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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

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Valerie Marchant, Esq., State Bar No. 124765

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JUL 0 8 2009

Commission on

Judicial Performance

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STATE OF CALIFORNIA

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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),

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the examiner submits the following opening brief.

PROCEDURAL STATUS

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

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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

Judge McBrien's Integrity

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A. I don't believe that I did.
(R.T. 184:8-13.)

"Honesty is a minimum qualification for every judge. {Kloepfer v.

Commission on Judicial Performance (1989) 49 Cal.3d 826, 865 {Kloepfer).) If

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the essential quality of veracity is lacking, other positive qualities of the person

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cannot redeem or compensate for the missing fundamental. (Ibid.)" (Decision and

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Order Removing Judge Diana Hall from Office, Inq. 175 (2006), at p. 26). Judge
McBrien's shifting and often contradictory explanations for his actions and his
misleading testimony demonstrate a lack of integrity.

In his response to the commission, in his answer, and again at his

deposition, Judge McBrien claimed that the Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
must have been lengthy and complex or he would have returned to the courtroom.

This was disproven by the phone records which show that the call lasted for less
than two minutes. (Exh. 2, p. 2; answer, p. 3; exh. 5, p. 62:5-17; exh. 15.) The
truth is that he handled the brief call and left the courthouse.

Under oath at his deposition, Judge McBrien testified that he offered the
attorneys additional time beyond the two-day estimate, but at the hearing he

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conceded that he had never offered more time. (Exh. 5, p. 17; R.T. p. 32.)

In his answer (p. 4), Judge McBrien claimed that Carlsson's expert witness

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had completely testified and was only providing surrebuttal testimony on matters

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to which he had already testified. The transcript shows that the expert was

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testifying about a large mathematical error he had made in his appraisal - a newly

raised issue.

Judge McBrien testified at his deposition that he did not return to the
courtroom after the EPO call because "there was nobody there." The masters

instead found that, after the EPO call, the judge "left the courthouse while all the
interested parties were still waiting for him to return to the courtroom" without

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2009-07-08-Examiner-Opening Brief

122.)

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

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

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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,

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

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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.)

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

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wanted the Statements of Economic Interests because Carlsson's testimony

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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.)

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

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

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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

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E.

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

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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

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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.

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

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2009-07-08-Examiner-Opening Brief

Andrew Blum, Esq., State Bar No. 116644
Valerie Marchant, Esq., State Bar No. 124765

■—■ ■

pp.

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Commission on Judicial Performance
Office of Trial Counsel

455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14424

JUL l 7 Z009

Commission on
Judicial Performance

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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

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I.

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

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

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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

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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.

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(See exh. 3; exh. 37 pp. 457:4-462:20.)
At his deposition, Judge McBrien testified that he had not precluded

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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2009-07-27-Examiner-Reply Brief

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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 judge’s residence by $100,000.
PHOTO BY LARRY 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 you’ve got a
pretty good eye on things … but it’s 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 trees—later 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 park’s 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. “You’re
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
work—although this mystery wasn’t much of a challenge. “It doesn’t 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 crime—the destruction of protected valley oak trees in a public park—has 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 act—apparently 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 Justice—sworn to uphold and enforce the law—would 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 don’t know who you’re 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 judge’s 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, it’s 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 BY LARRY 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

investigator’s affidavit, in the court file. “Ms. Arthur told the park ranger that she tried to change Ms. McBrien’s
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 can’t 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. McBrien’s references to her husband’s 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
attorney’s 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 attorney’s 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 594—felony vandalism—for “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 Sheriff’s 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. Sheriff’s
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 attorney’s 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, McBrien’s attorney paid the full
$20,000 (which included Chamberlin’s 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 wasn’t. “We considered that in trying to
Sitting pretty: The McBrien
evaluate the case, but it’s difficult to get a measure of what that might be.” But residence now has one of the few
it wasn’t 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 BY LARRY 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 McBrien’s abrupt exit through the courtroom back door after the case was
settled as necessary to ensure the judge’s 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 danger—and 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 everyone’s 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 Ethics—the state regulations that judges are required
to comply with—and 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 McBrien’s 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 judges—with 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 power—so that judges would no longer control a majority
of votes—and 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 Commission’s 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 commissioners—three
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 didn’t 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 Commission’s 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 judge’s 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 CJP’s 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 bailiff’s 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 judge’s
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 commissioners—composed of two judges and a public
member who is the wife of a former judge—voted 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, there’s 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 Caesar’s
wife, sort of above repute. So if someone wants to be a judge, then by God, you’re going to be held to a very
high standard of proper conduct. If you don’t like that, don’t 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 matter—as difficult as
it is. You get a sense that maybe you’re 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, you’ll just sort of see him fall off the fence … really coming to some sort of
judgment that he doesn’t like this person, that they’ve been naughty." Judge not lest ye be judged.

3

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18 July 2013

SHORTCUTS TO POPULAR
SUBJECTS AND POSTS

Vance W. Raye Third District Justice and Judge Peter McBrien Turn Over
Court Operations to SCBA Family Law Section Lawyers

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

(63)

Leaked Transcript Indicates Vance Raye & Judge
Peter McBrien Enabled Family Law Bar Control of
Court in 1991

ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

(35)

In 1991, as a superior court judge, current 3rd District Court
of Appeal Presiding Justice Vance Raye partnered with
controversial family court Judge Peter J. McBrien and
attorneys from the Sacramento County Bar Association
Family Law Section in establishing the current, dysfunctional
Sacramento Family Court system, according to the sworn
testimony of McBrien at his 2009 judicial misconduct trial
before the Commission on Judicial Performance. Behind
closed doors and under oath, the judge provided explicit
details about the 1991 origins of the present-day family court
structure. 

