A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.
Virginia statute on parental rights
The Restraining Order
The divorce officially started in May 2008; before that the jockeying began. Chris hired Sean Kelly as his divorce attorney while Dina hired Mark Carlin of Ain & Bank, considered one of the premiere divorce firms in the area.
Using the old adage “possession is nine tenth of the law” Dina pressured Chris into leaving their family home thereby possessing two key items: home and kids.
In April 2008, Carlin sent Chris a letter demanding child support, alimony, half his retirement, and that he leave the home. Here’s part of the letter.
Dina continues to seek an amicable resolution of the matters between you.
Toward that end, and subject to full financial disclosure by you, Dina proposes that she retain the home; her business; all other assets in her sole name; and one half of the value of all your retirement, savings/investment, and other accounts as of December 31, 2007. The contents of the home will be divided fairly between you. Child support will be paid to Dina in accordance with the Virginia child support guidelines. Dina will be seeking spousal support, but we are not in a position to make any proposal until we receive your financial disclosure…Once we receive all of your financials, we can promptly move toward a final separation agreement.
There are pressing substantive matters that require your immediate attention. You need to address the enormous tension in the household. A major contributor to that tension is your failure to contribute economically to the ongoing needs of your family. I understand that your contributions are limited to paying relatively small household bills and that you have failed to consistently make even those modest payments. As a result, cable and telephone services were cut off and a discontinuance notice of gas service was received.
The tension in the household can be reduced if you move from (the home). The property is in Dina’s sole name, and she pays the entire mortgage. She asks that you remove your belongings by Friday April 18.
Initially, Chris wouldn’t leave the home, “fearful that he would be seen as abandoning the children. Further, he could not afford such a move, and, as a result, he did not comply with the request,” according to a psychological evaluation.
When pressure alone didn’t work, Dina Mackney did what millions of people- mostly women- do in American divorces: she got a restraining order.
Chris Mackney had no criminal record, no history of domestic violence, and there were no photos or other physical evidence suggesting he was an abuser. Still, on May 23, 2008, Dina Mackney filed a motion for protection against <br?Chris Mackney, arguing she feared for her life and needed him removed from the house. She documented three incidents including her version of the fight from January 19, 2008.
This began from an argument about his continuing to text and on-line date with other women on the internet. He then took (while I was sleeping) my studio (jewelry) keys. He wouldn’t give them back so I took his. An argument ensued and ended with physical pushing and his throwing and destroying thousands of dollars of jewelry around my studio. He threw trays at me and all around the room.
Dina’s Innuendos: The Drug Issue
Question number twelve of the protective order asked: “Does the respondent have a drug or alcohol problem. If so, please describe the kind and frequency of drug abuse?”
Dina Mackney replied, “He may have a drug problem,” and nothing else.
Dina Mackney was asked a two part question and didn’t answer the second part, requiring specificity: a glaring red flag.
This was not the only time that Dina Mackney accused her ex-husband of having a drug addiction, she made a similar accusation in Samenow’s report, and that made Mark Duda especially angry.
“It is character assassination,” Duda said. During the years he saw Mackney regularly, Mackney went out, he drank, and smoked marijuana on occasion, but it was socially and rarely drank to get drunk. His drinking, Duda told me, was no worse than the average single successful person and suggesting Chris Mackney had a drug or alcohol problem means nearly all successful people in their twenties and thirties have drug problems.
While Mackney did smoke marijuana on a few occasions, he stopped before they got married and only smoked when hanging out with Dina’s sister and her rock star husband Warren Haynes: once every few months. Rich Ware told me Mackney picked it up again toward the end of his life as a method of self-medication, but that was long after these accusations were made.
Furthermore, during the marriage after Dina complained that he’d gotten too inebriated on one occasion, Chris stopped drinking entirely.
Nevertheless, the protective order was granted the same day it was filed and twelve days later there was a “settlement agreement” permanently removing Chris Mackney from his home. Mackney could not afford an apartment; he moved in temporarily with Rich Ware and released Sean Kelly as his attorney.
