By: Benjamin J Kain
At what point does corruption become legal?
When does the pendulum of justice become so unbalanced, that an entire group of people are without access?
To be a family law attorney in today’s world must be a pretty sweet gig. Hell, let’s think about it: Family law isn’t all that complicated. Pro se litigants frequently find success in court, many times even more success than if they had a lawyer. The reason this is the case, is because family law has become an unutterably disgraceful cottage industry of legalized corruption, pandemic greed, and willful ignorance. Left unregulated, this section of the law community is running rampant throughout every state in this country. And, anyone who dare speak out against it will be met with swift, ruthless and draconian revenge from the people who profit so greatly from the destruction of the parent/child relationship and of the family.
On May 22, 2015, family law attorney and acting President of the Texas Family Law Foundation, Diana S. Friedman, filed a civil lawsuit against the founder of The Fathers’ Rights Movement, Thomas Fidler, and The Fathers’ Rights Movement of Texas.
The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Fidler and the movement damaged Ms. Friedman’s reputation by politically outing her opposition to HB 2363 – a shared parenting bill – to the point where she needed a restraining order to prevent any further detriment to her livelihood.
The bill had received overwhelming support from the legislature and the public. The bill passed the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, with only two legislators voting no (Debbie Riddle and Toni Rose), but died before reaching the Calendar Committee (the next phase in the legislative process).
According to the lawsuit filed by attorney Friedman, Fidler and The Fathers’ Rights Movement caused such great damage to her business by exposing her opposition to shared parenting in Texas, it was also grounds for her to seek a permanent restraining order and a maximum of $1,000,000 in damages.
A judge in the 191st Judicial District in Texas signed the temporary restraining order, giving a green light to the lawsuit and preventing Fidler from slandering Ms. Friedman, which Fidler contends he has never done to begin with and doesn’t intend to start doing now.
Fidler argues that political speech is not grounds to silence an entire movement, especially when it is Friedman’s own actions by opposing shared parenting that has caused her reputation to be tarnished.
“When you oppose what’s best for kids, people are going to get upset. This is a natural response. But, we don’t see the “cash-4-kids” judge suing organizations like FOX or ABC for highlighting his actions of selling kids off to private prisons. What makes attorney Friedman so special that she gets to be shielded from the outcry of the millions of parents in this country who are stripped of their children as a result of actions by her and people like her?” said, Fidler.
Indeed, it is a fact that Ms. Friedman is the President of the Texas Family Law Foundation, an organization that paid large sums of money to lobbyists to oppose legislation. In fact, the Texas Family Law Foundation publicly admitted to working with tax-funded multi-millionaire lobbyist Steve Bresnen of Bresnen Associates, and his wife, Amy Bresnen:
Ms. Friedman’s 501(c)(6) organization, the Texas Family Law Foundation, paid Steve Bresnen of the lobbying firm Bresnen Associates between the sum of $50,000 – $99,999.99 per month for lobbying services according to records obtained from the Texas Ethics Commission.
Ms. Friedman and the Texas Family Law Foundation also contracted Bresnen’s wife, Amy Bresnen, for lobbying services according to the records obtained from the Texas Ethics Commission.
Steve and Amy Bresnen are big names in the state of Texas. Steve is a powerful lobbyist, and his much younger wife, Amy, just graduated from St. Mary’s Law School and is a former worker for the state of Texas. Together, the couple runs Bresnen Associates, and are subject of controversy for their lobbying efforts. 
Political speech is a right that is protected under the first amendment – when a public figure (such as Ms. Friedman) is “outed”, or “exposed”, for something that they actually did, it does not qualify them for legal relief, or at least, it never has before. In fact, in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 US 254 – Supreme Court (1964), it was decided that “If neither factual error nor defamatory content suffices to remove the constitutional shield from criticism of official conduct, the combination of the two elements is no less inadequate.” For these reasons alone, it could be argued that this lawsuit should have never been filed, and it could be seen as a bullying technique by Friedman and the family law community in Texas.
