14 February 2012

Sacramento Divorce Attorneys and Family Law Lawyers Judge Pro Tem List Posted by Sacramento Family Court News

Sacramento Family Court Judge Pro Tem Attorney List Published by SFCN

Sacramento Family Court News Exclusive Content
Bureau of State Audits Elaine M. Howle State Auditor - Victoria Henley Commission on Judicial Performance - US Attorney Melinda Haag - Benjamin Wagner US Attorney -Hon. Robert C. Hight – Hon. Bunmi O. Awoniyi – Hon. Steven M. Gevercer – Hon. Tami R. Bogert – Hon. James M. Mize – Vance Raye - CJP Victoria B. Henley – Hon. Thadd A. Blizzard -Temporary Judge Program-Sacramento Superior Court - Sacramento Family Court News- Judge Pro Tem-Office of Temporary Judge- 3rd District Court of Appeal - Justice Vance Raye - Justice Cole Blease – Justice Ronald B. Robie – Justice William J. Murray Jr. – Justice George Nicolson – Justice M. Kathleen Butz – Justice Elena J. Duarte – Justice Harry E. Hull Jr. – Justice Louis Mauro – Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch – Third District Court of Appeal
County of Sacramento Superior Court recruits private-sector lawyers to act as temporary judges, also known as judge pro tems, in Sacramento Family Court. 
Sacramento Family Court News has just published the list of private sector lawyers who work in family court and also hold the office of temporary judge. The list is posted at our special Judge Pro Tem page. Click here. A group of Sacramento Family Court watchdogs allege that the court operates a two-tiered justice system in which for-profit, private sector judge pro tem lawyers are rewarded with preferential treatment by full-time judges in exchange for their ostensibly "volunteer" service as temporary judges, while financially disadvantaged, unrepresented court users are treated as second-class citizens. 

Our ongoing coverage of the controversy is available on our Judge Pro Tems page, and by clicking the label judge pro tems. Among other charges, court reform advocates assert that temporary judge attorneys receive kickbacks in the form of rubber-stamped, favorable rulings from full-time judges at a statistically improbable rate, especially in cases where the opposing party is indigent and unrepresented. The preferential treatment deprives the public of the federally protected right to honest government services, a federal crime, court watchdogs charge.    

To continue reading, click Read more >> below...

What The Temporary Judges Do

State Bar Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim, Commission on Judicial Performance Victoria Henley Chief Counsel - Bureau of State Audits Elaine Howle - US Attorney Benjamin Wagner - US Attorney Melinda Haag - Judge Robert Hight – Judge Bunmi Awoniyi – Judge Steven Gevercer – Judge Tami Bogert – Judge James Mize – Vance Raye - Victoria Henley CJP - Judge Thadd Blizzard -Charlotte Keeley Certified Family Law Specialist - attorney and Judge Pro Tem, Sacramento Family Court, County of Sacramento Superior Court-Temporary Judge Program - Chris Volkers Court Executive Officer - Family Court Sacramento – Director of Operations Julie Setzer – Supervising Family Law Facilitator Lollie Roberts – Family Court Manager Colleen McDonagh – Supervising Courtroom Clerk Denise Richards – Supervising Family Law and Probate Judge Jaime R. Roman - Hon. Laurie M. Earl Presiding Judge – Sacramento County Superior Court Court Executive Officer Christina Volkers
Sacramento Family Court lawyers who also work as judge pro tems take this oath to assume the Office of Temporary Judge. Click here to view the full document.
Sacramento Family Court uses more than 60 temporary judges to preside over the Family Law Settlement Conference Program at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse. Click here for the Official Sacramento County Superior Court description about the program. A California Rule of Court prohibiting temporary judges from presiding over settlement conferences in certain family law cases was unilaterally overruled in 2006 by then-Presiding Judge Roland L. Candee.  

California Rules of Court rule 2.818(b) disqualifies an attorney from serving as a temporary judge in family law cases where "one party is self-represented and the other party is represented by an attorney or is an attorney." Rule 2.818 became law in 2006 and was intended to level the playing field in family court where there are a disproportionate number of cases where one party is unrepresented and financially disadvantaged, while the opposing party has a lawyer, income, and assets. The court rule, then numbered 243.20, took effect on July 1, 2006. But just five days later, then-Presiding Judge Roland L. Candee quietly issued a "standing order" cancelling the rule in Sacramento Family Court. Candee's order used, or, some charge, misused, a "good cause" waiver exception in subsection (b) of the rule. For good cause, the subsection allows a presiding judge to make the rule non-operative.

