1st District Court of Appeal Reminds Public Attorneys Above the Law
In a recently published California Appeal Case (Hayward v. Napa County Superior Court), dissenting Justice James A. Richman made the following comment:
“ I would not be surprised to learn that there may be cases where parties through their attorneys have chosen to proceed with a private judge—the respected person they want, and trust, to decide their case—in which the private judge may not have strictly complied with Canon 6D, not making the required disclosure “in writing or on the record.” If that is true, parties up and down California will wake up to a majority opinion that tells them that the orders under which they are proceeding with their financial affairs—not to mention, the custody of their children—are void. If, heaven forbid, that is the case, I can only imagine the havoc that will follow. “
Justice Richman's "imagination" was a bit late to the party. Family court victims from "up and down California" have been subjected to "havoc" for years.
And we, the victims, are waking up .
Referees, special masters, and temporary judges are in special judicial abyss. They are actually attorneys with judicial powers and immunity, but not the responsibility or public endorsement. Parents have been screaming over bias and out of control rulings from these quasi - judges for decades. At any given time California has sanctioned approximately 250 referees and private judges , under the guise of relieving public court costs.
But these quasi judges, mostly lawyers, and who mostly act as the lackeys to make the rulings bad judges don’t want to make, have shown more than a willingness to act under the law and issue orders to steal children, unfairly divide property and decimate family court pro per litigants. All while these lawyers make millions in private fees, off the radar of the government.
Parents have tried in vain to speak up about these unfair judges and private judges for decades, and they were ignored. Who was ignoring them? California’s audit of the facts behind the State Bar and the pending Commission on Judicial Performance audit put a number on what family law litigants have been charging for years.
Parents in Marin County were the first to organize and speak up against a corrupt and dysfunctional judiciary and the impact such has on divorce and custody cases. The parents who spoke up faced mass retaliation in their individual cases as a result. Frustration in Napa saw the birth of the Center of Judicial Excellence, CJE. Once protected by a group like CJE , parents rallied, protested and fought their way to the table of family court reform. Their valiant efforts made some progress, but these tenuous parents needed more parents to speak up..
Marin parents and CJE then joined with parents and divorce litigants in Sacramento , with more force and organization.
Frustrated over a lack of court reporters, a judiciary fraught with hometowning and corruption that seeped into all cases involving pro per litigants, Sacramento became the new forefront of family court controversy. Sacramento is also credited by reformers as bringing in dedicated investigative reporters to expose family courts.
The state’s watchdogs remained unconcerned, even after Sacramento gave birth to Divorce Corp, a documentary that began to put faces on the pain and numbers on the court corruption game.
Next came parents in Contra Costa. They networked with Marin and Sacramento. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, they evolved and created new vehicles to attack and change the state’s dysfunctional family courts. Contra Costa litigants refused to remain silent.
The hero of the court reform movement in Contra Costa is Joe Sweeney. Sweeney went to work on a factual analysis of what parents had tried to explain for decades. Joe has had to pay a heavy price for speaking up, and he sits in jail , a victim of the most extreme judicial retaliation imposed by Contra Costa County Judge Mills that was possible.
Ironically, it is Judges just like Bruce Mills, (who threw Joe in a Richmond jail), that Joe was fighting to protect the public from. Mills had been disciplined five times by the Commission of Judicial Performance, and felt no need to adjust his ethically challenged judicial compass. In fact when a federal judge asked Judge Mills to explain his decision for putting Joe Sweeney in jail, merely for posting blogs to a family court website, Judge Mills couldn’t be bothered to answer.
Then came Santa Clara County divorce litigants. Sitting at the center of the universe, the catalyst for social media and technology revolutions. Litigants in Santa Clara needed little impetus to evolve into family court reformers. They just opted for different tools.
Santa Clara County Judicial cronyism and unfair referee or Special Masters imposed on private citizens are no surprise to the thousands of litigants who have faced them every day. In Santa Clara County .
