We Americans pride ourselves in having achieved a relatively open society, yet we allow certain court proceedings to be withheld from public scrutiny. I'm not referring to proceedings where security is an issue. My concern involves child custody and visitation privileges.
Specifically, I have in mind the court proceedings administered by Judge Lyn Allgood, as he adjudicates child-related disputes. Over the past months, I've heard several complaints about Judge Allgood's handling of child-custody and visitation-privilege cases.
Complainers understand the judge's prerogatives in decision-making. It is his demeanor and seeming total lack of impartiality which constitute the common denominator of dissatisfaction with his court.
He seems consistently to favor young mothers, totally ignoring unwise behaviors on the parts of these young mothers, such as "live-in" boyfriends, as well as marginal behaviors of those who come in near-daily contact with the children.
Some folks even infer a hostility toward them on the part of the judge.
These are solid, respectable, mature, older relatives of the children who seek to retain a healthy and loving relationship with these helpless children who can only benefit from being loved.
If these folks are correct in their conclusions that the judge's bias favors young mothers over the long-term interest of the children involved, wouldn't a court proceeding open to a number of non-personally involved citizens be in the interest of all the children?
If they are incorrect in their conclusions, no harm will have been done to anyone. Either way, it seems inimical to the interests of the children to have their very lives altered by one man in a semi-secret judicial process. Judges have rights and powers. Partiality should not be either.
Gene L. Rickaby, Martinez, Ga.
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