The first step in the process if finding Congressional representatives who will sponsor a Bill in the Congress for reform. We ask you to just pick up the phone and contact the following members. We have had good response from the offices of Senator Schumer and also Congressman Walsh (He always give us a reply letter -- even if he does disagree).
Most current information will be at the top. The Key Links above contain background information. Last updated: 06/11/08
3/20/02 - The pending charges against John Murtari for Disorderly Conduct and Failure to Obey a Federal Officer were dismissed today. John appeared in front of U.S. District Judge Peoples in the Syracuse Courthouse for the Northern District of New York. (The matter was originally to be heard by a Magistrate, but none were available at the time.)
3/11/02 - Rich Eichinger sends a letter from the group to Senator Clinton's office asking for some response.
2/18/02 - John receives a letter from the Clerk of the US District Court. This date to appear for arraignment on the Federal Charge has been adjourned till March 20th.
2/13/02 - John appears in front of Syracuse City Judge Rosenthal on a pre trial motion to dismiss the charge against him of Disorderly Conduct. The Judge agrees with his attorney that the arrest report does not describe any conduct that would be justified by the charge. The charge was dismissed.
2/4/02 - John was contacted by Aprill
Springfield, a legislative aid in the Washington office of Senator Clinton and
requested to fax a summary of concerns. That
was done and we hope for a rapid reply.
2/1/02 - John received two "Notices to Appear" in front of a Federal Magistrate regarding the incident January 8th. He was accused of "Disorderly Conduct" and "Failure to Obey Officer." (Copy here) He is to appear on February 20th at 0930 AM at the Federal Courthouse in Syracuse, NY.
1/30/02 - a legislative aid for Senator Clinton (Ms. Aprill Springfield, address below), was assigned to be our point of contact regarding the need for a Family Rights Act. Please take the time to phone or write and ask for the Senator to take a serious look at the need for reform in our Family Law System. [Please remember that ONE message is very important. As political aids have told us before, one personal letter on an issue is assumed to reflect the attitudes of hundreds/thousands of others that just don't take the time to write.] Take credit and share your message by then posting to the following forum page (you can be the FIRST one):
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
1/12/02 - John went to the Federal Building and was stopped by officers on the first floor. He was asked to come with them to the their office. He asked if he was under "arrest" or being charged with a crime, they said no. He politely refused to follow their instructions and said he was going upstairs to continue his efforts outside the offices of Senator Clinton. They told him that was not allowed -- and without any physical contact being made they placed themselves between John and the elevators. John was finally stopped between a couple of elevators with two officers on either side.
It was a "standoff", they would not initiate any arrest action and John was ready to wait for a couple of hours. There was no hostility, the officers and John knew each other from other encounters and everyone was doing their "duty." It appears that the Senators staff was aware of what was happening in the Building Lobby. After about an hour Cathy Calhoun, the Regional Representative for Senator Clinton came down to talk to John (they had met during an earlier meeting last Spring) and after some conversation told John she would give him the name of a Legislative Aid from their Washington office who would be able to follow up with him on the issue of reform. This was certainly good news and John left the building. Efforts will now be focused on the legislative process (expect more details soon).
Next Monday, Jan 21st, is Martin Luther King day. The Federal Building is closed on that day. We hope to encourage as many people as possible to make a trip to Syracuse on the day after, Tuesday, Jan 22nd. Hopefully our actions will show some important US Senators that Family Law reform is a serious issue. Personally present your "story" and the pain you and your family has been through to their staff members and also watch NonViolent Action in action. Contact John Murtari (jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org), if you might come that day.
1/16/02 - John returned to the building and went to the 13th floor (Congressman Walsh). He walked for a few minutes and was then stopped by a Federal Police Officer who told him to stop his action or more tickets would be issued. John said he would not, and he was ordered to follow him to the downstairs office (the rest is in John's word)... (A Letter was sent to official regarding the incident the next day).
1/14/02 - John returned to the building, went to the 8th floor (Senator Schumer) and was able to walk for two hours without any problems. He plans on returning on Wednesday at 2pm, and walking on the 13th floor (Congressman Walsh). A brief News Release was sent out earlier in the morning to local media.
1/11/02 - A preliminary hearing was held with Judge Rosenthal. It came as quite a surprise to find the Arrest Report (see copy here), describing John's behavior as "threatening & tumultuous." A motion date has been set for February 6th at 2pm.
1/8/02 - John was involved in a rather complicated arrest today, Jan. 8th at the Federal Building. Two Federal Police officers watched him quietly carry his sign with children's pictures and then arrested him for loitering and causing a disturbance. These were Federal charges. The City Police were then called and after approximately one hour of discussion, they arrested John for disorderly conduct for refusing to leave the building . He was arraigned on Wednesday, Jan 9th, by Judge Rosenthal and released with orders not to return (Order of Protection) to the Federal Building unless for "legitimate business". A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday, Jan 11th at 2pm.
1/7/02 - In a Court appearance City Judge Higgins dismissed the three trespass charges against John as simply being defective (as were the other 20 charges dismissed earlier by the same Judge). John has been quite fortunate to have an assigned counsel (Mr. Charles Keller, Criminal Division Chief of the Hiscock Legal Aid Society) who has vigorously defended his Constitutional right to petition his Members of Congress by walking peacefully in the building.
