To the editor:
I read with great interest Norm Pattis’s Sept. 24 column (“Parents At The Mercy Of For-Profit Overlords”) regarding what he described as the “largely lawless” family court and how that court is, according to Mr. Pattis, either unable or unwilling to do much about it. Although Mr. Pattis is clearly an extremely bright and articulate attorney, and his columns are sometimes thought-provoking and interesting, he has clearly, in my opinion, missed the point in this instance.
In my experience, family court is filled with conscientious, caring and careful jurists, who impose justice in a fair and impartial manner. It is far from lawless and such a claim by Mr. Pattis is simply unfair to the members of the bench who are charged with making important decisions in the lives of Connecticut’s families. Moreover, contrary to Mr. Pattis’s claims, an inability or unwillingness to take control in an appropriate case, in an appropriate situation, is simply an inaccurate description of what usually transpires in family court.
Mr. Pattis describes himself at the end of his columns as a “criminal defense and civil rights lawyer.” Perhaps his apparent lack of experience in family cases has resulted in his misperceptions.
Reportedly, Mr. Pattis spends much of his time representing many members of society who are allegedly being treated unfairly or accused of a crime or whose civil rights are somehow being infringed upon. Remarkably, however, Mr. Pattis’s criticism of visitation supervisors shows an apparent disregard for the well being of those members of society who have the least ability to stand up for themselves: namely, children.
This civil rights lawyer fails to note that the children of this state (and country for that matter) have the right to freedom from an abusive upbringing. Thus, in those rare, and I mean rare, cases where children are at risk, the court, in a lawful manner, demonstrates its ability and willingness to protect these same children by, at times, imposing supervised visitation between the children and one or both parents.
Finally, Mr. Pattis’s attacks on the family bar, which he claims routinely counsels clients to be less than candid on financial affidavits, is similarly unfair. Family lawyers, as a whole, are a dedicated, caring and important part of the Connecticut court system, and I have yet to meet a family lawyer who routinely advises clients to commit fraud. I have much less experience with criminal defense lawyers and civil rights lawyers, but I would expect that they too, on the whole, are a dedicated, caring and important part of our system of justice.
Family judges and lawyers do not deserve the disparaging comments of Mr. Pattis. Perhaps an apology will be forthcoming. That, and another entertaining column about Mr. Pattis’s latest summer reading.
Thomas D. Colin, Esq.
Schoonmaker, George & Colin, P.C.
Editor’s note: Attorney Colin is the immediate past chairman of the Connecticut Bar Association Family Law Section.