Chris Mackney Discovers the Murder
On June 23, 2008, Chris Mackney, while searching for Pete Scamardo’s middle name (Thomas) on the internet found an article about Sam Degelia, Jr’s. murder with a reference to Scamardo. He fired off an email to his wife that day with the subject: Do I need to be worried?
In 1974, Charles Harrelson was convicted in the July 1968 killing of Hearne grain dealer Sam Degelia Jr., who was shot in the head south of McAllen. Pete Scamardo, Degelia’s business partner, was convicted of paying Harrelson $2,000 to kill Degelia so he could collect insurance money, according to a September 1970 article that appeared in The Monitor.
Dina didn’t deny knowing about the murder when she responded dismissively.
I already know about this and you have no idea about the details and at this point it is none of your business.
But Dina fired Ain & Bank the VERY NEXT DAY and immediately hired Cottrell, Fletcher, Schinstock, Bartol, & Cottrell led by Jim Cottrell who boasts, “He’s not the type to settle so have your wallets open.”
A few weeks later, Dina tried to entrap Chris into blackmailing her. She called him and secretly recording the phone conversation asking: “What will it take for you to stop talking about my father?”
Mackney responded that he didn’t want money but his share of the equity in the house (there was about $500,000 in total equity)
“That recorded conversation was taken to the police as evidence of blackmail but the police did not see it that way,” according to a psychological evaluation describing the incident.
Because the article Mackney read only mentioned Scamardo in passing, he initially didn’t make too much of the murder but this incident piqued his interest; he soon made a FOIA request for the Texas Ranger investigative file into Degelia’s murder which he received in October 2008. Once he understood the seedy details of the murder, things clicked: the Scamardo’s were all psychopaths and he became obsessed with the murder and psychopathy.
Chris Mackney believed the switch to Cottrell and most legal strategies going forward were devised not by Dina but her father. The first line item on Cottrell’s bill was a fifteen minute phone call to Pete Scamardo, suggesting Cottrell thought the same thing.
Dina Gets Horny: Emails Chris
Dina then sent Chris an email inviting him to a hotel for sex on July 7, 2008.
Mackney turned the email into a hyperlink but that hyperlink was destroyed as part of the copyright purge and is one of the few documents I couldn’t retrieve. Jill Peterson Mitchell saw a copy of the email and Rich Ware remembers that day.
Rich Ware, with whom Mackney was still staying, remembered the two of them exchanging text messages that day and Dina showed up in her car outside Ware’s residence.
“I told him not to get sucked back in,” Ware told me and Mackney thought better of the sexual encounter.
Fathers’ divorce attorney David Pisarra, when he had me on his podcast, noted this is often a ploy by the woman to then say the order was violated or to draw a man into the room and suggest he attacked her. While that’s speculative in Dina Mackney’s case- since it never materialized- Pisarra is right in the larger sense.
It was during this period Dr. Guy Van Syckle was appointed as parenting coordinator, a nebulous title with broad powers to intervene and direct a divorce. He wasn’t entirely one sided saying at one hearing that Chris Mackney was “under tremendous stress” as a result of the divorce but generally sided with Dina. Van Syckle didn’t respond to my email for comment.
Dina’s Innuendos: Chris Owns a Gun
For years, Chris Mackney legally owned a shotgun without incident. Still, in her protective order, Dina made Mackney’s free exercise of the 2nd amendment an issue: “Chris has become increasingly irrational and physical especially since we began talking about divorce. I simply cannot feel ok in a house when a heated argument inevitably becomes physical. He keeps a gun in the house and (I) don’t want my kids or myself exposed to continued hostility which I feel could harm me.”
That wasn’t the only time in her application that guns became an issue: “Chris and I got into another argument in which he got generally enraged and sounding angry. He had just shown his gun to me and I was afraid. I called the police.”
