Looks like the St. Louis county court system needs a wholesale cleanout


If this doesn’t infuriate you, I respectfully suggest there’s something wrong with you.

Guardians ad litem (GALs) have a good thing going in Saint Louis County, Mo., or at least they did before Evita Tolu filed a lawsuit against GAL Elaine Pudlowski and Dr. James D. Reid, psychologist, and others exposing what looks like one of the biggest money-making schemes to ever hit family courts. GALs are usually appointed by judges to represent a child in a custody dispute. The GAL is paid by the parents and in Tolu’s case, her GAL was paid $30,000. (See part 2 for details of that suit.)

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Saint Louis County GALs held a secret meeting, starring Pudlowski and 37 other GALs, which was leaked to investigative journalist Michael Volpe, who posted it to YouTube. The video gives credence to Tolu’s allegations of “ex parte communication” between GALs and judges. In the video, the GALs can be heard discussing friendly judges and judges who want to help them fight the lawsuit against them and their friends. A judge conspiring with a defendant in a case before his court may be obstruction of justice and should be investigated as a criminal matter. When the video was made public, every judge on the Saint Louis County Circuit Court recused themselves.

But perhaps even more shocking is the reason for the clandestine meeting. GALs are attorneys and as officers of the court, they must be familiar with the First Amendment requirements that say citizens have a right to a free press. Despite knowing this, these lawyers plotted together to target and abolish the “Daily Docket News,” by hiring a private investigator at $425 an hour to dox the author of the newsletter. Daily Docket News (DDN) is a newsletter that is sent out by email and has been reporting on what it calls a “Kids for Cash” scheme in Saint Louis County. The scheme allegedly uses children stuck in custody battles, trafficking them and their families through the court system, which enriches psychologists, GALs, and other professionals—anger management companies, mediation companies, and any other company that would profit from a custody case. There are many such companies and persons.

DDN has reported on many cases working their way through family courts that have all the same players, including Pudlowski and Reid. They report:

There is an alleged large network of law firms working in conjunction with each other on the same family court case, each representing one of the parties and allegedly promising to have you and your child’s best interest at heart, but the only interest they have is to pit the parties against each other and to drain the party with the smaller financial portfolio prior to reaching a settlement. Unknown to the party with the smaller financial portfolio, their case will never go to trial, but will drag out as long as they have disposable cash to throw away, which is in the best interest of each attorney involved in the case. In most cases that were reviewed, the party that has the finances to drag the case long enough to drain the opposing party, is awarded the minor children by the family court, regardless of their mental, criminal and/or child abuse history.

Daily Docket News is dedicated to shining light on the grave injustices taking place in the family court swamp, in the state of Missouri. It has been a national scandal for decades in which daily courts in this country systematically failed to protect our children from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by predatory parents. What is equally scandalous is the silence on the coverage of this unimaginable issue. It is a dreadful reality of child trafficking through family courts in the United States of America…These cases present a clear pattern of child trafficking through the family courts which involve colluding attorneys, guardians ad litem, therapists, and forensic evaluators, who engage in divorce, child custody, adoption, and paternity cases, which coincidentally all involve well to do predatory parents.

There’s a whole lot more at the link, and in the two parts of the article preceding it.

It’s even worse when one considers the November 2020 election in the light of this (alleged) corruption of our legal system.  Did you ever wonder why Republican litigants could never get local courts to issue injunctions in their favor, to stop the blindingly obvious electoral fraud that took place?  Did you ever consider that at least some, and possibly many, local court systems were (and possibly still are) under the control of those whose first question is “What’s in it for me?”, rather than “What does the law require?”

Makes you think, doesn’t it?



  1. I don't know why, but there are ALOT of problems with the legal system in the St Louis area.
    While the justification for the Ferguson riots was rather questionable, the anger it tapped into was not – most of the towns around St Louis are known for issuing large tickets for minor "quality of life" infractions and otherwise policing-for profit.
    Unfortunately, this sounds like another part of the same problem.

    Did you know that almost all of those 'ring' cities around St Louis have an appointed city manager, not an elected mayor? The police chief reports to the city manager, who reports to the city council. This makes both local police and city decision makers more removed from accountability than in most parts of the country. I wonder if this is the origin of the problem, which has grown over the years into other areas such as the police and courts…

  2. Where there is money or power involved, there is corruption. Also any system that can be "gamed" for money or power will be "gamed".

    As I tell folks about DFW politics, the only difference between Dallas and Denton counties is that in Dallas County, team blue is corrupt and in charge, in Denton County, team red is corrupt and in charge.

    (One could quibble that team blue is more corrupt, but does it matter? The citizens are still getting ripped off.)

  3. Our town here in Washington has an appointed city manager and we seem to do just fine. Means that someone with actual experience in running a city is in charge of the day to day operations. This person is, however, accountable to the elected city council so I'm not sure that this is really the problem. Our "mayor" is the chair of the city council and her job is to kiss babies and attend grand openings, along with chairing the council.

  4. I'm going to say that not all GALs are bad, please don't think that! I had a wonderful one, retired attorney. Lovely little old lady, and she was a fierce advocate for my children, and she was ruthlessly honest with the judge in my final custody hearing. Of course unlike the really high amount in the article, she was only paid 1000$ (and likely only received my ordered half, although she didn't say anything to me to indicate my ex welshed) and she spent more than enough time to earn it.

    Corrupt systems are appalling and should have light shed on them. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater, the GAL is a great thing for children who can't advocate for themselves.

  5. Due to the latest SCOTUS failure to hear voter fraud suits, and having a little experience in local courts, I have sadly come to the conclusion that the entire American system is broken. All three branches of government are corrupt or compromised, cowed by unseen rulers, or simply used to bolster a corrupt system. I no longer trust our basic institutions, from the DOJ / FBI to the CIA to…well, just about anything these days. If (big IF) we have a "justice system" at all, it is 2-tiered; a set of "suggestions" for the elite and a more Draconian set for the rest of us. I would move, but everywhere else is even worse… at least for now. I'm sure we're rapidly catching up with Honduras, Venezuela, Cuba, and other corrupt nations for a place at the table.

  6. One should keep in mind the ever-valid saying (probably mis-)attributed to Francis Bacon: The Law is like a net; little fish swim through it, big fish wreck it, and only medium fish get caught.

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