Battles Destroy Families Emotionally and Financially
Families who have been harmed by the family courts in San Diego have started to demand accountability. Supervising Judge Lorna A. Alksne is in charge of the corrupt family law courts in San Diego County. She is coming under fire from a variety of parties for her failure to push towards reforms that would fix the tragically slow and expensive custody battles taking place in the county. These can drain both parents of hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to be resolved. Children are often deprived of significant contact with a parent for months or years as psychological evaluations drag on and judges try to hide behind the evaluator, claiming they cannot make a decision without the evaluator’s input. Some cases go back to court year after year in a never-ending cycle of destruction for the family that can only be escaped when all the children are age 18 years or older.
Elkins Task Force: Ineffective Ploy?
Judge Lorna Alksne is a member of the California Elkins Task Force that is supposed to push reforms in family law in the state. But so far, the group has accomplished little of any value other than offer false hopes to the judicially abused children and families of California.
There have been questions whether Alksne is even a suitable representative. Corruption involving the family law courts, DA Bonnie Dumanis, and family law attorneys in the area has been alleged:
This site covers Northern and Southern California. However, when it comes to crimes against children, between the absolute failure of San Diego police, the DA and family court, San Diego as media has profiled, is in a class all by itself.
October, 2009: San Diego attorney Eric Fagan was arrested for murder in child custody case.
One silver lining. Steven Liss was not a member of the Elkins Task Force. When family law attorney Steven Liss was arrested on July 20, 2009, in a murder-for-hire plot targeting his wife, (Liss was charged with four solicitation) it was discovered Liss, although practicing law for decades, had the blessings of the State Court, to return to an active family law practice.
That said, former Los Colinas deputy Lowell Bruce does set a new standard for low, as does DA Bonnie Dumanis for rushing to deliver aid and comfort after he shot his wife in the face, in front of their child. Given Judge Preckel’s ruling in the FARTUNA KHEYRE matter, (D046830) it hardly seems likely he was prejudiced against the murderous deputy.
Unfortunately, as current Grand jury is top heavy with retired law enforcement and police personnel, the selected leader, Victoria Stubblefield – only the third woman selected in San Diego’s history, seems a push at best. Between four retired law enforcement types, (including a police chief), three, former military personnel, and two retired attorneys, the public would be wise not to expect much in the way of San Diego judges who routinely put children at risk, or those who operate outside the law.
San Diego judge, Judge William Howatt in an effort to convince one litigant he studied the case, mentioned that he took the file over the weekend. Howatt claimed to have made copies of eleven year old psych reports, (the new ones didn’t suit his feelings). But, hello:
Removing a file from the court is a felony.
Except in San Diego.
That’s just one demonstration of out-of-touch, San Diego judges. Sadly, when it comes to family court, the really out-of-touch are generally in charge.
False Accusations Often Drive Custody Battles
Like many US family law courts, San Diego courts are quick to yank custody away from parents simply based upon allegations without a shred of evidence. But while some courts quickly dispatch the terror tactic of falsely obtained domestic violence restraining orders used to obtain sole child custody, such actions can drag on for years in San Diego. The accused is treated like a criminal, the accuser treated like a victim, and all this starts before the accused even knows about it let alone has a chance to mount a defense.
As a general rule, in San Diego an accusing parent gets de facto sole custody of children for at least several weeks or months. Delays in fixing unjust deviations from 50/50 custody splits can go on for years. Lawyers and judges claim they must wait for the psychological evaluator to complete the report. They repeatedly reschedule hearings and trials and pull other games to delay decisions, too. Perhaps the judges are hoping that some other judge will get the case after they rotate out of their unpopular family law assignments.
The parent who retains primary custody is frequently the one who makes false accusations against the other parent. This is where psychological evaluations are often ordered by the court. However, the psychological evaluations themselves seldom take any less than half a year to a year and cost upwards of $10,000. Some take over two years and cost upwards of $50,000. The Tadros case and some others result in multiple psychological evaluations taking more than 3 years and/or rack up billable hours for the evaluator(s) in excess of $60,000.
Sometimes the party with the sole custody intentionally drags out the evaluation by refusing to pay for work, claiming it can’t be finished because more evidence is pending, or other excuses. It is to this party’s advantage to drag out an evaluation for an extra year or more because it gains more near 100% custody time with the accusing parent. Then seemingly as a result, the psychological evaluation often concludes it would be in the “children’s best interests” to continue to have little contact with the parent cut out of their lives, not because that parent is severely flawed, but because the children are used to it.
