California Legislature Orders Investigation of Family Law Courts

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California legislators have proposed an “audit” of two of the state’s most infamous family court systems, those in Marin County and Sacramento County. As reported by the Marin Independent Journal:

(from State orders audit of Marin family court)

Prodded by Sen. Mark Leno and other lawmakers, the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted Wednesday to investigate the family courts in Marin and Sacramento counties.
The audit will focus on the use, and potential misuse, of court-appointed specialists in family-law disputes, such as mediators, investigators and therapists.

Critics say such appointees can form incestuous and incompetent networks more concerned with generating fees than helping children through painful custody fights.

“It becomes a service mill, a cottage industry of sorts,” Leno said in an interview Wednesday. “Maybe state law needs to be changed.”

Marin and Sacramento counties were chosen for the audit because of the number of litigants reporting problems and filing complaints, said Ali Bay, a spokeswoman for Leno. But any changes recommended by the auditors could inspire new statewide legislation.

The audit is expected to take four months and cost about $160,000. The start date has not been determined.

Leno said that because of the state budget crisis, the audit committee – which consists of seven assembly members and seven senators – could only approve two audits Wednesday. Six were under consideration, he said.

Leno, a Democrat representing Marin and parts of San Francisco and Sonoma County, said the committee voted unanimously for the family court audit, demonstrating the widespread doubts about the system.

Whitewashing Family Law Court Problems

Having seen up close and personal how California’s family law courts work, it’s hard to look at this legislative action as anything other than a whitewash job to cover up for the state’s incompetent and overwhelmed judges and its corrupt and unjust laws. These laws virtually guarantee full employment of the divorce industry by treating virtually every family that finds itself in court with assets and substantial disagreements as targets for extortion and victimization using perjury and contempt of court to maximize the damages.

Jim Beall Has His Fingers In This Mess, Too

Jim Beall once against has involved himself in a family law matter of which he has little or nothing useful to contribute. As you may know, Beall is notorious as the backer of pro-child-abuse AB 612 legislation that attempted to enshrine tacit approval for parental alienation child abuse into state law. Anything for which Beall stands is inherently questionable. The original version of AB 612 which he introduced was one of the most incompetently written pieces of family law legislation ever to disgrace a state legislative chamber. His justification for such drivel is apparently that he wants the votes of extreme feminists who disregard the growing evidence that domestic violence and child abuse are problems caused by both genders, not just fathers.

Pocket Change Isn’t Going to Fix the Problems

The $160,000 is nothing in the golden state of budget chaos created by one of the nation’s most irresponsible state governments. Pretending that such a small expenditure is going to accomplish anything useful is lunacy. Pretending that seven assembly members and seven senators have the knowledge of family law courts, psychology, domestic violence, and child abuse necessary to make any sensible decisions a questionable leap of faith. The $160,000 and four months is more likely just another way for Beall and low-life politicians like him to make themselves look good to easily duped voters.

Family Law Reform Must Start With Honesty

If the legislature wants to reform the family law system, start with the most fundamental problem. The system is so overwhelmed by contested cases involving litigants and attorneys who commit perjury on a routine basis that the judges can’t figure out what’s true and what’s not. They spend immense amounts of time trying to do so only to get it wrong far too often. Meanwhile, the litigants who are telling the truth are often the ones running up the largest legal fees because it is far cheaper to tell a lie than to disprove a lie.

Even judges who appear to be well-intentioned and are attempting to follow the laws are left wandering clueless in the depths of a dishonest abyss filled with the words and deeds from the masses appearing in family law courts who think that veracity is an unnecessary evil. It is a garbage-in / garbage-out system guaranteed to trash people’s lives with bad decisions due to bad information, and to do so at the highest cost possible.

It’s possible to prove that many litigants and attorneys are knowingly perjuring themselves. I’ve seen court documents that amply demonstrate it with clear and convincing evidence. Often court and deposition transcripts show these people change stories and contradict themselves in ways that are not plausible misunderstandings of facts or changes in opinions. The judges don’t have time to read such documents, so the advantage belongs to the perjurers. Because there is essentially zero risk to perjury today, the cost of the crime is unjustly dumped upon the state and the aggrieved litigants. Saying that taxpayers finance the lies is essentially accurate.

