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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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CERTIFICATE OF INTERESTED ENTITIES OR PERSONS................................N/A


TABLE OF CONTENTS ...................................................................................... i

TABLE OF AUTHORITIES ................................................................................ iii

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ISSUES PRESENTED ..................................................................................... 2


WHY REVIEW SHOULD BE GRANTED ............................................................. 3
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CASE ................................................................. 8
ARGUMENT

.................................................................................... 12

I.

IN AN APPEAL NOT VOLUNTARILY TAKEN WITHOUT A REPORTERS


TRANSCRIPT THE DENIAL OF A MOTION TO TAKE EVIDENCE CRITICAL
TO RECONSTRUCTING THE TRIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS
UNREASONABLY IMPEDES THE RIGHT TO A MEANINGFUL APPEAL . 12

II.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF DUE PROCESS, EQUAL


PROTECTION, AND ACCESS TO THE COURTS REQUIRE PROVIDING
APPELLANTS ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF RECONSTRUCTING THE
TRIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS IN JURISDICTIONS THAT DO NOT
PROVIDE COURT REPORTERS .................................................................. 15
In the Absence of a Compelling State Interest, the Unequal
Treatment of Family Court Litigants Based On Geography is
Prohibited by Equal Protection Principles .................................. 15

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B.

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C.

III.

Under the Circumstances of this Case, Petitioners Right of Due


Process of Law is Unreasonably Obstructed by the Denial of His
Motion to Take Evidence on Appeal........................................... 17
Under the Circumstances of this Case, Petitioners Right of
Access to the Courts is Unreasonably Obstructed by the Denial
of His Motion to Take Evidence on Appeal ................................ 18

THE COURTS ORDER DENYING THE MOTION TO TAKE EVIDENCE AND


JUDGMENT ROLL APPEAL POLICY INTERFERE WITH THE RIGHT TO A
MEANINGFUL APPEAL ....................................................................... 18

CONCLUSION

.................................................................................... 20
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CERTIFICATE OF WORD COUNT .................................................................. 22

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PROOF OF SERVICE

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COURT OF APPEAL DECISION

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TABLE OF AUTHORITIES

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Published Cases
Pages
Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557 .......................................... 18
Garcia v. Santana (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 464 ............................................. 18

Hearn v. Howard (2009) 117 Cal.App.4th 1193 ........................................... 20

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In re Geoffrey G. (1979) 98 Cal.App.3d 412 ................................................ 20


In re Eric J. (1979) 25 Cal.3d 522 ................................................................. 16
In re King (1970) 3 Cal.3d 226 ..................................................................... 16
In re Marriage of Arceneaux (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1130 ................................... 18
In re Marriage of Flaherty (1982) 31 Cal.3d 637 ......................................... 17
In re Mary G (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 184 ..................................................... 16
In re Zeth S. (2003) 31 Cal.4th 396 .............................................................. 14
Jersey v. John Muir Medical Center (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 814 .................. 18
Kucker v. Kucker (2011) 192 Cal. App. 4th 90 .............................................. 20

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Maria P. v. Riles (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1281 ...................................................... 19

Tupman v. Haberkern (1929) 203 Cal. 256 ................................................. 14

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Unpublished Cases
Pages
Ballard v. Tuimavave
(3d Dist. 2008) No. C055067 .................................................................... 6
County of Colusa v. Crawshaw
(3d Dist. 2008) No. C054929 .................................................................... 6
In re Marriage of Alvarez .............................................................................. 6
(3d Dist. 2010) No. C063155

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............................................................. 20

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In re Marriage of Carvalho
(2d Dist. 2010) No. B214701

In re Marriage of Fathali ................................................................................ 6


(3d Dist. 2008) No. C057521

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In re Marriage of Joann ................................................................................. 6


(3d Dist. 2009) No. 057967

In re Marriage of Nesbitt
(3d Dist. 2008) No. C058175 .................................................................... 6

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In re Marriage of Sharma .............................................................................. 6


(3d Dist. 2011) No. C062094
Rucker v. Wells ..................................................................................... 6
(3d Dist. 2008) No. C054663
California Constitution ......................................................................... Pages
Article I, 11, 21 ................................................................................... 16
California Rules of Court ...................................................................... Pages
Rule 8.500(a)(1)........................................................................................ 1
Rule 8.500(b)(1).. ..................................................................................... 3
Rule 8.252(c).... ..................................................................................... 9

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Rule 8.252(c)(3).... ................................................................................. 7


Rule 10.960(b).... ................................................................................. 18

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California Statutes .............................................................................. Pages

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Assembly Bill 590 (Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act)17, 19


(Government Code 68650-68651)

Code of Civil Procedure


909

.................................................................... 1,7, 9, 12,14

Other Authorities
Elkins Family Law Task Force Final Report and Recommendations ...... 12
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Family courts throughout California have different court

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ISSUES PRESENTED

reporter policies whereby some jurisdictions provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials, while other jurisdictions do not. In an appeal from a

family court jurisdiction which does not provide court reporters for all

hearings and trials, may an appellate court deny to an appellant a motion

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to admit undisputed extrinsic documentary evidence that will help


reconstruct the trial court record in the absence of a reporters transcript?

2. Is there a compelling state interest which justifies dissimilar


appellate court treatment of family court litigants taking appeals from trial

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court jurisdictions that do not provide court reporters?

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WHY REVIEW SHOULD BE GRANTED


Review is necessary in this case both to settle an important

question of law involving the record to which an indigent, involuntarily pro

per appellant is entitled and to secure uniformity of decision and practice

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among the Courts of Appeal. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.500(b)(1).) This
case presents issues of first impression, public policy and the

administration of justice. The issues affect similarly situated indigent,


involuntarily self-represented family court parties within the Third District,
and throughout the state. Family court litigants in jurisdictions that include
Contra Costa (First District), Santa Clara (Sixth District) and El Dorado
(Third District) counties are provided court reporter services for all family
court proceedings. In other jurisdictions, including counties within the

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same three appellate court districts, court reporter services are not

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provided or are only provided on advance request. This case originates in

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Sacramento County, a jurisdiction that provides court reporters only by


advance request. Although most family law attorneys are aware of the
court reporter only by request policy, the family court does not provide
adequate notification about the policy to self-represented parties, many of
whom, including petitioner, are indigent, involuntarily self-represented,

parties in contested dissolution cases in Sacramento County family court

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are provided through the office of the family law facilitator erroneous self-

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and face an opposing party with counsel. In addition, self-represented

help information indicating that court reporters are provided for all

hearings and trials. There does not appear to be a compelling state

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interest which justifies the unequal treatment of family court users in


Sacramento County versus similarly situated family court litigants in
Contra Costa, Santa Clara and El Dorado County. The ramifications of
taking a family court appeal without a reporters transcript are uniquely
severe in the Third District Court of Appeal.

When a self-represented party takes an appeal from the


Sacramento County family court without a reporters transcript, the Third
District Court of Appeal designates it as a judgment roll appeal. Although

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the historical body of decisional law that applies to judgment roll appeals

makes clear that the designation is appropriate only where an appeal is

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deliberately and voluntarily, or for tactical reasons, taken on the judgment

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roll, the Third District apparently applies the designation to all family court
appeals that do not include a reporters transcript. Contrary to controlling
precedent, the court does not appear to distinguish cases where an
indigent pro per party does not voluntarily and deliberately take an appeal

Third District subjected to the judgment roll standard of review, which

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rarely, if ever, does not result in affirmance. The judgment roll standard

restricts review to determining whether any error appears on the face of

the record. As the standard is explained by the Third District in

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unpublished decisions, the court must conclusively presume evidence was


presented that is sufficient to support the trial courts findings. The
standard is indisputably harsher on appellants than the substantial
evidence, abuse of discretion, or independent review standards. Pro per
parties taking an appeal from trial court jurisdictions which provide court
reporters benefit from review under the substantially more favorable
standards.

The uniqueness of the Third District judgment roll policy is

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corroborated by review of published and unpublished appellate court

decisions from all districts, which show that the Third District applies the

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judgment roll designation and standard of review far more often than any

interest which justifies this unequal treatment of family court litigants

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other court of appeal. There does not appear to be a compelling state

based solely on geography.

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without a reporters transcript. An appeal without a transcript is by the

the Third Districts judgment roll appeal policy, it is equally reasonable to

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infer that few, if any, self-represented family court parties are. The Third

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While it is reasonable to assume that many attorneys are aware of

District apparently has never published a family court decision disclosing

the policy. The policy can only be found in unpublished Third District

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family court decisions.2

After the first trial court hearing in this case, which addressed
several issues including pendente lite attorney fees and support, petitioner
took this appeal. Prior to the trial court hearing, petitioner relied on the
self-help material provided through the office of the family law facilitator
and believed that court reporters were provided for all family court
proceedings.3 The lack of a reporters transcript in this appeal therefore is

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not a voluntary or tactical choice made by petitioner.

Although unpublished opinions are available at the California Official


Reports website for only 60 days, the Google Scholar search engine
archives unpublished opinions indefinitely. The Google archive indicates
that virtually every unpublished Third District family court case without a
reporters transcript is designated a judgment roll appeal. Examples
include Ballard v. Tuimavave (2008) No. C055067; County of Colusa v.
Crawshaw (2008) No. C054929; In re Marriage of Alvarez (2010) No.
C063155; In re Marriage of Joann (2009) No. C057967; In re Marriage of
Nesbitt (2009) No. C058175; Rucker v. Wells (2008) No. C054663; In re
Marriage of Fathali (2008) No. C057521; In re Marriage of Sharma (2011)
No. C062094.
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There is at least circumstantial evidence that Sacramento County directly
or indirectly discourages court reporter requests: A comparison of

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appeal. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.252(c)(3), which permits

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petitioner filed a Code of Civil Procedure 909 motion to take evidence on

admission of documentary evidence without a hearing, petitioner sought

to admit two pages of undisputed extrinsic documentary records which

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reconstructed a portion of the trial court hearing at issue. In other


jurisdictions, the same evidence would be part of the record on appeal
because it would be memorialized in the reporters transcript. In a single
sentence order, the Court of Appeal denied the motion. The courts
refusal to allow the admission of the evidence aggravates the inherently
grave implications of the court reporter policy of Sacramento County, and
underscores the disadvantages faced by family court parties in
jurisdictions that do not provide court reporters for all family court

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proceedings.

Under these circumstances, the denial of the motion to take

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evidence on appeal is contrary to the constitutional principles of due

practice of restricting the admission of evidence deprives a class of

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process, equal protection of the laws, and access to the courts. The courts

unpublished cases among all appellate courts shows that a


disproportionate number of appeals originating from Sacramento County
are taken without a reporters transcript.
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As a means of partly mitigating the lack of a reporters transcript,

meaningful and fair appeal: the opportunity to present a relevant and

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complete record for review, and the ability to seek a fair and appropriate

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STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CASE

standard of review.

This petition arises in the context of an appeal from more than a


dozen collateral final orders from the first and only trial court hearing in
this case, held on October 27, 2011. The orders include denials or failure
to rule on oral and written requests for pendente lite attorney fees,
temporary support, a continuance, motion to strike, sanctions payable to
the court, and orders granting requests for residence exclusion, and
attorney fee sanctions.

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There were troublesome irregularities in the post-hearing

proceedings. The minute orders issued by the trial court did not include

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the legal and factual basis for most rulings, and omitted other rulings

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entirely. In writing, petitioner brought the minute order errors and

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appellants in general, and in this case, of a basic prerequisite for a

omissions to the attention of the court several times. The court declined
to respond to petitioners written requests to correct the record. The trial
court also rejected petitioners proposed orders after hearing (OAH),

the OAH submitted by opposing counsel, which mirrored the defective

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minute orders. Ultimately, the trial court judge declined four opportunities

to put into the record the legal and factual basis for the orders that were
memorialized, and to memorialize the omitted orders.

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At the end of the trial court hearing, petitioner asked the judge how
to obtain the record of the hearing, and was told there was no transcript
because neither party had requested a court reporter prior to the hearing.
As a result, Petitioner took this appeal on the clerks transcript alone.
Because both the trial court and opposing counsel vigorously and
successfully thwarted petitioners attempts to correct the defective
minute orders and OAH so that they accurately reflected the trial court
proceedings, it would have been a manifestly futile act for petitioner to

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seek an agreed or settled statement on appeal.

On August 26, 2011, petitioner brought in the Court of Appeal a

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Code of Civil Procedure 909 motion to take evidence on appeal. The

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motion was made pursuant to the interests of justice provision of 909,


and Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.252(c), which permits the admission of
documentary evidence without a hearing. The motion was necessitated by
the absence of a reporters transcript, and the incomplete minute orders

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which corrected most of the errors and omissions, and instead endorsed

determinations. The extrinsic evidence consisted of two undisputed

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documents authored by opposing counsel which memorialized (1) sua

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and OAH, and did not request or require factual findings or

sponte constructive orders issued in open court by the trial court judge,

and (2) sanction payment terms orally requested by opposing counsel at

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the hearing, but denied by the judge. The documents are included with the
appellate court order attached to this petition. Among other things, the
documents memorialize important, non-cumulative material facts which
were omitted from the minute orders, and omitted from the OAH drafted
by opposing counsel and adopted by the trial court. And under the Third
Districts judgment roll standard of review, the records reveal error on the
face of the minute order and OAH records.

On Sept. 6, 2011 respondent filed an opposition to the motion to

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take evidence. On Sept. 7, by telephone petitioner notified the Court of

Appeal that he would file a reply to the opposition. Petitioner received the

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opposition pleading by mail on Sept. 8, and mailed a reply to the

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opposition to the court on Sept. 9. Before receiving the reply, the court
issued a ruling denying the motion on Sept. 8. The one sentence ruling,
which also returned to petitioner the rejected documentary evidence, is
attached to this petition.

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attorney who court records show has since 2007 been associated with

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more than 15 cases in the Third District Court of Appeal. It is logical to

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The opposition pleading was drafted by an experienced appellate

assume that the attorney is aware of the judgment roll appeal policy of the

court. In the opposition pleading, the attorney did not dispute the

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accuracy of the extrinsic documentary evidence, nor make an argument


against the appellate court exercising discretion to admit the evidence
under the interests of justice provisions of 909. The opposition simply
decreed that the motion to take evidence was instead a motion to
redesignate the record or a motion to augment, and, as either, was
untimely.

This petition seeks review of the courts order denying the motion
to take evidence. In doing so, it also challenges the circumstances which

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compelled the motion: the lack of a reporters transcript and the

geography-based unequal treatment of petitioner, and similarly situated

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dissolution parties in California.

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I.
IN AN APPEAL NOT VOLUNTARILY TAKEN WITHOUT A REPORTERS
TRANSCRIPT THE DENIAL OF A MOTION TO TAKE EVIDENCE CRITICAL TO
RECONSTRUCTING THE TRIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS UNREASONABLY
IMPEDES THE RIGHT TO A MEANINGFUL APPEAL

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ARGUMENT

In its final report, the Elkins Family Law Task Force emphasized the

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importance of protecting the appeal rights of family court litigants.


Access to the record in family law is a serious accessto-justice issue and must be significantly improved both to
ensure that parties understand and can finalize the courts
orders and to ensure that the parties right to appeal is
protected. Parties current inability to access the record in
their family law proceedings is an area of long-standing
concern. This inability to have an accurate record of their
family law cases makes the ability of family law litigants to
appeal often illusory. (Judicial Council of Cal., Admin. Off. Of
Cts., Elkins Family Law Task Force, Final Report and
Recommendations (2010) p. 80 8.)
Under the circumstances of this case, the denial of petitioners

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motion to take evidence on appeal unreasonably impedes his ability and

right to have an accurate and complete record of the trial court

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proceedings. The circumstances include the lack of a reporters transcript,

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and trial court orders containing material errors and omissions. Code of
Civil Procedure 909 provides that a reviewing court may take additional
evidence of or concerning facts occurring at any time prior to the decision
of the appeal for any purpose in the interests of justice. The principle that

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judgment, not lead to reversal, does not apply under the circumstances

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presented in this case. As Petitioners motion to take evidence on appeal


explained:

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Pursuant to Rule 8.252, subdivision (c), of the


California Rules of Court, the Appellant, Steven R. James,
moves this Court to take two pages of documentary
evidence for the purpose of reconstructing the trial court
proceedings. The documents are a record of relevant
portions of the trial court hearing at issue in this appeal. This
motion is made pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. 909 and on the
grounds that because there is no reporters transcript in this
appeal, the evidence is critical to a fair, informed, and
meaningful determination of the appeal. The evidence
provides material and non-cumulative facts recorded by
Respondents attorney one and two days after the Oct. 27,
2010 hearing.

