Uniting Against Court Corruption

Posted on May 7, 2013

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Billboard Carvercountycorruption

A billboard in St Boni, MN is the first of a series for exposing corruption in Minnesota courts. Many are unaware of the horrors inflicted daily in family court across the state.

Minnesota currently has no avenue for help when you have a judge out of control – not following statutes and laws set in place to protect citizens. A law in Minnesota was discovered (link: canon 4 codes of judicial conduct) that actually allows bribing of judges. Minnesota`s Constitution states in Article 6 Sect 9 that the Legislative Branch is to oversee the Judicial Branch. Minnesota gave this up in 1979 allowing the Judicial Branch to start up the Board of Judicial Standards. This Board is overseen by the judges. If you think on this – this is recipe for disaster. You have the fox watching the hen house. The Minnesota Constitution states clear oversight needed for the judicial branch – for very good reason. We are seeing the disaster unfold from the lack of oversight as these numerous stories get out about judges siding with wealthy and abusive spouses, leaving the other destitute and children without one or the other parent. According to the courts these cases have everything to do with money – nothing to do with the well being of the children.

Lea Dannewitz`s story (Banken v. Banken) and this blog received attention from a few media sources. Here are a few links: PODCAST: Banken Mother On Air With Sue Jeffers/News Talk AM … / Judge Orders Portions of ‘Carver County Corruption’ Blog to be Shut … / Speechless Interview w/Lea Sage {Banken} – YouTube

Below are examples of a handful of these horror stories coming out of Carver and Dakota County (neighboring counties in the First District Court), along with a few from other counties. We have four new horror cases posting shortly. If you have questions, ideas or a story to expose – please contact Dale Nathan at 651-454-0506. We would like to point out that although the majority of these stories are of mothers losing all rights to their children and left destitute – this is not exclusive to mothers.

Out of Control Judges and Lawyers

A sample of Family Court Horror Cases

1. Richard Perkins – Carver County Judge – Lea Dannewitz (formerly known as Lea Banken) the mother of children ages 3, 7 and 8, has been denied any contact with any of her children and has not had any contact with any of them for two years. Worse, the children have been denied their mother’s love, care and protection. Lea Dannewitz was 16 weeks pregnant with the couple`s third child when her ex husband filed for divorce. Carver County removed the baby from Lea at the delicate age of 11 weeks old, along with the two older children. Lea had limited visitation with the children for one year. For reasons completely unknown – Mr. Banken received full legal and sole custody of the children – the children have had no contact allowed – phone or otherwise – in now two years. The baby is now 3, she has no idea she even has a mother. There is no finding that mother has ever neglected, abused or mistreated any of her children, or that she has ever abused alcohol or any substance. The Father in the case (Jeremy Banken) has an extensive history of domestic abuse and other crimes. Lea has no criminal history. Her “crime” is that she published a blog on the internet that sharply criticizes Judge Perkins and Carver County child protection officials. Mother did this because of the numerous rulings of Judge Perkins that consistently were favorable to mother’s former husband, who is a very wealthy businessman who has paid his lawyer substantial sums. During their marriage, father controlled all of the couple’s assets and money. Judge Perkins divested mother of any of the parties marital assets or property, gave all of the equity in the marital home to father, ordered mother to pay father thousands of dollars even though he left mother penniless, assessed mother thousands of dollars in sanctions and attorney’s fees and charges because of her blog, ordered mother to immediately discontinue her blog and remove all postings and gave father sole and legal custody of all the children. Father employs young, single childless women as nannies to care for the children and mother was told by the children that the nannies sleep with father. Mother’s eight year old daughter and her seven year old son reported that father had sexually molested them. In sworn testimony at a March 2, 2012 hearing, father testified and admitted that he showered naked and alone with his oldest daughter. Judge Richard Perkins has refused to listen to evidence, witnesses, and allow mother any contact with her children.

2. Tim D. Wermager – Dakota County Judge – Kimberly Sperling – the wife of a wealthy banker fled the United States after a judge ordered her 13 year old daughter to go to her father’s home for unsupervised visits even though the father drugged and raped his daughter when she was 11 years old. The girl wrote a scathing affidavit detailing the rape and things her father would do to her. Regardless of the daughter being brave enough to speak out – Judge Warmager ordered the girl to visit her father and gave custody of her two younger brothers to their father even though it is believed they are drugged every day to keep them under control. The mother and her daughter fled to Canada where they are seeking asylum from the United States. Link: Sperling v. Sperling

