Amy Walczak, Sister of Emmitt and Megan Dippold, Releases First Statement About Adoption Court Proceedings and Announces Jacob's Staff Foundation to Help Other Families Caught in Adoption Nightmares
The following is a statement from Amy Walczak, Board Member:
"It all began last year when my brother and sister-in-law, Emmitt and Megan Dippold, entered into an adoption agreement with Kristy Gaffney. After signing papers and giving the baby to Megan and Emmitt, Kristy reneged on the executed adoption agreement," according to Walczak.
"When Kristy started backing out of the signed agreement, Megan and Emmitt turned to the courts," Walczak says. "They relied on their attorney Michael E. Bertin to guide them through the process. Kristy hired attorney Sam Totaro to represent her.
"Kristy's basis for reneging on the adoption was that Megan and Emmitt and Bertin, who drafted the adoption agreement, engaged in civil fraud by tricking Kristy into signing adoption papers, according to court documents. Kristy filed a civil suit against Megan, Emmitt and Bertin. Megan and Emmitt vehemently deny Kristy's allegations.
"The legal impropriety began when Bertin was named in Kristy's fraud suit," Walczak adds. "Pennsylvania's Rule of Professional Conduct 1.7 says in order for Bertin to continue representing Megan and Emmitt, he had to disclose the impact his continued representation could have on their case. The theory is that a lawyer can't objectively represent a client when they're both subjects of legal action for the same legal matter," she says.
"Instead Bertin said nothing," said Walczak. "What's more, when the conflict of interest issue was raised, Megan and Emmitt's lawyer held a secret meeting with Totaro and the Honorable Judge Stanley R. Ott, the judge presiding over the case. During that meeting, according to an affidavit, Totaro and Bertin cut a deal where Totaro would suppress evidence and not pursue the fraud charges against Bertin. But Megan and Emmitt would still be sued," Walczak said. "This worked for Bertin because if the Megan and Emmitt looked bad he was off the hook," Walczak added.
"The problem is Bertin, Judge Ott, and Totaro and other officers of the court never told Megan and Emmitt," Walczak said. "Instead Bertin continued to represent them violating the rules of professional conduct," Walczak added.
"Megan and Emmitt were handed a stinging defeat written by the Judge Ott, who happens to be a professional colleague of Bertin's father, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Emanuel A. Bertin, chair of the Joint State Government Commission's advisory committee on domestic relations law," Walczak said.
"But it was Totaro, an officer of the court, who violated rules of professional conduct 3.6 as well as adoption laws when he completed an on-camera interview with the media, quoted Judge Ott's sealed and confidential opinion and sent sealed adoption information to NBC News Today Show," Walczak said.
"Using his position as an officer of the court to influence a pending appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Totaro was successful in influencing the Superior Court that ruled the appeal was frivolous," said Walczak. "However, the Superior Court never addressed the attorney and trial court misconduct. Megan and Emmitt have sent the case to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, records show.
"Adoption laws are in place to give people fair and equal justice," Walczak said. "When you allow officers of the court to break the laws, verdicts are skewed and justice does not prevail. These law are in place to preserve public trust in the legal and court system.
"If the Supreme Court's decision is allowed to stand, it will having sweeping consequences for family courts across the country. At the center of this case is an innocent baby girl who deserves an objective trial on what is in her best interest," said Walczak. "The citizens of Pennsylvania deserve to have elected officials who administer their duties to the highest standard and shy away from the appearance of impropriety and effectuating their duties they swore to uphold. We need transparency in our courts," Walczak said.
"Custody and adoption issues are tense and emotional," according to Walczak. "They can't be clouded with secret meetings and back room deals. People's lives are at stake and Pennsylvania does not need any more legal scandals. Let's hope the Supreme Court agrees.
"Megan and Emmitt say they will never be able to sufficiently thank everyone for their outpouring of love, support and prayers. They are eternally grateful for each and every one of them. They have faith in the justice system and the appeals process and trust that the truth will prevail. They only want what is in the baby's best interest," said Walczak.