1/4/02 - A letter was sent to each of the Congressional Offices asking each of the members to please at least respond to requests for reform. Excerpt from letter:
"Senator Schumer and Senator Clinton, after initial meetings with staff last spring -- we have had no follow up dialog. It seems almost unbelievable that we have not even received a written reply after several letters and petitions were sent to both your local and Washington offices. It may be that each of you is not even personally aware of what is happening? Do loving parents need to risk jail to focus the attention of our elected representatives?
...We can only ask each of you to consider stepping forward, being "proactive" and taking a leadership role in calling for Congressional hearings into the need for Civil Rights protection for families. Many of us, including myself, never gave the patchwork of well meant "family/child" legislation a second thought -- until being caught in the system ourselves, along with our children? We certainly can't expect you to immediately call for such hearings. Instead of jail, all of us would much rather work on dialog with your staff so we can both better understand the nature of the problem. Allow us to help in collecting witnesses and evidence of a system gone terribly wrong. At the end we expect to not only hear your decision about the need for Congressional hearings, but also the rationale. Does the parent/child bond require Federal Civil Rights protection?
... Please, this is an urgent matter and a year has almost elapsed. I noted with some irony a recent article in USA Today, about Members of Congress calling for hearings to discuss the nature of military tribunals to be used in the War on Terrorism. They wanted to apply our Constitution's greatest civil protections -- the standards of "proof beyond reasonable doubt" and "unanimous verdict of a jury" to these actions. If there is time for that -- don't the parents and children of this country deserve a discussion of those very same protections before being separated for potentially a life time?..." Read more here.
- "Had just a wonderful Christmas with my Son Domenic. Compared
to what so many of you had to deal with ... through all this our love for each other has
remained strong. It is a great gift." -- John Murtari. (click on the picture for a
11/19/01 - John again returned to the Federal Building and was able to walk on the 8th floor for two hours with no arrest. It now appears that authorities may just allow this to continue. John will be taking a break with Christmas approaching (he and his Son should have 10 days together and both are looking forward to the time).
11/13/01 - John returned to the Federal Building, started to walk on the 13th floor (outside the offices of Congressman Walsh) and was arrested. He was arraigned the next day for simple trespass and again released. He plans on returning to the building again on Monday, Nov, 19th.
10/29/01 - John returned to the building and was allowed to go to the 8th floor, offices of Senator Charles Schumer. He was able to spend about 90 minutes quietly walking the halls and carrying his pictures of parents and children (above). There was no arrest.
10/22/01 - John returned to the 13th floor of the Federal Building and was arrested for trespass. He was arraigned on trespass charges and released. He was ordered to stay away from the building except for official business. We also received a reply letter from Congressman James Walsh (the first to reply).
10/16/01 - John was arraigned in front of Syracuse City Court Judge Higgins (who was the same Judge which dismissed the earlier charges). He was released. He plan's on returning to the Federal Building on Monday, Oct. 22 at app. 2 PM and will send a letter to alert the Building Manager. John welcome's anyone who wishes to visit Syracuse on this Monday or any other. He would be happy to meet with you prior to the "event." Just contact him directly.
10/15/01 - Yvonne Cook, Richard Eichinger & John Murtari go to the Federal Building to present petitions and an important cover letter to Senators Schumer and Clinton, and Representative Walsh. They are met by a Federal police officer inside the building. He tells them they are welcome to visit the offices of Senator Schumer & Representative Walsh, but the staff of Senator Clinton had expressed some "fear about their visit". Senator Clinton's staff also expressed they did not want to hear anything more about the issue.
So all three of them proceeded to the offices of Senator Schumer & Representative Walsh to deliver the information and it was accepted with no problems. John then took a small placard containing pictures of several parents and children and was ready to quietly walk around one of the floors as he had done in the past. He was told not to do this and it eventually resulted in his arrest for trespass. Yvonne & Richard left the building without any problem and during the entire time both the Federal and City Police treated everyone very fairly.
10/12/01 - We send a new's release out to both national and local media lists. We are contacted by a local TV affiliate asking for the exact time we will be at the Federal Building.
10/10/01 - A final mailing list message is sent. We receive a call from a local aid of Senator Schumer (D-NY). They had received a copy of the letter sent to the Building Manager and we had a nice conversation, about 30 minutes. We both agreed that the reason no action is being taken on this issue is just "priority." They have a limited amount of legislative staff and unfortunately it just isn't seen as an important issue that a lot of people have expressed interest in. THIS IS OUR JOB.
10/2/01 - We send a letter to the Federal Building Manager alerting them we will be in the building on Monday in a very peaceful activity. We also send copies to the three members of Congress (above).
7/6/01 - Check here for details on the event and to signup as an observer/participant. The following two essays explain some of the background: "Planting the SEED of a VISION" and "Watering the Seed of a Vision."
REMEMBER - Again, we are trying to
keep a positive and courteous attitude at all times. These are good people that we are
dealing with (certainly no worse than any of us are!). They may have trouble understanding
our situations and goals. We will help them understand, NOT by insults, but by
demonstrating OUR willingness to sacrifice for the sake of our children.