The Florida Court's Long Range Strategic Planning Workgroup recently solicited comments from the public to assist in its mission to set goals and priorities for the coming years. Here are our comments to the Workgroup, submitted online earlier today:
Dear Long Range Strategic Planning Workgroup: An area needing improvement in Florida's courts concerns judicial training and education in quickly recognizing and properly handling cases in which one or both parties is committing "legal abuse" against the other.
For the purposes of these comments, we use the term "legal abuse" to describe a litigant’s use of the courts for a purpose other than a proper judicial function. More specifically, our focus is on those cases in which there is a history of domestic abuse which appears to be continuing in the family law arena. In such cases, the abusive spouse or partner avails him- or herself of the courts to harass, oppress, intimidate and otherwise injure the former spouse or partner.
According to Sandra Brown, M.A., CEO of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education, “Courts are perfect platforms for abusers to maintain contact, cause victims to emotionally disintegrate by having to go back through the court system and face the very person who has harmed them in the past."
When judges fail to recognize when the courts are being used to abuse others, judges allow courts to be co-opted and used as taxpayer-funded weapons. The fallout for the parties who are the targets of abuse can be severe, and often results in symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
There is ample neuroscience available today to educate the public about the personalities of abuse perpetrators. Decades of family law jurisprudence provides us with a plethora of horror stories, bearing the imprimatur of official judicial acceptance of the abuse tactics and abusers' goals. We can study the neuroscience and the cases and draw from them lessons to guide our judiciary.
LawYou America, Inc. publishes these stories to bring attention to the problem. We also are partnering with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction to create a judicial education program that will arm our judiciary with the tools necessary to prevent the courts from being used as weapons of continued abuse. We invite you to visit our website and to contact us for further information.
LawYou America, Inc.
We look forward to working with the judiciary to educate judges so we can relegate this pernicious form of legal abuse to the ash heap of history.