SCBA
(22)

MATTHEW J. GARY
(33)
FLEC
(28)

ARTS & CULTURE
(21)
CHILD CUSTODY
(21)
PETER J. McBRIEN
(20)
ROBERT SAUNDERS
(20)
WATCHDOGS
(19)
CHARLOTTE KEELEY
(18)

In essence, McBrien and Raye agreed to effectively privatize
public court operations to the specifications of private-sector
attorneys in exchange for not having to run the court's
settlement conference program. The SCBA Family Law
Section agreed to run the settlement program provided they
were given effective control over most court policies and
procedures, including local court rules. 

As a result, the public court system was restructured to the
specifications of local, private-sector attorneys, according to
McBrien's testimony. To view McBrien's detailed description of
the collusive public-private collaboration, posted online
exclusively by SFCN, click here. To view an example of the
same, current day collusion, click here. 

JUDGE PRO TEM
(49)

CJP
(18)
EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(18)
PRO PERS
(18)
DOCUMENTS
(16)
DIVORCE CORP
(13)
Vance Raye and Peter J. McBrien were the
architects of the current family court system.

The 1991 restructuring plan began with a road trip suggested by the family law bar:   
"[T]he family law bar, and it was a fairly strong bar here in Sacramento, initiated the concept of a trip
to Orange County and San Diego County to pick up some ideas about how their courts were
structured. And myself and Judge Ridgeway and two family law attorneys made that trip and came
back with various ideas of how to restructure the system," McBrien told the CJP. Click here to view.
But before his sworn 2009 CJP testimony,
McBrien gave the public a different account of
the road trip and who restructured the family

JAMES M. MIZE
(12)
COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)
CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
SATIRE
(11)
WOODRUFF O'HAIR
POSNER and SALINGER

(11)
JAIME R. ROMAN
(10)

court system in 1991. As reported by the Daily
Journal legal newspaper, McBrien dishonestly
implied that the new system was conceived and
implemented by judges alone after they made a
county-paid "statewide tour" of family law courts. 

The judge omitted from the story the fact that the
trip was initiated by the family law bar, and
included two private-sector family law attorneys
who took the county-paid tour with McBrien and
the late Judge William Ridgeway. As the Daily
Journal reported: 

Sacramento Family Court judges and local, Sacramento Bar
Association attorneys openly acknowledge their close relationship.

LAURIE M. EARL
(10)
NO CONTACT ORDERS
(10)
SHARON A. LUERAS
(10)
WHISTLEBLOWERS
(10)
CARLSSON CASE
(9)
RAPTON-KARRES
(9)
CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)

"Around 1990, McBrien and a few other
Sacramento judges went on a statewide
tour of family law courts. At the time there
were continual postponements of trials.

FERRIS CASE
(8)

 'This is how we came up with the system
today,' McBrien said. 'It was probably the
best trip Sacramento County ever paid
for.'

YOUTUBE
(7)

The judges changed the local system so
that family law judges presided over both law and motion matters and trials, which used to be sent to
a master calendar department and competed with criminal trials for scheduling.
'Now, if you're ready and unable to settle, chances are 99.9 percent that you are going out [to trial] the
first time,' McBrien said. 'A lot of that is attributable to the willingness of the Sacramento bar to work
as settlement counselors.'" Click here to view the Daily Journal report.
To continue reading the rest of this article, visit our special, updated 3rd District Court of Appeal page. Click
here. For more on the alleged collusion between judges and attorneys who also serve as Sacramento Superior
Court temporary judges and work as settlement counselors, visit our special judge pro tems page. For additional
posts about the people and issues in this report, click on the corresponding labels below.   

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)
JULIE SETZER
(7)

3rd DISTRICT COA
(6)
CIVIL RIGHTS
(6)
CHRISTINA ARCURI
(5)
CONTEMPT
(5)
THADD BLIZZARD
(5)
FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR

(4)
LUAN CASE
(4)
CANTIL-SAKAUYE
(3)
MIKE NEWDOW
(2)

Posted by
PelicanBriefed
at
11:20 AM

+3   Recommend this on Google

Labels:
3rd DISTRICT COA,
ANALYSIS,
APPEALS,
ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT,
CJP,
FLEC,
JUDGE PRO TEM,
JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT,

NEWS EXCLUSIVE,
PETER J. McBRIEN,
SCBA,
VANCE W. RAYE

Location:
Sacramento County Superior Court Family Relations Courthouse - 3341 Power Inn Road, Sacramento, CA 95826, USA
- William R. Ridgeway

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Sacramento Family Court News via Google+ 1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 Vance W. Raye Third District Justice and Judge Peter McBrien Turn Over Court Operations
to SCBA Family Law Section Lawyers. 
Leaked Transcript Indicates Vance Raye & Judge Peter McBrien Enabled Family Law Bar
Control of Court in 1991:
In 1991, as a superior court judge, current 3rd District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice

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Thurman Arnold Family
Law Blog
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Above the Law
The Divorce Artist

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COMMISSION

ON

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JUDICIAL

-

--

PERFORMANCE

-oOo

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-

4

INQUIRY

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CJP

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-

JUDGE

CONCERNING

PETER

NO.

J.

ORIGINAL

McBRIEN

185

7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14

TRANSCRIPT

HEARING

1,

VOLUME

MASTERS

CALIFORNIA

1,

APRIL

THE

SPECIAL

SACRAMENTO,

15
16

BEFORE

OF

2009

PAGES

1

- 250

17
18
19
20
21
22

REPORTED

BY:

SANDRA LEHANE

REGISTERED PROFESSIONAL

23

CERTIFIED

SHORTHAND
155

24

Alameda,

Orr

NO.

