Deborah Goodman, the beleaguered stay-at-home mom turned Rockland County judicial whistleblower, says she is at her wits end, unable to get help from persistent court abuse.
In the spring, she faced two major surgeries but her ex-husband’s attorney, Ellen Holtzman, continued filing in their divorce even while Goodman recuperated.
Starting in June, Goodman said Holtzman had the court freeze her accounts, and she’s running out of money.
Goodman’s divorce has dragged on since 2010; she first told her story in a first-person letter in The Rockland County Times in 2015.
At the time, the presiding judge, the now retired Victor Alfieri, had started and stopped her case numerous times and it was dragging on with no resolution in sight.
Alfieri recused himself from the case shortly thereafter and replaced by Judge Robert Berliner.
Berliner finally held a trial in March 2016 but didn’t issue a ruling until March 2017.
Berliner did not put final numbers into his ruling, instead splitting the assets he recognized based on their value at the beginning of the divorce.
The protracted divorce drained Goodman’s resources, and Goodman believes that her ex-husband failed to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets; as a result, she now owes her ex-husband $263,445.21, according to a calculation by Holtzman.
Holtzman made this claim even though Goodman has largely represented herself during the case while Holtzman has represented Goodman’s ex, Andreas Lempa, throughout.
“I will not discuss a case that is active, and this case is very active,” Holtzman said in a voicemail of the eight-year-old case, “While a case is active and ongoing, it should not be in the press.”
Holtzman would also not make her client available to answer questions.
But Goodman disagrees: “It’s sick,” she said, describing a process biased against her because her ex-husband can pay for the protracted proceedings.
In April 2018, Goodman had surgery which was supposed to keep her in the hospital for up to a week, but a complication forced a second surgery and she was not released until May 16.
Though Goodman said her boyfriend informed Holtzman she was recuperating, Holtzman still filed a motion- called a motion to show cause- with the court demanding the money on June 1, 2018.
In court documents, Holtzman even acknowledged hiring a private investigator to follow her during this period.
Goodman said due to the surgery she could no longer handle the stress of court: “Everything they do to me; it goes to my gut.” Goodman said.
She hired Patrick Carle to fight the motion; Goodman had filed her own filing- called an undertaking- which would stay any payments while the case was being appealed.
With an undertaking, a bonding company guarantees the payment while the case is adjudicated. In this case, because Berliner did not produce final numbers, Goodman could not use a bonding company but instead had to use surety- or a person who holds the money on deposit.
But Berliner denied all her requests, and instead, on August 13, Berliner signed an order keeping
Goodman’s bank accounts frozen, even though she has three children.
To make matters worse, her new attorney has asked off the case, since she can’t pay him while her accounts were frozen.
Goodman said she felt trapped and wrote a letter to the court asking to grant her attorney’s request off the case, arguing in the letter that the court’s actions caused this.
“My attorney Patrick Carle would like to be removed from my case because I can no longer pay him since the Court froze all my bank accounts. By doing so, I have been left without access to money to live on and most importantly child support for my children. I am understanding to Mr. Carle’s position and I am relieving him effective immediately.” Goodman said in her September 4, 2018, letter to Berliner.
In her motion to show cause, Holtzman asks that Goodman pay for Holtzman’s legal fees and the court to sanction Goodman, which, if granted, would completely wipe Goodman out.
“I have to come to grips with the fact, they (the court) are going to take everything,” Goodman said.
Carle did not respond to a voicemail for comment.
Meanwhile, the New York State Court of Appeals has not yet ruled and declined to grant Goodman a stay while they consider.
Goodman said part of what makes her case so outrageous is that even as she is harassed for this money, her ex-husband has not been held to account for numerous violations of court orders.
“To date, Mr. Lempa has not paid anything, nor, as ordered in the Decision of April 9, 2018, provided Life Insurance in the amount of $700,000.” Goodman also stated in the letter.
Goodman also said in the same letter that her ex-husband has refused to sign documents and turn over required information, all while Goodman is compelled to hold up her end.
Goodman has also reached out to chairs of the judiciary committees in the state House and Senate, State Representative Jeff Dinowitz and State Senator John Boncic, but both offices said they had no oversight over bad judges, directing her instead to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct (NYSCJC), which sanctions judicial misconduct.
“The NYS Assembly Committee on Judiciary does not handle investigations into the conduct of judges. This committee handles legislation around a variety of legislative amendments dealing with stateand local courts.” Said Frederic B. Klein Community Liaison Office of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, in response to Goodman’s query.
But according to the NYSCJC annual report, that body rarely takes action; of 2,135 complaints filed in 2017, the NYSCJC only took action publicly in sixteen cases while another thirty-one resulted in private letters of reprimand.
