By Jill Jones Soderman
A major philanthropist has commissioned best-selling author Bandy X. Lee, MD, MDiv, and two other renowned professionals, to write a long-overdue exposé that addresses the hidden abuses and victims of the family courts. In her words, it will be “a major compendium of commentaries by experts and personal first-hand experiences.”
In what Dr. Lee describes as an extreme abuse of judicial authority, the judge inexplicably denied her sister’s constitutional right to speak to her as well as to her attorney on critical aspects of her case. Based on these and other constraints, the children of her sister, her niece and nephew, were illegally abducted and given sole custody to their abusive father, without the mother being present or having due process under spurious “legal” decrees.
But Dr. Lee’s sister’s case is far from unusual. While it is assumed that judges gather, appoint, and manage court players in a “neutral arbitration” that will eventually arc toward justice, the opposite is true in the family courts. It has become very much the norm across the country, as a mountain of evidence suggests, that court actors are cooperating and colluding with each other in backroom deals that have nothing to do with “best interests of children,” parenting ability, or fairness.
What is little known to the outside world is that family courts, armed with “discretion,” “judicial immunity,” and the authority to blanket-seal their records, are able to get away with unspeakable miscarriages of justice by which the child or children are more often placed in the custody of the abusive parent — solely on the basis of money or power.
Dr. Lee lends exceptional authority as a world-renowned forensic psychiatrist and expert on violence who had already helped promote child safety around the world by co-authoring the United Nations Secretary-General’s chapter on “Violence against Children.” Her 2013 report to the New York City Board of Corrections on the shocking levels of violence at Rikers Island Correctional Facility ushered in a federal investigation and a mandate for reform.
Dr. Lee is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, which led to meetings with over fifty members of the U.S. Congress. Her book was consulted on by none other than White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly, “as an owner’s manual” on how to deal with an allegedly dangerous man in the Oval Office, far before the the protest of January 6, 2021 that became violent.
She is also the author of the highly-acclaimed textbook, Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures, and has edited seventeen scholarly volumes and authored over a hundred scientific articles.
In Dr. Lee’s words: “I worked in the most violent maximum-security prisons in the country, where an out of control, dysfunctional system created an environment for rampant violence, mayhem, and murder, sometimes even facilitated and organized by prison guards, who operated with impunity without accountability. The absence of transparency created a culture in which innocent prisoners were violently brutalized in unspeakable ways. My research demonstrated that, wherever there is no transparency, the invariable consequence is that, more times than not, systematic abuse will escalate into extreme acts of violence — including killing with a sense of impunity.
“Astonishingly, the same psychosocial dynamic appears to be happening in the family courts.”
Dr. Lee and her colleagues are committed to uncovering what each of them has discovered as experts in the field as well as through first-hand experiences in and out of the courts. She has observed that, because of a pervasive climate of corruption in the family court system, more than half of children in custody battles will be granted to the custody of their abusive parent — and for all intents and purposes be imprisoned with their abusers, tormenters, and murderers — rather than being in the custody of their nurturing, protective parents.
“Right now, the lack of transparency in the family courts — unlike any other court — is turning the family courts into a compromised, corrupt system without any checks and balances. The fate and ultimately the destiny of children are decided seemingly by the capricious whims of judges, who make their decisions not on the rules of law and due process, or on objective facts, but rather subjectively on which parent is liked — and which parent has the most money,” Dr. Lee said.
Through vivid and detailed descriptions of personal and professional experiences, Dr. Lee and her co-editors are coordinating and integrating their collective finding that family courts have now become the epitome of judicial abuse. The contributions of these professionals will help highlight the critical need for reform in the nation’s institutions of justice, so that judicial systems do not become the principal purveyors of injustice, and family courts do not function as family annihilators.