Juvenile Courts: Great for Experts, Maybe Not for Kids. Exclusive Interview with Attorney Norm Pattis


In an op-ed piece in the New Hampshire Register, attorney Norm Pattis writes about a completely disconnected juvenile court system that has become a profit center for so-called experts but does little to get the best outcome for children who end up there. Pattis discusses the article in this report. His own experience is the basis for the piece.  Pattis is also the author of “Taking Back the Courts” and Juries and Justice.”

Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis

Pattis points out that Connecticut law makes juvenile court proceedings confidential (and this is commonplace in juvenile courts throughout the country). In cases involving child custody, “it’s very easy for parents to be given a back seat about their children’s welfare.” The state appoints experts who are supposed to advise the court using the “best interest of the child” standard.

Pattis opines that the “best interest” standard is unrealistic. “Don’t we want what’s best for kids? In fact, we don’t really know what’s best for kids.” Pattis notes that most people are raised by parents who do the best they can with what they have, and their children grow up, turning out well most of the time. Pattis notes that an increasing number of parents are locked out of the lives of their children through family court or juvenile court proceedings. Courts are then empowering experts to make decisions based on a standard that is unrealistically high. And the experts are being paid in many cases by the very parents who are being shut out of the decision-making process.

Parties in divorce cases are frequently involved in these “best interest of the child” proceedings. Pattis suggests that the common sense approach of Solomon might be more helpful than the opinions of experts in making decisions about the welfare of children in contested divorces. Pattis believes that letting juries decide these cases would be a better solution to getting the best results, and at a significant cost saving. “I’ve seen families spend tens of thousands of dollars” on experts, whose opinions have not improved things or solved any problems.

Pattis says that he has heard from people in other states that the same problems seem to occur everywhere. All of which reinforces his view that the court system needs to change by letting juries handle these cases. Pattis points out that, in a juvenile court case, the attorneys can’t ask the experts, “How are your kids doing?”

Norman Pattis is a leading New England based trial lawyer. He represents people who face powerful foes. His relentless voice levels the playing field for individuals against prosecutors in serious criminal cases, for people or families who experience catastrophic injuries against uncaring insurance giants, for victims of corporate malfeasance, and other people who face the loss of liberty or property. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled. Attorneys from California to New York refer their clients to the Pattis Law Firm, and they seek out Norm as co-counsel in challenging high stakes cases across the U.S. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.