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Outrageous Comments by Australian Family Court Chief Justice Alistair Nicholson

Family Court judge shows extreme level of bias against fathers

This an archived item shown for reference only


This an initiative sponsored and supported by
Men, Fathers, and Children International (MFCI)

A call for help from down under, if you get a spare moment, please help.

The problem

In media interviews, Australian Family Court Chief Justice Justice Alistair Nicholson expressed bigoted and extremely biased opinions about fathers.  Such a man is not part of the solution to the problem, he is the problem!

What the media said about it

What you must do about it

Links to statistics that pertain to domestic violence and to the consequences of fatherlessness:

Use those stats in your letters.  Don't use them all, but you may want to show the links in your messages.

When you send a letter to Justice Nicholson, make sure you send a copy to the Attorney General, the media, and to your Member of Parliament.  It is important that you indicate at the bottom of your letter to Justice Nicholson the parties who you are sending copies to.  You don't have to identify their addresses for that.  Their names and titles are sufficient.

  • Identify additional addresses that can be useful

  • If you are currently involved in custody litigation, APPEAL!!!
    Obviously, appeals are an absolute necessity.  In a judicial system that is headed by such grossly biased judges it isn't possible for fathers to obtain equitable justice.  Most of all, anyone who ever had his case heard by Justice Alistair Nicholson has reasonable grounds for an appeal on account of the bias expressed by Justice Nicholson.
  • If you are willing to go the extra mile, file charges of judicial bias against Justice Nicholson.  When those charges are filed, he'll not be able to hear family cases for the duration of the hearing into his misconduct.  If nothing else, that will at least give a few people a break.  If he's not on the bench he won't be able to persecute any men.
  • Become involved!  The more of us write, regardless of in which country you are residing, the more of a difference it will make.  This judge must go!

The Objective:

To Get Chief Justice Nicholson removed from the bench.  He shouldn't even be permitted to practice law in traffic court.  It will probably be impossible for him there as well to mete out equitable justice to fathers.  A large portion of traffic offenders are fathers!

Additional Addresses

Please pass on any additional information and media names and address details to Lloyd Gorling <kalypso@glen-net.ca> and David Roberts <kutusov@classic.msn.com> for international distribution and action.  

Addresses

Alastair Nicholson
Chief Justice
Family Court
Marland House
570 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Fax: 613 9602 2105

Additionally, please consider writing to the Federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams.  Complain about Nicholson's focus on disparaging fathers, being biased toward women and neglecting the best interests of the child. Enclose examples of your love for your child(ren) and of their desire for you.

Daryl Williams
Attorney-General
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Media:

Newspapers:

NB: When emailing, send only text, no attachments & be brief.


See example of a good letter sent.

The Australian
Letters to the Editor
Jennifer Campbell, Editor
GPO Box 4162 SYDNEY NSW 2001
<ausletr@newscorp.com.au>
Fax1: 612 9288 2824
Fax2: 612 9288 3077

The Age
Letters to the Editor
250 Spencer Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000
<letters@theage.fairfax.com.au>
Fax: 613 9601 2414
Tel: 613 9670 1601

Journalist:

Caroline Milburn <cmilburn@theage.fairfax.com.au>

The Australian Financial Review
Letters to the Editor
GPO Box 506
SYDNEY NSW 2001
<edletters@afr.fairfax.com.au>
Fax: 612 9282 3137

Herald Sun
Letters to the Editor
PO Box 14631
MELBOURNE CITY MC VIC 8001
<hseditor@hwt.newsltd.com.au>
Fax: 613 9292 2944
Tel: 613 9292 3666


Millions of fathers complain about bias of the courts.  Nicholson responds  that they are doing a good job, and only sinister fathers who treat women and children as entitlements complain.  What chance would any father have in an appeal in the face of such blatant judicial bias?  Society is collapsing around him from the effects on children of fatherlessness, while Nicholson fiddles with ignorant nonsense that belongs on a psychiatrist's bench, not on a judicial bench.  Nicholson has violated the first rule judicial conduct, which is to maintain an unbiased judicial demeanor.  Any father who now appears before him, should demand that he recuse himself based on his public comments.  He is no longer fit to sit on any Family Court bench.

