The appearance that the court systems are criminally involved with this sick practice and looks the other way with a blind eye?

June 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Here’s an unpublished article written about this case. This article was rejected by dozens of media, both national, regional, and specialty. Is it the writing or the subject matter? … Chris Mackney, who committed suicide Dec. 29, 2013, told me before he died that he was being bullied to death during a divorce and he laid the blame at the feet of the Virginia Family Court system and Dr. Stanton Samenow, a psychologist made famous by his mention on the popular television show The Sopranos. Furthermore, Mackney said the bullying was in retaliation for his discovering and publicizing details of his former father-in-law’s involvement in a 1960s murder along with actor Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson. Besides speaking to me, Mackney also left a suicide note on his website, called “GoodMenDidNothing,” and in it, he described the mental and psychological terror that his ex-wife’s legal assault had caused him. The note later was removed from the site, but has been republished online. “I took my own life because I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do or say to end the abuse. Every time I got up off my knees, I would get knocked back down. They were not going to let me be the father I wanted to be to my children. People may think I am a coward for giving up on my children, but I didn’t see how I was going to heal from this. I have no money for an attorney, therapy or medication. I have lost 4 jobs because of this process.” (Please note that according to Word Press, which owns Mackney’s blog, his site has since been taken down based on its policy regarding bloggers who pass away.) According to the organization Father’s Unite, 300 fathers and 30 mothers take their lives every month in the U.S. as a result of family court abuse. In fact, the circumstances surrounding Mackney’s suicide have several uncanny resemblances to the most notorious such suicide, that of Tom Ball in 2011. Tom Ball set himself on fire just before 5:30 on the evening of June 15, 2011, in front of the of the Cheshire County Superior Court House in Keane, N.H. The next day the local paper, the Keane Sentinel, received his 10,000-plus word suicide note in which he blamed both the family court system as well as the Children and Protective System for his suicide. Ball had contended in his suicide note that a minor case of corporal punishment was turned on its head and used to brand him unfairly as a domestic abuser, and with that branding all his rights were taken away. According to a study by Dr. Augustine J. Kposowa, entitled “Marital Status and Suicide in National Longitudinal Mortality Study” and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in the April 2000 edition, both Ball and Mackney are part of a quiet epidemic of suicide of divorced fathers, a group which is nearly 10 times as likely to commit suicide as any other group. Both Mackney and Ball had lost all contact with their children, fallen hopelessly behind on child support, had repeatedly been sanctioned by the court for prior violations leading to prison time. Each had also shown signs of obsession with a concept central to their case. In the case of Ball, it was the constant misdiagnosis of domestic violence and with Mackney it was psychopathy. On Nov. 21, 2013, as an example, Mackney published on his website a blog post entitled “Alienation, Family Law and Psychopathy – Welcome to my world.” That’s because six months into his divorce Mackney discovered that his wife’s father had helped orchestrate a murder in the late 1960s. Dina’s father, Pete Scamardo, is a successful real estate developer in Virginia, however in 1968, he hired Charles Harrelson, the father of Woody Harrelson, to kill Sam Degelia, who was not only Scamardo’s business partner but friend since the second grade. Scamardo allegedly wanted Degelia dead because in order to collect on life insurance each had on the other because they were partners. According to news reports at the time, Harrelson had become indebted to Scamardo after losing some heroine he was tasked by Scamardo to sell, and that Scamardo used this as leverage to convince Harrelson to commit the murder. Scamardo was only convicted as an accomplice in the murder in 1970. Mackney also discovered that Scamardo was currently using his daughter as a front for a gaming license because his criminal record would make him ineligible for his own gaming license. Mackney said that from the beginning of his divorce in 2008 all he wanted to do was settle in an equitable manner but that his wife refused to ever offer any deal. Worse yet, she hired the law firm Cottrell, Fletcher, Schinstock, Bartol, and Cottrell, where the lead attorney, Jim Cottrell, advertises by saying, “We’re not the type to settle so be prepared to open your wallet.” Mackney charged that his ex-wife’s father paid an estimated $1.2 million to have the legal team badger him for $2,916 per month in child support until the day he died. Cottrell spoke briefly with me and would only say “it’s not true, it’s not true” to the charges made by Mackney in his suicide note that he legally bullied Mackney to death. Dr. Karin Huffer is a clinical psychologist who saw so many victims of legal abuse she coined the term, “legal abuse syndrome,” which she told me she considers a subset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), only in this case the PTSD is caused by protracted abuse by the legal system. Mackney told me that he believed he had PTSD, and in Huffer’s book, Legal Abuse Syndrome: Eight Steps for Avoiding Stress Caused by the Legal System obsession is the title of Chapter 5. In 2010, Mackney saw Dr. William Zuckerman for the purposes of being evaluated during the course of his custody. During the evaluation, Dr. Zuckerman described behavior consistent with someone suffering from legal abuse syndrome. “There is a great deal of data which would support Mr. Mackney’s contention that he has felt overmatched and stressed, that he is not feeling much in control of the circumstances either in the