Cole Stuart Considers $10M False Arrest Suit Against SDCBAWritten by: Chris Print This Article
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In the wake of what appears to be a wrongful arrest of California Coalition for Families and Children co-founder and president Cole Stuart, the evidence is building that one of the primary culprits in this matter is the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA).
We’ve obtained copy of computer file containing a letter directed to Patrick L. Hosey, President of the San Diego County Bar Association. In the letter, Cole Stuart describes the events of the April 15, 2010, family law seminar sponsored by the SDCBA at which their staff and private security guards allegedly handcuffed and removed him from the event. This is despite the facts that he is a licensed attorney who paid for admission to the event, the arrest warrant for him was obtained in an irregular fashion that suggests judicial misconduct was involved, and the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and San Diego Sheriff Department officers on the scene wanted to wait until after the event to make an arrest.
SDPD officers pointed out that it was highly unusual for an arrest warrant to be issued over a misdemeanor alleged violation of a temporary restraining order. Possibly even more unusual is that the TRO was not served on Cole Stuart until April 16, two days after the issue of the arrest warrant tied to the TRO and one day after he had already been arrested.
Apparent Misconduct of Judge Lisa Schall
It appears that Judge Lisa Schall issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Cole Stuart at the request of his ex-wife, Lynn Stuart, who is upset that he was trying to arrange to talk with his son on the phone. She allegedly misrepresented his emails to arrange a phone schedule as annoying phone calls and stalking. The TRO was issued without an opportunity for defense, typical tactics for family law judges who believe that due process doesn’t apply in their courtrooms. The California Bar Association acknowledges that there is a major problem with TROs as they are often being used improperly as offensive weapons by malicious parents who want to gain an advantage in a custody battle. Estimates are that more than half of the instances in which TROs are requested involve false allegations and exaggerations designed to mislead the court to gain an advantage.
Schall is hardly a model judge and is very likely biased and prejudiced in this case. She’s been subjected to repeated disciplinary action by the Commission on Judicial Performance for past misconduct and also has a criminal record for reckless drunk driving. It is our understanding that Cole Stuart filed a complaint against her with the Commission on Judicial Performance which has yet to be resolved. Consequently, it appears that Schall should have recused herself from the case. Instead, it appears she may have used the opportunity to retaliate against Cole Stuart.
Questions Surround Family Law Judges and City Attorney
It’s still not entirely clear what the exact roles of Judge Lorna Alksne, Judge Lisa Schall, Judge Christine Goldsmith, and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith were in arranging for an arrest warrant in what appears to be an effort timed to harass and intimidate political protesters upset with the San Diego family law courts. Reports are that Alksne identified Stuart to Sheriff deputies on her security detail and then may have involved herself in the effort to arrest him. Judge Christine Goldsmith was also at the family law seminar. She reports to Alksne. Her husband, Jan Goldsmith, allegedly signed the arrest warrant. The nature and timing of events and connections between these parties causes there to be a distinct appearance of a conspiracy to cause false arrest for political purposes involving all of these parties in addition to the SDCBA.
Letter to SDCBA
In his letter to SDCBA President Hosey, Cole Stuart states:
(quote from the letter)
At approximately 6:00 pm on Thursday, April 15, 2010 I arrived at the SDCBA building, signed in and joined the seminar. Approximately thirty minutes into the seminar during a break, two private security employees of the SDCBA approached me and informed me that San Diego Police officers were waiting outside of the building with a warrant for my arrest. They requested that I accompany them outside of the building. I informed the SDCBA employees that I had paid to attend the seminar, that I wished to complete it, and that I did not wish to leave before its end. The SDCBA employees informed me that I could wait until the end of the seminar, but that I would be arrested by SDPD at the end of the seminar. I advised them that I would be pleased to speak with SDPD after the seminar.
SDCBA employees continued to attempt to convince me to leave, threatening me with arrest. I asked if the employees possessed an arrest warrant and they admitted they did not. I inquired as to whether SDPD intended to enter the building to arrest me and the employees admitted that SDPD had no intention of entering the building. Sherriff’s deputies were present and also refused to make an arrest. I advised SDCBA employees that if they attempted to arrest me I would consider it an assault, false arrest, and false imprisonment.
One of the SDCBA employees then left to consult with other SDCBA employees and/or seminar speakers and attendees. He returned and repeated that if I did not leave the building he would forcibly remove me. I advised him again that I was rightfully present at the seminar and did not wish to leave. The two SDCBA employees then handcuffed me, took me into custody, and forcibly removed me from the building in front of approximately 100 of my professional colleagues.
