Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Primer on My Rebuttal to High Marks Given to Palin's Pick, Judge Morgan Christen (Update With Ramrocks From C4P On BlogTalk Radio)

With the choosing of Judge Morgan Christen, both criticism and praise has been given to Governor Sarah Palin's pick, Judge Morgan Christen. What is surprising is where the praise is coming from.

The praise comes from Wev Shea who likes to call himself a conservative, to Wayne Anthony Ross who practices family law and has WAR on his license plate, to Andrew Halcro who really hates Palin.

However, given the praise, the facts on Morgan's decisions when it comes to family law need to be looked at closely.

The documents below are from a case that Judge Morgan Christen had adjudicated. I know the facts of this case extensively and I have seen the documents that were involved in this case.

The documents I am showing here are the relevant documents on how Morgan rules and this pattern has shown up in other cases and they revolved around the mother getting or having custody. In another case presented below, a second D.V. had to be issued when evidence first ignored by Morgan, finally came to crisis.

In her ruling, you can read, Judge Morgan Christen used testimony of the mother to build her foundation in facts to be used against the father.

Case in point, during the trial, the mother alleged that the father struck his son from another marriage with a 2 x 4.

To quote Judge Morgan Christen:

Ms. Millette also testified about Mr. Millette's disciplinary methods for his other children. Her testimony was found credible. The testimony is that the children have been subjected to harsh and physical abusive discipline in the presence of other family members. Mr. Millette did not dispute Ms. Millette's testimony that he used a 2 x 4 to strike his older son, or that he broke a wooden paddle on the child's back.

The father has custody of the sons from a previous marriage and that case was on Judge Stowers' docket and at no time was Ms. Millette's allegation proven. In fact there was nothing to substantiate the claim other than Ms. Millette's own statements.

Interestingly, Judge Stowers was the judge that Governor Murkowsi had selected and a lawsuit was filed by AkPRIG and it was Judge Morgan Christen, who presided over the suit to compel Murkowski to follow the law.

Anchorage Daily News


Gov. Frank Murkowski sparked a ruckus last fall when he balked at filling a vacant judgeship in Anchorage from a list of three nominees forwarded by the Alaska Judicial Council, then calmed it a short time later by appointing one of them, attorney Craig Stowers. But the issue lives on in state court, where a public interest group refuses to let it die.

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group sued the state in the fall, saying Murkowski was flouting the Alaska Constitution and needed to follow the law. The constitution charges the Judicial Council with reviewing judicial applicants and forwarding the names of two or more to the governor, who then has 45 days to make his choice.

Murkowski at first refused to pick from the three nominees the Judicial Council sent him and asked for more names. He finally selected Stowers less than a week before the 45-day deadline.

In arguments Friday before Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen, AkPIRG attorney Peter Gruenstein said the court should still consider the case because the way Alaska chooses its judges is a matter of public interest. He said it's possible that Murkowski or another governor will decide not to fill a vacancy with a Judicial Council nominee within 45 days.

The state has argued that the 45-day period for filling vacant judgeships is not mandatory. James Baldwin, an assistant attorney general for the state, told Christen other events could prevent the governor from appointing within the time period, such as an earthquake.

"The governor must act in substantial compliance with these deadlines, not ignore it entirely," he said. "But for us to admit from the very beginning the 45 days is a drop-dead situation is ignoring reality."

Baldwin said the dispute is between the governor and the Judicial Council, and should be resolved there, not in court.

Christen said she would take the matter under consideration.

Larry Cohn, executive director of the Judicial Council, said the council is undergoing a review of its bylaws and is taking public comment, including feedback from the governor's office.

Daily News reporter Nicole Tsong can be reached at or 257-4450.

In Alaska, family law was amended to highlight domestic violence. I call it Bowling Ball legislation because the legislation was introduced by none other than Senator Lesil Mcguire made famous for calling Juneau police for domestic violence against her husband, convicted former Rep. Tom Anderson. It seems there was a dispute over bowling scores.

Anyway, the law was enacted and quite frankly, it's a lousy piece of legislation because judges can use it to their discretion. When it came to a D.V. in the Millette case, the father had taken one out against the mother.

Events D.V.

Docket The D.V. was in effect from 12/22/2004 till 07/06/2005.

In Judge Morgan Christen's order, she states:

During the interim period, Mr. Millette obtained a domestic violence restraining order restricting Ms. Millette's contact with Jesse. The restraining order provided for supervised visitation. Mr. Millette also sold the car that Ms. Millette used during the course of the marriages, further restricting her ability to visit with Jesse.

First to the comment on the car. The parties resolved property issues on October 29, 2004. Next on to the comments made by Christen on the D.V., she dismissed it after it sat on her docket for over 5 months.

What is troubling is the pattern with Judge Morgan Christen dismissing D.V. orders taken out by fathers against mothers.

Next case father gets D.V. order against mother on 12/30/2006. Judge Christen dismisses the order on 01/10/2007. Just like she did in the Millette case.

But in this case, the father gets another D.V. against the mother on 12/18/2007.

Keep in mind that Judge Christen had just dismissed the order on 01/10/2007 and the father gets another D.V. but this time on 01/18/2008 a long term D.V. is given.

There is another case that I am looking into that had a lot of public exposure and if Christen's name is on it, I will post it.

As for the Millette case, what is troubling the most is, the son of the couple had autism and even though testimony was against moving the child to another state,
Judge Christen had this to say...

The testimony established that Jesse thrives on routine. This is particularly important because of his autism. Mr. Millette testified that he should receive primary physical custody because Ms. Millette is planning to relocate out of state and her planned move will be disruptive for Jesse. The court concurs that the move itself will be disruptive, but the transition necessitated by the move will be temporary. Further, Jesse will also have a disruptive transition period if primary custody is awarded to Mr. millette because he is currently in his mother's primary physical custody. Consideration of the short term transition period is not a factor that favors either party.

The reason given by Judge Christen for allowing the mother to move the boy was, Arizona and I paraphrase, "had an education system that met the needs of the boy. That doesn't pan out when many children with autism are taught in Alaska.

And since Governor Palin has a son with special needs, the Governor should reflect on what was said by Judge Morgan Christen and ask, can Alaska serve it's children with special needs?

The answer is yes and as Palin has stated, the process on picking judges is flawed and should be changed.

I will continue getting more information on this judge....

Update: Ramrocks from C4P has a pretty good take on the system in Alaska with picking Judges. As for Wayne Anthony Ross on the Eddie Burke show, Ross works within the system and I would expect his attitude on Christen. However, his opinion on Christen is incorrect.

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