Say it ain’t so! Regrettably and based on my painful personal experience, it is.
To help the reader with this astonishing concept, let me say it is not a one-off experience. It’s a problem going back years with multiple, disparate players. There is Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey, a lesser judicial official appointed for an 8-year term. He figures in two apparently unconnected incidents. There is the Federal Burau of Investigation (FBI), tied in one case to Harvey and in two others to clients. The FBI created problems for me and for several people I was representing, not through error, not through confusion, not through misstep. But through calculation. And it’s the FBI that routinely engages in sting operations, often using patsies of limited intelligence involved with Bureau-employed informers. (But that’s another story.)
Here’s this story.
UNSEALING ADOPTION RECORDS. In June 2019, my sister, Martha, who had been adopted, died unexpectedly in Texas without leaving a will. The attorney in the Lone Star State handling her estate requested her adoption records. Fearing any hidden husbands, children, or other relatives entitled to Martha’s assets, the local court-appointed lawyer representing the decedent’s interests insisted on having her adoption certificate.
In Washington, D.C., the State of Confusion, adoption papers between 1937 and 1956 are held by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under seal. To break the seal and obtain needed information, the court required I petition for release of the file. The requisite paperwork went to the court in August 2019 with further forms and a $600 payment going to the organization handling the search for Martha’s birth records.
In the request sent the U.S. District Court, I outlined the reasons for my application. In it, I noted that there was an on-going legal case in Texas; a court-appointed guardian was demanding the adoption records; I needed to travel to Texas to wind up probate, and, eventually, bury Martha in the family plot in D.C. Knowing full well attorneys charge by the hour, it was clear I needed the adoption paper as rapidly as possible.
And yet nothing was done for nearly two years! THEN, U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey, started making remarkable requests.
In April 2021, Harvey ordered that Petitioner shall submit to the Court an explanation of how disclosure of the Adoptee’s adoption records to him would promote or protect the Adoptee’s welfare. Please read that sentence again—and again—and again. It is entirely incomprehensible to anyone why adoption records could promote or protect a dead person’s interests. Furthermore, I cited settled Washington, D.C. case law regarding adoption to clarify my position.
In one proceeding, the D.C. Court of Appeals stated: We held that where an adult seeks disclosure only to herself and with the consent of all other affected persons, the purpose of § 16-311 [D.C. Code section on adoption]“is fully protected.” The idea behind the law was that the stigma of extra-marital sex and subsequent adoption could harm a child of tender years, however the Magistrate Judge, having the file, knew full well there were no other affected persons.
Actions Have Consequences. I then sent a copy of my response to Harvey’s idiocy to the Chief Judge of the District Court. After more legal filings, including a Judicial Misconduct Complaint against this Magistrate Judge, mirabile dictu, the District Court released the entire file in its possession.
More surprisingly, well, not really, the adoption records and a subsequent Internet-search showed that Martha’s biological mother was dead, that she had been estranged from her family, and that the people in her direct bloodline were all deceased.
The Cost. In dollar terms, because of the District Court’s inability or unwillingness to timely perform its tasks, the Texas attorney’s original $4,000 bill grew to $8,000. Then, there was the time spent researching and writing arguments contrary to G. Michael Harvey’s nonsensical requests. And of course, there was the sheer aggravation of dealing with a simple matter made complicated by the District Court’s intransigence.
But there’s more. Two unconnected incidents, in which I was directly involved, demonstrated that the justice system in Washington, D.C. is clearly broken—if not unrighteous. The FBI was involved in both. And G. Michael Harvey reappeared in one of them.
2. FBI. In 2018, Steven Amato and his wife Mary, from Woodbridge, Va., sued me for an effort to collect on a debt a client said the Amatos owed him. Immediately upon learning that the client had lied to me, I dismissed the case.
So why did the Amatos go to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia? And how did the FBI make an appearance? 1. Money. 2. Retaliation. (I had been harshly critical of what turned out to be his employer, the FBI). Steve Amato, apparently a Bureau catspaw, claimed that he would lose his security clearance, and, presumably, his job, because of the terminated collection action. In his pleadings, Amato made no reference to where he worked or what he did. Or what his security clearance was.
Under federal law, money damages can be obtained under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Act for willful violations.
After much searching, I eventually learnt that Steve Amato worked for the Federal Burau of Investigation. In court, he expressed great pleasure in being an Air Force retiree who had helped fire missiles from a B-52 into Iraq.
Guess Who’s Involved? Again. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey, handling the case, never asked Amato about the security clearance, job location and nature of employment—or why he feared their loss. Unlike his actions in my petition for Martha’s records. And the malpractice attorney firm, Eccleston & Wolf, the insurance company provided me, never brought up a key provision of the federal code: debt collectors can’t be held liable for unintentional violations if the violation was involuntary, resulting from bona fide error. You would think that a client lying to his attorney might fall into this category.
Nor did the Legal Eagles examine the mitigating circumstances for people with supposed security clearance issues—until I gave them the proper citations. Then, the firm paid for an opinion piece written by a national security law expert stating that Steve Amato didn’t have a case. Yet, Eccleston & Wolf did not enter this into the record because, it said, Magistrate Judge Harvey didn’t want it done!!!
COST TO ME & MONEY IN AMATO’S POCKET. Malpractice insurance has a deductible, in my policy, $5,000, which was paid out of my pocket. A year’s worth of aggravation and attempts to educate my attorneys were an added cost. Steve Amato got paid $36,000, a reward for his trouble-making. The insurance adjuster involved admitted to me that this was the highest amount paid out in such a matter as far as he was aware. At best, he noted, the plaintiff would get about $1,500—and more only if he could prove damages.
WHY THE FBI DOESN’T LIKE ME. In the past, I had been savaged this agency, terming it the Fascist Burau of Intimidation. In fact, I had published an article recounting that organization’s attacks on me and some clients. (US Government Reads All About It – CounterPunch.org). The people involved had suffered the FBI shouting outside their windows every night, holding them incommunicado at the airport and, later, threatening to arrest them for unspecified crimes. Later, in another FBI violation of a client’s legal rights, Parag Gupta’s wife kidnapped their U.S. citizen daughter and took her to India. That 3-lettered agency, whose moto is Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity, viewed the kidnapping as a “domestic dispute” and did nothing, despite clear violations of federal law on parental abductions. (N.B. Mr. Gupta has given permission to reveal his name and details of the case.) Yet, despite repeated meetings with FBI “Special” Agents, complaints to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as to the U.S. Justice Department, and my attempts to involve INTERPOL, the international police organization, Rhea Gupta, Parag’s daughter, is still in India.
3. ONE LAST THING. The federal government, using its courts, is good at burning up the time and funds of its critics. (And I’m certainly one of them.) Adding to this putrid porridge, it was also the same U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia which sealed and dismissed my first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, seeking to learn the reasons for my dismissal from the State Department. The grounds given: National Security! In a second, later, FOIA action, one to get terrorist visa applications I had denied, the same court dismissed the matter without getting to the basics.
For the full account of the real reasons for my discharge from the State Department, see Visas for Al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World. (www.michaelspringmann.com)