Letters To The Editor


April 10, 2008

Balancing interests in custody disputes

While I, too, am disturbed by the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the Castillo children, I disagree with The Sun's editorial that criticized Circuit Judge Joseph A. Dugan Jr. for failing to order supervised visitation for the children's father, Mark Castillo ("A tragic end," April 3).

As an attorney who represents parents in custody disputes, I see firsthand the difficulties faced by the judicial masters and judges charged with resolving such issues.

They must decide what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, and are often forced to make this determination with limited facts and amid free-flowing allegations that may or may not be credible.

Unfortunately, in these heated cases, parents sometimes lie about the other parent, fabricating claims of abuse.

The master or judge must then balance the need to protect children from a credible threat of harm against the right of parents not to have their custody rights sabotaged by a false accusation.

The Sun faults Judge Dugan for not having ordered supervised visitation for the father in light of his diagnosed mental disorders and previous suicide attempts.

But do we really want the courts to start limiting people's custody rights because they might suffer from clinical depression or an ongoing psychiatric condition?

Is that an acceptable solution in light of the millions of parents who suffer such disorders who would never think of hurting their children?

It is easy to criticize a custody decision in hindsight when the outcome is tragic. What is harder to accept is that when it comes to reasonably and fairly resolving such custody disputes, there just aren't easy answers.

Philip Kaplan


I would appreciate The Sun doing more in-depth reporting on cases like the several cases this year of a parent killing his or her children (e.g., "Father held without bail in 3 killings," April 2).

The Sun might go behind the scenes and interview the chairmen of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee about how we can change state laws to enable the courts to better protect our children, especially in contested divorce and custody issues.

The investigation should also include interviewing any members of the court system who can explain the current procedures for such cases and suggest ways to prevent violent outcomes for children in the future.

Pat Ranney


The writer is a member of the Citizens' Review Board for Children for Anne Arundel County.

Lending bill tilts the playing field

In two articles in Tuesday's edition, The Sun noted that Gov. Martin O'Malley had signed into law a bill that would make banks verify a borrower's ability to repay a mortgage loan ("BGE's customers to get $170 rebate," April 8, and "Democrats see victory as session concludes," April 8).

Please get this right: The state of Maryland has no regulatory authority whatsoever over federally chartered banks; therefore this law has no effect on those institutions.

Banks will still be able to make, and will continue to make, common-sense loans to well-qualified borrowers with little or no documentation.

The new law applies only to state-licensed mortgage originators.

This is typical knee-jerk legislation that will create an unlevel playing field between state-licensed small lenders in Maryland and federally chartered banks, will inconvenience highly qualified borrowers and will further weaken the housing market.

Who in his or her right mind would pass legislation to limit borrowing from state-licensed lenders in the middle of a credit crunch?

The members of the Maryland legislature, that's who.

Rick Proctor

Forest Hill

The writer is a mortgage broker.

Museum's curators made the right call

I have been studying art most of my life and find it very disappointing to read remarks by someone with a vested interest in her father's estate who wants to "challenge the credentials of the exhibition's curator" because she doesn't agree with her decisions ("In Dad's Honor," April 6).

Certainly, A. Aubrey Bodine will always be recognized as an exceptionally gifted photographer. His fame in Maryland is well-established.

The Baltimore Museum of Art has placed his works in several shows and will probably do so again in the future.

But I hope that this will be because the images fit within the framework of those future exhibitions.

Sherry Christhilf


The writer is an art consultant and a longtime volunteer for the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Poor teacher pay shortchanges future

After reading Iver Mindel's column "Shortchanging teachers has long-term consequences" (Commentary, April 7), I would like to add my support for the case he so eloquently presented.

Not only are we shortchanging our current teachers, but we are also showing shortsightedness about the development and growth the Baltimore County schools will require for the future.

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