The motion to take evidence consisted of a five-page declaration


and an 11-page memorandum of points and authorities. The declaration

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and memorandum detailed the purpose and justification for the motion:

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new evidence on appeal must enable the appellate court to affirm the

As explained herein, the trial court record is


incomplete and requires reconstruction because several
orders were not adequately memorialized, and because
there is no reporters transcript. (Declaration of Steven R.
James (James Decl.,) at 3-7) In the trial court proceedings,
Appellant made extensive efforts to ensure an accurate
record of the orders was produced. Appellants efforts were
rebuffed by both the trial court judge, and Respondents
attorney. (James Decl., at 9, 14)
In this motion, Appellant requests this court take
evidence consisting of one letter and one email written one
and two days, respectively, after the hearing at issue. The

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letter and email, written by Respondents attorney,


reference orders issued by the trial court that were not
memorialized in the minute orders and orders after hearing
(OAH). (Ibid.) Both the attorney and the trial court declined
Appellants multiple post-hearing written requests that the
orders be memorialized in a statement of decision or the
subsequent OAH. (Ibid.) The records are a material
admission by the attorney that the orders were issued.
(James Decl., at 9, 17) Immediately after the hearing, two
of the orders were used by the attorney, along with a
sanctions threat, to coerce Appellant to drop all pending
matters. (James Decl., at 10)

The denial of a motion to take evidence on appeal under these facts


constitutes abuse of discretion by the court of appeal. In the language of
909, the Legislature directed that the statute be liberally construed.
Virtually all of the precedent interpreting 909, from Tupman v.
Haberkern (1929) 203 Cal. 256 through In re Zeth S. (2003) 31 Cal.4th 396
are inapplicable under these circumstances because they presuppose a

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reporters transcript, and the holdings pertain to evidentiary findings by a

reviewing court. Where, as here, a reporters transcript is not part of the

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record on appeal, and the lack of a transcript is not voluntary or based on

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a tactical decision, decisional law assuming a reporters transcript is


inapposite. The records petitioner seeks to admit as evidence have never
been disputed and will not usurp the fact finding authority of the trial
court. This application of 909 is essentially an issue of first impression

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reporter services in some jurisdictions but not others. Petitioner and

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similarly situated family court litigants throughout the state are subject to
this difficult situation, and this court should grant review to ensure

uniformity of decisions and practice among the Courts of Appeal.

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II.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF DUE PROCESS, EQUAL
PROTECTION, AND ACCESS TO THE COURTS REQUIRE PROVIDING
APPELLANTS ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF RECONSTRUCTING THE TRIAL
COURT PROCEEDINGS IN JURISDICTIONS THAT DO NOT PROVIDE COURT
REPORTERS
A. In the Absence of a Compelling State Interest, the
Unequal Treatment of Family Court Litigants Based On Geography
is Prohibited by Equal Protection Principles.
Family courts in Santa Clara, Contra Costa, El Dorado and other
counties provide court reporters for all family court proceedings.
Sacramento County provides court reporters only on advance request of a

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party, does not adequately notify self-represented litigants of the court

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reporter policy, and provides erroneous self-help information to pro per

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parties in contested cases indicating court reporters are provided for all
proceedings. Depending on where they reside, family court litigants
throughout California may or may not be provided a reporters transcript
on appeal. The concept of the equal protection of the laws compels
recognition of the proposition that persons similarly situated with respect

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necessitated by court austerity measures which have reduced court

(1979) 25 Cal.3d 522, 531.) It is basic that the guarantees of equal

Constitution, and article I, sections 11 and 21, of the California

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protection embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States

Constitution, prohibit the state from arbitrarily discriminating among

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persons subject to its jurisdiction. This principle, of course, does not


preclude the state from drawing any distinctions between different groups
of individuals, but does require that, at a minimum, classifications which
are created bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government
purpose. In cases involving suspect classifications or touching on
fundamental interests the state bears the burden of establishing not only
that it has a compelling interest which justifies the law, but that
distinctions drawn by the law are necessary to further its purpose. (In re

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King (1970) 3 Cal. 3d 226, 232.) In a voluntary parentage case, the Fourth

District Court of Appeal held that sections of the family code violated

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equal protection principles. [T]he disparate treatment here is based solely

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on geography, and location of a father inside or outside the state bears no


more relation to the purposes of the presumed father statute than
differing locations of fathers within California. (In re Mary G. (2007) 59
Cal.Rptr. 3d 703, 714 [emphasis added].)

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to the legitimate purpose of the law receive like treatment. (In re Eric J.

other provisions, set up pilot programs to provide funding for indigent

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litigants in cases where the opposing party has counsel.

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The doctrine of equal justice under the law is based


on two principles. One is that the substantive protections
and obligations of the law shall be applied equally to
everyone, no matter how high or low their station in life. The
second principle involves access to the legal system. Even if
we have fair laws and an unbiased judiciary to apply them,
true equality before the law will be thwarted if people
cannot invoke the laws for their protection. For persons
without access, our system provides no justice at all, a
situation that may be far worse than one in which the laws
expressly favor some and disfavor others. (AB 590 [Feuer];
Stats. 2009, ch. 457, pp. 3-4.)

B. Under the Circumstances of this Case, Petitioners


Right of Due Process of Law is Unreasonably Obstructed by
the Denial of His Motion to Take Evidence on Appeal

Without admission of the extrinsic evidence, petitioners right to a


fair and meaningful appeal, encompassed by the constitutional guarantee

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of due process, is substantially hindered. Due process is a flexible concept,

and must be tailored to the requirements of each particular situation. The

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very nature of due process negates any concept of inflexible procedures

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universally applicable to every imaginable situation. (In re Marriage of


Flaherty (1982) 31 Cal.3d 637, 650.) Where a party is denied a reporters
transcript, and denied the ability to reconstruct the trial court record by
other means, due process is implicated. This is an issue of first impression
that affects similarly situated family court parties throughout the state,
and therefore should be reviewed by this court.

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In 2009, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 590, which, among

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C. Under the Circumstances of this Case, Petitioners Right of


Access to the Courts is Unreasonably Obstructed by the Denial of
His Motion to Take Evidence on Appeal
The constitutional right of access to the courts in California is well

established. (See Garcia v. Santana (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 464, 471-473


[tracing to 1917 the history of the right of access to the courts in

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California].) Numerous cases, in a variety of contexts, may be cited for the


obvious importance of this right to our system of government and, indeed,
to the very fabric of our society [Citations]. (Jersey v. John Muir Medical
Center (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 814, 831.) Providing access to justice for selfrepresented litigants is a priority for California courts. (Cal. Rules of Court
rule 10.960(b).) Under the circumstances of this case, the Court of
Appeals denial of petitioners motion to take evidence on appeal
unreasonably obstructs petitioners right of access to the courts.

Ju

III.
THE COURTS ORDER DENYING THE MOTION TO TAKE EVIDENCE AND
JUDGMENT ROLL APPEAL POLICY INTERFERE WITH THE RIGHT TO A
MEANINGFUL APPEAL

An adequate record of the trial court proceedings is indisputably

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the single most critical prerequisite to an appeal. Without it, neither the

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court nor the parties can ascertain what occurred and what errors, if any,
were committed. The governing principle of appellate review is that [a]
judgment or order of a lower court is presumed to be correct on appeal
(In re Marriage of Arceneaux (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1130, 1133), and error
must be affirmatively shown (Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d
557, 564). Because the burden is on the appellant to overcome the

18

appellate record to demonstrate error, and failure to do so will result in


affirmance of the order appealed from. (Maria P. v. Riles (1987) 43 Cal.3d

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1281, 1295-1296.)

Petitioner is at a substantial disadvantage in this case because he is

indigent and involuntarily self-represented, while the opposing party has

two experienced attorneys. The Legislature has specifically recognized the

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substantial challenges faced by pro per parties in cases where the


opposing party has counsel.

Many judicial leaders acknowledge that the disparity


in outcomes is so great that indigent parties who lack
representation regularly lose cases that they would win if
they had counsel. A growing body of emphirical research
confirms the widespread perception that parties who
attempt to represent themselves are likely to lose, regardless
of the merits of their case, particularly when the opposing
party has a lawyer, while parties represented by counsel are
far more likely to prevail. (AB 590 [Feuer]; Stats. 2009, ch.
457, p. 4.)
Petitioner and similarly situated parties taking appeals in the Third

Ju

District face the additional hurdle of having an appeal designated as a

judgment roll appeal. In virtually all family court appeals without a

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reporters transcript, the court limits its review to determining whether

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presumption of correctness, the appellant must procure an adequate

any error appears on the face of the record. The court states that it must
conclusively presume evidence was presented that is sufficient to support
the trial courts findings. The standard is indisputably harsher on
appellants than the substantial evidence, abuse of discretion, or

19

court jurisdictions which provide court reporters benefit from review

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under the substantially more favorable standards. In other appellate court

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independent review standards. Pro per parties taking an appeal from trial

jurisdictions, even appeals without a reporters transcript are rarely

subjected to the judgment roll appeal standard of the Third District. 4 To

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ensure uniformity of decisions and settle this important question of law,


the court should grant review.

CONCLUSION

Under the conditions presented in this case, the denial of a motion


to take evidence on appeal unfairly impedes the right to a meaningful
appeal, due process of law, equal protection, and access to the courts, and
constitutes abuse of discretion. There is no compelling state interest which
justifies the unequal treatment based on geography of petitioner, and

Ju

similarly situated, indigent pro per family court litigants in the jurisdiction

of the Third District, and throughout the state. There is no rational

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justification for the judgment roll appeal policy of the Third District
4

See, e.g., Hearn v. Howard (2009) 117 Cal.App.4th 1193 (Second District)
[applying abuse of discretion standard]; In re Marriage of Carvalho (2010)
No. B214701 (Unpublished Second District) [designating judgment roll
appeal but applying substantial evidence and abuse of discretion
standards]; Kucker v. Kucker (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 90 (Second District)
[designating as judgment roll appeal then applying independent review
standard and reversing] In re Geoffrey G. (1979) 98 Cal.App.3d 412 (Fifth
District) [applying abuse of discretion standard].
20

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COURT OF APPEAL
ORDER
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Attachment 1: October 28, 2010 Letter from Paula D.


Salinger to Steven James

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Attachment 2: October 29, 2010 Email from Paula D.


Salinger to Steven James

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PROOF OF SERVICE
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JAMES, MARRIAGE OF
Case Number S197327

Date

Description

Notes

10/20/2011

Received untimely
petition for review

Appellant: Steven Richard James


Pro Per

10/20/2011

Letter sent to:

Steven Richard James, appellant, in pro per, to submit Application for


Relief from Default.

10/20/2011

Application for relief


from default filed

10/25/2011

Application for relief


from default denied
(case closed)

Click here to request automatic e-mail notifications about this case.

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2014 Judicial Council of California / Administrative Office of the Courts

Stephen James
Stephen James
@gmail.com>
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 3:02 PM

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From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Attachments:

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Follow Up to Judicial Administrative Records Request


2011-10-19-LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf;
PetForReview.pdf; Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf; 2011-10-19LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf; PetForReview.pdf;
Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf

Dear Justice Chin,

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On March 5 I wrote to the court to ask for help with a January request for judicial administrative records, and a February
follow-up request. The next day I received a response from Frederick Ohlrich. On March 9, from Mr. Ohlrich I received
the requested records. Based on what the records show, I am now writing to convey several concerns about
irregularities in the courts handling of a petition for review I filed in October, 2010.
I mailed the petition for review to the court at midnight on October 18, 2010, the last day of the 10-day window in which
the petition could be filed. The petition was mailed at that hour because in the process of printing the required 14
petition copies, my computer printer broke down earlier that day. The postal receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition reflects a date of Oct. 18, and a time of 11:58 p.m. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.25(b)(3)(A), the
petition therefore was timely. However, the actual postage sticker affixed to the envelope reflects a date of Oct. 19,
2010.
To clarify any confusion over the conflicting dates, the next day I sent a letter to the court explaining why the postage
sticker on the envelope reflected a date of Oct. 19. A copy of my letter to the court is attached to this email as the pdf
file 2011-10-19-LetterRePostage. The letter included a copy of the post office receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition (rule 825(b)(3)(A)). As a precaution, at the end of the letter, I requested relief from default under
rule 8.500(e)(2) if for any reason the petition is deemed untimely. This letter was mailed Oct. 20.

Ju

On Oct. 21 I received a form letter from the court regarding the timeliness of the petition. I called the court to explain
the letter I had sent the day before, and also to ask if I should revise and resend my letter pursuant to the instructions in
the courts form letter, which said a request for relief should include a sworn verification. On the phone, I was told that
based on the postage date mix-up I didnt need to revise and resend my letter, and it was inferred that my petition
would be considered timely. The phone record for this six minute call is attached as the pdf file PhoneCallRecords. The
first concern I am writing to convey is that this phone call is not reflected in the case docket.

if
o

rn
i

During this same time period, I sent out a number of emails seeking amicus curiae support for my petition. David
Ettinger, the president of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers reviewed my petition and approved it for
submission to the Academys amicus curiae committee. I also received responses from law school professors at
Stanford, Hastings, USC, UCLA, University of San Diego, and two Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys indicating that my petition
had merit and raised an important issue. Copies of these emails are attached as the pdf file AmicusRequestReplies.

al

On Oct. 25 I received an email from Mr. Ettinger withdrawing consideration of the petition by the Academy because that
day the Supreme Court docket reflected that the case had been closed based on denial of an application for relief from
default. Assuming a mistake had been made, that afternoon I called the court and was informed that the chief justice
had denied my request for relief from default. During this call, I recounted what I had previously been told by court staff
and that it was my understanding that, based on my Oct. 20 letter and post office receipt, my petition had never been in
default. Although the clerk I talked to seemed as baffled about the dismissal as I was, she said the decision was made by
the chief justice and was final. This five minute phone call is reflected in the attached phone records. This call also was
not memorialized in the court docket.
1

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I researched the procedure for reconsideration of the order, and finding nothing in the Rutter Group publication
California Practice Guide-Civil Appeals and Writs (which I used in drafting my petition) I called the court two days later to
ask if there was a court rule or other reference providing for reconsideration of the order. I was told the order was final
and no reconsideration process was available. The attached phone records reflect four phone calls on Oct. 27: three
outgoing calls from me, and one incoming call from the court. The court docket does not reflect this communication.

di
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N nc
.c h
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ew

My petition for review is attached to this email. The petition raised several issues that are unique to the Third District
Court of Appeal, and to Sacramento County Superior Court. A component of the issues is an unusual and unusually harsh
standard of review which the Third District currently applies to all appeals without a reporters transcript (RT), regardless
of whether the appeal was deliberately and voluntarily taken without a RT. The 3rd District gets a disproportionate
number of appeals of this type because Sacramento County family court does not provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials. I explain this situation in the Why Review Should Be Granted portion of the petition.
I find myself in an awkward position because at the time I submitted the petition, I assumed that the chief justice would
not participate in the case because she is the author or co-author of several of the more than 25 unpublished 3rd District
opinions which reflect the standard of review policy I contend violates the due process, equal protection and access to
the courts constitutional rights of mostly indigent and self-represented family court parties like myself.
The chief justice is a co-author of two of the opinions (Alvarez and Nesbitt) I cite at footnote 2 on page six of the
petition, and the primary author of InreMarriageofNewby (No. C062596), filed December 27, 2010 - one of her last
opinions before taking the helm at the Supreme Court. In Newby, the chief justice used the standard of review which I
contend is unconstitutional as it is applied under the circumstances in Newby, the 25+ other cases, and my own case.
I have great respect for the judicial branch, and with all due respect to the chief justice and to the court, the chief
justices failure to recuse, and summary dismissal of my petition for review nonetheless conveyed the appearance that
she wanted to prevent consideration of the petition by the full court.

rn
i

Ju

In January 2012 I made a request for judicial administrative records to the court. I requested statistical and case data
regarding the number of untimely petitions for review which the court receives. I didnt receive a response to the
request, and sent a follow-up letter in February. Both letters are attached to this email as the file
Jan&FebRequestLetters. On March 5, I sent an email to Justices Werdegar, Liu and Baxter asking for help with the
request. On March 6, I received a response from Mr. Ohlrich acknowledging my letters from January and February were
properly addressed, but that the letters may have been improperly routed. Mr. Olrichs email is attached as the file
2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail. I received the requested records on March 9, 2012.

al

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The records show that in 2011 the court granted relief from default for 43 civil appeal petitions for review filed late.
Most were filed late by a week or more, and several were months late. The court denied relief from default in 16 civil
appeal cases. These cases were late by days, weeks or months. As I have found no reference for the criteria the court
uses in assessing a request for relief from default, I cannot make any firm conclusions from this data. But if my petition
for review was somehow construed as being untimely, it stands alone as being dismissed for being less than one day
late.
I am writing to convey this information to the full court, and to express that I find the totality of these circumstances to
be troublesome.
Sincerely,
Stephen James

Stephen James
Independent Investigative Journalism & Photography

www.stephenjames.us
2

Stephen James
Stephen James
@gmail.com>
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 3:11 PM

or
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From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Attachments:

et
w

Judicial Administrative Records Request Follow-Up


2011-10-19-LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf;
PetForReview.pdf; Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf; 2011-10-19LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf; PetForReview.pdf;
Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf

Dear Justice Corrigan,

di
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ew

On March 5 I wrote to the court to ask for help with a January request for judicial administrative records, and a February
follow-up request. The next day I received a response from Frederick Ohlrich. On March 9, from Mr. Ohlrich I received
the requested records. Based on what the records show, I am now writing to convey several concerns about
irregularities in the courts handling of a petition for review I filed in October, 2010.
I mailed the petition for review to the court at midnight on October 18, 2010, the last day of the 10-day window in which
the petition could be filed. The petition was mailed at that hour because in the process of printing the required 14
petition copies, my computer printer broke down earlier that day. The postal receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition reflects a date of Oct. 18, and a time of 11:58 p.m. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.25(b)(3)(A), the
petition therefore was timely. However, the actual postage sticker affixed to the envelope reflects a date of Oct. 19,
2010.
To clarify any confusion over the conflicting dates, the next day I sent a letter to the court explaining why the postage
sticker on the envelope reflected a date of Oct. 19. A copy of my letter to the court is attached to this email as the pdf
file 2011-10-19-LetterRePostage. The letter included a copy of the post office receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition (rule 825(b)(3)(A)). As a precaution, at the end of the letter, I requested relief from default under
rule 8.500(e)(2) if for any reason the petition is deemed untimely. This letter was mailed Oct. 20.

