You are on page 1of 24

Andrew Blum, Esq., State Bar No.

116644

Commission on Judicial Performance


Office of Trial Counsel
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14424
San Francisco, CA 94102

FILED

or
k

Valerie Marchant, Esq., State Bar No. 124765

et
w

JUL 0 8 2009

Commission on

Judicial Performance

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

STATE OF CALIFORNIA

Telephone: (415) 557-1200

BEFORE THE COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE

INQUIRY CONCERNING
JUDGE PETER J. MCBRIEN,

EXAMINER'S OPENING BRIEF


TO THE COMMISSION
(Rule 130(a))

NO. 185.

Pursuant to Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance, rule 130(a),

I.

Ju

the examiner submits the following opening brief.

PROCEDURAL STATUS

ia

On June 23,2009, the special masters filed their findings of fact and

al

if

or
n

conclusions of law with the commission. (Rule 129.)

II.

SUMMARY OF MASTERS' CONCLUSIONS

The masters concluded that Judge McBrien engaged in two instances of


prejudicial misconduct (counts 1A(1) and 1A(3)), and two instances of improper
action (counts 1A(2) and 1A(4)).

2009-07-08-Examiner-Opening Brief

122.)

The judge claimed in his response that he wanted the Statements of

or
k

determining whether the parties were still present. (Exh. 5, p. 22; masters' rpt., p.

et
w

Economic Interests in part because they would set forth an opinion from Carlsson
regarding the value of the fourplex and the amount of rental income from it. But,

during the hearing, "Judge McBrien conceded he was familiar with Statements of
Economic Interests ... and that the documents he requested Mr. Carlsson to

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

produce would not have contained any valuation or income information." (Exh. 1,
p. 3; masters' rpt, p. 130.)

Judge McBrien testified under oath at his deposition and at the hearing that
he wanted the Statements of Economic Interests because he thought the Fair
Political Practices Commission (FPPC) might be able to place a lien on the

property if Carlsson had not disclosed the fourplex. The masters rejected this

testimony, pointing out that the judge later admitted that he had never heard that
the FPPC had the power to place a lien on or confiscate property. Moreover,

Judge McBrien ruled in the Carlsson case without the documents which, as the
masters found, "refutes his assertion that he needed the documents, or that he

believed that nondisclosure might have interfered with the disposition of the
fourplex, which he ordered sold." (Masters' rpt., pp. 130-131.)

Ju

In his letter to the commission (exh. 3), Judge McBrien admitted that he

wanted the Statements of Economic Interests because Carlsson's testimony

rn
i

indicated "possible criminal activity." At the hearing, however, Judge McBrien

claimed that this statement in his letter was wrong "because at the time he wrote

al

if
o

the letter he did not have the benefit of the trial transcript to refresh his

recollection as to his reasons." (Masters' rpt., p. 57.) However, the letter itself
contains citations to the trial transcript, so he clearly had access to it when he

wrote the letter. (Exh. 3.)

In addition, Judge McBrien gave untrue and misleading testimony at the


hearing about the facts underlying his prior discipline. He repeatedly claimed that

-10-

2009-07-08-Examiner-Opening Brief

was cut was for fire safety, not view enhancement. He explained that he just
wanted to let the public and the media know what actually happened. (R.T.

et
w

580:2-582:22,606:20-613:1.) But his testimony was proven false by his prior

or
k

the incident involved only "one limb" from one tree and that the "real" reason it

sworn testimony and court documents from the tree cutting case. (Exhs. 45,46.)

In respondent's exhibit P, Judge McBrien tried to explain this away by claiming

that he meant that he only "saw" one limb fall to the ground. But that is not what

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

he had testified to at the hearing.

Attempts to mislead the commission are especially egregious. "There are

few judicial actions in our view that provide greater justification for removal from
office than the action of a judge in deliberately providing false information to the
Commission in the course of its investigation into charges of wilful misconduct on
the part of the judge." (Adams v. Commission, supra, 10 Cal.4th at p. 914.)
'"[Deception is antithetical to the role of a Judge who is sworn to uphold the law
and seek the truth." (In the Matter ofCollazo (1998) 91 N.Y.2d 251 [668

N.Y.S.2d 997,691 N.E.2d 1021,1023] [removing judge for deceitful conduct


during investigation of initial wrongdoing].)

Likelihood of Future Violations

Ju

E.

In 2002, Judge McBrien was publicly admonished for serious misconduct,

ia

but has now attempted to disavow much of the conduct on which that discipline
was based. In the current case, after walking out on the trial, he had ample time to

or
n

reconsider and correct his actions, but he did not. Moreover, he acknowledges no
111:6-113:8,125:6-126:4,128:4-15.) These factors make it likely that he would

commit further misconduct if allowed to remain on the bench.

al

if

wrongdoing, but instead attempts to blame the attorneys. (R.T. 97:22-98:17,

-11-

2009-07-08-Examiner-Opening Brief

Andrew Blum, Esq., State Bar No. 116644


Valerie Marchant, Esq., State Bar No. 124765

pp.