context of his trying to negotiate with his wife, and also in the context of the helplessness he feels in the midst of this litigation. As noted earlier, he also feels at the mercy of superior forces (his wife, his wife’s family, and their attorney), and he feels without the funds necessary to prosecute his position. These stresses can lead to experience some dysphoric and even anxious feelings. (both are also symptoms of PTSD)” Connie Valentine is the co-founder of the California Protective Parents Association and she told me she has been documenting family court abuse for more than two decades. She said that jailing or threatening to jail a parent by setting persistently high child support payments, as in the case of Ball and Mackney, is a form of debtors, technically outlawed in the U.S. Valentine said that in both the cases of Ball and Mackney, the divorce fell into a category considered high conflict divorces. Valentine said there are cases in which family court abuse targets a mother, and there are father’s rights groups like Father’s Unite which believe the corruption is directed mostly at males. But observers from multiple viewpoints affirm the abuse starts because there is too much power in the hands of so-called experts, a lack of transparency, and a lack of training. In Mackney’s case, he focused in specifically on the behavior of Samenow, who became a cult celebrity when his work was featured in an episode of the television show The Sopranos. Samenow declined to comment on this case. In 2009, the two parties, Mackney and his ex-wife, agreed to have Samenow do a psychological evaluation after little progress was being made in the divorce. Mackney said the corruption started immediately when he was pressured to change this so-called psychological evaluation into a custody evaluation. Samenow’s evaluation on Aug. 3, 2009, and he cited in every part only Dina’s side of the story. He referred to her as “thoughtful” and “cooperative” while Samenow diagnosed Mackney as “narcissistic” and warned that he had violent tendencies. Mackney said this evaluation was used as the basis for a series of court rulings which limited and then in January 2010 first took all his parental rights away. In October 2010, after a psychological evaluation by Zuckerman restored some parental rights, Mackney was cited for contempt of court after he only faxed over a copy of his new apartment lease when a court order directed he fax a lease and a copy of the receipt for first month’s payment. According to Robert Worster, who represented Mackney for parts of 2012 as a court appointed attorney, here is the list of family court related jail stints to which Mackney was sentenced. “On October 7, 2011, Mr. Mackney was sentenced to 10 days of incarceration for criminal contempt and also held in civil contempt for failing to abide by the Final Custody Order entered on July 26, 2010. He was remanded to the Fairfax County Regional Detention Center until he purged himself of civil contempt by Paying Ms. Mackney $31,000 in sanctions; and Submitting a plan to the Court describing how he will abide by the Final Custody Order. “Mr. Mackney was released on July 30, 2012 and Mr. Worster and Mr. Bodner’s representation of Mr. Mackney ceased. All requests for fees were denied by the Court.” Mackney was serving his fourth stint in jail when he received a letter from Worster in May 2012 which ended this way. “Last, Mr. Bartol (Kyle Bartol, another attorney for Dina Mackney) again expressed his client’s request that you simply disappear following release and not have any contact with her or her family (including the children). My understanding (none of this has been submitted to me in writing) is that she will not pursue further sanctions if you do not have any contact with her or her family (including the children).” Mackney said that he complied and moved to Dallas to try and begin his life anew. But in the beginning of 2013, Mackney was extradited back to Virginia, when his ex-wife through her attorneys and the Office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney, and specifically their Prosecutor Elizabeth Kohut, claimed extortion. They alleged it was a crime when Mackney suggested in emails to his ex-wife he might go to the media with allegations her father helped kill his former business partner if she didn’t voluntarily reduce his child support to a more reasonable level. The prosecutors refused to accept any plea, and forced Mackney to languish in jail with a bail he couldn’t afford while he awaited trial. Despite not having any money and using a court appointed attorney, Mackney was acquitted, all of which he explained in his suicide note. “So, we went to trial and I was found not guilty. I did not ask for any money from her and the child support I owe is to my children, not my ex-wife. The jury saw that my attempts to reduce my child support were not an effort to obtain money at all, and the law supported the verdict. “It was a clear effort on the Commonwealth’s attorney to silence me for threatening to speak out about the fraud of Dr. Samenow, and the Cover-up by Judge Randy Bellows. Why else wouldn’t they accept a plea to my first criminal charge, ever?” After his acquittal his ex-wife successfully reached out to Child Support Enforcement to force Mackney to stay in Virginia, and he was facing further sanction for being behind on his child support as well as starting his blog, Good Men Did Nothing, which spoke about Scamardo’s murder conviction, something a previous court order forbade Mackney from doing. Both Samenow and Judge Randy Bellows, the combination in Mackney’s divorce, were cited in a Washington Post story, which suggested that Samenow had misrepresented a convicted killer’s testimony to him and Bellows had allowed him to do it. I also spoke with Tommy Moffett who also had Samenow as a custody evaluator. He told me that he might have wound up like Mackney, but he taped all their sessions and was able to, acting as his own attorney, frustrate Samenow to the point Samenow blurted out, ‘What, did you have me recorded?” Moffett briefly documented his experience on a blog he started, Stop Samenow. (


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