Controversial Order for Judge Pro Tem Attorney Charlotte Keeley by Judge Jaime Roman Challenged in Federal Class Action Lawsuit
Taxpayers Face Financial Liability
|Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is named as a defendant in this federal court litigation stemming from a vexatious litigant court order issued by Sacramento Family Court Judge Jaime Roman for Judge Pro Tem Charlotte Keeley.|
SACRAMENTO FAMILY COURT NEWS EXCLUSIVEA November, 2012 court order designating a Sacramento Family Court party as a vexatious litigant is being challenged in a landmark federal class action lawsuit filed yesterday in United States District Court in San Francisco. The controversial order was issued by family court Judge Jaime Roman at the request of temporary judge and veteran family law attorney Charlotte Keeley in a case with a long-running child custody dispute between Andrew Karres and Mel Rapton Honda heiress Katina Rapton.
The order blacklisted [pdf] Karres as a vexatious litigant [pdf] and raised eyebrows in the legal community because Roman issued the ruling without providing Karres the court hearing required under state law and the due process provisions of the state and federal Constitutions.
The vexatious litigant designation severely restricts a litigants access to the courts by requiring them to get pre-approval from a presiding judge before they are permitted to file pleadings in any court in the state. Sacramento Family Court News in Nov. 2012 reported exclusively on Judge Roman's unorthodox order, which also is pending review by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. Taxpayers likely will now get two substantial bills in connection with the Keeley-Roman ruling.
The state court appeal will cost the public between $8,500 and $25,500, according to recent appellate court decisions. The public cost of defending the federal case could be significantly higher. For several years, court watchdogs and whistleblowers have asserted that full-time judges give preferential treatment to judge pro tem attorneys. They charge that the Rapton-Karres case is one of several cases emblematic of judge-attorney cronyism and its effects, including the unnecessary use of scarce court resources and the financial burden on taxpayers.
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|Justice Cantil-Sakauye is a former Sacramento|
County Superior Court Judge.
Named as defendants in the federal class action lawsuit are California Supreme Court Chief Justice and Judicial Council Chair Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye and Steven Jahr, the Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
In addition to Karres, the plaintiffs include eight other family court parties from throughout the state. All have been blacklisted as vexatious litigants in their respective courts.
"Plaintiffs, who are parents in on-going custody disputes, bring this class action against Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and the Judicial Council in the hope of overturning California's Vexatious Litigant Statute (VLS) as it applies to family law litigants, particularly parents caught in protracted custody battles. The Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the VLS as it is applied in the context of family law custody proceedings. The Plaintiffs assert that the VLS on its face and as applied infringes on their fundamental custody rights," reads the introduction section of the complaint.Click here to read the complete lawsuit filed March 22. Sacramento Family Court News will provide continuing coverage of the case.
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