Part 3 in a Series of Articles
By Joan Kloth-Zanard, RSS, ABI and LC
Yesterday, I reported about Day 1 in the trial of Mr. Jerry Mastrangelo and his ex-wife, Trudianne Formica. There was so much that was said, that I could not get all of it into yesterday's article.
Yesterday’s trial began with barely any seats left in the galley of the courtroom. It was a diverse audience with the father’s family and friends. There was not a single person there in support of the mother. Not even her own parents. In addition, Mr. Mastrangelo’s business partner, Michael Katz, a former Mr. Universe and Jets Football player, came to listen and testify. Mr. Katz, who testified as a character witness yesterday, is a godfather to one of the triplets. He spoke briefly about how he has known the triplets since their premature birth at 1½ lbs. and like the father, has spent little to no time with the children in nearly 2 years. In edition to Mr. Katz’s, State Senator Len Fasano, stopped by to show his support.
This leads us into today’s trial, which opened up with a retraction by Judge Mark Gould of his decision yesterday to not allow Dr. Benjamin Garber to testify as to the validity of Dr. Amy Baker’s testimony on Parental Alienation in general. The judge stated that in practicality, it is important to have a swift trial but that in the ‘Best Interest of the Children” (BIC), and fairness to all parties, that Dr. Garber’s testimony needed to be heard. Attorney Norm Pattis objected to “further delays” arguing that though he understands the need for fairness, this would delay the case again. And that in fairness to the father and the children there should be no more delays. He further expressed concern that there were urgent needs based on the children’s lack of a relationship and impediments by Mrs. Formica, who would now “benefit” from the delay by getting another 3 months to further brainwash the children to hate their father. In the fact, the only one that was smiling was Mrs. Formica, who has stolen the hearts, souls and mind of the children. Attorney Norm Pattis has realistic concerns based on the number of times this case has been postponed. The fact is, this case, was initially scheduled to be heard in October 2011. Attorney Tom Esposito, one of three attorneys for the mother, argued that the trial cannot move forward until Dr. Garber's testimony has been heard.
I agree with both sides of this argument as timeliness is important to the children’s best interests, but fairness to the plaintiff must be considered. As well, if he does not let Dr. Garber’s testimony in, it would be grounds for appeal. And so Judge Gould is correct in his reversal, as it would only be fair to hear what the other side has to say about the general testimony and validity of Parental Alienation in the courts. Unfortunately, as the judge pointed out, due to the thousands of family court cases and the scheduling conflicts with all attorneys, the trial will be held off until December 3. Judge Gould did state that he will do anything in his power to accommodate hearing Dr. Garber's testimony before December if counsel can coordinate their schedules while the two sides try to “effectuate”, that is accomplish, getting Dr. Garber’s testimony heard in a more timely manner.
But that was not the end of today’s hearing. Apparently, the Attorney for the Minor Children, AMC Anne Epstein, was upset that articles had appeared in the New Haven Register and Southbury Patch with her name, the parent’s names and references made about the children including a picture. Evidently, she felt it was “outrageous” that this case has become so high profile in the papers and was concerned about the affect on the children. But what is ironic and really kind of sad in this reporters opinion is that this is the only time in which the AMC showed any concern for the best interest of the children; afterall, these same children have been denied a relationship with a good, loving father for nearly two years. As Norm Pattis so eloquently stated in court, "if the GAL, Lynn Pellegrino had been doing her job, none of us would be here today." He went on to make mention about what is going on in the "Formica Household" is in question and the right for Mr. Mastrangelo to have a relationship with is children is the real crime here. Keep in mind Mr. Mastrangelo has a court order for joint legal physical custody of his children since December of 2007 that no one has bothered to address. The system seems to be terribly broken.
In addition to Attorney Epstein's objection to media coverage in this case, we can't help but to be reminded of other high profile cases such as Dwayne Wade, who just released his book regarding parental alienation and fatherhood. Wade was very candid about how he was the target of parental alienation, which caused his two boys to reject him. And then there is Halle Berry, who is trying to make up excuses as to why she needs to move her daughter to France, away from her father. Or Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Even though these families are celebrities, they're no different than the Mastrangelo case. Since I am a sympathetic and compassionate reporter and human being, I will reframe from using the children's names or photographs in my future articles. Perhaps one thing the triplets can learn, along with thousands of other children of parental alienation, is that they are not alone and a father such as Mr. Mastrangelo is fighting for them. He is not abandoning them just because they're brainwashed to think he is the worst father on the face of the earth.
What is really outrageous according to Attorney Norm Pattis is that "had the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), Lynn Pelligrino and AMC Anne Epstein, done her job”, instead of allowing this case to drag out, things would not have escalated. The father would not have had to go back to court to ensure the rights of his children and him to have a healthy relationship that is not impeded on by the mother. But the fact of the matter is that this reporter actually did contact Trudianne Formica before any of these articles were published to get her side of the story. Mrs. Formica, as is her rights, declined to return this reporter’s two phone messages. And though this could be construed as not in the best interest of the children, Judge Gould, who seems to be a fair and honest man, also knew that this matter was really about our constitution right for Freedom of Speech. Thus Judge Gould took this issue out of his courtroom stating it was a Supreme Court issue and he was not going to quash those rights.
In summary, this notion of the Best Interest of the Child has many flaws. One of which is the constant delay in cases and refusal of one parent to comply with the courts orders. Though for most adults, 3 months seems like not very much time. To the average child, 3 months is like a lifetime. And as we all remember being young and thinking that Christmas was so far away, for this father, it means another Christmas without his kids.