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DISTRICT COURTS OF THE
Prepared by the Ninth Circuit
Jury Instructions Committee
8.153 RACKETEERING ACTIVITY—DEFINED
(18 U.S.C. § 1959)
With respect to the second element in Instruction _______ [insert cross reference to
pertinent instruction, e.g. Instruction 8.151], the government must prove that the enterprise was
engaged in racketeering activity. “Racketeering activity” means the commission of certain
crimes. These include [insert applicable statutory definitions of state or federal crimes at issue
as listed in 18 U.S.C. § 1961.]
The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the enterprise was engaged in
[at least one of] the crime[s] named above.
Use this instruction in conjunction with Instructions 8.151 (Violent Crime in Aid of
Racketeering Enterprise), 8.152 (Racketeering Enterprise—Enterprise Affecting Interstate
Commerce—Defined), and 8.154 (Racketeering Enterprise—Proof of Purpose).
For a definition of “racketeering activity,” see 18 U.S.C. § 1959(b)(1), which states that
term has the meaning set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1). See also United States v. Banks, 514 F.3d
959, 968 (9th Cir.2008).
8.154 RACKETEERING ENTERPRISE—PROOF OF PURPOSE
(18 U.S.C. § 1959)
With respect to the fourth element in Instruction _______ [insert cross reference to
pertinent instruction, e.g. Instruction 8.151], the government must prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that the defendant’s purpose was to gain entrance to, or to maintain, or to increase [his]
[her] position in the enterprise.
It is not necessary for the government to prove that this motive was the sole purpose, or
even the primary purpose of the defendant in committing the charged crime. You need only find
that enhancing [his] [her] status in [name of enterprise] was a substantial purpose of the
defendant or that [he] [she] committed the charged crime as an integral aspect of membership in
[name of enterprise].
In determining the defendant’s purpose in committing the alleged crime, you must
determine what [he] [she] had in mind. Since you cannot look into a person’s mind, you have to
determine purpose by considering all the facts and circumstances before you.
Use this instruction in conjunction with Instructions 8.151 (Violent Crime in Aid of
Racketeering Enterprise), Instructions 8.152 (Racketeering Enterprise—Enterprise Affecting
Interstate Commerce—Defined), and 8.153 (Racketeering Activity—Defined). See Comment to
Instruction 8.151. If the fourth element of Instruction 8.151 is modified, this instruction should
also be modified.
“[T]he purpose element is met if ‘the jury could properly infer that the defendant
committed his violent crime because he knew it was expected of him by reason of his
membership in the enterprise or that he committed it in furtherance of that membership.’”
United States v. Banks, 514 F.3d 959, 965 (9th Cir.2008) (quoting United States v. Pimentel, 346
F.3d 285, 295-96 (2d Cir.2003)).
“VICAR’s purpose element is satisfied even if the maintenance or enhancement of his
position in the criminal enterprise was not the defendant’s sole or principal purpose.” Banks, 514
F.3d at 965. The law, however, requires a defendant’s purpose be “more than merely incidental.”
Id. at 969. Although the gang or racketeering enterprise purpose does not have to be “the only
purpose or the main purpose” of a murder or assault, it does have to be a substantial purpose. Id.
at 970 “Murder while a gang member is not necessarily a murder for the purpose of maintaining
or increasing position in a gang, even if it would have the effect of maintaining or increasing
position in a gang.” Id.
8.157 RICO—PATTERN OF RACKETEERING ACTIVITY
(18 U.S.C. § 1961(5))
To establish a pattern of racketeering activity, the government must prove each of the
following beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, at least two acts of racketeering were committed;
Second, the acts of racketeering had a relationship to each other which posed a threat of
continued criminal activity; and
Third, the acts of racketeering embraced the same or similar purposes, results,
participants, victims, or methods of commission, or were otherwise interrelated by distinguishing
Sporadic, widely separated, or isolated criminal acts do not form a pattern of racketeering
Two racketeering acts are not necessarily enough to establish a pattern of racketeering
If there is an issue whether there were two racketeering activities within ten years, the
instruction should be modified by inserting “within a period of ten years” after “acts of
racketeering were committed” at the end of the first element.
In determining whether two racketeering activities occurred within ten years, any period
of imprisonment after the commission of a prior act must be excluded.