7372

Road

California

(510)

REPORTE:R

REPORTER

94502

864-9645

25

------- ----

IN RE

CJF NO.

185 - 4/1/09

1

-------· ----

1

720 9th Street.

1

A.

It's actually 920 -

2

Q.

That's the main Sacramento County courthouse?

3

A.

It is.

4

Q.

And how long were the family law departments

5

6
7
8

9

in that particular courthouse?
A.

Until 1999,

when we moved out to the Ridgeway

building.
Q.

Going back to when you were first appointed

to the family law department or assigned to the family

10

law department,

11

master calendar system?

12

no.

A.

what were the problems with this

The trials never got to trial.

So the Bar

13

the family law bar,

and it was a fairly strong bar

14

here in Sacramento,

initiated the concept of a trip to

15

Orange County and San Diego County to pick up some

16

ideas about how their courts were structured.

17

myself and Judge Ridgeway and two family law attorneys

18

made that trip and came back with various i

19

to restructure the system.

20
21

Q.

Now,

And

as of how

is there a family law section of the

Sacramento County Bar Association?

22

A.

There is.

23

Q.

And was there a family law section of the

24
25

Sacramento County Bar Association back in 1991?

A.

There was.

b-------------------------IN RE CJF NO. 185 -

4/1/09----------------------~

188

1

2

Q.

Is there an organization called the Family

Law Executive Committee?

3

A.

There is.

4

Q.

What is the Family Law Executive Committee?

5

A.

It is a group of leaders that the family law

6

bar e ects to take care of the administrative needs

7

for the section.

8

9
10

Q.

And did you work with the Family Law

Executive Committee in developing the current system
in the fami y law practice in Sacramento County?

11

A.

We did.

12

Q.

Could you describe what that wor

13
14

ng

relationship was?

A.

Okay.

We

we I,

-

first of all,

i t ' s a very

15

good relationship.

16

We keep making adjustments to the system when there

17

are problems.

18

where we have law and motion in the family

19

departments on Monday,

20

the trials on Thursday and Friday if,

21

trials are two days or less.

22

than two days,

23

calendar.

24

25

Q.

We meet -- we still meet monthly.

But basically,

we moved to a system

Tuesday,

Wednesday,

aw
and we hear

in fact,

those

And if they are more

they go down through the master

Backing up,

the Family Law Executive

Committee is appointed in what fashion?
~------------------------IN

RE CJF NO. 185 -

/09----------------------~

189

1

2
3

4

A.

They are elected by the membership of the

family law bar.

Q.

The family law bar section of the Sacramento

County Bar Association?

5

A.

Correct.

6

Q.

And you and other judges worked together with

7

this Family Law Executive Committee in developing the

8

current system?

9

A.

Correct.

10

Q.

Who are the other judges?

11

A.

Well,

12
13

14
15

at the time,

there was Justice Raye

now Justice Raye.

Q.

Justice Vance Raye of the Third District

Court of Appeal?

A.

16

Yes.
And another individual whose name always

17

escapes me,

18

years.

but he left the bench after about two

19

Q.

Dave Sterling?

20

A.

Dave Sterling.

21

Q.

Now,

after you went to Orange County,

you met

22

with the Family Law Executive Committee and

23

developed

24

presented to the Superior Court for its approval?

25

A.

-

or started to develop a plan.

It was.

Was that

And what happened is the Bar culled

L-----------------·-------IN RE CJF NO. 185

4/1/09 - -_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _--1

190

1

through the various ideas and options,

2

plan,

3

what adjustments we felt were appropriate and then

4

presented the whole of it to the full bench.

presented it to the family law bench.

5

Q.

And was that plan approved?

6

A.

It was.

7

Q.

When?

8

A.

In 19

9

Q.

And since 1991,

10

came up with a

I

want to say late

I

We made

91 .

is that the current plan that

is employed in the family law departments?

11

A.

It is.

12

Q.

You testified that on Mondays,

13

Wednesdays f

14

matters and trials of two days or less on Thursday and

15

Friday;

16

A.

Correct.

17

Q.

Who hears the settlement conferences?

18

A.

The family law bar indicated that they would

Tuesdays and

ly law courts hear law and motion

right?

19

be willing to volunteer,

20

settlement pro terns.

21

the week except for Monday.

22

week where they have two volunteers.

23

make it gender neutral,

24

and they hear the settlement conferences.

25

Q.

and they serve as the

There are two for each day of
So they have four days a
And they try to

have one male and one female,

And are settlement conferences assigned

~----------------------IN

RE CJF NO. 185 -

4/1/09----~------------------

191

1

dependent upon the length of the trial?

2

A.

They are.

3

Q.

How does that work?

4

A.

If,

5

less trial,

6

week before the trial date.

7

two days or less,

8

9
10

Q.

in fact,

i t ' s going to be a one-day or

the settlement conference would be one
And if i t ' s going to be

it would be two weeks before.

And in connection with the estimation of the

length of the trial,

is that something that you as a

judge would do?

1.1

A.

No.

12

Q.

Who makes the estimation?

13

A.

The attorneys.

14

Q.

Are the attorneys encouraged to work together

15

in developing the estimated time?

16

A.

They are.

17

Q.

And is there any significance to the

18

estimated length of the case,

at least from the

19

judicial perspective of the Sacramento County Superior

20

Court judge?

21

A.