Only a small minority of 0.2% complain, but we are "clogging the courts" with pro se appeals.  Which is it Nicholson?  Are fathers dissatisfied with the bigotry and ignorance your comments reflect a miniscule minority, or are we clogging the courts?  According to the latest research of Dr. Sanford Braver, 75% of divorced fathers are not satisfied with their treatment by courts such as his, versus only 10% of mothers.  If he thinks the courts are clogged now, just wait to see what happens if he is not fired soon.

Every father in Australia who is dissatisfied with his case should immediately file a pro se statement of appeal of his case.  Just send a letter to the court that heard your case, state the reasons for your dissatisfaction, lack of visitation enforcement, oppressive child support, etc., or whatever else happened in your case, and state that you want the case re-heard.  Let them figure out the legal technicalities, but stop sitting in the back of the bus and instead demand that your dissatisfaction be heard.

Did it ever occur to Nicholson that perhaps they get so many pro se cases because so many fathers are so beaten down that they can't afford attorneys?  Furthermore, why would fathers want to funnel money into a system so rife with the blatant bias evident in Nicholson's comments?  As long as Nicholson remains in his present position, confidence in the Australian judiciary can only continue to erode.

… send letters of protest to every newspaper around Australia and New Zealand, by both mail and FAX.  Could you fellows down under send media addresses and FAX numbers to everyone on this list?  Hard copy is far more effective than email with the media, but send an email if that's all you can do.

David A. Roberts,
President, ACFC


Media Reports about Nicholson's outrageous comments

Nicholson was just on TV interviewed on the ABC's 7:30 Report tonight (Wed 21 Oct 98) stating, amongst other things, that the only reason men were so upset (and he mentioned that this was an international thing with the US, UK & NZ being named) was that they didn't like women gaining equality.  This a typical feminist plea to the fury of "backlash."  It is being used to paint fathers as reactionary and only self-interested.  Additionally, he scoffed at claims the fathers' concern was about bias on the part of the FC and himself.

Please write and tell him that your complaint is related to your humanity (love and care for) and concern for the best interests of your child(ren).  Let him know about your love for your child(ren) and his/theirs for you.


The Age (Melbourne)
Wed 21 October 1998, p2

Family Court chief raps 'sinister' men

by Caroline Milburn (Law reporter) <cmilburn@theage.fairfax.com.au>

The most vitriolic critics of the Family Court were sinister men who wanted to change the law to disadvantage women, the court's Chief Justice said last night.

Justice Alistair Nicholson said the court's harshest critics were men's groups that believed the family court system had treated them badly.

"To many of these people, women's emancipation has either not occurred, or should not have done so," he said.  "A feature of their rhetoric is a complete absence of concern for children other than as objects of their rights and entitlements.

"They frequently engage in the grossest form of harassment of their former partners and their children."

Justice Nicholson said men's groups were increasingly blitzing federal members of Parliament with allegations of court bias, complaints about child support issues, custody and access.  Their allegations painted a false picture of the court, given that the groups represented a minority of its clients.

"When you only hear one side of the story it is all too easy to conclude that there has been glaring injustice," he said.  "When the transcipt of the case is obtained, a very different story usually emerges.  I am tired of listening to armchair experts, some of whom are in the media, who listen to one side of the very complex story and jump to a conclusion of injustice, or worse."

He said many men involved in property disputes found it difficult to accept that a women's contribution as a homemaker and parent was valued as highly as their economic contribution to the family.

The Chief Justice was speaking at the opening of the court's national conference.  He said the men's groups alleging bias against men overlooked vital statistics.  Half of all couples with children involved in a marriage breakdown made their own custody arrangements without going to the court.  Ninety-five per cent of cases that went to court were resolved before going to trial.  The court received complaints about 0.2 per cent of its cases, and 40 per cent of fathers gained custody of children in cases where both parents wanted the children to live with them.

