Honorable Robert B. RaderChief Judge District Court
Post Office Box 351
Raleigh, North Carolina 27602
Dear Hon. Rader:
I write to seek remedy regarding Judge Anna E. Worley’s five month delay in entering a custody order rendered in my case on 3 May 2011. As of this letter, despite numerous attempts in writing and through personal contact with Judge Worley’s staff, Judge Worley still has not entered the order from the 3 May 2011 hearing granting me final decision-making authority, a significant alteration to my previous order which provided for joint legal custody between the plaintiff and me.
The history of this particular hearing is as follows: On 5 April 2010, Judge Worley granted my motion for a parenting coordinator, and appointed V.A. Davidian. Mr. Davidian established payment arrangements with both me and the plaintiff, arrangements with which I fully complied. However, the plaintiff in my custody case did not comply and has, to date, paid Mr. Davidian only $50 of the fees owed. Mr. Davidian filed a Request for Hearing, which request the Court granted and set for hearing on 3 May 2011. I had previously informed Mr. Davidian of a case conflict (as paralegal for a federal public defender, I was required to attend a sentencing hearing at the Federal Courthouse on New Bern Avenue on that day). I requested that Mr. Davidian inform the Court of my scheduling conflict, to which he agreed.
On 3 May 2011, the Court heard testimony only from Mr. Davidian, as I was attending the federal sentencing hearing, and the plaintiff was a no-show. As I understand it from Judge Worley’s staff, Mr. Davidian did not inform the Court as to the reason for my absence.
After hearing testimony from Mr. Davidian regarding communication difficulties caused by plaintiff, and difficulties Mr. Davidian himself was having getting the plaintiff to comply with the Court’s custody order, Judge Worley rendered an order granting me final decision-making power regarding my three minor children. She also issued an Order to Show Cause regarding payment of the parenting coordinator’s fees, which Order was set to be heard 30 August 2011. Plaintiff filed a motion to continue, but the Court never responded to that motion. Instead, all parties and the parenting coordinator attended calendar call, were told to return at 3:00 PM that same day, returned at 3:00 PM only to hear Judge Worley’s ruling that the case would be continued to 30 September 2011 so that plaintiff could obtain an attorney.
On 30 September 2011, all parties returned to court, only to be notified at 8:45 AM that Judge Worley was sick and would hear no cases that day. The Show Cause cases are currently calendared for 3 November 2011.
In the 5 months since Judge Worley rendered her order, numerous custody issues have arisen prompted by the very lack of communication addressed during the 3 May 2011 hearing. Because there is no written order entered, I have been placed in the very precarious position of trying to exercise the custodial authority the Court orally granted me (which “order”, as Mr. Davidian stated in an email to both plaintiff and myself, became effective “immediately”) on 3 May 2011, yet doing so with no legal authority. As you well know, a rendered order is not an entered order.
One goal of providing me with final decision-making authority was to reduce the need for the parenting coordinator; however, the lack of any written order has interfered with that goal. Because plaintiff responds primarily to legal enforcement, the lack of any written order has provided plaintiff a sense of empowerment, requiring me to consistently seek help from Mr. Davidian, thereby incurring more fees. The lack of a written order has created instability in a situation which craves stability and predictability.
In addition to the instability created by Judge Worley’s failure to enter an order in this case, plaintiff’s attorney has added a second layer of instability by emailing me professionally inappropriate and sexually harassing emails. On 21 September 2011, Mr. Locke Milholland, in response to my email requesting a copy of the motion and order denying his motion for a continuance, emailed me the following: “Sure thing sugar pie, anything for you.” To date, I have received no motion or order regarding the continuance.
I have no remedy regarding this situation, save this written request to you. In family court, more than any other court in Wake County, parties must be able to rely on the system to place the children’s interest first and foremost. A party’s pro se status should not render her custody case low priority. In fact, a party’s pro se status perhaps should place her custody case at high priority, given the special challenges associated with navigating the complex world of custody litigation. Moreover, a party’s pro se status should never mean that opposing counsel plays open season with unprofessional and sexually harassing tactics. I cannot ever imagine Mr. Milholland emailing such fodder to a licensed attorney.
This case needs the stability associated with clarity, consistency, and professionalism. I respectfully request that Judge Worley enter the order that she rendered in open court on 3 May 2011. I respectfully request that, within your power, you require Locke Milholland to adhere to the rules of professionalism and to stop harassing me. I have requested a written apology from Mr. Milholland, a request he has ignored. I sincerely appreciate any effort on your part to encourage entry of the order, and discourage unprofessionalism on Mr. Milholland’s part.
On 3 November 2011, the Court will hear parenting coordinator Woofer Davidian’s request to be released from the case due to Plaintiff’s nonpayment. Plaintiff hopes Mr. Davidian will be released so that transparency about his refusal to communicate and his noncompliance with the order cannot be immediately handled. Judge Worley will likely allow Mr. Davidian’s release, as this is his second request for release due to Plaintiff’s nonpayment.
Without a written order signed and entered granting me final decision-making authority (which order Judge Worley has already rendered in open court), and without a parenting coordinator in place, my children are left very vulnerable to a noncustodial parent who has shown by his actions (made into findings of fact in our custody order) that retaliation against me takes precedence over the best interests of the children.