I believe that -- you know,

22

many of them,

23

aren't always accurate,

24

be accurate,

25

Because quite frankly,

having seen many,

that they generally are accurate.
but I

They

think they are trying to

stay within the guidance that we have.
if,

in fact,

L-------------------------IN RE Cc7F NO. 185 -

they don't

411109----------------------~

192

1

complete it,

2

Q.

3

they can be mistried.

And when you say "mistried," meaning that the

parties will then be given a new trial date?

4

A.

They would.

5

Q.

You were involved,

6

Carlsson vs.

7

A.

Correct.

8

Q.

I

9

obviously,

Carlsson case?

would like you to take a look at Exhibit C

in the respondent's

10

A.

I

think mine is over there.

11

MR. MURPHY:

12

SPECIAL MASTER CORNELL:

13

May I

THE WITNESS:

15

MR.

16

THE WITNESS:

17

BY MR.
Q.

18
19

MURPHY:

You don't need

you said C?

Exhibit C,
Okay.

I

yes.

have it before me.

MURPHY:
For the record,

A.

could you describe what

This is an Order to Show Cause filed by

21

Ms.

22

continue the trial,

25

Yes.

Exhibit Cis?

20

24

approach the witness?

to seek permission.

14

23

with the

Huddle on behalf of Mr.

Q.

Carlsson asking to

fi ed on March 1st of 2006.

What was the basis of the request for a

continuance?

A.

That she was just served with a

' - - - - - - - - - - - - - I N RE CJ.F NO.

185

joinder

411109------------~

193

232

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JUDGE PRO TEM RACKETEERING

RoadDog SATIRE
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3rd DISTRICT COURT of APPEAL SACRAMENTO

ABOUT FAMILY COURT NEWS
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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 contend that a "cartel" of local
family law attorneys receive kickbacks and other
forms of preferential treatment from family
court judges, administrators and
employees because 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 special Color 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 attorneys deprives 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 and attorney operated settlement conference program
was set up in 1991 by and for the lawyers of the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section,

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)
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according to the sworn testimony of controversial family court Judge Peter J. McBrien at his
2009 Commission 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
Executive Committee or 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
four cases 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 the Ground Zero of 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.     

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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 Committee for 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.

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LEGAL NEWS &
INFORMATION

Click here and here.
 

California Lawyer Magazine

In November, 2012 Sacramento
Family Court Judge Jaime R.
Roman issued a rubber-stamped,
kickback order declaring 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 judge pro tem
attorney Paula Salinger avoid
paying spousal support. Click here
for our investigative report.

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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 support order, 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 Beveren helped 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 is an 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 2008 controversial family court Judge Peter J. McBrien deprived a family court litigant of a fair trial
in a case where the winning party was represented by judge pro tem attorney Charlotte Keeley. In a
scathing, published opinion, the 3rd District Court of Appeal reversed in full and ordered a new
trial. 6th District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad Rushing characterized McBrien's
conduct in the case 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 attorneys Camille Hemmer, Robert O'Hair, Jerry Guthrie and Russell Carlson each
testified in support of Judge Peter J. McBrien when the controversial judge was facing removal from
the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2009. As a sworn temporary judges aware
of McBrien's misconduct, each was required by Canon 3D(1) of the Code of Judicial Ethics to take or
initiate appropriate corrective action to address McBrien's misconduct. Instead, each testified as a
character witness in support of the judge. In the CJP's final disciplinary decision allowing McBrien to
remain on the bench, the CJP referred specifically to the testimony as a mitigating factor that reduced
McBrien's punishment. Click here. Court records indicate that Judge McBrien has not disclosed the
potential conflict of interest to opposing attorneys and litigants in subsequent appearances by the
attorneys in cases before the judge. Click here for SFCN coverage of conflict issues.

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Moving Past Divorce
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Superior Court
Weightier Matter

CONTRIBUTORS
Cathy Cohen
ST Thomas
PR Brown

Judge pro tem attorneys Terri Newman, Camille Hemmer, Diane Wasznicky and Donna
Reed were involved in a proposed scheme to rig a recall election of controversial Judge Peter J.

PelicanBriefed

McBrien in 2008. The plan involved helping McBrien defeat the recall by electing him "Judge of the
Year" before the November election. Click here for the Sacramento News and Review report. 
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 &
Salinger was later granted
a waiver of the
requirements to become
a judge pro tem. A family
court watchdog asserts
the waiver was payback for
O'Hair's testimony for
McBrien. Click here to
read our exclusive
investigative report.

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Court records show that Judge Jaime Roman (L) and Judge Matthew Gary
routinely issued demonstrably illegal court orders for the benefit of local
attorneys who 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
by SCBA Family Law Section officer and temporary judge Paula 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 temporary judge and family law lawyer Gary 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 four of
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
here to read our report.
Judge pro tem and SCBA Family Law Section attorney Scott 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

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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 Eston in 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.

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Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Mize testified as a character witness 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 of Chair 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 other articles 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. 

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family court, click here. For official Sacramento County
Superior Court information about the Temporary 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 County judge pro tem list
with California 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 official State Bar data for each attorney. The
State Bar data was obtained using the search function
at the State Bar website. 

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A number of family court whistleblowers have leaked court
records indicating that judge pro tem attorneys receive from
judges kickbacks and other preferential treatment in exchange
for operating the family court 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, CA 95603.

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 after being 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. 

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

Beth

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

An Exclusive Sacramento Family Court News Investigation

EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(19)
CHARLOTTE KEELEY
(18)
CJP
(18)

This ongoing investigative project was updated in April, 2015.

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

DOCUMENTS
(16)
DIVORCE CORP
(15)
JAMES M. MIZE
(15)

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

COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)

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

RAPTON-KARRES
(11)

In addition, a separate SFCN investigation has uncovered evidence that both trial and appellate court judges,
part-time judges, and court employees deliberately obstruct appeals by indigent, unrepresented parties. Appeal
data from the Third District reveals that most pro per appeals are never decided on the merits and are instead

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(11)

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

dismissed on legal technicalities, which are often caused by the deliberate acts of government employees.   

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

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

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

NO CONTACT ORDERS
(10)

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

CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)

SHARON A. LUERAS
(10)

FERRIS CASE
(8)

Friends in Low Places

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)
JULIE SETZER
(7)

For example, 3rd District unpublished opinions
show that Court of Appeal justices who were
elevated to the appellate court from Sacramento
County Superior Court will often effectively
cover for judicial errors in appeals from the same
court. 

Third District Justices George Nicholson,
Harry E. Hull, Jr., Ronald B. Robie, and
Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye previously
were trial court judges in Sacramento County
Superior Court. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro per advocates contend that under Canon 3E(4)(a) and (c) of the Code of Judicial Ethics, Raye, Robie, Hull
and Nicholson should disqualify themselves from participating in any appeal originating from Sacramento Family
Law Court. Advocates argue that the same conflict of interest principles apply to family court appeals that resulted
in the self-recusal, or removal, of Vance Raye from participating in the 2002 Commission on Judicial
Performance prosecution of family court Judge Peter McBrien. To view the 2002 Raye recusal and CJP decision
against McBrien, click here. The CJP has disciplined judges for violating the Code of Judicial Ethics rules
requiring judges to disclose conflicts. Click here for examples of CJP conflict of interest disciplinary decisions.   

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It is a basic principle of law that state appellate justices and federal judges with personal or professional
relationships with trial court judges connected to an appeal or federal court action should disqualify themselves to
avoid the appearance of partiality. Click here to view a recent order issued by a federal judge disqualifying the
entire bench of the Fresno Division of the US District Court for the Eastern District of California due to personal
and professional relationships with local state court judges. 

Above the Law

The conflict disclosure problem infects the Superior Court as well. To the benefit of local family law attorneys who
also hold the office of temporary judge in the same court, Sacramento Family Law Court judges effectively have

LEGAL NEWS &
INFORMATION

The Divorce Artist

institutionalized noncompliance with state conflict of interest disclosure laws. Click here. For an example of a
Sacramento County civil court trial judge who fully complied with conflict laws, click here. Without oversight or
accountability, family court judges routinely - and in violation of state law - ignore the same disclosure
requirements.      

History & Origins of the Current Sacramento County
Family Court System
In 1991, as a superior court judge, current 3rd District
Justice Vance Raye partnered with controversial family
court Judge Peter J. McBrien and attorneys from the
Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law
Section in establishing the current, dysfunctional Sacramento
Family Court system, according to the sworn testimony of
McBrien at his 2009 judicial misconduct trial before the
Commission on Judicial Performance. 

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

The 1991 restructuring plan began with a road trip suggested
by the family law bar:   
"[T]he family law bar, and it was a fairly strong bar
Tani Cantil Sakauye worked with Peter J. McBrien
here in Sacramento, initiated the concept of a trip

in Sacramento County Superior Court from 1997-2005.
to Orange County and San Diego County to pick up
some ideas about how their courts were structured.
And myself and Judge Ridgeway and two family law attorneys made that trip and came back
with various ideas of how to restructure the system," McBrien told the CJP. Click here to view.
But before his sworn 2009 CJP testimony, McBrien gave the public a different account of the road trip and who
restructured the family court system in 1991. As reported by the Daily Journal legal newspaper
McBrien dishonestly implied that the system was conceived and implemented by judges alone after they made a
county-paid "statewide tour" of family law courts. The judge omitted from the story the fact that the trip was initiated
by the family law bar, and included two private-sector family law attorneys who took the county-paid trip with
McBrien and the late Judge William Ridgeway. 
"[M]cBrien and a few other Sacramento judges went on a statewide tour of family law courts.
At the time, there were continual postponements of trials. 'This is how we came up with the
system today,' McBrien said. 'It was the best trip Sacramento County ever paid for.' The
judges changed the local system so that family law judges presided over both law and motion
matters and trials..." the Daily Journal reported. Click here to view.  
Under oath, McBrien admitted that the private-sector, for-profit family law bar dictated the public court facility
restructuring plan - conceived to serve the needs and objectives of SCBA Family Law Section member attorneys
- which then essentially was rubber-stamped by the bench. 
"[T]he Bar culled through the various ideas and options, came up with a plan, presented it to
the family law bench. We made what adjustments we felt were appropriate and then presented
the whole of it to the full bench," and the plan was approved. Click here to view.  
In essence, McBrien disclosed that the current public court system was set up by and for local attorneys with little, if
any, consideration of the needs of the 70 percent of court users unable to afford counsel. The system also has
shown it is designed to repel carpetbagger, outsider attorneys, like Stephen R. Gianelli of San Francisco, and
Sharon Huddle of Roseville. Click here and here. 
"[T]his is a 'juice court' in which counsel outside Sacramento have little chance of prevailing...
[the] court has now abandoned even a pretense of being fair to out-of-town counsel," Gianelli
said. 
According to the Commission on Judicial Performance - the state agency responsible for oversight and

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

Fathers 4 Justice
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Keeping Neutral Judges Out-of-the-Loop
CONTRIBUTORS

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

Cathy Cohen
ST Thomas
PR Brown
PelicanBriefed
FCAC News

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

RoadDog

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

Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section

Holiday Luncheon.

