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Opinion: Fiery Criticism Peppers Commissioner John W Burdick’s Courtroom

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Update insert:  9/15/18: Julie Halsnoy Obviously there is another side, as another person was involved. That doesn’t mean there was any good or right on the other side. What exactly would the other side be where it made it okay to bring John John’s ethnicity into a child custody case?
There are plenty of witnesses to his behavior so it wouldn’t be hard to prove. There was a court reporter typing away while he was making his comments.
[T]he judge made it completely clear that he felt contempt for John John’s culture, while at the same time refusing to allow any witnesses or any of the evidence, at an evidentiary hearing!
Opinion Piece By Julie Halsnoy julie | 09/14/18 ∇

Some say ignorance is bliss…I say Commissioner John W. Burdick’s ignorance and racism is misery… for the parents, children, and families unlucky enough to be assigned to his courtroom!

A judge or commissioner is supposed to be impartial. Authorities that are in the position of deciding what is going to happen in the lives of little children should be beyond reproach.

They should love all humans and want to help, regardless of a human’s skin color. Yet Commissioner Burdick has proven himself to be an ignorant bigot that is willing to put a child in danger with a violent, drug using mother just because the father isn’t white!

“When does not being white make you a bad parent? When you are sitting in Commissioner John W Burdick’s courtroom!” [He] spout off ignorant thoughts and opinions about Pacific Islanders for the rest of the hearing.

Though I grew up in 29 Palms, I’ve since traveled the world quite a bit and unfortunately, I’ve seen some really bad aspects of human nature. So, when my sister started telling me some of the happenings of Commissioner John W. Burdick’s courtroom, my first question was, “Is he racist?” The thought had obviously never even occurred to my sister.

A judge racist? Making decisions that would affect children based on ignorant ideas? Didn’t seem likely. It must be just really bad old-fashioned belief that children belong with their mother, no matter how bad that mother is?

Then today happened. Today: The day that my brother-in-law was given the judge’s decision in the custody case for his little boy. The day that the judge showed his true colors. Or I guess I should say, the day that the judge showed what he believes is the only good color? Of skin, that is…

John John had requested a trial in June of last year due to Brandy Reid, his son’s mother, trying to keep his son from him. The trial was set for August. On the 3rd of August, Brandy tested positive for drugs. Ryker, John John’s son, went to live with John John and Lana, my sister.

As Brandy had hidden Ryker’s existence from John John, the little guy didn’t know that whole side of his family. However, he was welcomed into the family with opened arms with John John and Lana raising and loving that little boy for about a year. They gave him a stable and safe home. A home without violence, drugs, and neglect. A home like little Ryker had never known while in his mother’s care.

Due to her past behavior with Ryker, Brandy had supervised visitation for most of this time. At the end of the year she was finally granted the ability to have visitation without supervision. She had also never completed any of the tasks asks she had been assigned she was supposed to be required, by the court.

Yet, when the family went to court recently for what they thought was a review, the commissioner suddenly ripped Ryker out of the stable and loving home he was in and handed him back over to his abusive, violent, and neglectful mother.

Why? Nobody could figure that out. She had just started being allowed to have unsupervised visitation and all of a sudden, she was a better and more fitting parent than John John? Not a chance!

The commissioner’s behavior in court was my first clue. When Brandy would interrupt and cause a commotion, he would allow it, or, at the most, gently remind her to not interrupt. John John? With him the commissioner was harsh, arrogant, and downright rude! And for him to transfer custody like that? I was confident something fishy was going on.

However, John John and Lana had faith in the system. They spent long hours gathering evidence to take back to court with them to show the commissioner that his decision had been one that put Ryker in danger instead of protecting him and ensuring he was in a safe and loving home.

They gathered together witnesses, including an ex-boyfriend that was willing to testify that Brandy had threatened to kill both herself and Ryker in front of him as well as to Brandy’s violent nature.

There was also a friend of Brandy’s that was willing to testify as to how she had purposely tried to keep Ryker from John John by taking him to Texas. They also had proof that she had lied to the court about when she had moved to Texas as well as the reason why. Then there was the drug test that was positive, when Ryker was in her custody, a bad CPS report, etc.

The commissioner didn’t listen to any witnesses, nor did he review even one piece of evidence. Instead he dismissed them all. Everything. This was for an evidentiary hearing, which is, “…a formal examination of charges by the receiving of testimony from interested persons, irrespective of whether oaths are administered, and receiving evidence in support or in defense of specific charges which may have been made.” If a commissioner is going to deny evidence or witnesses during an evidentiary hearing they are required to give good cause.

Ummmm, so why wasn’t John John allowed to provide witnesses and evidence? Again, nobody knows and the commissioner sure didn’t give any reason at all, let alone good cause.

What the commissioner did provide was evidence of his prejudice against ethnic individuals. Throughout today’s court session, the commissioner did not hold back his small minded and obvious ignorant ideas of individuals of color.

For instance, when explaining the idea of co-parenting to John John, the commissioner gave an example of using a bow and arrow and then asked if John John understood his reference. John John admitted he didn’t and the judge said, “You are Indian, right?” John John explained that he is Samoan.

From there John John, and the large number of family member’s that were there to support him, got to sit and listen to the man that was to decide the fate of his son spout off ignorant thoughts and opinions about Pacific Islanders for the rest of the hearing.

When John John mentioned that after living with him and Lana for the year, Ryker now eats normal food, in contrast to the baby pouch food his mother fed him at four years old, the commissioner’s reply was “So, Pacific Islander food is considered better?” First, my sister does the cooking and she is not a Pacific Islander, and second, yes, of course, Pacific Islander food is better than feeding a four-year-old pouched baby food! Third, why was his ethnicity mentioned in regards to food at all?

The judge went on to talk about how he knows John John’s race is all about heritage and that Samoans believe that children should be with dad rather than mom. And then there were the four white cops standing in the court room the whole time. Four white cops that actually walked them out of the courthouse and to their cars. Why? Because of the color of their skin. Neither John John, nor any of the large amount of family that was there to support him, had done anything to warrant this display of “power”. He didn’t have a tantrum in the courtroom, he didn’t get violent, he didn’t threaten anyone or anything. He had done nothing. Yet, they needed four white cops in the courtroom? I’d really like the commissioner to explain why… though I think we all already know the answer to that very important question!

By Julie Halsnoy, Facebook

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