Posted March 21, 2014
by Julia Fletcher
Is there absolute lawlessness in the family courts of Connecticut?
The following excerpt is from the transcript of the Connecticut General Assembly Judicial Committee Hearing, February 23, 2009 .
Testifying before the Judicial Committee on February 23, 2009, hoping to be a Superior Court judge, Mr. Adelman told members of the committee family courts didn’t “even have clear rules from the Supreme Court as to what a GAL or — or an Attorney for the Minor Child is supposed to do.”
Did Mr. Adelman want the Connecticut Supreme Court to make more law, rules, and regulations for Guardians ad litem in addition to or to replace what was already clearly on the books and in practice in 2009?
Here’s information anyone can find online: Representing Minors in Connecticut .
Here are more rules and regulations for Guardians ad Litem in Connecticut from 2007:
Connecticut’s Commission on Child Protection adopted Standards of Practice for Attorneys and Guardians Ad Litem Representing Children in Child Protection Cases on November 16, 2006. They are an adaptation of model standards developed by the American Bar Association and adopted by the National Association of Counsel for Children on April 12, 1999. Their stated purpose is to help attorneys and GALs prioritize duties and manage their caseloads in a way that will benefit each child they are appointed to represent.
The standards apply when a lawyer is appointed for a child under age 18 in any action based on (1) a petition for child protection; (2) a request to change legal custody, visitation, or guardianship based on abuse and neglect charges; or (3) termination of parental rights. All of the standards apply to lawyers appointed in the dual capacity of attorney/GAL. The standards recognize that, even in the dual role, the lawyer’s primary duty is to protect the child client’s legal rights. Section V of the standards applies when an attorney or other qualified individual is appointed to act solely as GAL and represent the child’s best interests.
Under the standards, a child’s best interests are a measure of his or her well-being, including physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and moral needs. They encompass the child’s interests in sustained growth, development, and well-being and in continuity and stability in his or her environment (Standards of Practice, Sec. I.B)).
The standards provide GALs guidance for determining the child’s best interest and advocating for it. They require the GAL to meet with the child and establish and maintain a trusting relationship. The GAL must explain in a developmentally appropriate manner that their conversations are not confidential and should visit with the child before court hearings and when notified about emergencies or significant events in the child’s life.
The standards recognize that the non-confidential nature of the GAL’s relationship with the child may affect the nature of that relationship, resulting in the need for a GAL’s fact-finding to be as, or even more, thorough than the child’s attorney’s.
Investigations. The standards contain the following non-exclusive list of actions that GALs should take to determine the child’s best interests:
1. reviewing the child’s social services, psychiatric, psychological, drug and alcohol, medical, law enforcement, school, an other relevant records;
2. reviewing court files of the child and siblings, case narratives, and records of the Department of Children and Family (DCF) and other service providers;
3. contacting lawyers for other parties and GALs or court-appointed special advocates for background information;
4. contacting and meeting with the child’s parents, legal guardians, or other caretakers (after obtaining permission from their attorneys);
5. obtaining necessary authorizations for the release of confidential information;
6. interviewing individuals involved with the child, including school personnel, DCF social workers, foster parents and other caretakers, relatives, coaches, family friends, clergy, mental health professionals, physicians, law enforcement officers, and other potential witnesses;
7. reviewing relevant photographs, video or audio tapes, and other evidence;
8. attending treatment, placement, and administrative hearings and other relevant proceedings involving legal issues, such as school placement planning team meetings concerning the child’s special education needs; and
9. discussing non-privileged matters with the child’s attorney.
Advocating for the Child’s Best Interest.
A major portion of the GAL’s responsibility to advocate for the child’s best interests involves the formulation of the child’s permanency plan. The standards mandate that GALs must, among other things, participate in treatment plan meetings and DCF’s administrative case reviews and maintain regular contact with the child’s DCF caseworker. They must take steps needed to ensure that the child receives appropriate services and ensure that the permanency plan addresses not only the child’s permanency goal but also:
1. the child’s developmental, medical, emotional, educational, and independent living needs; and
2. assessments and support to enhance parental capacity to meet the particular needs of the child.
