False Allegations ~ False Accusations ~ Recovered Memories

The Scarf of
Madame LeFarge

District Court

Judge Severlin B.
    Singleton 111
Judge Paul L. McGill
Judge Austin Philbin
Judge Brian Merrick
Judge Jonathan Brant
Judge Martha A.
    Scannell Brennan
Judge Dyanne Klein.

Probate and
Family Court
Judge Judith Dilday
Judge Mary McAuley
Judge Anna Doherty
Judge Marie Lyons
Judge David G Sacks
Judge Sean Dunphy
Judge Prudence M.
Judge A. Geoffrion
    (now retired)
Judge Nancy Mary
    Gould (retiring)
Judge Edward Donnellly
Judge Peter DiGangi
Judge Lisa A. Roberts
Judge Michael Livingson
    (under investigation) 
Judge Smoot

Superior Court
Judge Judith Fabricant
Judge Wendie I.
Judge Alan vanGestel
    (now retired)
Judge Daniel A. Ford
Judge Robert Bohn
    (now decesed)
Judge Muse   


Appeals Court
Judge George Jacobs

Supreme Judicial
Judge Margaret Marshall
Judge Francis X. Spina
Judge Roderick Ireland


   #1,  The Revolutionary Series

See bottom of file.

Plea for Guardian ad Litem Reform
Letter to Chief Justice Sean Dunphy
from Joseph Dunbar

Mark R. Quigley,
March 7, 2001 
Probate and Family Court Dept.
24 New Chardon Street
PO Box 9666
Boston, MA 02114-9666

Subject:Court appointed guardian ad litem (GAL)
               investigations -- we need more help

Dear Mr. Quigley,

I received your letter dated Jan 17, 2001.  I am aware the Probate and Family
Court and Senator Jacques office are working together with the Senate Post
Audit and Oversight Bureau in review of the GAL system as I have sent several
letters now addressing this.  I listed my concerns with suggestions for improvements,
all based on my first hand horrid experiences with court appointed GAL Vicki Shemin.
While I have received letters from both you and Chief Justice Dunphy, I have heard
little from Sen Jacques office, just an email stating we hope to release the report
within the next two weeks.  I heard Sen Jacques was running for lieutenant governor
and wonder to what extent she is still interested and pursuing the GAL investigation. 
I'm hoping you could provide me contact information on the bureau so I may directly
communicate with them and see if and how I may help them and what they are doing
to improve this controversial system.

I am aware of Fiscal Year 1997 Memo #14 on GAL compensation and billing and
ask if you know of any other memos, policies or such that deal with compensation of
GALs.  Since John Irwin wrote this, has Chief Justice Dunphy or anyone else added
or clarified this to any extent?  Do you know if there are any intentions to do so, or
does the P&F Court think this is sufficient?

Your letter mentioned my case involved a private fee agreement, yet I fail to see what
was private.  When a person is ordered to appear in court, and a Judge appoints a
GAL to act as a third party for the court, there is nothing private. 

Private to me is between two parties with no intervention from a third, especially a Judge.
 Private is something I can negotiate, modify or cancel if my needs should change.  My
case was not a private deal as some try to label and dismiss it. Judges McGovern and
Dilday know they intervened, yet they both failed to take any responsibility when I made
 them aware of problems. And now your office, by labeling it "private" and ignoring this,
 is doing the same and allowing this extortion to continue.

I feel I'm at a stalemate with you as I have written several letters now providing much
detail in my hopes of assisting this investigation and promoting better guidelines for GALs.
While you reply and acknowledge my letters, I fail to see anything that shows your
serious in serving the needs of the public.  When Sen Jacques said she was seeking input
from members of the public, I took her seriously wanting to help and found GALS have
beeninvestigated a number of times since 1997.

Aug 97 - Attorneys Stress Need For Guardian Standards 

Mass Lawyers weekly reported:

* A special committee led by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Roderick L.
 Ireland is now considering whether the GAL-appointment process is in need of

* Judges tend to overly rely on GAL reports," said Boston attorney Gerald L.
Nissenbaum.  "In fact, I bet you'd find about a 97 percent correlation between
the GAL's report and judges' custody decisions.

Retired Judges
Arline Rotman
Cortland Mathers
Elizabeth J. Dolan
Ronald D. Harper
Ernest S. Hayeck
Conrad J. Bletzer
John Irwin      


The Scarf of

Madame LeFarge

* Some practitioners believe that judges have a tendency to rely too heavily on the
GAL's report.

Feb 98 - Committee Appointed To Study GALs 

Mass Lawyers weekly reported:

* Probate and Family Court Chief Judge Sean M. Dunphy has appointed a
committee to study the recruitment, training, appointment, oversight and
payment of guardians ad litem. * The committee, which will be chaired by
Judge Christina L. Harms, will include judges Eliot K. Cohen, Elizabeth
O'Neill LaStaiti, Robert A. Scandurra and Jeremy A. Stahlin; Chief
Probation Officer Mark Juknavorian; and First Assistant Register Mary
Lynne Carroll.