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

Carlsson Case Exposes 3rd District Ideology &
Undisclosed Conflict of Interest Issues

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

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

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

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

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In the documentary film Divorce Corp, Ulf Carlsson describes egregious misconduct by Sacramento Family Law Court Judge Peter McBrien. Using

COURT

misleading sworn testimony about McBrien's reversal rate in the appellate court, 3rd District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland
effectively saved McBrien from being removed from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

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

(1)

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Among other slight-of-hand tricks, Scotland devised
a clever artifice to make it appear to the CJP judges
assigned to decide McBrien's fate that the trial court
judge had a much lower than average rate of
reversal in the court of appeal. 

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Scotland's 2009 testimony on McBrien's behalf
also was controversial and may itself have violated
the Code of Judicial Ethics. A critical self-policing
component of the Code, Canon 3D(1) requires
judges who have reliable information that another
judge has violated any provision of the Code take
"appropriate corrective action, which may include
reporting the violation to the appropriate authority."
Click here to view Canon 3D(1). Click here to view
a Judicial Council directive about the duty to take
corrective action, and the types of corrective action
required. 

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M.
MIZE
(15)
JEFFREY

Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Arthur Scotland, George Nicholson and

Peter McBrien all worked for former California Attorney General

While under oath before the CJP, Scotland verified

and Governor George Deukmejian. All were appointed to the

Sacramento County bench by Deukmejian.
that he was aware of McBrien's misconduct in the
Carlsson case. Scotland essentially defied the selfpolicing Canon and, in effect, the published Carlsson opinion authored by his co-workers Butz, Blease and Sims,
and instead testified in support of McBrien at the CJP. In it's final decision allowing McBrien to remain on the
bench, the CJP specifically cited Scotland's testimony as a mitigating factor that reduced McBrien's punishment.
Click here. An examination of Scotland's career in government - funded by the taxpayers of California - provides
insight into the tactics, motives, and questionable ethics behind his unusual involvement in the McBrien matter.  
By his own admission, Scotland's career in the Judicial Branch of government was the result of connections and
preferential treatment. The former justice candidly recited his life history in a nearly three-hour interview for the
California Appellate Court Legacy Project in 2011. Like other gratuitous "tough-on-crime" conservative
ideologues from a law enforcement background who rose to power in the 1980's, Scotland apparently lived the
cliche of being born on third base and going through life thinking he hit a triple. His interest in law developed
when he worked as an undercover narcotics agent for the state Department of Justice.
"[I] bluffed my way through the interview, and I got hired as a narcotics agent in 1969...I was
an undercover narcotics agent. I've bought a lot of dope in my life...all lawfully, but I've
bought a lot of dope," Scotland said. "And I testified in court. And that's what got me
fascinated in the legal process...and it got me involved in the law." Click here to view. 
Having worked with prosecutors as an undercover cop, Scotland
decided he wanted to be one. But due to his lackluster
performance as a college student, law school presented a
problem, albeit a problem easily solved through a family
connection.
"[I] thought, I want to be a prosecutor. I'm going to go
to law school; I want to be a prosecutor. So I applied
in 1971. I applied to only one school: University of the
Pacific, McGeorge School of Law...[M]y grades weren't

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

a law school with liberal admission standards. 
that one of the reasons I got selected for McGeorge
School of Law is my dad's relationship with the dean." Click here to view.    
After graduation, but before he was licensed to practice law, Scotland nonetheless practiced law while employed as
a deputy district attorney for Sacramento County. In the outside world, the unauthorized practice of law is a
crime. But in Scotland's protective law enforcement bubble, "laws" are only enforced against drug addicts and the
unwashed masses. As Scotland explained in his own words, laws are actually only "rules" when a sworn peace
officer breaks one. 
"Actually, before I even got sworn in in the bar, I was assigned out to juvenile hall and we
prosecuted...I prosecuted cases without any supervision - you know, against...really against
the rules...we were trying cases without any supervision." Click here.
In McGregor v. State Bar, the seminal case on the unauthorized practice of law, the California Supreme Court
explained why a nonlicensed person is prohibited from exercising the special powers and privileges of a lawyer.  
"The right to practice law not only presupposes in its possessor integrity, legal standing and
attainment, but also the exercise of a special privilege, highly personal and partaking of the
nature of a public trust. It is manifest that the powers and privileges derived from it may not
with propriety be delegated to or exercised by a nonlicensed person." Click here.
25 years after he obtained his license to practice law, Justice Arthur G. Scotland exploited the implied integrity of
his court of appeal office and exercised his special privilege in a way that to many Sacramento Family Court
litigants was a manifest violation of the public trust.

   

The Artifice

MEDIA
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SO YOU WANT TO GO TO
LAW

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

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

SCHOOL

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STEUART

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performance. 

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

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

SUNDAY
FUNNIES

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

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

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

drug buys, Scotland acknowledged his skill in the role.

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

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

Blame the Victim
In a final act of both flagrant cronyism to his friend and former Department of Justice co-worker Pete McBrien,
and disrespect to the work of his fellow 3rd District Court of Appeal Justices Kathleen Butz, Cole Blease and
Rick Sims whose published opinion in the Carlsson case resulted in McBrien's prosecution by the CJP, Scotland

SUNSHINE
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BOGERT
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BLIZZARD
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THADD

THADDEUS

STEVENS
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THOMAS M. CECIL
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THOMAS WOODRUFF
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TIMOTHY ZEFF
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TOMMY
ULF
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ACT
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WHISTLEBLOWERS
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WHITE HOUSE
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O'HAIR POSNER and
SALINGER
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XAPURI B.
VILLAPUDUA

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

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

Contrary to the explicit findings by his colleagues at the 3rd District
Court of Appeal, in his deceptive CJP testimony Justice Arthur
Scotland blamed attorney Sharon Huddle for the egregious
misconduct of his old friend, Judge Peter McBrien.

