BY MICHAEL VOLPE
Court Referee Dean Richardson-Mendelson recently issued a scathing ruling against Susan Carrington, a Maryland mother who has not seen either of her two children in more than four years, and whose Rockland County custody case received international attention after a series of RCT articles.
The latest courtroom ruling has come even as the Rockland County Times learned Richardson-Mendelson may no longer have jurisdiction to hear the case. Research shows that on January 2, 2013, Judge Kathie Davidson, the Supervising Family Court Judge for the 9th Judicial District, gave Richardson-Mendelson permission to hear the case only until the end of 2013. “Court Attorney Referee Dean Richardson-Mendelson is authorized to hear and report on permanency hearings and post disposition matters,” Davidson’s order stated, “from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.”
Despite this, Richardson-Mendelson has continued to make decisions in her case as recently as September 2015. On September 10, 2015, Richardson-Mendelson financially sanctioned not only Susan Carrington but her attorney, Barbara Schwartz.
In his ruling, Richardson-Mendelson blamed a media campaign initiated by Carrington, which included several articles in RCT, for creating a hostile environment for her ex-husband, John McNelis: “Furthermore, the record is replete with numerous examples of the mother using social media, radio, and newspapers to denigrate the father and harass the children, in what can only be described as media warfare.”
Mendelson did not mention any concern that following the release of the first article by RCT, McNelis arrived at the editorial offices and acted in a threatening manner forcing the police to be called, as an editorial note mentioned in the second RCT article.
Richardson-Mendelson didn’t respond to a phone call at his chambers for comment.
In the September 3, 2015, order Richardson-Mendelson erroneously claimed that Maryland, where this custody was originally heard, had given physical custody to McNelis. In fact, Maryland gave joint custody. RCT found that Richardson-Mendelson also falsely claimed that Carrington admitted to chronic drug use during the course of the custody matter in Rockland County.
Those were mere accusations made by her ex-husband and Dr. NG Berrill, in an evaluation in which Berrill failed to even interview Carrington. McNelis had made the same allegations in Maryland where they were dismissed.
Schwartz was sanctioned for failing to appear at a hearing but she told RCT that she failed to appear because her father was on his death bed and she properly informed the court of her absence. In April 2015, RCT reported that Richardson-Mendelson issued a curious ruling in which he concluded that a paper server’s convictions for theft and prostitution shouldn’t determine her credibility: “anybody can serve papers,” Richardson-Mendelson said at the time.