Ju

On Oct. 21 I received a form letter from the court regarding the timeliness of the petition. I called the court to explain
the letter I had sent the day before, and also to ask if I should revise and resend my letter pursuant to the instructions in
the courts form letter, which said a request for relief should include a sworn verification. On the phone, I was told that
based on the postage date mix-up I didnt need to revise and resend my letter, and it was inferred that my petition
would be considered timely. The phone record for this six minute call is attached as the pdf file PhoneCallRecords. The
first concern I am writing to convey is that this phone call is not reflected in the case docket.

if
o

rn
i

During this same time period, I sent out a number of emails seeking amicus curiae support for my petition. David
Ettinger, the president of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers reviewed my petition and approved it for
submission to the Academys amicus curiae committee. I also received responses from law school professors at
Stanford, Hastings, USC, UCLA, University of San Diego, and two Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys indicating that my petition
had merit and raised an important issue. Copies of these emails are attached as the pdf file AmicusRequestReplies.

al

On Oct. 25 I received an email from Mr. Ettinger withdrawing consideration of the petition by the Academy because that
day the Supreme Court docket reflected that the case had been closed based on denial of an application for relief from
default. Assuming a mistake had been made, that afternoon I called the court and was informed that the chief justice
had denied my request for relief from default. During this call, I recounted what I had previously been told by court staff
and that it was my understanding that, based on my Oct. 20 letter and post office receipt, my petition had never been in
default. Although the clerk I talked to seemed as baffled about the dismissal as I was, she said the decision was made by
the chief justice and was final. This five minute phone call is reflected in the attached phone records. This call also was
not memorialized in the court docket.
1

et
w

or
k

I researched the procedure for reconsideration of the order, and finding nothing in the Rutter Group publication
California Practice Guide-Civil Appeals and Writs (which I used in drafting my petition) I called the court two days later to
ask if there was a court rule or other reference providing for reconsideration of the order. I was told the order was final
and no reconsideration process was available. The attached phone records reflect four phone calls on Oct. 27: three
outgoing calls from me, and one incoming call from the court. The court docket does not reflect this communication.

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

My petition for review is attached to this email. The petition raised several issues that are unique to the Third District
Court of Appeal, and to Sacramento County Superior Court. A component of the issues is an unusual and unusually harsh
standard of review which the Third District currently applies to all appeals without a reporters transcript (RT), regardless
of whether the appeal was deliberately and voluntarily taken without a RT. The 3rd District gets a disproportionate
number of appeals of this type because Sacramento County family court does not provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials. I explain this situation in the Why Review Should Be Granted portion of the petition.
I find myself in an awkward position because at the time I submitted the petition, I assumed that the chief justice would
not participate in the case because she is the author or co-author of several of the more than 25 unpublished 3rd District
opinions which reflect the standard of review policy I contend violates the due process, equal protection and access to
the courts constitutional rights of mostly indigent and self-represented family court parties like myself.
The chief justice is a co-author of two of the opinions (Alvarez and Nesbitt) I cite at footnote 2 on page six of the
petition, and the primary author of InreMarriageofNewby (No. C062596), filed December 27, 2010 - one of her last
opinions before taking the helm at the Supreme Court. In Newby, the chief justice used the standard of review which I
contend is unconstitutional as it is applied under the circumstances in Newby, the 25+ other cases, and my own case.
I have great respect for the judicial branch, and with all due respect to the chief justice and to the court, the chief
justices failure to recuse, and summary dismissal of my petition for review nonetheless conveyed the appearance that
she wanted to prevent consideration of the petition by the full court.

rn
i

Ju

In January 2012 I made a request for judicial administrative records to the court. I requested statistical and case data
regarding the number of untimely petitions for review which the court receives. I didnt receive a response to the
request, and sent a follow-up letter in February. Both letters are attached to this email as the file
Jan&FebRequestLetters. On March 5, I sent an email to Justices Werdegar, Liu and Baxter asking for help with the
request. On March 6, I received a response from Mr. Ohlrich acknowledging my letters from January and February were
properly addressed, but that the letters may have been improperly routed. Mr. Olrichs email is attached as the file
2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail. I received the requested records on March 9, 2012.

al

if
o

The records show that in 2011 the court granted relief from default for 43 civil appeal petitions for review filed late.
Most were filed late by a week or more, and several were months late. The court denied relief from default in 16 civil
appeal cases. These cases were late by days, weeks or months. As I have found no reference for the criteria the court
uses in assessing a request for relief from default, I cannot make any firm conclusions from this data. But if my petition
for review was somehow construed as being untimely, it stands alone as being dismissed for being less than one day
late.
I am writing to convey this information to the full court, and to express that I find the totality of these circumstances to
be troublesome.
Sincerely,
Stephen James

Stephen James
Stephen James
@gmail.com>
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 2:47 PM

or
k

From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Attachments:

et
w

Judicial Administrative Records Request Follow-Up


2011-10-19-LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf;
PetForReview.pdf; Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf; 2011-10-19LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf; PetForReview.pdf;
Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf

Dear Justice Liu,

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

On March 5 I wrote to the court to ask for help with a January request for judicial administrative records, and a February
follow-up request. The next day I received a response from Frederick Ohlrich. On March 9, from Mr. Ohlrich I received
the requested records. Based on what the records show, I am now writing to convey several concerns about
irregularities in the courts handling of a petition for review I filed in October, 2010.
I mailed the petition for review to the court at midnight on October 18, 2010, the last day of the 10-day window in which
the petition could be filed. The petition was mailed at that hour because in the process of printing the required 14
petition copies, my computer printer broke down earlier that day. The postal receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition reflects a date of Oct. 18, and a time of 11:58 p.m. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.25(b)(3)(A), the
petition therefore was timely. However, the actual postage sticker affixed to the envelope reflects a date of Oct. 19,
2010.
To clarify any confusion over the conflicting dates, the next day I sent a letter to the court explaining why the postage
sticker on the envelope reflected a date of Oct. 19. A copy of my letter to the court is attached to this email as the pdf
file 2011-10-19-LetterRePostage. The letter included a copy of the post office receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition (rule 825(b)(3)(A)). As a precaution, at the end of the letter, I requested relief from default under
rule 8.500(e)(2) if for any reason the petition is deemed untimely. This letter was mailed Oct. 20.

Ju

On Oct. 21 I received a form letter from the court regarding the timeliness of the petition. I called the court to explain
the letter I had sent the day before, and also to ask if I should revise and resend my letter pursuant to the instructions in
the courts form letter, which said a request for relief should include a sworn verification. On the phone, I was told that
based on the postage date mix-up I didnt need to revise and resend my letter, and it was inferred that my petition
would be considered timely. The phone record for this six minute call is attached as the pdf file PhoneCallRecords. The
first concern I am writing to convey is that this phone call is not reflected in the case docket.

if
o

rn
i

During this same time period, I sent out a number of emails seeking amicus curiae support for my petition. David
Ettinger, the president of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers reviewed my petition and approved it for
submission to the Academys amicus curiae committee. I also received responses from law school professors at
Stanford, Hastings, USC, UCLA, University of San Diego, and two Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys indicating that my petition
had merit and raised an important issue. Copies of these emails are attached as the pdf file AmicusRequestReplies.

al

On Oct. 25 I received an email from Mr. Ettinger withdrawing consideration of the petition by the Academy because that
day the Supreme Court docket reflected that the case had been closed based on denial of an application for relief from
default. Assuming a mistake had been made, that afternoon I called the court and was informed that the chief justice
had denied my request for relief from default. During this call, I recounted what I had previously been told by court staff
and that it was my understanding that, based on my Oct. 20 letter and post office receipt, my petition had never been in
default. Although the clerk I talked to seemed as baffled about the dismissal as I was, she said the decision was made by
the chief justice and was final. This five minute phone call is reflected in the attached phone records. This call also was
not memorialized in the court docket.
1

et
w

or
k

I researched the procedure for reconsideration of the order, and finding nothing in the Rutter Group publication
California Practice Guide-Civil Appeals and Writs (which I used in drafting my petition) I called the court two days later to
ask if there was a court rule or other reference providing for reconsideration of the order. I was told the order was final
and no reconsideration process was available. The attached phone records reflect four phone calls on Oct. 27: three
outgoing calls from me, and one incoming call from the court. The court docket does not reflect this communication.

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

My petition for review is attached to this email. The petition raised several issues that are unique to the Third District
Court of Appeal, and to Sacramento County Superior Court. A component of the issues is an unusual and unusually harsh
standard of review which the Third District currently applies to all appeals without a reporters transcript (RT), regardless
of whether the appeal was deliberately and voluntarily taken without a RT. The 3rd District gets a disproportionate
number of appeals of this type because Sacramento County family court does not provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials. I explain this situation in the Why Review Should Be Granted portion of the petition.
I find myself in an awkward position because at the time I submitted the petition, I assumed that the chief justice would
not participate in the case because she is the author or co-author of several of the more than 25 unpublished 3rd District
opinions which reflect the standard of review policy I contend violates the due process, equal protection and access to
the courts constitutional rights of mostly indigent and self-represented family court parties like myself.
The chief justice is a co-author of two of the opinions (Alvarez and Nesbitt) I cite at footnote 2 on page six of the
petition, and the primary author of InreMarriageofNewby (No. C062596), filed December 27, 2010 - one of her last
opinions before taking the helm at the Supreme Court. In Newby, the chief justice used the standard of review which I
contend is unconstitutional as it is applied under the circumstances in Newby, the 25+ other cases, and my own case.
I have great respect for the judicial branch, and with all due respect to the chief justice and to the court, the chief
justices failure to recuse, and summary dismissal of my petition for review nonetheless conveyed the appearance that
she wanted to prevent consideration of the petition by the full court.

rn
i

Ju

In January 2012 I made a request for judicial administrative records to the court. I requested statistical and case data
regarding the number of untimely petitions for review which the court receives. I didnt receive a response to the
request, and sent a follow-up letter in February. Both letters are attached to this email as the file
Jan&FebRequestLetters. On March 5, I sent an email to Justices Werdegar, Liu and Baxter asking for help with the
request. On March 6, I received a response from Mr. Ohlrich acknowledging my letters from January and February were
properly addressed, but that the letters may have been improperly routed. Mr. Olrichs email is attached as the file
2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail. I received the requested records on March 9, 2012.

al

if
o

The records show that in 2011 the court granted relief from default for 43 civil appeal petitions for review filed late.
Most were filed late by a week or more, and several were months late. The court denied relief from default in 16 civil
appeal cases. These cases were late by days, weeks or months. As I have found no reference for the criteria the court
uses in assessing a request for relief from default, I cannot make any firm conclusions from this data. But if my petition
for review was somehow construed as being untimely, it stands alone as being dismissed for being less than one day
late.
I am writing to convey this information to the full court, and to express that I find the totality of these circumstances to
be troublesome.
Sincerely,
Stephen James

Stephen James
Stephen James
@gmail.com>
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 2:56 PM

or
k

From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Attachments:

et
w

Judicial Administrative Records Request Follow-Up


2011-10-19-LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf;
PetForReview.pdf; Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf; 2011-10-19LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf; PetForReview.pdf;
Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf

Dear Justice Kennard,

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

On March 5 I wrote to the court to ask for help with a January request for judicial administrative records, and a February
follow-up request. The next day I received a response from Frederick Ohlrich. On March 9, from Mr. Ohlrich I received
the requested records. Based on what the records show, I am now writing to convey several concerns about
irregularities in the courts handling of a petition for review I filed in October, 2010.
I mailed the petition for review to the court at midnight on October 18, 2010, the last day of the 10-day window in which
the petition could be filed. The petition was mailed at that hour because in the process of printing the required 14
petition copies, my computer printer broke down earlier that day. The postal receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition reflects a date of Oct. 18, and a time of 11:58 p.m. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.25(b)(3)(A), the
petition therefore was timely. However, the actual postage sticker affixed to the envelope reflects a date of Oct. 19,
2010.
To clarify any confusion over the conflicting dates, the next day I sent a letter to the court explaining why the postage
sticker on the envelope reflected a date of Oct. 19. A copy of my letter to the court is attached to this email as the pdf
file 2011-10-19-LetterRePostage. The letter included a copy of the post office receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition (rule 825(b)(3)(A)). As a precaution, at the end of the letter, I requested relief from default under
rule 8.500(e)(2) if for any reason the petition is deemed untimely. This letter was mailed Oct. 20.

Ju

On Oct. 21 I received a form letter from the court regarding the timeliness of the petition. I called the court to explain
the letter I had sent the day before, and also to ask if I should revise and resend my letter pursuant to the instructions in
the courts form letter, which said a request for relief should include a sworn verification. On the phone, I was told that
based on the postage date mix-up I didnt need to revise and resend my letter, and it was inferred that my petition
would be considered timely. The phone record for this six minute call is attached as the pdf file PhoneCallRecords. The
first concern I am writing to convey is that this phone call is not reflected in the case docket.

if
o

rn
i

During this same time period, I sent out a number of emails seeking amicus curiae support for my petition. David
Ettinger, the president of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers reviewed my petition and approved it for
submission to the Academys amicus curiae committee. I also received responses from law school professors at
Stanford, Hastings, USC, UCLA, University of San Diego, and two Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys indicating that my petition
had merit and raised an important issue. Copies of these emails are attached as the pdf file AmicusRequestReplies.

al

On Oct. 25 I received an email from Mr. Ettinger withdrawing consideration of the petition by the Academy because that
day the Supreme Court docket reflected that the case had been closed based on denial of an application for relief from
default. Assuming a mistake had been made, that afternoon I called the court and was informed that the chief justice
had denied my request for relief from default. During this call, I recounted what I had previously been told by court staff
and that it was my understanding that, based on my Oct. 20 letter and post office receipt, my petition had never been in
default. Although the clerk I talked to seemed as baffled about the dismissal as I was, she said the decision was made by
the chief justice and was final. This five minute phone call is reflected in the attached phone records. This call also was
not memorialized in the court docket.
1

et
w

or
k

I researched the procedure for reconsideration of the order, and finding nothing in the Rutter Group publication
California Practice Guide-Civil Appeals and Writs (which I used in drafting my petition) I called the court two days later to
ask if there was a court rule or other reference providing for reconsideration of the order. I was told the order was final
and no reconsideration process was available. The attached phone records reflect four phone calls on Oct. 27: three
outgoing calls from me, and one incoming call from the court. The court docket does not reflect this communication.

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

My petition for review is attached to this email. The petition raised several issues that are unique to the Third District
Court of Appeal, and to Sacramento County Superior Court. A component of the issues is an unusual and unusually harsh
standard of review which the Third District currently applies to all appeals without a reporters transcript (RT), regardless
of whether the appeal was deliberately and voluntarily taken without a RT. The 3rd District gets a disproportionate
number of appeals of this type because Sacramento County family court does not provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials. I explain this situation in the Why Review Should Be Granted portion of the petition.
I find myself in an awkward position because at the time I submitted the petition, I assumed that the chief justice would
not participate in the case because she is the author or co-author of several of the more than 25 unpublished 3rd District
opinions which reflect the standard of review policy I contend violates the due process, equal protection and access to
the courts constitutional rights of mostly indigent and self-represented family court parties like myself.
The chief justice is a co-author of two of the opinions (Alvarez and Nesbitt) I cite at footnote 2 on page six of the
petition, and the primary author of InreMarriageofNewby (No. C062596), filed December 27, 2010 - one of her last
opinions before taking the helm at the Supreme Court. In Newby, the chief justice used the standard of review which I
contend is unconstitutional as it is applied under the circumstances in Newby, the 25+ other cases, and my own case.
I have great respect for the judicial branch, and with all due respect to the chief justice and to the court, the chief
justices failure to recuse, and summary dismissal of my petition for review nonetheless conveyed the appearance that
she wanted to prevent consideration of the petition by the full court.

rn
i

Ju

In January 2012 I made a request for judicial administrative records to the court. I requested statistical and case data
regarding the number of untimely petitions for review which the court receives. I didnt receive a response to the
request, and sent a follow-up letter in February. Both letters are attached to this email as the file
Jan&FebRequestLetters. On March 5, I sent an email to Justices Werdegar, Liu and Baxter asking for help with the
request. On March 6, I received a response from Mr. Ohlrich acknowledging my letters from January and February were
properly addressed, but that the letters may have been improperly routed. Mr. Olrichs email is attached as the file
2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail. I received the requested records on March 9, 2012.

al

if
o

The records show that in 2011 the court granted relief from default for 43 civil appeal petitions for review filed late.
Most were filed late by a week or more, and several were months late. The court denied relief from default in 16 civil
appeal cases. These cases were late by days, weeks or months. As I have found no reference for the criteria the court
uses in assessing a request for relief from default, I cannot make any firm conclusions from this data. But if my petition
for review was somehow construed as being untimely, it stands alone as being dismissed for being less than one day
late.
I am writing to convey this information to the full court, and to express that I find the totality of these circumstances to
be troublesome.
Sincerely,
Stephen James

Stephen James
Stephen James
@gmail.com>
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 2:51 PM

or
k

From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Attachments:

et
w

Follow-Up to Judicial Administrative Records Request


2011-10-19-LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf;
PetForReview.pdf; Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf; 2011-10-19LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf; PetForReview.pdf;
Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf

Dear Justice Werdegar,

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

On March 5 I wrote to the court to ask for help with a January request for judicial administrative records, and a February
follow-up request. The next day I received a response from Frederick Ohlrich. On March 9, from Mr. Ohlrich I received
the requested records. Based on what the records show, I am now writing to convey several concerns about
irregularities in the courts handling of a petition for review I filed in October, 2010.
I mailed the petition for review to the court at midnight on October 18, 2010, the last day of the 10-day window in which
the petition could be filed. The petition was mailed at that hour because in the process of printing the required 14
petition copies, my computer printer broke down earlier that day. The postal receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition reflects a date of Oct. 18, and a time of 11:58 p.m. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.25(b)(3)(A), the
petition therefore was timely. However, the actual postage sticker affixed to the envelope reflects a date of Oct. 19,
2010.
To clarify any confusion over the conflicting dates, the next day I sent a letter to the court explaining why the postage
sticker on the envelope reflected a date of Oct. 19. A copy of my letter to the court is attached to this email as the pdf
file 2011-10-19-LetterRePostage. The letter included a copy of the post office receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition (rule 825(b)(3)(A)). As a precaution, at the end of the letter, I requested relief from default under
rule 8.500(e)(2) if for any reason the petition is deemed untimely. This letter was mailed Oct. 20.