The police declined to file a report or charges. Chris Mackney reached out to the National Rifle Association (NRA) for help, but the NRA ignored him.
In October 2008, Dina escalated the accusations, claiming during a hearing for a subsequent protective order Chris pointed a handgun at her.
“He cocked the gun once at me in a fight and aimed it. He pulled it out from the mattress. I hid it.” Dina said in Dr. Samenow’s report.
But Chris owned a shotgun not a handgun, a contradiction he pointed out at this hearing, and it would be quite difficult to hide a shotgun in a mattress. The timing of this allegation is inexplicable. In May, she filed a restraining order against Chris, he moved out in June, she asked him to a hotel for sex in July, and in October she accused him of pointing a handgun at her. When did this purported incident occur and why wait until this hearing to first mention it?
Dina Mackney subsequently claimed this incident occurred in 2005, but this would mean it occurred during their marriage. She conveniently waited until a protective order hearing to first reveal it and somehow forgot about it when she first filed for a protective order. None of these contradictions and discrepancies became an issue and Dina was granted protective orders repeatedly, including this one.
Chris Mackney hired Robert Surovell as his new divorce attorney soon after to reach a settlement as soon as possible, a doomed strategy since Cottrell was paid NOT TO SETTLE.
Cottrell’s Legal Bullying Strategy…
Rich Ware told me in Cottrell Pete Scamardo found someone like Percy Foreman: 1) both are known and respected in their fields 2) both think the best defense is a good offense and 3) both have no problem putting the victims on trial to advance their client’s interests.
Cottrell’s aggressive style is summarized in a court filing for another divorce: “the plaintiff and defendant engaged in extensive litigation, including numerous discovery disputes, pendent lite matters, a plea in bar, motions for declaratory judgment, sanctions motions, the filings of amended complaints and counterclaims, and other matters. Multiple hearings, including several evidentiary hearings, have been conducted to resolve pending disputes.”
“This sort of thing happens rather often in custody situation, the person who controls the money is able to prevail irrespective of the facts,“ Dr. Michael Stone, a noted forensic psychologist said, “because they hire attorneys who are vigorous quality and also to go and make one motion and counter motion in order to exhaust the resources of the other party.”
“It was orchestrated by attorneys who were paid not to settle and insisted on litigating every single issue without discussion.” Mackney said in his suicide note. “It was all done to increase the stress and pressure. I saw behind the mask and the facade and I needed to be eliminated, just like Sam Degelia needed to be eliminated for discovering Pete Scamardo was trafficking heroin. The plan was to have attorneys negatively interpret anything I say or do and then litigate every issue. I needed to be portrayed as the source of conflict, so the legal and financial pressure could be applied.”
One example of the legal bullying is this email to Cottrell on October 30, 2008.
I have no money for an attorney to challenge you in court; I do not wish to fight Mrs. Mackney or her family.
You have subpoenaed work for information that I have expressed numerous times, I will voluntarily provide. This is harassment and unnecessary. Mrs. Mackney is not acting in good faith.
What does Mrs. Mackney want to end this madness? I truly believe she is acting in the best interest of her father and not her children.
…Financed by Pete Scamardo
Over the next five years, Dina Mackney spent over $1 million in legal fees, an amount affordable only to her father. Chris Mackney was in court for 54 hearings and dealt with exponentially more written motions, letters, affidavits, and other legal documents.
On May 13, 2009, Dina Mackney claimed in a deposition her parents hadn’t been paying her legal expenses until recently.
“Are your parents paying your legal expenses?” Surovell asked her.
“No. I paid for much of the legal expenses. They have helped me recently because I have run out of money.” Dina responded.
Her attorneys failed to provide copies of their invoices to Surovell for this hearing despite a subpoena.
“I’ll take the blame for that, Rob. That was inadvertent. She provided it. We have — it’s not that she’s not paying us.” Cottrell interjected.
