Thursday, June 16, 2011

Orange County Judge Admits Domestic Violence Laws Misused

In a recent Judicial Council publication, an Orange County judge inadvertently acknowledged that domestic violence laws are misued.

Bureau of State Audits Elaine M. Howle State Auditor California, J. Sharon Reilly C.E.A., Doug D. Cordiner Chief Deputy State Auditor, Donna L. Neville Staff Counsel, Steven B. Russo Staff Counsel, Scott Baxter Staff Counsel, Denise L. Vose C.E.A., John F. Collins C.E.A., Joanne Quarles Principal Auditor, Debbie Meador C.E.A., Michael S. Tilden Principal Auditor, John R. Baier Principal Auditor, Karen L. McKenna Principal Auditor, Michelle J. Baur Principal Auditor, Raymond G. Parks Principal Auditor, S. Ramirez-Ridgeway Staff Counsel, James Sandberglarsen Principal Auditor California Bureau of State Audits
New Report from the Judicial Council of California
Domestic violence laws serve an important function, but here at the Family Court Accountability Coalition we are contacted regularly by self-represented family court litigants who have provided us with court records and other conclusive evidence that they have been falsely accused of domestic violence - almost always in cases where the opposing party is represented by an attorney.

FCAC has documented that to gain a tactical advantage in a divorce, many attorneys encourage their clients to make false spousal abuse accusations. An accusation of domestic violence can result in the reduction or elimination of temporary and post-judgment support obligations, one-sided child custody and visitation orders, and an inequitable division of community property.

The rewards for perjury are substantial, and court of appeal decisions show that not a single accusation of domestic abuse against a self-represented family court litigant has ever been reversed on appeal.

It is a self-evident, statistical impossiblility that all domestic violence allegations are true. But according to the appellate court system in California, they are. And according to State Bar disciplinary statistics, no attorney in California has ever been disciplined for presenting to a court false accusations of domestic abuse, or for any other form of unethical conduct against a self-represented litigant.

It is not exaggeration to say that there is absolutely no accountability for attorneys who file in court false domestic abuse allegations against self-represented litigants. It is statistical fact.

Domestic violence laws can even be misused to obtain custody of the family pet, according to an inadvertent admission by an Orange County judge:
"To address the challenges presented by self-represented litigants, a judge in the Superior Court of Orange County decided to clear his calendar each week to hear only self-represented litigants. By focusing on the needs of this group of court users, the entire courtroom staff has developed expertise in shepherding the cases appropriately and respectfully.

Another judge from the Orange court offered this example of how a focus on understanding the needs of self-represented litigants can help resolve cases: "I had a divorce case and everything was settled but the dog. They couldn’t agree who would get the dog. I could have told them to resolve the matter and come back but they were both getting agitated. I said: who walks the dog? The woman said, ‘I do.’ I said who feeds the dog and she said she did. I asked who cleans up after the dog and she said, ‘me.’ So I looked at the man and he said she should keep the dog. If that had not happened, they could have come to a domestic violence case because of that dog. You have to take the time to figure out what people need to resolve their case. The system is set up to fight, but most people don’t want to fight, they want to disengage. You have to problem-solve with people. It is almost collaborative what we do here."
From the recent Judicial Council Publication Procedural Fairness in California - Intitiatives, Challenges and Recommendations

1 comment:

  1. Because there is no record of the oral proceedings. You cannot ask the other side for an agreed statement or you will violate the restraining order. I requested one and was arrested. I orally argued at appeal and even with a recorded oral argument, the court of appeal decided against me. The panel said it made it's decision stating I admitted to DV, when in listening to the recorded argument, I denied the DV. I am now going to CA Supreme and hopefully US Supreme.