See Sedima, S.P.R.L. v. Imrex Co., 473 U.S. 479, 496 n.14 (1985) (although at least two
acts are necessary under the definition of “pattern of racketeering activity,” two acts may not be
sufficient to constitute a pattern). See also H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., 492
U.S. 229, 239 (1989) (pattern of racketeering activity requires a “showing that the racketeering
predicates are related, and that they amount to or pose a threat of continued criminal activity”);
Sever v. Alaska Pulp Corp., 978 F.2d 1529, 1535-36 (9th Cir.1992) (applying Northwestern
Bell); Ikuno v. Yip, 912 F.2d 306, 309 (9th Cir.1990) (same).
8.123 MAIL FRAUD—SCHEME TO DEFRAUD—DEPRIVATION OF
INTANGIBLE RIGHT OF HONEST SERVICES
(18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1346)
The defendant is charged in [Count _______ of] the indictment with mail fraud in
violation of Section 1341 of Title 18 of the United States Code. In order for the defendant to
be found guilty of that charge, the government must prove each of the following elements
beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, the defendant devised or knowingly participated in a scheme or plan to deprive
[name of victim] of [his] [her] right of honest services;
Second, the scheme or plan consists of a [bribe] [kickback] in exchange for the
defendant’s services. The “exchange” may be express or may be implied from all the
Third, the defendant acted with the intent to defraud by depriving [name of victim] of
[his] [her] right of honest services;
Fourth, the defendant’s act was material; that is, it had a natural tendency to influence,
or was capable of influencing, [a person’s] [an entity’s] acts; and
Fifth, the defendant used, or caused someone to use, the mails to carry out or to
attempt to carry out the scheme or plan.
A mailing is caused when one knows that the mails will be used in the ordinary course
of business or when one can reasonably foresee such use. It does not matter whether the
material mailed was itself false or deceptive so long as the mail was used as a part of the
scheme, nor does it matter whether the scheme or plan was successful or that any money or
property was obtained.
Honest services fraud criminalizes only schemes to defraud that involve bribery or
kickbacks. Skilling v. United States, __ U.S. __, 130 S. Ct. 2896, 2931 (2010); Black v.
United States, __ U.S. __, 130 S. Ct. 2963, 2968 (2010). Undisclosed conflicts of interest, or
undisclosed self-dealing, is not sufficient. Skilling, 130 S. Ct. at 2932. This instruction is
limited to honest services schemes to defraud that involve a bribe or kickback because there is,
as yet, no controlling case law subsequent to Skilling that extends honest services fraud to any
other circumstance. See Skilling, 130 S. Ct. at 2933 (“no other misconduct falls within §
The “prohibition on bribes and kickbacks draws content not only from the pre-McNally
case law, but also from federal statutes proscribing—and defining—similar crimes.” Id.
(citing 18 U.S.C. §§ 201(b) (bribery), 666(a)(2); 41 U.S.C. § 52(2) (kickbacks)); see also
McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350 (1987). Although it did not define bribery or
kickbacks, the Supreme Court in Skilling cited three appellate decisions that reviewed jury
instructions on the bribery element of honest services fraud. Skilling, 130 S. Ct. at 2934
(citing United States v. Ganim, 510 F.3d 134, 147-49 (2d Cir.2007), cert denied, 552 U.S.
1313 (2008); United States v. Whitfield, 590 F.3d 325, 352-53 (5th Cir.2009); and United
States v. Kemp, 500 F.3d 257, 281-86 (3d Cir.2007)). In the Ninth Circuit, bribery requires
at least an implicit quid pro quo. United States v. Kincaid-Chauncey, 556 F.3d 923, 941 (9th
Cir.2009). “Only individuals who can be shown to have had the specific intent to trade
official actions for items of value are subject to criminal punishment on this theory of honest
services fraud.” Id. at 943 n.15. The quid pro quo need not be explicit, and an implicit quid
pro quo need not concern a specific official act. Id. at 945-46 (citing Kemp, 500 F.3d at 282
(“[T]he government need not prove that each gift was provided with the intent to prompt a
specific official act.”)). A quid pro quo requirement is satisfied if the evidence shows a
course of conduct of favors and gifts flowing to a public official in exchange for a pattern of
official acts favorable to the donor. Id. at 943. Bribery is to be distinguished from legal
lobbying activities. Id. at 942, 946 (citing Kemp, 500 F.3d at 281-82). These principles are
consistent with the appellate decisions cited by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in Skilling cited a statutory definition of kickbacks. Skilling, 130
S. Ct. at 2933-34 (“‘The term ‘kickback’ means any money, fee, commission, credit, gift,
gratuity, thing of value, or compensation of any kind which is provided, directly or indirectly,
to [enumerated persons] for the purpose of improperly obtaining or rewarding favorable
treatment in connection with [enumerated circumstances].’”) (quoting 41 U.S.C. 52(2)).
