Please check out my new books, "Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney's Kafkaesque Divorce and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial"
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Thursday, September 23, 2021
A writ which waits for US Supreme Court acceptance or denial seeks to challenge the near unfettered ability of judges in family law cases to gag litigants.
The writ filed by Richard Ducote, who has been involved in numerous high profile cases, cannot even identify his client by name, rather using SS, but says his client is not even allowed to say their own name publicly.
Petitioners Richard Ducote and Victoria McIntyre are attorneys representing Petitioner S.S., the mother of a now 14-year-old son, in a Pennsylvania child custody case. After S.S. lost custody to the father, Respondent S.B., and the ruling was affirmed on appeal, at S.B.’s urging the trial court issued a “gag order” against all three Petitioners forbidding them to: “speak publicly or communicate about this case including, but not limited to print and broadcast media, on-line or web-based communications, or inviting the public to view existing on-line or web-based publications”; and “direct or encourage third parties to speak publicly about this case including, but not limited to, print and broadcast media, on-line or web-based communications…”
The writ continues.
S.B.’s counsel sought a gag order on Petitioners, plus $200,000 in sanctions, and $10,000 for each future violation of the proposed order. No evidence whatsoever concerning the child was presented at the hearing which resulted in the gag order. It is important to note that Petitioners have never publicly stated F’s name or otherwise publicly identified him. On April 19, 2018, over S.S.’s strenuous constitutional objections, Judge Clark first signed an interim gag order preventing all parties and their counsel from publicly speaking or communicating about the case. App. 80a. However, on April 27, 2018, Judge Clark entered a final gag order prohibiting only S.S., Mr. Ducote, and Ms. McIntyre—and not S.B., his counsel, or S.S.’s former trial counsel who presented the child’s testimony—from speaking about this case in any manner:
Ducote's writ of ceteriorari is below.
In the writ, Ducote states that the unusual action, taken by Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, the President Judge of the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, was in response to an article in the Pittsburgh City Times and a press conference which followed. Ducote continues in the writ.
Petitioners, together with other professionals, parents, and a now grown child sharing common concerns and experiences, participated in a February 7, 2018, Pittsburgh press conference discussing child abuse victims and the courts’ failure to protect them.1 Mr. Ducote mentioned only S.S. by name, as a mother who lost custody of her un-named son, despite his testimony, to his un-named father.
Independent of the conference, on February 28, 2018, the PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER published Parental Inequity: Children’s Advocates Say Family Courts Unfairly Favor Fathers, Even When They’re the Abusers (App. 114a). The article, which included comments from a Pennsylvania legislator and a George Washington University law school professor, highlighted proposed legal reforms to address custody cases with abuse allegations. F’s graphic testimony was anonymously quoted to illustrate the alarming nature of this problem. App. 114a.
Ducote alleged that this case involved the cover-up of child molestation. Here is what SS's son allegedly said during a judge's questioning of the boy.
Well, sometimes he would lay on top of me. He would like pull my pajamas down. He had these like shorty shorts that he would go running in. They didn’t need underwear. Well, the first thing is that I was—I acted asleep, but I was really awake when it all happened. He would stick his penis in my butt crack. Into what I call my poop hole. He would do that many times. When under my body he would be squeezing my penis. Sometimes I get really angry with myself because I always say that I could have stopped him
The Pittsburgh City Paper article suggested that the bogus label of "parental alienation" was used as a response to the sexual molestation allegations, a common use for the parental alienation scheme.
"At the heart of the problems surrounding custody cases," the Pittsburgh City Paper article states, "is the concept of parental alienation syndrome....Ducote has worked on hundreds of cases and says abusive parents often claim parental alienation to refute abuse allegations. He says the child custody case he's currently working in is a clear example."
Family Bridges appears to be a part of the scheme to cover-up the abuse. According to an order in the case, Family Bridges was used for reunification, "Following the completion of the Family Bridges workshop, and before returning home with , Father shall take on a vacation of no less than five days in duration. The Court expects that will apply what he has learned during the Family Bridges workshop to improve their interactions with his Father during and following their vacation."
Family Bridges has received a great deal of scrutiny; Randy Rand, its principle, has problems with his license and many former children who have gone through the program say it destroyed their childhoods.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the gag order. That opinion is below.
Appellants contend that the Superior Court’s affirmance of the gag order violates their constitutional rights to free speech as the order constitutes “freewheeling censorship” that prohibits them indefinitely from speaking about the case in any manner, while imposing no restrictions on Father’s speech. Brief for Appellants at 9. Categorizing the gag order as both a content-based restriction and a prior restraint on speech, Appellants posit that the heightened constitutional standard of strict scrutiny must apply. They maintain that because there is no compelling state interest supporting the imposition of an indefinite and total restraint upon their speech, the gag order cannot stand.
Relating to the claim that the gag order constitutes a content-based restriction on speech, Appellants’ position begins with the premise that content-based restrictions require the government to satisfy the strict scrutiny standard to pass constitutional muster. Brief for Appellant at 10 (citing Turner Broad. Sys. Inc. v. F.C.C., 512 U.S. 622, 642 (1994) (internal citation omitted) (holding that “[o]ur precedents thus apply the most exacting scrutiny to regulations that suppress, disadvantage, or impose differential burdens upon speech because of its content”)). They contend that the gag order’s plain language constitutes a total prohibition against speaking publicly about the custody case in any manner, not only in a manner that identifies Child, as held by the Superior Court.
In support of this contention, Appellants rely exclusively upon the following sentence in the order: “It is hereby ORDERED that [Mother]; Richard Ducote, Esquire; and Victoria McIntyre, Esquire shall NOT speak publicly or communicate about this case including, but not limited to, print and broadcast media, on-line or web-based communications, or inviting the public to view existing on-line or web-based publications.” Trial Court Order, 4/27/2018, at 1. Ignoring the remaining text of the gag order, Appellants view the speech restriction as constituting a total ban on speech of a particular topic, i.e., Child’s custody proceeding, which, they argue, renders the regulation of speech content based.
The US Supreme Court will decide later this month if it will accept the case.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Martin James Schulz, the man at the center of a curious lawsuit based on a purported oral agreement, has at least two child support matters where this lawsuit was not disclosed.
Schulz is currently suing Ryan Millsap, who sold the movie studio Blackhall Studios to a hedge fund for over $100 million.
Schulz claims that he and Millsap have an oral agreement which entitles him to most of the proceeds of the sale.
According to the child support documents, Schulz has come a long way to being a principle in a nine figure deal.
In 2012, Schulz settled a child support matter with his ex Martha; in it, he claimed to have made $4,948 per month and was ordered to pay $917 per month.
I reached out to the two attorneys, Greg Godsey and Steve McConnell, but I did not receive a response back.
Schulz lawsuit against Millsap goes to a three judge panel later in September. The three judges who will hear the arbitration are: Judge NS "Ken" Kendrick, Judge Edward Krugman, and Judge Randy Rich.
Friday, September 10, 2021
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Monday, September 6, 2021
Arpad Bussom, the man who appears to be funding the curious lawsuit which make up the previous parts of this serious, appears to have lived a charmed life cruising around the globe, bedding beautiful celebrities, with ties to notorious figures like Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Epstein.
According to an apparent funding agreement Busson has been funding the lawsuit of Martin James Schulz, a man with an extensive criminal history, against Ryan Millsap, a highly respected executive, who recently sold his movie studio for more than $100 million.
Schulz claims that he and Millsap had an oral agreement making him entitled to almost all the sale proceeds.
Busson and Schulz appear to have met in rehab in 2017; Busson was in rehab even as a high profile custody case played out, that with his ex-girlfriend Uma Thurman.
"At this point, Luna (their daughter) has all the advantages in life ... two parents who love her ... who provide amply for her. She will have every opportunity to be intellectually, culturally enriched," Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper said as Thurman nodded vigorously in agreement.
"The only thing lacking and I hope it's forthcoming is that her parents can reach some place in life to put aside their rancor and anger against one another, never loving or even like each other but cooperate with each other."
Judge Cooper is a judge I am familiar with, having covered him in the story of Dr. Micheline Epstein. Here is part of that.
Uma Thurman's baby daddy doesn't deserve more visitation with their daughter -- because she says he's been a flaky father who has rarely seen the girl.
The Sun Newspaper described just how sordid the case got.
Meanwhile Arpad — known as “Arki” — has been grilled about an alleged addiction to hookers and cheating on a college admissions test, and portrayed as an errant dad who cancels plans with his daughter to attend concerts and football games.
Thurman is not the only celebrity Busson has children with; he also was involved with Elle MacPherson, with whom he has two children.
That relationship appears to have ended better as the Daily Mail described.
Elle Macpherson has shared a social snap with ex-partner and father of her two sons Arpad Busson.
Taking to Instagram on Tuesday, the 53-year-old Australian model uploaded a black-and-white image of Arpad, 54, wearing a Santa hat and a big smile.
Also tagging their eldest son Flynn Busson, Elle wrote: 'Thankyou for a magical Christmas, love you,' adding a love heart emoji.
It's not the only part of Busson's life that is colorful. He's a financier who has made and lost millions many times over.
As the story from INews in England called, "Arki Busson: The rise and fall of the man to know in finance, who used his connections to raise capital" noted, though he had made tens of millions as a hedge fund manager, in 2008 he became embroiled with Bernie Madoff.
It was around that time that cracks also began to appear in Mr Busson’s business empire. By 2009 EIM had lost almost half of its $15bn of assets under management as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, while his investment company became embroiled in Bernard Madoff’s $50bn Ponzi scheme, with Mr Busson making a $230m investment with the fraudster.
Busson was known as a fund to fund hedge fund manager. By this, he would take hedge fund money, and rather than investing it himself, he would disburse that money in other hedge funds.
Like other fund managers, he put a lot of his money into Bernie Madoff's hedge fund. INews continued.
