Richard McMahon


The council met with Attorney McMahon on February 15. McMahon is applying for a position on the Probate and Family Court bench.

Mr. McMahon has recently served as the executive director of South Coastal Counties Legal Services. Serving low income families.

Several councilors questioned the nominee about his legal experience in the courtroom. He acknowledged that during his career he had seldom taken a case to trial. Since he had worked for low income individuals he had not experienced a high stakes divorce where there were substantial assets to be divided.

During the proceedings concern was also raised about the distribution of the Judicial Nomination Committee's questionnaire to the council. Not all councilor's had been provided with copies of the questionnaire. The questionnaire is kept from the public eye, but is provided to the council. Chief Legal Council Riley explained that councilors could get a copy of the questionnaire, but they had to ask for it. A request was made by the chair to have Chief Legal Council provide the questionnaire to all councilors for all future nominations, and that this announcement should be treated as a request from the council.

During the proceedings Mr. McMahon related to the Council that up to that point the process involved a 25 minute meeting with the JNC and a one and a half hour meeting with Legal Council Riley.

Concern was raised by several councilors regarding removal cases in the Family Courts. It was pointed out that in the case of his former clientele, removal of children from the state most likely meant that that parent would no longer be in the child's life. A sentiment was expressed that removals generally don't work out.

On the issue of domestic violence Mr. McMahon acknowledged that he is aware that both men and women can be abusers/victims. He stated that the worse case of domestic violence he had witnessed was a case where the victim was a man and the perpetrator was his wife.

He was questioned about the use of temporary orders in divorce proceedings. A well know fact was pointed out, that temporary orders tend to become permanent. It was also pointed out that temporary order hearings usually last 5-15 minutes. He was urged to consider taking more than 5-15 minutes if the orders involved the reduction or curtailment a parent's parenting time. He agreed to consider the suggestion.

He was also asked about his view of the family services department in the court. He was reminded that he should judge the cases, not family services, that it would be his responsibility to see that justice is done regardless of the action of other agencies.

Concern was raised about the general claim that parents who bicker in court cannot share parenting responsibilities. It was pointed out that most people bicker but are still able to work together.

Mr. McMahon promised to not contribute to the trend of increasing numbers of removal's allowed by the court.

A general theme developed regarding the court's tendency to decide cases in favor of sole physical custody, rather than being neutral on the issue and following the facts of the case.


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