I IL t \J

or
k

Commission on Judicial Performance


Office of Trial Counsel

455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14424

JUL l 7 Z009

Commission on
Judicial Performance

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

STATE OF CALIFORNIA

et
w

San Francisco, CA 94102


Telephone: (415)557-1200

BEFORE THE COMMISSION ON JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE

INQUIRY CONCERNING

EXAMINER'S REPLY BRIEF

JUDGE PETER J. McBRIEN,

(Rule 130(c))

NO. 185.

Pursuant to Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance, rule 130(c),

the examiner submits the following reply to respondent's response brief.

OBJECTIONS TO FINDINGS OF FACT

Ju

I.

We have objected to the masters' inclusion as a factor in mitigation Judge

rn
i

McBrien's statement in a letter to the commission that he "admits he acted badly"

al

if
o

for which he deserves to be "rebuked," as he later explained that he did nothing

wrong other than leaving an "incomplete" record. (Exh. 3; R.T. 184:8-13.) The

judge responds that his admission of "failure to make a complete record is


noteworthy." (Respondent's response brief [RRB], p. 2.) However, it is not a
mitigating factor for a judge who has committed serious and obvious misconduct

to admit such a minor mistake while denying the gist of the misconduct.

2009-07-27-Examiner-Reply Brief

Nor was Judge McBrien's false claim that Carlsson's expert witness was

or
k

only testifying as to previous matters the result of a faulty memory. (Answer, p.

4.) It was clearly disproven by the trial transcripts that the judge had already seen.

et
w

(See exh. 3; exh. 37 pp. 457:4-462:20.)


At his deposition, Judge McBrien testified that he had not precluded

Carlsson from completing his case because he had offered the parties more court
time. At the hearing, however, he admitted that he had never offered them more

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

time and claimed that it was his "policy" or the "culture" not to make such an offer
(rather, the attorneys had to initiate a request for more time). (Exh. 5 p.16:1518:15; R.T. 74:4-8; 125:6-126:4; 346:14-17; 622:22-623:22.) This discrepancy is

not explainable by a faulty memory; he would have been aware of any such long
standing "policy" at the time of the deposition.

Nor was his blatantly untrue and misleading testimony regarding his prior

discipline the result of a faulty memory. When Judge McBrien testified at the
hearing, he knew full well that numerous trees had been cut, yet he repeatedly

stated under oath that only one tree had been cut.

E.

Likelihood ofFuture Violations

Judge McBrien argues (KRB, p. 8) that the evidence does not suggest that
he is likely to commit future misconduct because in over 20 years on the bench

Ju

there has only been "the appearance of one claim for judicial misconduct."

However, apart from the fact that this seems to overlook the prior discipline (as to

rn
i

which he displayed a significant lack of candor), failure to appreciate or admit to

al

if
o

the impropriety of his acts indicates a lack of capacity to reform.


F.

Impact ofMisconduct on the Judicial System

Judge McBrien argues (RRB, p. 8) that his alleged conduct "all arises from
a single matter" and has not "affected the handling of other actions within the
Sacramento County Superior Court Family Law Division, or in the greater
California judicial system." In fact, Judge McBrien's misconduct has had a

significant adverse impact on the judiciary. His conduct generated considerable

-5-

2009-07-27-Examiner-Reply Brief

ni

or

if

al

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

di

Ju

if
o

al

C
a

rn
i

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

Ju

et
w

or
k

if
o

al

C
a

rn
i

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

Ju

et
w

or
k

if
o

al

C
a

rn
i

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

Ju

et
w

or
k

if
o

al

C
a

rn
i

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

Ju

et
w

or
k

if
o

al

C
a

rn
i

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

Ju

et
w

or
k

This article was printed from the Local Stories


section of the Sacramento News & Review, originally published August 16,
2001.
This article may be read online at:
http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/content?oid=8108

A view to kill for


When Superior Court Judge Peter McBrien noticed a bunch of oaks
blocking his view of the American River, he had the trees chainsawed.
Is that upholding the law?
By Stephen James
When he arrived at the scene of the crime and surveyed the
massive pile of dismembered limbs, he knew immediately that a
chainsaw had been used to butcher the victims. There was no
blood at the scene, only the telltale shredded bark and wood
chips that littered the site. And despite the fact that it was also
obvious that the vandals had carried out the tree slaughter
Return on investment: Because he got caught, this
quickly, veteran Sacramento County park ranger Steve Flannery view cost the judge $20,000 and change, but local real
estate agent Lillian Fulton estimates that it increased
berated himself.
the value of the judges residence by $100,000.
PHOTO BYLARRY DALTON

