Rhode Island Judge Bans Sister From Commenting on Facebook About Her Brother’s Custody Case

125px-Flag_of_Rhode_Island.svgRhode Island Judge Michael Forte has a curious concept of free speech and a dangerous view of judicial authority. Forte recently issued an order banning the sister of a father in a custody battle from commenting on the case on Facebook. Michelle Bouthillier Langlois, 41, has been defending her brother Michael from domestic-abuse allegations.

Langlois has been trying to raise money for a lie detector to show that her brother is innocent and has been criticizing Forte for delaying his access to his kids. She has been sharing her (often caustic) views on Facebook, including such entries as “Court postponed to May 27. Another month Michael not allowed to see nor speak with his children. More time for children to forget their biological dad and bond with step-father. So much for the Judicial System! Michael has seen his children about five times and spoke to them maybe 10 since November 25th!!!!!!”

Tracey Martin, 37, Bouthillier’s ex-wife, has objected that Langlois is making her look bad and causing animus toward her family on the Internet. She insists that these actions are a danger to her and her children. She filed an affidavit with Forte, who surprisingly issued an order restricting the speech of a non-party about his rulings and the case.

This appears to be something of judicial conceit in Rhode Island. In 2007, a family court ordered Rev. Anne Grant of Providence to stop publishing a blog that criticized a state agency and others involved in a divorce and custody case. The high court refused to hear the case. For an earlier blog on that case, click here.

However, it is not just Rhode Island. Recently, an appellate court had to reverse the decisions of two lower court judges punished a minister for publicly releasing “demons” on the judge who sentenced him, here.

Without addressing the merits of the alleged domestic abuse, this order was clearly an act of judicial abuse. It is hard to imagine how Forte believed that he had authority to police the public statements of third parties on the Internet. However, it shows a shocking lack of restraint and judgment.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Rhode Island Judge Bans Sister From Commenting on Facebook About Her Brother’s Custody Case”

  1. Forte allowing this restraining order to enter in family court damaged my reputation whereas, last year I applied to be a CASA “volunteer”, (working with abused and neglected children through the family court), I was perfect for this “volunteer position” with my background and all. I was contacted by the director of CASA, he stated I was not right for this position, after telling him I was confused and didn’t understand why, he mention this restraining order, (which was dismissed as soon as the ACLU got involved), and said he felt I was not the right kind of person for this “volunteer position”. I have since moved on and am a “volunteer” victim advocate for someone else.

  2. Judge Forte has now put in and is on the list of nominated people to be Chief Justice for the RI Family Court. A neighbor of Forte wrote a letter of recommendation, telling what a wonderful person Forte is and how helpful Forte was during his case (adoption). Neighbor stated he could talk to Forte and Forte gave him advise. The funny part is, Forte then presided on the case. Since when does a Judge give personal advise, then presides on the case? Doesn’t anyone see a conflict of interest? Forte had overstepped his jurisdiction, venue and violated my 1st amendment rights, now he wants more power and become Chief Justice. He was unable to restrain himself where he had no power, now we will give him power to he will then overstepped those bounds.

    Update: Michael did pass lie detector test in May of 2009. No one cares to see it. Still to this date has not spoken with or seen his children. He has gone to court asking the court to change therapist so Mike can have a fair shake instead of the mother’s paid therapist. Every motion Mike makes, judge screens and degrates him. One of Michael’s last court hearings, Forte even commented on me getting the ACLU involved, do you think he is holding a grudge? The children no longer speak with any one in our family, including my children, who were their bestfriends. They wouldn’t even speak with their grandfather, before he went into the hospital to have surgery to take his vocal cords and voice box because he had returning throat cancer. Grandfather didn’t think he would live and wanted to speak with his grandchildren prior to this surgery. Forte has done too much damage in letting this go on for so long without intervention. Someday when these children grow up, I am sure they will come back to this family. Thank you, Michelle Bouthillier Langlois

  3. Kathie, I really feel for you. I have still been trying to figure away around the Judge’s decision. I’ve been in contact with one father who hasn’t seen or spoken to his daughter since 2002. She will be 10 years old on 12/5. He had Judge Shawcross at Kent Family Court and has had no rights. He is now in front of Forte and hopefully he will see his child again after his 11/16 court date.

