About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Syndrome: Screening on 29.2.16

There is to be a screening of a US documentary film called the Syndrome at 7pm on Monday 29th February 2016 at Whirled Cinema, 259 Hardess Street, London SE24 0HN (near to Loughborough Junction, Brixton & Herne Hill stations).

There is no charge to attend but donations of £10 would be welcome to cover the costs of the screening. Any ‘profit’ will be donated to the charity The Who Cares? Trust which supports children in care in the UK.

The film makers describe The Syndrome as “an explosive documentary following the crusade of a group of doctors, scientists, and legal scholars who have uncovered that “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the US, is not scientifically valid. In fact, they say, it does not even exist. Filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith teams with national award­winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith to document the unimaginable nightmare for those accused and shine a light on the men and women dedicating their lives to defending the prosecuted and freeing the convicted. The Syndrome uncovers the origins of the myth of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.”” You can read more about the film here

I am not personally promoting any of the film’s conclusions but it is an interesting topic which provokes much divided opinion and I am all for the scrutiny of today’s ‘medical certainties’.

If anyone is interested in attending do please let me (Jacqui Gilliatt) know by sending me an email or commenting on this post and please let colleagues know if you think they would be interested in coming. There is room for up to 70 people, a paying bar (normal pub prices) and a very decent pizza delivery place 10 metres away.

More About the Syndrome

What the critics have said:

“Terrific...I was glued to the screen from the first moment.” Academy Award­winning director Kieth Merrily

“..an eye­opening hybrid of medical drama and courtroom thriller” KCUR Kansas City Public Radio“..depicts shaken baby syndrome as a construct of junk science, injected into criminal proceedings with devastating results.“ Denver Westword

“The Syndrome makes a compelling case for questioning shaken baby charges.” World Magazine

“Riveting...one of the most important investigative reporting films of our time.” Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michelle Roberts“This is an astonishing documentary. Extremely well­reported and written. I was blown away.” Author of “The Spy’s Son” and Pulitzer Prize journalism finalist Bryan Denson

About the film:

The Syndrome (86 minutes) is based on years of research by national award­winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith. She has been reporting on child abuse since the 90s and won a 1998 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for her coverage of abused and neglected children.

Audrey Edmunds, mother of three, spent 11 years in prison for killing a baby she never harmed. And she is not alone. What happens when widely held beliefs based on junk science lead to the convictions of innocent people? The Syndrome is an explosive documentary following the crusade of a group of doctors, scientists, and legal scholars who have uncovered that “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the US, is not scientifically valid. In fact, they say, it does not even exist. Filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith teams with national award­-winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith to document the unimaginable nightmare for those accused and shine a light on the men and women dedicating their lives to defending the prosecuted and freeing the convicted. The Syndrome uncovers the origins of the myth of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” It unflinchingly identifies those who have built careers and profited from this theory along with revealing their shocking pasts. Shaken baby proponents are determined to silence their critics while an unthinkable number of lives are ruined.

Featured subjects:

Dr. Patrick Barnes is a Stanford Medical School professor of radiology and the chief of Pediatric Neuroradiology at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Barnes is the co­founder and member of both hospitals’ Child Abuse Task Force and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Team. Previously, Dr. Barnes taught at Harvard Medical School. He has published extensively about the neuroradiological imaging of child abuse and how the so­called “shaken baby syndrome” symptoms may be indicative of many different diseases and medical conditions.

Dr. John Plunkett is a forensic pathologist and specialist in child abuse and injury. Dr. Plunkett worked as a pathologist and director of education at what is now Minnesota’s Regina Medical Center in Hastings and spent nearly a decade as Hennepin County’s deputy medical examiner where his pathological findings and testimony were often used in court both for the prosecution and defense. Dr. Plunkett was one of the first physicians in the country to question the scientific validity of shaken baby syndrome. He has done groundbreaking, internationally recognized research on fatal pediatric head injuries caused by short distance falls. He and his wife live on a geriatric horse farm in rural Minnesota.

Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer is a law professor at Northwestern Law School in Chicago where she teaches and writes about criminal law, evidence and the intersection of law and science. Prior to Northwestern, Tuerkheimer was a law professor at DePaul University in Chicago. She is the author of “Flawed Convictions: Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Inertia of Justice,” which was published in 2014 by Oxford University Press. Prof. Tuerkheimer clerked for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Jay Rabinowitz and also worked as a domestic violence prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She received her undergraduate degree at Harvard College and her law degree from Yale.

Dr. Ronald Uscinski is a neurosurgeon and professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at Georgetown Medical School and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He treats patients at a number of D.C. area medical centers, including Georgetown University Hospital. A renowned critic of shaken baby syndrome, Dr. Uscinski’s mentor was Dr. Ayub Ommaya, a neurosurgeon and biomechanical engineer whose research was used as the scientific basis for the syndrome. Both doctors testified for the defense in the sensational Nanny Louise Woodward trial in Boston in 1997. Dr. Uscinski has published articles and made media appearances about the scientific problems with shaken baby syndrome since that trial. Dr. Uscinski is currently working in Germany providing neurological medical care to troops on an American military base.