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

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

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

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

Third District Court of Appeal Associate Justice George Nicholson

rode to the bench on a "law and order" agenda.

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

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

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

Click here to view the full interview transcript.

   

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

foundational attribute of American Democracy. 

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

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

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

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Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye & Oversight of California Courts
State officials and agencies responsible for oversight and accountability of California courts, Sacramento Family Law Court, administrators, judges and employees include:Tani

G. Cantil-Sakauye Chief Justice - Elaine M. Howle State Auditor Bureau of State Audits - Victoria B. Henley Director Chief Counsel

Commission on Judicial Performance - Steven Jahr Administrative Director of the Courts - Phillip J. Jelicich Principal Auditor Bureau of State Audits - Janice M.
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Performance - Tani Cantil-Sakauye Judicial Council of California - Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division Curt Soderlund Chief Administrative Officer The Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye is the leader of the state's third branch of government, the Judicial Branch. Her responsibilities include serving as Chief
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Sacramento Family Court News reports on

former Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye -

Judge Pro Tem, Temporary Judges, Office

of Temporary Judge, Oath of Office of Temporary Judge, California Rules of Court, California Code of Judicial

Ethics, County of Sacramento Superior Court, Sacramento Family Law Court, Family Court Sacramento, William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, Judge Stephen W.

White, Judge Steve White, Judge Matthew J. Gary, Hon. Matthew J. Gary, Judge Laurie M. Earl, Hon. Laurie M. Earl, Judge Peter J. McBrien, Hon. Peter J. McBrien, Judge Jaime
R. Roman, Hon. Jaime R. Roman, Judge Sharon A. Lueras, Hon. Sharon A. Lueras, Judge Thadd A. Blizzard, Hon. Thadd A. Blizzard, Sacramento County Superior Court Supervising
Family Law Facilitator, Sacramento County Superior Court Court Executive Officer Christina Volkers, Sacramento Family Court Director of Operations Julie Setzer, Sacramento
Family Court Manager Colleen McDonagh, Sacramento Family Court Supervising Courtroom Clerk Denise Richards, County of Sacramento Superior Court, Attorney Steven R.
Burlingham; Gary, Till & Burlingham,

Attorney Camille H. Hemmer; Law Offices of Camille Hemmer, Attorney Jeffrey Posner; Woodruff, O’Hair, Posner &
Attorney Diane Wasznicky, Family law attorney Charolotte Keeley, Charlotte Leigh Keeley,
Attorney Fredrick Cohen, Law Offices of Fredrick Cohen, Attorney Bunmi Awoniyi, Law Office of Bunmi Awoniyi, Attorney Richard Sokol, Law Offices
of Richard Sokol, Attorney John O’Malley, Downey Brand, attorney Robert O’Hair, Robert James O’Hair, Attorney Joseph Winn, Law Offices of Winn &
Salinger, Attorney Hal Bartholomew; Bartholomew & Wasznicky,

Winn, Family Law Paula Salinger, attorney Paula Dawn Salinger, Attorney Elaine Viola Van Beveren,

Elaine Van Beveren, Attorney Mark Ambrose, Law

Offices of Mark Ambrose, Attorney Nancy Perkovich, Perkovich Law Offices, Attorney Gary Michael Appelblatt, attorney D. Thomas Woodruff, Daniel
Thomas Woodruff, family law attorney Russell Carlson, Russell William Carlson, Sacramento County Bar Association, Family Law Section, Family Law
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The news analysis and opinion content at Sacramento Family Court News is partly based on the legal references and treatises used by judges and attorneys. Click here for a
description of our newsroom law library and the publications we use to research and report Sacramento Family Law Court issues. Most family law attorneys belong to the
Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section. The section is headed by the Family Law Executive Committee, also known by the acronym FLEC. The committee is
composed of CHAIR RUSSELL CARLSON, VICE CHAIR ELAINE VAN BEVEREN, TREASURER FREDRICK COHEN, and SECRETARY PAULA SALINGER. Family court watchdogs charge that
the committee acts as a shadow government controlling most operations, including dictating local court rules in Sacramento family law court.

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Family Court Records: Sacramento Superior Court - Order
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Family Court Resource Referral Program: Sacramento

3rd District Court of Appeal Justice Vance Raye,
and U.S. Attorneys Benjamin B. Wagner and
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members of the Sacramento Bar Association,
formally known as the Sacramento County Bar
Association. The Sacramento Bar
Association has a Family Law Section and a
Family Law Executive Committee known by
the acronym FLEC. The Sacramento County
Family Law Section Executive Committee is
composed of CHAIR Russell Carlson, VICE
CHAIR Elaine Van Beveren, TREASURER
Fredrick Cohen, and SECRETARY Paula
Salinger. The PAST CHAIR is Judith Winn.
Each member of the Family Law Section
Executive Committee also holds the Office of
Temporary Judge, also known as a Judge Pro
Tem. The Bar Association Family Law
Section publishes a monthly newsletter called

Family
Law Counselor is available at the
Bartholomew & Wasznicky
website. Click here. UPDATE: In February,

The Family Law Counselor.The

2013 Bartholomew & Wasznicky terminated online
public access to the Family Law Counselor

Sacramento Family Law Court, Family Court
Sacramento and all California courts are
subject to oversight by Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
California, the California State Auditor, the
whistleblower act, also known as the
Whistleblower Protection Act, the Bureau of
State Audits, the Commission on Judicial
Performance or CJP, and the Judicial Council
under the leadership of Chief Justice Tani
Cantil-Sakauye. The Judicial Council operates
the Judicial Branch California Courts website.
The motto of the California Judicial Branch
website is "Committed to providing fair and
equal justice for all Californians." Assertions
by family court watchdogs and whistleblowers to
Sacramento Family Court News indicate that
the motto may not apply in Sacramento Family
Court.