The standards specify that recommendations for services should be based on all information available to the GAL and should include consideration of the services necessary to ensure permanency, healthy growth and development, safety, and well-being. Permanency includes minimizing disruptions in the child’s life while in state care; ensuring trauma-informed treatment, decision-making, and transition planning; identifying the ultimate permanency goal that serves the child’s best interest; and advocating through all appropriate channels to achieve that goal.
To ensure that the best interests of the child are protected and served, GALs may testify about their findings and recommendations; request court hearings or administrative proceedings; and file pleadings, motions, and requests.
In the hearing below, was Mr. Adelman asking the Connecticut Legislative Committee to ask the Supreme Court to make new laws or to change rules for GALs already on the books? Could it be, in his prior role as Guardian ad litem in child custody cases, Mr. Adelman was not aware of his duties?
Did Mr. Adelman believe Connecticut Supreme Court judges – or any active judge – should design specific training to teach intelligent men and women how to follow rules, laws and procedures to protect the “best interests” of children?
As he sat for the following hearing, persuading the Legislative Committee to let him to be a judge, Mr. Adelman was apparently unaware of the rules already governing Guardians ad litem. He also apparently believed judges in Connecticut should simultaneously be impartial triers of fact in family court cases, write laws that weigh the facts of those cases, and design mandatory training for attorneys they chose and appoint to represent children in those same cases. Coincidentally, all of the above are happening in Connecticut.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Anyone aspiring to be a Guardian ad litem or Superior Court judge should already know: “a child’s best interests are a measure of his or her well-being, including physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and moral needs. They encompass the child’s interests in sustained growth, development, and well-being and in continuity and stability in his or her environment.”
Anyone working in the Connecticut family courts who believes judges should make and enforce rules of the family court in that state should receive the specialized training of knowing the location of the nearest EXIT sign.
SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much. And I appreciate the opening statement. You mentioned that — I’m sorry — I think almost all of your practice has been in family relations —
GERARD ADELMAN: In — in —
SENATOR McDONALD: — matters?
GERARD ADELMAN: In the last 10 or 15 years, the vast majority has been, yes.
SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Well, first of all, I wanted to actually ask you something about the — about the Guardian ad litem role that you have played. How have you been selected in –for those positions over the last 10 or 15 years?
GERARD ADELMAN: I — I would say that the — in — in the vast majority of cases, it’s been by
agreement of — of the parties’ counsel. And in other cases the Court would appoint me. Especially as my reputation as a GAL or an attorney for a minor child has grown, very often the Court would make the appointment. But in most cases, it’s done by agreement of the — of the attorneys for the parents.
SENATOR McDONALD: And I guess that speaks highly of you, if you can get parents in the divorce case to agree on something, it’s probably a good thing; right?
GERARD ADELMAN: It’s —
SENATOR McDONALD: The —
GERARD ADELMAN: It’s true.
SENATOR McDONALD: I ask you because I have heard that the process for appointments of GALs is rather haphazard unless there is an — a agreement between the two — between the parents. Is that your experience?
GERARD ADELMAN: It — it — it — it differs from court to court. I don’t — I don’t think they — the procedure is — is — is uniform in any sense. Most — most judges that are doing family work will have a list of people who they think are appropriate for that role and
— and will work down the list. I know I’ve been asked by — by judges in various courts for my own recommendations, you know, for people to add — add to that list. But I don’t think — I’m not aware that there’s any — any formal procedure, statewide.
SENATOR McDONALD: Should there be?
GERARD ADELMAN: There probably should be, you know, some sort of — of — of qualification or training. I know —
SENATOR McDONALD: You would think.
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I know that, you know, attorneys — attorneys who serve as Guardian in various courts have — have kind of formed their own — we call them academies of — of
— of Guardian ad litems. There’s one in Hartford and there’s one in New Haven, in the New Haven Judicial District. But they’re informal organizations of people who have done the work who will get together periodically. Very often judges of the court will come. I know I attended one in New Haven in the fall, and Judge Munro and Judge Gordon, who were sitting on the Regional Docket both came. Very often members of the mental health profession will come to these meetings, you know, to assist in — in — in teaching people who are — work as Guardians to deal with specific issues. The last meeting we had, we talked about psychological testing and what the tests meant and how they could be used. So I — I think it might be a — the area is very much in flux. I mean, we don’t even have clear rules from the Supreme Court as to what a GAL or — or an Attorney for the Minor Child is supposed to do, so —
SENATOR McDONALD: You may be getting those from the General Assembly, actually.
