Letter to the Editor; Family Court amendment not being upheld

The commentary dated Tuesday, Nov. 12, “Action needed by all to begin real reforms” by Republican House Minority Leader Danny Short and Republican House Minority Whip Tim Dukes proposed constitutional amendments as a solution to Delaware’s wayward legislative governance.

Before proceeding on the laborious legislative course of amendments, they should both review the effectiveness of the 2007 amendment proclaiming the Delaware Family Court a “Constitutional Court” and therefore an open court, with free access to any citizen who wishes to observe the proceedings.

I now ask this question… “Is the Delaware Family Court REALLY an open court?”

Reps. Short and Dukes should note the 2007 amendment is not only ignored but willfully flaunted by our Delaware lawyers and judges. Should we hold any false hopes that new constitutional amendments will be honored by our Delaware Legislature?

In 2014, a “Blue Ribbon Committee” sponsored by Smyrna State Senator Bruce Ennis was formed to proceed with opening the Family Court AS constitutionally required. It appeared the process was quickly quashed by members of the Delaware State Bar, as Family Court cases are closed to everyone except those directly involved.

In December 2017, four members of the Delaware Family Law Commission, including Democrat Sen. Bruce Ennis and Republican Rep. Michael Ramone spent the day as guests of the open Connecticut Family Court in Hartford to observe how a domestic court is properly managed.

The internationally lauded Connecticut court serves first and foremost the interests of its citizens, not the financial interests of those engaged in the business of law. Their intent was to adopt the Connecticut procedures into our Delaware Family Court. To this day, no changes have been made.

As a side note, recently retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine vocally opposed opening the Family Court as required by the 2007 constitutional amendment.

Let’s hope that our new Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins T. Seitz, Jr. upholds the Delaware Constitution and all its amendments, both old and new.

Dave Graham

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