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Another Case of Judicial Abuse


April 10, 2008 08:01 AM EDT
© 2008 by Mother Toad (Gail, Love the Spring, season and step
Average Rating: 10/10 (12 votes)
Tags: children, people, most read, abuse, most comments, judicial system, child abuse, child protective services, information,
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abuse, divorce, virginia, real life story

Tuesday, April 8, 2008, I accompanied Dr. Ariel King, Founder and President of the Ariel Foundation, to the family court
of Judge Esther Wiggins Lyles in Arlington, VA.

The following are my observations and interperatations of the events.

I have heard about this Judge, but had never had, what I now consider to be, the displeasure of sitting in on one of her
hearings. It was an eye opener for me that such a judge continues to dispense her self interpreted brand of justice
from the bench. And, I am left wondering who is in charge of that courtroom and why she continues to be paid for
occupying the position of judge.

I had spoken to Dr. Ariel King for only a few minutes the night before court and we mostly spoke of my own situation,
not hers. I arrived at her home in Maryland after 9AM on April 8th, while she was out on an errand. When she arrived
home close to 9:30 or so, it was time for her to get ready for court, showering dressing and doing her hair. As soon as
she was ready, we left in separate cars. I mention all this so that you understand that we had no time together to
discuss her case. I had little if any background available to me until the end of the court day. As happened, this was
positive for being an observer. I had little or no information on which to base my observations.

We were accompanied to court by Dr. King's mother, who had suffered a massive stroke in February, 2008. Along the
way, we stopped to pick a friend of Dr. King's who is a lawyer, but does not practice in the family court system, nor in
the Commonwealth. He was simply along for the "legal ride" and has taken an interest in her case.

Prior to court, we met her lawyer, the latest in a string of attorneys to represent Dr. King. The others had been
dismissed by her for inaction and mishandling of her case. This lawyer had failed to bring with him a set of documents
Dr. King felt was important to the case. He had completely jumbled other papers that were to be presented to the
court. As Dr. King and her friend made attempts to set the paperwork right, the lawyer representing her acted as if
these were natural mistakes. After about a half hour or so, we headed toward the courthouse.

As we exited the elevator on the fourth floor, Dr. King mentioned something that is vital to her case. I had heard her
mention at least twice during the just prior meeting and the lawyer had reassured her that everything was in order. As
if it were completely normal, the new lawyer tossed out "We're not filing that today." No explanation, no reasoning, not
a further word was said by him.

I was the only observer in the courtroom. Judge Wiggins Lyles attempted to delay the case even further, saying that
none of the four contempt charges stemming from Show Cause Orders were due to be heard that day. I can only
surmise that this tactic was a lame attempt to possibly delay the case until I exited the courtroom. After all, no one
knew who I was, and later, I would not be sworn in as a witness, which was visually noted by the judge with an intense
stare toward me while everyone else raised their right hand. The only person to leave the courtroom was Dr. King's
mother, frail and frightened.

The Guardian ad Litem was the first to speak. She offered, though Dr. King was cooperating with the courts at this
time, she had a history of being very uncooperative. After court, I asked Dr. King what this was in reference to. Dr.
King replied that she did not know why this was being said. This, I am again surmising from hearing a good part of the
story, stemmed from the original phone call she received from the GAL in Virginia. She was living in Maryland, after
only living in Virginia for twenty-nine days. At the time of the abandonment, her husband moved to DC for two months
and then returned to Maryland, but filled for full custody in Virginia. Her husband was living in DC, when he filed for
full custody in Virginia. This was directly following the abandonment by her husband of her and her than 4 year old
child without money or a place to live one week after completing a Neurology Residency. Upon receiving the call, Dr.

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King sought advice from counsel. She was told not to talk to anyone, and so she followed the advice her then lawyer
gave her. At the point in time the call was received, the child was living with Dr. King in Maryland.

The fact that she and her child had only spent twenty-nine days in Virginia before the husband filed for full custody in
Virginia and returned to Maryland following that period, and with the husband living in Washington, DC, again, not
Virginia, begs one to ask why a custody case is being heard in a courtroom in Arlington, VA. The law is very specific
on this point and leaves no room for interpretation. In order for custody to be heard in a Virginia courtroom, at least
one of the litigants has to have lived within the borders of this state for no less than six months. Neither of the litigants
involved, nor the child, meets that stipulation. With the child living in Maryland with her mother at the time the case
was filed, and the father living in DC, a civil case should have been filed in one of those jurisdictions. From my
understanding, Dr. King has pointed this out to the judge in the past. When there was an attempt to bring it up again
on Tuesday, Wiggins Lyles abruptly cut her off and informed her that she did not want to hear it. The judge had based
the jurisdictional issue on the fact that Dr. King had, at one point, signed a one year lease on an apartment, which she
admits to having done at the time of the abandonment, but only used the apartment for a total of three months during
the lease period. Their daughter's private school, place of worship, extra-curricular activities, pediatrician, playmates all
remained in Maryland the entire time.