The number of people appealing against decisions without being represented by a lawyer had jumped by 40 per cent and many of them were men being egged on by the men's groups.  "These obsessive people are taking up an enormous amount of court time, and they are directly causing delays in the system," Justice Nicholson said.


Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 21 October 1998

Our new poor law: a court in crisis

The following is an edited text of the "State of the Court" address by the Honourable Alastair Nicholson, AO, Chief Justice of the Family Court:

MEN'S GROUPS

The most strident critics of the court emanate from groups of men who regard themselves as having been badly treated by the Family Court system.

Many of their concerns relate to child support issues over which this court has little or no control. Others relate to enforcement of court orders for contact and there is an overall concern that the system is in some way loaded against them.

In the property area, many men find it difficult to accept that a woman's contribution as a homemaker and parent is valued as highly as their economic contribution.

There are no doubt many cases where the end result is one that is not as satisfactory as each party would want. There are no doubt some where opinions could differ as to the result. There is a natural tendency to blame the institution, in this case the court that has the task of deciding what should happen when people are unable to agree about their children. It is rarely recognised that the problem is not one of the court's making but that of the people involved.

There are unreal expectations as to what a court can do. A court cannot make people act contrary to their nature or experience. A court cannot make children want to go on
contact visits. A court cannot create assets or income where none exist.

All courts can do and the judges who make them up, is to do their best in each case to arrive at the fairest result possible.

In this country there is very much a culture, if unsatisfied with a Family Court decision, to complain to a Member of Parliament. Federal members tell me, and I have no reason to doubt them, that most of the complaints that they receive from constituents relate to Family Court matters or child support matters. The better informed realise that this inevitable, but others begin to feel that there must be something wrong if this volume of complaints occurs. The pressure groups are well aware of this and do their best to swell the volume. When you only hear one side of the story it is all too easy to conclude that there has been a glaring injustice. When the transcript of the case is obtained, a very different story usually emerges. I am tired of listening to armchair experts, some of whom are in the media, who listen to one side of a very complex story and jump to a conclusion of injustice or worse.

As I said at the 1995 conference, there is a more sinister element at work. I have absolutely no doubt that there are many persons associated with men's groups in particular who have an agenda to change the law to the disadvantage of women. To many of these people, women's emancipation has either not occurred or should not have done so. A feature of their rhetoric is a complete absence of concern for children other than as objects of their rights and entitlements. They frequently engage in the grossest form of harassment of their former partners and their children. Many demonstrate in strident terms outside the court. Some even stand for Parliament, with a signal lack of success.

These people undoubtedly do themselves and their children a great disservice. There are issues relating to men and families that deserve to be aired. There are people who could receive better and more caring results from the system. More could no doubt be done but these people actually stand as an obstruction to change. Their own bitterness and their inability to look beyond their own cases and the supposed injustices that they
have suffered, stand in the way of any sensible dialogue.

SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS

The reduction in legal aid has led to a new difficulty over and above the difficulties already facing the court.

I do not believe this to be a jurisdiction where self-represented persons can do adequate justice to the case that they wish to present. Apart from the normal difficulties that such persons would have in an ordinary court, the nature of family law is such that it is almost impossible for persons to examine or cross examine their former partner in an objective, effective or meaningful way.

When there are allegations of violence or child abuse the position becomes even more difficult and if the child is not represented there is no meaningful cross-examination of the witness by anyone. It is impossible for the judge to do so without appearing to be partisan.

In the area of case preparation, the court's carefully crafted case management guidelines become useless because of the inability of lay persons to prepare written material that satisfies the guidelines, and affidavits often contain a mish mash of irrelevant material - often of a scandalous nature.

Settlement negotiations become almost impossible as neither party has access to independent and skilled advice. This in turn prolongs litigation and further clogs the court lists.

This not only a problem at first instance but also on appeal, as discussed previously.

LEGAL AID

Family law is in crisis in our community and one of the prime reasons for this the reduction in legal aid that has occurred over recent years. I should indicate at the outset, lest I be thought politically partisan, that the decline in the availability of legal aid to family law commenced prior to the election of the Coalition Government in 1996, although there can be no doubt that the Coalition accelerated this process. Prior to that time however, the family law share of the legal aid pie had steadily declined and I made a number of protests to the former Government about that fact, to no avail ...