What is interesting is that the Texas Family Law Foundation has directly and unabashedly bragged on their website about defeating bills:
“The foundations success to date includes… Defeated and repaired numerous bills potentially damaging to family law and neutralized issues that would have been very dangerous to Texas families and the people that represent them.”
Without restraint, the foundation continues admitting to shaping the structure of family law in Texas on their website:
“The Foundation’s leadership and volunteers work with our lobbying team to maintain an active presence at the State Capitol to protect your clients’ rights and your practice.”
They even had the gall to say as part of their purpose and work they are:
“Shaping family law practice and jurisprudence in Texas.”
So, why, despite these public declarations, is Friedman so upset? Why did she sue?
The overwhelming majority believes that because this is a group of fathers fighting to obtain equal protection for themselves and their children — they, by societal indifference and outdated stereotypes, are given a very low level of scrutiny when it comes to their constitutionally protected rights to free-speech, even by the public officials with sworn oaths to protect these rights.
In essence, what seems to have happened here is a reverse class-action lawsuit – where an entire class of people is being sued by one single violator, whom in this case, figuratively represents the entire family law industry in America. Clearly, this lawsuit shrouds itself (and forever will) with controversy, and only reinforces the need for change within our family court system.
The cozy relationship between Bresnen and Friedman is not a secret, and it appears they have no desire to keep it secret. Would it be outrageous to suggest that Ms. Friedman and Mr. Bresnen were so sure of themselves and their opposition, that they didn’t even try to hide their improprieties from public view?
This writer has uncovered what appears to be a type of “cottage industry” of family law in the State of Texas, where politicians, attorneys, lobbyists, and industry professionals are plausibly an elite group of legalized extortionists, out-of-touch with public opinion and carrying deep-pockets with short-tempers. This writer has no doubt it is similar in each state across this country.
The content in controversy, and which is apparently the cause for this action, are a series of Facebook posts made by members and followers of The Fathers’ Rights Movement that referenced Friedman and her connection to family law legislation in Texas and lobbyist Steve Bresnen.
What Will Come
Which brings us to the bright side of this story. Ms. Friedman and Mr. Bresnen do not recognize the magnitude of this movements reach. Nearly 50,000 people follow this movement, and they reach nearly 500,000 people every week. This is combined with State Chapters, and other organizations such as Fix Family Courts and A Voice for Men who share common goals.
In total, their numbers are far greater than just the 50,000 on the Facebook page — and their reach surpasses 1,000,000 people when combining all of the connected causes/organizations.
In all actuality, this lawsuit is likely to boost the momentum for equal parenting and reform in family law. It will serve to connect similar causes and organizations, reaching even more people.
Fidler states that this lawsuit by Friedman is a direct attempt to silence the momentum of the support for shared parenting legislation across the country. He goes on to say:
“I don’t know why I find this surprising considering the last restraining order I had against me I was arrested and jailed for sending a text that said ‘wake up, the children need both of us.’ This world has gone mad.”
Anti-SLAPP laws have been enacted in Texas (SLAPP means: strategic lawsuit against public participation). The Citizens Participation Act (HB 2973) protects individuals and organizations that are bullied with these lawsuits by allowing individuals who are sued to file motions to dismiss which suspend the discovery phase of litigation until the Court rules on the motion. This law also allows the person being sued to collect attorney’s fees, court costs, and any other reasonable expenses incurred defending the lawsuit, among other things.
If Ms. Friedman really wanted to be kept out of the spotlight, she would have taken the complaints on the chin, publicly apologized for her actions, and vocalized her support for equal parenting, which is in the best interests of the children in her state, and across the globe.
Instead, she launched a full-frontal assault on an entire class of individuals, attempting to cover up what was bragged about before The Fathers’ Rights Movement got wind of it.
Fidler and the movement have set up a legal defense fund in order to fight back against this attempt to silence the voices of America’s fathers and their children. You can go here to donate. Any help is greatly appreciated.