GERARD ADELMAN: Or from the General Assembly. I mean, there needs to be some clarification in the area —
SENATOR McDONALD: Well, I —
GERARD ADELMAN: — absolutely.
SENATOR McDONALD: I ask because we have several bills that we are going to be working on this year to do just that, and we are reaching out to the Judicial Branch to figure out how to work through some of those issues. And you’re right, there is no uniformity. And it seems like, from different parts of the state, that the process is rather ad hoc and uneven. Let’s put —
GERARD ADELMAN: Plus it’s —
SENATOR McDONALD: — it that way.
GERARD ADELMAN: It’s a — it’s a real area of flux in the law, and — and —
SENATOR McDONALD: Why? Why is that? What’s your opinion about (inaudible) —
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I — I — well, as I said in my opening statement, when I started in 1982, to have an Attorney for the Minor Child or Guardian was a once-in-a-blue-moon occasion and it did not happen very often at all. And I think it’s — it’s a real improvement in the system that the courts have now recognized the importance of — of keeping the child — the children protected from the — protected from the proceedings and have their rights also recognized and protected, you know, by a trained practitioner; so that — that’s the improvement. Now it’s up — it’s up to the, you know, to the statutes to catch up, you know, with — with what the practice has been in the courts.
SENATOR McDONALD: This is my own disability on the subject, I guess, because I don’t do family law, and so a lot of this is very foreign to me, but I’ve heard anecdotally that it’s not unusual for a judge to appoint a lawyer who might just be sitting in the courtroom as a Guardian ad litem, right then and there for a case that is currently pending before the court.
GERARD ADELMAN: I’ve never seen that done.
SENATOR McDONALD: You’ve never seen that, okay.
GERARD ADELMAN: I have —
SENATOR McDONALD: You —
GERARD ADELMAN: — never seen that happen.
SENATOR McDONALD: You know, you hear tails from a friend and you wonder and try — you try and figure out how much to believe and not believe, because it would be a scary proposition if somebody was just impressed into service like that and thrown into the deep end and, frankly, trying to figure out if they could actually perform any meaningful duties in such a situation.
GERARD ADELMAN: The only time I’ve seen anything like that happen is — is when some indigent or unrepresented father or mother is getting ready to be incarcerated for failure to pay child support and the Court — the judge may look out and say, Attorney Adelman, would you consider representing this person for the purposes of this hearing? But as a GAL? No, I’ve never seen that and — and there have been some occasions where a judge would — would appoint me, because I’m in the court, but he would not proceed any further that day on any — on any merits of the case until I’ve had an opportunity to participate with the family and — and gain some knowledge of what the case was about.
SENATOR McDONALD: It seems like we should, as a state, have some very clear qualifications for Guardians because, I mean, the positions taken by GALs are afforded substantial deference by the courts. Is that a fair statement to say?
GERARD ADELMAN: Many judges do that.
SENATOR McDONALD: Right. So it gives the GAL extraordinary influence over particular cases and the rights of parents and the opportunities for children, and yet we don’t have — necessary have any confidence that — that that person is particularly well suited to the role. And that’s present company excluded, of course.
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I — I — I, you know, I think you’re right and I think the system only works because, first of all, there are many attorneys who — who want absolutely nothing to do with that kind of work. And to those people — it’s kind of a self-selecting process — those people who take it on become recognized by the different Courts as — as people who they know they can — they can trust in that position. But I think you’re right; there should be some sort of — at least some level of — of not maybe not certification but at least some level of special training and recognition before someone takes on that role.
SENATOR McDONALD: And when you are appointed by a judge and asked to be a GAL, I have heard a lot of times it goes uncompensated and it ends up being pro bono. Is that true?
GERARD ADELMAN: That — that has gotten better. Many of the judges, especially the judges that do a lot of family law will — will certainly protect the Guardian’s fee. There are certainly cases, and I’ve had many of them, where the judge appoints you and — and you know or the judge tells you that there’s just no money in this case.
The one advantage you have as a Guardian is that your fee will typically become a court order, so you can enforce it. And the Bankruptcy Courts tend to rule — not always
— but tend to rule that a Guardian’s legal fee is a form of child support and is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, so there is some protection for the Guardian.
