Dr. Steve Newton, Custody Evaluator and Psychologist
Dr. Steve Newton is a Custody Evaluator and Psychologist in Los Altos, California. His company is called "PlusFour Solutions." My experience with him is that he is shockingly unprofessional in his evaluations. All appearances are that he does what he has to to keep the revenue stream flowing, rather than actually trying to get to the truth. The best guess is that he simply will always pick the parent as the "winner" that has the lawyer that will send him repeat business. To be blunt, this isn't just "bias", this is absolute, blatant corruption that anyone who knows how to think will be able to see through. Below is an elaboration of just a few of the gross errors -- most of them obviously deliberate -- in a particularly expensive evaluation ($23,600).
Truth prevails! This finally went before a judge since I first wrote this page. I represented myself, and the opposition had a lawyer. The judge shot Dr. Newton's report down, reversing his conclusions. This is the top family court judge in San Francisco, and she was clearly angry in court at Dr. Newton's report. You don't get a stronger decision than this one, and it is 100% opposite of Dr. Newton's conclusions. On Yelp
, I give more detail on this (they keep trying to get Yelp to take the review down, but it is 100% accurate).
Ignores hard evidence, bases things on weak allegations, so his favored attorney's client "wins"
He completely ignores hard evidence (for example, crystal clear, horrifying evidence of domestic violence -- punching until black and blue -- and endangering/threatening one's life with a motor vehicle, that has been captured with audio recording and photographs of injuries), while taking unsupported allegations from his favored side as fact.
Doesn't call witnesses that he thinks will counter the story of his favored attorney's client
He also simply won't call your key witnesses if he doesn't think they will tell the story that fits the narrative he has pre-decided. He conveniently didn't bother scheduling a call with them until nine months into the evaluation (seriously....nine months) after he has said he has already "almost completed the report", and then just outright forgets to call them. Just forgets. No explanation. In this case, these are the two witness who are the opposite of biased (i.e. they've known mother since age two, while telling a story that strongly supports the case of father), the exact kind of witnesses which should be given the most weight.
Labels witnesses "biased," against all logic and common sense
He also labeled another witness as biased toward father, even though the witness has been friends with mother for 25 years (and was named as a witness by mother). He even describes this person as having known both parents for 25 years, which is obviously impossible (or at least highly unlikely), given that the parents have only known one another for 7 years. (how does a professional make a mistake like this?) Yes, the witness is probably biased, but toward mother, which makes her story all the more compelling, since it is actually pretty strongly pro-father. Dr. Newton just ignores and confuses this though.
Ignores email evidence for unknown reasons
Don't bother submitting things like emails (that can be proven to have been sent), that bolster your case strongly. If they don't fit his narrative, he'll just ignore them. Who knows why. (well, I have my theories, of course) What exactly was he paid $24,000 for if he isn't even going to look at very significant evidence? Oh, I see in his invoice he did indeed look at it, and charge to do so. He just didn't bother thinking about it and including anything about it in his report.
Fails to calibrate psychological tests properly, and tries to cover this up as if we are too dumb to notice
He uses "objective" true/false psychological tests, but his conclusions show complete ignorance of how to interpret them. Not only are these test known to be very gamable by those with an agenda
(and especially those who know what type of diagnosis to specifically avoid, and who are coached by clever lawyers), but then he didn't in any way calibrate them against what he observes directly. And then he (clearly deliberately) altered the definition of the disorder he diagnoses
that he pastes into the report, in an attempt to cover his failure to calibrate correctly, which would have changed the result. Like no one will notice. (I wish I could report more details about this one. It's the most interesting, and clearly malicious, thing he did. If you want to email me, I will gladly explain further, but I probably can't explain it on a public page, at least not right now)
Some of what he did was clearly simple incompetence, but other things seem to indicate outright corruption. These don't seem like simple mistakes. I just can't see how he can get away with it. (although, the documentary movie "Divorce Corp"
does an exposé on all this stuff, exposing the all the "shameless collusive practices" regarding custody evaluators, and my experience with Dr. Newton suggests it is pretty accurate)
I notice in the reviews at this page
that he has several other people (almost all very recently -- unfortunately they weren't there when we approved him back in December 2015) that seem to have run into the same issue.
Finally, there's also the matter of payment. He won't tell you how much it will cost or how long the process will take. He will have one of his assistants carefully tell you that any day she'll be able to give an estimate, but never be able to. (and good luck getting one of them on the phone, or to reply to emails. He's got 3 or 4 assistants, but I think they are in the office for a grand total of one hour a week.) Then, at the very end (did I mention that the process took nine months?) he'll stick you with the huge surprise bill and hold out the report until paid. No one else does business like this. Because in other businesses, you can't hide behind the fact that if you go public about things, you can get in trouble from the judge. (that's why I can't reveal more of the details of this)
If you are considering using him I suggest, at the very least, email me (email@example.com) and I can explain a few things in far more detail. I have to be careful, but I can share the decision itself, which is public record. It is 23 pages, several pages of which are completely about why Dr. Newton's report and conclusions are rejected, saying "It is the constellation of these and additional contradictions, omissions, and errors in accurately reporting what collateral sources said to him that make the custody evaluation in this case unreliable. For all these reasons, the Court gives little if no weight to the report or Dr. Newton's recommendations and conclusions."). Even if your lawyer is the one sending him business, keep in mind, his report will be so flawed the opposition will very likely rip it to shreds.