Tom Ball’s Self Immolation: Not Forgotten

Yesterday, activists and people abused by the NH court system gathered to remember Thomas Ball, who immolated himself in front of the Cheshire “superior” court in protest of the terrible “justice” system here. Sentinel reporter Kyle Jarvis was there:

A year after a Massachusetts man died of self-immolation in front of the Cheshire County Superior Courthouse in Keene, concerned parents gathered there Friday to support his efforts to reform the family court system.
Thomas J. Ball, 58, of Holden, Mass., was embroiled in a lengthy, bitter dispute with his ex-wife in Cheshire County Family Court over medical bills for the couple’s three children.
On June 15, 2011, Ball committed suicide by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting himself on fire.
Before his self-immolation, Ball sent his final statement — a 15-page condemnation of the family court system — to The Sentinel, detailing the process that led to his suicide.
“I think there was plenty of truth to what he had to say, unfortunately,” said Nicholas Haas of Hookset, who attended the memorial Friday with his wife, Samantha and their young daughter. “The sad part about what happened to him is that it was preventable.”
Haas can relate to Ball’s predicament.
“I haven’t seen these two since Sept. 26, 2009,” he said, pointing to a handmade sign held by his wife, with a picture of Haas’ two children from a previous marriage.
Two days after Ball’s suicide, Haas was jailed for what he called “perjury and false reports by the guardian ad litem.”
“Sgt. Ball was trained by the U.S. government to handle the stresses of war,” he said. “And yet he couldn’t handle the stresses of the family court system.”
Edward Bryans of Troy was also in attendance Friday, which he and other advocates were calling “fatherless day.”
Bryans did not know Ball, but, like Haas, shares a frustration with the family courts.
“Personally, I haven’t seen my own daughter in a year and a half,” he said. “There’s no due process.”
Bryans and others hope to rename the Cheshire County courthouse, calling it the “Thomas Ball Memorial Courthouse.”
Bryans believes there’s a conspiracy against not just fathers, but family breadwinners.
Ethan Allen of Massachusetts, a retired veteran of the U.S. Army who said he served in Vietnam with Ball, shared his memories of his friend.
“He was quite an individual, very intelligent, very helpful, but he was going through a lot of pain,” he said. “He was a very caring and compassionate individual.”
The group planned to walk to Central Square later in the afternoon to tell their stories and listen to speakers, which was set to include Josh Youseff, a candidate for N.H. State Senate District 7.
Kyle Jarvis can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1433, or kjarvis@keen

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  1. May Tom Ball’s life be celebrated and remembered by those who knew him best, and may we not forget his battle with the N.H. judicial branch. It was a system that continuously denied him his rite of fatherhood and the joy of seeing his children. He was estranged from his family by court order for many years and denied the comforts and joys of life of fatherhood. On the first anniversary of his very public death, and on the same weekend as father’s day, may he rest in peace.

    On June 15, 2011, residents of Keene and local towns became aware of a 58-year-old New Hampshire father of three, who after years of being brutalized by the family court system, shared his pain and outrage with the world by lighting himself in front of the Cheshire County Court House.

    On Thursday morning, June 16, The Sentinel received a posthumous letter in the mail from Tom Ball detailing why he chose to snuff out his life in such a gruesome and painful way, probably in the hopes of not being subjected to rude journalistic coverage once his body was in the grave. The Sentinel has copyrighted Tom Ball’s letter, redacted two items in it, commercialized it and put it behind a pay-wall; but it is thankfully available at a support group’s website, and unlike the Sentinel, without trying to make a buck on the back of the tragedy, and without editing out parts of it.

  2. R.I.P. Mr. Ball. You are not forgotten

  3. The evildoers (judges, lawyers caseworkers) deserve prosecution and punishment for crimes against humanity. Dismembering families and severing children from their fathers in order to make money is sick and evil. Then they top it off by blaming fathers as the perpetrators. In my opinion the punishment should be severe because not only are fathers and children destroyed, but so is society.

    Time will tell if the general public will realize just how sick of an institution the the bastard factories (family courts) are.

    Thus far the criminals (vindictive women, judges, lawyers, caseworkers) have gotten away with their crimes for two reasons:

    1) because the effects of their crime (adult children) took so long to realize and study; and 2) by deflecting blame away from themselves and vilifying fathers as abandoning their children, when in fact it was fathers who were removed from their children.

    Let’s hope severe and swift justice will prevail against these sick criminals.

  4. Mr. Thomas Ball,

    We know you were not a perfect man; we know you made some mistakes; after all, you were only a man; though what a brave man you were.

    We remember your sacrifice Mr. Ball. We remember how your children and dignity were stripped from you. We remember how you endured 10 years of abuse at the hands of the family court.

    We thank you for bringing attention to the evil judges and lawyers that are destroying fathers and children all over America; we thank you for giving the “ultimate” sacrifice to bring attention to the evildoers.

