Inequality at the Family Court
Nevadans for Equal Parenting would like to respond to Dennis Myers’ Aug. 5 article titled, “Disorder in the Family Court,” and follow-up articles. NEP was not contacted for comment prior to their publication.
NEP sponsored a family court judicial candidates’ forum on July 6. The Sparks Tribune published a report the following day. A portion of the forum involved a discussion regarding the Committee to Aid Abused Women’s contract with Washoe County to run the Protection Order Advocates Office. Had Myers attended, he would have observed that the candidates realized there is a need for a protection order process, but that some questioned whether a private organization that clearly has a bias in favor of women is the appropriate way to assist in that process. The issue is not whether CAAW provides assistance to female victims of domestic violence but whether it is sensible to have an organization with a political agenda run a court office.
NEP asked the candidates whether they supported CAAW’s presence in the courthouse and all of the candidates, including Myra Sheehan, said they didn’t. The audience at the forum was respectful, and Sheehan’s statement that she was afraid to speak her mind is nonsense.
Any citizen can go to the Family Court with the proper paperwork and request a temporary protection order. The paperwork is fairly simple and could be distributed in the Family Self Help Center along with the other legal templates they provide. Why do we need a protection order advocates office separate from the self-help center and costing the taxpayers at least $70,000 per year?
Currently, CAAW advocates have unfettered access to the judges; they provide women with assistance in completing their applications, coach them through the hearings, advocate on their behalf and counsel and accompany them through every step of the process. Men, on the other hand, sit in the hall and are given forms to fill out if they aren’t turned away. These procedures are clearly illegal and bring up serious ethical concerns regarding court administration.
NEP supports the appropriate issuance of protection orders where there is clearly evidence of domestic violence. We propose abolishing the Protection Order Advocates Office and favor having the Self Help Center provide forms and explain the procedure to anyone who seeks temporary protection from the court on an emergency basis.
RN&R alleges there is confusion regarding the statistics on domestic violence but this is also false. National studies performed by the Department of Justice and the Canadian and British governments show that victims of domestic violence are men roughly as often as they are women.
The difference between NEP and CAAW is that we seek equal treatment for all parties. It appears that CAAW wants preferential treatment for women.