3. Richard Perkins – Carver County Judge – Caroline Rice, the wife of a wealthy stockbroker has been barred from having any contact with any of her five children, three of whom now are adults and refuse to obey the judge’s orders. She was convicted of a felony of causing her 14 year old daughter to run from her father’s home, which the girl denied in an interview with county officials. Caroline later learned that the jury lied about their contact with father and his children. Link: Rice v. Rice [numerous posts for this case]

4. Michael Mayer – Dakota County Judge – Candelauria Akin is a victim of sexual and physical abuse by the father of her eight year old son. She was the primary caretaker of her son until June, 2010, when Judge Mayer ordered split custody. the child spends a week in father’s home in South St. Paul followed by a week in mother’s home in Apple Valley even though mother and father despise each other, do not and cannot communicate or cooperate, have separate medical providers for the child who do not consult with each other thereby putting the child at serious risk, and even though two psychologists, one hired by mother and the other by father, both submitted reports that the child is suffering serious anxiety. Under well established Minnesota case law, joint physical custody is improper unless there is a history of the parents co-operating. Judge Mayer ignored this law and refused to follow it. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Mayer’s disregard of this well-established precedent. Link: Candelauria Akin

5. Timothy Mulrooney, Referee, and William Koch, JudgeHennepin County – John McGrath, “father,” is divorced from his former wife,”mother.” They are the parents of two children, a girl who is 14 years old and a boy who is 16 years old. During the last stages of the marriage, mother was having an affair with another man. After joint physical custody failed, both mother and father moved for sole physical custody. During this period of litigation, both had psychological evaluations by multiple evaluators. These

evaluators determined that father was normal and there was no indication of psychological or emotional problems. Father introduced evidence of several credible witnesses that he was a well adjusted parent who was a good and loving father who was concerned about the emotional and physical health of his children. However, the guardian ad litem and an untrained social worker testified that father was unsuitable as a parent primarily because he was openly critical of the court and legal process. Father spent over $200,000 in litigation costs and for attorney fees and had to file for bankruptcy. The court awarded sole custody of both children to mother and sharply restricted father’s contact with his children. Father was especially concerned about his son because mother was forcing him to take drugs to control what she claimed was an AHDH condition. When his daughter was 13 – 14 old, she became dissatisfied with mother’s treatment of her, mother’s tirades against father, and decided she wanted to be in father’s custody. She wrote and submitted letters and then a sworn affidavit to Referee Mulrooney expressing her preference to live with father and be in his custody. But Referee Mulrooney, backed up by Judge Koch, refused to consider the girl’s letters and affidavit and refused to interview her to hear her preference. The referee even ruled that father was a “frivolous litigant” because of his persistent efforts concerning his children and refused to allow him to even file court pleadings without permission. Referee Mulrooney refused to hold an evidentiary hearing on father’s allegations of physical and emotional harm of his children. Finally, the girl chose to leave mother’s home and reside with father in defiance of mother’s threats and court orders. Now the girl is residing with father who under court orders must pay substantial child support to mother for the care of his daughter.

6. Joanne Smith – Ramsey County Judge -Tim Kinley Smith, ruled that reading stories from the Bible to his children was “inappropriate” and ordered Mr. Kinley to stop doing that. Mr. Kinley appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. That court ruled that the judge had gone too far. In an unpublished opinion, indicating that the Appeals Court did not consider it important, the Appeals Court said that Judge Smith had violated Mr. Kinley’s constitutional rights. It ruled there had to be specific reasons before a court can prevent a father from teaching his children about material from the Bible and sent the case back to Judge Smith to state what those reasons were if there were any. The Appeals Court also said that restrictions on teaching children had to be very limited under the Constitution. Mr. Kinley now can discuss the Bible and its teachings with his children. There was no penalty or consequence for Judge Smith who made this crazy decision. She is still a judge who continues to make unjust decisions that badly hurt parents and children.

7. Donald Spilseth – Kandiyohi County Judge – In the Brad Kramer case, county CPS workers falsely reported the children were fearful of their father, even though this was not true. CPS attempted to suppress a report by trained child evaluators in favor of father. This report had to subpoenaed. because it was withheld from father. CPS employees lied in court, which is documented. In the end, despite substantial evidence to the contrary, Brad’s parental rights were terminated. This was decided regardless of the fact that Brad cooperated fully with the CPS investigation and met every point of his case plan. Additionally, Brad had never been charged with or convicted of any child abuse. There was no proof that he ever abused his children, but instead, he was faithfully and without complaint paying child support and had extensive resources to help him parent. Judge Spilseth’s ruling contained incorrect information that was never addressed in court, and he appeared to be sleeping through the testimony of the MCRC psychologists, which were the father’s key witnesses. Judge Spilseth also has a reputation for routinely ruling in favor of CPS, as well as being unable to recall key information in light of his history of multiple strokes. Brad is filing an appeal with the Court of Appeals and taking other legal actions to ensure his children are safe. Currently, two of his children are with an abusive mother, and the five youngest are split between three different foster families despite the fact that Brad’s family would love to provide a home for them.