Awards and Nominations:

Fan Favorite ­ (In)Justice For All Film Festival

Feature Film Special Recognition ­ (In)Justice For All Film Festival

Cultural Spirit Award ­ New Hope Film Festival

Bronze Plaque (Science and Technology) ­ Columbus Film Council

Jury Award Nominee ­ Kansas International Film Festival

Best Documentary Nominee ­ Long Island International Film Expo

Best Documentary Nominee ­ New Hope Film Festival

Artistic Spirit Award Nominee ­ New Hope Film Festival

Documentary Audience Award Runner Up ­ Twin Cities Film Festival

Friday, 13 November 2015

Everything you ever wanted to know about .. East London Family Court by David Jockelson

Directions to East London Family Court October 2015 David Jockelson

The address is 6th and 7th Floors, 11 Westferry Circus

Entrance in Columbus Courtyard E14 4HD but it is not easy to find on first visit.

These directions deal with travel first by DLR (Docklands Light Railway), then Tube, bus, car and boat. Comments on access for wheelchair and buggy at the end + other information

DLR (Docklands Light Railway) You can go to Westferry Circus and walk along the main road. A drier and less polluted route is going to Canary Wharf Station on the DLR …. and then finding the right exit from the shopping area.

When you come down from the platforms, you find yourself in a sort of concourse with a large star style decoration on the floor and a small departures board above.

The exits do not have numbers but the one you need has a large Platform 6 just to the right of it. To the right of that is a Paddy Power.

The entrance is labelled rather inconspicuously “Entrance to Cabot Place West." See below - the entrance is straight ahead in this picture

Go though those doors straight ahead. Go round the side of a food outlet Birley and then on past shops, Moleskin, Zara, Space NK, Crabtree & Evelyn etc, until out the doors at the end - into the air- Cabot Place West - you are then opposite steps up to a fountain in Cabot Square.

Go up there straight ahead, past the fountain and you will then be in West India Avenue, a wide dual carriageway with gardens down the middle. Go down that road for about three minutes

You might spot a small signpost on a pole on the pavement which is opposite a pedestrian turning called Columbus Courtyard. There is a fairly obvious sign saying 11 Westferry Circus on the wall. A few metres into that, on the left is an inconspicuous entrance to the court with a steel court sign on the wall. The door is labelled encouragingly Firefighters Access. Keep Clear. If you come to Tom's Kitchen - you have gone a bit too far.

Below is the view off the main road and the court is along on the left with two small plants outside it.

Security staff will check your bags and you will have to go through a scanner so you need to take all metal objects out of your pockets and put them in the trays provided.

You will not be allowed to take into court any large umbrella, cigarette lighters, any sprays like perfume, any glass bottles, metal cans or any plastic drink bottles that have been opened - ie they need to have intact seals. Security staff will take them, and give a receipt for collecting on the way out. They will also tell you which court you are in. You will need to take the lifts to the 6th or 7th floors.

By tube to Canary Wharf on the Jubilee Line.

Make sure you come out of the exit with signs to DLR. Go up these escalators or use the lifts.

When you come up the escalators you are in an open area with water ahead of you and to your right a plaza with restaurants and stalls and a large office block rising up ahead.

Turn right into the plaza and go up the steps ahead - or there is a lift to the left of the steps - and you will come out onto South Colonnade. Turn left and follow that along until you come to Cabot Place - the large square with the fountains and waterfalls. Keep going ahead, round the outside of the square until you come to the dual carriageway of West India Avenue. Cross at the crossing to the other side and turn left away from Cabot Square. The court is then 100 metres on the right - see above for final directions and picture.

Buses going to Canary Wharf include - from the North West - the 135 which starts at Moorfields hospital and goes through Liverpool St, Commercial Road and Limehouse. D3 Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Shadwell, Wapping, Limehouse. 277 Highbury and Islington, Hackney Central, Mile End. D7 Mile End. From the East - The D8 starts at Stratford, Bow Church, East India Dock Rd, Poplar High St. The D7, D3 and 135 approach Canary Wharf from the Isle of Dogs which lies to the South. http://canarywharf.com/getting-here/bus/

If that is too small …. and you are looking at this online go to this page and print out a larger version.

Access for wheelchairs and buggies: There are powered doors and lifts in the Tube stations and the DLR (which has level access platforms). From the DLR lifts you need to make sure you go to the bottom level. You will come out on South Colonnade where there are dropped kerbs but cross the road and stay on the left side skirting Cabot Square which does not have full dropped kerbs. From the tube, coming out onto the open plaza - there is a lift somewhat tucked away beside the steps up to South Colonnade.