Honest services fraud requires a “specific intent to defraud.” Kincaid-Chauncey, 556
F.3d at 941.
The materiality element was included in this instruction based on the presumption that
Congress intended to incorporate the well-settled meaning of the common-law term “fraud”
into the mail, wire, and bank fraud statutes. See Neder v. United States, 527 U.S. 1, 22-23
(1999). The common law test for materiality in the false statement statutes, as reflected in the
fourth element of this instruction, is the preferred formulation. United States v. Peterson, 538
F.3d 1064, 1072 (9th Cir.2008).
In the case of mail or wire fraud, the government need not prove a specific false statement
was made. United States v. Woods, 335 F.3d 993, 999 (9th Cir.2003). “Under the mail fraud
statute the government is not required to prove any particular false statement was made. Rather,
there are alternative routes to a mail fraud conviction, one being proof of a scheme or artifice to
defraud, which may or may not involve any specific false statements.” Id. (quoting United States
v. Munoz, 233 F.3d 1117, 1131 (9th Cir.2000) (internal citations omitted)).
Sacramento Family Court News
Investigative Reporting, News, Analysis, Opinion & Satire
TEMPORARY JUDGE CONTROVERSY
TANI G. CANTIL-SAKAUYE
3rd DISTRICT COA CONTROVERSY
CONTACT FAMILY COURT NEWS
SOURCE MATERIAL ARCHIVE
Terms & Conditions
SHORTCUTS TO POPULAR
SUBJECTS AND POSTS
TEMPORARY JUDGE CONTROVERSY
Sacramento Superior Court Family Law Division
Operates as RICO Racketeering Enterprise, Charge
JUDGE PRO TEM
Sacramento Family Court News Exclusive Investigative Report
This special investigative report is ongoing and was last updated in October, 2015. Hyperlinks throughout this
report link to original source material including whistleblower leaked documents, records obtained under
public records law, public court documents, and our previously published articles with hyperlinks to source
PETER J. McBRIEN
The family court division of Sacramento Superior
Court is controlled and operated by an illegal parallel
government structure made up of several judges and
local divorce attorneys who also work as temporary
judges, according to allegations and document leaks
by court employee whistleblowers and watchdog
ARTS & CULTURE
The shadow government is without the same
transparency and accountability required of
legitimate Judicial Branch agencies, and meets the
definition of a criminal racketeering enterprise,
JAMES M. MIZE
The alleged criminal organization reportedly has
operated for more than 20 years under the direction of
long-controversial Judge Peter McBrien, who has a
prior Sacramento County criminal conviction and
two misconduct convictions by the state
Commission on Judicial Performance.
McBrien quietly retired in 2014 and, due to his prior
CJP misconduct convictions, is prohibited from
continuing to work as a retired judge, according to
former CJP prosecutor and current Lake County
Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum.
MATTHEW J. GARY
Sacramento Superior Court reform advocates assert that collusion
between judges and local attorneys deprives pro per court users of
their parental rights, community assets, and due process and access
to the court constitutional rights.
But, using a loophole in state law, after he retired
McBrien was immediately rehired as a court commissioner by personal friend and Sacramento Superior Court
Presiding Judge Robert Hight. Currently, McBrien remains on the bench in virtually the same role he maintained
as a judge.
The whistleblowers assert that divorce lawyers in the organization receive preferential treatment, "kickbacks,"
and other forms of compensation from judges, court employees and clerks because they volunteer to work as
part-time judges and run the family court settlement conference program on behalf of the court.
The kickbacks usually consist of "rubber-stamped" court orders issued when the attorneys represent clients in
court. The orders consistently are contrary to established law, and the rulings cannot be attributed to the
exercise of judicial discretion.
As a matter of law, the orders are illegal, according to court reform advocates, "outsider" attorneys, and the law
practice reference publications used by judges and lawyers. SFCN has posted examples of the orders online
at Scribd and other document publishing sites. Order links are provided throughout this report.