By the time Mackney received the invoices the case had largely been decided but they showed Pete Scamardo made seven payments over the first year of Cottrell’s services with the first payment on June 25, 2008: the day after Cottrell was hired. Dina Mackney was never held accountable for her faulty testimony.
|June 25th, 2008||$15,000||5976|
|Nov. 18th, 2008||$4,811||6531|
|Feb. 4th 2009||$15,000||6136|
|Feb. 24th 2009||$12,205||6153|
|March 18th, 2009||$9,719||6167|
|April 9th, 2009||$909||6180|
|April 10th, 2009||$15,000||6181|
(A part of a blog post showing checks paid from CDC to Cottrell for Dina Mackney’s representation)
In an email on November 14, 2008, Mackney first suggested to Surovell that he was being bullied to death, “Did Mr. Cottrell give you any indication that there may be a settlement available or do you see them taking this to court? These people are going to bully me until eternity.”
Legal Bully Cottrell Refuses to Settle
Dina’s initial settlement demands- as described in a November 16, 2008, email Surovell sent to Chris Mackney- were: 1) sole custody to Dina with visitation for Chris 2) full marital assets to Dina and 3) $6,000 monthly in child support payment. Surovell assured Mackney there would be a more equitable agreement.
On December 10, 2008, Surovell made his initial settlement offer.
“In fact, this is a walk away deal. All that we ask for is $120,000 out of the house and a reasonable custodial access schedule. We retain the services of Dr. Van Syckle, who I am confident can manage the Mackneys into a reasonable manner of sharing that responsibility.” Surovell said in the letter. “In candor, if Chris spends the kind of time that he proposes to spend with the children, it will be not only to the benefit of the children and Chris, but to Dina’s as well. The children now spend a fair amount of time with daycare providers and I’m sure they would do just as well with doting parents.”
Jim Cottrell ignored the settlement offer and demanded more information twelve days later.
Before we can adequately respond to Mr. Mackney’s proposal we need to have more complete information on Mr. Mackney’s income and resources. Specifically, we have discussed and Mr. Mackney has discussed with his wife that he has been expecting to close a substantial sale this month. We need verification regarding that sale and how much Mr. Mackney is going to receive in compensation.
Regarding Mr. Mackney’s proposal for child custody and visitation, Ms. Mackney does not agree with your proposal, however she would agree to an order with the following terms:
Ms. Mackney shall have sole legal custody of their children. She will keep Mr. Mackney informed regarding the children’s school and health. At this time, Mr. Mackney is simply not prepared or qualified to share in legal custody…Mr. Mackney’s malicious conduct has to stop.”
Along with the letter, Cottrell filed an Affidavit and Petition For Rule to Show Cause in which he spelled out the so-called malicious acts: one nasty email, allegedly “verbally assaulting” (yelling really loudly) at his wife in front of their children, and making “outrageous and malicious statements about the wife and her family” (calling his father-in-law a murderer and saying Dina suffered a traumatic brain jury).
For the next six months, this was the dynamic: Surovell attempted to settle with a man paid not to settle until Chris Mackney ran out of money.
Dina Frustrates Chris’s Parental Time
“Further creating tension for him was the fact that in that month (June 2008) his wife began restricting his visits with his children, a plan he now sees as deliberately aimed at creating frustration for him,” according to a psychological evaluation.
“My wife has once again waited until the last minute and has ruined all my holiday plans for me and my children. This has happened over Halloween, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas.” Mackney emailed Surovell.
Chris Mackney then filed a formal complaint with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) Court of Fairfax County on October 7, 2008: “Over the last several weeks, my wife has denied me visitation with my children. Additionally, she has not facilitated communication with my children. I have left voicemails for my children which are not returned and dozens of emails and voicemails to see and speak to my children.”
Cottrell moved this complaint to family court where it died.
In the complaint Mackney made what Cottrell considered disparaging remarks. “I am also very concerned about the mental health of my wife and her family. My wife had a severe head injury and has consistently shown bad faith and poor judgment since our decision to divorce. Her father is a convicted murderer and admitted drug trafficker and her sister is a habitual and long term drug user. Both of whom are left unsupervised with the children.”