The San Diego courts crawl like slugs for years while children suffer from being deprived of one of their parents. Often that parent’s entire family including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are blocked from contact with the children due to the inhumane collusion of the accusing parent and the courts.
Extortion by San Diego Family Courts
Parents are often forced to pay vast sums of money not only for lawyers to defend themselves against litigious ex-spouse, but also for psychological evaluations in San Diego County and for expensive psychotherapy which might not even be needed were they and their children not being abused by the courts, lawyers, CPS, police, and other parties who involve themselves in family law cases. Often these people take sides without examining evidence. Judges even refuse to read filings, then turn around and illegally admit evidence that was obtained by criminal means and has questionable value.
If parents can’t pay for the psychological evaluation, the evaluator will not provide it to the court. The courts generally won’t order the evaluator to provide the report, even though in theory that should be in the best interests of the children. Instead, the courts collude with the evaluators to ensure that the evaluators will get paid under threat of continued minimal or no contact with one of the parents. To such a parent and many who have seen this happen, it is nothing short of a kidnapping/extortion racket with the courts and evaluators as perpetrators and children and at least one parent as victims.
Wittmack said he had 50-50 custody of his children and that he and his wife typically were cordial to each other until the lawyers and professionals became involved.
He said he agreed to the first custody evaluation, but made it clear that he couldn’t afford the second one.
In a letter, the custody evaluator who worked on his case said Wittmack failed to pay the entire “cost of the assessment” up-front.
The evaluator wrote it “resulted in the court changing custody.”
Wittmack has his pictures of his children all around him, but he only has his children every other weekend.
Supervised Visitation Centers And Monitors
The lack of results from the psychological evaluation is often an excuse to not correct unfair and unjust custody situations for extended periods of time. The judges pretend they can address these problems by ordering “supervised visitation” in which a parent is watched and often videotaped while with their children. They must use supervised visitation centers or monitors approved by the court at rates often well in excess of $50 per hour to see their children. While some of these centers vary rates based upon income of the parent, it is as if the rates are chosen to consume the parent’s entire income. A order for 5 to 10 hours of supervised contact per week is not unusual. The cost per hour typically is anywhere from $30 to $100 (or more) per hour depending upon the supervising party and the parent’s income.
It’s not unusual for supervised visitation for a parent to cost several thousand dollars per month, leaving the parent with having to decide between having money to live, money to fight the court battle, or money to pay for seeing the children. Often there’s simply not enough money to pay for any more than one of these, unless perhaps the parent is blessed with relatives who are willing to help. The San Diego family law system is happy with that option when it occurs. It gives them hundreds of thousands of dollars more to swallow up, feeding a monster that is hurting many people.
Crime Rewarded by Family Law Courts
Litigants in this system often feel that in San Diego family law courts, crime pays. The courts reward the crimes of false accusations against good parents. Government agencies such as the police and CPS frequently involve themselves in these cases, too. When they can’t find any criminal activity, they virtually never go after the falsely accusing party. Instead, they sometimes punish accused parents without a trial or due process by helping to deprive them of custody for months or years and to financially and emotionally destroy them.
In many cases, the government knows they have no way to prove there was ever any child abuse in the first place. But they want their pound of flesh. So the police or CPS put their targets on child abuser watch lists that have been ruled as unconstitutional violations of the law. They and other government agencies then use these lists as excuses to destroy the targets.
For example, the government can go after a target with financial attacks by revoking or refusing to issue professional licenses. One woman falsely accused of child abuse had her years of training to be a nurse deep-sixed by the government as they refuse to issue her nursing license. She’s listed on the CACI child abuse index because the investigation was marked “inconclusive”. She was never charged with a crime, nor did she ever get a trial. But she’s been tried and found guilty by the police and is now stuck in a low-paying waitressing job because California bullies her unjustly.
CPS social workers often advocate against such parents and make custody orders that override court orders. The family law courts refuse to deal with the problems caused by these dishonest and power-hungry social workers despite decades of documented civil rights abuses, due process violations, and perjury by County of San Diego Child Welfare Services (aka CPS) staff.
If a family law judge does dare to tangle with CPS, CPS can request the case be yanked from the family law judge and put into juvenile court where it has even more influence over the judges. A judge who actually cares about the case and family might not want that to happen as he knows the juvenile court is likely to cause even more damage.