SENATOR McDONALD: I only ask because, frankly, it’s kind of hard to put substantial criteria around the appointment of a Guardian if there is nobody going to ever apply because there’s no compensation for the services rendered. But in your experience, it’s — especially, I presume, when they are mutually — when the parents mutually agree to the appointment that the fee is secured.
GERARD ADELMAN: To the best — I mean, you know, you — you — you’re dealing with people in, in dire — usually — at least in Meriden — people who are in pretty much dire economic circumstances.
SENATOR McDONALD: Given the fact that if you are appointed by the General Assembly, you’re probably not likely to see a family courtroom in the near term at least, do you have any reservations about your ability to show up in a G.A. and start adjudicating cases in a G.A. without any significant experience in that field?
GERARD ADELMAN: I did a great deal of G.A. work early in my career and —
SENATOR McDONALD: You did?
GERARD ADELMAN: I mean, I haven’t done it recently, but as I said in my opening statement, with the exception of a, you know, a Part A criminal trial, I can’t think of too many areas in — in — in Connecticut’s law system that I haven’t participated in at one time or another.
SENATOR McDONALD: And is there any field of law or area of the state that you would prefer not to see on a regular basis as a judge?
GERARD ADELMAN: Aside from the driving situation, no.
SENATOR McDONALD: I do represent Stamford, by the way, so.
GERARD ADELMAN: I know.
SENATOR McDONALD: You know, one of the things that we ask new nominees — and you said it, you addressed it somewhat in your opening statement — is, is there anything in your background that you can possibly conceive of that has not been disclosed to this Committee which if known would prove to be an embarrassment to yourself, to the Governor or to the General Assembly?
GERARD ADELMAN: No, I can’t think of anything. The Governor asked me the same thing.
SENATOR McDONALD: Good question.
GERARD ADELMAN: Yeah.
SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much.
Representative Fox, I believe, has some questions.
REP. FOX: Thank you. And congratulations on —
GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you.
REP. FOX: — your nomination.
I’d like to follow up a little bit on the Guardian ad litem and the attorneys for the minor child question, because it’s an area that you have some expertise in. And one of the questions is: What — how do you see the different between a GAL and an Attorney for the Minor Child; what roles do they play?
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, there’s a — there’s a significant difference in the court process, and that is that the — the Guardian ad litem is — is given the assignment to — to protect the best interest of the child. And the Guardian would — would testify. If the matter came to a trial, the Guardian would actually testify as a witness. And most Courts will not allow a Guardian to file motions, for example; your role is — your role is to report to the Court what you found and what your recommendations might be. In that light, you are — you are making an independent determination as to what’s best for this child and making recommendations to the Court, so the Judge of the Superior Court can make a final determination.
As an Attorney for the Minor Child, you’re acting as an attorney. You’re advocating the child’s position, and your ethical responsibility would be that if the child’s position as communicated to you is — is not in that child’s best interest, that you would ask the Court to appoint a Guardian to intercede. So as an Attorney for the Minor Child, you’re acting as an attorney. As a Guardian ad litem, you’re acting as a — almost as an arm of the Court, a servant to the Court, making recommendations, you know, to the Court. That’s the formal difference.
In — in the reality of the situation as the case processes through and before it gets to the trial stage, there’s really very little difference. And one of the significant roles that you can play, either as the AMC or the GAL is to help to facilitate an appropriate compromise between the parents. You’re in a
— you’re in a unique position. Both parents are — are attempting to win your approval. And you can use that, you know, if you play your cards close to the chest, you can use that desire to — to change the behavior of the parents, to suggest things that they be doing, to suggest compromises to them.
And in — in my practice, I’ve been, I think, extremely successful in helping to promote compromises and — and settle divorce cases that have custody components rather than see if you could — see it go to trial. If I’m a GAL and the case goes to trial, I kind of feel like I’ve not done a great job.
REP. FOX: Okay. And you also mentioned that you’re involved with collaborative divorce.
GERARD ADELMAN: That’s correct.
REP. FOX: And can you explain that a little bit to the —
GERARD ADELMAN: Sure.
REP. FOX: — Committee members?
GERARD ADELMAN: The — the collaborative divorce is a — is a concept that has been around for 10 or 15 years, but it’s growing in popularity in — in Connecticut. Collaborative divorce is the concept where parties contract with one another and with their attorneys to negotiate the terms of their divorce outside of the court system, through a series of open and transparent negotiations.
