The Taron James paternity fraud case is one of the most egregious examples of the abuses the child support enforcement system visits upon men. In my co-authored column Defrauded Veterans Have Mixed Emotions on Veterans Day (Daily Breeze [Los Angeles], 11/11/03), I wrote:
“For Torrance photographer Taron James, a decorated veteran of Operation Northern Watch, Veterans Day always brings mixed emotions.
“James enlisted in the Navy at age 20 in the days leading up to the first Persian Gulf War, and carried out hazardous reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines in the war’s aftermath.
“He earned four service medals and three ribbons before his honorable discharge in 1994. Yet his reward for his service has been nine years of unremitting government harassment, financial deprivation, and a constant struggle to stay out of jail.
“While serving in Iraq, James was notified that a woman he knew back home was demanding that he pay child support for her newborn son. James knew from the beginning that the child could not possibly be his.
“The Navy’s Judge Advocate General is not authorized to handle a serviceman’s legal problems outside of the military justice system, but a sympathetic captain helped him obtain an agreement from the child’s mother for a DNA test.
“Before the test could be done, however, the mother reneged on the agreement and disappeared with the child.
“James requested a blood test from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, and was told repeatedly over the next year and a half that he would be notified when there was a new development in the case. The D.A. instead went to court without James’ knowledge and obtained a default judgment against him. James did not find out about it until the D.A. seized his driver’s license and began taking 50 percent of his take home pay.
“Despite subsequent legal appeals and an April, 2001 DNA test which confirmed that the child is not his, the courts have refused to set aside the judgment. In the years since the D.A. and later Los Angeles County Child Support Services have: seized James’ tax refund for six years in a row; blocked him from renewing his notary public license, which in turn caused him to lose his job as the manager of a business; ruined his credit, denying him the chance to purchase the business at a low price when the owner offered it to him for sale; blocked him from obtaining a passport; and forced him to drop out of college before
finishing his degree.”
Los Angeles attorney Marc Angelucci, who does excellent work for men, represented Taron James and Taron was eventually able to get his child support order set aside.
On Tuesday, a California Appeal court ruled that James is not entitled to reimbursement for the money stolen from him. To learn more about the new ruling, see No Refund Due Man Ordered to Support Child Not His-C.A. (Metropolitan News-Enterprise, 6/20/07).
To learn more about paternity fraud, see my co-authored column New American Bar Association Article Points to Crisis in False Paternity Judgments (Baltimore Sun, 8/20/06).