When we blog about the legal system needing reform, we tend to focus on issues involving lawyers and judges, but the whole system needs reform. Illustrating this is the revocation of a New Jersey psychologist’s license after being found to have influenced children in alleged parental sexual assault cases resulting in the loss of parental rights. Here’s a link to the news of the revocation:
Marsha Kleinman, of Highland Park, New Jersey, was a well-regarded child psychologist who served in a number of custody cases. In 2003, Ms. Kleinman was involved in a divorce and custody case involving a three-year old girl. According to the court’s 86-page order revoking her license, although Ms. Kleinman was appointed as the treating psychologist, she engaged in a pattern of suggestive forensic analysis of the little girl, convincing her that her father had sexually abused her. The father’s parental rights were progressively eliminated, beginning with supervised visits and ending with the loss of any visitation.
In 2012, a New Jersey court found that Ms. Kleinman “engaged in gross and repeated malpractice, which damaged and endangered the welfare of [the girl] and threatened [the girl’s] relationship with her father.” Using strong language to describe Ms. Kleinman and her actions, including misleading the court, the judge revoked Ms. Kleinman’s psychology license, ordered her to pay $60,000 in civil penalties, and ordered her to pay the costs of investigating her conduct, including expert and attorney fees and other costs.
Although not lawyers, psychologists in family law cases (and other experts in other types of cases) can have a huge impact on the outcomes because by definition they espouse opinions that most judges, lawyers and jurors lack training to evaluate. Where these experts act with integrity and the utmost of professionalism, they are to be applauded. But, just like lawyers, the temptation to “follow the money” – the “right” opinions can result in repeat and voluminous business – is great for many experts. And, in cases where expert opinion can make the difference between winning and losing, these experts wield tremendous power over the litigants and the outcomes.
This aspect of the legal system needs reform as well.
You’ve got options. The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field. Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.