07 January 2013

Sacramento Superior Court Misconduct: Court Employees Protected by State Whistleblower Law

Whistleblower Protection Act Shields Court Employees From Retaliation for Reporting Misconduct  


Judge Robert Hight – Judge Bunmi Awoniyi – Judge Steven Gevercer – Judge Tami Bogert – Judge James Mize – Vance Raye - Victoria Henley CJP - Judge Thadd Blizzard -Whistleblower Protection Act California, State Auditors, Superior Court, Sacramento, Family Court - 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 Sacramento Federal Court Eastern District of California – United States Courts, US District Court Sacramento, Judge William B. Shubb, Judge Edmund F. Brennan, Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr, Judge Carolyn K. Delaney, Judge Morrison C. England Jr, Judge Gregory G. Hollows, Judge John A. Mendez, Judge Kendall J. Newman, Judge Troy L. Nunley, Judge Allison Claire, Judge Dale A. Drozd, Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, United States Attorney Benjamin Wagner,
California State Auditor Whistleblower Hotline
Several family court users have asked Sacramento Family Court News to update our September, 2011 article about the expansion of the California Whistleblower Protection Act

At that time, the Act was revised to protect from retaliation court employees who report misconduct by judges or co-workers, including violations of the California Rules of Court

The 2011 law designates a violation of state court rules as an improper governmental activity, in the same category of misconduct as corruption, malfeasance, bribery, theft of government property, fraud, coercion, willful omission to perform duty, and similar types of misconduct. 

Court watchdogs allege that in Sacramento Family Court, a number of state court rules are routinely ignored by judges and court clerks. We're investigating the allegations, and will report our findings in the near future. We've also had reports that courtroom bailiffs are not enforcing the law, which one national family court website has documented is a common problem. Familylawcourts.com notes that some bailiffs act as "judicial puppets," and has called for bailiff education

To continue reading, click Read more >> below:   


As we reported in 2011, the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, superior courts and Administrative Office of the Courts are now included in the California Whistleblower Protection Act "state agency" definition. Among other benefits, the revised definition ensures that the protections of the Act extend to court employees. Under the Act, court employees who make complaints about improper governmental activities by judges or co-workers are protected from retaliation. Retaliation includes intimidation, the denial of appointment or promotion, a threat of adverse action, a poor performance evaluation, involuntary transfer, or any form of disciplinary action.


Jury Awards Court Employee $313,206 In Retaliation Case

On October 10, 2012 a Sacramento Superior Court jury awarded court employee Emily Gallup $313,206 in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against her employer, Nevada County Superior Court. Click here to read Emily Gallup's whistleblower lawsuit. The actual jury verdict can be viewed at this link. To read the court order about the verdict, click here.
  

How To Report Misconduct

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 -State Auditor - Sacramento Family Court - 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. Brickley Legal Advisor to Commissioners Commission on Judicial Performance - Judicial Council and Court Leadership Services Division Jody Patel Chief of Staff - Doug D. Cordiner Chief Deputy State Auditor Bureau of State Audits - Bradford L. Battson Senior Attorney III Commission on Judicial Performance - Judicial and Court Operations Services Division Curtis L. Child Chief Operating Officer – Donna L. Neville Staff Counsel IV Bureau of State Audits- Sei Shimoguchi Senior Attorney III Commission on Judicial Performance - Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division Curt Soderlund Chief Administrative Officer -
The California State Auditor offers 
a toll-free hotline for reporting 
misconduct by state employees.
Court employees can report improper governmental activities to the State Auditor using the Whistleblower Hotline, by mail, or using an electronic form at the State Auditor website. Under several state statutes, rules, and regulations state employees who fail to report misconduct may themselves be guilty of misconduct and subject to discipline, job termination, or criminal prosecution. Employee conduct standards include Article 20 of the California Constitution, California Rules of Court rules 10.16, 10.17, and 10.670 and the Court Employee Code of Ethics

Criminal Prosecution for Failing to Report Misconduct

Court employees may be subject to criminal prosecution under several state statutes, including Penal Code sections 470(c) and 470(d), which prohibit altering, corrupting, or falsifying legal records or documents. Failing to report a judge or co-worker engaged in criminal conduct may expose a court employee to the same criminal prosecution as an accessory, for aiding and abetting, conspiracy, or under the natural and probable consequences doctrine.
   
In addition, several federal criminal statutes may apply to court worker misconduct. Employees who deprive public court users of constitutional or civil rights can be prosecuted for deprivation of rights under color of law, or conspiracy to violate civil rights. Sacramento Family Court receives federal funds and court users have a federally protected right to honest services. A deprivation of the right is a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1346

To view federal honest services case law decisions, click here. To view federal indictments for honest services fraud, click here. Employees aware of, but who do not report federal criminal activity can be changed with misprision of felony under 18 USC § 4. Click here to view a federal misprision of felony indictment.  

Judge Robert Hight – Judge Bunmi Awoniyi – Judge Steven Gevercer – Judge Tami Bogert – Judge James Mize – Vance Raye - Victoria Henley CJP - Judge Thadd Blizzard -Superior Court Sacramento County Family Relations Courthouse - Employee Misconduct - Judge Misconduct -Court Executive Officer Chris Volkers – Judge Laurie M. Earl Presiding Judge – Judge Jaime R. Roman Supervising Family Law/Probate/ADA Judge – child custody - Judge Matthew J. Gary – Judge Sharon A. Lueras – Judge Thadd A. Blizzard – Judge James M. Mize – Judge Peter J. McBrien – Judge Kevin R. Culhane – Judge Thomas M. Cecil - Commissioner Scott P. Harmon – Director of Operations Julie Setzer –Colleen McDonagh Family Court Manager – child support - Denise Richards Supervising Courtroom Clerk – Judge Pro Tem – Office of Temporary Judge – Temporary Judge – Settlement Conference – divorce attorneys United States District Court Eastern District of California – Sacramento Federal Court – United States Courts - Judge William Shubb - Judge Edmund Brennan - Judge Garland Burrell Jr - Judge Carolyn Delaney - Judge Morrison England Jr - Judge Gregory Hollows - Judge John Mendez - Judge Kendall Newman - Judge Troy Nunley - Judge Allison Claire - Judge Dale Drozd - Judge Lawrence Karlton - Judge Kimberly Mueller – Office of the United States Attorneys Benjamin B. Wagner Eastern District of California,
Sacramento Family Court employees can be prosecuted under a number of federal criminal laws, including deprivation of the right to honest services. 
  
For the complete California Whistleblower Protection Act, click here.

To send a confidential news tip to Sacramento Family Court News, click here, or use our Contact Page.