Car: Canary Wharf is outside the congestion zone. There is parking near the court. Entrance in West India Avenue. Use E14 4HD for sat nav. Up to 4 hours - £10. Up to 6 hours - £15.50

Riverboat: It takes 30 minutes from Waterloo to Canary Wharf and 29 minutes from Woolwich to Canary Wharf.

Key stops include Westminster, Embankment, Blackfriars, Bankside, London Bridge and Tower Piers to the west and Greenland, Masthouse and Greenwich to the east. A shuttle service from London Bridge to Canary Wharf (13 minutes) also operates every 10 minutes in the peak hours.

In addition to the regular services a shuttle service operates between Surrey Quays and Canary Wharf. Oyster cards are now accepted for Pay-As-You-Go payments on river bus services.

The Canary Wharf pier is located close to Westferry Circus. Come out of the court and turn right up West India Avenue - up to the roundabout, across to the other side and the pier is there. £7.15 to Embankment.

Riverboat site for Thames clippers

Cycling. On your own bike: The blurb says there are over 1,000 free cycle parking spaces and 405 secure paid for ones. If you come or want to go by Santander Bikes – there is a stand outside the tube exit and another at Fisherman Walk West - see here for map of sites

Photocopying: There is an excellent and very helpful branch of Color Co in South Colonnade. Andrea, Mark and Claud. To reach it - from DLR follow the instructions above and then when you emerge into the fresh air of Cabot Square turn left along the pavement, cross South Colonnade and it is back a few metres to your left. From the tube you will pass it on the way along South Colonnade. You may find it convenient to e-mail in your documents for printing so you can pick them up on the way to court. canary.wharf@color.co.uk Note American spelling of color. Not very cheap 14p per sheet. However they have just introduced a £15 minimum charge which amounts to about 90 pages.

So …there is also rather less professional photocopying available at Rymans in the shopping centre - off Platform 2 of DLR. They will also receive incoming emails with documents. It’s up to you to ensure confidentiality but they assure me they are aware of security and will delete as soon as possible and keep documents safe. £2 cover charge Canarywharf@rymanservices.co.uk Obviously they have stationary and are next to a Waterstones and a Maplins which can be useful. The Post office does do copying but you have to join a usually lengthy queue and hand over documents which they copy.

Food: There are many restaurants in Canary wharf - some no doubt very good and very expensive. For the rest of us…. PrĂȘt a Manger is two minutes from the court. Come out, turn left, then angle left across the courtyard and you will see it.

If you prefer something different and a bit cheaper - go past PrĂȘt, turn right along the row of shops and there is a Benebene shop - sandwiches, warm dishes including veggie, halal, jerk chicken. Tom's Kitchen Deli is more expensive but some say is better. Cheapest of all is Tesco's - there are a few but the closest to the court is the one which you can access from platform 6 at the DLR station.

See Map below. Red Box is the court. Red Arrow is route from the DLR. Black Arrow is the route from the Tube.

Email addresses

PDs and other documents required to be filed by PD 27A: eastlondonfamilypd@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk

NB. The subject line of the email should contain the case number, date of hearing and name of allocated Judge. No other correspondence should be sent to this email address.

Non-compliance should be reported to: eastlondonnoncomp@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

NB. The name of the case, case number and name of the allocated Judge should appear in the subject line. No other correspondence should be sent to this email address.

General correspondence and non-pd documents: eastlondonfamilyenquiries@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Legal Summaries for your delectation - interim care, final care, care vs supervision, relocation

Over on Children In Law I have posted some new articles / case law summaries on:

Interim Care / Removal

Final Care Orders

Care Orders vs Supervision Orders Case Law

Relocation Case Library

The first two might be quite handy as basic submissions in care cases. Feel free to borrow the content. Let me know if there is anything you think should be added.

With grateful thanks to my new pupil, Amy Slingo, who knocked them into shape!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Family Law Links & Resources

I have recently revamped my list of links and resources about UK Family Law by topic onto a blogging platform at Family Law Webworld.

Topics include addiction, experts, mental health, medical, parenting after separation, disorders & litigation, online dictionaries.

The full topic list is set out on the Children in Law links page

I am always on the lookout for sites which practitioners, Mackenzie friends or family members have find useful so let me know if you think there is a good one I am missing. I am already reviewing the list again and will post again when it is updated so now is a good time to suggest additional links.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Fact Finding: Legal Summary by DJ Simmonds & HHJ Hess

I am very grateful to DJ Simmonds at the Central Family Court who has collaborated with HHJ Hess to produce a handy summary of the law on fact finding hearings and they have kindly agreed that I can share it.

I have published it on my Children In Law site articles page - click on the link to Fact Finding under the (completely inaccurate) picture with gavel and it should download as a word file.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any extra cases which they think should be included.

Thanks again to DJ Simmonds & HHJ Hess.