Ju

On Oct. 21 I received a form letter from the court regarding the timeliness of the petition. I called the court to explain
the letter I had sent the day before, and also to ask if I should revise and resend my letter pursuant to the instructions in
the courts form letter, which said a request for relief should include a sworn verification. On the phone, I was told that
based on the postage date mix-up I didnt need to revise and resend my letter, and it was inferred that my petition
would be considered timely. The phone record for this six minute call is attached as the pdf file PhoneCallRecords. The
first concern I am writing to convey is that this phone call is not reflected in the case docket.

if
o

rn
i

During this same time period, I sent out a number of emails seeking amicus curiae support for my petition. David
Ettinger, the president of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers reviewed my petition and approved it for
submission to the Academys amicus curiae committee. I also received responses from law school professors at
Stanford, Hastings, USC, UCLA, University of San Diego, and two Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys indicating that my petition
had merit and raised an important issue. Copies of these emails are attached as the pdf file AmicusRequestReplies.

al

On Oct. 25 I received an email from Mr. Ettinger withdrawing consideration of the petition by the Academy because that
day the Supreme Court docket reflected that the case had been closed based on denial of an application for relief from
default. Assuming a mistake had been made, that afternoon I called the court and was informed that the chief justice
had denied my request for relief from default. During this call, I recounted what I had previously been told by court staff
and that it was my understanding that, based on my Oct. 20 letter and post office receipt, my petition had never been in
default. Although the clerk I talked to seemed as baffled about the dismissal as I was, she said the decision was made by
the chief justice and was final. This five minute phone call is reflected in the attached phone records. This call also was
not memorialized in the court docket.
1

et
w

or
k

I researched the procedure for reconsideration of the order, and finding nothing in the Rutter Group publication
California Practice Guide-Civil Appeals and Writs (which I used in drafting my petition) I called the court two days later to
ask if there was a court rule or other reference providing for reconsideration of the order. I was told the order was final
and no reconsideration process was available. The attached phone records reflect four phone calls on Oct. 27: three
outgoing calls from me, and one incoming call from the court. The court docket does not reflect this communication.

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

My petition for review is attached to this email. The petition raised several issues that are unique to the Third District
Court of Appeal, and to Sacramento County Superior Court. A component of the issues is an unusual and unusually harsh
standard of review which the Third District currently applies to all appeals without a reporters transcript (RT), regardless
of whether the appeal was deliberately and voluntarily taken without a RT. The 3rd District gets a disproportionate
number of appeals of this type because Sacramento County family court does not provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials. I explain this situation in the Why Review Should Be Granted portion of the petition.
I find myself in an awkward position because at the time I submitted the petition, I assumed that the chief justice would
not participate in the case because she is the author or co-author of several of the more than 25 unpublished 3rd District
opinions which reflect the standard of review policy I contend violates the due process, equal protection and access to
the courts constitutional rights of mostly indigent and self-represented family court parties like myself.
The chief justice is a co-author of two of the opinions (Alvarez and Nesbitt) I cite at footnote 2 on page six of the
petition, and the primary author of InreMarriageofNewby (No. C062596), filed December 27, 2010 - one of her last
opinions before taking the helm at the Supreme Court. In Newby, the chief justice used the standard of review which I
contend is unconstitutional as it is applied under the circumstances in Newby, the 25+ other cases, and my own case.
I have great respect for the judicial branch, and with all due respect to the chief justice and to the court, the chief
justices failure to recuse, and summary dismissal of my petition for review nonetheless conveyed the appearance that
she wanted to prevent consideration of the petition by the full court.

rn
i

Ju

In January 2012 I made a request for judicial administrative records to the court. I requested statistical and case data
regarding the number of untimely petitions for review which the court receives. I didnt receive a response to the
request, and sent a follow-up letter in February. Both letters are attached to this email as the file
Jan&FebRequestLetters. On March 5, I sent an email to Justices Werdegar, Liu and Baxter asking for help with the
request. On March 6, I received a response from Mr. Ohlrich acknowledging my letters from January and February were
properly addressed, but that the letters may have been improperly routed. Mr. Olrichs email is attached as the file
2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail. I received the requested records on March 9, 2012.

al

if
o

The records show that in 2011 the court granted relief from default for 43 civil appeal petitions for review filed late.
Most were filed late by a week or more, and several were months late. The court denied relief from default in 16 civil
appeal cases. These cases were late by days, weeks or months. As I have found no reference for the criteria the court
uses in assessing a request for relief from default, I cannot make any firm conclusions from this data. But if my petition
for review was somehow construed as being untimely, it stands alone as being dismissed for being less than one day
late.
I am writing to convey this information to the full court, and to express that I find the totality of these circumstances to
be troublesome.
Sincerely,
Stephen James

Stephen James
Stephen James
@gmail.com>
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 3:06 PM

or
k

From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Attachments:

et
w

Request for Judicial Administrative Records-follow up


2011-10-19-LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf;
PetForReview.pdf; Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf; 2011-10-19LetterRePostage.pdf; PhoneCallRecords.pdf; AmicusRequestReplies.pdf; PetForReview.pdf;
Jan&FebRequestLetters.pdf; 2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail.pdf

Dear Justice Baxter,

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

On March 5 I wrote to the court to ask for help with a January request for judicial administrative records, and a February
follow-up request. The next day I received a response from Frederick Ohlrich. On March 9, from Mr. Ohlrich I received
the requested records. Based on what the records show, I am now writing to convey several concerns about
irregularities in the courts handling of a petition for review I filed in October, 2010.
I mailed the petition for review to the court at midnight on October 18, 2010, the last day of the 10-day window in which
the petition could be filed. The petition was mailed at that hour because in the process of printing the required 14
petition copies, my computer printer broke down earlier that day. The postal receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition reflects a date of Oct. 18, and a time of 11:58 p.m. Under Cal. Rules of Court rule 8.25(b)(3)(A), the
petition therefore was timely. However, the actual postage sticker affixed to the envelope reflects a date of Oct. 19,
2010.
To clarify any confusion over the conflicting dates, the next day I sent a letter to the court explaining why the postage
sticker on the envelope reflected a date of Oct. 19. A copy of my letter to the court is attached to this email as the pdf
file 2011-10-19-LetterRePostage. The letter included a copy of the post office receipt for the priority mail postage used
to mail the petition (rule 825(b)(3)(A)). As a precaution, at the end of the letter, I requested relief from default under
rule 8.500(e)(2) if for any reason the petition is deemed untimely. This letter was mailed Oct. 20.

Ju

On Oct. 21 I received a form letter from the court regarding the timeliness of the petition. I called the court to explain
the letter I had sent the day before, and also to ask if I should revise and resend my letter pursuant to the instructions in
the courts form letter, which said a request for relief should include a sworn verification. On the phone, I was told that
based on the postage date mix-up I didnt need to revise and resend my letter, and it was inferred that my petition
would be considered timely. The phone record for this six minute call is attached as the pdf file PhoneCallRecords. The
first concern I am writing to convey is that this phone call is not reflected in the case docket.

if
o

rn
i

During this same time period, I sent out a number of emails seeking amicus curiae support for my petition. David
Ettinger, the president of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers reviewed my petition and approved it for
submission to the Academys amicus curiae committee. I also received responses from law school professors at
Stanford, Hastings, USC, UCLA, University of San Diego, and two Bay Area Legal Aid attorneys indicating that my petition
had merit and raised an important issue. Copies of these emails are attached as the pdf file AmicusRequestReplies.

al

On Oct. 25 I received an email from Mr. Ettinger withdrawing consideration of the petition by the Academy because that
day the Supreme Court docket reflected that the case had been closed based on denial of an application for relief from
default. Assuming a mistake had been made, that afternoon I called the court and was informed that the chief justice
had denied my request for relief from default. During this call, I recounted what I had previously been told by court staff
and that it was my understanding that, based on my Oct. 20 letter and post office receipt, my petition had never been in
default. Although the clerk I talked to seemed as baffled about the dismissal as I was, she said the decision was made by
the chief justice and was final. This five minute phone call is reflected in the attached phone records. This call also was
not memorialized in the court docket.
1

et
w

or
k

I researched the procedure for reconsideration of the order, and finding nothing in the Rutter Group publication
California Practice Guide-Civil Appeals and Writs (which I used in drafting my petition) I called the court two days later to
ask if there was a court rule or other reference providing for reconsideration of the order. I was told the order was final
and no reconsideration process was available. The attached phone records reflect four phone calls on Oct. 27: three
outgoing calls from me, and one incoming call from the court. The court docket does not reflect this communication.

di
ci
C al
JB B
N ra
N nc
.c h
om N
ew

My petition for review is attached to this email. The petition raised several issues that are unique to the Third District
Court of Appeal, and to Sacramento County Superior Court. A component of the issues is an unusual and unusually harsh
standard of review which the Third District currently applies to all appeals without a reporters transcript (RT), regardless
of whether the appeal was deliberately and voluntarily taken without a RT. The 3rd District gets a disproportionate
number of appeals of this type because Sacramento County family court does not provide court reporters for all
hearings and trials. I explain this situation in the Why Review Should Be Granted portion of the petition.
I find myself in an awkward position because at the time I submitted the petition, I assumed that the chief justice would
not participate in the case because she is the author or co-author of several of the more than 25 unpublished 3rd District
opinions which reflect the standard of review policy I contend violates the due process, equal protection and access to
the courts constitutional rights of mostly indigent and self-represented family court parties like myself.
The chief justice is a co-author of two of the opinions (Alvarez and Nesbitt) I cite at footnote 2 on page six of the
petition, and the primary author of InreMarriageofNewby (No. C062596), filed December 27, 2010 - one of her last
opinions before taking the helm at the Supreme Court. In Newby, the chief justice used the standard of review which I
contend is unconstitutional as it is applied under the circumstances in Newby, the 25+ other cases, and my own case.
I have great respect for the judicial branch, and with all due respect to the chief justice and to the court, the chief
justices failure to recuse, and summary dismissal of my petition for review nonetheless conveyed the appearance that
she wanted to prevent consideration of the petition by the full court.

rn
i

Ju

In January 2012 I made a request for judicial administrative records to the court. I requested statistical and case data
regarding the number of untimely petitions for review which the court receives. I didnt receive a response to the
request, and sent a follow-up letter in February. Both letters are attached to this email as the file
Jan&FebRequestLetters. On March 5, I sent an email to Justices Werdegar, Liu and Baxter asking for help with the
request. On March 6, I received a response from Mr. Ohlrich acknowledging my letters from January and February were
properly addressed, but that the letters may have been improperly routed. Mr. Olrichs email is attached as the file
2012-03-06-OhlrichEmail. I received the requested records on March 9, 2012.

al

if
o

The records show that in 2011 the court granted relief from default for 43 civil appeal petitions for review filed late.
Most were filed late by a week or more, and several were months late. The court denied relief from default in 16 civil
appeal cases. These cases were late by days, weeks or months. As I have found no reference for the criteria the court
uses in assessing a request for relief from default, I cannot make any firm conclusions from this data. But if my petition
for review was somehow construed as being untimely, it stands alone as being dismissed for being less than one day
late.
I am writing to convey this information to the full court, and to express that I find the totality of these circumstances to
be troublesome.
Sincerely,
Stephen James

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TANI G. CANTIL-SAKAUYE

Supreme Court Chief Justice Implicated in California


Court Corruption Epidemic

SHORTCUTS TO POPULAR
SUBJECTS AND POSTS
JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

(69)
JUDGE PRO TEM
(50)
ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

(35)
MATTHEW J. GARY
(33)
FLEC
(28)
PETER J. McBRIEN
(24)
ARTS & CULTURE
(23)
CHILD CUSTODY
(22)
SCBA
(22)
ROBERT SAUNDERS
(21)
CJP
(20)
WATCHDOGS
(20)
EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(19)
CHARLOTTE KEELEY
(18)
PRO PERS
(18)
DOCUMENTS
(17)
JAMES M. MIZE
(17)
DIVORCE CORP
(15)
CARLSSON CASE
(11)

California Judicial Branch watchdogs allege that Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is responsible for a court corruption
epidemic sweeping the state.

Case Fixing Scandal, Racketeering Scheme,


Whistleblower Retaliation Attributed to Leadership
of Judicial Council Chair Tani Cantil-Sakauye

COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)
CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
RAPTON-KARRES
(11)
SATIRE
(11)

WHISTLEBLOWERS
(11)
Sacramento Family Court News has published
an exhaustive, investigative report alleging that a criminal
organization
involving judges and local attorneys operates within the Sacramento County
family law court system.
The report is the latest allegation that corruption
has reached epidemic levels in California courts.
Court whistleblowersand watchdogs charge that California Judicial Council
Chair Tani Cantil-Sakauye has
used her position to quash investigations into
the alleged criminal conduct of her former coworkers in
Sacramento Superior
Court, and the adjacent, and troubled 3rd District Court of Appeal.
Under the leadership of Cantil-Sakauye, the Judicial Council
has been besieged by controversy, including a
scathing state audit showing
financial and operational mismanagement, and allegations by the Center
forJudicial Excellence that the agency ignores criminal conduct by court clerks
and judges throughout the
state.
Mismanagement of the agency by Cantil-Sakauye - a former
Sacramento County criminal prosecutor with no
formal education in public policy and administration - is so consistently inept that a dedicated website,
Judicial
Council Watcher, tracks and reports the seemingly endless stream of
problems and scandals.

WOODRUFF O'HAIR
POSNER and SALINGER

(11)
JAIME R. ROMAN
(10)
LAURIE M. EARL
(10)
NO CONTACT ORDERS
(10)
SHARON A. LUERAS
(10)
CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)
FERRIS CASE
(8)
JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)
JULIE SETZER
(7)

Last year, Cantil-Sakauye was caught on camera by ABC News10


in Sacramento and San Diego using the
California Highway Patrol as a personal limo and security service at taxpayer expense. The chief justice also
has been linked to
the failed Federalist Society campaign to invalidate the Affordable Health Care
Act in the
recently decided U.S. Supreme Court case King v. Burwell.
In the latest scandal, the Judicial Council is accused of
inaction and failing to investigate an alleged racketeering
enterprise in
Sacramento County. Once again, the Judicial Council is turning a blind eye to
documented
corruption taking place in the state superior courts, said Judicial
Branch watchdog Ulf Carlsson.
The recent, massive case-fixing scandal discovered by the
FBI in Orange County Superior Court
shows, again, that the Judicial Branch is
incapable of policing itself, Carlsson said. Federal law
enforcement is the
only effective enforcement mechanism available to end this statewide corruption

epidemic.

Documentary Film Reveals Judicial Council Oversight


of State
Trial Courts Nonexistent
In the 2014 documentary film Divorce Corp, former Nevada
County Superior Court employee and whistleblower
Emily Gallup described her
nightmarish experience when she attempted to report to the Judicial Council

systemic problems at the court, including serial violations of state law by


court employees.
To view a clip from Divorce Corp featuring the Gallup
interview, click here. After she was fired for
whistleblowing, Gallup
subsequently brought a successful wrongful termination lawsuit against the
court, which
included a jury award for $313,206.
The documentary, which cataloged court corruption throughout the United States, designated the Sacramento
County family court system as the
most corrupt in the country.

YOUTUBE
(7)
3rd DISTRICT COA
(6)
CIVIL RIGHTS
(6)
CANTIL-SAKAUYE
(5)
CHRISTINA ARCURI
(5)
CONTEMPT
(5)
THADD BLIZZARD
(5)
FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR

(4)
LUAN CASE
(4)
MIKE NEWDOW
(4)

WE SUPPORT
Electronic Frontier
Foundation
First Amendment Coalition
Californians Aware

The Orange County case is the proverbial tip of the


iceberg, Carlsson added. The corruption in Sacramento
County is exponentially
worse.
At least two child deaths have been linked to the Sacramento
problems, according to news reports. In 2009, court
employee turned
whistleblower James Locke revealed, and attempted to correct systemic problems
at the court.
He received the same response as Gallup: court supervisors
orchestrated Lockes termination.

LAW BLOGS WE LIKE


Family Law Professor Blog
Law Librarian Blog

In the process of trying to draw attention to the serial


lawbreaking by court employees, Locke brought the issues to
the state
legislature, testifying before a judicial panel. Shortly thereafter, outraged Sacramento
Superior Court
Judge Jerilyn Borack told Locke Youre dead, according to a
report by the Sacramento Bee.

Law Professor Blogs

Like Gallup, Locke successfully sued the court and won an


undisclosed settlement in the U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of
California. Taxpayers footed the substantial bills for both the Gallup and
Locke settlements,
including litigation costs.

Kafkaesq

Thurman Arnold Family


Law Blog

Above the Law

Cantil-Sakauye Charged with Cronyism - Protecting


Former
Coworkers in Sacramento

The Divorce Artist

Judicial Council Chair and Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani


Cantil-Sakauye previously was a judge in Sacramento
County, and an Associate
Justice at the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.The Third District also has
severe corruption
problems, according to an investigative news report.