Prosecute Perjury and Other Judicial Integrity Violations

Start by creating an office of judicial integrity to engage in civil prosecution against people who perjure themselves in court. The first targets should be the government employees and family law attorneys who perjure themselves. It won’t take much effort to get many thousands of names of probable perjurers from families who have been through California’s destructive family law system. Along with those names of dishonest attorneys and litigants will come the names of CPS social workers and police officers who engage in evidence tampering, subornation of perjury, perjury, and other crimes.

Enact Judicial Integrity Standards Based Upon Roles and Responsibilities

Pass laws to hold judges to the highest standards. Judges who perjure or engage in corruption should be massively fined at $100,000 to $1 million in fines payable to the government per offense plus liability for damages to aggrieved parties.

Pass laws that hold perjurers financially responsible for their offenses and make the statute of limitations 10 years. Perjury and subornation of perjury are virtually never prosecuted in California. Changing that will build public confidence in the courts.

Also pass laws requiring that officers of the court cannot knowingly allow their clients to violate court orders and must report suspected violations to the court. If they fail to do so, set a penalty of $1000 to $10,000 per incident for knowingly failing to report contempt of court and $10,000 to $100,000 for encouraging or assisting a client violating court orders.

Amazingly, in today’s family law courts it is not uncommon for attorneys to allow and even encourage their clients to violate court orders and make false accusations because they know that such misconduct will draw a response from the opposing party that they can then spin in their favor. They take the attitude that lying is a tool to “win” court cases. In family law courts, however, there are mostly losers in the form of damaged litigants and damaged children.

Enact a “three strikes and you’re out” law regarding attorneys. After three violations of judicial integrity laws, the attorney is permanently disbarred and banned from employment by any state, county, or local government.

These changes in judicial integrity laws would be both a huge revenue opportunity and a huge cost savings opportunity. Many of the worst perjurers are family law attorneys who have pocketed millions of dollars over the years in part because of their skill and willingness to lie in court and ability to enable and encourage their clients to do so. Set the penalty for each incident of perjury or subornation of perjury by an officer of the court (which is what lawyers are supposed to be) at $100,000 to $1 million payable to the government depending upon the severity, plus also allow award of damages to aggrieved parties.

Set the evidentiary standard for judicial integrity cases involving officers of the court and government employees to require clear and convincing evidence as there is no jail time to be served and they should know the law and be taking measures to ensure they do not even give the appearance of breaking it. They chose their careers and passed exams to get their licenses to practice. Hold them accountable for their actions.

As a ballpark estimate, consider proving 50,000 offenses at an average fine of $200,000 each is $10 billion in fines. That’s enough that it could substantially help resolve the California budget deficit, even if half of it is spent on prosecuting these offenders and it takes two or three years to do it.

Moreover, these same perjuring officers of the court are often the ones who cause or enable divorces to spiral out of control into multiple year cases that chew through the life savings of families while psychologically destroying all the members of the family. Major penalties for judicial integrity violations will help reduce the extreme destructiveness of contested divorces and help hold down court costs, further helping to keep afloat the capsizing California budget.

Many more perjurers are government employees who cause the state, counties, and local governments to spend possibly hundreds of millions of dollars (or more!) per year wrongfully persecuting, prosecuting, and litigating regarding individuals who have committed no crimes at all. If it’s not clear who to pursue for wrongdoings, ask the citizen’s police and CPS complaint boards and grand juries for input. Many of them would be pleased to help rid the government of employees who have harmed citizens. They have already collected substantial amounts of evidence and testimony to substantiate the offenses of many of these government employees.

Fire all such employees for cause, and ban them from ever holding employment in state, county, or city governments and law enforcement agencies again. Then proceed to prosecute the worst of them for their judicial integrity violations, collecting similar billions in fines from the tens of thousands who will be found liable.

Perjury by Litigants and Witnesses

Finally, don’t forget the perjuring litigants and witnesses, including therapists, psychologists, neighbors, family members, and friends. Many of these people may have been encouraged to lie and distort by their attorneys, clients, family, friends, or a combination thereof. These people aren’t government employees and aren’t officers of the court, so perhaps the standards and penalties for them can be somewhat lower. Their dishonesty does not strike so far to the core of the integrity of the law as dishonesty by officers of the court and government employees. The fines for them can be lower, perhaps $1000 to $100,000 per incident depending upon the severity, plus damages to the aggrieved party.

