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When the Family Court System fails: The Plight of Annie Miller

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Prior to embarking on my own custody battle, I was very naive. I walked into our Family Court System believing that the system was designed to protect the children of the United States of America. I am your normal, everyday mom. I am not online spending countless hours researching conspiracy theories or picketing court houses although the latter seems more and more appealing as I delve further into this nightmare that I've come to know as the Family Court System.

I was recently made aware of a case in Tennessee that has left me baffled and for the first time I've been tempted to grab a picket sign and start marching on the steps of this particular courthouse in Tennessee. Weeks ago, a loving mother, Annie Miller was thrown in jail for following the recommendation of a Social Worker and two Judges in Wisconsin. Annie was advised not to bring her children for visitation with their father who resides in Tennessee. She was strongly advised to protect her children because a third party reported their suspicions of abuse to Children Protective Services (Wisconsin). After a forensic investigation was conducted, a Social Worker in Wisconsin suspended the fathers visitation rights effective immediately. As instructed, Annie followed the orders from the Social Worker. In addition, there was a temporary restraining order in place against the father which was signed by two Judges in Wisconsin and therefore, the mother was legally prevented from bringing the children to Tennessee. If this mother would have followed through with the visitation and disregarded the legal advisement from Wisconsin, she would have been held accountable by the Wisconsin Courts.

As any concerned mother and law-abiding citizen would do, Annie Miller followed the orders as instructed by the State of Wisconsin and her attorney. Because she followed orders, this mother was thrown in jail by circuit court Judge Phillip Robinson of Tennessee. She was released from jail however, this mother is facing serious jail time and could potentially lose custody of her children. Judge Robinson's ruling was handed down to “make a point” that she should not have disobeyed his order. Annie Miller was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t.

I am not one to personally get involved in specific court cases because often, there is more to the story. I have personally read the transcripts in this case and interviewed multiple witnesses who were in the courtroom. According to witnesses, the Wisconsin Social Worker and lawyer both testified that they advised this mother not to put the children in the fathers care. Sadly, this Judge’s ego came before his oath to act in the best interest of the very children that he was appointed to protect.

I recently reached out to Annie for an update on her story and sadly, there is nothing positive to report. Annie has come forward with an open letter to the men and women who have assisted her with prayers, positive thoughts and donations of any size.

A Note of Thanks from Annie Miller

I fail to believe there is a word gracious enough for all that has been done by kind people like you on behalf of my children. Thank you.

Sadly- to this day, justice has not been served and I am still facing jail time and will likely lose custody of my children. I still need your help to spread the word and help raise as much awareness as possible.

I am now facing more jail time and the potential loss of my children because I followed the advisement of Legal Counsel. I did not ignore the instructions of Judge Robinson- rather I followed the instructions of Wisconsin Counselors, Lawyers, and Judges who ordered me to keep my children in Wisconsin while the abuse investigations were on going. I have nothing to hide. I am simply protecting my children. I would have been in violation regardless of which court order I followed- the Wisconsin counselor's recommendation to immediately suspend visitation with their father along with the Wisconsin court order to keep my children away from their father or Judge Robinson's court order to turn my children over to their father. I assumed that the newer order from Wisconsin would be considered by Judge Robinson yet it was ignored and dismissed without an investigation of the current situation or the serious abuse allegations.

I realize this situation is complicated and I would like to share some facts since you’ve been kind enough to invest your time and money in my children and me. I encourage you to share these facts with as many of your friends and loved ones as possible.

  • I was allowed to move to Wisconsin in 2012 as a part of Judge Robinson's court order.
  • In February 2013, a 3rd party (not me) reported concerns of child abuse – that were then investigated by Wisconsin Child Protective Services.
  • After the forensic investigation, Wisconsin Child Protective Services recommended that the father's custody be suspended immediately due to their concerns about the safety of my children. This is the decision that prevented the children from being with their father during Spring Break of 2013. I was found guilty of criminal contempt by Judge Robinson for this even though the counselor testified to these facts via court telephone.
  • After reviewing documents from the Wisconsin abuse investigation and from the children's counselor, a Wisconsin Judge signed a temporary restraining order against the child’s father therefore preventing me from bringing the children to Tennessee during the summer of 2013. I was advised that the abuse investigation should be concluded before the children could be in their father's care. I was found guilty of criminal contempt by Judge Robinson for this as well.
  • After reviewing the orders in Wisconsin, my attorney Scott D. Metz (in practice for over 32 years) also advised me to follow the Wisconsin court orders.

Surprisingly, I still have faith in our judicial system however, I do believe that these situations would be better served by a jury of our peers rather than by someone who can take a position without being accountable for the consequences it has on the children that it directly affects. I followed the law, the legal advice and I followed my heart as a parent.

If you research what is happening in our family courts in regards to abuse and what happens when it is reported it is mind bending. If our family justice system serves to silence the voices of the very people it was designed to protect in order to validate the power of one, we all are in danger.

Using the arms of the law for abuse is unacceptable. This has consequences (scary ones at that ) far beyond my family. Because if a parent follows the law, the advice of professionals (educated and government officials), attempts to co parent and stands with the truth yet faces losing their children and incarceration, our sons, our daughters, your wives, your mothers, your fathers and everyone is in danger of losing their voice.

Again I cannot express adequately how much your time and money (much of which came from people who are struggling themselves) and support means to us . Whether you signed my petition or donated to my legal fund, thank you! Please have faith that some good will come of this, that my sons will have the integrity to move forward in this world with the voice you have given them to help others . - Annie Miller

This case is a prime example of the issues in our Family Court System. Through my advocacy work, I hear about multiple cases per day and I have become accustomed to hearing the worst. It takes a lot to shock me but what is happening in Judge Phillip Robinson's courtroom has shocked me. This case should shock everyone in America even if you are not personally involved in the Family Court System. One day this could be your niece or nephew, daughter or son and even your very own grandchildren.

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