LEGAL NEWS &


INFORMATION

Shortly after she was promoted from the 3rd District to the
Supreme Court, Cantil-Sakauye personally blocked a
Supreme Court petition for review that challenged as unconstitutional several irregular appeal policies
unique to
the 3rd District. Despite a conflict of interest that, by law,
required her to disqualify herself from the case, CantilSakauye summarily
dismissed the petition, preventing the rest of the court from considering the
claims.

Courthouse News Service

Cantil-Sakauye is using her position of authority to cover


up the long-running misconduct of her former colleagues
in both courts,
Carlsson charged.

California Official Case Law

The beginning of the Sacramento Superior Court investigative


report, published by the California Judicial Branch
News Network, is reprinted
below:
"As many of the articles on ourmain pagereflect,Sacramento Superior
Courtwhistleblowersandwatchdogscontendthat a "cartel" of local family lawattorneys receive
kickbacks and other forms ofpreferential treatmentfrom family courtjudges,administrators and
employees.

The lawyers receive anassortmentof illegal kickbacks because they are members of
theSacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section,work as part-time judges,and
run the family courtsettlement conference programon behalf of the court.

The kickbacks usually consist of"rubber-stamped" court orderswhich arecontrary to established


law, and cannot be attributed to theexercise of judicial discretion.Most of theillegal ordersare
issued againstindigent, or financially disadvantaged "pro per" parties without an attorney.Manyof
thepro persalso aredisabled.

The ultimate consequences of thesystemic divorce court corruptioninclude one-sided divisions of


community property,illegal child custodyarrangements and the deprivation ofparental rights, and
unlawful child and spousalsupport terms. Court reform advocates assert the racketeering
enterprise also has resulted in pro perhomelessness, andcaused, orcontributed toat leasttwo
child deaths.

California Lawyer Magazine

Metropolitan News
Enterprise

Google Scholar-Includes
Unpublished Case Law
California Statutes

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BRANCH
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Homepage
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Page
Judicial Council
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Sacramento County Family
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3rd District Court of Appeal
State Bar of California
State Bar Court

The alleged criminal conduct also deprives victims of their state and federal constitutional rights,
including due process, equal protection of law, access to the courts, and the fundamental liberty
interest in the care, management and companionship of their own children.

Sacramento County Bar


Association

Court watchdogs charge that the settlement conference kickback arrangement between the public
court and private sector attorneys constitutes aracketeering enterprisewhich also deprives the
public of thefederally protectedright tohonest government services.

Local & National Family CourtFamily Law Sites & Blogs (may
be gender-specific)

The alleged federal crimes also include thetheft, misuse, or conversion of federal fundsreceived
by the court, predicate acts ofmail or wire fraud,andpredicate state law crimes,
includingobstruction of justiceandchildabduction.

With the help of court employeewhistleblowers, Sacramento Family Court News has partially
reconstructed the framework of the alleged criminal enterprise that, in scale and scope, rivals
theKids for Cashcourtscandalin Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and the Orange County Superior
Courtcase-fixing corruption schemerecentlyexposed by the FBI..."

ABA Family Law Blawg


Directory
California Coalition for
Families and Children
California Protective
Parents Association
Center for Judicial
Excellence

To continue reading the rest of the investigative report,


visit the Judge Pro Tem Racketeering page at Sacramento
Family Court News.

Courageous Kids Network

For additional reporting on Judicial Council of California


controversy, visit Judicial Council Watcher.

Divorce Corp

For additional reporting on court corruption in California,


visit the Center for Judicial Excellence.

Divorced Girl Smiling

Divorce & Family Law News

Family Law Case Law from


FindLaw

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3rd DISTRICT COURT of APPEAL SACRAMENTO

Third District Court of Appeal:

Justice, Ideology & Conflicts of Interest

SHORTCUTS TO POPULAR
SUBJECTS AND POSTS
JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

(69)
JUDGE PRO TEM
(50)
ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

(35)
MATTHEW J. GARY
(33)
FLEC
(28)
PETER J. McBRIEN
(24)
ARTS & CULTURE
(23)
CHILD CUSTODY
(22)
SCBA
(22)
ROBERT SAUNDERS
(21)
CJP
(20)
WATCHDOGS
(20)

A Sacramento Family Court News investigation indicates that ideology and undisclosed conflicts of interest play a significant role in the
outcome of appeals in the Third District Court of Appeal.

An Exclusive Sacramento Family Court News Investigation

EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(19)
CHARLOTTE KEELEY
(18)

This ongoing investigative project was updated in July, 2015.

PRO PERS
(18)
Sacramento Family Court Newsis conducting an ongoing investigationof published and unpublished 3rd District
Court of Appeal decisions in trial court cases originating from family courts. This page is regularly updated with
our latest news, analysis, and opinion. Our preliminary findings reveal an unsettling link between how an appeal is
decided and the political ideology, work history, and family law bar ties of the court of appeal judges assigned to
the appeal.

Our investigation indicates that the outcome of an appeal is in large part dependent on the luck of the justice draw
and the undisclosed connections between the trial court judge whose order is appealed, the trial and appellate
court attorneys, and the judges assigned to resolve the appeal.

The collusive atmosphere falls hardest on unrepresented or "pro per" appeal parties who can't afford to hire a
local appellate attorney. 3rd District appeal outcome statistical data reveals a virtually perfect record of success for
attorneys in cases where the opposing party is a pro per. Appeals taken by pro per litigants rarely, if ever,
succeed.

In addition, a separateSFCN investigation has uncovered evidence that both trial and appellate court judges,

DOCUMENTS
(17)
JAMES M. MIZE
(17)
DIVORCE CORP
(15)
CARLSSON CASE
(11)
COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)
CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
RAPTON-KARRES
(11)
SATIRE
(11)

part-time judges, and court employees deliberately obstruct appeals by indigent, unrepresented parties. Appeal
data from the Third District reveals that most pro per appeals are never decided on the merits and are instead
dismissed on legal technicalities, which are often caused by the deliberate acts of government employees.

Court whistleblowers assert and have documented that the family law division of Sacramento Superior Court and
the 3rd District Court of Appeal effectively operate as a RICO racketeering enterprise that deprives the public
of the federally protected right to honest government services, and includes predicate acts of mail and wire
fraud. Click here to read our full report on the allegations.

WHISTLEBLOWERS
(11)
WOODRUFF O'HAIR
POSNER and SALINGER

(11)
JAIME R. ROMAN
(10)
LAURIE M. EARL
(10)

The 2014 documentary film Divorce Corp, designated Sacramento County as the most corrupt family court in
the United States. Court watchdogs contend that the scale and scope of the corruption rivals the Kids for Cash
scandal in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, which also became a documentary film.

NO CONTACT ORDERS
(10)

Third District Court of Appeal cases are assigned to three of ten judges. The background of each appears to be
a critical factor in how an appeal is decided.

CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)

SHARON A. LUERAS
(10)

FERRIS CASE
(8)

Friends in Low Places

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)
JULIE SETZER
(7)

For example, 3rd District unpublished opinions


show that Court of Appeal justices who were
elevated to the appellate courtfrom Sacramento
CountySuperior Court will often effectively
cover for judicial errors in appeals from the same
court.

Third District Justices George Nicholson,


Harry E. Hull, Jr.,Ronald B. Robie, and
Presiding Justice Vance W. Rayepreviously
were trial court judges inSacramento County
Superior Court.

YOUTUBE
(7)
3rd DISTRICT COA
(6)
CIVIL RIGHTS
(6)
3rd District Court of Appeal watchdogs assert that appeal
outcomesare inconsistent, and in large part determined by
the work history,and social or professional connections
ofthe three judges assignedtodecide an appeal.

Each have personal, social, or professional ties to family court judges and attorney members of the Sacramento
County Bar Association Family Law Section.After his retirement in 2011, 3rd District Presiding Justice
Arthur Scotland described the professional and personal relationships he had with attorneys during his career on
the bench.
"[I] enjoy friendships...I go to all the county bar events. I do that for two reasons. One, I think
it's a responsibility of a judge to be active in the community, and the attorneys appreciate it.
But I really like the people. I really like going to these events. I enjoy friendships and that sort
of thing." Click here to view Scotland's statement.

CANTIL-SAKAUYE
(5)
CHRISTINA ARCURI
(5)
CONTEMPT
(5)
THADD BLIZZARD
(5)
FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR

(4)
LUAN CASE
(4)
MIKE NEWDOW
(4)

WE SUPPORT
Sacramento Lawyer, the monthly magazine of the Sacramento County Bar Association each month publishes
accounts of recent social, educational and charitable events sponsored by the association, its 17 specialty law
sections - including the family law section - and its eight local affiliates, including the Asian/Pacific Bar
Association, and Women Lawyers of Sacramento. Most are well attended by a mix of state and federal judges,
court administrators, supervisors and employees, and lawyers.

To get a sense of the collusive atmosphere in Sacramento Family Law Court, we recommend reading our special
Color of Law series of investigative reports, which document the preferential treatment provided by family court
employees and judges to SCBA Family Law Section lawyers at the trial court level. Click here to view the Color
of Law series.Financially disadvantaged, unrepresented litigants who face opposing parties represented by SCBA
attorneys assert that the collusive collegiality taints appeal proceedings in the appellate court.

Pro per advocates contend that under Canon 3E(4)(a) and (c) of the Code of Judicial Ethics, Raye, Robie, Hull
and Nicholson should disqualify themselves from participating in any appeal originating fromSacramento Family
Law Court. Advocates argue that the same conflict of interest principles apply to family court appeals that resulted
in the self-recusal, or removal, of Vance Raye from participating in the 2002 Commission on Judicial
Performance prosecution of family courtJudge Peter McBrien. To view the 2002 Raye recusal andCJP decision
against McBrien, click here.The CJP has disciplined judges for violating the Code of Judicial Ethics rules
requiring judges to disclose conflicts. Click here for examples of CJP conflict of interest disciplinary decisions.
It is a basic principle of law that state appellate justices and federal judges with personal or professional
relationships with trial court judges connected to an appeal or federal court action should disqualify themselves to
avoid the appearance of partiality. Click here to view a recent order issued by a federal judge disqualifying the
entire bench of the Fresno Division of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Californiadue to personal
and professional relationships with local state court judges.

Electronic Frontier
Foundation
First Amendment Coalition
Californians Aware

LAW BLOGS WE LIKE


Family Law Professor Blog
Law Librarian Blog
Law Professor Blogs
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Law Blog
Kafkaesq
Above the Law
The Divorce Artist


The conflict disclosure problem infects the Superior Court as well. To the benefit of local family law attorneys who
also hold the office of temporary judge in the same court, Sacramento Family Law Court judges effectively have
institutionalized noncompliance with state conflict of interest disclosure laws.Click here. For an example of a
Sacramento County civil court trial judge who fully complied with conflict laws, click here.Without oversight or
accountability, family court judges routinely - and in violation of state law - ignore the same disclosure
requirements.

History & Origins of the Current Sacramento County


Family Court System
In 1991, as a superior court judge, current3rd District
Justice Vance Raye partneredwith controversial family
court Judge Peter J. McBrien and attorneys from the
Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law
Sectionin establishing the current, dysfunctional Sacramento
Family Courtsystem, according to the sworn testimony of
McBrien at his 2009 judicial misconduct trial before the
Commission on Judicial Performance.

Behind closed doors and under oath, the judge provided


explicit details about the 1991 origins of the present-day
family court structure. The public court system was built to the
specifications of private-sector attorneys from the SCBA
Family Law Section Family Law Executive Committee,
according to McBrien's testimony.To view McBrien's detailed
description of the collusive public-private collaboration, posted
online exclusively by SFCN, click here. To view the same,
current day collusion, click here.

The 1991 restructuring plan began with a road trip suggested


by the family law bar:
"[T]he family law bar, and it was a fairly strong bar
Tani Cantil Sakauye worked with Peter J. McBrien
here in Sacramento, initiated the concept of a trip

in Sacramento County Superior Court from 1997-2005.


to Orange County and San Diego County to pick up
some ideas about how their courts were structured.
And myself and Judge Ridgeway and two family law attorneys made that trip and came back
with various ideas of how to restructure the system," McBrien told the CJP.Click hereto view.
But before his sworn 2009 CJP testimony, McBrien gave the public a different account of the road trip and who
restructured the family court system in 1991.As reported by the Daily Journal legal newspaper
McBriendishonestly impliedthat the system was conceived and implemented by judges alone after they made a
county-paid "statewide tour" of family law courts. The judge omitted from the story the fact that the trip was initiated
by the family law bar, and included two private-sector family law attorneys who took the county-paid trip with
McBrien and the late Judge William Ridgeway.
"[M]cBrien and a few other Sacramento judges went on a statewide tour of family law courts.
At the time, there were continual postponements of trials. 'This is how we came up with the
system today,' McBrien said. 'It was the best trip Sacramento County ever paid for.' The
judges changed the local system so that family law judges presided over both law and motion
matters and trials..."the Daily Journal reported. Click here to view.
Under oath, McBrien admitted that the private-sector, for-profit family law bar dictated the public court facility
restructuring plan - conceived to serve the needs and objectives of SCBA Family Law Section member attorneys
- which then essentially was rubber-stamped by the bench.
"[T]he Bar culled through the various ideas and options, came up with a plan, presented it to
the family law bench. We made what adjustments we felt were appropriate and then presented
the whole of it to the full bench," and the plan was approved. Click here to view.
In essence, McBrien disclosed that the current public court system was set up by and for local attorneys with little, if
any, consideration of theneeds of the 70 percent of court users unable to afford counsel. The system also has
shown it is designed to repel carpetbagger, outsider attorneys, like Stephen R. Gianelli of San Francisco, and
Sharon Huddle of Roseville. Click here and here.
"[T]his is a 'juice court' in which counsel outside Sacramento have little chance of prevailing...
[the] court has now abandoned even a pretense of being fair to out-of-town counsel," Gianelli

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INFORMATION
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Local & National Family CourtFamily Law Sites & Blogs (may
be gender-specific)
ABA Family Law Blawg
Directory
California Coalition for
Families and Children
California Protective
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Center for Judicial
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Courageous Kids Network
Divorce & Family Law News
Divorce Corp
Divorced Girl Smiling
Family Law Case Law from
FindLaw
Family Law Courts.com

said.
According to the Commission on Judicial Performance - the state agency responsible for oversight and
accountability of California judges - the structure is known as a "two-track system of justice."
"In this case, we again confront the vice inherent in a two-track system of justice, where
favored treatment is afforded friends and other favored few, and which is easily recognized as
'corruption at the core of our system of impartial equal justice, and...intolerable," the CJP said
in a 2005 judicial discipline decision involving a Santa Clara County judge.To view a list of
similar CJP decisions, click here.
According to the gold standard reference on judicial ethics, the California Judicial Conduct Handbook [pdf],
published by the California Judges Association, providing preferential treatment to local, connected attorneys
also is known as "hometowning," and is prohibited by the Code of Judicial Ethics.To view this section of the
Handbook, click here.

Family Law Updates at


JDSupra Law News
Fathers 4 Justice
HuffPost Divorce
Leon Koziol.Com
Moving Past Divorce
News and Views Riverside
Superior Court
Weightier Matter

Keeping Neutral Judges Out-of-the-Loop


CONTRIBUTORS

One objective of the revamped system was to


keep all family court proceedings in-house: within
the isolated family relations courthouse. Prior to
the change, trials were conducted at the
downtown, main courthouse and before judges
more likely to have a neutral perspective on a
given case, and less likely to have ties to the
family law bar.

Cathy Cohen
ST Thomas
PR Brown
PelicanBriefed
FCAC News

"The judges changed the local system


so that family law judges presided over
both law and motion matters and trials,
which used to be sent to a master
calendar department and competed
with criminal trials for scheduling," the
Daily Journal reported.
Family court watchdogs and whistleblowers
allege that under the system set up by Raye and
McBrien, the local family law bar - through the
Family Law Executive Committee or FLEC now controls for the financial gain of members
virtually all aspects of court operations, including
local court rules.A cartel of local family law
attorneys receive preferential treatment from
family court judges and appellate court
justicesbecause the lawyers are members of the
Sacramento Bar Association Family Law
Section, hold the Office of Temporary Judge,
and run the family court settlement conference
program, court reform advocates charge.

RoadDog

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Justice Ronald Robie performs in the "Judge's Choir" for the

Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section

Holiday Luncheon.

Court watchdogs have catalogued and documented examples of judge pro tem attorney favoritism, and
flagrantbias against unrepresented litigants and "outsider" attorneys. Click here for a list of watchdog claims.
Published and unpublished 3rd District opinions indicate that Court of Appeal justices without direct ties to the
same superior court are more likely to follow the law, and less likely to whitewash trial court mistakes.

Carlsson Case Exposes 3rd District Ideology &


Undisclosed Conflict of Interest Issues

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One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others, By the time I finish my song?
Third District Court of Appeal Justices Ronald B. Robie, Harry E. Hull Jr., George Nicholson and Cole Blease.
Only Blease (R) has no past connection to Sacramento County Superior Court.

One of the few Third District opinions to critically, and scathingly scrutinize the problematic Sacramento Family
Court system was the 2008 decisionIn re Marriage of Carlsson, authored by Associate JusticesM. Kathleen
Butz, Cole Blease and Rick Sims.The opinion criticized explicitly the conduct of controversial Sacramento
County Family Court Judge Peter J. McBrien. None of the three 3rd District justices who decided the appeal
had ever worked as a judge in Sacramento County.

