December 2, 2016- San Jose, CA - It was an event members of the press consider legendary. A small group of investigative reporters and photographers happened into the San Jose Rotary Club, expecting to get photos of a holiday luncheon being hosted by the Santa Clara County Bar Association , an opulent event catered by the Fairmont Hotel.
As the event got under way, lawyers from all over Santa Clara County began to filter in. The tables were set with white linens and stacks of satirical song lyrics that altered traditional Christmas songs as they awaited the arrival of Carolers who would lead the group in song, an annual highlight.
Table signs flashed the names of nearly all Santa Clara County Family Law Judges; Grilli - Towery- Huber - Greenwood- Pichon- Lucas- Woodhouse.
What the reporters didn't expect was that nearly every judge sitting on the Santa Clara County Family Court bench would also be filtering into the event, surrounded by an entourage of publically paid court clerks and bailiffs.
As the event got underway Judge Pichon, the county's presiding judge and Judge Lucas, the 2017 presiding judge arrived.
Judge James Towery, former Chief Trial Counsel at the Bar, camped out at the entrance to the room, discussing how courts were making obscene amounts of money based on lawyers bringing contempt and domestic violence charges into divorce and custody cases. Attorneys too seemed to be profiting from being the first to strike with false domestic violence claims against innocent former spouses.
As Towery talked shop with any lawyer anxious for a brown- nose- suck up, Towery continued giving sexually harassing glances to the women lawyers and litigants he had slept with, or hoped he wasn't too old to entice to an invite for a private Chambers Tour.
Judge Scott was quick to scurry to Grilli's table, his plans to take over her cases firmly in place as the memory of his having falsely convicted a Santa Clara County man of murder while at the DA's office slowly faded from media pages and public memory.
Scott took comfort in the fact that he wasn't the biggest criminal in the group.
Valerie Houghton awkwardly made her way around the room of lawyers and judges she had gotten to generate millions in fees in custody cases, as Houghton herself stood indicted for white collar crimes with her real estate husband, Terry Houghton, who was noticeably absent from the event.
When Judge Grilli, appeared she and her court clerk, Jaretta Reser, were treated as dignitaries. The fact that Grilli was being forced into retirement for violating ADA laws and getting carried away with fee awards to a select group of cronies was not mentioned throughout the luncheon. Lawyers couldn't even choke out pleasantries to ask about Grilli's family , which was reportedly in shambles as Grilli had taken to drug use while on the bench overseeing divorce and probate matters.
Reser, was also seen distributing flyers on the tables mocking the Public Trust Committee, a group associated with Q that had made public comments about changes to the CJP rules while watchdogging bad judges like Grilli. When Reser was photographed she recognized the photographer from court and vomited out her food. The photos of Reser's reaction are graphic and have not been authorized for publication. The photos are disturbing and this site is rated PG.
As the 2016 holiday luncheon got underway and the photographers were poised to leave, "Angie", from the Santa Clara County Bar Association asked the photographers to stay and photograph more. Angie even provided the photographers with a seating chart and explained the importance of photographing the lawyers with the judges. The photographers stayed at the Bar Association Staff request, a request that would find Angie unemployed just months later.
As the photographers stayed, Judges and lawyers broke out in song, singing "Get me to the Bank Tonight " , where they appeared to be mocking all the money they steal from community property and children in Santa Clara County divorce and custody cases.
" I wanted to throw up " said one photographer who had watched his sister lose custody of her children because of a corrupt judge and greedy lawyer". They were just laughing and making fun of all the money they can get judges to award lawyers in fees placed through liens on houses and by taking money from children and parents. No judge should ever act like that and I got it on film".
When the photographer went to collect his fees for the photos the Bar had asked him to take, he was stiffed. The Santa Clara County Bar Association didn't pay their bill for the photos they had requested. The court was also unresponsive, apparently expecting him to work for free, as they made millions in Santa Clara divorce cases.
The photographer then uploaded the video he had made at the event, complete with a bouncing ball and subtitles. The video has been posted in over 50 blogs and websites, where it has caught the attention of over 100,000 litigants, lawyers, judges and state lawmakers.