Flannery took pride in the fact that he had a keen awareness of


the goings-on along his patrol route on the American River
Parkway, and was disappointed that he had not discovered the desecration near the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in
Ancil Hoffman Park sooner. When I first saw it, I was really dismayed, he explained. You think youve got a
pretty good eye on things but its a big area to cover.
It was small consolation when it was revealed that the crime appeared to have been timed to avoid detection. The
tree-cutting incident took place in the evening when the nature center was closed, the park rangers were spread
thin, and one of the two next-door neighbors who lived nearby were on vacation. Whoever did the tree butchery
apparently had a plan. I believe he timed it just right, said Flannery.
The unusual chain of events regarding the timing lead to more investigation into the crime, and culminated with
the felony criminal indictment of a Sacramento County Superior Court judge.
It all began November 11, 1999, when Flannery received a report of felled trees near the nature center, and went
to investigate. Flannery was intimately familiar with the area, having begun his career as a park ranger 22 years
earlier by leading educational tours along the nature trails that wind into the woods from the center. Flannery
had guided hundreds of visitors through the area, but had never seen the natural landscape the way it appeared
that day. What he saw were several large oak treeslater determined to be up to 50 feet tall and 80 years old
that had been dismembered, their trunks and limbs still resting haphazardly where they had landed after falling
50 feet to the ground. He was shocked by the extent of the damage to the parks trees. This was a pretty
egregious act, said Flannery, a callous disregard for protected public property. Like in all parks and other
public property, damaging or removing trees, plants or wildlife at the recreation area is prohibited by state and

local law.
The large, disheveled pile of splintered oak looks essentially the same today as when first discovered. Flannery
points out that the destruction resulted in a significant loss of the shade canopy provided by the trees, which
enabled birds to nest, wildlife to thrive, and discouraged the growth of non-native plants on the ground. Youre
constantly battling non-native plants and the oaks will choke them out by denying them the sunlight. This is
totally open to the sun now, he explained, pointing to the streaming sunlight bathing the forest floor.
On the fall morning he discovered the hardwood corpses, Flannery immediately put his investigative training to
workalthough this mystery wasnt much of a challenge. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out who
would benefit from these trees being cut, he said. The houses bordering the nature area are located on a bluff 30
to 60 feet above the area and, as he climbed up, Flannery noted that one home directly above the destroyed trees
now had a virtually unobstructed view of the river.
It is undisputed that the crimethe destruction of protected valley oak trees in a public parkhas permanently
altered the sensitive environment at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, where schoolchildren and other visitors
quietly observe families of deer, wild turkey and other wildlife living, as they have for hundreds of years, among
native trees and foliage. It may be hard to comprehend the selfishness of the actapparently committed for the
sole purpose of carving out a view for a home sitting on a bluff bordering the park. And harder still to
understand why a Sacramento County Superior Court judge and former deputy attorney general with the state
Department of Justicesworn to uphold and enforce the lawwould commit such a crime.
The prosecution, conviction and epilogue from the Sacramento
County criminal case formally titled The People of the State of
California vs. Peter James McBrien and Mark Patrick
Chamberlin provides a rare and unsettling glimpse into a
veiled niche of the criminal justice and judicial discipline
systems, where law-breaking judicial officers are provided
preferential treatment. An examination of the case shows that
the judge will likely face no public punishment from the
Commission on Judicial Performance, the state agency
responsible for judge oversight.
Orienting himself in line with the pile of cut wood that used to
be stoic, healthy oak trees, Flannery began his hike to the home
at the top of the bluff. From the crest, it was impossible to miss
the stunning view over the nature center and park, across a
glistening bend in the American River, and out over the valley
beyond. Stepping over the park boundary and into an unfenced backyard, Flannery proceeded to the back door
of the house and knocked. A woman answered and, in a short conversation with the ranger, denied any
knowledge of the cuttings outside the back of her property. The woman identified herself as Barbara McBrien
and, Flannery recalls, volunteered that she was the wife of a superior court judge. The conversation and
demeanor of the woman gave Flannery the impression that he had been given a veiled warning. Flannery felt
that it implied you guys better be careful, you dont know who youre dealing with, he said, as if she felt the
reference to contacts in high places would immediately end the inquiry. (Barbara McBrien did not respond to an
interview request.) But the judges wife may have underestimated whom she was dealing with, and the ranger
found the none-too-subtle attempt at intimidation offensive, and remained unfazed. I had no intention of just
blowing it off, Flannery said.
No, its not a logging camp: Ranger Steve Flannery at
the pile of lumber that used to be healthy oak trees at
the Effie Yeaw Nature Center at Ancil Hoffman
Park.
PHOTO BYLARRY DALTON