SDCBA employees forcibly took me to SDPD officers outside the building where I was arrested by SDPD. I was taken to county jail and imprisoned for approximately eight hours until released on bail.
SDPD officers advised me that they were perplexed as to why an arrest warrant was issued for an alleged misdemeanor charge. They stated that they rarely receive warrants for misdemeanors. They also stated that they had no intention of entering the SDCBA building to execute the warrant as our protest was peaceful and I was causing no disturbance inside.
Apparently several SDCBA employees attempted to convince the officers to execute the warrant inside the building, yet the officers refused. I am further investigating, and will soon report any violations of Judicial Cannons relating to the arrest to the Commission for Judicial Performance. Clearly, SDPD and Sherriff’s deputies had ample opportunity to execute the warrant, yet refused. Nevertheless, SDCBA chose, through it’s employees, to arrest me and remove me from a seminar that I paid for and was rightfully entitled to attend.
This is a claim for assault, false arrest, and false imprisonment pursuant to California law. False imprisonment is the ‘nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a person, without lawful privilege, for an appreciable length of time, however short.’ Fermino v. Fedco, Inc., 872 P.2d 559, 567 (Cal.’94) (quoting Molko v. Holy Spirit Ass’n, 762 P.2d 46, 63 (Cal.’88)). A false imprisonment action may also be maintained if ‘the defendant unlawfully detains the [plaintiff] for an unreasonable period of time’ after an otherwise legal seizure or arrest. Lincoln v. Grazer, 329 P.2d 928, 30 (Cal.Ct.App.’58). Once the plaintiff has proven the elements of the tort, the defendant has the burden to establish that the detention or arrest was legally justified. See Cervantes v. J.C. Penney Co., 595 P.2d 975, 982 (Cal.’79).
SDCBA had no legal right to place me in handcuffs and remove me from the seminar. The act of doing so in front of dozens of my colleagues additionally caused injury to my reputation and person. SDCBA’s actions also caused physical injury, constituting assault. SDCBA’s actions were unlawful and caused significant damages. As an attorney practicing in San Diego, the public display of such an arrest has caused injury to my reputation and significant loss of business opportunities.
This demand is for compensation for such injuries in the amount of $10,000,000. Please deliver this claim and demand to you insurance carriers. I request that they contact me as soon as possible to discuss resolution of this claim. If I have not received a satisfactory response from you by Wednesday, April 28, 2010 I will initiate suit to resolve the claim.
Cole Stuart’s description of the events has to date been verified by other parties present at the event.
Other Parties Subject to Suit
As this case is developing, it appears there are reasons to believe that many other parties were involved in this false arrest. It may be difficult for Cole Stuart to establish their culpability without naming them in a lawsuit. SDCBA has asked for more time to respond to the demand. While Stuart has not yet filed suit, we expect he will likely do so if SDCBA in his view doesn’t sufficiently take responsibility for its actions.
If he does file a suit, it is plausible the following parties will be named:
San Diego County Bar Association
Other SDCBA officials
Judge Lorna Alksne
Judge Lisa Schall
Judge Christine Goldsmith
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith
City of San Diego
County of San Diego
State of California
The last three potential defendants are on the list because they pay the judges and city attorney and may be involved. We’d also expect to see placeholder defendants listed as “does 1 to 100” or similar to enable additional parties to be added as defendants as discovery proceeds to reveal the parties involved and their actions.
While it appears that SDPD and Sheriff Department officers were better behaved than the other parties, it is entirely possible that their actions were influenced from behind the scenes by other parties working in their agencies or related agencies who are friends with those on the above list. In particular, Bonnie Dumanis is connected to Jan Goldsmith, is often tied into discussions about government misconduct in the county, and has tied to the Sheriff Department as interim Sheriff Bill Gore used to work for her.
Criminal Investigation of Judges, SDCBA, and City Attorney May Be Warranted
Given the obvious mistrust this entire incident is creating and the evidence of improper actions by government authorities, it also seems prudent that a California Department of Justice and/or FBI investigation of the above parties be conducted. Many parents who have suffered from abuse by the San Diego family law system believe the evident conflicts of interests and appearance of corruption is enough to justify criminal investigations. The specter of judges acting to persecute political opponents is also not something that should be tolerated. Any judge who acts in this fashion should be prosecuted and forced out of office. Unfortunately, given the connections between the judges and the city attorney, district attorney, police, and sheriff, there is no reason for citizens to have any confidence that an objective investigation would be conducted by any law enforcement agency with ties to the local political/judicial structure.