8. Philip Kanning – Carver County Judge – Bonnie Roy was divorced by her wealthy ex-husband who retained a vicious lawyer with a large, major law firm to whom he paid many thousands of dollars for his fees and then deducted them as business expenses – clearly tax fraud. He insisted on joint legal custody and then used his legal custody to interfere with the medical and dental needs of his children. Then, he again committed tax fraud by reporting less than half of his construction company/storage company income so he could keep child support payments to less than a livable amount. Bonnie, a cancer survivor who still has serious and painful medical problems cannot work and still receives medical care. She tries to feed herself and her two children on $300 per month and is forced to accept medical assistance and food shelf items and borrow substantial sums from friends. Her son, now in college, receives no help from his father for tuition and is relying on loans, grants, and work. Neither child will have anything to do with their father. In court, Judge Kanning insists on letting father get away with his frauds, refused to accept evidence from Bonnie of father’s earnings, rejected Bonnie’s evidence of poverty and disabilities, and accepted the incomplete and false testimony of a guardian ad litem who was paid thousands of dollars by father for her report. Bonnie`s case was recently transferred to Dakota County. Judge Sutherland of Dakota County continued to allow the father to leave the mother and children destitute. Sutherland also denied Bonnie`s In Forma Pauperis – which allows her to file motion papers with the court free of charge. This was denied even though Bonnie`s income was $8000 last year. This is clear abuse of power. Link: Roy v. Roy 

9. Janet Cain – Carver County Judge – Anonymous – An abusive father with a long history of mental problems and severe drug addiction was given significant unsupervised parenting time with his ten year old son who is very fearful of him and does not want to see his father. The Judicial Standards Board said it has no power to remove a Judge from a case. If a litigant believes a Judge is acting improperly the relief they need is to have the Judge removed. The problem now is that there is only one option–which is to motion the Judge SITTING ON YOUR CASE that they remove themselves. Either you do this directly, or you go to the Board of Judicial Standards hoping to get a recommendation that the Judge recuse him/herself. However, in order to affect that, you then need to motion the court! Going to the board is worse than motioning the Judge directly–because now you’ve filed an official complaint. While that complaint is pending, the Judge is informed yet continues to sit on your case. If you correctly believe the Judge has acted improperly, you certainly have a good reason to fear they will continue to act improperly and there will be backlash for filing the complaint. Additionally, filing the complaint is also worse because it simply drags out the outcome–because you need to wait through the Judicial Board review which could take a significant amount of time.

