This case indicates why it is so incredibly important to ensure that everything makes it into the record. Otherwise, there could be a basis for either no appeal or, just the opposite - a reversal on appeal.
PRIOR RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE A SIMILAR OUTCOME
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And here is Part 2 of that weird case ping-ponging between Schuyler County Family Court and Tompkins County Family Court, from blog post #725.
And here is Part 2 of the previous blog post.
Here's another two-parter, which is also another termination of parental rights decision.
Most custody battles are pretty innocuous and easily resolved. In fact, the overwhelming majority get resolved on consent with the remainder being tried and the parties accepting the results of the trial. I would imagine that somewhere around 1% of all custody disputes ever actually make it to an appeal.
Sometimes, judges get creative. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I laud judges for being intellectually curious and daring enough to craft and tailor unique orders according to the needs of the children that come before them. However, if that creativity is not supported by the testimony adduced at trial, then the creative order becomes so much form over substance. And that's no good for anyone.
This is such a weird and tortuous case, being that it evolved from the Family Courts of two abutting counties, that I'm going to treat it as a Part 1 and a Part 2. Part 1 begins in Tompkins County Family Court and Part 2 ends in Schuyler County Family Court. Nevertheless, the same judge presides over all matters in each county.
I wouldn't normally write a blog post this way, but I have a thing for both the alphabetical order of decisions and attributing decisions to specific counties.
I always enjoy custody cases that involve the UCCJEA, if only because they never fail to make things interesting. I've had attorneys make all sorts of asinine arguments using this statute. The main thing you have to remember about the UCCJEA is The Six Month Rule. Basically, if a child has been living in another state, upon the consent of both parents, then the child's home state is almost always the state he or she has been living in for the last six months. Of course, things are never quite that easy.
Sorry about not posting for the past two days but I was simply too swamped with work.
The Third Department will rarely call out a judge for screwing up a case. It's just not their style. Instead, you need to read between the lines. And while the Third Department recognizes that Family Court has broad discretion, it gets very upset when any of the following three things happen - all of which happened in this particular case: 1) important matters completely fail to make it into the record, 2) the Court does things that no one has specifically requested, and 3) the Court's bias is showing.
And, yes, there was a damned good reason for the mother getting crushed at trial.
I generally read the decisions pertaining to criminal law because, like everyone else, I like a good laugh every now and then. And these decisions never disappoint. It always amazes me how stupid people can be - and still expect that they aren't going to get caught. Seriously?
This is what one would call a pyrrhic victory, no matter how you look at it.
Here is a very interesting termination of parental rights case that involves some excellent lawyering by both trial counsel and appellate counsel.
While, normally, these decisions are often affirmations of cases that involve courts saying "Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.00", this one is a "Get Out of Jail, Free" decision. And, yeah, I played a whole lotta board games when I was a kid.
We just covered a custody battle between parents the other day. Here, we have a custody battle between a grandparent and a parent, specifically, a mother and her own mother. And where parents only have to show a change in circumstances with a best interests analysis, grandparents have to show a change in circumstances, extraordinary circumstances, and then a best interests analysis. And extraordinary circumstances can be difficult to prove ... as this grandmother discovered to her chagrin.