    My brother is a quiet, non-confrontational person. This is probably one reason for his dilemma now. His ex took his kids from him the day before Thanksgiving of 2008. Through all the false accusations his ex has made through the months, there is no overcoming them. He also had a voice stress analysis, which is 98% accurate, done to prove the accusations were false, but Judge can’t see it unless her attorney allows it in. Michael has not seen his children since February 10, 2009 and hasn’t spoken to them shortly after this. His daughter refuses to see him and, I guess his son does also, we hardly hear anything about him. His daughter no longer contacts my daughter, 14, who use to be her best friend since they were little. His daughter informed the guardian that she no longer wants anything to do with this side of the family, which includes her grandparents who live in FL in the winter and here in the summer. These children ALWAYS had a great relationship with their cousins and grandparents, why is she not wanting to see them, what reason could possibly cause this? Judge Forte will not assign a State psychologist to evaluate the children, to prove our allegations of the mother manipulating them and lying to them. He listens to ex’s psychologist who in his first report, gave his recommendations for Michael to get anger management classes. He never met nor spoke with Michael ever. There are many reasons to seek another psychologist, but Forte wont here it. Michael has no choice on psychologist.

    Judge Forte commented in court a few times: I see the mother has “her rich husband” and nice home, “and wants this guy out of the picture”. Prior to the children meeting with the judge the last time, he stated “it is obvious the children were prepared” prior to this meeting.

    Isn’t it cruel how that mother got her child(ren) back, and she had a record of drug abuse, alcohol, etc., but my brother had no record against him, no drugs or alcohol abuse, physical or mental, nothing. Daughter says she no longer wants to see him and the rest of us, and its okay, you have no rights. The End.

    I guess we sit back, let the judges or state decide if we can have our children or not no matter what type of people we are and no one cares unless it happens to them. No one has listened to my story, not the news, the papers, no one. Its okay this father and our family loose all rights to these children, just because. I hope someday, things will work out for you, and you get your son back, somehow, someday. God Bless.

  4. Michael Forte is an idiot who uses no common sense never mind going by the law. He took my 4 1/2 yr old foster (soon to be adopted) son from me and gave him back to a mother who already lost 7 other kids and does drugs and alcohol like candy. She sleeps around and doesn’t know right from wrong. Has been in and out of prison a number of times. I brought this little boy home from the hospital at 5 days old and brought him up until 4 1/2. He was a happy, well adjusted child and then along comes stupid (Forte) a new judge on the case, and instead of getting the termination of parental rights allowing me to adopt, he decides on a whim to give the “baby donor” another chance. The poor baby didn’t even know her and all of a sudden was made to live with her. I cannot ever see him again per the bio bitch.

    I’ve needed to get this off my chest for a while now, so thanks to whoever reads this.

  5. This judge does what he wants. Our judge’s are not elected by the people, but are appointed. I bet there isn’t one judge, magistrate, or hearing officer in RI that does not have political backing. Judge’s should be elected by the people and only serve a 4 year term, wherein they have to be re-elected. If they do a terrible job, they will not get in the next term. Just as you interview for a regular job, you present your resume and only the attorney’s with the BEST qualifications and trial experience should be allowed to serve. I watch when a spot opens up on the bench. It is a joke, the majority of our judges, magistrates or hearing officers, either never did a trial in their life, only been practicing for a little while, or their resume and experience wasn’t even close to being as good as the other applicants. Don’t get me wrong, we do have SOME good judges, one which recently retired, Judge Williams. But the majority, what a joke. Also, our judge’s demand respect. Respect is something you earn not something that comes with the job. Things will never change, because we, the people, will never get the power because enough people will not fight to change this system and vote for our own judge’s.

  6. The order on its face is an unconstitutional prior restraint. I will be surprised if it survives the ACLU challenge.

  7. This is incredible. How can a Judge restrict the speech of a none party. Just step it up a notch, the W would not allow press in the WH that gave him bad press.

    Custody battles are hard enough without this type of abuse. The true victim is the children anyway. So who really cares. Its what I want and I want it now.

  8. I’m just going to say it like it is.

    I’d be ignoring his stupid order. Tyranny finds roots in the abeyance of unjust laws – including unconstitutional restrictions from a judge. It’s an illegal order as far as I’m concerned. I’d say what I wanted, when I wanted and where I wanted to defend someone I cared about if I felt they were wrongly accused of anything. Screw him if the Judge doesn’t like it. Let him have me arrested. He’d really appreciate what I’d have to say in open court at the contempt hearing. I’d own everything he has before it was over and make sure EVERY case he ever ruled on got reviewed. This ass should be disbarred or, at a minimum, off the bench.

    Did you actually read the Constitution in law school judge or were you hanging around with the Neocons wiping yourself with it?

  9. No kidding. Maybe His Lordship Forte would consider further appropriate measures against the tongue-wagging rabble. A monitory night on the pillory, perhap, for an especially noisesome critick. Lest these measure fail to achieve their muzzling ends, a battalion of dragoons should do ye trick.

  10. Is there not a commission or the State Supreme Court that can step in and discipline this out of control judge? I sure hope this Dad or his sister files an appeal and puts this unconstitutional order to the test.

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