Here are their answers to another burning question: under what circumstances they consider appropriate incarceration of parents for non-payment of child support.
Porter Kirkwood immediately started to boast about his alleged experience of prosecuting 400 cases of non-payment of child support in Delaware County per year, for many years.
He also praised putting the parent in jail as a superbly efficient money-squeezing tool, stating that as soon as the parent is put in jail, the money "magically appears".
Yet, Kirkwood did not mention whether there is a verification whether the parent has the present ability to pay, or whether the money is squeezed not from the parent, but from the savings of his friends or extended family who never had an obligation to pay, but are paying simply to help out a friend and prevent him from losing a job, a home and his livelihood through detention for civil contempt, where courts are quick to put people in jail, but unwilling to release them pending appeal, even when putting them in jail was distinctly unlawful.
Nor did Kirkwood mention his illegal practice of raiding accounts of parents and taking even money he is not supposed to take, such as federal student loan money.
In my practice in Delaware County Family Court, Porter Kirkwood's agency systematically supported putting a person in jail without any verification of present ability to pay, and where the parent actually proved that he or she is unable to pay.
Kirkwood who arrogantly sees in incarceration of poor parents only an effective means of money-squeezing, will continue as a judge turning child support laws into debtor prison laws, long ago condemned as unconstitutional.
Yet, there is growing awareness across the country of the widespread unconstitutional practice of treating parents as a objects of money squeezing and populating debtors prison.
See, for example, articles regarding such practices in the states of:
- New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
- Georgia and across the country;
- Ohio and across the country.
Those are just a few articles about unconstitutional practices of social services agencies to squeeze money out of parents who have no ability to pay at the threat of incarceration and loss of their livelihoods.
I highly doubt Porter Kirkwood did not know about this growing awareness.
Porter Kirkwood, as an attorney boasting of his vast Family Court trial and appellate experience, must know that his actions in pursuing child support against parents in Delaware County under a "presumption" that they have an ability to pay while the economy is terrible, jobs are few, and there are no good jobs, as he stated to the voters in the same speech, are unconstitutional.
It is a bad and downright scary prospect for voters to elect a judge such as Kirkwood, with such a callous disregard for constitutional rights of his main constituents in the area.
So, it is a resounding F to Kirkwood for this answer.
It is an F to Rosa, too, unfortunately.
Gary Rosa blundered in failing to distinguish between civil contempt (Family Court) and criminal contempt (criminal court) by claiming that a parent who had an obligation and means to pay child support, but did not do that, should be put in jail for a "period of incarceration".
Yet, a parent put in jail for civil contempt must be released the moment the money is posted on his behalf, and cannot be put for a "term" of incarceration, that is a criminal sentence which Family Court has no authority to impose. Moreover, criminal contempt is a misdemeanor (at least judging by the fine), entitling the criminal defendant to a full panoply of criminal procedure protection, including a right to a jury trial - protections that are not available in Family Court.
I already described the difference between civil and criminal contempt on this blog, and specifically in the context of child support proceedings.
For a judge who practiced for 23 years and has run for the Family Court judge seat twice, such a lack of knowledge of elementary jurisdictional restrictions of Family Court is unforgivable.
Therefore, an F to both candidates on this issue.
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