Of course I am a huge advocate of having a cell phone in order to protect you and to document any concern. Time and time again we have children who have clearly stated that they were being abused or threatened and it was never believed until video evidence came to light. If the father and the judge is this concerned about the child's use of a cell phone, then there must be something they are both trying desperately to hide.
I can not understand why judges continue to prevent children from protecting themselves from abusive parents. With video evidence there is no question about what was said and the manner in which it was said. Cameras have shown judges asleep, lawyers lying, cops roughing up children, and fathers beating their daughters. Why all the fear Judge? What are you trying to hide?
A Brooklyn judge says a 10-year-old boy at the center of a heated custody battle should get rid of his iPhone because it has become a spy tool for his TV commentator mom.
Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine says the high-tech phone is a nuissance because the boy takes pictures and recordings of his dad, John Hannigan, and sends them to his mom, Annemarie McAvoy.
"Get this iPhone out. It's too much of an intrusion," Sunshine said during an emergency trial to assess the risk of the boy, who recently threatened suicide if he has to stay with his dad.
The boy lives with his father, but the judge said McAvoy instructs his son to get any dirt on her ex-husband.
"The mother entered the father's home and took residency with the iPhone," the judge said, recommending the boy downgrade to a flip phone.
Sunshine ruled there's no imminent danger to the boy and upheld a temporary 2007 order of a Queens judge that switched custody from McAvoy to Hannigan.
The father's lawyer, Audrey Sager, called the iPhone "an intrusive weapon utilized by the mother" to document her former husband.
McAvoy, who acted as her own attorney, blasted the decision, saying her son uses the phone to video-chat and do homework with her.
"It just shows how out of touch this judge is," she said of the ruling. "This is ridiculous."
Sunshine told McAvoy to dial down her "exaggerations" about the boy's condition. He implored the warring parents to think different.
"Life is not a cross-examination," he said. "Nor is parenthood."
In a letter of a type rarely seen in Australia, Chief Federal Magistrate John H. Pascoe said he was "very deeply concerned" at the distress the mother suffered after her children were taken from her.
He said the treatment the mother received in court was "quite inconsistent with the aims of the court in dealing with family matters" and added: "I have a great deal of sympathy for you."
The woman, who cannot be named, was accused in court of "poisoning" the children against their father by involving them in the custody dispute. The children were twin boys aged 14 and their 12-year-old sister.
The magistrate in the case, Joseph Harman, told the woman he believed she was doing irreparable psychological harm to the children by not encouraging them to see their father.
In a hearing at the Parramatta branch of the Federal Magistrates Court, Mr Harman said the children would have no relationship with their father if they were allowed to stay with their mother. He based his ruling on the findings of a court psychologist.
Under the laws on shared parenting brought in by the Howard government in 2006, couples were encouraged to "co-parent" their children after divorce.
The Senate passed amendments to those laws last week. Men's rights groups have complained the Labor government is winding back shared care, but women's groups say the amendments are necessary to protect children from harm.
When Mr Harman told the Sydney mother he had decided to send the children to live full-time with their father, her lawyer immediately objected, saying the "extraordinary" move "would remove the children from the mother, instantly, with no communication whatsoever".
Mr Harman replied: "That's a bit like what happened in June-July last year, when the children were removed from any time with their father, and haven't communicated with him since."
Counsel for the mother told the court the children had become hysterical when told of the order, and were refusing to leave the court with their father.
The magistrate said this was typical of children who had been taught to fear their father.
The mother left the court "distressed and about to vomit" and an ambulance was called. Two NSW police officers attended the court after the children began damaging court property in the foyer.
The mother's lawyer then told the court that if the children were forced to go with their father they would run away.
"That's why I've invited the Department (of Community Services) to intervene," Mr Harman said. "If they don't comply, they will be in a refuge. They won't be going home with mum."
Two senior child welfare officers from the NSW Department of Community Services were called to the court. Mr Harman told them: "We have two children, sorry, three children, two of whom are twin boys who have just turned 14, so young, strong and full of testosterone, and a 12-year-old girl.
"They are now expressing very strong entrenched views that they are not going anywhere with their father. I have just made an order that they are to go home with him.
"I have also made an order, subject to the power of arrest if anyone breaches it, that neither mum nor any member of her family are to go and talk to them.
"If these children refuse to go anywhere with their father, I would like you to exercise your emergency powers and take them into care.
"Those are the three options: they go home with dad or they go home with the director. They are not leaving this building with mum."
He added: "If you need the assistance of police or security, downstairs will help with that."
However, neither police nor the social workers were willing to physically force the children, who were described as "verging on hysterical", into a refuge or into their father's care.
One of the police officers told Mr Harman the children were in "a highly aggressive, agitated and hysterical state" and one social worker tried to explain it would be impossible to force the children to go with the father, since it may "see them break away, or run away, and be vulnerable on the streets".
Mr Harman conceded defeat, saying: "These children have now been present in this court since 11.30am, and accordingly have been here for the best part of eight hours and have maintained a steadfast refusal to leave (the court) with the father."
He said the children's mother had helped whip "them into a frenzy" about being sent to a refuge, and so he agreed to let the children leave with a maternal aunt. Their mother was banned from any contact with them for a month, including by mobile telephone and email. She was also banned from going within 500m of their school.
The mother has told The Australian the order removing the children was overturned after a month, with no explanation.
"They came back to me, and they are still with me, and I never heard another word from the court until I suddenly got that apology (on November 9)," the mother said. "He did so much damage to my children, I believe he should be sacked."
Mr Harman was asked to stand down from the court last month while he received counselling for a series of judgments that had to be overturned on appeal.
In one case, he revealed he had a sexual relationship with the lawyer who was acting for the wife, and then refused to disqualify himself from the hearing.
Mr Pascoe said he had been made aware of "some complaints" against Mr Harman, who had "agreed to be restricted to non-sitting duties".
Mr Harman has since resumed hearing cases at Parramatta "on a limited basis" and is subject to continuing review of his performance.
He did not respond to a request for an interview.
Mr Harman was appointed by federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland in July last year. In a statement, Mr McClelland said he was "aware of concerns raised in relation to Federal Magistrate Harman in the performance of his judicial duties".
Under the Federal Magistrates Act, magistrates "must not be removed from office, except by the Governor-General, on an address from both Houses of Parliament . . . praying for his or her removal on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity"