by David Zwald
Friday night I was working late at the State Prison facility in Concord when I noticed several police and EMS units heading north on State Street. I turned on my scanner and learned what tragedy was transpiring in Boscawen that night. This brought back memories of words that were etched into my mind that I heard in a Child and Family Law legislative hearing on May 19th of 2005. These words came from the Administrative Judge for the State Courts Family Division. It was when Representative Blanchard asked Judge Kelly if the courts review findings to learn from their mistakes. The Judge answered, "only in cases where there is a homicide". This legislative session was recorded on video tape and posted on the internet, so there is no denying that he said such a statement. Although his answer was always with me, I had to review it to recall just who asked him this important question.
I found such an answer very disturbing. Based on my experience, the court makes numerous mistakes , yet someone has to die before they will be bothered look into them. Most of these "mistakes" are blatant and are a result of judges legislating from the bench following personal and/or political beliefs over the laws put in place by the states elected officials. Yet in my case, which will never be reviewed because it doesn't fit the "criteria" set by the court that someone must be killed first. Because in my case, the only thing "killed" was my relationship with my children, and also my savings account, both which the court has no concern over. The fact that several media outlets reported that the mother "won custody" or was "given full custody" shows that RSA 461-A, which has been in effect since Oct 2005 is not being followed. I'm sure this case was after that RSA became effective, yet the "custody attitude" is still there in the courts based on media reports. The whole purpose of this legislation was to prevent children from being seen as a piece of property to be fought over and "won or lost", and shows that personal beliefs of judges are still being placed over law.
While I have absolutely no sympathy for the person who committed this act, that all goes to the child who will be scared for life from this, I do feel that a FULL investigation into this case be done, now that the homicide criteria has been met. I would like it to be done in such a way that any attempted cover-up from the court for any "mistakes" they may have made will not happen. I do not want this to turn into yet another case of the courts doing to little to late, and although for this child it already is, it may save another innocent child in the future from this same tragedy.
Sadly, I think Mr. Smith felt that he was not treated fairly, and feeling he had nowhere to turn, took the law into his own hands. And now two people are dead, two more in the hospital, one of them a innocent child, and many others traumatized for life because of it. Why do I think that? It is because in my opinion Mr. Smith was treated no differently in the courts than the hundreds such as myself before him, it's just he handled it differently, violently. That is why I firmly believe there should be a though investigation into this matter, to insure that there will be no more Mr. Smiths. If there is not something done about it, it will only be a matter of time before this senseless act of violence will be repeated.
While this incident shows just how important your work is, and I, like many others respect all the hard work put into family law reforms to insure that ALL parties are treated fairly and equally. I think the important thing to do right now is follow the checks and balances that our founding fathers based our government on and find out WHY this happened. Maybe if the court did not have the "homicide criteria" this event may have never happened.
While I do not want to use this tragedy to further an agenda or legislation on my part, but I'm sure there will be many who will. My primary "agenda" is to see that this NEVER happens again, and I hope yours is too. But I feel this can only be achieved if all people can go into a court room and be treated both fairly, equally, and with dignity and respect.