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Record-editing judge scolded

Oversight body issues warning after jurist alters court transcript

Toronto Star, Robyn Doolittle, Staff Reporter, May 24, 2007

A repentant Justice Marvin Zuker acknowledged he committed judicial misconduct when he altered court transcripts in 2005, after learning they were to be used in an appeal case.

As a result, the well-respected family law judge was let off with only a warning yesterday by the Ontario Judicial Council.

The panel could have recommended Zuker's removal, but said his spotless 28-year record, coupled with his apology and emotional stress since the scandal broke, justifies the lesser punishment.

Panel judge Robert Blair said media coverage of the hearing and ongoing attempts by the complainant to have criminal charges laid have taken "a significant toll on Justice Zuker."

Blair also noted Zuker didn't try to hide his corrections, as the original transcript with his handwritten edits is still available.

But disbarred lawyer Harry Kopyto, who made the complaint, called the council's ruling "absolutely outrageous" given the offence.

The controversy began July 29, 2005, after Zuker refused to allow Kopyto to represent his client in family court.

The judge cited Kopyto's reputation for being overly adversarial. It was comments to that effect that Zuker contentiously removed from the transcript, after Kopyto requested a copy in order to file an appeal for his client, Robin Mayer.

Council highlighted 31 transcript edits, although most were for spelling, grammar, punctuation and redundancies - all of which are acceptable corrections. Zuker maintains he deleted the other comments fearing Kopyto would be embarrassed by the remarks should the documents be made public.

It was "an error in judgment and I regret it," Zuker told the hearing.

Kopyto, who was not at the hearing, said yesterday there seems to be a double standard for judges who get in trouble.

"This guy gets the least punishment for what must be one of the worst things a judge can do," Kopyto said. "You and I would be in jail if we changed a court transcript."

Philip Epstein, Zuker's lawyer, said the blunder was a "slip from grace" in an otherwise distinguished career.

As well, the public nature of the hearing has been difficult enough.

After the hearing, Epstein lunged at a Toronto Star photographer who was attempting to take the judge's photo.

"Leave him alone! He's been through enough. Go Marvin," Epstein repeatedly yelled, clutching the camera strap, while Zuker sprinted through an underground walkway.

The tussle continued for several minutes, until the photographer threatened legal action and Epstein put the camera down.

It was a controversial ending to a controversial case.

But Kopyto says he has no intention of stopping.

The renegade legal agent says he and his client intend to sue Zuker, and plan to continue their campaign to have the judge charged with obstruction of justice.

Kopyto is a controversial figure in the Toronto legal community.

In the 1990s, he was disbarred for billing irregularities, but he has continued to act as a paralegal.

Today, cases in which he's involved, including one in which he's suing Toronto police after a justice of the peace kicked him out of a courtroom for dressing too colourfully, have earned him a reputation for being difficult.

Canada Court Watch calls for the firing of this judge

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[PDF] Ontario Judicial Council condones breaking of the law by judges in ...


Brainwashing Children - Divorce - Family Law

W5 TV Show on Parental Alienation

TV Show about Parental Alienation

W5 investigates: Children on the frontlines of divorce

November 7, 2009

The world of divorce is scary for any child. But when a divorce becomes especially toxic, children can become the target of an unrelenting crusade by one parent to destroy the child's relationship with the other. Experts call it parental alienation.

A Mother's Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation

A Kidnapped Mind

A Kidnapped Mind

What does Parental Alienation Syndrome mean? In my case, it meant losing a child. When Dash was 4 1/2 years old his father and I broke up. I dealt with the death of our marriage and moved on but Peter stayed angry, eventually turning it toward his own house, teaching our son, day by day, bit by bit, to reject me. Parental Alienation Syndrome typically means one parent's pathological hatred, the other's passivity and a child used as a weapon of war. When Dash's wonderful raw materials were taken and shaken and melted down, he was recast as a foot soldier in a war against me.

Parental Alienation

Divorced Parents Move, and Custody Gets Trickier

The New York Times, New York city, U.S.A. August 8, 2004

Not too long ago, Jacqueline Scott Sheid was a pretty typical Upper East Side mother. Divorced and with a young daughter, she had quickly remarried, borne a son, and interrupted her career to stay home with the children while her husband, Xavier Sheid, worked on Wall Street.

Early last year, Mr. Sheid lost his job and saw his only career opportunity in California. But Ms. Sheid's ex-husband, who shares joint legal custody of their daughter, refused to allow the girl to move away. So Ms. Sheid has spent much of the last year using JetBlue to shuttle between her son and husband on the West Coast and her daughter (and ex) on the East.

The New York court system, which she hoped would help her family to resolve the problem, has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in fees for court-appointed experts, she said, and has helped to prolong the process by objecting to her choice of lawyers.

The Globe and Mail

Judge rules father brainwashed son into hating mother

Globe and Mail
May 15, 2008

Toronto - A 13-year-old Ontario boy whose domineering father systematically brainwashed him into hating his mother can be flown against his will to a U.S. facility that deprograms children who suffer from parental alienation, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled.

Mr. Justice James Turnbull ordered the boy - identified only as LS - into the custody of his mother. He said that the boy urgently needs professional intervention to reverse the father's attempt to poison his mind toward his mother and, in all probability, to women in general.

TV Show Parental Alienation - The View - Alec Baldwin

The View - Parental Alienation - Alec Baldwin and Jill Egizii - Both Genders Can be Victims

Alec Baldwin talks about his experience with parental alienation. Alec ( 3rd from right) was accompanied by Jill Egizii ( 2nd from right) , president of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organisation (PAAO) and Mike McCormick, president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC).

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Landmark Ruling Grants Father Custody of Children

PA News (U.K.), July 3, 2004

A key court decision to grant a father custody of his daughters after the mother flouted contact orders for four years was today welcomed by campaigners.

Fathers 4 Justice said that the High Court ruling was a vital victory and called for more judges to take a similar stance when faced with resistant parents.

The comments come after Mrs Justice Bracewell transferred the residence of two young girls to their father because the mother persistently refused him contact, despite court orders.  Read More ..

National Post

Custody judges rule on vengeance

Courts criticized for recognizing 'parental alienation'

National Post
March 27, 2009

Toronto -- The scope of the courts' reach into family affairs has long been contentious, but a recent trend in Canada's legal system has brought a new controversy that has some onlookers praising judges and others condemning them for accepting what they call "voodoo science."

More than ever before, Canada's judges are recognizing that some children of divorced and warring parents are not simply living an unfortunate predicament, but rather are victims of child abuse and suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome.   Read More ..