After enlisting help from a supervisor, Flannery returned to the top of the bluff later that same day, where they
were contacted by Susan Arthur, the next-door neighbor of the McBriens, who said she had witnessed the
cuttings. Arthur also had additional information about the chain of events leading up to the crime, which were
recorded in the court records. Ms. McBrien told Ms. Arthur that they were going to be cutting oaks from the
nature area so that they would have a better view of the river from their property, reads the district attorney

investigators affidavit, in the court file. Ms. Arthur told the park ranger that she tried to change Ms. McBriens
mind about topping the trees before the first cutting occurred. Ms. Arthur told Ms. McBrien that she had read an
article in the newspaper about another incident in which someone had been heavily fined for cutting down trees
in the nature area. Ms. McBrien allegedly told Ms. Arthur that, We just cant live here and not have a view of
the river. The document also revealed that Flannery had been told by Arthur that on several occasions prior
to the tree cutting in 1999, she and Ms. McBrien went on guided bird watching walks hosted by the Effie Yeaw
Nature Center. The walks had taken them to the area below the Arthur and McBrien residences. It was clear
to her and should have been clear to Ms. McBrien that the area behind their homes, located in the nature area,
was county property. (Contacted at her home, Arthur declined to discuss any aspect of the case.)
Since the investigators had an eyewitness who had claimed to have watched the McBriens in the act of
supervising and assisting Titan Tree Company owner Mark Chamberlin in taking a chain saw to the majestic
oaks, that aspect of the investigation came together quickly. The court records note: Ms. Arthur observed that
Barbara and Peter McBrien and their two sons were in the backyard while Mr. Chamberlin was topping the
trees. Mr. McBrien was using a rope to help Mr. Chamberlin get down the slope of the bluff. While standing in
the backyard watching Mr. Chamberlin, different members of the family would call out that another tree or limb
needed to be cut. And with the motive established and the suspects identified, all that remained was to officially
appraise the damage and file the criminal case. (Chamberlin also declined comment when contacted by phone.)
As a result of Mrs. McBriens references to her husbands occupation, and general lack of cooperation, Flannery
did, however, feel it would be prudent to enlist the assistance of the special investigations division of the district
attorneys office, instead of pursuing the matter through the usual chain of command. Akin to an
Untouchables team of prosecutors and investigators within the office, the special investigations division
specializes in complex and politically sensitive investigations involving police officers, public officials, and
major white-collar crime.
At the district attorneys office, the oak tree desecration file landed on the desk of veteran investigator Craig
Tourte, shortly after the ranger team had met with Arthur. At this point, Tourte served a search warrant at the
Titan Tree Company office to retrieve receipts and records related to the work. According to Flannery, there was
some concern that if the case went to trial, McBrien, with his background as a deputy attorney general and
judge, would retain experienced counsel and mount an aggressive defense. So the prosecution team wanted to
make sure that the case was airtight, which meant, among other things, that they needed a professional
assessment of the value of the trees.
Certified arborist Joseph Benassini was enlisted to inspect and quantify the damage to the trees that were cut.
Benassini identified the trees as being five mature valley oak trees and three smaller live oak trees, and
determined that, as a result of the cuttings, the majority of the trees had been damaged about 90 percent.
Benassini reported that the trees had been topped, and explained to Tourte that, topping of trees is well
documented as being extremely injurious and can be associated with tree death and hazardous conditions.
During his inspection, Benassini also noticed that there appeared to have been additional trees that were
previously cut in the same area. But due to the estimated time when these other trees were whacked, which
Arthur confirmed occurred in spring 1997, criminal prosecution was impossible because the statute of
limitations had expired. Benassini conservatively estimated the value of the trees from the most recent cuts to be
$20,324.70.
On October 28, 2000, Deputy District Attorney Albert Locher filed criminal case FO8821, charging McBrien and
Chamberlin with a violation of Penal Code Section 594felony vandalismfor unlawfully and maliciously
damaging oak trees belonging to the county of Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department. But instead of
issuing an arrest warrant, Locher issued a summons in lieu of a warrant, which enabled the judge to avoid the
humbling and demeaning arrest and booking process. Locher concedes that the rarely used summons procedure
was an accommodation for McBrien, but cited concerns about the judges safety had he undergone the
customary arrest and county jail booking procedure. There are always security issues when we bring a judge or
law enforcement officer into jail, he explained.