As court proceeded, Dr. King was put on the stand. As is now my understanding, though she was ready and willing,
Judge Wiggins Lyles had not allowed her to speak in court since the case had started. In that vein, the judge refused
to see offers of evidence presented on Tuesday. One by one, she ruled that they were of no relevance or not
admissible as hearsay, without examining most of the documents herself and basing it solely on the word of Mr.
O'Connell.

Time after time, the lawyer for the other side, Mike O'Connell, pounded on the podium in an attempt to upset Dr. King.
During first of the two recesses in the five and one half hours we spent in the courthouse, I informed her lawyer that the
act of the pounding was a deliberate badgering of Dr. King and an attempt to upset her. He spoke to the husband's
lawyer during that recess, and following that, although not present for the conversation, I have to believe that he
informed Mr. O'Connell that I was there to observe the proceedings as a possible future witness to the happenings in
the courtroom, as he discontinued the practice. At one point, however, Mr. O'Connell, raised his voice and in an angry
tone asked Dr. King if she knew what the penalty was of perjury. This is lawyer speak for "You are lying", something
they are forbidden from saying to anyone on the witness stand without being able to back it up. Again, this is used as
an intimidation technique.

During the entire time that her husband was present in the courtroom, and having full view of him, I noted an
uncontrollable and constant facial twitching. He held his hands tightly together and below the table level where the
judge could not see them. Now knowing that he is a Neurologist, I have to question the cause of the twitching. These
types of bodily behaviors would give me concern in a medical environment. On the other hand, when people lie,
whether themselves or through a third party, they will often display such behaviors, as do people with certain organic
brain disorders ranging from Tourette's syndrome to Generalized Anxiety disorder with any number of serious brain
disorders in between, including untreated or with the off label use of Lexapro for Bipolar disorder as reported by
patients who are using the drug for it's unintended use.

When the subject of Dr. King's mother came up, Judge Wiggins Lyles choose to offer, in what can best be described as
editorializing, that Dr. King had made a bad choice in bringing her to Maryland from Atlanta. With no support system in
Atlanta for her mother, no insurance to cover further hospital bills (her mother was stablized and released due to lack of
insurance at 3 AM) and her mother having the physical capacity of a six month old, the judge said that she would not
have moved her mother to the DC area via car (the mother was not allowed to fly due to a bleed condition in the brain)
and that Dr. King should have remained in Atlanta, away from her child, her employment and two other people to help
care for her mother. In essence, the judge was telling her that she should have made the choice between her child and
her near death mother and that the act of bringing her mother here, where she could receive proper care, was an
unthinking act on Dr. King's part.

From the beginning, I question the abilities or willingness of Dr. King's new lawyer. One of the first things he told her
was that a key witness, living a few miles away in Maryland, could not be subpoenaed to testify. It is my understanding
that if a person is within a 1200 mile radius, they can be called. Further than that, they can be deposed.

When asked about notifying the courts upon her return from Atlanta (the husband had been given temporary custody
while she was away), Dr. King said that she notified her lawyer, the GAL and her CPS probation officer, a Ms. Woods,
by email just after 1 PM Tuesday, after returning on Monday and amassing the proof that the CPS worker required.
Ms. Woods stated from the observers seating, "Oh, yeah, a week later." Dr. King was able to produce a copy of that
email. Judge Wiggins Lyles responded that it was after the attempt by Dr. King to retrieve her child and ruled a
contempt charge be upheld.

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Dr. King is in possession of a tape of a 911 call placed on the Tuesday morning and stemming from the attempt to pick
up her child upon her return from Atlanta and upon amassing the required documents for the court. The father refused
to hand the child over. On that tape, the child can clearly be heard screaming, banging on a door and crying for her
mother. The judge refused to hear that tape.