Oct 00 - Senate Committee Examining Probate GALs 
* The Senate was alerted to potential problems with the G.A.L. system
through constituent letters and phone calls concerning the conduct of
guardians on individual cases, according to the committee's chairwoman,
Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham).
* "There's no across-the-board, benchmark standards for guardians ad
 litem to follow," said Jacques, who represents 10 municipalities between
Needham and the Rhode Island border.  "I was contacted by residents in
my district who raised issues regarding the [reporting] standards and
training -- or lack thereof -- of GALs, including possible conflicts of
interest. In one case, someone said a guardian ad litem had a pre-existing
relationship with one of the lawyers." * The current phase of the Senate
assessment, seeking input from members of the public and attorneys who
have had experiences with GALs assigned to their cases, will wrap up the
review. Recommendations will be made to Jacques' committee by the end
of the year.

\Seems our GAL problems keep resurfacing.  Is anyone responsible for this, or
do they look the other way?  How are the investigators and committees being
paid and monitored? What was found, and what has resulted from each?  How
many more committees are expected for the coming years, are they budgeted? 
So we acknowledge these problems by appointing committees to investigate
them, do something that warrants our paychecks, ignore and allow it to continue
so we can re-examine it again next year, then we re-appoint and pay a new
committee sharing the wealth while ignoring the problems and the public.  I can't
ignore this. I think its time we get some real help and see if the media is willing to
look into this.

4 Pleasant St.
PO Box 226
N. Billerica, MA 01862-0226

Joe Dunbar's Story
Money Madness costs Father his children and lands him in debtor's prison.

To all those who don't think this can happen, I assure you it does, because it happened to me and I'm here to share my money nightmare.

My wife and I had been fighting over her drinking and how it was harming our young children. She had recently been arrested for a 2nd DWI with our kids in the car and her future wasn't looking any better. We tried getting her into several rehab centers, but she persisted to drink and lie about her whereabouts. Finally enough was enough and I threatened to leave her stating she would never see our children or me again and off we went. Me to my folks for the week of Thanksgiving where our kids and I had some peaceful fun. Her to our Cty. court house to file for divorce and get a restraining order that gave her custody of our kids and my house.

The next week we were all in court as ordered and each told our tales, she stated I was cruel and abusive, and I stated I left to protect our kids from her repeated drinking and drunk driving. The Judge granted me full custody of our kids, my house and ordered her away from us and into a 30-day alcohol rehab center. The Judge also appointed a Guardian ad litem, or GAL (for our children) stating it would cost a few thousand dollars.

I quickly learned what a GAL was, noting they investigate both sides in an effort to aid the judge by making a custody recommendation.  Supposedly GALs are to work for the best interests of the children, supposedly....

The first thing our GAL did was make me sign a fee agreement. Wanting to start off on the right foot with her I complied and did as she asked. She then interviewed me for a few hours, and then my wife. She called some of our friends and family, and visited our kids to see how we each interacted with them. She was very pleasant and everything seemed to be going good. The GAL then submitted her written report to the court which recommended keeping custody of our kids with me. This was a big relief but she was asked to prepare another report. She made more calls, talked with a few others, and had a new report ready the following month. This second report also recommended keeping custody of our kids with me.

My uncertainty turned to confidence realizing I had TWO favorable reports from the GAL on top of the first Judge who granted me custody and DSS who also supported me. DSS investigated due to a 51A report filed when my wife was arrested with our kids. For a divorce that I didn't want, everything was going fine or so I thought until I got the GAL's bill.

The GAL didn't hear the part where the Judge said it would cost a few thousand dollars because she billed me over $10,000. I didn't like this and said she was wrong. I went back to the judge asking for help and to stop her costly services. The judge was also a bit surprised, and didn't know quite what to do and asked what I could do. She then ordered me to pay three thousand more (as I prev. paid) and to discuss the rest at our trial. The judge also asked the GAL to write one more final report.

Nothing really changed over the next two months, except for the GAL's outlook on me not wanting to pay her bill. She kept after me and made me out to be a bad guy that doesn't honor his agreement. She wrote her third custody report and this time it was different. The GAL now favored a rehabilitated mother with less than six months from her last reported drink. Prev. the GAL covered how the mother suffered from severe eating and drinking disorders, her mother was divorced 4x, fathers were physically & sexually abusive, major depression and mental illness (collecting full SSDI) and other ailments that the GAL stated she should focus on healing. Now the GAL is saying she is all healed and rehabilitated and ready to resume full care of a 4-yr-old and 2-yr-old twins? Nobody in their right mind would offer such a recommendation for such a troubled parent.