Though Dina played up her head injury in their lawsuit, she denied it had any lasting effect during the divorce, arguing the accusation disparaged her.
Over time Cottrell secured court orders forbidding Mackney from disparaging his ex-wife and her family, repeating allegations about Pete Scamardo, and eventually even orders to stop emailing his ex-wife.
On October 21, 2008, things boiled over; Chris Mackney picked up Ruby unannounced after school.
“The Potomac School just called in a panic,” Dina emailed Chris urgently later that day. “You cannot just snatch a kid out without telling anyone or without signing her out.”
“The bus radioed to the lower school that Ruby was not on the bus and yet Ruby’s teacher said she left to get on the bus as usual.”
“I was not aware of the protocol,” Chris Mackney responded about ninety minutes later, “because you have not bothered to share any of Ruby’s information with me.”
Samenow’s Bait and Switch
A father’s rights group first recommended Dr. Stanton Samenow to Chris Mackney to do a psychological evaluation; Dina quickly made the idea hers because unbeknownst to Chris Mackney Samenow and Cottrell’s law firm had a longstanding working relationship. Mackney and Samenow first spoke on October 20, 2008; on January 23, 2009, Chris and Dina Mackney settled on a temporary arrangement called a Pendente lite, meaning “awaiting the litigation” in Latin; Dr. Samenow was introduced into the divorce as part of this Pendente lite which also set visitation times.
Initially, Chris Mackney had standard non-custodial time: alternate weekends after school on Friday until Sunday at 5PM and every Wednesday after school until 6:45PM. Chris Mackney’s parenting times were still frustrated by Dina’s interference. Furthermore, a disastrous commercial real estate market along with crippling divorce costs caused Chris financial hardship forcing him to cancel other dates because he couldn’t afford them.
Dr. Stanton Samenow is the author of several books including Inside the Criminal Mind, The Myth of out of Character Crime, and In the Best Interest of the Child. He’s testified as an expert in criminal and civil trials thousands of times, most notably as an expert for the prosecution in the trial of Lee Boyd Malvo, the protégé of the Beltway Sniper, John Muhammad. He received mainstream attention when his 1977 study The Criminal Personality written with Dr. Samuel Yochelson was referenced in the penultimate episode of The Sopranos entitled Blue Comet. When Dr. Melfi’s mentor and therapist Dr. Elliot Kupferberg played by Peter Bogdanovich realized that Tony Soprano was a sociopath, he confronted Dr. Melfi at a dinner party full of psychologists.
“So I googled any new stuff on sociopathic personalities. Apparently, the talking cure actually helps them become better criminals.” Dr. Kupferberg said in the episode. “It was fascinating. The study was by Yochelson and Samenow. Studies turn around every few years. This other, I think it was Robert Hare, suggested that sociopaths actually quite glibly engage on key issues, like mother, family. I seem to remember that from residency.”
It was this study- Dr. Melfi obsessively read the study later in the episode- which convinced Dr. Melfi to dump Tony Soprano.
The Toronto Star praised Samenow’s work when reviewing the episode.
“The seminal mid-’70s work, conducted by Americans Stanton Samenow and the late Samuel Yochelson, suggested that criminals who undergo therapy actually learned to better manipulate others and that they are more likely to reoffend than those who do not go through therapy.”
In his evaluation, Dr. Samenow said the Pendente lite tasked him with “performing a psychological evaluation and assessment of the parties and the minor children in order to make recommendations to the Court and the parties regarding what custodial arrangements would best suit the parties and the children.”
This is psychological sleight of hand; he claimed to a psychological evaluation while describing a custody evaluation. A custody and psychological evaluation are distinct, and exactly as they sound; a psychological evaluation measures the psychological profile of the parents, and a custody evaluation provides a report on the best custody arrangement. In a psychological evaluation interviewing the children is not allowed and the evaluator is not allowed to make custody recommendations.