But the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department, which manages the jail facility, takes exception to the
accusation that they would be unable to safely process any arrestee, including a local judge. Sheriffs
Department spokeswoman Sharon Chow explains that the jail has an elaborate classification process designed to
ensure the safe processing of all jail customers. We have high-profile inmates on a regular basis, she said.
In less than 48 hours after the case was filed, the matter was resolved when the
district attorneys office agreed to a misdemeanor plea bargain. Under the
terms of the agreement, McBrien and Chamberlin pleaded no contest to a
violation of Penal Code Section 384a, which prohibits the destruction or
removal of public or private trees and other plants. McBrien and Chamberlin
were fined $500, and agreed to pay a total of $20,000 in restitution to the
nature center. The day of the court hearing, McBriens attorney paid the full
$20,000 (which included Chamberlins share), and fine on behalf of his client,
which immediately concluded the case. After his courtroom appearance,
McBrien was allowed to leave through a non-public rear entrance, leaving
questions from the media for his attorney to answer.
But conspicuously absent from the court file and settlement paperwork are any
references to the increase in property value due to the new river view that
McBrien obtained as a result of the crime. Asked about this aspect of the case
and whether it was a factor considered in settlement negotiations, Locher
acknowledged that it was but it wasnt. We considered that in trying to
Sitting pretty: The McBrien
evaluate the case, but its difficult to get a measure of what that might be. But residence now has one of the few
it wasnt difficult for Lyon & Associates real estate agent Lillian Fulton, who virtually unobstructed views among
is recognized as a local authority on high-dollar Carmichael real estate. Fulton the expensive homes that rim the
is familiar with the McBrien home and all the properties on the bluff rimming bluff above the park.
PHOTO BYLARRY DALTON
Ancil Hoffman Park. Inspecting a picture of the McBriens new view, she
estimates that in the current market, the property could have increased in value
$100,000 or more there are only a handful of properties that have that view. And in his investigation report,
Tourte confirms that such views in the immediate area are scarce, noting that the neighbors on the other side of
both the McBrien and Arthur residences have a completely obstructed backyard view because of tree and
vegetation growth
Judge McBrien declines to comment on any aspect of the matter, and refers all questions to his criminal attorney,
Brad Wishek. Wishek feels that the judge was singled out and claims that illegal tree cutting occurs all the time
all over the county that is not criminally prosecuted in this manner. [McBrien] got prosecuted when others
did not. Wishek also takes exception to the statements made to the investigators by Susan Arthur. The
allegations made by the neighbor are in many respects not true, he said. Regarding the increase in value of the
McBrien residence, Wishek concedes that that was suggested but the judge has no specific information on
that issue. Wishek also defends McBriens abrupt exit through the courtroom back door after the case was
settled as necessary to ensure the judges safety. You have a person who by virtue of his position as a family
court judge is a target of threats, and whose life is in dangerand I say that in all sincerity.
Wishek also defends the plea bargain as an appropriate resolution of the case: It was always my position that the
vandalism charge was not appropriate, the only charge that was accurate was a misdemeanor. He says McBrien
accepted the plea agreement because he felt it was in everyones interest that he quickly resolve the matter and
move on.
Whether the matter had been quickly resolved or not, McBrien would continue his employment as a judge
without interruption, drawing his annual salary of $133,050 with full benefits and a generous retirement
package, because, short of physically incarcerating a judge, the criminal justice system is not empowered to
remove a judge from the bench. Unlike other public and private sector employees, judges in California face
almost no consequences related to their employment for most conduct, criminal or otherwise, that they engage in
on or off the job. A judge can commit a serious crime and remain on the bench, unless he is imprisoned,

voluntarily steps down or is removed from the bench by the state Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP). In
addition, since at least 1871, the justices of the United States Supreme Court have decreed that all judges are
immune from the civil liability that nearly all other occupations are bound by, for any actions they take on the
job.
In essence, outside of the criminal law, judges are held accountable in only three ways: impeachment, recall, or
by discipline from the CJP. Only two judges in California have ever been impeached, the last in 1929. A judge
can also be recalled by a petition bearing signatures equal in number to 20 percent of the last vote for office, but
the recall procedure is about as practical and as frequently utilized as impeachment. The only realistic oversight
of judges is provided by the CJP, which, history reveals, has been something less than a strict disciplinarian.
The Commission is the independent state agency responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct
resulting from violations of the California Code of Judicial Ethicsthe state regulations that judges are required
to comply withand for disciplining judges. The CJP accepts written complaints from anyone and will also
consider matters it learns of in other ways, such as news articles, according to its annual report. The CJP also
requires any judge who is charged with, or convicted of, most crimes to report himself. However, misdemeanors
not involving moral turpitude and infractions are excluded from the self-reporting requirement.
In the rare event that the Commission determines that a complaint merits further inquiry, it will initiate an
investigation which may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing court records and other documents, and
observing the judge while court is in session. All complaints to the CJP are confidential, as are any
investigations. The Commission cannot ordinarily confirm or deny that a complaint has been received or that an
investigation is under way, reads the annual report. And the powers of the CJP are severely limited in that it
does not impose financial penalties of any kind.
Peter Keane, dean of the Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, is recognized as an authority
on judicial discipline in California, and the author of a successful 1994 state ballot measure that forced
significant reforms on the CJP. Keane points out that in its early years, the Commission was a complete farce
in its role as judicial watchdog. They were an old boys club, they would whitewash everything. They were as
secretive as the old Soviet Kremlin, only worse. Keane says that the CJP has improved in certain respects but
has not improved in others, including that it continues to bitterly resist allowing the public full access to
information about complaints against judges and how it handles those complaints. For example, nine months
after McBriens criminal conviction, the CJP refuses to acknowledge if it will issue, or is even considering, any
disciplinary action against the judge for his violation of Canon 2 of the California Code of Judicial Ethics, which
requires all judges to respect and comply with the law.
When the Commission was established in 1960, it had nine
commissioners who voted on the imposition of discipline against judges.
Of the nine, a majority of five members were judgeswith two lawyers
and two public members filling out the remaining minority. Keane says
this enabled the judge majority to control the final outcome of all
disciplinary actions.
But in 1995, the voters in California reshuffled the stacked deck of the
Commission when, by a vote of 64 percent to 36 percent, they passed the
Keane-authored Proposition 190. The state constitutional amendment
made several changes in the Commission, including theoretically altering
the balance of powerso that judges would no longer control a majority
of votesand allowing the public access to judge complaints received
by the CJP. The proposition increased the number of commissioners to
11, designating six public members, three judges and two lawyers. But
the change may not be as significant as it appears on the surface, and the
Golden Gate University School of Law
Dean Peter Keane says that judges should reforms have had virtually no effect on the amount of discipline
be held accountable for criminal and other dispensed by the Commission. An analysis of the Commissions own

misconduct, and that all judge complaints


and discipline should be open to public
scrutiny.