And part of that agreement, part of that contract is an agreement not to go to court, so that if a party decides that the process is not working and they wish to go to court, both attorneys are required to resign and new attorneys, what we refer to as “litigating attorneys,” would come in and take over the case. It’s a very controversial portion of the concept, and some people say, Well, I don’t want to give up my client or my client shouldn’t — is at a disadvantage to start all over again. But it’s a key part of the collaborative process, because that’s the hook that holds people at the table when the negotiations become difficult. And just because they’re doing it by agreement and negotiating doesn’t mean it’s not going to be difficult. The process works very well.
REP. FOX: Because I know in my area of southwestern Connecticut, there are a number of attorneys who favor that practice. I’ve not directly been involved in it, but I know it can work well and that —
GERARD ADELMAN: It — it — it’s an amazing process to work — to watch. And there are variations of it.
REP. FOX: Okay. Well, thank you.
Are there any other questions? Representative Gonzalez.
REP. GONZALEZ: Good morning.
GERARD ADELMAN: Good morning.
REP. GONZALEZ: And congratulations.
GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you.
REP. GONZALEZ: Do you feel that then part of your role is as a judge to yell and intimidate defendants and lawyer from the bench?
GERARD ADELMAN: I’m sorry. Could you say the last part again?
REP. GONZALEZ: Do you think that your role as a judge would be to yell and intimidate defendants and lawyer from the bench?
GERARD ADELMAN: No, absolutely not. No. I mean, I think that — I mean, I’ve been practicing for 26 years and I’ve been in front of many, many judges. And I’ve been — the judges that I think have done the best job are the judges that have remained calm, you know, with an appropriate judicial demeanor and who give everyone, whether it’s the attorney or — or the parties the feeling that this person is actually listening to them and considering what they’re saying and treating them — and treating them fairly. Anything short of that is not, not appropriate behavior for a Judge of the Superior Court.
REP. GONZALEZ: You know, one of the complaints in my community is about the — if you have a case, some of the people, they complain about the discrimination. And sometimes we check in about cases, they are — that’s the same case, no prior cases before –and when you see, you know, when you go in front of the judge, it’s like some people complain that, Well, because I’m minority, look at, you know, the sentence that I receive, and look at the other case. And it’s a — it’s a study out there that says there is a lot of discrimination in the court. Will you agree with that?
GERARD ADELMAN: I — I’ve seen that study and — and I think the numbers speak for themselves. I think it’s the judge’s responsibility to make sure that anybody that comes before that person, whether it’s a minority person or not, feels that they’ve had a fair hearing. That’s — that’s the nature, the whole essence of the judicial system that you’ve had an impartial person listen to your case and make a decision.
REP. GONZALEZ: Yeah, because I really believe that we don’t look for special favors, what we look is for fairness in court.
GERARD ADELMAN: Absolutely.
REP. GONZALEZ: What kind of practice do you have, you know, what kind of training do you bring to the bench?
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I — I have 26 years of practice as an attorney, as I indicated in my opening statement, with a wide variety of legal activities. I have — I worked as a schoolteacher for 12 years with — with eighth grade — eighth grade students. I never knew anybody different, but every — every other teacher told me eighth grade was the worst ones to have. But I —
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay.
GERARD ADELMAN: I did that fine; I liked that.
I’ve — I’ve had other jobs over the years. I have wide experience in — in different, you know, different fields. I’ve — I’ve been a father and now I’m a grandfather. I think I’ve — I’ve served in a variety of committees and — and social service agencies. I’ve been a Rotarian for over 25 years. I’ve — I’ve been a — on — on the Board of Education in my town for eight years. And I — I think I have the experience of my age and — and the experience of my lifetime to help me act as a Superior Court Judge.
REP. GONZALEZ: Rumors in the Judicial Department is that the administration, you know, they said that a lot of times they control judges. And what do you feel about that, you know, knowing that if you did — if you don’t agree with the administration, you might, you know, they might come after you or whatever, you know, retaliation? What do you say about that?
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, not having been part of the judicial system before, I — I’ve never heard that. And I — so I — I’m really not sure that I could comment on that in an —
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay, my —
GERARD ADELMAN: — effective way.