    We feel your degradation. The degradation of being made an outsider in your children’s lives.

    We feel your pain Mr. Ball. Everyday as fathers we feel the pain of seeing our children grow up without us in their lives; we feel the never ending pain of losing our children, the most dear gift a man could ever have.

    You are an American hero Mr. Ball. You are a hero in the grandest sense. We fathers who are oppressed because we were removed and excluded from our children by the evildoers will never forget your heroism.

    Our children, when they come of age, and ask why they were bastardized, will never forget that you fought for them.

    RIP Mr. Thomas Ball. We will never forget you.

  5. As an attorney, I have three quick observations to offer regarding this issue.

    First, if you want to blame any single entity, blame the Legislature. Most of Mr. Ball’s problems arose because divorce, child custody, and child support are handled in the adversarial environment of the trial court. Admittedly, the courts are barely competent to handle these kinds of cases, but that is not their fault. The Legislature has failed to provide the tools and to set the limits that would make the system workable. First and foremost, 90% of the issues handled in court are not court issues. They should be handled administratively, completely outside the courts. Until the Legislature bellies up to the bar, looks at itself in the mirror, and takes on its responsibility, this problem can never be solved.

    Second, let’s remember a little history. As recently as 50 years ago, a woman had almost no rights to her children in a divorce. If we go back 100 years, she had absolutely no rights. What we are seeing today is the equal-but-opposite-reaction to those dark days. No, that does no make it right, any more than Jim Crow makes today’s Reverse Discrimination right. Past wrongs never justify counter-acting wrongs. However, when you understand the history that got us here, the beast is far easier to fight and defeat.

    Finally, how about a vote for a little personal responsibility. The Balls were their own collective worst enemies and share at least 75% of the blame for what happened. Based on the available record, he was irresponsible as a husband and father, and some of her actions bordered on being criminal (and may well have crossed that line). In cases like this, the only workable solution I can see is to play King Solomon and divide the babies. By that I mean removing the children from the parents, placing them in foster care, barring either parent from being near the kids until the two of them can be civil, and soaking both parents for the full cost of supporting the children. Yes, it sounds like putting two adults in a timeout, and that is basically what it is. However, given the carnage being left behind by the present system, I’m willing to try it.

  6. ….I just read this…the family courts of 600 commonwealt ave. Los angelas california…have many .many cases where the man is not served or served to a jane doe and never here about case until money is garnished at 50%…and the county probably have many suiceds due to the system…many military disabled cannot handle the stress of serving this nation only to have to pay child support at 50% to many children they never met…..the welfare system and government are not hate groups against men and teach children men are sperm doners…sperm doners do not have to pay child support….only men …slavery days I here they put men to work and had the women with other and children later into slavery…theses days the women and children give away there husbands through this system..the bible teaches that the man is the head of houshould…1 corinthians 11:3-5…the bible te aches the prodigle son had to go to the father direct!…in the book of isiah scriptures teaches that woman and children will rule over theen and judges and leaders will be corrupt…so as the leaders from the white house and state government and judges and lawyers who take oaths on the bible should read these scriptures…and the laws of this nation that has forgotten the men who served this nation will pay and answer to God!…but I pray someone will listen before more men have to commit suicide…women aand children will be next…please organize more petitions and do not forget God and country…and honor and what is right in the eyes of God…if a person does not belong to a church and workforce do they get benefits?..the children and woman have to learn loyalty to fathers not the fathers money!….how will they learn?..what is right is to live by will of God..and teachings of Christ. ..

  7. Mike smith and others great comment…

  8. There was more to the issue, and it involves all disabled veterans in the stae who go through divorce. The courts strip them of their disability pay that is protected by 38 United States Code 5301. 5301 says monies due the vteran are exempt from garnishment, levy, or attachment, “before or after receipt by the beneficiary.” Te courtstake that money and leave the veterans with nothing to live on, let alone pay the incrrectly calculated monies to the former spouse. In doing so, many veterans feel that uicide is the only way out.
    There are veterans groups, like Operation Firing for Effect, OFFE.ORG, that are fighting to correct this injustice, but they need your help. Please contact your legislators and ask them to contact us to see how they can help stopping this epidemic.

  9. Good to know I will never hire Jason. What a load of crap. You are fucking horrible.

  10. What a load of shit you imbecile! Typical lawyer lies and deceit! Have you no respect for the dead!!!

  11. The corrupt anti-family court is allowed to operate because of people like you, yes YOU readers who will click off of this article and go about your day and not give this a second thought. After all, isn’t there a football game on?

    But let me warn you, when your day comes up to fall into the spiders web you will sing a very different tune, if you are a father that is. The female is the ‘Golden Goose’ to the corrupt system and as such, will be coddled throughout the entire process. If you agree that something needs to be done THEN DO IT!!!!!!

    Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit (He who is silent, when he ought to have spoken and was able to, is taken to agree)


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