It’s noteworthy that one-hundred fifty-five investigations remained open and another fifteen judges resigned or retired while the investigations were ongoing, according to the same report.
Those numbers are consistent with judicial oversight bodies in the nation; an audit done of the Florida Judicial Qualification Commission (JQC), Florida’s equivalent of the NYSCJC, found that from 2011-2015, that body received 621, 659, 618, 684, and 779, complaints each year while acting in
In some case, the oversight board lack the transparency to even provide an audit.
Taylor Henderson is the Director of the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints (COJC), that state’s version of the NYSCJC, she said that not only does the COJC not produce an annual report like the NYSCJC but the COJC is even exempt from that state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws.
In California, widespread complaints by litigants that thestate’s Commission on Judicial Performance was protecting bad judges, caused California’s state legislature to order a sweeping audit of the organization in 2016.
Lempa currently lives in Europe where he’s employed as a Manager for Marketing Intelligence Latin America and Canada for Philip Morris, according to his Linkedin profile; an email to Phillip Morris department of public affairs was left unreturned.
Why dont you write my Case in Cook County .
07D279004 - Paternity .
Where all my 20 years money and assets are taken . And I am being trowed to jails for nothing . Filled to judicial board . They never found wrong with the judges .
WAS ALMOST RAPED BY FEW LAWYERS APPOINTED TO MY CHILD CASE . Slandered by judges . Brutal beaten at the court house several times by the Sheriffs .
Wow, if this doesn't scream "Whistleblower Retaliation" then I don't know what does. This has been ongoing since 2010??? Goodman has been representing herself, and the husband, hiding assets, pays for an attorney -- Who goes to court and allegedly makes a request once Goodman retains an attorney (because she's unable to represent herself at that time), to freeze her assets, causing her attorney to withdrawal because she can't pay? Wow. Just wow. That is just pure evil. And the Judge is going along with this, not holding the husband to the same standards? Yeah, that's an abuse of power and should be reported. Question is to whom? If there are no unbiased boards to oversee Judicial Officers who appear to be unethical and biased in favor of attorneys, and against Pro-Se litigants? Why is the appellate court stalling? It's adding more abuses onto this case by what appears to be a scornful attorney. She should be disbarred!
This poor woman has fallen into a very helpless and corrupt court case. My concern lies in the fact that this judge froze her accounts from the beginning and suffered her defense, in doing so. Eight years is a suspicious amount of time for a case to be heard in court. However, my custody case has gone on for seven years now. My judge signed a perjured order to remove my child and give him to law enforcement affiliated father and there is proof of this crime. Judges power is absolute, with no recourse. As women, both Miss Goodman and I, will suffer at the hands of the US Family Court system. It is designed to fail women and children. These Courts have become terrorists in their own communities. Federal incentives to side with contesting fathers, had created a profiteering racquet within our family courts, here in the US. I say if WE abolish the incentive, money trail goes cold, unbiased justice returns. Shame on this Judge, Mr. Alfieri (I do not recognize him as honorable)! You are of grave concern to this nations well being and the youth you are affecting! Keep yourself healthy and happy, Miss Goodman. We are rooting for you. Thank you for your sacrifice Mama. Never surrender!
All I can say is been there done that and I would not complain if I had the kids. My guess is when divorce is final he’ll go after them too. It’s never over with an ex like that. Lifelong abuse. Not just judges and lawyers.
Pure evil. This abuse of power is going on all across the nation. It needs to stop immediately. It is destroying the very fiber of the American family.
Pure evil. This is happening all across the nation and it is destroying the very fiber of our American family. It must be stopped immediately
This would not be happening if the Judge actually did his job and read all the evidence and trial transcript a year later when rendering his decision. Instead, he used the what's called the Notice of Disposition which is what both parties put in prior to trial stating what they want. This Judge used the opposing sides's Notice of Disposition almost verbatim. It was clear the decision was not rendered based on a Judge's desion but that of the opposing attorney.
Alfieri was an animal. He was lazy, vicious, and not very intelligent. All he did was delay, obfuscate, request net worth statements over and over again, and he never enforced any of his “So ordered!” decrees. He dragged my case on and on for three years. I knew he was about to retire and that I’d face another five years in court. And so I took my wife’s first offer - which wasn’t much. I needed to get out of the Rockland system. They’ll keep you busy as long as there is money to be made. It’s that simple. Overtime and pensions are all they care about. It’s beyond egregious. Good luck Deb. But prepare to die there. The more you fight, the more fuel you hand them to incinerate your life, family, health, and kids.
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