10. Dakota County – Judge David Knutson – Grazzini – Rucki Case – David Knutson issued an order on September 7, 2012 that denies the mother of five children any contact with her children. He ordered mother to vacate her home of 15 years on the same day as the court order. Mother was able to take only a suitcase of her clothes. She was forced to leave her home and all of her possessions which she has never been able to recover. She was denied any due process. She was told she would be arrested and jailed if she refused to follow Judge Knutson’s orders. She now is homeless, has no vehicle, no bank accounts, no credit cards, and no assets other than her clothing. She has only her job as an airline flight attendant which she has held for approx 27 years while taking leaves to care for her children. As a professional flight attendant, she is routinely tested for alcohol and substance abuse. All her independent psychological evaluations are completely normal.
Her wages are garnished 25% for payment of past marital taxes even though mother has been left destitute with prior use of MN Care Insurance and food stamps after the divorce. Her ex-husband’s income is in excess of $200,000 per month and he retains all of the marital property. There was no hearing or any finding that she ever hurt or abused any of her five children in any way.
The five children, ages 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16, were ordered to live in the custody of two aunts. The four youngest children have lived with their maternal aunt for almost six months without support from anyone. The children have not had or been allowed any contact with their mother except for one three-hour heavily supervised visit in late December, 2012. They have not had any contact with their father who has physically and sexually abused them and who hate him. In court on February 26, 2013, this aunt said she no longer is willing to provide for the children. The oldest child, a boy 16 years old, now lives in the former home of his mother with his father, who we believe a car and other expensive gifts in an attempt to buy the boy’s loyalty. The four youngest children no longer have a relationship with their oldest brother.
Why did all of this happen? In late August, 2012, Judge Knutson appointed an “expert” to make a recommendation on the parenting of the children. This expert, Dr. Paul Reitman, met with four of the children for about thirty minutes. He conducted no other evaluations, tests, or analysis. Yet, on the basis of this meeting, he issued his report that the problem was caused by the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a condition of the mother. Parental Alienation has been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association. They believe it to be unsubstantiated. In fact, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCI)  has published guidelines stating that “The theory positing the existence of ‘PAS’ has been discredited by the scientific community.”
Nevertheless, Judge Knutson appointed another expert, Dr. James Gilbertson, to attempt to re-unify the children with their abusive father. He said he would “reprogram” the children to like their father—he saw them 3 times in 6 months. This failed leading to the February 26, 2013 hearing. At this hearing, Dr. Gilbertson arranged for the children to appear before Judge Knutson in a conference room. Judge Knutson listened to the children’s short statements and told them he was going to issue orders that they had to follow. The transcript of this meeting has been ordered. The mother has requested information from Gilbertson and Reitman such as appointment dates, payment history, and other documents, but these have been denied by the practitioners saying they are protected by the judge and do not need to follow the guidelines of their respective professional organizations. Judge Knutson has not allowed the opinions of any other professionals to be heard.
The four youngest children will now be homeless. They begged to be with their mother. Their lives have been seriously disrupted. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Julie Friedrich, initially agreed that they belonged with their mother. Her story has now changed. She told the children that everything had been given to their father, and that their mother was homeless and without a vehicle. (The children reported this information to their mother at the late December 2012 meeting.) Ms. Friedrich also informed the children that their mother was in a mental institution, in jail, had moved to Philadelphia, PA, had been fired from her job, and that mother’s whereabouts were unknown. Julie also told the children that their mother didn’t want them and that she was gone. She informed Dr. Gilbertson that no further contact between mother and children should take place. Mother has not been allowed to schedule any further visits with her children despite numerous
attempts.
The youngest child, 10 years old, has a significant medical condition that since his birth has been attended to solely by his mother. His complex medical issues include dealing with numerous doctors, surgeries, and providing day to day care and attention. Over the last 10 years mother has been the sole provider of his care along with his pediatrician, Dr. Tim Anderson, who in a letter and in a conversation with Guardian ad Litem Julie Friedrich, stated that his mother has been the sole provider of his medical care and in the best interest of the child he should be with his mother due to her history of care and knowledge of all factors relating to him. He is placed at risk without her care.
Mother was the beneficiary of a life insurance purchased by her father, now deceased, that provided $1.3 million for mother’s use. This total amount was exhausted in the spring of 2012 when mother was ordered by Judge Knutson to pay substantial amounts for attorney’s fees and debts that became hers as a result of the original judgment and decree. She is now Pro Se, unable to afford her own attorney.
When David Rucki failed to pay the court ordered child support, the state pulled his driver’s license. Judge Knutson wrote an order to child support and the state noting that David’s license was not to be revoked now or in the future. This ruling breaks state and federal law. His passport also was removed according to state and federal law due to child support arrears, yet Judge Knutson is attempting to over-rule federal law by reinstating his passport in defiance of the Dakota County District Attorney’s affidavit telling the judge that he cannot do this as he has no authority to over-rule the US Department of State. This is clearly our of Judge Knutson’s jurisdiction, yet he has scheduled a hearing on the matter.
Judge Knutson refused to order the normal parental arrangement where one parent has primary custody and the other parent visitation. He refused to follow Minnesota laws on parenting. He refused to give mother any due process or to follow court rules of procedure. There is no penalty or consequence to him because of his violation of law and other abuses. He is not accountable to anyone. Judge Knutson is actually a member of the Board of Judicial Standards where complaints against judges are sent! He has refused to remove himself from the case, denied a change of venue, and no action has been taken against him for the clear violations he has enforced. A letter of complaint about Judge Knutson’s actions to the Board of Judicial Standards from concerned citizens in the Burnsville, Lakeville, and Eagan area had no effect whatsoever. Clearly, this needs to be changed. There needs to be legislative oversight of the judiciary. Link: Testimony of Grazzini-Rucki children 

Judges claim the 6-year cycle voting process is sufficient accountability–this would be like telling a business you cannot review or fire your employees, but every six years we will have a vote in the public domain as to whether your worker should stay employed. Your employee will be the only one on the ballot, and the public will have no information as to their performance and/or as to whether complaints were filed against him.

Many counties, judges, court officials, lawyers – parents of many children – Thousands of parents have been denies parenting time with their children leading to widespread support of and demand for a law that creates a presumption for joint custody and equal parenting time of children.

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