Scheme Primarily Targets Divorce Cases Where Only One Side Has a Lawyer
Most of the demonstrably unlawful orders are issued against indigent, or financially disadvantaged "pro per"
parties without an attorney. Many pro per litigants - who make up over 70 percent of court users - also are
In most cases, pro pers - who have little or no knowledge of family law - are unaware that the orders issued against
them are illegal. In addition, court clerks and employees are trained or encouraged to intentionally, and illegally
mislead unrepresented parties about their appeal rights. Pro pers who do attempt to file an appeal are forced to
navigate a gauntlet of unlawful obstructions erected by court employees and trial court judges, and most
eventually give up.
COLOR OF LAW SERIES
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
POSNER and SALINGER
JAIME R. ROMAN
LAURIE M. EARL
NO CONTACT ORDERS
SHARON A. LUERAS
Further handicapping pro pers, when representing clients in court judge pro tem lawyers are allowed to obstruct an
opposing parties' court access and ability to file documents through the court-sanctioned misuse of vexatious
litigant law and Family Code case management law, according to whistleblowers and court records. The illegal
litigation tactic effectively deprives pro per litigants of their constitutional right of access to the courts, a violation of
In exchange for acting as sworn temporary judges, operating the settlement program and reducing the caseload
and workload of judges and court employees, the attorneys also receive preferential trial scheduling, an
unlawful "emolument, gratuity or reward" prohibited by Penal Code § 94.
The ultimate consequences of the systemic divorce court corruption include one-sided divisions of community
property, illegal child custody arrangements and the deprivation of parental rights, and unlawful child and
spousal support terms.
Court reform advocates also assert that the racketeering enterprise enables rampant fee churning and unjust
enrichment by judge pro tem divorce lawyers, results in pro per financial devastation, homelessness, and
imprisonment, and has caused, or contributed to at least two child deaths.
Years of illegal, pay-to-play child custody orders have resulted in the formation of several Sacramento-based court
reform and oversight organizations, including Fathers 4 Justice, California Protective Parents Association, and
the Family Court Accountability Coalition. The same family court watchdog group phenomenon has not
occurred in any other county in the state.
3rd DISTRICT COA
FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR
THOMAS M. CECIL
VANCE W. RAYE
During three days of sworn testimony at his Commission on Judicial Performance misconduct prosecution, Judge Peter McBrien
inadvertently revealed aspects of an alleged RICO racketeering enterprise operating in the Sacramento County family court system.
The alleged criminal conduct also deprives victims of their state and federal constitutional rights, including due
process, equal protection of law, access to the courts, and the fundamental liberty interest in the care,
management and companionship of their own children, according to several "outsider" attorneys.
Court watchdogs charge that the settlement conference kickback arrangement between the public court and private
sector attorneys constitutes a racketeering enterprise which also deprives the public of the federally
protected right to honest government services.
The alleged federal crimes also include the theft, misuse, or conversion of federal funds received by the court,
predicate acts of mail or wire fraud, and predicate state law crimes, including obstruction of justice, child
First Amendment Coalition
abduction, and receipt of an illegal emolument, gratuity, or reward by a judicial officer (Penal Code § 94).
With the help of court employee whistleblowers, Sacramento Family Court News has partially reconstructed the
framework of the alleged criminal enterprise that, in scale and scope, rivals the Kids for Cash court scandal in
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and the Orange County Superior Court case-fixing corruption scheme recently
exposed by the FBI.
LAW BLOGS WE LIKE
Family Law Professor Blog
Law Librarian Blog
Settlement Conference Program Quid Pro Quo Arrangement
Thurman Arnold Family
The current day Sacramento County Family Court
system and judge pro tem attorney operated
settlement conference program was set up in 1991
by Judge Vance Raye, Judge Peter McBrien and
lawyers from the Sacramento County Bar Association
Family Law Section, according to the sworn
testimony of McBrien at his 2009 Commission on
Judicial Performance misconduct prosecution.
Above the Law
The Divorce Artist
Click here to read the transcript of the controversial
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.
LEGAL NEWS &
California Lawyer Magazine
Courthouse News Service
3rd District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Vance Raye
is the co-architect of the current Sacramento County Family
Court system. Click here for details.
Judge Vance Raye is now the Presiding Justice of
the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, the
court responsible for hearing appeals from Sacramento Superior Court. The appellate court has been embroiled in
a number of controversies surrounding the review of Sacramento family court cases.
