From: Rev. Mary Magdalen
Thank you so much for all your support over what has turned into years since this case began in December 2005. I'm sorry to have to intrude in your inbox again, but my ex is starting the custody case up again. This time, though, it might not go so horribly awry. Let me start at the beginning:
It has been a little over a year since August 2007, when I was finally allowed to return to Georgia with my son. Judge Punch reinstated himself on the case and removed custody from my ex after he was arrested for felony DUI. Although we were allowed to return home last August, it took us until last December to put our home back together more or less as it was, just in time to welcome home our newest family member, Valentine Bevilacqua! He was born a few weeks before Christmas and is nine months old now and full of rambunction. I usually spend my days stopping him from taking things apart and putting them in his mouth, as well as helping Kohl with his homework, and working at my job as a freelance corporate transcriptionist, and finding time once in a while to blog.
I have a pretty busy schedule, as you can imagine, so I was glad when in February we finally received a finalized Order from Judge Punch which, for the first time in these eleven years of strife, did not explicitly retain jurisdiction over future matters with Orleans County. This means that I have a shot at getting the jurisdiction of future cases changed to Georgia, the "home state" of the child in question. This is what normally happens when parents live in different states, but for eleven years Judge Punch chose to exercise his legal prerogative to keep the case in his jurisdiction. I won't speculate on why, but last August he changed his mind and decided he would no longer keep the case in Orleans County.
Changing the jurisdiction of the case to Georgia would mean that my ex could no longer hold the threat of filing frivolous petitions over my head, as he has all these years. He would have to be serious enough about the matter to travel to Georgia to file. Changing jurisdiction would mean that any time there is a dispute, I wouldn't have to give up my entire life, leave my husband and home, and go to a remote county in Upstate New York and stay until the matter ends, even if the case goes on for years. Also, any time the court had a question about Kohl's schooling, home life, social life, healthcare, etc, all the evidence [doctors, teachers, friends, coaches] would be right there at hand. Basically, this jurisdictional change would be a huge weight lifted off our family.
Before jurisdiction could be changed, however, someone had to file in the old jurisdiction and then someone would have to put up a jurisdictional challenge at that time. You can't just switch it automatically, I tried. Predictably, I didn't have to wait long for my ex to file a new petition in Orleans County. Just six months from the final filing of the order, on August 19, 2008 I received a summons to appear on September 5, back in Orleans County to answer yet another handwritten petition from my ex, alleging violations of the order. Since February, Judge Punch has retired for health reasons, and the case is now going before Judge Michael Griffiths, who has no knowledge of the long and painful history of the case and may or may not agree with Punch's decision to let it go to Georgia.
Although this new petition didn't explicitly mention the SubGenius, neither did the original petition in December 2005. Anything can happen in Orleans County, so I was very frightened at opening this up again after only six months of respite. I passed the summons on to Mr. Mattingly, the "weapons grade lawyer" who got us this far, but he replied that he couldn't represent me anymore, since, although I make payments to him when I can, I still owe him $32,000 from the case that ended in February.
When I first found that out, I seriously panicked. I only had about two weeks to find a new lawyer and come up with a retainer fee! I knew I couldn't use a court-appointed lawyer, because the last time I did that, back in 1999, my appointed lawyer agreed not to tell me about a hearing they held without my presence, because Judge Punch didn't want me to know he had switched custody. He felt I was a flight risk and it would be better to let me ignorantly come to New York for a Christmas visit, and then have sheriff's deputies show up to collect my then-3-year-old son. So, I need a lawyer from the big city of Rochester, or Buffalo, not another one from Orleans County.
After a lot of exhaustive internet and phone research, I was able to secure some concessions from the court, such as a postponement to September 26, 2008, to give me more time to find a lawyer, and permission to testify by telephone rather than in person. Further, I was able to locate a lawyer who is a civil rights crusader, Mr. R. Brian Goewey [GO-wei], who is not only available on the 26th, but is also willing to represent such a degenerate artist as myself, and who is willing to do it for half of what every other lawyer has quoted me! Truly the Luck Plane tilted my way when I found him.
We've made it so far from the days when I lived in a 10 by 12 box apartment crying myself to sleep every night, never knowing how my son was, never knowing if I would ever get him back. We're so close to being free from the threat of being compelled to return to Orleans County, which has hung over our heads since my son was a baby. All we need is $2,500 to get started, with a full retainer of $5,000. Of course, if things go badly, it could run into another $80-$100,000, but I'm focusing my slack waves on the thought that this new Judge Griffiths is going to be reasonable and let us go. If everyone who receives this email donates just $10, it would easily cover Mr. Goewey's fees. I realize this is the worst possible time to ask for money again, with gas prices and food prices and unemployment the way they are, but I can't raise more than about $1,500 on my own, not by September 26 anyway. I'm forced to once again appeal to you, who've helped our family so much in the past, or one more push to finally get free.
Thank you so very much for everything you've already done. I apologize for asking for more; I know I already owe you a debt of gratitude that I could never repay. When my son was taken from me, the pain was unbearable, too much to take, and it went on and on, seemingly forever. My mind will always carry those scars, and if it had gone on much longer I'm sure it would have broken me. How can I thank you for helping save me from that? Words can never express the emotions in my heart when I think of how friends and strangers from all over the world came together to help my family, so please just know that you helped someone out of a living hell, and it mattered and made a difference, and someone's life is so much better now, because of your compassion.
Thank you!!! May the Luck Plane always tilt your way.