REP. GONZALEZ: My question is: Let’s say that you made a decision, and somebody in the administration said, Well, that’s not the right decision and we don’t want you to go that way. And after you made a decision but they come after saying, Sorry, but we don’t — we don’t like that, what you will — you will stick to your decision or you will go with them because they are the administration?
GERARD ADELMAN: No, I think that, you know, if I am lucky enough to be confirmed, I’ll take an oath to obey the Constitution of this state and the United States, and I — I — I will be an independent jurist. I — I can’t imagine that I would — that anybody could give me enough pressure to make me change a — a — a position that I’ve taking publicly and — and then made a decision.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you.
GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you, Representative.
SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Morris.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And good afternoon, Attorney Adelman.
GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you.
REP. MORRIS: I am also interested in a lot of your expertise in the Family Courts. The cases that you’ve primarily handled, if you were to disaggregate them, would it be mostly the wives or the husbands you are representing or is it equal mix? And then if you could even just drill that down to in terms of moms and dads, because I understand you have the piece with the —
GERARD ADELMAN: Yeah.
REP. MORRIS: — kids involved, as well.
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I’ve never count — I — I’ve — I’ve certainly represented everyone. I — I think as I — as I think back, I’ve probably represented more women and — and mothers than fathers, but not — it wouldn’t
— it wouldn’t be a — a significant difference.
REP. MORRIS: Okay. With that be in mind — because we’ve got a task force on fatherhood and we looked at a lot of issues and what have you in Family Court, so that’s, you know, the reason for my question — I’m trying to get some information here, your understanding of what’s happening in the Family Courts. Because there’s a perception among dads, you know, that we’re hearing, that they are disproportionately affected, in particular when it comes down to custodial determination. Can you give us any insight?
GERARD ADELMAN: I — I can. I mean, I do that — I do that every day. And — and I’m extremely sensitive to that. I’ll tell you a little what I — I’ve been married for 39 years and I have a pretty solid marriage, but when my daughter turned 18, I felt a great sense of relief because I knew I’d never have a custody battle over my daughter; so I’m — I’m very sensitive to that.
And — and I, when I represent — well, even when I represent the women, you know, I’ve — I’ve been in McDonald’s and — and, you know, see guys with their kids, you know, trying to spend an hour or two with them, and it’s not really very good, quality time. And I certainly know the perception you’re talking about. I think that is changing and I think it’s changing rapidly, and I think that’s for the good. More and more fathers are playing very active roles with their children, postdivorce. More and more fathers are asking for and getting parenting plans that give them significant time and significant input with their children. The days of the, you know, every-other weekend and — and Wednesday-night father is — is really changing rapidly. And — and I think that’s — that’s clearly for the good, for the good of the children.
REP. MORRIS: Your experience with the Family Court mediators, what have you noted has been the primary considerations that they use in determining custody, if they, you know, do that by way of their recommend additions?
GERARD ADELMAN: Um-hum. Well, I’ve — I’ve worked with — with many of them, and I think the, you know, the Family Relations Department — the ones that I’m most familiar with are in Meriden and New Haven and Middletown — are — are excellent offices with a lot of really very fine people. I think there’s been a — a significant movement towards shared custody when that’s appropriate. It’s not always appropriate but — but very often it is. I think that they’re looking — they’re looking for an indication as to whether or not the parents have been involved with the children. They’re looking for an indication that the parent is going to cooperate with the other parent, postjudgment. They’re looking for any signs that a parent might attempt to denigrate the other parent and — and try to poison the child, you know, from the other parent’s love and affection. And I think, you know, when they see that kind of red flag, they act differently, but, for the most part, there’s a real — a real growing trend for more and more shared custody or if not shared custody, a more — a much more meaningful parenting plan than what we had back in — when I started in 1982.
In 1982, it clearly was let’s give the kid to the mom, and dad can be around every once in a while. That’s not the case anymore.
REP. MORRIS: So in terms of a child’s
social-emotional development, have you witnesses and evidence of arguments being presented, either by counsel, you know, your counsel or the counter, you know, the counsel that’s on the other side, or by way of the mediators in terms of the social-emotional development of kids and the value of father involvement? Do you ever hear that argument being raised or the —
GERARD ADELMAN: Absolutely.
REP. MORRIS: As a basis?