In 2012, troubled Sacramento County Judge James Mize, - a personal friend of McBrien - further privatized
family court services and expanded the ability of ostensibly "volunteer" temporary judge lawyers to earn kickbacks
and other preferential treatment with his so-called "One Day Divorce Program."
Court watchdogs charge that the system was designed to, and does serve the needs and financial interests of
family law lawyers at the expense of the 70 percent of family court users who cannot afford representation.
Reducing the Caseload and Workload of Judges and Court Staff in Exchange for
One objective of the allegedly illegal public-private
partnership is to significantly reduce the caseload, and
workload of full-time judges by having private sector
lawyers - instead of judges or court staff - operate the
settlement program, according to watchdogs.
At the settlement conferences, judge pro tem attorneys
pressure divorcing couples to settle cases so they won't
use the trial court services, including law and motion
hearings, ordinarily required to resolve a contested
In many cases, two lawyers - one acting as a temporary
judge - with social and professional ties team up against an
unrepresented pro per to compel one-sided settlement
terms. Accounts of coercive and deceptive tactics are
In sworn testimony during his judicial misconduct
prosecution by the Commission on Judicial Performance,
Law Professor Blogs
California Official Case Law
Unpublished Case Law
California Courts YouTube
Commission on Judicial
Sacramento County Family
3rd District Court of Appeal
State Bar of California
State Bar Court
Sacramento County Bar
Local & National Family CourtFamily Law Sites & Blogs (may
ABA Family Law Blawg
Judge McBrien inadvertently revealed that an incredible 90
percent of cases assigned to his courtroom settled. "And so
I, frankly, have a very light calendar on law and motion
mornings," the judge added.
California Coalition for
Families and Children
The 2014 documentary film Divorce Corp exposed court
corruption throughout the United States and designated
Sacramento County as the worst-of-the-worst.
Under the quid pro quo agreement, in exchange for
reducing the workload of judges and court staff, as opportunities arise the temporary judge attorneys are provided
reciprocal kickbacks, gratuities, or emoluments when representing clients in court. The issuance and receipt of
the reciprocal benefits violates several state and federal criminal, and civil laws.
Reciprocal benefits include the issuance of demonstrably illegal court orders that have ignored, and even
authorized criminal conduct by judge pro tem attorneys and their clients, including criminal child abduction.
In one case, a judge ordered the illegal arrest and assault of a disabled pro per to benefit the opposing, part-time
judge attorney. A court employee whistleblower leaked a courtroom security video of the incident. The judge pro
tem lawyer subsequently was caught on court reporter transcript defending the judge and lying about the arrest
and assault, portraying the disabled victim as being at fault.
The consistent, statistically impossible in-court success rate of judge pro tem attorneys has provided
them prominence, client referrals, wealth, and a substantial monopoly on the Sacramento County divorce and
family law business. Whistleblowers point out that this benefit of the alleged criminal organization also implicates
consumer protection and antitrust laws, including the California Unfair Business Practices Act.
Racketeering Scheme Insulates Members from Government Oversight and
Center for Judicial
Courageous Kids Network
Divorce & Family Law News
Divorced Girl Smiling
Family Law Case Law from
Family Law Courts.com
Family Law Updates at
JDSupra Law News
Fathers 4 Justice
Moving Past Divorce
News and Views Riverside
Whistleblowers claim that Sacramento Family Court corruption results in the misuse of federal funds, deprives the public of the federally
protected right to honest government services, and deprives unrepresented, disabled, and financially disadvantaged court users of their
The quid pro quo arrangement also involves what whistleblowers assert is a reciprocal protection racket that
conceals the organization from discovery by law enforcement agencies and state oversight authorities, including
the Commission on Judicial Performance, responsible for judge misconduct, and the State Bar Association,
responsible for attorney accountability and discipline.
Case audits conducted by SFCN show that judge pro tem attorneys routinely violate state law, court rules, and
attorney ethics rules, but are never reported to the State Bar, or assessed fines, penalties or "sanctions" by fulltime judges as required by state law.
Pro pers who attempt to report judge pro tem attorney misconduct to the State Bar are told they need a court
order from a judge before a disciplinary investigation against an opposing attorney can take place. There are no
known instances where a judge issued such an order.
Court records leaked by whistleblowers also indicate that the under quid pro quo agreement, judges effectively
shield attorneys from criminal investigation and prosecution for alleged crimes, including witness intimidation,
child abduction, filing counterfeit documents, and violations of state and federal civil rights laws.
