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    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Illinois House Endorses Extortion of Parents in Family Court

    The family courts allow court-appointed child representatives and guardian ad litems in divorce court (family court) to extort families and impoverish them by ordering payment to them of $300 to $1200 per hr - often with final bills of  >> $50,000, in addition to paying outrageous rates to private attorneys for each parent, as well as paying for psychological counselors and other court appointed persons who evaluate the family situation.  As the average American family makes around $40,000 - $60,000, this guarantees that families will be impoverished. then the judges order the families home sold, children's college funds  confiscated, and all assets sold to pay these fees.

    This surely is not in the best interest of the children as the state law mandates!

    Stand up and be counted - complain to the press, your House Representative, your State Senator, you Illinois Senator Durbin, and your Illinois Representative,  and your Cook County Board Member.



    March 14, 2012
     
    TO: All Members of Judiciary I- Civil Law Committee

    FROM: Milijana Vlastelica, On behalf of all victims of court-ordered child representation

    Subject: The Judiciary’s Objection to $150/Hour Fee Cap to the Court-Appointed

    Children’s Attorneys as Provided in House Bill 5544 Deviates from the

    Legislature’s Established Practices; Some Possible Solutions


    Most of us are still recovering from the Judiciary’s objection [February 29, 2012] to establishing the fee caps for the court-appointed children’s attorneys in divorce cases especially that this objection is not in sync with the Legislature’s well-established practice to set the exact hourly rate for other types of court-appointed attorneys. For example, in death-penalty cases, the Legislature did not leave it up to the court-appointed private attorney to set his own hourly rate, but it capped his fees at $125/hour (adjusted for COLA) per 725 ILCS 124-10. In non-death penalty cases, attorney’s fees are based on 725 ILCS 5/113-3, set at $40/hour for court time and $30/hour for non-court times.


    Therefore, it is difficult to comprehend where this rationale, which some Representatives expressed that the court-appointed children’s attorney should be making as much money as privately retained attorneys, comes from.


    Our research indicates that nowhere in this country are the court-appointed attorneys allowed to set their own hourly rate except in Illinois in the Family Court.


    Per the attached research article entitled, “Issues Relating to Guardians ad Litem”, dated January 2003, the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau conducted a study of the practices that exist in Hawaii and on the mainland with respect to guardian ad litem and appointed counsel in child protective cases and in the Family Court. The Bureau’s research reveals that the court-appointed guardians in other states are paid either flat fee per case or block of cases per contract or fixed hourly rate. For example, in Alaska attorney GALs receive $70 to $80 an hour; in Arkansas, guardian ad litems are salaried between $37,000 - $57,000 per year depending on experience; Attorney ad litem contractors who are part-time receive $800 per case per year; In California, Contract attorneys are paid flat rates per event. The juvenile court panel of attorneys are compensated at a rate of $75 per hour in court and $50 for out of court work. If an attorney had twenty-five cases, the attorney would receive $20,000 per year; In Colorado, some attorneys were compensated on an hourly basis and others on a flat-fee basis; most attorneys who represent children in dependency and neglect cases currently are paid a flat fee of $1,040 per case for 24 months of representation. If the case has not yet closed after 24 months, attorneys may bill at hourly rates of $45 for out-of court work and $55 for in-court work (which is the same rate paid to other public attorneys in Colorado).


    Upon the Hawaii Legislative Bureau’s comprehensive research, the Bureau concluded and recommended that, “Attorneys providing guardian ad litem services should be compensated equivalent to other ‘public service’ attorneys”.


    Here in Illinois, without any formal studies, some members of Judiciary concluded that the court-appointed children’s attorney in divorce cases, should be making as much money as mom’s and dad’s privately retained attorneys. As shown above, this practice deviates from the well-established standards that the Illinois Legislature adopted in the past which is to cap the fees for all court-appointed attorneys; and, it also deviates from the standards established by the rest of the United States.


    Therefore, this letter is a plea to those members of Judiciary to reconsider their position, and to realize that the only solution is capping the fees at $150/hour or establishing some type of flat amounts.


    If we set the court-appointed children’s attorneys fee to be a flat $1000 per case as some other states are doing it, but with the explicit provisions that they cannot withdraw from the case until the case is concluded, and that they must attend all hearings and all status dates where they are not needed (because they are currently doing it, and billing the parents), I guarantee that all the cases would be concluded much faster. The divorcing parents would have money left for their children’s education; the courts would not be overbooked; we may not need as many family court judges, and this would help the Illinois budget as well.


    In the alternative, if some Representatives continue objecting to the fee cap of $150/hour and/or insist that the court-appointed child representative should be making as much money as privately retained mom’s and dad’s attorneys, then, perhaps the Legislature can afford the parents some remedy by revoking the absolute immunity that the Courts recently gave to the court-appointed children’s attorneys. If the court-appointed children’s attorneys want to be, and deserve to be at the same pay level or higher than the mom’s and dad’s privately retained attorneys, then they also should be held accountable for their actions and professional negligence. If mom’s or dad’s attorney provides substandard level of service, he or she can be sued for legal malpractice. The court-appointed child representatives, on the other hand, cannot be sued for professional negligence or intentional tort no matter how much they damage the child. Nowhere on Planet Earth does this exist that a private professional in a capacity of a court-appointee sets his own hourly rate, can make as much as one million in annual revenue, and not be held liable for his work or lack thereof.


    In addition, I would recommend that the judges have no input as to which private attorney is awarded these appointments. Currently, the same judges always appoint the same child representatives. This practice, where a trial court can award an extremely lucrative business to a private attorney, provides a breeding ground for corruption, whether it is happening or not.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    This is nothin more then the 2 party criminal ring that we the people fund every week or two THOROUGHLY out of control....

    These are swindling CON ARTISTS at their swindling CON GAME..

    What I have just described are nothin more then AGENTS of the american bar founders after since the mid 1870's these founder AGENTS and 2 party criminal ring has RIGGED everything.. however who REALLY rigged it was the american bar founders AND the rockefeller disease healthcare economy.. look it up.. 1908 :)