Problems mounted and turbulence followed. EIM was offloaded to Gottex Fund Management Holdings, a Swiss investment firm, in 2013. And in 2016 the company was renamed LumX.
Losses began to build with the latest set of accounts showing that LumX posted a loss of $13m in 2019, contributing to losses of more than $55m over the last five years. Over the same period, headcount at the firm fell from 139 employees to just 37 at the end of 2019.
His hedge fund was eventually delisted from the Swiss exchange in 2020, the story noted.
Madoff is not the only notorious character which Busson has rubbed shoulders with.
As such, even as his professional life was spiraling down, and his personal life became the stuff of Page six type stories, Busson hooked up with Schulz to fund his lawsuit, arguing that Schulz is entitled to tens of millions in a sale of a movie studio due to a verbal contract.
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Martin James Schulz, the man now claiming that he's owed tens of millions in a nine figure movie deal, has a long rap sheet, with numerous aliases, leaving a trail of misery.
But prior to meeting Millsap, Schulz developed a long rap sheet spanning more than two decades; police reports not only list several aliases but more than one birthdate.
The earliest police report is from 1991 in Los Angeles County- Schulz separately had dates of births in 1970 and 1967 in varying police reports- and that report is below.
Schulz wound up having a bench warrant in that 1991 case after he failed to appear for a hearing.
His offenses span several states, and more than one county in California. Besides the aforementioned trouble in Los Angeles County in 1991, Schulz had another run-in with the law in Ventura County in 1997. That is below.
It's also impossible to truly describe the terror that it is to have somebody following, being able to quote things that you've said to other people in private and not know how. To have someone so insidiously try to get in between yourself and your friend, yourself and your family, by having following you, listened to you, any manner, whether it was GPS tracking, whether it was surveillance...I have been afraid to go out. I have stayed in far often than I normally would. Depression, the anxiety, just the trauma and therapy to try and feel normal again.
Then to actually have the physical evidence of how he was doing it and to further learn that he had done this to a woman before me and received a conviction.
Friday, September 3, 2021
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
(Ryan Millsap, along with other Atlanta power brokers, for an article in Atlanta Business Chronicle)
Blackhall Studios provides everything a movie production may need.
On their website, the studio boasts that it, "offers complete services for all types and sizes of productions – from small independent films to scripted television series to tent pole movies. The ever-expanding in-town Atlanta studio complex spans nearly 150 acres across two adjacent campuses."
It provided studio space for such blockbuster hits as Godzilla, Jumanji the Next Level, Venom, and Stephen King's Doctor Sleep.
Its sale, earlier this year, was covered extensively, including by CNBC.
Millsap, the founder, is the sort of person one would expect to be in the middle of a successful nine figure deal.
An ABC article from 2020 noted.
Even as Millsap was managing the studio and finalizing his nine figure deal, he has been hounded by a curious lawsuit with a character who would normally not be part of such a transaction.
He is currently being sued by Martin James Schulz. Schulz is much less likely to be on the business pages than in the police blotter.
He has at least fifteen criminal convictions, including one in Georgia in 2017, for stalking an ex-wife.
Here is part of the transcript from his guilty plea.
The court: DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU'RE CHARGED WITH THE FOLLOWING OFFENSES. YOU'RE CHARGED WITH THREE COUNTS OF AGGRAVATED STALKING AS FELONIES AND YOU'RE CHARGED WITH ONE COUNT OF VIOLATION OF A PROTECTIVE OFFERED AS A MISDEMEANOR?
Schulz: I AM.
Schulz wound up pleading guilty to this charge; it was the latest in a life which has taken him on a criminal path that spans more than two decades.
My name is Kate Whitlock. I represent John Da Grosa Smith and SMITH LLC.
On March 26, 2021, Judge Joseph Iannazzone granted Mr. Smith’s and SMITH LLC’s request to withdraw as counsel of record in the case of Schulz, et al v. Millsap, et al, Superior Court of Gwinnett County, Civ. Act. No. 18-A09182-11. Defendants are now represented in that pending civil action by Thomas Tate, Esq. of the law firm Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. (copied).
After receiving that response, I asked this follow up question, "I'm confused. Mr. Smith is a lawyer. What are you representing him on? Why would a lawyer need another lawyer to issue a statement first lawyer could figure out how to draft on his own?"
Ms. Whitlock did not respond to my follow up question.
According to Taylor's letter, he filed the previously mentioned notice of lis pendens on February 18, 2020.
A lis pendens, "is an official notice to the public that a lawsuit involving a claim on a property has been filed," according to Investopedia.
With that lis pendens filed, a sale of Blackhall Studio could not move forward as a lawsuit on the property was coming.
In order to remove the lis pendens, Millsap agreed to pay Schulz $6.7 million.
The parties have remained tight lipped with none of the principles agreeing to speak with me.
This may be because there is an arbitration coming up for this lawsuit, which will be binding, later in September.
Though it seems hard to believe that a claim based on an oral contract would win out, the case has made it this far, and so it's possible that a drug addict with a long rap sheet could be entitled to tens of millions of dollars from a successful CEO based entirely on a purported oral contract.