News & Politics

Missouri Attorney Fights for 'Mikaela's Law' to Remove Immunity From Family Court-Appointed Professionals

This report is part 27 of an investigative series looking into reported corruption in the Missouri Judiciary and family courts. For the rest of the investigation, visit the catalog here.

Immigration attorney Evita Tolu’s life took a drastic turn after she came forward and filed suit against what she says are corrupt court-appointed officials who drained her finances and alienated her from her children while subjecting them to abuse. Her lawsuit caused the recusals of not only the entire 21st Judicial Circuit but the entire Eastern District federal court in Missouri as well, due to so many conflicts of interest in her case alleging court corruption. Her appeal after her original suit was dismissed on the basis of immunity for the defendants will be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Since Tolu came forward, she was inundated by other victims of the Missouri court system who begged for her help. She is now practicing family law as well as immigration. One of the cases that she took on was Haynes v. Haynes in which a 14-year-old committed suicide after being forced into the custody of her rapist by the guardian ad litem, Jennifer Williams. PJ Media has reported extensively on this case here, here and here. Tolu is now representing Cynthia Haynes Randolph in both her divorce case that has dragged on for eight years and a newly filed wrongful death suit against Williams, her ex-husband, convicted pedophile Charles Haynes, and his mother, Bernice, who gave him access to his victims.

Related: What Happened to Mikaela Haynes? Missouri Guardian Ad Litem Withdraws from Case Involving Teen Suicide After Press Inquiry

Tolu also made an appearance last week in front of the Missouri Senate to introduce “Mikaela’s Law,” which would remove immunity from court-appointed officials when they neglect their professional standards. She reported to the senate committee on judicial oversight the horrific details of this case, including the ongoing nightmare that Randolph faces in divorce court where the judge refuses to deny convicted rapist Charles Haynes any visitation with his remaining daughter, despite Missouri law that says convicted pedophiles have no rights to visitation with minors. The reasoning for the proposed law states in part:

Divorce and custody matters are a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States. Families are ripped apart due to inadequate protection under the law. Parents are entrapped in a never-ending cycle, losing their life savings and property while children lose their college funds, all to pay court involved guardians ad litem (GAL), therapists, psychologists, and custody evaluators, who use outdated laws to their advantage with no accountability. In Missouri, court involved professionals, including GALs, therapists, psychologists, and custody evaluators have quasijudicial immunity which means parents cannot hold them accountable if they wrongfully recommend to a family and/or juvenile court removal of their child from their custody. Children are often placed with DFS without any investigation and/or with predatory parents, who have the money to drain the good parent of all their wealth by prolonging the court case over many years. Legitimate cases of child abuse are almost never investigated. Parents are often threatened with contempt, incarceration, and dismissal of their counter claims if they challenge the court involved GALs’, therapists’, psychologists’, and custody evaluators’, conclusions, and recommendations.

The proposed law, according to Tolu, would:

  1. Eliminate the corrupt bond that exists between the court-involved professionals, DFS, juvenile and family court lawyers;
  2. Set stringent deadlines on completion of juvenile and family court cases to prevent multi-year litigation that exploits families emotionally and financially;
  3. Remove the presumption that parents no longer have any rights and standing to proceed when a GAL is appointed in juvenile and family court;
  4. Allow children to be represented by attorneys who are not GALs and allow families to have a choice in the selection of an attorney for their child in juvenile and family court; and
  5. Eliminate court-involved professionals’ immunity and set accountability standards for these professionals in juvenile and family courts.

Related: Mikaela Haynes Committed Suicide After Being Forced to Visit Rapist Father. He Now Wants Prison Visits with Her Sister.

Tolu also reported to the committee that family courts are doing business off the record, despite litigants begging for hearings to be recorded and available for public oversight. In a letter to the senators, Tolu exposed the unlawful conduct by Missouri courts.

In these eight (8) years that this loving mother and her daughters have been through, only two (2) hearings in Haynes v. Haynes 13RI-CV00554 were recorded despite Cynthia’s repeated requests to preserve the record (see attached).  The Ripley County Family Court repeatedly refused to preserve the record as mandated by the Missouri Supreme Court Operating Rule 16 and Missouri statutes.  Sharon Richmond, the Circuit Clerk of Ripley Count informed Cynthia’s attorney that Sharon Richmond does not have an obligation to preserve the record.  If there is no record, there is no accountability and no public oversight.  Missouri Law is premised upon the public policy that “custody of minor children cannot “be bartered and traded as goods in the marketplace, to foreclose a judicial determination as to the present welfare and best interests of the child.” Matter of W-K-M, 537 S.W.2d 183, 186 (Mo. App. K.C.1976).  “The welfare of the child is and must be the prime and overriding consideration.” Id. at 185.

Tolu called out GAL Elaine Pudlowski, who had an unprecedented 86 cases in one month. “I am an attorney,” said Tolu. “I can only take on five cases a month. How can a guardian ad litem have 86 trials? What is happening in those cases?” Then Tolu continued, “I’ll tell you what’s happening: case fixing.” Hundreds of parents have come forward, alleging case fixing in their custody trials that happen behind closed doors, many times without even allowing the litigants in the courtrooms. 

Tolu asked Missouri senators to hold the courts accountable to the law and procedures that they are not following and to open an investigation into why this is happening consistently. “There is no reason this person needs immunity,” said Tolu about GAL Williams. “There is no reason why a Missouri licensed attorney should not be held accountable for the way that attorney represents a child.” You can watch Tolu’s full comments below.