Not paying was my BIG mistake. I should have just paid her extortion but I hate people who take advantage of others, especially me. I fought her on how she could actually charge 36.2 hours in a 2.5 day period (at $150./hr.). It didn't matter what I said or did, the court only took care of the GAL they appointed and allowed her bill to exceed $26,000. as she kept taking me to court and increased her pressure each time, eventually throwing me in jail since I would not pay this extortion. My wrists and ankles were cuffed and I was thrown in a cell without any opportunity to contact family or anattorney. I'll never forget the humiliation of being treated as a criminal, taking my shoes and belt, emptying my pockets and told to keep quiet. I was very afraid what might happen to me, and worried I would not see my children for Christmas. I broke down and paid their price for my freedom and vowed I would tell this story to everyone in hopes they would be brought to justice. 

Most people agree alcoholics need at least a year of sobriety before they have a decent shot at staying sober, but not the GAL. She not only favored the mother now, but twisted around my words and others to paint me in a negative light. The new judge then followed the GALS's third report and awarded full custody, physical and legal, to the mother, after I had been raising my kids as a single parentfor over a year. The judge also gave her my house, and ordered me to pay the GAL in full when the laws are very clear that the state should pay for those they appoint.

Our GAL was appointed under Chapter 215: Section 56A which states.: Any judge of a probate court may appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the facts of any proceeding pending in said court relating to or involving questions as to the care, custody or maintenance of minor children and as to any matter involving domestic relations exceptthose for the investigation of which provision is made by section sixteen of chapter two hundred and eight. Said guardian ad litem shall, before final judgment or decree in such proceeding, report in writing to the court the results of the investigation, and such report shall be open to inspection to all the parties in such proceeding or their attorneys. The compensation shall be fixed by the court and shall be paid by the commonwealth, together with any expense approved by the court, upon certificate by the judge to the state treasurer. The state police, local police and probation officers shall assist the guardian ad litem so appointed, upon his request.

It's been a year now since our divorce became official, and at the end my wife and I tried to reconcile and save the marriage. But it was too much and too soon with all we had been through. Several lawyers kept us apart and took all of our savings, three judges were too busy to be of any help, and a GAL who filled her pockets and didn't care one bit aboutus, truth or justice. I pleaded with the Judge to stay our divorce for six months so my wife and I could continue in counseling to reconcile and save the marriage. I stated we were living together and doing our best but needed more time. But Judge Dilday wouldn't allow it and ordered us divorced 2/15/00 the day after we had just exchanged valentines.

I was devastated and still can not believe that this can happen here in America. I pray every day to get my strength back and the wisdom and courage I'll needto expose people like GAL Vicki Shemin and Judge Dilday for the hell they put my family through. No other family should ever have to go through what we did, but I'm finding too many others have and will unless we come together and help set the system right.

Money and greed can make people do things that many would never believe. But believe me, while they got my money, children and home they didn’t get my spirit. This lives on to tell every one of the corruption and extortion that is allowed in our MA Family and Probate courts.

Joe Dunbar 2/13/01

  • 6/11/00 ChiefJusticeSeanDunphy1.rtf + DunbarGAL6.rtf 

  • 6/29/00 Dunphy replied interested in bills, see letter

  • 7/31/00 ChiefJusticeSeanDunphy2.rtf + GAL bills

  • 10/03/00 ChiefJusticeSeanDunphy3.rtf + Nov 99 MAGAL News

  • 10/16/00 JudgeMcGovern1.rtf - call secretary and ask if she received my letter

  • 11/01/00 DunphyJacquesGAL1.rtf - letters sent to Cheryl Jacques & Dunphy

  • 11/15/00 Aaron Spira (Jacques aide) called, we spoke for 15 min. or so, interested in records

  • 12/04/00 Mark Quigley (Administrative Attorney, Dunphys aide) wrote me, see letter

  • 01/04/01 DunphyJacquesGAL2.rtf + 5 letters above

  • 01/17/01 Mark Quigley (Administrative Attorney, Dunphys aide) wrote me, see letter

  • 02/28/01 Aaron Spira (Jacques aide) emailed, hope to release report within the next two weeks

  • 03/07/01 DunphyJacquesGAL3.rtf send to everyone and the media

  • Office of Senator Cheryl A. Jacques *
    Attn: Aaron Spira
    MA State House, Room 312 B
    Boston, AM 02133
    Spira, Aaron ASpira@senate.state.ma.us

    * No longer in office.  Nominated by Governor Deval Patrick for a judgeship, but not yet approved by the Govenor's Council. [as of March 2008].

    March 27, 2008
    Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
    Cheryl Jacques confirmed as Industrial Accidents Board judge
    The Governor’s Council voted 6-1 to confirm former state senator Cheryl Jacques to a six-year term as an administrative judge, the Boston Herald reports.