Child custody and Expert Testimony
Religion is a touchy subject in a court of law. This is especially so when dealing with child custody cases. Oftentimes, the legal profession is at a disadvantage when religion plays a major role in custody cases.
The most difficult custody cases often involve the religion called "Jehovah's Witnesses," who distribute literature for the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, and pattern their lives according to its strict rules. Most times one's mate is a staunch Jehovah's Witness and wishes to bring up the children according to the dictates of this religion. The other mate is equally determined to have the children raised without the influence of this group.
Since the best interests of the children are the concern of the court, testimony is required concerning the lifestyle of Jehovah's Witnesses. Mr. Duane Magnani has consulted on over one hundred and twenty five child custody disputes (most since 1993), having been qualified primarily by the extent of his knowledge of the religion known as Jehovah's Witnesses. Additionally, he has consulted on cases involving blood transfusion litigation (being retained by the legal firm representing the hospital) as well as insurance and criminal issues.
Specifically, Mr. Magnani has been qualified as an expert witness on the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses, and in a number of cases on the emotional impact of these on the child. He has testified in numerous cases in the United States of America, most since 1996. Additionally, he has attended many depositions involving custody issues. He is the Director of Comparative Religion Research with Witness Inc. of Clayton, CA, since 1975. His research specializes in the sociological, historical and doctrinal teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Magnani has extensive personal experience with the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, having lived the lifestyle of a child of Jehovah's Witness parents from age 5 to 16 (1952-1964) and as an adult in the year of 1974. Much of what he testifies to in court, he has personally experienced. He holds that the lifestyle and value structure imposed upon children by the Jehovah's Witnesses is emotionally abusive and may be physically detrimental to the children.
Duane Magnani is the author of over thirty published books and manuals, researcher for the three most popular videos, and writer for numerous shorter studies on the subject of Jehovah's Witnesses--from the sociological, historical and doctrinal perspectives. Of particular interest to the court, he has authored three extensive studies on the lifestyle of Jehovah's Witnesses and their children. Included are three books specifically on the topic of Jehovah's Witnesses' children, two of which involve their lifestyle and involvement in custody cases. One of these books is entitled Refutation of Preparing for Child Custody Cases. This book was in response to the strategy manual, Preparing for Child Custody Cases, written by attorneys for the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the headquarters for the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses. That manual was produced to contradict Magnani's own court testimony.
Since leaving the religion in 1974, Magnani has interviewed approximately 1,500 Jehovah's Witnesses and former Jehovah's Witnesses who have added to his knowledge of their beliefs and practices. The leading countercult and research organizations recognize his writings as documentary evidence on the lifestyle of Jehovah's Witnesses. He has been interviewed as an expert on the subject of the lifestyle of Jehovah's Witnesses on over 200 occasions by various national print, radio and television media, including the largest television news programs in the United States ("60 Minutes") and Canada ("The Fifth Estate"). One of his cases (Dodd v. Dodd, 1990) involving the issue of Jehovah's Witnesses and child custody, was filmed for "Court TV", a nationwide production of American Lawyer magazine. In the 1990's, almost all of these cases have seen victory for the non-Witness parent, which include restrictions on the lifestyle effects of JW indoctrination upon the children.
Duane Magnani can be contacted at:
Expert Custody Consultants
Tel: (925) 672-7116 Email:
P.O. Box 597, Clayton, CA 94517
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