On the other hand, at the request of cartel attorneys, pro per litigants are routinely punished by judges with illegal
fines, draconian financial sanctions, and other types of punishment to discourage them from returning to
court, and to coerce them to accept settlement terms dictated by the opposing judge pro tem lawyers.
Attorneys provide judges reciprocal protection by not reporting the judicial misconduct, Code of Judicial Ethics
violations, and criminal conduct committed by full-time judge cartel members. And the lawyers do more.
To help conceal and ensure the continuity of the enterprise, on the rare occasion when full-time judges do face
investigation by the Commission on Judicial Performance, members of the cartel provide false, misleading, or
otherwise gratuitous character witness testimony and other forms of support for the offending judge. The
testimony and support is designed to, and does reduce or eliminate potential punishment by the CJP, ensuring
judge members remain on the bench.
Racketeering Conduct of Court Clerks, Supervisors and the Family Law Facilitator
The racketeering activity includes startling coordination, kickbacks, and pattern and practice misconduct by court
clerks, supervisors, and the Family Law Facilitator office. Court clerks routinely refuse to file legally sufficient
paperwork for pro per parties, while at the same time filing legally insufficient, and even counterfeit paperwork which they are required by law to reject for filing - for judge pro tem attorneys.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
JUDICIAL CONDUCT HANDBOOK
CECIL and CIANCI
Court records show that clerks also
deliberately withhold and delay the
filing of time sensitive pro per
documents until after filing deadlines
In some cases, judges and court clerks
work in tandem to prevent pro per
parties from filing documents at court
hearings for the benefit of judge pro
tems, deliberately creating an
incomplete and inaccurate trial court
record in the event the pro per files an
In this case, a court clerk illegally "unfiled" a notice of appeal filed by an indigent,
disabled pro per litigant. Click here for details.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Family Law Facilitator staff provide pro per litigants with false information designed to conceal state law
violations by court clerks and supervisors. Judges regularly provide attorneys with written legal advice and
"bench tips." When pro pers ask facilitator staff for similar information, they are told that facilitator employees are
prohibited from giving legal advice.
Alleged RICO Racketeering Enterprise Evidence
CODE OF ETHICS
CPG FAMILY LAW
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.
EMPLOYEE CODE OF ETHICS
EUGENE L. BALONON
FAMILY COURT PROCEDURE
Divorce Corp, chronicling Sacramento Superior Court corruption,
is available on Netflix.
Judge Thadd Blizzard issued a rubber-stamped, kickback order in November, 2013 for judge pro tem
attorney Richard Sokol authorizing an illegal out-of-state move away and child abduction by Sokol's
client, April Berger. The opposing counsel is an "outsider" attorney from San Francisco who was
dumbfounded 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.
FATHERS FOR JUSTICE
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.
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
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.
Click here and here.
JOHN E.B. MYERS
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.
KIDS FOR CASH
LEGAL AID ASSOCIATION of
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
...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
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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.
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.
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.
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
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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 &
O'HAIR POSNER and
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
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
rate. The collusion
between full-time judges
and judge pro tem
unfair, fraudulent, and
practices, all of which are
prohibited under California
unfair competition laws,
including Business and
Professions Code §
17200, reform advocates
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,
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.
For information about the role of temporary judges in
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.
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.
For-profit, private sector
lawyers who also hold the
Office of Temporary Judge:
Amara, Sandra Rose Amara, SBN 166933, Law Office of Sandra Amara,1 California
Street, Auburn, CA 95603.
Ambrose, Mark Anthony Ambrose, SBN 141222, Law Offices of Mark A. Ambrose, 8801
Folsom Blvd. Ste. 170, Sacramento, CA 95826. Ambrose unethically advertises himself as a temporary judge.
Kathleen Amos, Kathleen Swalla Amos, SBN 112395, Attorney at Law & Mediator, 206 5th
Street, Ste. 2B Galt, CA 95632.
Gary Appelblatt, Gary Michael Appelblatt, SBN 144158, 3610 American River Drive #112,
Sacramento, CA 95864. Appelblatt was disbarred by the State Bar on Sept. 24, 2010 after being convicted of
sexual battery against clients. Click here for our exclusive report. Appelblatt is a graduate of McGeorge School of
Appelsmith, Beth Marie Appelsmith, SBN 124135, 1430 Alhambra Blvd. Sacramento CA
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.