This post is not an attempt to attack Dr. Drew. We support wholeheartedly what he is doing and appreciate that he supports these issues. But we need to address the confusion about whether the Constitution applies to courts of equity.
Dr. Drew was right to say that you do not have a right to an attorney or a jury in divorce. The reason you do not have these rights is NOT because the constitution doesn’t apply to equity courts, it does. In fact the U.S. constitution specifically grants all judicial power over cases in Law and Equity to the U.S. Supreme Court in Article III, Section 2 which states, “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and in Equity, arising under this Constitution…”
The reason you do not have rights to an attorney or a jury is because the Constitution does NOT provide for these rights in cases of equity and in fact seems to specifically not grant them in cases of equity. So when the family courts deny this, they are following the Constitution.
Your right to an attorney and a speedy public trial are provided for in the 6th Amendment which applies to criminal prosecutions only and does not apply to either civil or equity cases.
Your right to a jury comes from the 6th and 7th Amendments. The 6th deals with criminal cases only. And, the 7th deals with cases at common law, or in other words, civil cases. Equity cases can be considered a third type of case and the Constitution simply does not provide for a jury in these types of cases, even though it does govern cases at equity.
Please do not get confused by this legal trivia issue, while there are some instances where it is important, it simply is not an issue that deprives you of any constitutional right. Divorce Courts love to confuse parents and seem to foster confusion that enhances or protects their power. Your constitutional rights are NOT an area where you should be confused. No court in this country is allowed to violate the Constitution. No government official of any kind is permitted to violate the Constitution. But, it is up to you to know your rights and to stand up for your rights. Few divorce court attorneys or divorce court judges will do this even though they have sworn an oath to do so.
One of our students taking our first eight-week course on teaching parents how to argue their rights, sent the following question to us today which demonstrates the kind of confusion not understanding this issue creates:
“Sherry/Ron, quick question–
See Dr. Drew interview on CNN with discussion of Divorce Corp., the movie, and of family courts problems:
I have a question for you and Ron— At minute 2:08 into this video:
1. Dr. Drew states, “Courts of Family Law were “Courts of Equity” (do what is fair) and NOT “Courts of Law” (follow the letter of the law), and your usual Constitutional Privileges don’t necessarily apply.”
2. Is this valid that Family Courts are allowed to do this, if they are classified as Courts of Equity? We are arguing that they are not following the letter of the law, with our constitutional rights…which would be a Court of Law (not equity).
Can you clarify my thoughts, I am a little confused on this point? Obviously, the State Courts are not following the Constitution. Just wanted to make sure I know how to argue this point…this one threw me for a loop. Are we arguing that the Family Court need to be classified as Court of Law and NOT a Court of Equity, in order to follow the Constitution/Supreme Court case law/opinions?”
Ron B Palmer and Sherry Palmer with Fix Family Courts responds:
In all of the appellate opinions we have read so far, and they are many, we have yet to see an appellate opinion that said “the trial court exceeded their authority under the law but that’s okay since they are an equity court and that is allowed.” In every case where the trial court has exceeded the statute the appellate court has overturned the trial court actions.
There certainly is no U.S. Supreme Court opinion that has allowed a family law court to exceed the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution, and I, Ron B Palmer, have read every single opinion that could be found.
The differences between courts of equity and courts of law is very difficult to understand and is increasingly becoming irrelevant. There is only one remaining Federal Equity Court and few states still have these as separate courts.
We can understand where you might be interested in a jury trial but in cases of child custody risking your custody to the determination of 9 people whose emotional triggers in this area are unknown seems more risky than placing a constitutional argument before a judge. Appealing a jury verdict is more difficult as well.
So, in response to your question as to whether you should be arguing your Constitutional rights. YES, absolutely! You should always make sure that the court understands your Constitutional rights so that they don’t ignore them and you are not seen as forfeiting them. Your Constitutional rights are your protection from all of government infringing on your freedoms and your liberties protected by that document. It is your job to frame up your case to explain your protected fundamental parental rights to the judge so that he/she can make a proper legal ruling, even if that ruling is different from how they had been doing things before.
Those who take our courses come to understand that no court in this country can legally act contrary to the Constitution in matters of divorce and child custody. There are no government officials who are excepted from our United States Constitution.
We hope that this clears things up on this matter.
Ron B Palmer and Sherry Palmer