A fourth outsider jurist,Sixth District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad L. Rushing subsequently
characterized McBrien's conduct in the Carlsson case as a "judicial reign of terror."In addition to ordering a full
reversal and new trial, the 3rd Districtdecision subjected McBriento a second disciplinary action by the state
Commission on Judicial Performance.
The judge's first go-round with the CJPstemmed from McBrien's 2000 arrest for felony vandalism under Penal
Code 594 in connection with the destruction of public-owned trees - valued at more than $20,000 - at the Effie
Yeaw Nature Center in Ancil Hoffman Park, Carmichael, California. McBrien had the trees cut to improve the
view from his home on a bluff above the park. Click here for the 2001Sacramento News and Review coverage
of the case.Click here to view the original summons charging McBrien with felony vandalism. Click here to view
the report of Sacramento County District Attorney's Office Criminal Investigator Craig W. Tourte detailing the
complete investigation of McBrien's crime, posted online for the first time exclusively by SFCN.

Less than 48 hours after the judge was charged with the felony, McBrien negotiated a plea bargain, pleading no
contest to a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code 384a,paying restitution of $20,000, and a fine of $500.The
improved view increased thevalue of the judge's home by at least $100,000, according to a local real estate
agent, and the sweetheart deal outraged the Ancil Hoffman Park personnel who originally discovered the
butchered trees and conducted the initial investigation. McBrien's subsequent 2009 sworn testimony before the
CJP recounting his criminal case starkly contradicted Tourte's report and the truth about his criminal conviction.

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In the documentary film Divorce Corp, Ulf Carlsson describes egregious misconduct by Sacramento Family Law Court Judge Peter McBrien. Using
misleading sworn testimony about McBrien's reversal rate in the appellate court, 3rd District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland
effectively saved McBrien from being removed from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland Intervenes in


McBrien CJP Prosecution
On his second trip to the CJP woodshed, Judge
PeterMcBrien needed all the help he could get to
save his job, and then-Third District Court of
Appeal Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland
delivered in a big way.

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AMENDMENT COALITION
(2)

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Among other slight-of-hand tricks, Scotland devised


a clever artifice to make it appear to the CJP judges
assigned to decide McBrien's fate that the trial court
judge had a much lower than average rate of
reversal in the court of appeal.

GANGNAM STYLE
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Scotland's 2009 testimony on McBrien's behalf


also was controversial and may itself have violated
the Code of Judicial Ethics. A critical self-policing
component of the Code,Canon 3D(1) requires
judges who have reliable information that another
judge has violated any provision of the Code take
"appropriate corrective action, which may include
reporting the violation to the appropriate authority."
Click here to view Canon 3D(1).Click here to view
a Judicial Council directive about the duty to take
corrective action, and the types of corrective action
required.

ROMAN

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POSNER
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JOYCE
Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Arthur Scotland, George Nicholson and

Peter McBrien all workedfor former California Attorney General

and Governor George Deukmejian.All were appointed to the

Sacramento County bench by Deukmejian.

While under oath before the CJP, Scotland verified


that he was aware ofMcBrien's misconduct in the
Carlsson case.Scotland essentially defied the selfpolicing Canon and, in effect,the published Carlsson opinion authored by his co-workers Butz, Blease and Sims,
and instead testified in support of McBrien at the CJP. In it's final decision allowing McBrien to remain on the
bench, the CJP specifically cited Scotland's testimony as a mitigating factor that reducedMcBrien's punishment.
Click here.An examination of Scotland's career in government - funded by the taxpayers of California - provides
insight into the tactics, motives, and questionable ethics behind his unusual involvement in the McBrien matter.
By his own admission, Scotland's career in the Judicial Branch of government was the result of connections and
preferential treatment. The former justice candidly recited his life history in a nearly three-hour interview for the
CaliforniaAppellate Court Legacy Project in 2011. Like other gratuitous "tough-on-crime"conservative
ideologues from a law enforcement background who rose to power in the 1980's, Scotland apparently lived the
cliche of beingborn on third base and going through life thinking he hit a triple. His interest in law developed
when he worked as an undercover narcotics agent for the state Department of Justice.
"[I] bluffed my way through the interview, and I got hired as a narcotics agent in 1969...I was
an undercover narcotics agent. I've bought a lot of dope in my life...all lawfully, but I've
bought a lot of dope," Scotland said. "And I testified in court. And that's what got me
fascinated in the legal process...and it got me involved in the law." Click here to view.
Having worked with prosecutors as an undercover cop, Scotland
decided he wanted to be one. But due to his lackluster
performance as a college student, law school presented a
problem, albeit a problem easily solved through a family
connection.
"[I] thought, I want to be a prosecutor. I'm going to go
to law school; I want to be a prosecutor. So I applied
in 1971. I applied to only one school: University of the

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NEWS

Pacific, McGeorge School of Law...[M]y grades weren't


all that great. I did very well on the LSAT test: I did
excellent on that. But I didn't figure I could get
accepted anywhere else, 'cause I really hadn't been a
serious student. So I went to University of Pacific,
McGeorge School of Law," Scotland explained.
"I didn't know [McGeorge Dean Gordon D.Schaber],
but my dad did. And my dad had done some life
insurance, estate planning work for McGeorge. And
again, my dad was an influence on my life because he
Arthur Scotland used a family connection to get into
knew people and he set me up with jobs. And I'm sure

a law schoolwith liberal admission standards.


that one of the reasons I got selected for McGeorge
School of Law is my dad's relationship with the dean."Click here to view.

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PARENT
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"Actually, before I even got sworn in in the bar, I was assigned out to juvenile hall and we
prosecuted...I prosecuted cases without any supervision - you know, against...really against
the rules...we were trying cases without any supervision." Click here.
In McGregor v. State Bar, the seminal case on the unauthorized practice of law, the California Supreme Court
explained why a nonlicensed person is prohibited from exercising the special powers and privileges of a lawyer.
"The right to practice law not only presupposes in its possessor integrity, legal standing and
attainment, but also the exercise of a special privilege, highly personal and partaking of the
nature of a public trust. It is manifest that the powers and privileges derived from it may not
with propriety be delegated to or exercised by a nonlicensed person." Click here.
25 years after he obtained his license to practice law, Justice Arthur G. Scotlandexploited the implied integrity of
his court of appeal office and exercised his special privilege in a way that to many Sacramento Family Court
litigants was a manifest violation of the public trust.

The Artifice

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After graduation, but before he was licensed to practice law, Scotland nonetheless practiced law while employed as
a deputy district attorney for Sacramento County. In the outside world, the unauthorized practice of law is a
crime. But in Scotland's protective law enforcement bubble, "laws" are only enforced against drug addicts and the
unwashed masses. As Scotland explained in his own words, laws are actually only "rules" when a sworn peace
officer breaks one.

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LEAVENWORTH

To help his old friend Pete McBrien keep his job, Justice Arthur G. Scotland concocted a clever plan intended to deceive the judges
deciding McBrien's punishment at the Commission on Judicial Performance.

In his Commission on Judicial Performance sworn character witness testimony for his old friend and law
enforcement co-workerPeter McBrien, Arthur Scotland drew on his training and experience in deceit from his
days as a narc."[Y]ou have to be an actor, you have to play the game," Scotland explained in the 2011 interview.
In front of the three CJP judges responsible for hearing evidence and deciding McBrien's fate, Scotland concocted
a clever, deceptive plan - an artifice in legal terminology - and convincingly delivered an award worthy actor's

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performance.

While testifying for McBrien,Scotland also revealed that his appearance on the troubled judge'sbehalf effectively
was voluntary. Before subpoenaing Scotland to testify, McBrien's defense attorney confirmed that Scotland would
not object to the subpoena. Click here. Judicial ethics Canon 2B restricts use of the prestige of judicial office to
advance the personal interests of the judge or others. Canon 2B(2)(a) permits a judge to testify as a character
witness only when subpoenaed.

The transcript of Scotland's testimony also showed that -to prepare his CJP testimony - the presiding justice of the
3rd District affirmatively and voluntarily took theinitiative (presumably on his own time) to research 3rd District
family court appeals where McBrien was the trial court judge. His objective was to show the CJP that McBrien had
a low reversal rate in the appellate court.
"I also, by the way -- when you called me to ask if I would object to being Subpoenaed as a
witness, and I said no, I did research. I looked up -- I knew what this was all about, so I
researched the number of appeals from cases from Judge McBrien's court. And so I -- and I
looked -- I read all the opinions in which he was reversed in full or in part...
I've known Judge McBrien for 32 years. I got to know, then, Deputy Attorney General Pete
McBrien. When I left the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office and went to work for
the California Attorney General's Office, he was already a Deputy Attorney General there. So I
got to know him there, mainly professionally. Socially to a relatively minor extent. We had -we had two co-ed softball teams. He played on one; I played on another. Of course, we would
attend office functions together. His -- one of his very best friends was my supervisor in the
Attorney General's Office. So, on occasion -- not frequently, but on occasion we would attend
social events with others from the office....
[McBrien had] seven reversals in whole or in part, out of 110 appeals, which is about 6%,
which actually is a remarkably good reversal rate. Because our average reversal rate in civil
cases is 20 to 25 percent." Scotland testified at pages 549-553 of the reporter's transcript. Click
here.
Scotland's claim that McBrien had a
"remarkably good reversal rate" was,
at best, a half-truth. Under the legal
and ethical standards applicable to
lawyers and judges, a half-truth is the
same as a "false statement of fact" or
what the general public refers to as a
lie. Click here.

What Scotland withheld from the CJP


is the fact that the vast majority of
appeals from family court are never
decided on the merits. Unlike appeals
from civil cases, most family court
appeals are taken by unrepresented
parties who fail to navigate the
complexities of appellate procedure
and never make it past the preliminary
stages of an appeal. In other words,
Scotland rigged his statistics. While
McBrien may have had seven
reversals out of 110 appeals filed, only
a small portion of the 110 appeals filed
were actually decided on the merits.

Arthur Scotland poses with the fruits of a drug bust from his days as an

undercover cop. Trained to lie and deceive in order to make undercover

drug buys, Scotland acknowledged his skill in the role.

"You have to be an actor, you have to play the game," he said in 2011.

Scotland then made a disingenuous, self-serving apples-to-oranges comparison between the reversal rate in civil
case appeals - where both sides are usually represented by an attorney, or team of attorneys, and appeals are
decided on the merits - with the reversal rate in family court cases, where neither qualifier is true.SFCNcurrently is
conducting an audit of 3rd District family court appeals, and will have more on this subject in the near future.

Blame the Victim


In a final act of both flagrant cronyism to his friend and former Department of Justice co-workerPete McBrien,
and disrespect to the work of his fellow 3rd District Court of AppealJusticesKathleen Butz, Cole Blease and
Rick Sims whose published opinion in the Carlsson caseresulted in McBrien's prosecution by the CJP, Scotland

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had the balls to suggest that disciplining McBrien for his conduct in Carlsson would be a "miscarriage of justice,"
that would allow "incompetent attorneys to run the court instead of competent judges."
"And you haven't asked me this question, but if [McBrien] were, for some reason, to be found
to have violated the canons of judicial ethics, or whatever, I frankly -- I know about these
cases; I know about the Carlsson case. I think it would be a miscarriage of justice. I think it
would send the wrong signal to judges and practitioners that you don't allow -- that you would
be allowing incompetent attorneys to run the court instead of competent judges," Scotland
testified at the CJP.
Like Scotland, 6th District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad Rushingknew well the Carlsson case,
which he said "developed a certain notoriety."Unlike Scotland, Rushing wasn't an old friend and coworker of
McBrien who would disingenuously suggest the blame for McBrien's "reign of terror" lay with an incompetent
attorney. Scotland's colleagues at the 3rd District,Butz, Blease and Sims reversed and remanded the Carlsson
case for retrial based on extremely rare, reversible per se, egregiousstructural and constitutional error by Judge
McBrien.Aftercarefully scrutinizing the trial court record, the panel made no mention of attorney "incompetence" in
their published opinion.
However, Scotland's incompetence assertion to the CJP
did, coincidentally, perfectly dovetail with
thecarefullycrafted defense McBrien's legal team
presented during three days of CJP testimony to the
three-judge CJP panel assigned to decide McBrien's
fate.

A key component of McBrien's defense relied on


suspiciously consistent witness testimony portraying Ulf
Carlsson's attorneySharon Huddle as incompetent and
effectively provoking McBrien's multiple violations of the
Code of Judicial Ethics. CJP prosecutor Andrew Blum
mocked the risible defense in a confidential court
reporter transcript leaked to SFCN. Click here to view
the transcript.
Ironically, the time-tested, repugnant but effectiveblame
the victim strategy, was coldly aided and abetted by
Scotland, a justice who rose to power with the backing
and endorsements of victims rights groups
includingCrime Victims United of California, and the
Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau. To help McBrien's
defense team, Scotland dusted off thedog-eared
playbook of exploiting victims, one way or another, to
advance his personal agenda.

Contrary to the explicit findings by his colleagues at the 3rd District


Court of Appeal, in his deceptive CJP testimony JusticeArthur
Scotland blamed attorney Sharon Huddlefor the egregious
misconduct of his old friend, Judge Peter McBrien.

Scotland's irony-infusedblame the victim testimony,


misleading appeal reversal data, and theweight of character witness testimonyfrom a sitting Court of Appeal
presiding justice, along with similar character testimony from Sacramento CountySuperior Court Judges James
Mize, Thomas Cecil (currentlyOf Counsel at the family, family law firm Cecil & Cianci) , Michael Garcia and
Robert Hight, and Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section attorneys and judge pro
temsCamille Hemmer, Jerry Guthrie, Robert O'Hair and Russell Carlson all tipped the scale just enough to
enable McBrien to keep his job. Click here to view the complete, 12-page CJP summary of the McBrien character
witness testimony.

Despite the parade of former law enforcement co-workers, friends, and family court judge pro tem
croniesMcBrien marshaled on his behalf, two of the voting CJP members saw through the ruse and dissented
from the decision to let the judge remain on the bench, stating they would have removed McBrien from
office.Click here.When he referred to McBrien's conduct in the Carlsson case as a "judicial reign of terror," 6th
District Justice Rushingalso noted that "two of the nine participating members [voted] to remove him from
the bench." Click here.
The Carlsson case is prominently featured in Divorce Corp, a documentary film that "exposes the corrupt and
collusive industry of family law in the United States." The production team for the film conducted a nationwide
search for the most egregious examples of family court corruption and collusion, and four Sacramento County
cases are included in the movie. Narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky,Divorce Corp opened in theaters in major U.S.
cities on January 9, 2014. Following the theatrical run, the documentary will be released on DVD, RedBox, Netflix,
broadcast and cable TV. Click here for our continuing coverage of Divorce Corp.To view trailers for the movie on
YouTube, click here.

Rehabilitation FAIL
The near-career death experience apparently has had no discernible corrective effect on the ethically-challenged
judge. In subsequent proceedings in his courtroom involving the judge pro tem attorneys (and lawyers at the
same firms as the judge pro tems) whose CJP testimony effectively saved his $170,00 per year job,McBrien
reportedly has never disclosed to opposing parties and attorneys the potential conflict of interest as required by
Canon 3E(2) of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The failure to disclose the potential conflict is a violation of the canon
and other state laws, according to the CJP, Judicial Council, and California Judges Association. For the
exclusive SFCN report on conflict of interest law, click here.

Justice George Nicholson & the Law Enforcement


BlueCode of Silence
In addition, unpublished Third District Court of
Appealdecisions indicate that justices who come
from a law enforcement background appear to take
to the bench with them the "Blue Code of Silence"
culture often found in law enforcement agencies.
3rd District Associate Justice George Nicholson
worked as a prosecuting attorney for more than
15 years before being appointed to the bench in
Sacramento County. The first time Governor
George Deukmejian submitted Nicolson's name to
the bar for review as a judge in 1983, he was rated
as "not qualified," according to the Sacramento
Bee.
"George Nicholson, Republican candidate
for attorney general in 1982, has been
pursuing all manner of public legal
positions: U.S. District Court judge,
California Superior Court judge, U.S. Attorney, public defender in Riverside County. The other
day, when Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him a Sacramento Municipal Court judge, he
finally got one. It's an appointment that ought to cause serious concern both within the State
Bar and in the community. When Deukmejian submitted Nicholson's name to the bar for
review on a possible appointment to the Superior Court in 1983, he was rated 'not qualified.'
The bar now ranks him 'qualified', the lowest acceptable rating of three the bar can give.

Third District Court of Appeal Associate Justice George Nicholson

rode to the benchon a "law and order" agenda.

No one can be certain precisely why Nicholson received such low ratings, but there is enough
in his public record to raise serious questions about his temperament and judgment. In 1979,
he left a job as director of the District Attorneys Association after an audit showed that the
organization's finances had been badly mismanaged and that it was on the verge of
bankruptcy. Later, as a senior assistant attorney general, he was twice admonished by
superiors for promoting a ballot measure in ways that could be mistaken as an official state
Justice Department endorsement of the measure. More recently, a federally funded $4 million
'National School Safety Center' affiliated with Pepperdine University that he directed was
embroiled in an extended controversy during which 18 of 30 staff members either resigned or
were fired.
The U.S. General Accounting Office, which conducted an audit into the management of the
Pepperdine program and into how the federal money was being spent, cleared the center of
fiscal irregularities, attributing the problems to Nicholson's 'combative' personality and
management style. But because of those problems, Pepperdine named a new executive
director, who, the auditors said, restored stability to the management of the program 'while
retaining Nicholson's creative talents,'" the Sacramento Bee said in 1987. Click here.
Nicholson subsequently was elected to both Sacramento County Superior Court and the 3rd District Court of
Appeal with backing from law enforcement, Crime Victims United and other Astroturf "victims rights" and "law
and order" groups. Crime Victims United is funded by - and acts essentially as asubsidiaryof - the California
Correctional Peace Officers Association, the controversial prison guard union.
A principal architect of Proposition 8 the "The Crime Victims' Bill of Rights", after a failed run as the GOP
candidate for attorney general Nicholson rode an anti-Rose Bird, tough-on-crime platform to the bench. Over
several decades, Associate Justice Nicholson played a significant role in giving the United States one of the
highest per capita rates of incarceration in the world. Thanks to Nicholson, the prison guard union, and
Astroturf "victims rights" groups bankrolled by the union, California now spends a significantly larger portion
of the state budget on corrections than on higher education.