Mackney wanted Dr. Samenow to do a psychological evaluation because he believed Dina was a psychopath and a psychological evaluation would reveal it; a custody evaluation was a different matter. Dr. Samenow was tasked with doing a psychological evaluation but wound up doing a custody evaluation. In a subsequent hearing, Jim Cottrell said they were “the same thing”, and they were “the same thing” in the same way an oil change is the same thing as a tune up. Chris Mackney made several complaints- the APA, ACFEI, the Virginia Board of Psychology, and others- that this amounted to fraud, but none of these bodies did anything.
Mackney’s Spiral Continues
In March 2009, at a pre-trial custody hearing, Mackney’s child support was set at $2,813 per month, based on his 2007 income of about $250,000. It would be bumped up by three dollars soon after and kept there the remainder of his life, long after his income could not support that amount. Mackney made next to nothing starting in the fall 2009.
“I honestly need some relief Mr. Bartol. I cannot pay the $2816 per month. I have not been able to pay it because I no longer work at the #1 real estate services company in the world and the real estate market is not as robust as it was in 2007.” Mackney said in an email to Cottrell’s law partner, Kyle Bartol, in January 2013, one of several desperate emails begging to reduce his child support.
In June 2009, Robert Surovell quit in frustration; he cited an inability to reach a deal, Cottrell’s lack of cooperation, and because Chris could no longer afford to pay him.
This tragic case isn’t getting any better. When I got into this case I sent you a proposal. It was a reasonable proposal. I’ve never received a response to it. Instead I have had motion after motion after motion trying to drag whatever you can out of Chris Mackney – his gun, his participation in a second experience with a mental health professional, money which he doesn’t have, cessation of his drumbeat about his father-in-law’s criminal background…Now you’re trying to get him fired. That’s exactly what is going to happen if you keep screwing around with his employer…You even asked for alimony for a wife who has been supported by her parents all the way through the age of forty-two. I mean no disrespect toward Dina. She is actually an interesting and industrious woman who has had remarkable success with her creativity designing and selling jewelry, but we all know that Chris has never supported her.
Now, my casual discovery that Mr. Scamardo’s company seems to have had his daughter on the payroll in earlier years at a time when she wasn’t rendering any services for them, appearing to deduct what would have otherwise been gifts and not deductible, raises some interesting questions which depositions and further discovery might elaborate.
Surovell was prescient on one point; Cottrell’s legal bullying cost Mackney at least one job, CB Richard Ellis. Mackney was fired after Cottrell demanded the company be held in contempt for not producing Mackney’s supervisor for a deposition.
Surovell didn’t respond to an email for comment.
After letting Surovell go, Mackney was out of money and for most of the remainder of his life navigated the divorce pro se: representing himself.
When this happened Rich Ware advised him to withdraw entirely from the divorce, move to a country with no extradition treaty for back due child support if necessary. Terry Hindermann offered Mackney similar advice but he told me Mackney’s competitive nature kept him fighting.
Samenow’s Evaluation Bullies Chris
On August 3, 2009, Samenow delivered his custody evaluation blaming Chris Mackney for nearly everything. Samenow accused Chris Mackney of being “narcissistic”, a “pathological liar”, suggested that Dina feared his temper, referred to her “alleged” head injury, downplayed the murder calling it “the incident from the 1960’s” which was “irrelevant” to custody.
Initially, Samenow and Van Syckle lobbied for supervised visitation for Mackney before settling on sole custody to Dina with Chris seeing his children about 5% of the time: four hours every other Wednesday and 10:00AM-7:30PM every other Saturday, and never over-night.
Samenow’s son, Jason, is currently a weather editor for The Washington Post; when I suggested this might be why the paper passed on Chris’s story, the paper’s court reporter, Tom Jackman, said: “What does the guy who writes weather stories have to do with any of this? We aren’t asking him if it’s ok to cover anything on the news side. And he has zero influence on that. Dr. Samenow is who he is and you’re taking him on. Have at it. If The Post wanted to take him on, we would. The weather guy would not get a say.”