statistics reveals virtually no significant change in the amount of


discipline issued by the CJP in the four years after the shake-up, when
compared with the four years before.

The Commission remains stacked with officials who either make a living off the judicial branch of government,
such as judges and attorneys, or are related to those that do. The CJP currently has nine commissionersthree
judges, two attorneys and four public members, with two chairs vacant. But of the four public members, two are
married to judges, leaving a solid majority of votes in the hands of judges, their spouses and attorneys. These are
the state officials who may or may not sanction judge McBrien.
Keane says that Proposition 190 was intended to make all judge complaints received by the Commission
available to the public. But the CJP has taken the position that it is only required to disclose the records of judge
complaints after it institutes formal proceedings against a judge. Which means that, since it didnt initiate
formal proceedings in, for example, 948 out of the 951 complaints it received in 2000, it is only required to
disclose the complaints and other records from those three investigations. Keane says this self-serving
interpretation by the Commission is another example of its persistent arrogance and refusal to open up to public
scrutiny. They saw a loophole, and it is a dishonest use of that hole. In order to make public policy, the
public has to know it all, right from the outset.
Since 1991, the CJP has received 10,388 complaints against judges in California. As a result of those complaints,
the Commission has removed three judges from the bench. And a review of the actions, or more accurately, nonactions, by the Commission against wayward judges, along with an awareness of the complete lack of civil
liability enjoyed by all judges, may provide an insight into why McBrien and his wife were shocked that their
transgressions would be questioned by a lowly park ranger.
According to the Commissions most recent annual report, in 2000 the CJP resolved 934 complaints against
judges. Of those, 835 were dismissed without investigation, and another 64 were investigated but then closed
without the imposition of any discipline. Twenty-five complaints resulted in private discipline consisting of an
advisory letter in which the Commission will advise caution or express disapproval of the judges conduct, or
a private admonishment, which consists of a notice sent to the judge containing a description of the improper
conduct and the conclusions reached by the Commission.
All advisory letters and private admonishments issued by the Commission are strictly confidential, keeping the
public in the dark. They are still playing this game of giving secrecy to claims of judge improprieties that no
other profession or group of people gets anywhere else in society, notes Keane. The Commission will not even
notify the person who submitted the complaint what discipline was issued.
Six of the remaining complaints resulted in a public admonishment, and a single complaint resulted in the most
severe punishment, short of removal from office, that of public censure. While three judges resigned or retired
with CJP proceedings pending, no judges were removed from office by the Commission in 2000.
The public censure was issued to Placer County Superior Court Judge Jackson Willoughby, and the punishment
he received reveals why the threat of a CJPs issued sanction may not have much of a deterrent effect on other
judges, including McBrien. In its report, the Commission described the misconduct by Willoughby as including
the fact that his honor had rubbed his bailiffs breasts without consent, and repeatedly stared at her breasts and
asked to see them, after she had breast implant surgery. The Commission also noted that Willoughby said to
another bailiff who was changing her uniform shirt in the courthouse hallway, I could stand here and watch you
undress all day, and referred to a female deputy district attorney as Old Iron Tits. According to the CJP, the
severe punishment of public censure results in only one thing: the issuance of a notice that describes a judges
improper conduct and state(s) the findings made by the Commission. Each notice is sent to the judge and made
available to the press and public.
The Commission said that it felt that public censure, instead of removal from the bench, was appropriate because,
among other things, Willoughby issued a public apology, was publicly humiliated, and had made contributions
to the judicial system. And Willoughby continues to make contributions to the judicial system as an active