The husband was allowed to leave the courtroom early. Mr. O'Connell outwardly stated that he could leave to pick up
the child from school, although he was fully aware that Dr. King had arranged for the child to be picked up by the
nanny. It should be noted that it was not the judge who excused the husband, but his own lawyer. I believe this is an
indication of the judge's propensity to just go along with one lawyer over the concerns of the entire courtroom and the
rules of said courtroom. When his lawyer was on track to make a statement or ask a question that would be objected
to, Judge Wiggins Lyles told him how to phrase them so that they would not be overruled. She did this time and again,
yet did not extend the same courtesy to Dr. King's lawyer. At one point, Mr. O'Connell ordered that a disallowed
question be stricken from the record while no such utterance came from the judge.

When it came to the matter of Dr. Lane, it was noted by the courts that Dr. King had discontinued seeing him. In what I
believe to be a deliberate set-up for failure, Dr. Lane would initiate the appointments with a call or email her with times
and dates he could see her. She kept all but one appointment with him. Eventually, for reasons I have yet to learn, Dr.
King was forced to contact the medical board about Dr. Lane. When the attorney for the husband asserted that Dr.
King had missed several appointments, she again informed him that she had only missed one. Mr. O'Connell than
stated that no one would ever know that for sure because Dr. King exercised her right to make what she thought and
continues to feel, was a valid complaint. Dr. Lane has had complaints filed against him in the past. Dr. McFarlane, an
associate of Dr. Lane's, has now been appointed by the judgeto do the evaluations.

When Dr. King's mother came into the courtroom to testify, Judge Wiggins Lyles refused to allow the testimony to take
place. In a previous hearing, the father's lawyer had asserted that Dr King exaggerated the mother's illness in order
not to attend a previously schedule full custody hearing. They asserted that Dr. King had gone to Atlanta to venue
shop, a fact that could have been disputed by the mother.

The cruelest part of the day came about a half hour before bringing the gavel down for the day. Dr. King was found
guilty on two counts of contempt of court. Mr. O'Connell, citing the Dr. King's alleged noncooperation, angrily insisted
that Dr. King be jailed. Judge Wiggins Lyles, in what appears to me to be a deliberate attempt to destabilize Dr. King,
informed those present that she "needed to think" about the punishment until the next hearing date, once again leaving
Dr. King in a state of limbo.

Court was dismissed for the day when Dr. King's mother began to feel ill with what is believed to be, based on her
blood pressure and medical history, a mini stroke and had to be removed from the courtroom. Ms. Woods, the CPS
probation officer, assisted us in getting her down stairs. When doing so, she stated to Dr. King that she thought the
husband could use help with parenting by taking "a few parenting classes."

Submitted by
Gail Lakritz April 10, 2008

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Comments: 11
penni d. Apr 10, 2008, 9:02am EDT

Sounds like a courtroom in My county...Good luck to Dr. king...she NEEDS it..


Tom Hunter Apr 10, 2008, 9:18am EDT

Boy,
This really sounds like a shitty deal. Sorry you had to go through that.
Lune Wolfsong Apr 10, 2008, 11:04am EDT

Outrageous system. Just outrageous.


Good-bye A. Apr 10, 2008, 12:16pm EDT

Best wishes to all that are involved.


Denise B. Apr 10, 2008, 1:15pm EDT

this is NUTS!! she needs to get the judge overrulled and get the venue changed, it seems the other lawyer has that
jusge in his pocket
Randee "The Court Jester of LaLa Land ! ! !" always and forever, I just want to celebrate Apr 11, 2008, 7:40am EDT

I've heard of Kangaroo Courts...but you have just layed witness to one....
Curt L. Apr 11, 2008, 12:31pm EDT

Jeesh!
Dee - Nature Babe! Apr 12, 2008, 6:05am EDT

This is insane Gail. Dr. King has done more than her share of suffering. And this judge needs to be disbarred.

Good luck to Dr. King.


Jan S. Apr 15, 2008, 4:51am EDT

I can't imagine how anyone is expected to tell the WHOLE truth when the attorneys and judges won't allow it to be
revealed. Quash, issue a continuance, drag feet...hoping the injured parties will give up? Shame on the whole bunch
of them!
Justice is about people's lives.
Renee (Pres of Baby James Foundation) ~. Apr 15, 2008, 4:03pm EDT

There are more situations like this then we know.


Nancy H. Apr 28, 2008, 10:47am EDT

How horrible, but unfortunately so typical of Judge Esther Wiggins-Lyle. She once told me that I did a bad thing by
having another little girl come over to play with my daughter Sabrina duringour overnight visit with Sabrina.
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