GERARD ADELMAN: That’s becoming more and more common. I mean, the days of, you know, where an attorney could get up and say, Your Honor, you know, this is a young child, has to be with a mother, the tender years, nobody makes that argument anymore. That — that’s — it’s — that argument has not been proven out statistically in psychological studies and so on. And that’s just not a — a — an experienced family practitioner would not attempt to make that argument in a — in a modern court. It just doesn’t fly anymore.
REP. MORRIS: In addition to some of the things that were discussed earlier in terms of the GALs and the positive things that we need to take a look at in terms of criteria, that they all need to be on the same page, with appropriate training, are there any other recommendations that you could give us as a, you know, what you’ve evidenced in the Family Court that we should consider, policy-wise?
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I — I think, you know, there needs to be a — a clear definition as to what the role of the Guardian and/or the attorney for minor children should be. When I first started, you know, the first case, we used to — as Guardians, we used to write written reports to the judge; we don’t do that anymore. We used to participate; now we’re more witnesses. So I — I think some, you know, some clear delineation as to what the roles should be is important. In my — in my own practice, very often when I’m a Guardian I’ll file a motion with the Court asking the Court to define my role in — in many cases, because I’ll need that kind of guidance.
REP. MORRIS: Now let’s go to the — take the next step and connect this to the — to a position which can begin. Congratulations for your nomination (inaudible).
GERARD ADELMAN: Okay.
REP. MORRIS: In terms of you’re — now will be sitting, you know, in a bench and it’s a criminal case, you know, not anything, you know, serious but, you know, low-level criminal offense, you know, involving where this mom or dad. How do you see your — or do you see your experience in the Family Court affecting decisions that you make in terms of sentencing?
GERARD ADELMAN: That’s a good question; I hadn’t thought about that. I imagine it would impact me. I mean, I — I — I imagine I would be thinking about if this mom or this dad, you know, were away from this child for X period of time, how’s that going to impact the child. I’m sure that would play a role in — in — in my decision and sentencing. I’m sure it would.
REP. MORRIS: What are your thoughts of, you know, alternatives to incarceration and, you know, other options that a judge would have at their availability, you know, tools that — that will be — that they’d certainly be at your disposal, you know, when you take in consideration? And I’m confessing, I’m throwing some of my bias in here, but there’s — but we’ve gone through here in the Legislature. You know, we —
GERARD ADELMAN: Yeah.
REP. MORRIS: We, I think we’ve had enough research, there’s enough sentencing task force and things going on to help us realize that the recidivism rate can be — certainly be reduced if we were doing a little less incarcerating and more programming and things like that. So along those lines, I guess the question would be to you, you know, what’s your thoughts in terms of that; you know, what’s your position, your philosophical position?
GERARD ADELMAN: Well, philosophically, because obviously I have no position as a —
REP. MORRIS: Yeah.
GERARD ADELMAN: — as a judge, but philosophically, I think alternatives to incarceration are — are — are an advantage to society. I mean, our — our — our jails are crowded. It’s expensive to incarcerate somebody. And it appears, as you indicated in the recidivism rate, that it — it really doesn’t do much good other than taking that person out of the society for a period of time.
I — I think, you know, alternatives, if they’re properly funded and properly organized and properly monitored, seem like an excellent alternative and — and something that could be much more productive to — to the State of Connecticut, and cheaper.
REP. MORRIS: Thank you.
GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you.
REP. MORRIS: — Attorney Adelman, and, again, congratulations.
GERARD ADELMAN: Thanks, very much.
REP. LAWLOR: Representative O’Neill, do you have a question?
REP. O’NEILL: I’m sorry. Thank you.
I was going through your form, the file with us. And I don’t know, we seem to be having some technical difficulties with the printing up of all the answers to all the questions; I noticed it with the prior nominee. But on — with respect to Question Number 22, which is present physical condition, my form shows a blank, and I was just wondering —
GERARD ADELMAN: That, it says excellent.
REP. O’NEILL: — on yours.
GERARD ADELMAN: The form I submitted.
REP. O’NEILL: Okay. Thank you, very much.
REP. LAWLOR: I apologize for that, Representative O’Neill. I don’t exactly understand what the problem is, but we’ll figure it out and get a solution.
Are there further questions of this nominee? If not, thank you, very much, and congratulations, again.
GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you, very much.