Readership and viewer numbers for the video are the envy of the San Jose Mercury, Metro and even the San Francisco Chronicle, all media outlets that have ignored the growing masses complaining about California's family courts.
Neither the State Bar, nor the Commission on Judicial Performance found anything wrong with the video, or the fact that lawyers and judges regularly engage in social and professional events that appear to constitute no less than ex parte communication, or give an appearance of collusion and kickbacks to courts and lawyers in these family law cases.
Santa Clara County lawyers and judges who so shattered public trust and confidence in the Santa Clara County legal system, were never phased by what they had done. In fact, the CJP told one person who complained that the investigation had been terminated 8 months after it began, that it was all okay because , Erica Yew , the Chair of the CJP had rescued herself during the video investigation and no further action was deemed necessary.
James Towery, who had organized the event for the court staff and judges , used his judicial appointment to try to have the reporters capturing the holiday event arrested by the Santa Clara County Sherriff. Towery also used a divorce action before him to retaliate against a women he knew to be associated with the reporters.
Lisa Herrick, the General Counsel for the Santa Clara County Courts, sent an email to Q threatening members of the Public Trust Committee, following the committee's public comments on rule changes at the CJP.
Joe Macaluso, the Public Information Officer for the courts, began violating the law and refusing public records requests that he knew would provide reporters confirmation of misuse of public funds surrounding the building the family law courthouse and managing the family court budgets. Joe Macaluso went suddenly missing from the Santa Clara County Courts employment records.
In January 2017 the reporters found that the Santa Clara County Bar Association was given free use of the Santa Clara County's 8th floor conference room, the Asian Bar Association had to pay for the room, but the Santa Clara Bar got to rent the room, and use court staff like Jarretta Reser, to hold a retirement party for Judge Grilli, during normal court business hours. Reser and the Bar Association worked together, and colluded , to have the Santa Clara County Sheriffs ticket reporters for trespassing , in a public court ,to deter press coverage of the event, the lawyers from the Bar clearly still stinging from the coverage of the holiday luncheon.
In February 2017 Patricia Lucas admitted the court was broke and they had over spent on the new family courthouse, Lucas then publically and privately asked lawyers from the Santa Clara Bar to "chip in " to keep courts operating.
In February 2017 Joe Macaluso, the Public Information Officer for the court, was found to have been unlawfully refusing public records requests that would expose mass financial misuse of public money related to the building of and operating of the family courthouse and related to grants the courts provide to the Santa Clara County Bar Association.
In March 2017 reporters found James Towery cheated on his From 700 disclosures, both while at the Bar and as a Judge in Santa Clara County. The State Bar's General Counsel Suzanne Grandt , Vanessa Holton and Steve Moawad had no comment and continue to assist Towery in covering up actual crimes.
In April 2017 reporters found Towery and Grilli were found to have falsified payroll affidavits , which neither Lucas nor DA Jeff Rosen appeared interested in pursuing.
Towery also began to close the courtroom to reporters who tried to cover the high profile custody case involving former 49er Ray Mc Donald, concealing the fact that McDonald got away with domestic violence and rape because of the connections to Towery's wife Karen Sinunu Towery, who formerly worked as an assistant prosecutor for the Santa Clara County DA Office, under both Kennedy and Rosen.
Judge Lucas received complaints against Towery, including complaints that Towery was routinely acting incompetent in his case management and that Towery appeared to be violating rights of litigants and placing children in harms way, Lucas, did nothing,
In August 2017 the State Bar released Towery's social security number to a member of the press, who additionally happened to be associated with reporters Towery appeared to be gunning for. Vanessa Holton reported she "immediately called up Jim Towery " when she learned the reporters had obtained his social security number and home address. Holton appeared unphased with ex parte communication and the fact that the Bar had not " immediately called up " other third parties when the Bar released their social security numbers and other confidential information in 2015.
In the end the watchdogs charged with public protection will have let these judges and lawyers off the hook, but this time the damage to public confidence in our legal system is irrepairable. The public doesn't need an audit to know what is going on, the public has social media and a free press !
UPDATE: The Santa Clara County Bar has changed their annual holiday luncheon to December 1, 2017, a date the judges will be busy this year and unable to attend- LOL .