KINGSTON, NY – An Ulster County woman is the second to bring a federal lawsuit against Ulster County Family Court Judge Anthony McGinty alleging the judge violated their civil rights under Americans With Disabilities Act and put their children at risk by granting custody to fathers they claim to be abusive.
Francesca Amato, 53, of southern Ulster County, and Alana Orr, 39, of Kingston, filed their complaints in Federal Court for the Northern District of New York. Amato’s complaint was filed in August. Orr in 2017.
McGinty is represented by Colleen Galligan and Kasey Hildonen of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Neither returned an email on Wednesday. A representative from the state’s Office of Court Administration, to which McGinty’s office referred this reporter, also did not return an email or phone message.
Orr’s lawsuit alleges that in 2016 McGinty violated his civil rights by failing to provide an audio transcript of court proceedings faithfully reflecting those proceedings, his attorney Joshua Douglas said on Wednesday.
“It is obvious to me that [McGinty] doesn’t understand much about ADAâ¦ she provided him with a document because of his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and he didn’t respond, âsaid Douglas. He said Orr’s PTSD stemmed from abuse she claims was inflicted by the father of her child.
In response to the judge, Orr told the judge, “We got out of here,” Douglas said.
Then, allegedly based solely on Orr’s response, his attorney said McGinty had imposed a one-year protective order preventing him from having any contact with his child.
Overall, Douglas said Orr was not well served by the family justice system. “If she had had a lawyer, therapist or expert in court that day, she could have worked with a therapist, got back on her feet and allowed the court to see how great a mother she is, because it ‘is a great mother, âhe said. .
âThese women are already traumatized by the father, entering this legal system which traumatizes them again,â said Douglas.
Orr’s attorney said he had requested a conference with Magistrate Therese Wiley Dancks and is hopeful that McGinty’s videotaped deposition will be made public. “They are holding back,” Douglas said, adding that Dancks’ decision is expected shortly.
Amato is currently representing himself in federal court, but Douglas said he plans to take over his representation shortly and needs to “broaden his complaint and include other issues” regarding his civil rights. He said Amato’s case involved his right to home schooling his own child, which he said was one of the reasons McGinty granted custody to the child’s father.
âYou can’t really tell a parent that you can’t home school their kids. â¦ If you do it right, home schooling can be better, âhe said.
Amato’s 87-page lawsuit includes a 15-page rap sheet describing years of legal charges against the father of her child who she says is not a suitable guardian for their child. It includes one felony and five misdemeanors since 1992. She maintains that the judge put her son in danger by placing him with his father in a “dangerous” area of ââKingston when she is able to offer him “a magnificent house, weekly sports. and music school.
Douglas said neither Amato nor Orr had a criminal record. In 2016, Orr was charged with criminal contempt of a court order following a detention interference complaint after Orr allegedly violated a protection order. The resolution of this case was not immediately available.
As for McGinty, Douglas thinks he’s a big part of the problem, he says, in Ulster County Family Court. âI think he should be off the bench. â¦ He is the poster child for why things should be reformed. The whole system has to be burned down and started all over again. “
Douglas has said he is awaiting the magistrate’s decision in the Orr case and expects to resume that of Amato shortly.