“Members of the judicial branch are supposed to be guardians of the law, but who is guarding the guards? It is time for the public’s concerns about this to be heard and addressed by the Judicial Council, via a public hearing. Very Truly Yours, Kathleen Russell, Executive Director Connie Valentine, California Protective Parents Assn. Barbara Kauffman, Family Law Attorney
September 19, 2014
The Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Chair, Judicial Council, and
Judicial Council Members
455 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Re: Request for Meeting with the Chair of the Judicial Council
Request for Public Hearing Re Public Concerns About the Judicial Branch
Dear Judicial Council Chair and Members:
For decades the California Judicial Council has been the recipient of ongoing reports of misconduct and waste within the Judicial Branch. Yet, misconduct and waste continue unabated. Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris have denied they have the authority to act on complaints of misconduct within the branch, and have referred complainants to the Judicial Council. Complaints have been made to the Judicial Council, but have gone unanswered. This happened most recently in connection with a June 9, 2014 letter complaint about the involvement of former Judicial Councilmember Kim Turner and Marin Judge Beverly Wood in the backdating of a register of actions and minute order. The Governor, Attorney General, and Marin County Counsel have all referred the complainant to the Judicial Council. Yet, although Judicial Council Chair Tani Cantil Sakauye has been in receipt of that complaint since June 12, 2014, and follow- up calls have been made seeking a response, as of last week, the Judicial Council still had not responded.
Accordingly, today we are requesting that an appointment be scheduled for an audience with the Chair of the Judicial Council, to discuss the situation and to set a date for a public hearing before the Judicial Council similar to that held by the Judicial Council’s Elkins Task Force in April of 2009. We are requesting that the hearing be open to everyone in the State of California who wishes to voice concerns and opinions about the California judicial branch, and that the press be allowed to attend and record the hearing.
Our own concerns include but are not limited to judges, court administrators, and court experts who refuse to follow the law, with impunity and immunity; abuse of the CCP section 170 et seq. disqualification statutes; the elimination of court reporters who provide an official record of substantive court proceedings, notwithstanding Commission on Judicial Performance concerns and recommendations about the need for an official record; ongoing branch waste while court fees and penalties are operating to deny the public access to the courts; rampant document destruction by branch members with Judicial Council approval; improper record-keeping within the branch; the withholding of court records by court personnel; the thwarting of legislative investigative and oversight efforts; record tampering and backdating by members of the Judicial Branch; abuse of the assigned judges program; the lack of adequate data collection and management by the Judicial branch, notwithstanding the expenditure of millions on court computer systems; the abuse of ex parte procedures such that judges are having secret non-emergency hearings with one side of the case, and issuing secret non-emergency orders withheld from the other side of the case, thereby repeatedly denying basic due process rights to notice and an opportunity to be heard by an impartial decision maker, and equal protection of the laws; the denial of affordable legal resources and adequate fee orders for financially disadvantaged litigants; cronyism within the branch; the lack of diversity of viewpoints and public representation on the Judicial Council; the practice of judges picking judges, via the assigned judges program, and the selection of Court Commissioners who exercise full judicial powers and are then often converted to judges; the improper delegation of judicial power; and the lack of adequate oversight of the Judicial Branch as a whole.
Members of the judicial branch are supposed to be guardians of the law, but who is guarding the guards? It is time for the public’s concerns about this to be heard and addressed by the Judicial Council, via a public hearing.
Very Truly Yours,
Kathleen Russell, Executive Director
Connie Valentine, California Protective Parents Assn.
Barbara Kauffman, Family Law Attorney
Plus dozens of manual signatures from Californians who live in 16 different counties
Also on September 19th, a peaceful protest was held in San Francisco regarding the need for California’s court leaders to address the severe and systemic ethics problems within the judicial branch. The following is a report of what occurred at the rally. Apparently, the public is now invited to attend and speak at the next Judicial Council meetings which takes place in San Francisco on October 27th and 28th. (We’ll keep you posted on the details as soon as we have them) Begin forwarded messages:
JCW, thank you for this post.
Hello everyone. The dust has settled after Friday’s rally/protest which was very productive.
Security was careful to tell us what we could and could not do, and what would get us arrested. We went from the outside speaking event to the cafeteria, where some of us convened with the intention of taking the elevators to the Judicial Council. (Some rally participants remained outside, fearful of retaliation. Indeed, several of the lawyers who spoke described the personal retaliation they had suffered for speaking out, and various other protest participants also described retaliation they had suffered. Geez, what country do we live in?) Anyway, Security told us if all of us in the cafeteria went up to the Judicial Council, people would be arrested, so they took 8 or 10 of us up to Floor 3 (where they hold the JC meetings), telling us that the Judicial Council had someone waiting to speak with us. The person they had waiting to speak with us was the Director of Reception. LOL. We said we wanted a meeting with the Chair of the Judicial Council and he said we had to request that in writing. We told him a June 9, 2014 letter had been written to the Chair of the Judicial Council along with various others governmental officials, and that we had been directed by the Governor and Attorney General to take our concerns to the Judicial Council, but three months later the only person/entity we had not heard back from was the Judicial Council. We told them that the Judicial Council had received the letter on June 12th, and the chief’s personal secretary had reported it was sent to the Office of General Counsel, and that she would call and tell them we were waiting for a response. We told them follow up calls had been made to OGC, but we got no response at all, so here we all were, in person, people from 16 California counties, taking our issues to the Judicial Council as directed by the Governor and Attorney General, and we wanted to set a meeting with the Chair of the Judicial Council to discuss our concerns. We asked the Director of Reception to get someone from OGC. After a time Robert Buckley, managing attorney of the OGC arrived, and told us we could not set a meeting with the Chair (Tani) but we were at the right place (the Judicial Council) and that we should go to the October Judicial Council meeting and she would be there.
We asked Mr. Buckley to go downstairs to speak with the people waiting in the cafeteria who had traveled from 16 counties, which he did. In response to a direct question about who had oversight authority of the judicial branch, if not the Governor or the Attorney General, he said the Chief Justice. He reiterated, over and over, that we were in the right place and that we needed to go to the October Judicial Council meeting. We asked if the concerns set forth in the June 9, 2014 letter were only going to be addressed at the meeting, and not in writing earlier, and he said he had not even seen that letter (notwithstanding Tani’s secretary stating it had been sent to OGC, and that she would make a call to let them know we were awaiting a response). He was provided a copy of that letter, and a Center for Judicial Excellence letter stating its very broad concerns about the branch, and asking for a meeting with the Chair of the JC and a public hearing open to the press, at which people from around the state could come and testify to the JC about their issues with the branch. He kept saying we had to go to the October JC meeting.
We will be there. And that, my friends, is when everyone should show up en masse. We got the invitation to the party, and we should all show up.
‘It’s Official! We’ve been personally invited to the next Judicial Council meeting by Bob! We tried to arrange a time to talk quietly with the Chair of the JC yesterday (see video), but heck, if they want us to air all of this filthy laundry in public, with the media in the room, then by God, we can certainly do that. The gloves are off, folks. It’s our Year to Demand Justice for all Californians. Won’t you please join us in SF again on Oct. 27 and 28? Get your red t-shirt to show our strength in numbers at the CJE [Center for Judicial Excellence] website today. We CAN DO THIS!’ Kathleen Russell, on Center for Judicial Excellence Facebook page.”