judge in Roseville.
And in another matter, which might foretell the fate of Judge McBrien, Orange County Superior Court Judge
Gary Ryan was also publicly admonished for rear-ending another vehicle while driving with a blood-alcohol
level of .17 percent, more than double the legal limit. Like McBrien, Ryan cut a deal, and the charge was
reduced to a misdemeanor in exchange for his plea of guilty. In a split decision vote, Judge Ryan received a
public admonishment from the Commission. Three of the commissionerscomposed of two judges and a public
member who is the wife of a former judgevoted against public admonishment and stated they would have
imposed a less severe sanction. [The full text of this and all public CJP decisions can be seen at
www.cjp.ca.gov.]
Citing unfamiliarity with the facts of the case, Keane declines to speculate on the possible outcome of the
McBrien disciplinary matter, if it indeed exists. But, as a man partial to understatement, he does note that
looking back at what the Commission has done, there is a tendency at the CJP to not sanction judges as much
as they should. He adds that, while the public may hold elected officials to somewhat lower standards, it
expects more from judges. [With politicians], unfortunately, theres a cynical understanding of the fact that
these are characters that are probably going to be involved in a certain amount of hanky-panky. But in terms of
the integrity of our system of justice, there is a justifiable expectation that judges are going to be like Caesars
wife, sort of above repute. So if someone wants to be a judge, then by God, youre going to be held to a very
high standard of proper conduct. If you dont like that, dont become a judge.
According to a 1992 judge profile that appeared in a legal newspaper, McBrien does in fact like being a judge in
the family law department of the Sacramento County superior court. "I enjoy the subject matteras difficult as
it is. You get a sense that maybe youre helping," he told the reporter. In the profile, the judge was commended
by lawyers who appear before him with their clients for being intelligent and balanced, but occasionally less so
by labeling one parent "good" and one parent "bad" in what is supposed to be a no-fault situation. And one
attorney noted that, "occasionally, youll just sort of see him fall off the fence really coming to some sort of
judgment that he doesnt like this person, that theyve been naughty." Judge not lest ye be judged.

232

More

Next Blog

Create Blog
Sign In

Sacramento Family Court News


Investigative Reporting, News, Analysis, Opinion & Satire
HOME

JUDGE PRO TEM RACKETEERING

RoadDog SATIRE
Privacy Policy

3rd DISTRICT COURT of APPEAL SACRAMENTO

ABOUT FAMILY COURT NEWS


ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

CONTACT FAMILY COURT NEWS

Terms & Conditions

DOCUMENT LIBRARY

SHORTCUTS TO POPULAR
SUBJECTS AND POSTS

JUDGE PRO TEM RACKETEERING

Sacramento Superior Court Temporary Judge


Program Controversy

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

(68)
JUDGE PRO TEM
(50)
ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

(35)

Judge Pro Tem Attorney "Cartel" Controls Court


Operations, Charge Whistleblowers

MATTHEW J. GARY
(33)
FLEC
(28)
ARTS & CULTURE
(23)

Sacramento Family Court News Exclusive Investigative Report


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

PETER J. McBRIEN
(23)
CHILD CUSTODY
(22)

As many of the articles on our main page reflect,


Sacramento Family Law Court whistleblowers
and watchdogs contendthat a "cartel" of local
family lawattorneys receive kickbacks and other
forms ofpreferential treatment from family
courtjudges, administrators and
employeesbecause the lawyers are members
of the Sacramento County Bar Association
Family Law Section, hold the Office of
Temporary Judge,and run the family court
settlement conference program on behalf of
the court.

SCBA
(22)
ROBERT SAUNDERS
(21)
WATCHDOGS
(20)
CJP
(19)
EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(19)
CHARLOTTE KEELEY
(18)
PRO PERS
(18)

The kickbacks usually consist of "rubberstamped" court orders which are contrary to
established law, and cannot be attributed to the
exercise of judicial discretion.For a detailed
overview of the alleged collusion between judge
pro tem attorneys and family court employees
and judges, we recommend our specialColor of
Law series of investigative reports.

The Color of Law series reports catalog some of


the preferential treatment provided by family
court employees and judges to SCBA Family
Law Section judge pro tem lawyers. Click here
to view the Color of Law series. For a list of our
reports about family court temporary judges and
controversies, click here.

DOCUMENTS
(16)
JAMES M. MIZE
(16)
DIVORCE CORP
(15)
COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)

Sacramento Family Court reform advocates assert that collusion


between judges and local attorneysdeprives financially disadvantaged,
unrepresented pro per court users of their parental rights, community
assets, and due process and access to the court constitutional rights.

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,

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
RAPTON-KARRES
(11)
SATIRE
(11)
WHISTLEBLOWERS
(11)
WOODRUFF O'HAIR
POSNER and SALINGER

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.

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.

Court watchdogs assert that the settlement conference kickback arrangement between the public court and private
sector attorneys constitutes a racketeering enterprise which deprives the public of the federally protected right
to honest government services.

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
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.

(11)
CARLSSON CASE
(10)
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)
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

LAW BLOGS WE LIKE


Family Law Professor Blog
Law Librarian Blog

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.

Law Professor Blogs

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.

Kafkaesq

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.

Thurman Arnold Family


Law Blog

Above the Law


The Divorce Artist

LEGAL NEWS &


INFORMATION

Click here and here.

California Lawyer Magazine

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
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.

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
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:

Judicial Council
Commission on Judicial
Performance
Sacramento County Family
Court
3rd District Court of Appeal
State Bar of California
State Bar Court
Sacramento County Bar
Association

Local & National Family CourtFamily Law Sites & Blogs (may
be gender-specific)
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
Family Law Updates at
JDSupra Law News

Fathers 4 Justice

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.

HuffPost Divorce

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.

Leon Koziol.Com
Moving Past Divorce
News and Views Riverside
Superior Court
Weightier Matter

CONTRIBUTORS
Cathy Cohen
ST Thomas
PR Brown

Judge pro temattorneysTerri Newman,CamilleHemmer,Diane WasznickyandDonna


Reedwereinvolved in a proposedscheme to rig a recall electionofcontroversialJudgePeter J.

PelicanBriefed

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.

FCAC News
RoadDog

Total Pageviews

165420
168

Google+ Badge

PR Brown
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.
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.
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.
Judge pro tem and SCBA Family Law Section attorneyScott Kendall was disbarred from the practice
of law on Nov. 24, 2011. Kendall was disbarred for acts of moral turpitude, advising a client to violate

Follow

Labels

2011 SACRAMENTO/MARIN
AUDITS
(2)
3rd DISTRICT

COA
(6)
AB

(1)

1102
(1)
AB 590

ABA

JOURNAL

ADMINISTRATORS

(1)

(4)

AGGREGATED NEWS

(14)
AL SALMEN
(1)

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION


(1)

ANALYSIS
(36)

FURILLO

(2)

ANDY

AOC

(1)

APPEALS
(10)
ARCHIBALD
CUNNINGHAM
(1)
ARTHUR G.
SCOTLAND
(5)
ARTS &

CULTURE

(23)

ATTORNEY
(4)
ATTORNEY
DISCIPLINE
(4)
ATTORNEY
ETHICS
(2)

ATTORNEY

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
(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
(10)

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

(19)
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
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.

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

FAMILY LAW
(1)
CRIMINAL
CONDUCT
(12)
CRIMINAL

LAW
(3)
CRONYISM
(2)

DAVID KAZZIE
(4)
DEMOTION

(1)
DENISE

GARY
(2)
DSM-301.7
(1)
EDITORIAL
(1)
EDWARD
FREIDBERG
(2)
EFF
(2)

RICHARDS
(1)

DIANE WASZNICKY
(2)

DISQUALIFICATION
(2)

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

(5)

DOCUMENTS
(16)

DONALD TENN
(3)
DONNA

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

CONDITIONS
(2)

FAMILY COURT

MEDIA COVERAGE

(1)
FAMILY COURT PROCEDURE

For information about the role of temporary judges in

EMPLOYEE CODE OF ETHICS


(1)

(1)

FAMILY
COURT
SACRAMENTO
(2)
FAMILY

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.

COURTHOUSE
(1)
FAMILY

LAW

(9)

FAMILY
LAW
COUNSELOR
(4)
FAMILY
LAW
FACILITATOR
(4)

FATHERS FOR JUSTICE


(1)

FEDERAL LAW
(2)
FEDERAL

LAWSUITS
(2)
FEE WAIVERS

(2)
FERRIS CASE
(8)
FIRST
AMENDMENT
(2)
FIRST
AMENDMENT COALITION
(2)

FLEC
(28)
FOIA
(2)
FOX

(1)
FREDRICK COHEN
(4)

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

NICHOLSON
(1)
GERALD UELMEN

(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.

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.

ROMAN

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

POSNER
(6)

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

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.

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.

(1)

JERRY

JERRY BROWN
GUTHRIE

(1)

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)

JODY PATEL
(1)
JOHN E.B. MYERS

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

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

Beth

JAMES

M.
MIZE
(16)
JEFFREY

(10)

BROSNAHAN
(1)
JAMES

JUDGE
PRO TEM
(50)

JRC
(1)
JUDGE
(1)

JUDGE SALARIES
(1)
JUDGES

(10)
JUDICIAL CONDUCT
HANDBOOK
(1)
JUDICIAL
COUNCIL

(5)

JUDICIAL
MISCONDUCT

(68)
JUDY HOLZER

HERSHER
(1)
JULIE SETZER

(7)
KIDS FOR CASH
(2)

LAURIE M. EARL
(10)
LAW
LIBRARY
(1)
LAW SCHOOL

(5)
LAWYER
(1)
LAWYERS

(7)
LEGAL AID ASSOCIATION of
CALIFORNIA
(1)
LEGISLATURE
(1)

LOLLIE
LINCOLN

(1)

ROBERTS
(5)
LOUIS MAURO
(1)

LUAN

CASE

(4)

MALPRACTICE
(4)
MARY
MOLINARO
(1)
MATTHEW
HERNANDEZ

(7)

MATTHEW J. GARY

(33)
MCGEORGE

MEDIA
(1)
MICHAEL

SOL
(2)
T. GARCIA

(1)
MIKE NEWDOW
(4)
NANCY

GRACE
(1)
NANCY PERKOVICH

(4)
NEW YORK TIMES
(2)

NEWS
(24)
NEWS
EXCLUSIVE
(26)
NEWS

YOU CAN USE


(3)
News10
(1)

NO CONTACT ORDERS

(10)
OPEN GOVERNMENT

(2)
OPINION
(12)
PARENT