26 February 2013

Divorce Attorneys Russell Carlson, Elaine Van Beveren, Fredrick Cohen & Paula Salinger Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Section Executive Committee Silent On Conflict Issue

Sacramento Bar Association FLEC Officers Response To Judge Pro Tem Conflict of Interest Controversy: Crickets

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, Judge Robert Hight – Judge Bunmi Awoniyi – Judge Steven Gevercer – Judge Tami Bogert – Judge James Mize – Vance Raye - Victoria Henley CJP - Judge Thadd Blizzard -Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Section - Judge Pro Tem - Sacramento County Superior Court - Temporary Judge Program - Family Law Executive Committee - FLEC - Family Relations Courthouse - 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 - 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 - Judge Kevin R. Culhane – Hon. Kevin R Culhane – Judge Kevin Culhane -
FLEC officers Russell Carlson, Elaine Van Beveren,
Fredrick Cohen and Paula Salinger are silent on the
judge pro tem conflict of interest controversy. 

Sacramento Family Court News asked the officers of the Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Executive Committee for a response to our report disclosing that family court judges are systemically and unlawfully failing to disclose conflicts of interest. 

The conflicts occur when family law attorneys who also serve as family court temporary judges represent clients in court. State law and the California Code of Judicial Ethics require full-time judges to disclose to opposing parties and lawyers the temporary judge status of the attorneys. 

By email, SFCN asked for a response from the officers of the Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Section Executive Committee, known by the acronym FLEC. The officers are all family law attorneys who each also hold the Office of Temporary Judge. The officers consist of Chair Russell Carlson, Vice Chair Elaine Van Beveren, Treasurer Fredrick Cohen, and Secretary Paula Salinger

As sworn temporary judges, each is required by the Code of Judicial Ethics to take appropriate corrective action if they learn that another judge has violated any provision of the Code. The obligation is a critical self-policing component of judicial ethics standards, and helps sustain the rule of law. To view a Judicial Council directive about the duty to take corrective action, and the types of corrective action required, click here.  

Sacramento Family Court News sent an email to each FLEC officer on Feb. 1. Click here to view the email. We asked for their response or other input about our judge pro tem conflict of interest article published Jan. 28. We wrote:

"We'll be publishing additional articles on this subject and would appreciate a response or other input from the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section Executive Committee. What is FLEC's position on this issue? Does FLEC acknowledge this error by family court judges? Does FLEC intend to initiate corrective measures to mitigate this problem? If so, what are your plans to do so? We welcome from FLEC any other feedback you wish to provide."

To continue reading, click Read more >> below: 

FLEC Officer Profiles

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 -Sacramento Bar Association, Family Law-Sacramento Superior Court - Family Relations Courthouse - Family Law Lawyers Russell Carlson, Elaine Van Beveren, Fredrick Cohen, Paula Salinger - Judge Pro Tems - Family Court Sacramento - Hon. Peter J. McBrien – Hon. Kevin R. Culhane – Hon. Laurie M. Earl – Hon. Steve White – Hon. Sharon A. Lueras -– 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 News – child support – child custody – spousal support - Sacramento County Superior Court – Family Court Sacramento -Chris Volkers Court Executive Officer - Family Court Sacramento –Hon. Bunmi O. Awoniyi – Hon. Eugene L. Balonon - Scott P. Harmon Commissioner -  Danny L. Haukedalen Commissoner – Hon. Jane Ure – domestic violence - Director of Operations Julie Setzer – Supervising Family Law Facilitator Lollie Roberts – Family Court Manager Colleen McDonagh - Hon. Jaime R. Roman – Hon. Matthew J. Gary – Hon. Thadd A. Blizzard – Hon. James M. Mize 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, Judge Kevin R. Culhane – Hon. Kevin R Culhane – Judge Kevin Culhane -
Sacramento County Bar Association
Family Law Section Executive Committee


Chair Russell Carlson

FLEC Chair Russell Carlson was admitted to the State Bar of California on March 27, 1996. Carlson attended law school at the University of Northern California Lorenzo Patino School of Law in Sacramento, and practices family law at Carlson & Gevelinger. Carlson has held the Office of Temporary Judge since at least 2009. 

Carlson testified as a character witness for controversial Judge Peter J. McBrien when the judge was facing removal from the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2009. Click here to read Carlson's sworn testimony, posted exclusively by SFCN


Vice Chair Elaine Van Beveren

FLEC Vice Chair Elaine Van Beveren was admitted to the State Bar on Nov. 14, 1988. Van Beveren attended law school at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and is a State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist. Van Beveren has held the Office of Temporary Judge since at least 2009.  

Since December, 2010 Van Beveren has been embroiled in a federal lawsuit brought against her by family court litigant and court watchdog Robert SaundersClick here to view court records from the case. Among other issues, Saunders asserts in the litigation that while acting as minor's counsel for his two daughters, Van Beveren
"repeatedly lost her temper...repeatedly screamed at [Saunders] and his daughters in an angry and harassing tone, blocked the doorway to the conference room in an attempt to prevent [Saunders] from leaving the conference room with his daughters, grabbed and twisted both of [Saunders'] daughters' arms in a forceful manner, repeatedly pushed [Saunders] in the back as [Saunders] protectively stood between his daughters and Van Beveren, and threatened [Saunders] with the loss of his visitation rights," according to court records.
Van Beveren denies the allegations and is seeking dismissal of the case, which currently is on appeal in the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit.