Judge Candee claimed the new rule "would seriously impair the court's ability to continue operation of its successful settlement conference program by limiting the types of cases in which pro tem judges may sit," according to the order. Candee privately issued a second standing order in December, 2006, this time justifying the waiver on "the continuing shortage of judicial assets in Sacramento County," according to the order. More than six years later, both orders remain in effect. Family court watchdogs assert that Candee's order effectively turned over to the local, for-profit family law bar court operations that should be run by neutral, full-time judges, as required by rule 2.818.   

The temporary judge program is supervised by a "Judicial Faculty" of full-time, state government judges. In Sacramento County, the Judicial Faculty consists of Judges Judy Holzer Hersher, Russell L. Hom, Raoul M. Thorbourne and Sharon A. Lueras. The requirements to become a temporary judge are posted at the Sacramento County Superior Court website. The minimum requirements can be, and often are waived by the Presiding Judge.

Judge Pro Tem Ethical Requirements 

Lawyers acting as temporary judges must comply with certain sections of the Code of Judicial Ethics [pdf]:
  • Canon 1.  
  • Canon 2A. 
  • Canon 2B(1).
  • Canon 3B(1)-(8) and 3B(11).
  • Canon 3C.
  • Canon 3D(1).
  • Canon 3D(2). 
  • Canon 5. 
  • Canon 6D.
Self-policing is a critical duty of all judges:
  • Under Canon 3D(1) a judge pro tem attorney must take appropriate corrective action - which may include reporting the violation to the appropriate authority - if they learn that another judge has violated any section of the Code of Judicial Ethics. . 
  • Under Canon 3D(2) a judge pro tem attorney must take appropriate corrective action if they learn that a lawyer has violated any section of the California Rules of Professional Conduct.
To read a Judicial Council directive about the obligation to take appropriate corrective action, and what actions are required, click here.

How To Submit A Complaint About A Temporary Judge:

Under California Rules of Court, Rule 10.746, a complaint about a temporary judge can be made to the Superior Court. The form and instructions for lodging a complaint is available at the Sacramento Superior Court website.
Related articles and updates: 

Sacramento Family Court News has continuing coverage of issues involving judge pro tem attorneys. For a list of all posts about temporary judges, click here. Our special, independent Judge Pro Tems Page is at this link. Specific issues with direct links include:  
  • A variety of illegal tactics used by court employees, judges, the Family Law Facilitator Office and judge pro tem attorneys to obstruct family court appeals by unrepresented, financially disadvantaged litigants.Click here.
  • Full-time family court judges failure to disclose judge pro tem conflicts of interest to opposing parties and attorneys. Click here.
  • Judge pro tem attorneys promoted a software program sold by the wife of a family court judge. Click here.  
  • Court administrators concealing from the public judge pro tem attorney misconduct, including sexual battery against clients. Click here 
  • Illegal use of California vexatious litigant law by family court judges. Click here
  • Waiver of judge pro tem qualification standards. Click here
  • Failure to adequately train family court judges. Click here
  • Allowing courtroom clerks to issue incomplete, useless fee waiver orders which prevent indigent and financially disadvantaged litigants from serving and filing documents. Click here
  • Preferential treatment provided to judge pro tem attorneys by family court judges, administrators, and employees. Click here.
  • Unfair competition and monopolistic practices by family court judges and attorneys who also hold the Office of Temporary Judge which may violate state unfair competition laws. Click here
  • Judges cherry-pick state law and court rules to rewrite established law to reach a predetermined result to benefit judge pro tem attorneys. Click here
  • The waste of scarce court resources and taxpayer funds caused by unnecessary appeals and other court proceedings. Click here and here.  
  • Allowing judges with a documented history of misconduct and mistreatment of unrepresented litigants to remain in family court. Click here.
  • Concealing from the public but disclosing to the family law bar the demotion of problem judges. Click here 
  • Failing to enforce the Code of Judicial Ethics provisions applicable to temporary judges. Click here
  • Allowing court clerks to commit perjury without apparent consequences. Click here
  • Permitting Family Law Facilitator Office staff to dispense false information to unrepresented, financially disadvantaged litigants. Click here. 
For additional reporting on the people and issues in this post, click the corresponding labels below: