#37, Drano Series

Letter to Judge Mark E. Lawton about Order to Impound 
Reports of 
Social Workers, Psychologists, 
Eli Newberger-Childrens Hospital 
Certain Documents on This Website

Context of the Letters to the Chief Justices

Jim Linnehan has not seen his son in 13 years. He -- and now I -- contend that the deprivation of his parental rights came about not only as a result of false allegations levied by the mother of his son but also as a result of a monstrous system, in which hysteria rules, adequate training is absent, laws allow the judiciary to abrogate their responsibility and pass it on to folks who benefit financially from finding abuse even where there is none.

Jim is one the system's victims. He is also one unsung hero who has never given up the fight to have a relationship with his son.

I am his seventh lawyer. The other six fell by the wayside, having been wimped out, professionally castrated, by the system.

Since 1988, there were two "fronts" to the war: One, in Juvenile Court, where a Care and Protection of Brenden Linnehan was brought. The other, in Bristol County Probate & Family Court in New Bedford, where Jim brought a Paternity and Custody case.

The then-Chief-Justice assigned BOTH cases to one Juvenile Court judge, who was to act as THE judge in BOTH cases.

Juvenile Court conducts CLOSED sessions, resulting in a Kangaroo-type court, where there can be no scrutiny by the public and where possibly unscrupulous practices -- such as the denial of due process -- by a sitting judge can be swept under a carpet. This is what happened in Jim's case. There never was a hearing at which evidence was taken. He was never allowed to put someone on the stand and cross-examine them. He was never allowed to rebut any of the bogus bogus reports written by an assortment of workers.

After 1988, he saw his son for two 40-minute sessions in 1992 with therapists, who did find that he and his son should have a relationship . . . but their recommendations were shoved aside.

Fast forward to last year. Jim found me. I brought a Complaint for Modification in Probate & Family Court. I put out some subpoenas on Eli Newberger of Boston Children's Hospital in order to take his deposition. The wagons circled: the wagons of the mother, her attorney, the child's attorney, Eli Newberger and his counsel, and the P&F Court judge, who was or had shared membership, if not also friendship, with Eli Newberger in APSAC, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

All hell broke loose.

The judge (Prudence McGregor, who had already been sanctioned for judicial misconduct), wrote that all future proceedings should be held in Juvenile Court. I thought over my dead body.  Probate & Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Paternity and Custody cases brought pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 209C.

Jim had suffered enough from the outrageous conduct of those in the system -- from the judges through the lowliest social worker. The child, too, has suffered. He has suffered a parentectomy, specifically, a fatherectomy.

I brought suit against Eli Newberger and the workers. (See the Drano Series.)

At some point, I suggested to mom's attorney that the son, Brenden, then 15 and probably almost 6 feet tall, and dad should meet and go to a ballgame and get to know each other. That suggestion was rebuffed by total silence.

I then decided I'd sort the stack of photos Jim had given me and choose some to upload them to the site, so that the public could see who this father and son about whom I had been writing were.

Then, unexpectedly, mom began running for public office. The townsfolk tuned into this site and saw the pleadings, which are not friendly to mom, and the pictures. Mom lost the election on April 3, 2001, and on that same day wrote a complaint to the Board of Bar Overseers about me publishing the pleadings and photos. In April, 2001, the child's attorney wrote to me what I perceived to be a nasty letter. I answered her on April 17th, saying it would be a pleasure to receive a letter which did not contain a threat. On April 20th she, too, reported me to the Bar.

At the same time, she brought, in Juvenile Court, a motion to impound documents I had and to remove files from my website. Judge Lawton of that court issued an exparte motion. See Drano Series #34. I wrote Judge Lawton. Below is the letter.

Then mom's attorney got into the act in May 2001. Mom wanted an increase in child support. There was not proper service and Jim did not learn about it until some time in June. I wrote Register Peck of the Bristol County P&F Court and said if he were to assign a judge to the case and if the judge made a decision in Jim's absence, the judge would be acting outside of his authority and I would not hesitate to sue him or or her. Immunity does NOT play against a backdrop of "no jurisdiction."

Next, mom's attorney wrote Justices Grace and Dunphy to have them assign a judge in the Juvenile Court. I wrote them. See Drano Series #42.

Justices Grace and Dunphy then deferred to Chief Justice for the Administration and Management of the Trial Court Barbara A. Dortch-Okara.  There next, apparently, was some communication between mom's attorney and Judge Dortch-Okara. I wrote her a letter, which appears in Drano Series #43.

The purpose of the letter to stop her from assigning the case to another Juvenile Court judge. I want everything above-board . . . and no closed courtrooms.

Barbara C. Johnson
Attorney at Law
6 Appletree Lane 
Andover, MA 01810-4102
978-474-0833 FAX 978-474-1833 
email: barbaracjohnson@worldnet.att.net
website: http://falseallegations.com

29 May 2001                               FAX: 508-999-2916
                                                    EMAIL: hickney_l@jud.state.ma.us

The Honorable Mark E. Lawton
Juvenile Court Department of the Trial Court
New Bedford Division 
New Bedford, MA 

Re: Docket No. EQ 01N0001

Dear Justice Lawton:

I am in receipt of what purports to be a "Verified Complaint for Equity Relief" presented by Attorney Deborah Wolf for Robyn Gerry-Sylvia allegedly on behalf of Brenden Linnehan.

The caption reads "In re Care and Protection Brenden Linnehan."

1. It is my understanding that case closed years ago.

2. I never made an appearance in that case and I am not a party to the case. 

3. I have, in fact, never been in New Bedford Juvenile Court and never filed an appearance in any case in that court.

4. The document which was served upon me (a) has no summons and (b) is not a Complaint. It does not comport with any known set of rules of civil procedure, and most certainly not with the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.

5. The complaint served on me does not contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Mass.R.Civ.P. Rule 8(a)(1). 

6. The complaint served on me is not simple, concise and direct, as Mass.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1) requires. The purpose is to inform a defendant of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957). 

7. The complaint served on me does not set out the facts in separately numbered paragraphs, as required under Mass.R.Civ.P. 10(b). Vigor v. Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Co., 101 F.2d 865 (7th Cir. 1939). Newman v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al., 115 F.R.D. 341 (D. Mass. 1987); see also Mmoe v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 393 Mass. 617 (1985) (dismissal of a complaint for failure to meet the pleading requirements of Rule 8 is, as Rule 41(b)(2) provides, a matter of discretion for the judge and defendants are entitled to the proper exercise of that discretion). Kuehl v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 8 F.3d 905 (1st Cir. 1993) (plaintiff ordered to submit amended complaint conforming to the concise pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 8(a)(2)). 

8. The absence of numbered paragraphs makes it impossible for me to answer the complaint in accordance with the rules.

9. The facts in the complaint are not set out clearly, unequivocally and directly so as to enable me to respond directly and intelligently. Coburn v. Moore, 322 Mass. 204 (1948); Stoney v. Soar, 322 Mass. 408 (1948). 

10. The complaint is verbose, argumentative, redundant, and contains material that is both impertinent and scandalous. Martin v. Hunt, 28 F.R.D. 35 (D.Mass. 1961).

11. Claims founded on separate transactions or occurrences must be stated in separate counts. Mass.R.Civ.P. 10(b). Feutz v.Massachusetts Bonding and Insurance Co., 85 F. Supp. 418 (E.D. Mo. 1949). 

12. I do not have juvenile court documents uploaded on my website. I have uploaded to my site (a) certain pleadings I have filed in U.S. District Court, (b) certain documents the divorce action between a public figure, Robyn Gerry-Sylvia, and her husband, Michael Sylvia, (c) certain documents I filed in Bristol County Probate & Family Court, and (d) other documents in which Deborah Wolf and Robyn Gerry-Sylvia have no interest whatsoever.

13. According to the docket sheet Deborah Wolf provided, any quotes I have included in my pleadings filed in the U.S. District Court and in Bristol County Probate & Family Court are not from documents filed in juvenile court. 

14. My client James Linnehan has also not received a summons or a complaint with numbered paragraphs or a stated legal theory with the elements of a cause of action pled.

15. James Linnehan is not a decision-maker about anything that has to do with my website. I have full responsibility for anything that I upload to my website.

16. Courts may impound documents under certain circumstances, but that an order has issued which commands me to do something without either a proper complaint being filed and a hearing with all the indicia of due process is of some consternation. Such a hearing would, of course, only be possible in a court with both subject-matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction over me.

17. I understand from Ottoway that I can bring suit to vacate the impoundment order, but then that buys a suit for the Juvenile Court. I would suggest, with all due respect for the court, that the court go to my site and see if there is anything there which the court believes it has a right to order removed, or references to documents which it believes it has the authority to impound. 

18. In Ottoway Newspapers, Inc. v. Appeals Court, 372 Mass. 539, 551 (1977), the Supreme Judicial Court pondered "how one might go about asserting the alleged illegality of an impoundment order entered in an action to which one was not a party" and answered, "a publisher has standing to maintain suit to vacate an impoundment order entered in a separate action." Of course, in Ottaway, the SJC was dealing with the Superior Court and not Juvenile, and came out four-square in favor of the "general principle of publicity": "it is only in a clearly meritorious case that impoundment can be contemplated." This is not one of them.

19. I suspect that whatever it is of which Robyn Gerry-Sylvia is complaining and wanting me to do is not within the jurisdiction of a juvenile court. I shall be ready, willing, and able to respond in a professional manner when Robyn gets a lawyer with the skills to bring such a complaint.

20. At such a hearing, Robyn's burden would be to prove that the impoundment would be reasonable. Ottoway Newspapers, Inc. v. Appeals Court, 372 Mass. 539, 546 (1977); Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court, 379 Mass. 846 (1980). In the so-called complaint served on me, there were no words addressing that issue.

21. Given that the purpose of the statutes designed to protect juveniles who are subjects of litigation and not their mothers, and there is nothing on my website which would stigmatize Brenden Linnehan (he is not even known in his community as Brenden Linnehan), there is neither reason nor justification to issue an impoundment order. To call documents "in from the cold" after so many years raises other issues . . . all beyond the intended scope of this letter.

22. Robyn Gerry-Sylvia is a public figure: she was running aggressively for selectman in the Town of Fairhaven and recently lost the election. (Deborah Wolf neglected to mention that in her pleading.) Robyn apparently attributes that loss to my website. Hence, the complaint in your court. Any proper complaint against me by her should be in a court where there are public hearings, not closed sessions. The fight is between myself and Robyn, not between the child and me. 

23. "Publicity prevents abuses of a single judge's power."  Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court, 379 Mass. 846, 855 (1980), citing In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 268-270. This "`general principle of publicity', . . . [which] governs judicial proceedings in this Commonwealth," was affirmed again in H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc. v. Frey, 400 Mass. 326, 329 (1987). 

We adopted this requirement of a showing of overriding necessity, in part, because of the great public interest in disclosure of all information relevant to misuse of authority and official wrongdoing.
H.S. Gere, 400 Mass. at 332, citing George W. Prescott Publishing Co. v. Register of Probate for Norfolk County, 395 Mass. 274, 279-280. 

Moreover, "[a]ny limitation on protected expression must be no greater than is necessary to protect the compelling interest that is asserted as a justification for the restraint." George W. Prescott Pub. Co. v. Stoughton Div. of Dist. Court Dept. of Trial Court, 428 Mass. 309, 311 (1998), quoting Care and Protection of Edith, 421 Mass. 703, 705 (1996). 

It is apparent that any order seeking to enjoin speech must be based on detailed findings of fact that (a) identify a compelling interest that the restraint will serve and (b) demonstrate that no reasonable, less restrictive alternative to the order is available." See also Oklahoma Publ. Co. v. District Court, 430 U.S. 308, 97 S.Ct. 1045, 51 L.Ed.2d 355 (1977) (reversing court order enjoining media from publishing name or photograph of eleven year old boy accused of delinquency by reason of murder). 
Prescott, 428 Mass. at 311, cites omitted. 
Thus, on the facts here, there being no lawful basis to prohibit me from putting public records on my website or to prohibit me from exercising my First Amendment rights, I can rest on the statement that I did not publish any material or quote any sentences or parts thereof which I know to be privileged, confidential, or otherwise protected.

It would be, of course, very helpful to both her client Robyn and me if Deborah Wolf would advocate her client's claim in a clear, concise, and simple manner without overstating details and losing the forest for the trees. 


Barbara C. Johnson

cc: Deborah Wolf, Esq.
      James Linnehan