Treasurer Fredrick "Rick" Cohen

FLEC Treasurer Fredrick "Rick" Cohen was admitted to the State Bar on Dec. 11, 1989. Cohen attended UC Davis School of Law, is a State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist, and practices law at the Law Offices of Fredrick S. Cohen. Cohen has held the Office of Temporary Judge since at least 2009. As SFCN reported in Oct., 2012, at that time Cohen unlawfully used for advertising and promotional purposes his status as a judge pro tem. The judge pro tem title implies influential, insider status at the courthouse and is used unlawfully by some attorneys as a marketing tool to attract new clients. Judicial ethics standards prohibit use of the title for financial gain. After our story was published, Cohen removed from his website the reference to his temporary judge service. 

Cohen also has twice been sued in federal court by financially disadvantaged, unrepresented family court litigants. Click here to view the 2009 lawsuit filed by Igor Chepel. After Chepel voluntarily dismissed the case, Cohen and the other defendants in the case requested an order for $17,000 in attorney fees. The federal magistrate judge assigned to the case scoffed at the request and suggested that Cohen and the other defendants had lied about submitting a waiver of service, which was required to make the attorney fees request viable. Click here to view the June, 2011 court order denying the attorney fees request. 

In 2010, Cohen  was sued again, along with a family court mediator and her supervisor by Heather DeLuz. Click here to view the DeLuz lawsuit. The case was dismissed for technical reasons, including quasi-judicial immunity, and Deluz's claims were never heard on the merits. Click here to read the February, 2011 order dismissing the case.
     

Secretary Paula Salinger

FLEC Secretary Paula D. Salinger was admitted to the State Bar on Dec. 3, 2002. Salinger attended University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and practices law at Woodruff, O'Hair, Posner & Salinger. Salinger has held the Office of Temporary Judge since 2011. At that time, Presiding Judge Steve White granted Salinger a waiver of the judge pro tem minimum requirements. As we reported in May, 2011 family court watchdog Ulf Carlsson asserted that the waiver enabling Salinger to prematurely assume the Office of Temporary Judge was arranged as the return of a favor owed by twice-disciplined Family Court Judge Peter J. McBrien to Robert O'Hair, a judge pro tem and senior partner at Woodruff, O'Hair, Posner & Salinger. Click here to read our coverage of the controversial waiver. 

And earlier this month, a family court whistleblower charged that Salinger uses a fake "Notice of Entry of Findings and Order After Hearing" to deceive unrepresented opposing parties. The fabricated notice is designed to conceal a mandatory state appeal rights notification while at the same time unlawfully condensing the time frame to appeal certain family court orders, according to the source. Click here for our complete, exclusive report.   

And as SFCN reported in Oct., 2012, firm partner and temporary judge Jeffrey Posner unlawfully used for advertising and promotional purposes his judge pro tem status. After our story was published, Posner removed from the firm website the reference to his temporary judge service. 

In addition, Woodruff, O'Hair, Posner and Salinger, the firm, and partner Thomas Woodruff also are embroiled in a long-running legal malpractice case - alleging more than $1 million in damages - filed against them in 2004. Click here to view the lawsuit. In 2010, Woodruff - also a judge pro tem - and the firm attempted unsuccessfully to get the case dismissed. In a detailed, 12-page ruling Sacramento County Superior Court Judge David I. Brown denied a motion for summary adjudication filed by the defendants. Click here to read the decision by Judge Brown. The case is ongoing with a settlement conference scheduled for April 4, and trial set for May 14.

FLEC Officers Response to Temporary Judge Conflict of Interest Controversy 

Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Section Executive Committee officers Russell Carlson, Elaine Van Beveren, Fredrick Cohen and Paula Salinger all did not respond to our inquiry about the judge pro tem conflict of interest controversy. Veteran family court watchdog Robert Saunders attributes the muted response to the Fifth Amendment and the code of silence

"The response is crickets - what did you expect? The FLEC officers are all temporary judges and private sector attorneys running a for-profit, organized criminal enterprise," Saunders said. "They know that anything they say could be used against them in a court of law. Even though they don't need to since they'll never be held accountable, I suspect they're taking the Fifth as a precaution." 
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, Judge Robert Hight – Judge Bunmi Awoniyi – Judge Steven Gevercer – Judge Tami Bogert – Judge James Mize – Vance Raye - Victoria Henley CJP - Judge Thadd Blizzard -Supreme Court of California – Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye – Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan – Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard – Associate Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar – Associate Justice Ming W. Chin – Associate Justice Marvin R. Baxter – Associate Justice Goodwin Liu – Justice Cantil-Sakauye - Judge Kevin R. Culhane – Hon. Kevin R Culhane – Judge Kevin Culhane -
Veteran family court watchdog Robert Saunders asserts that Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Section officers Russell Carlson, Elaine Van Beveren, Fredrick Cohen and Paula Salinger operate an organized criminal enterprise. Saunders, who successfully obtained an order from an outside judge removing Judge Matthew Gary from his own case, believes a federal indictment would include these crimes.
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Related Content:
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  • Sacramento Family Court Judges Fail to Make Conflict Disclosure Required by State Law & Code of Judicial Ethics. Click here.
  • Judge Laurie Earl Lets Outlaw Judge Pro Tems Flaunt Ethics Rules. Click here
  • Family Court Clerks Let Judge Pro Tem Attorneys File Sham Entry of Judgment Paperwork. Click here.
  • Judge Jaime R. Roman Designates Party Vexatious Litigant, Sanctions $2,500 and Makes 13 Other Rulings - Without Court Hearing Required by Law. Click here.
  • Woodruff, O'Hair, Posner & Salinger Attorney Granted Early Temporary Judge Status as Payback for McBrien Help, Claims Watchdog. Click here.
  • New and updated judge pro tem articles. Click here.
  • New and updated Family Law Executive Committee (FLEC) posts. Click here.