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Author Topic: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)  (Read 9486 times)

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Offline M.Capestro

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Dad who tried to take kids from Japan sues Tennessee judge
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/dad-who-tried-to-take-kids-from-japan-sues-tennessee-judge/feed/atom
Wednesday 28th April, 05:11 AM JST


NASHVILLE, Tenn —
A Tennessee man who was arrested in Japan when he tried to take his children back from his ex-wife is suing the local judge and an attorney who handled the divorce.
 
Japanese prosecutors eventually dropped the case against Christopher Savoie after he tried in September to enter the U.S. Consulate with his 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.
 
Ex-wife Noriko Savoie had violated a U.S. court custody decision by taking the children to her native Japan a month earlier.
 
The lawsuit says the children are still living in Japan with their mother.
 
Savoie filed a federal lawsuit this month against Williamson County Circuit Court Judge James G Martin, who served as both the mediator during the divorce and then later as the judge that lifted a restraining order barring the ex-wife from taking the children to Japan.
 
Savoie claims that Tennessee Supreme Court law states that mediators should refrain from acting in a judicial capacity in cases in which they mediated. He also claims negligence because the judge was aware of the risk of child abduction in this case.
 
He also filed a state lawsuit in Williamson County against his former divorce attorney, Virginia Lee Story, arguing she failed to object to having Martin hear the case as a judge. He claims she was negligent and asks for compensatory and punitive damages.
 
Messages left for Martin and Story on Tuesday were not immediately returned.
 
Timothy Tull, Savoie’s attorney, said that judges should be aware of child custody issues that have resulted from Japan’s refusal to join an international agreement three decades ago on the matter.
 
An arrest warrant issued in Tennessee for Savoie’s ex-wife has no effect in Japan because the country hasn’t signed the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the appropriate courts and that the rights of access of both parents are protected. Japanese law also allows only one parent to be a custodian—almost always the mother.
 
“Our goal is to educate and help the judiciary understand they need to heed the State Department’s warning that every measure should be taken to preclude this from happening,” Tull said.
 
Court records show that Savoie filed for divorce in June 2008 and Martin served as the mediator in multiple sessions before the couple agreed to a marital dissolution agreement and parenting plan.
 
The plan allowed for Noriko Savoie to take the children to Japan on vacation, but required that she continue to live with them in Tennessee.
 
Savoie said in the federal lawsuit that he grew increasingly concerned that his ex-wife would take the children to Japan permanently and turned over an e-mail as evidence and asked for the court to intervene.
 
In March 2009 soon after their divorce was final, another Williamson County Judge Circuit Court judge issued an emergency restraining order barring her from traveling with the children. The case was initially assigned to another judge, but then was transferred to Martin, who lifted the travel restriction and returned the children’s passports.
 
The lawsuit said Christopher Savoie spent 18 days in custody after he went to Japan to get the children back and said he has “little hope of future reunification.”

Offline ananddad

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 08:06:17 AM »
I hope he succeeds in this lawsuit. It is time Judges are held accountable for their negligence which causes irreparable damage to the children and the left behind parent. Let us also hope the result of this lawsuit would send a strong message to Judiciary that they need to err on the side of caution while permitting international travel with children (irrespective of whether the prospective destination country of an abductor is a signatory to Hague treaty or not).
"In the end, everything will be okay. If it's not okay, then you have not reached the end." -- Unknown.

Offline SageDad

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 11:16:14 PM »
heh.. I read this and meant to post it too.  I'm a huge fan of suing judges and other lawyers.  I'm not sure that either is technically liable legally but I hope they are.  There needs to be some accountability for judges that open the door allowing high risk parents to abduct children to foreign countries.
“What you seek is seeking you.”
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Offline kittykat

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2010, 09:46:21 AM »
Judges are immune from lawsuits for their decisions taken from the bench but the lawyer could be found responsible for legal malpractice. A judge can be debenched in some circumstances, but the threshold is very high and I doubt that this would qualify.

Offline UD_student

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2010, 02:41:23 PM »
I would hope that if nothing else it would make a judge think twice about the abduction threat as serious rather than just saying 'from my experience talking to the person, I don't think she or he would do that'.

I think a more appropriate story title would be 'Dad whose kids were abducted sues Tennessee judge for lifting restraining order barring international travel'

Offline SageDad

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2010, 04:23:34 PM »
Judges are immune from lawsuits for their decisions taken from the bench but the lawyer could be found responsible for legal malpractice. A judge can be debenched in some circumstances, but the threshold is very high and I doubt that this would qualify.

Yeah, I was very surprised that judge's could even be liable for family court decisions -- particularly when social workers are routinely immune from liability arising from some of their disastrous decisions concerning children.

Many judges do need to run for (re)election though and can be voted off the bench.
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Offline Steven Lorenz

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2010, 12:54:53 AM »
I'm glad you filed a lawsuit against this judge. The embarrassment of a judge having to deal with this makes the filing worthwhile. Best of Luck

Offline lovellboys

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Re: Christopher Savoie sues Tennessee judge - JapanToday.com (4/28/10)
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2010, 07:07:47 PM »
I wish there was a way to compare cases where a custody agreement is in place and both parents honor the terms of international travel versus those where an agreement is clearly broken and a child is abducted.  There ARE families that make international custody work.  How do you weed out the abductors before they abduct?

It will be interesting to see how this progresses.  How do you rationalize a ruling that in retrospect was clearly wrong?   Your honor, how do you feel NOW about returning those passports?  Stunod.