Chris Mackney Calls Pete Scamardo a Psychopath
“I have given you facts that if viewed with an open mind would lead a psychological professional to certainly CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY that he could be a psychopath.” Mackney said to Dr. Samenow in an email from December 9, 2009. “I also gave you the name John Sobecki to speak to about Mr. Scamardo’s behavior. You did not contact him and you did not mention him in the report.”
(Sobecki is a business colleague of Scamardo’s; Samenow declined to interview him for the evaluation.)
Dr. Samenow immediately forwarded the email to Dina Mackney’s attorneys and the pressure continued to ratchet up. This so-called independent expert routinely shared emails Chris sent him with Dina’s side but never shared anything Dina sent him with Chris.
Chris Mackney’s Custodial Rights Are Terminated
In September 2009, following his mother’s death, Chris Mackney inherited approximately $156,000 and hired attorney James Watson to help prepare for a hearing in November 2009. Watson didn’t respond to my email and I’m not sure how long he represented Mackney but it was short; Mackney was out of money again by the spring 2010.
With Samenow’s report as leverage, Dina Mackney argued for sole custody and all marital assets at the hearing which Watson advised Mackney to accept, but Dina Mackney wanted even more.
At that hearing, Dina Mackney argued to cut off all contact between Chris Mackney and his children, despite no evidence to justify such drastic action.
Judge Bellows called the request “extraordinary” but found Chris Mackney violated a previous court order to stop sending harassing emails, suspended all visitations for three months, and invited a third shrink into the proceedings by requiring Mackney to receive a psychological evaluation.
This new evaluation, done by Dr. William Zuckerman, cost Mackney thousands more he didn’t really have. In addition to interviewing Mackney and Samenow, Dr. Zuckerman also interviewed Dr. Colleen Blanchfield and Dr. Guy Van Syckle producing an objective report concluding Mackney was a frustrated litigant and a danger to no one: “At the same time, his narrative was consistent with the sense of him feeling overwhelmed, overmatched, not in control, and frustrated, along with some suggestive of depressive qualities…he presented material in a clear and organized fashion, reflecting no serious cognitive psychopathology.”
Dr. Zuckerman then testified that there was no reason Chris Mackney shouldn’t see his kids and Samenow, the so-called independent expert, testified for Dina Mackney. On direct examination, Samenow regurgitated Dina Mackney’s version of events of the infamous fight from January 19, 2008; during his cross-examination, Mackney produced his ripped shirt and Samenow admitted Mackney had shown him this shirt in their sessions, unable to explain how the ripped shirt squared with his testimony on direct examination. Chris Mackney had a victory, albeit a short lived one.
“So after 6 months of being kept from my children by Judge Bellows, I was to have overnights again with my children for the first time in over a year, over Easter weekend,” Mackney said in a blog post, but Dina Mackney filed a motion to stop overnight visits.
During this time, Mackney had moved into an apartment and was ordered to fax over a copy of the lease and a receipt for first payment to Dina’s lawyers. Mackney didn’t write down the instructions and only faxed a copy of the lease. On April 1, Chris Mackney’s Kafkaesque nightmare climaxed when this was used as the reason to remove overnight visits.
“Judge Bellows was told that I was going from memory and that the fax of the lease communicated all the information requested.” Mackney said in a blog post of what happened next. “When I objected to the fact that he was taking away visitation because I failed to send a copy of the receipt, which had nothing to do with my children, I became very frustrated and upset. So then Judge Bellows then took away all visitation, simply because I forgot to send a copy of a receipt in a fax.”
In June 2010, Judge Bellows made it permanent by issuing a final order forbidding Chris Mackney from ever seeing or speaking on the phone with his children which he never did for the rest of his life.