Role of Political Ideology


In 1985, Nicholson was demoted from his position as
director of the federally financed National School Safety
Center in Sacramento. The center was administered by
Pepperdine University at Malibu, and established with a
$3.8 million Justice Department grant awarded without
competitive bidding.

Under Nicholson's leadership, 20 of the original 30 staff


members who set up the Center resigned or were
dismissed. The Associated Press reported that that the
debacle was rooted in ideological conflicts between
Nicholson and staff whom Nicholson perceived as too
liberal. According to the AP coverage:
"Several [staffers] described Nicholson as a
political conservative who mistrusted his
mostly liberal staff members, argued with them
unceasingly about the direction of projects, and
accused them of disloyalty when they
questioned his ideas.
'When it became obvious to him he attracted a
number of us with a different political
philosophy, we were not permitted to do our
work,' said Shirley Ruge, a former principal of
schools for delinquent children and one of
those dismissed. 'We were considered
troublemakers and he wanted to shut us up.'"
Nicholson and former 3rd District Presiding Justice
Arthur Scotland have been close friends and colleagues
for more than 30 years. For the California Appellate
Court Legacy ProjectNicholson conducted an almost
three-hour interview with Scotland on December 8, 2011.
The transcript of the interaction reads like a meeting of the
Nicholson-Scotland mutual admiration society. Nicholson
opened the interview detailing the joint work history of the
BFFs.
3rd District Court of Appeal watchdogs assert that
Justice George Nicholson is ethically-challenged,
"George Nicholson: We are here with retired
and not particularly qualified to speak on the subject.
Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland, who
served on the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate
District, for more than 20 years, from 1989 to 2011, and that...the last dozen of which he was
the Administrative Presiding Justice. I'm George Nicholson, Justice of the Court of Appeal,
Third Appellate District, and I had the pleasure of serving with Presiding Justice Scotland for
20 years on this court. Before that, we served together as trial judges on the Sacramento
Superior Court, and even before that we served together in the Governor's Office during the
Deukmejian administration and in the California Department of Justice. This has been a long
time coming, Scotty, hasn't it?Arthur Scotland: Nick, it has, and it's a delight for me to have you
interview me for this project."

Click here to view the full interview transcript.

"Judgment Roll" Standard of Review Hits Hardest


Indigent and Low-Income Litigants
In addition, the Third District Court of Appealin Sacramento applies a unique and previously rarely used
"judgment roll" standard of review that in virtually every case where applied results in affirmance of trial court
rulings. Appeals brought by self-represented indigent and low-income litigants make up the vast majority of appeals
where the 3rd District applies the judgment roll standard of review. Although the appellate court has authored
dozens of decisions invoking the draconian standard against family court litigants, it has managed to keep the
assembly line, boilerplate process under the radar. The court has not published a single judgment roll appeal
originating from family court. Click here to see a list of unpublished 3rd District opinions archived by Google
Scholar. The judgment roll summary affirmance process helps the court maintain its title as the most
efficientCourt of Appeal in the state. Equal protection of the law is implicated because other appellate court
districts do not apply the standard nearly as often as the Third District. Equal application of the law is a

foundational attribute of American Democracy.

Justices of the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento:


Vance W. Raye, Administrative Presiding Justice.
Cole Blease
Ronald Robie
William Murray Jr.
George Nicholson
Kathleen Butz
Elena Duarte
Harry Hull Jr.
Louis Mauro
Andrea Lynn Hoch
For additional Sacramento Family Court News reporting on the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate
District, click here.

Click to visit Sacramento Family Court News on: Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Scribd, Vimeo, and Twitter.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Justice Goodwin Liu, Justice Marvin R. Baxter, Justice Ming W. Chin, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar,
Justice Joyce L. Kennard, and Justice Carol A. Corrigan of the Supreme Court are responsible for oversight and accountability of the 3rd
District Court of Appeal, and the other appellate courts in the state.

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JUDGE PRO TEM RACKETEERING

Sacramento Superior Court Temporary Judge


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JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

(69)
JUDGE PRO TEM
(50)
ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

(35)

Judge Pro Tem Attorney "Cartel" Controls Court


Operations, Charge Whistleblowers

MATTHEW J. GARY
(33)
FLEC
(28)
PETER J. McBRIEN
(24)

Sacramento Family Court News Exclusive Investigative Report


This investigative report is ongoing and was last updated in July, 2015.

ARTS & CULTURE


(23)
CHILD CUSTODY
(22)

As many of the articles on our main page reflect,


Sacramento Superior Courtwhistleblowers and
watchdogs contendthat a "cartel" of local family
lawattorneys receive kickbacks and other forms
ofpreferential treatment from family
courtjudges, administrators and employees.

The lawyers receive an assortment of illegal


kickbacks because they are members of the
Sacramento County Bar Association Family
Law Section,work as part-time judges,and
run the family court settlement conference
program on behalf of the court.

The kickbacks usually consist of "rubberstamped" court orders which are contrary to
established law, and cannot be attributed to the
exercise of judicial discretion.Most of the
illegal orders are issued against indigent, or
financially disadvantaged "pro per" parties
without an attorney. Manyof the pro pers also
are disabled.

The ultimate consequences of the systemic


Sacramento Family Court reform advocates assert that collusion
divorce court corruption include one-sided
between judges and local attorneysdeprives financially disadvantaged,
divisions of community property, illegal child
unrepresented pro per court users of their parental rights, community
assets, and due process and access to the court constitutional rights.
custody arrangements and the deprivation of
parental rights, and unlawful child and spousal
support terms. Court reform advocates assert the racketeering enterprise also has resulted in pro
perhomelessness, andcaused, or contributed to at least two child deaths.

SCBA
(22)
ROBERT SAUNDERS
(21)
CJP
(20)
WATCHDOGS
(20)
EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(19)
CHARLOTTE KEELEY
(18)
PRO PERS
(18)
DOCUMENTS
(17)
JAMES M. MIZE
(17)
DIVORCE CORP
(15)
CARLSSON CASE
(11)
COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)
CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
RAPTON-KARRES
(11)
SATIRE
(11)


The alleged criminal conduct also deprives victims of their state and federal constitutional rights, including due
process, equal protection of law, access to the courts, and the fundamental liberty interest in the care,
management and companionship of their own children.

Court watchdogs charge that the settlement conference kickback arrangement between the public court and private
sector attorneys constitutes aracketeering enterprisewhich also deprives the public of thefederally
protectedright tohonest government services.The alleged federal crimes also include thetheft, misuse, or
conversion of federal fundsreceived by the court, predicate acts ofmail or wire fraud,andpredicate state law
crimes, including obstruction of justice and child abduction.

WHISTLEBLOWERS
(11)
WOODRUFF O'HAIR
POSNER and SALINGER

(11)
JAIME R. ROMAN
(10)
LAURIE M. EARL
(10)
NO CONTACT ORDERS
(10)

With the help of court employeewhistleblowers, Sacramento Family Court News has partially reconstructed the
framework of the alleged criminal enterprise that, in scale and scope, rivals theKids for Cashcourt scandal in
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and the Orange County Superior Court case-fixing corruption scheme recently
exposed by the FBI.

SHARON A. LUERAS
(10)

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)

Settlement Conference Program Quid Pro Quo Arrangement


The current day Sacramento County Family Court system andattorney operated settlement conference program
was set up in 1991 by and for the lawyers of theSacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section,
according to the sworn testimony of controversial family court Judge Peter J. McBrien at his
2009Commission on Judicial Performance disciplinary proceedings. Click here to read Judge McBrien's
testimony.

CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)
FERRIS CASE
(8)

JULIE SETZER
(7)
YOUTUBE
(7)
3rd DISTRICT COA
(6)
CIVIL RIGHTS
(6)

In his own testimony during the same proceedings, local veteran family law attorney and judge pro tem Robert J.
O'Hair corroborated McBrien's testimony and attested to McBrien's character and value to Sacramento County Bar
Association Family Law Section members. Click here to view this excerpt of O'Hair's testimony. To view O'Hair's
complete testimony, click here.

CANTIL-SAKAUYE
(5)

In 2012,troubled Judge James Mizefurther privatized family court services and expanded the ability of ostensibly
"volunteer" temporary judge lawyers to earn kickbacks and other preferential treatment with his so-called "One Day
Divorce Program."

THADD BLIZZARD
(5)

Reducing the Caseload and Workload of Judges and Court Staff in Exchange for
Kickbacks

One objective of the illegal public-private partnership is to significantly reduce the caseload, and workload of fulltime judges by having private sector lawyers - instead of judges or court staff - operate the settlement program,
according to watchdogs.

At the settlement conferences, judge pro tem attorneys pressure divorcing couples to settle cases so they won't
use the trial court services, including law and motion hearings, ordinarily required to resolve a contested divorce. In
many cases, two lawyers - one acting as a temporary judge - with social and professional ties team up against an
unrepresented pro per to compel one-sided settlement terms. Accounts of coercive and deceptive tactics are
common.

Under the quid pro quo agreement, in exchange for reducing the workload of judges and court staff, as
opportunities arise the temporary judge attorneys are provided reciprocalkickbacks, gratuities, or emoluments
when representing clients in court. The issuance and receipt of the reciprocal benefits violates several state and
federal criminal, and civil, laws.

Reciprocal benefits include the issuance ofdemonstrably illegal court orders that have ignored, and even
authorized criminal conduct by judge pro tem attorneys and their clients, including criminal child abduction.

In one case, a judge ordered the illegal arrest and assault of a disabled pro per to benefit the opposing, part-time
judge attorney. A court employee whistleblower leaked a courtroom security video of the incident. The judge pro
tem lawyer subsequently was caught on court reporter transcript defending the judge andlying about the arrest
and assault, portraying the disabled victim as being at fault.

The consistent, statistically impossible in-court success rate of judge pro tem attorneys has provided
themprominence, client referrals, wealth, and a substantial monopoly on the Sacramento County divorce and
family law business. Whistleblowers point out that this benefit of the alleged criminal organization also implicates
consumer protection andantitrust laws, including the CaliforniaUnfair Business Practices Act.

CHRISTINA ARCURI
(5)
CONTEMPT
(5)

FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR

(4)
LUAN CASE
(4)
MIKE NEWDOW
(4)

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LAW BLOGS WE LIKE


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Law Librarian Blog
Law Professor Blogs
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Kafkaesq
Above the Law
The Divorce Artist

Racketeering Scheme Insulates Members from Government Oversight and


Accountability

The quid pro quo arrangement also involves what whistleblowers assert is a reciprocal protection racket that
conceals the organization from discovery by law enforcement agencies and state oversight authorities, including
the Commission on Judicial Performance, responsible for judge misconduct, and the State Bar Association,
responsible for attorney accountability and discipline.

Case audits conducted by SFCN show that judge pro tem attorneys routinely violate state law, court rules, and
attorney ethics rules, but are never reported to the State Bar, or assessed fines, penalties or "sanctions" by fulltime judges as required by state law.

Pro pers who attempt to report judge pro tem attorney misconduct to the State Bar are told they need a court
order from a judge before a disciplinary investigation against an opposing attorney can take place. There are no
known instances where a judge issued such an order.

On the other hand, at the request of cartel attorneys, pro per litigants are routinely punished by judges with illegal
fines, draconian financial sanctions, and other types of punishment to discourage them from returning to
court, and to coerce them to accept settlement terms dictated by the opposing judge pro tem lawyers.

Attorneys provide judges reciprocal protection by not reporting the judicial misconduct, Code of Judicial Ethics
violations, and criminal conduct committed by full-time judge cartel members. And the lawyers do more.

To help conceal and ensure the continuity of the enterprise, on the rare occasion when full-time judges doface
investigation by the Commission on Judicial Performance, members of the cartel provide false, misleading, or
otherwise gratuitous character witness testimony and other forms of support for the offending judge. The
testimony and support is designed to, and does reduce or eliminate potential punishment by the CJP, ensuring
judge members remain on the bench.

Racketeering Conduct of Court Clerks, Supervisors and the Family Law Facilitator

The racketeering activity includes startling coordination, kickbacks, andpattern and practice misconductby court
clerks, supervisors, and theFamily Law Facilitatoroffice. Court clerks routinelyrefuse to filelegallysufficient
paperworkfor pro per parties, while at the same timefilinglegallyinsufficient, andeven counterfeitpaperwork which they arerequired by lawto reject for filing - for judge pro tem attorneys.

LEGAL NEWS &


INFORMATION
California Lawyer Magazine
Courthouse News Service
Metropolitan News
Enterprise
California Official Case Law
Google Scholar-Includes
Unpublished Case Law
California Statutes

CALIFORNIA JUDICIAL
BRANCH
California Courts
Homepage
California Courts YouTube
Page
Judicial Council
Commission on Judicial
Performance
Sacramento County Family
Court
3rd District Court of Appeal
State Bar of California
State Bar Court

In some cases, judges and court clerks work in tandem toprevent pro per partiesfrom filing documentsat court
hearingsfor the benefit of judge pro tems, deliberately creating an incomplete and inaccurate trial court record in
the event the pro per files an appeal.Court records showthat clerks also deliberately withhold and delay the filing
of time sensitive pro per documents until after filing deadlines have expired.

Sacramento County Bar


Association

Family Law Facilitatorstaff provide pro per litigantswith false informationdesigned to concealstate law
violationsby court clerks and supervisors. Judges regularly provide attorneys withlegal advice and "bench
tips."When pro pers ask facilitator staff for similar information, they are told that facilitator employees are
prohibited from giving legal advice.

Local & National Family CourtFamily Law Sites & Blogs (may
be gender-specific)

Alleged RICO Racketeering Enterprise Evidence

Court reform and accountability advocates assert that the local family law bar- through the Family Law
ExecutiveCommitteeor FLEC - continues to control for the financial gain of members virtually all aspects of court
operations, and have catalogued documented examples of judge pro tem attorney preferential treatment and
bias against unrepresented litigants and"outsider" attorneys,including:
Divorce Corp, a documentary film that "exposes the
corrupt and collusive industry of family law in the
United States" was released in major U.S. cities on
January 10, 2014. After a nationwide search for the
most egregious examples of family court corruption,
the movie's production team ultimately included
fourcases from Sacramento County in the film,
more than any other jurisdiction.
Judge pro tem attorneys Charlotte Keeley, Richard
Sokol, Elaine Van Beveren and Dianne Fetzer are
each accused of unethical conduct in the problem
cases included in the movie. The infamous Carlsson
case, featuring judge pro tem attorney Charlotte

ABA Family Law Blawg


Directory
California Coalition for
Families and Children
California Protective
Parents Association
Center for Judicial
Excellence
Courageous Kids Network
Divorce & Family Law News
Divorce Corp
Divorced Girl Smiling
Family Law Case Law from
FindLaw
Family Law Courts.com

Keeley and Judge Peter McBrien is the central case


profiled in the documentary, with Sacramento
County portrayed as theGround Zeroof family court
corruption and collusion in the U.S. Click here for our
complete coverage of Divorce Corp.
Judge Thadd Blizzard issued a rubber-stamped,
kickback order in November, 2013 for judge pro tem
attorney Richard Sokol authorizing an illegal out-ofstate move away and child abduction by Sokol's client,
April Berger. The opposing counsel is an "outsider"
The 2014 documentary film Divorce Corp exposed court
corruption throughout the United States and designated
attorney from San Francisco who was dumbfounded
Sacramento County as the worst-of-the-worst.
by the order. Click here for our exclusive report,
which includes the complete court reporter transcript
from the hearing. Click here for our earlier report on the unethical practice of "hometowning" and the
prejudicial treatment of outsider attorneys.
Whistleblower leaked court records indicate that Sacramento Bar Association Family Law
Executive Committee officer and judge pro tem attorney Paula Salinger engaged in obstruction of
justice crimes against an indigent, unrepresented domestic violence victim. The victim was a witness in
a criminal contempt case against a Salinger client. The circumstances surrounding the obstruction of
justice incident also infer collusion between Salinger and controversial Judge Matthew J. Gary. For
our complete investigative report,click here.

Family Law Updates at


JDSupra Law News
Fathers 4 Justice
HuffPost Divorce
Leon Koziol.Com
Moving Past Divorce
News and Views Riverside
Superior Court
Weightier Matter

CONTRIBUTORS
Cathy Cohen
ST Thomas
PR Brown

Two "standing orders" still in effect after being issued by Judge Roland Candee in 2006 override a
California Rule of Court prohibiting temporary judges from serving in family law cases where one party
is self-represented and the other party is represented by an attorney or is an attorney. The orders were
renewed by Presiding Judge Laurie M. Earl in February, 2013.Click here for details.

PelicanBriefed
FCAC News

Sacramento Family Court judges ignore state conflict of interest laws requiring them to disclose to
opposing parties when a judge pro tem working as a private attorney represents a client in family
court. Click here for our exclusive investigative report. Click here for a list of other conflict of interest
posts.
Family court policies and procedures, including local court rules, are dictated by the SCBA Family Law
Executive Committeefor the financial benefit of private sector attorneys, and often disadvantage the
70 percent of court users without lawyers, according to family court watchdogs and whistleblowers.
For example, in sworn testimony by Judge Peter McBrien before the Commission on Judicial
Performance,McBrien described seeking and obtaining permission from FLEC to change a local rule.
Click here and here.

