February 22, 2014
In this this article, I had two aims: to illustrate a principle about women and custody; and to help this woman avoid prison. I’m still of the same mind, but I wish I hadn’t combined Barnett’s story with the source about battered women. The source does describe what happens to women like Dorothy Lee Barnett in the courts, but it doesn’t fit Barnett’s case exactly, so I’ve deleted it. We shouldn’t demonize people who make mistakes. The culprits here are the court system and the judges, who should know better. Family courts are influenced by the men who run Fatherhood Initiatives. These men are also responsible.
Dorothy Lee Barnett is awaiting trial for extradition to the United States. She is charged with kidnapping her own daughter from her estranged stockbroker ex-spouse. Almost two decades ago, her ex won sole custody, even though the child was only nine months old and still nursing at the time. She felt the child was in danger, so she took her out of the country. If extradited, she faces up to 23 years in prison. I just signed the petition “US Attorney Office in Columbia: Free Dorothy Lee Barnett – Mother of Savanna Todd” on Change.org.
It’s important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:((http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/us-attorney-office-in-columbia-free-dorothy-lee-barnett-mother-of-savanna-todd))
Updated, Feb. 20, 2014:
Here’s the post of a signer of this petition, Bruce Michell of Australia:
Dorothy Lee Barnett was let down by people within the system. During her trial she was subjected to abuse and vilification, and the judge neglected, failed and refused to file his orders into court within the mandated 30 days and in fact did not file for 75 days. During that period, and without the signed order, Lee was unable to appeal and was effectively locked out of the legal process which should be everyone’s right to access. The evidence accepted by the judge upon which he wrote a scathing decision was in the main, based on the uncorroborated word of the father. She was castigated as an untruthful person for denying that she had a mental disorder and all evidence supporting her and contradicting the father, was suppressed. There is such a gulf between the evidence and the final order, coupled with the misconduct of the judge, that the influence of the father, his attorney and the Guardian ad Litem must be considered suspect and should be the subject of a proper investigation by the authorities.
On the second visitation after the father had custody, whilst the judge had not filed the orders, the baby was injured whilst in the care of the father. The injuries were consistent with those described by the father in his ‘autobiography’ during the hearing where he wrote that it was “OK to kick a baby in the face.” Lee was extremely fearful for her baby given those circumstances, but could not appeal, given the lack of a signed order. Lee waited another 6 weeks after this incident but still the judge refused to file the order.
Locked out of the legal system, fearing for the safety of her baby she obeyed the fundamental law of humankind which was to flee to safety.
These events are recorded in the chronology and the details are contained in the trial transcripts. Lee was terrified of the power and influence of this man and remains that way today. If he and his cohorts could influence a judge and subvert the judicial system, then the system of justice in South Carolina was corrupt and it is reasonable to question whether that power and influence still remains today.
It seems that Barry Goldstein may have been too kind when he said the family courts were making mistakes. It seems this judge was acting deliberately. This is his own responsibility.
We recognize what Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail as sound principle because it’s in our Declaration of Independence. “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…,”
In King’s words:
“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” ((Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from a Birmingham Jail. April 16, 1963, African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania.))
Child custody law is broken, and American family courts are perpetuating injustice. Both mothers and their children suffer from this injustice, but it is the children who are in danger. Watch the video from the APN Newsdesk.((http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/mother-facing-years-jail-over-kidnapping-daughter/2153734/))