Superior Court - Resource Referral Program
E-Correspondence (Family Law Self-Help Assistance) Family Law Facilitator
Family Law - Court Appearances: Sacramento Superior
Court - Court Hearings and Orders
Divorce / Legal Separation / Annulment: Sacramento
Superior Court - Divorce / Legal Separation / Annulment
Child Custody / Visitation: Sacramento Superior Court Child Custody / Visitation
Family Relations Courthouse: Sacramento Superior Court
- William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse
Public Case Document Search - Sacramento Superior
Court
Complex Case Calendar: Sacramento Superior Court
Tani Cantil-Sakauye Supreme Court of California Chief
Justice
Civil Motions and Hearings General: Sacramento Superior
Court
Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse:
Sacramento Superior Court
Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye - About the Chief Justice
Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye - Outreach Activities
Joyce L. Kennard Supreme Court of California Justice
Justice Cantil-Sakauye - Civics Initiatives
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye - Chief in the News
Tani Cantil-Sakauye - Chief Justice Speeches
Marvin R. Baxter Supreme Court of California Justice

The Supreme Court of
California is the ultimate
authority on California law.
Justices include Kathryn
Werdegar, Joyce Kennard,
Ming Chin, Carol Corrigan,
Marvin Baxter, Goodwin Liu
and Tani Sakauye.

Kathryn M. Werdegar Supreme Court of California Justice

Other search topics include:
ATTORNEY DIVORCE, lawyers
for divorce, family law, Sacramento
Court, divorce, attorneys divorce,
bar association, child custody
California, lawyers, CALIFORNIA
DIVORCE LAW, child custody,
family court, whistleblower,
dissolution, pro per, county superior,
state bar, family lawyer, court rules,
judge pro tem, family court
attorneys, family law facilitator, legal
representation, child support
services, lawyer divorce, child
support payment, attorney at law,
domestic violence,

Barbara J.R. Jones Presiding Justice 1st District Court of
Appeal

court, child support, attorney, lawyer,
attorneys, TANI G. CANTIL-SAKAUYE,
pro se, judge,
divorce attorneys, divorce attorney, divorce lawyers,
California family law attorneys, family court attorneys,
child support payments, judges, LAWYER FOR DIVORCE,
family law bar, superior court, spousal abuse, child
support California, family lawyers, attorneys at law,
California child custody, child custody in California,
county bar association, Superior Court in California, in
pro per, Sacramento County records, family facilitator,

Ming W. Chin Supreme Court of California Justice
Carol A. Corrigan Supreme Court of California Justice
Goodwin Liu Supreme Court of California Justice
J. Anthony Kline Presiding Justice 1st District Court of
Appeal
Ignazio John Ruvolo Presiding Justice 1st District Court of
Appeal

Sandra L. Margulies Acting Presiding Justice 1st District
Court of Appeal
Robert M. Mallano Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of
Appeal
Roger W. Boren Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of
Appeal
Joan Dempsey Klein Presiding Justice 2nd District Court
of Appeal
Norman L. Epstein Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of
Appeal
Paul Turner Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of Appeal
Arthur Gilbert Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of
Appeal
Dennis M. Perluss Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of
Appeal
Tricia A. Bigelow Presiding Justice 2nd District Court of
Appeal
Vance W. Raye Presiding Justice 3rd District Court of
Appeal
Arthur G. Scotland Presiding Justice 3rd District Court of
Appeal
Manual A. Ramirez Presiding Justice 4th District Court of
Appeal
Kathleen O'Leary Presiding Justice 4th District Court of
Appeal
Judith McConnell Presiding Justice 4th District Court of
Appeal
Brad R. Hill Presiding Justice 5th District Court of Appeal

newsletter, and scrubbed all Family Law
Counselor newsletters from the firm
website. CLICK HERE for our report on the
controversy. Other common search terms include
HON. LAURIE M. EARL, state audits, judges,
divorce attorneys, state auditor California,
family law facilitators, spousal support, protest,
county superior, self-represented, legal
representation, in pro per, social injustice,
judicial misconduct, pro se, social justice,
Sacramento family law, judge, James Mize, civil
disobedience, unrepresented, PRO PER PRO SE,
family superior court, whistleblowing
protection act, sacramento family court,
Sacramento Superior Court family law facilitator,
judges in California, judicial judges. Sacramento
family law court is located at the William Ridgeway
Courthouse.
"So you can hurt, hurt us bad
But still we'll raise, we'll raise the flag"

court order, court hearing, in pro se, and Tani CantilSakauye

California Judicial Branch oversight and accountability is
the responsibility of Commission on Judicial
Performance Director Victoria B. Henley, California
State Auditor Elaine M. Howle, Judicial Council Director
Steven E. Jahr, Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G.
Cantil-Sakauye, State Bar of California Chief Trial

Conrad L. Rushing Presiding Justice 6th District Court of
Appeal
William R. McGuiness Presiding Justice 1st District Court
of Appeal

Counsel Jayne Kim, 3rd District Court of Appeal Justice
Vance Raye, and U.S. Attorneys Benjamin B. Wagner
and Melinda L. Haag are responsible for the
prosecution of federal crimes, including honest
services fraud. The officers of the Sacramento County
Bar Association Family Law Executive Committee are
Elaine V. Van Beveren, Fredrick S. Cohen, Paula D.
Salinger, and Gregory W. Dwyer.

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