In November, 2012 Sacramento


Family Court Judge Jaime R.
Romanissued a rubber-stamped,
kickback orderdeclaring a family
court party a vexatious litigant and
ordering him to pay $2,500 to the
opposing attorney, both without
holding the court hearing required by
law. The opposing attorney who
requested the orders is Judge Pro
Tem Charlotte Keeley. The
blatantly illegal orders resulted in
both an unnecessary state court
appeal and federal litigation,
wasting scarce judicial resources
and costing taxpayers significant

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2011 SACRAMENTO/MARIN
AUDITS
(2)
3rd DISTRICT

COA
(6)
AB

(1)

ABA

1102
(1)
AB 590
JOURNAL

(1)

ADMINISTRATORS

(4)

AGGREGATED NEWS
(14)


AL

sums.Click here for our exclusive


coverage of the case.
Judge Matthew Gary used an
unlawful fee waiver hearing to both
obstruct an appeal of his own orders
and help a client of judgepro tem
attorney Paula Salinger avoid
paying spousal support. Click here
for our investigative report.

SALMEN
(1)
AMERICAN BAR

ASSOCIATION
(1)
ANALYSIS

(36)

Divorce attorney Charlotte Keeley (R) and her client Katina Rapton of
Mel Rapton Honda leave a court hearing. Keeley reportedly has billed
Rapton more than $1 million in connection with a child custody dispute.

An unrepresented, disabled 52-year-old single mother was made homeless by an illegal child support
order issued by Judge Matthew Gary for SCBA Family Law Section attorney Tim Zeff, the partner of
temporary judge Scott Buchanan. The rubber-stamped, kickback child supportorder, and other
proceedings in the case were so outrageous that the pro per is now represented on appeal by a team
of attorneys led by legendary trial attorney James Brosnahan of global law firm Morrison & Foerster.
For our exclusive, ongoing reports on the case, click here.
Judge pro tem attorneys Richard Sokol and Elaine Van Beverenhelped conceal judge misconduct
and failed to comply with Canon 3D(1) of the Code of Judicial Ethics when they were eyewitnesses to
an unlawful contempt of court and resisting arrest incident in Department 121. Both Sokol and Van
Beveren failed to report the misconduct of Judge Matthew Gary as required by state law.Van
Beveren isan officer of the SCBA Family Law Executive Committee.Click here for our exclusive
report...
...Four years later, Sokol and Van Beveren in open court disseminated demonstrably false and
misleading information about the unlawful contempt of court and resisting arrest incident. The
apparent objective of the judge pro tem attorneys was to discredit the victim of Gary's misconduct,
trivialize the incident, and cover up their own misconduct in failing to report the judge. For our follow-up
reports, click here. In 2014, a video of the illegal arrest and assault was leaked by a government
whistleblower. Click here for details.Watch the exclusive Sacramento Family Court News video
below:

ANDY FURILLO
(2)

AOC
(1)
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(10)

ARCHIBALD CUNNINGHAM
(1)

ARTHUR G. SCOTLAND
(5)

ARTS & CULTURE

(23)

ATTORNEY

(4)

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE
(4)

ATTORNEY ETHICS
(2)
ATTORNEY

MISCONDUCT
(35)

ATTORNEYS
(11)
BAR
ASSOCIATION
(11)
BARACK
OBAMA
(1)
BARTHOLOMEW
and WASZNICKY
(3)
BUNMI
AWONIYI

(1)

CALIFORNIA

JUDICIAL CONDUCT HANDBOOK

(1)
CALIFORNIA

LAWYER
(1)

CALIFORNIANS AWARE
(2)

CAMILLE HEMMER
(3)

CANTIL-SAKAUYE
(5)

CARLSSON CASE
(11)

CECIL and CIANCI


(2)
CEO

(4)

CHARLOTTE
KEELEY
(18)
CHILD
CUSTODY
(22)
CHILD

SUPPORT
(4)
CHRISTINA

ARCURI
(5)
CHRISTINA
VOLKERS
(8)
CIVICS
(1)

CIVIL LIABILITY
(1)
CIVIL
RIGHTS
(6)
CJA
(3)
CJP

(20)
ClientTickler
(2)
CNN
CODE OF JUDICIAL
ETHICS
(12)
CODE OF

(1)

SILENCE
(2)
COLLEEN
MCDONAGH
(3)
COLOR OF

LAW
SERIES

(11)

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS
(3)
CONTEMPT
(5)

COURT CONDITIONS
(2)

COURT EMPLOYEE
(1)
COURT

EMPLOYEE CODE OF ETHICS


(1)
COURT POLICIES
(1)
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RULES
(4)
COURTS
(1)
CPG

FAMILY LAW
(1)
CRIMINAL
CONDUCT
(12)
CRIMINAL

LAW
(3)
CRONYISM
(2)

DAVID KAZZIE
(4)
DEMOTION

(1)
DENISE

DIANE

RICHARDS
(1)

WASZNICKY

(2)


In 2008controversial family courtJudge Peter J. McBriendeprived a family court litigant of a fair trial
in a case where the winning party was represented by judge protemattorney Charlotte Keeley. In a
scathing, published opinion, the 3rd District Court of Appealreversed in full and ordered a new
trial. 6th District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad Rushing characterized McBrien's
conduct in thecase as a "judicial reign of terror."McBrien subsequently was disciplined by the
Commission on Judicial Performance for multiple acts of misconduct in 2009.Click here to read the
court of appeal decision. Click here to read the disciplinary decision issued by the CJP.
Judge pro tem attorneysCamille Hemmer,Robert O'Hair,Jerry GuthrieandRussell Carlsoneach
testified in support ofJudge Peter J. McBrienwhen thecontroversialjudge was facing removal from
the bench by theCommission on Judicial Performancein 2009.As a sworn temporary judges aware
of McBrien's misconduct, each wasrequired byCanon 3D(1)of theCode of Judicial Ethicsto take or
initiate appropriate corrective action to address McBrien's misconduct. Instead, each testified as a
character witnessin supportof the judge. In theCJP'sfinal disciplinary decision allowing McBrien to
remain on the bench, theCJPreferred specifically to the testimony as a mitigating factor that reduced
McBrien's punishment.Click here. Court records indicate thatJudge McBrienhas not disclosed the
potentialconflict of interestto opposing attorneys and litigants in subsequent appearances by the
attorneys in cases before the judge.Click hereforSFCNcoverage of conflict issues.
Judge pro temattorneysTerri Newman,CamilleHemmer,Diane WasznickyandDonna
Reedwereinvolved in a proposedscheme to rig a recall electionofcontroversialJudgePeter J.
McBrienin 2008. The plan involved helping McBrien defeat the recall by electing him "Judge of the
Year" before the November election.Click herefor theSacramento News and Reviewreport.
Judge pro tem attorney
Robert J. O'Hair testified
as a character witness for
controversial Judge Peter
J. McBrien at the judge's
second CJP disciplinary
proceeding in 2009.Paula
Salinger, an attorney at
O'Hair's firm,Woodruff,
O'Hair Posner &
Salingerwas later granted
a waiver of the
requirements to become
ajudge pro tem. A family
court watchdog asserts
the waiver was payback for
O'Hair's testimony for
McBrien.Click hereto
read our exclusive
investigative report.

DISQUALIFICATION
(2)

DIVORCE
(7)
DIVORCE
ATTORNEY
(5)
DIVORCE
CORP
(15)
DIVORCE
LAWYER

(5)

DOCUMENTS
(17)

DONALD TENN
(3)
DONNA
GARY
(2)
DSM-301.7
(1)
EDITORIAL
(1)
EDWARD
FREIDBERG
(2)
EFF
(2)

EFFICIENCY

IN

GOVERNMENT

ELAINE VAN
BEVEREN
(13)
ELECTIONS
(1)
AWARD
(1)

EMILY

GALLUP

(3)

EMPLOYEE CODE OF ETHICS

(4)

EMPLOYEE
MISCONDUCT
(19)

EQUAL PROTECTION
(2)

EUGENE L. BALONON
(1)

EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS

(2)
EX PARTE
(1)
F4J
(4)

FAMILY COURT
(9)
FAMILY
COURT

COURT

AUDITS
(1)
FAMILY

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(2)

FAMILY COURT

MEDIA COVERAGE

(1)
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(1)

FAMILY
COURT
SACRAMENTO
(2)
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LAW

(9)

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LAW
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(4)
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LAW
FACILITATOR
(4)

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(1)

FEDERAL LAW
(2)
FEDERAL

LAWSUITS
(2)
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(2)
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(8)
FIRST
AMENDMENT
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(2)

FLEC
(28)
FOIA
(2)
FOX

(1)
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(4)

GANGNAM STYLE
(1)
GARY E.
RANSOM
(1)
GARY
M.
APPELBLATT
(2)
GEORGE

NICHOLSON
(1)
GERALD UELMEN
Court records show that Judge Jaime Roman (L) and Judge Matthew Gary
routinely issued demonstrably illegal court orders for the benefit oflocal
attorneyswho also work as part-time judges in family court. Both judges
have been reassigned out of the family courthouse.

In cases where one party is


unrepresented, family court
clerks and judges permit judge pro tem attorneys to file declarations which violate mandatory state
court rule formatting requirements. The declarations- on blank paper and without line numbers - make
it impossible for the pro per to make lawful written evidentiary objections to false and inadmissible
evidence. Click here for our report documenting multiple state court rule violations in a motion filed
bySCBA Family Law Section officer and temporary judgePaula Salinger. To view the pro per
responsive declaration objecting to the illegal filing click here, and click here for the pro per points &
authorities.

(1)
GINGER

GREGORY

SYLVESTER
(1)

DWYER
(1)

HAL

BARTHOLOMEW
(1)
HATCHET
DEATH
(1)
HAZART SANKER

(2)
HONEST SERVICES
(4)

INDIGENT
(1)
INFIGHTING
(1)
J.
STRONG
(2)
JACQUELINE
ESTON
(2)
JAIME R.

ROMAN

(10)

JAMES

BROSNAHAN
(1)
JAMES

M.
MIZE
(17)
JEFFREY

POSNER
(6)

(1)

JERRY

JERRY BROWN
GUTHRIE

(1)

Family court clerks and judges allow judge pro tem attorneys to file a fabricated "Notice of Entry of
Findings and Order After Hearing" in place of a mandatory Judicial Council Notice of Entry of
Judgment FL-190 form. The fake form omits critical appeal rights notifications and other information
included in the mandatory form. Click here for our exclusive report.

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)

JODY PATEL
(1)
JOHN E.B. MYERS

Sacramento Family Court temporaryjudgeandfamily law lawyerGary Appelblatt was charged with
13-criminal counts including sexual battery and penetration with a foreign object. The victims were
clients and potential clients of the attorney.The judge pro tem ultimately pleaded no contest to fourof
the original 13-counts, including sexual battery, and was sentenced to 18-months in prison. Court
administrators concealed from the public that Appelblatt held the Office of Temporary Judge.Click
hereto read our report.

JRC
(1)
JUDGE
(1)

Judge pro tem and SCBA Family Law Section attorneyScott Kendall was disbarred from the practice

(1)
JOSEPH SORGE
(1)
JOYCE
KENNARD
(1)
JOYCE TERHAAR
(1)

JUDGE
PRO TEM
(50)

JUDGE SALARIES
(1)
JUDGES

(10)
JUDICIAL CONDUCT
HANDBOOK
(1)
JUDICIAL
COUNCIL

(5)

JUDICIAL

of law on Nov. 24, 2011. Kendall was disbarred for acts of moral turpitude, advising a client to violate
the law, failing to perform legal services competently, and failing to keep clients informed, including not
telling a client about a wage garnishment order and then withdrawing from the same case without
notifying the client or obtaining court permission. Court administrators concealed from the public that
Kendall held the Office of Temporary Judge.Click here to view our report.
Judge pro tem attorneys Nancy Perkovich and Jacqueline Estonin 2008 helped Donna Gary - the
wife of Judge Matthew J. Gary - promote and market ClientTickler, a client management software
program for attorneys. The judge reportedly has never disclosed the conflict of interest as required by
the Code of Judicial Ethics. Click here for our exclusive report on the controversy.
In February, 2013 the website of family law firm Bartholomew & Wasznicky cut off the public from the
only online access to The Family Law Counselor, a monthly newsletter published by the Sacramento
Bar Association Family Law Section. Lawyers at the firm include judge pro tem attorneys Hal
Bartholomew, Diane Wasznicky and Mary Molinaro. As SFCN has reported, articles in the
newsletter often reflect an unusual, collusive relationship between SCBA attorneys and court
administrators and judges.Click here for our report.

Family court reform


advocates assert that judge
pro tem attorneys obtain
favorable court rulings on
disputed issues at a
statistically improbable
rate. The collusion
between full-time judges
and judge pro tem
attorneys constitutes
unfair, fraudulent, and
unlawful business
practices, all of which are
prohibited under California
unfair competition laws,
including Business and
Professions Code
17200, reform advocates
claim.

MISCONDUCT

(69)
JUDY HOLZER

HERSHER
(1)
JULIE SETZER

(7)
KIDS FOR CASH
(2)

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Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Mizetestified as a characterwitness in


support of controversial Judge Peter McBrien when McBrien was facing removal
from the bench by the state Commission on Judicial Performance.

Unfair competition and the collusion between judges and judge pro tem attorneys ultimately results in
unnecessary appeals burdening the appellate court system, and other, related litigation that wastes
public funds, exposes taxpayers to civil liability, and squanders scarce court resources.
Watchdogs point out that the court operates what amounts to a two-track system of justice. One for
judge pro tem attorneys and another for unrepresented, financially disadvantaged litigants and
"outsider attorneys." Two-track systems are prohibited by the Code of Judicial Ethics, according to
the Commission on Judicial Performance and the California Judicial Conduct Handbook, the gold
standard reference on judge misconduct.Click here for articles about the preferential treatment given
judge pro tem attorneys. Click here for examples of how pro pers are treated.
After representing a client in Sacramento Family Court, San Francisco attorney Stephen R. Gianelli
wrote "this is a 'juice court' in which outside counsel have little chance of prevailing...[the] court has now
abandoned even a pretense of being fair to outside counsel." Click here to read Gianelli's complete,
scathing account.
The Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section is led by an "Executive Committee"
("FLEC") of judge pro tem attorneys composed ofChair Russell Carlson, Vice Chair Elaine Van
Beveren, Treasurer Fredrick Cohen and Secretary Paula Salinger. Three of the four have been
involved in legal malpractice litigation, violations of the Code of Judicial Ethics, or as a defendant in
federal civil rights litigation. Click here to read SFCN profiles of the Executive Committee members.
Click here for otherarticles about FLEC.
Judge pro tem attorneys are by law required to take or initiate corrective action if they learn that
another judge has violated any provision of the Code of Judicial Ethics, or if a lawyer has violated any
provision of the California Rules of Professional Conduct. Family court watchdogs assert that
temporary judges regularly observe unethical and unlawful conduct by family court judges and attorneys
but have never taken or initiated appropriate corrective action, a violation of the judge pro tem oath of
office. To view the applicable Code of Judicial Ethics Canons,Click here. For a Judicial Council
directive about the obligation to address judicial misconduct, a critical self-policing component of the
Code of Judicial Ethics, click here.

For information about the role of temporary judges in

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SO YOU WANT TO GO TO

family court,click here.For officialSacramento County


Superior Courtinformation about theTemporary Judge
Program click here.

Using public records law, Sacramento Family Court


News obtained the list of private practice attorneys
who also act as judge pro tems in Sacramento Family
Law Court. Each lawyer on the list below is currently a
temporary judge, or was a temporary judge in 2009,
2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.SFCN cross-checked each
name on the Sacramento Countyjudge pro tem list
withCalifornia State Bar Data. The first name in each
listing is the name that appears on the Sacramento
County judge pro tem list, the second name, the State
Bar Number (SBN), and business address are derived
from the officialState Bar data for each attorney. The
State Bar data was obtained using thesearch function
at the State Bar website.

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A number of family court whistleblowers have leaked court


recordsindicating that judge pro tem attorneys receive from
judges kickbacks and otherpreferential treatment in exchange
for operating the familycourt settlement conference program.

For-profit, private sector


lawyers who also hold the
Office of Temporary Judge:

Sandy

Amara, Sandra Rose Amara, SBN 166933, Law Office of Sandra Amara,1 California

Street,Auburn, CA95603.

Mark

Ambrose, Mark Anthony Ambrose, SBN 141222, Law Offices of Mark A. Ambrose, 8801

Folsom Blvd. Ste. 170, Sacramento, CA 95826. Ambrose unethically advertises himself as a temporary judge.

Kathleen Amos, Kathleen Swalla Amos, SBN 112395, Attorney at Law & Mediator,206 5th
Street, Ste. 2B Galt, CA 95632.

Gary Appelblatt, Gary Michael Appelblatt, SBN 144158, 3610 American River Drive #112,
Sacramento, CA 95864. Appelblatt was disbarred by the State Bar on Sept. 24, 2010 afterbeing convicted of
sexual battery against clients. Click here for our exclusive report. Appelblatt is a graduate of McGeorge School of
Law.

Beth

Appelsmith, Beth Marie Appelsmith, SBN 124135,1430 Alhambra Blvd. Sacramento CA

95816.

Bunmi Awoniyi, Olubunmi Olaide Awoniyi, SBN 154183, Law Office of Bunmi Awoniyi a
PC,1610 Executive Ct. Sacramento, CA 95864. Awoniyi unethically advertises herself as a temporary judge.
Awoniyi was appointed a Superior Court Judge in December 2012 and holds court in Department 120 of
Sacramento Family Court.

Alexandre C. Barbera, C. Alexandre Barbera, SBN 70071,915 Highland Point Drive, Ste. 250
Roseville, CA 95678.

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