Lack of Confidence in Government
If you look at the expanding number of web sites and discussion forums which are describing the horrors of San Diego family law courts and their associated government gangs including CPS, you’ll certainly understand why the public has lost confidence in the courts. But the problems go further. The lack of accountability for government agencies, financial corruption, perjury, cover-ups, and the use of threats and judicial gag orders to hide many of the problems is truly troubling.
When there is wrongdoing by attorneys, judges, and government employees including CPS social workers and police officers, sometimes the family law judges go so far as to order the parties to not discuss the case with others. After being financially devastated by the San Diego family law courts, these parties can seldom afford to mount law suits against others who have harmed them. It appears the judges intend to execute cover-ups to ensure that this sick system continues to harm children and families for the profit of their friends and associates while maintaining their own job security.
The problems which exist in California family court are legendary. Sadly, the same old people are relied upon for solutions. It’s not working.
We have no idea whether Judge George was made aware of either our request or recommendations listed on the page for San Diego.
We have no personal stake in Family Court, or animosity to the current Supervising Judge of San Diego Family Court. It’s just that someone as unaware of San Diego’s painful history, as Judge Alksne demonstrated she is, remains the best example of a bad example of who should serve on the commission.
Personally, we believe outside of the courtroom, Judge Alksne to be a very warm individual. However, as the Elkins Task Force asked for input, then the first order of business is to address input received. Or, as a wise friend once remarked,
“If you always do what you always did – you’ll always get what you always got.”
Because Chief Justice Ronald George has been in office and removed to a large degree, from the stark reality of the abject failure of family court, change will only begin when people who are not part of the problem, have input.
We remind Judge George although California is a, “no fault” state, judges by largely, ex-prosecutors looking for blame. Blame arrives via custody evaluators, therapists, and police officers not doing their job. Ergo this site was created for the express purpose of education for California’s top judge. We hope to hear from Chief George, and our sincere hope he is not shielded from it by countless intermediaries.
Personally, my request to speak to the Task Force stemmed from the three-fold frustration of:
1. San Diego judges continuing to order expensive services of individuals who have been exposed in print and television since 2001 as fakes; (See news video, below);
2. Indifferent County Counsel chief, John Sansone who, since 2001, has refused to act on behalf of family court litigants, as authorized via Family Code section 7507; (making the case for term limits) and
3. Every San Diego DA since 2001, continuing with DA Bonnie Dumanis who remains completely non-responsive to calls and letters for appointments to address this and other issues. Her assistant, Terrie Gonzalez: 619-531-3522 neither returns calls or emails. Our tax dollars at work?
How does this impact all Californians? Dumanis also sits on policy making boards for the State of California. Is there good news?
Pushing for Reform
Good news could come from the public forcing the government to truly change the courts in San Diego for the better. This probably has to start by purging the current system of many of those who impede reform. As elected officials, judges can be recalled. Mount recall efforts against the family law judges in San Diego starting with Judge Alksne. She sets the tone for the rest of the judges in the system. If they see her go down in flames in a recall and replaced by a judge who will put an end to the problems, they might get the message.
However, even if Alksne is recalled, the remaining judges could simply elect a new supervising judge for the family law division who would still impede reform. Or the governor could simply appoint a new set of anti-reform judges to fill in for open positions. It may take changes in state law and replacing all of the family law judges in San Diego to push reform. With the current ruckus about Doyne, the San Diego family law courts, and the California state budget crisis, now may be the best time in years to start this effort.
A take-no-prisoners condemnation of psychiatric experts being waved into the witness box, this account trashes psychiatry in general as a quack profession. Hagen (a psychology professor) assails most of the diagnostic tools of the field in her text, which roams among court cases whose outcome hinged on the testimony of mental-health experts. Her fundamental contention is that psychiatry is a junk science whose theories when extended to matters of legal culpability go against common sense. Indeed, Hagen assumes the posture of that legendary legalism, the “reasonable person,” and her prose is peppered with exclamations and rhetorical questions like “Who could believe that?” which might annoy as many readers as it might convince about whatever points are in question. Among them are such topically current items as battered-wife syndrome, recovered memory claims, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and urban psychosis claims. The average person could easily encounter in divorce and child custody litigation the situations Hagen vigorously complains of, so her energetic attack could gain considerable attention. Gilbert Taylor
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