The ready availability of legal aid was an essential concomitant to the Family Law Act at the time of its introduction as a reading of the act of 1975 makes clear. It also makes sense, because the conferring of rights upon people in marriage and other relationships and their children quickly becomes meaningless if there is insufficient funding to enable them to enforce those rights. That is precisely what we are seeing today.

There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence of those problems and every judge registrar and counsellor present would, I suggest, have plenty of harrowing anecdotes.

I am particularly concerned about the failure to provide aid at all levels including the appellate level. Let us not forget that appellate decisions are decisions that are likely to shape the law and are binding on all judges at first instance as well as magistrates applying the act, and yet the court is consistently being deprived of the assistance of counsel. It has been a fundamental of our system of law that such cases require counsel to ensure that all relevant matters of law are considered by the court. What we are now seeing is a serious breakdown of the system. If it is unfair for a trial to proceed in a serious criminal matter without legal representation, how much more so is it in a case involving the welfare of the child?

FAMILY VIOLENCE

Unfortunately it is necessary to once again make reference to the issue of family violence which continues to devastate so many of the families with whom this court comes into contact. The killing of women outside the Dandenong and Parramatta registries late last year reinforced the concerns we all have about the prevalence of family violence and made us all painfully aware once again of how fragile are the lives of many who seek our assistance ...

Unfortunately, however, the fact that more is known about the dynamics of families and the factors which are conducive to domestic violence does not necessarily mean that we have improved measures to combat it. Moreover, the various surveys, which show high levels of community acceptance of domestic violence - by both men and women - are extremely disturbing and indicate that the intergenerational transmission of violent behaviour to children is obviously continuing.

In a stark reminder of the extent of family violence in our community there were 8,632 cases last year in the Family Court of Australia where separate interviews were requested and held because of family violence. These interviews are offered when there has been a history of violence in the relationship and one of the parties indicates that they are worried about their physical safety and are afraid to be in the same room as their former partner ...

The focus for both the court and community agencies is clearly on the provision of a range of services for families, many of whose members are dysfunctional, at least when they present to us ... One matter of obvious concern is the possibility that delay may exacerbate violence and another is the continuing reduction in legal aid, which may also have this effect. The cost to innocent people of current legal aid policies comes high even if the Government saves money.


 An example of a letter sent

Please note the FAX number for Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson is 613 9602 2105.

A copy of fax just sent to Chief Justice Nicholson, fax 03 9602 2105 (his chambers)

(International: 613 9602 2105)


To Chief Justice Nicholson

How dare you refer to myself or any other father or mother in Australia as sinister or anything other than fantastic and loving parents who wish to be involved in their children's lives in a meaningful way.

Comments from a WISE judge:

    "Although the dispute is symbolized by a 'versus' which signifies two adverse parties at opposite poles of a line, there is in fact a third party whose interests and rights make of the line a  triangle. That person, the child who is not an official party to the lawsuit but whose well-being is in the eye of the controversy, has a right to shared parenting when both are equally suited to provide it. Inherent in the express public policy is a recognition of the child's right to equal access and opportunity with both parents, the right to be guided and  nurtured by both parents, the right to have major decisions made by the application of both parents' wisdom, judgement and experience. The child does not forfeit these rights when the parents divorce."  

      Presiding Judge Dorothy T. Beasley,
      Georgia Court of Appeals,
      "In the Interest of A.R.B., a Child," July 2, 1993

I demand an apology from yourself concerning the statements you made about caring and devoted parents who want nothing more than to be responsible and loving parents. That is all we ask as our children deserve it.  It is their right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It is also in our children's best interest.  Sole custody and sole residence has never been in the best interest of the children.  If you are not satisfied this the case I will gladly send you psychological literature to back this statement up.

Bruce Young BPsych (Hons)
0412 129 411

bruce 0412 129 411 & 07 47721839

See also Video on violent women

____________
Updates:
2001 02 07 (format changes)