Perjury by denying you had an affair might warrant a $1000 fine and no damages or perhaps some court fees to be reimbursed to the other party.

Perjury by wrongfully accusing your child’s other parent of child abuse that put him or her through months or years of psychologically and financially taxing investigations and litigation might be worthy of $100,000 to the government for perjury plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensatory damages to the falsely accused.

Accountability Is Key

Failure to hold people accountable for their dishonesty and misconduct is what has made a mockery of the courts in California. It is particularly bad in family law courts because the standards are so low that they give the impression that lying is not only allowed, it is expected. If the legislature won’t fix this fundamental problem, they have no real intent to improve the family law courts and outcomes for the families who enter them.

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Further Reading

State orders audit of Marin family court

Legislature Passes Historic Audit of California Family Court System

More Debate Over California AB 612 Parental Alienation Bill

Beall’s Attempt to Support Child Abuse is Defanged

California Democrat Jim Beall Supports Child Abuse

Lying is America’s Favorite Pastime

Holding Family Law Judges Accountable

San Diego County Grand Jury Letter Regarding CPS Abuses

Dirty Tactics of Dirty Lawyers

  1. February 1st, 2011 at 22:27 | #1

    Please, who ever can help your system in Los Angeles, Ca. on Family Law – please help to investigate or change it. It is egregious and insidious to children and perfectly good fathers.

    They are fracturing children’s lives – their futures. Please I am a woman, but just because a mother is a mother does not mean she is a good mother. Just because a Doctor is a Doctor or Attorney and etc. does not mean they’re good at what they do. I can not imagine growing up without a father, he is my hero – still is at 87. He taught me so much in life, especially values. Divorce is devastating enough on children, let alone if a mother wants to move 3,000 miles away just because of a boyfriend. And she hates California. Just let me take your child away from you, no big deal the child and father will get over it in no time.

    The attorneys are bad and greedy, the evaluators do not have a clue what they’re doing, they know nothing about what is in the best interest of children- they lie! The Judge is biased – just assumes because he is a father, he is a dead beat Dad. Are you people stupid, or you just don’t care about family values and childrens futures. Is it just greed -what is it? Why do you allow this kind of behavior and flat out curuption to continue. You all should be so….ashamed of yourselves. Especially the mother for even wanting to take a child away from the father. Yes, if the father was bad, that’s a different story, but not because she wants to run off with a rich boyfriend. (he has two ex-wives and two sets of children – he is not close to rich) Great role model people. They’re as stupid and sick as the mother. My husband is a retired attorney – graduated from West Point #1 in his class – thought this was a railroad job from day one. The trail was a total circus – the lies that were allowed on the mother’s side were astounding and egregious. The father was not allowed anything in the court. I almost raised my hand, and said, ” this is not right!!!! I have lost my niece. Worst of all, the child has lost her Daddy. She still screams when he calls – I want to see you. She is 5.

    Thank you for listening.

  2. January 27th, 2012 at 12:26 | #2

    I have been through 7 years of this hell. My ex is a millionaire and the judge imputed $14,000 month to me with no explanation, simply used that number in the dissomaster. I have been pro per for over 15 hearings, their attorney will not allow me to have any discovery. An investigator found he had 5 hidden accounts. I have never made more than $3200 month in my life. But I can do nothing, the judge is friends with my ex’s sister.

    • January 28th, 2012 at 05:57 | #3

      Ginny,

      File a motion to recuse and state that the judge is personal friends with your ex’s sister. That’s enough to create the appearance of bias. List examples of biased and abusive decisions by the judge that show further appearance of bias.

      File a Commission on Judicial Performance complaint against the judge for abuse of discretion, bias, refusal to enforce discovery rules (assuming you have brought this up in court), and also over the refusal to recuse if the judge does not recuse as he or she should.

      A California appeal court recently reversed the outrageous child support decision of abusive Judge Kreber of Orange County in a case that sounds somewhat like yours in terms of abusive practices regarding imputation of income. See Appeal Court Reverses Judge Who Manhandled Dad in Child Support Case.

      Chris

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