Judge Towery was thrown out of the State Bar for ethics violations, then landed a judge appointment in in family court, where he sits in his new billion dollar ivory tower and continues to dissertate the judiciary and public trust in it. Litigants who have faced Towery for the past few years are very familiar with his homwtowning, pay for play and outright gender bias .
Then came Jude Pesky, and the Silicon Valley forces aligned. Educated professors and members of the public screamed foul when Persky put Sandford rapist Brock Turner in jail for brutally raping a young woman on the Stanford campus. Persky’s sentence was very similar to sentencing of family law victims battling support and custody claims, in a corrupt network known to inflict harm. Few can understand how they find themselves facing more jail time than Brock Turner. Social Media and modern tech in Silicon Valley said not so fast and the bright spotlight came to Santa Clara County’s bench.
By August 25,,2016 public pressure got to Judge Persky and the county supervising judges and he was removed from criminal court and put in to civil court. Now a judge who couldn't see why the public was upset by a rapist getting only six months in jail will likely hear family law cases. Imagine a lack of confidence in his ability to fairly address custody, domestic violence and support issues. Good luck to any divorce litigant who thinks "white" privilege, or Persky;s, bias won't result in judicial terrorism against women, or socioeconomically disadvantaged seeking a fair property division in Santa Clara County .
Santa Clara County Judges like Towery, Grilli, Persky, Chiarello, Folan,Yew and Takashi routinely appoint the referees and Special Masters These individuals are often lawyers , with clear conflicts with the judges who appoint them. Once sanctioned by a judge, these lawyers are legally allowed make millions on these appointments.
Court researchers are also pointing to an alarming practice in Santa Clara County , where pro per mothers fighting for custody and support for their children are labeled vexatious and denied access to the courts and fair hearings when they need it most.
Once the judges get favored lawyers in referee or special master appointments, they fail to manage such assignments, referee conduct or their outlandish fees. Rich Roggia and Nat Hales appear to be two at the top of the corruption in Santa Clara County.. These lawyers work with lawyers the likes of Brad Baugh, BJ Faden, Nedda Ledgerwood, Heather Allan, Valerie Houghton and countless others to legally steal properties, children and businesses from people merely seeking a divorce. The Hayward case speaks to those very "judges", who. are actually lawyers in sheep's clothing Valerie Hougton is facing criminal indictment in the county, but has been allowed to continue in several custody cases at the same time. Many are demanding to know why..
As the judiciary begins to “ imagine” and stretch their little feeble brains around the possibility of countless family law cases being investigated (which could lead to millions of void orders), family court litigants impacted don’t have to imagine, they have lived it.
To family court victims, the possibility of investigating even bad referees, and voiding orders and final settlements provides just a glimmer of hope.
The Hayward case may open the flood gates to millions of cases being reopened and millions of orders being voided. What nobody could likely imagine is the economic impact of this. If family court victims were right, then properties could be returned, civil cases , and criminal cases would flood court dockets and the cost to tax payers will exceed anything any tax payer or elected official could ever imagine. Certainly it would exceed anything these referees or private judges purported to save tax payers as they lined their crooked little pockets.
The attorney in the Hayward v. Napa Superior Court case is still happily practicing law, and that all of the court of appeal judges who heard the case violated their obligation under Code of Judicial Ethics canon 3D(1) to report the attorney to the State Bar, or otherwise take corrective action for the lawyers flagrant misconduct.
As we've noted before, pursuant to what is, or amounts to an illegal, underground regulation, the controversial Commission on Judicial Performance has granted court of appeal and Supreme Court judges immunity fr0m oversight and accountability.
Oh, and did we mention that the CJP and 1st District Court of Appeal employees and judges work in the same building at 350 McAllister Street in San Francisco? The CJP enforcing the Code of Judicial Ethics against 1st District Court of Appeal judges would make lunch time in the building cafeteria awkward. And we mustn't have that.