Judge Sharon Lueras Held Responsible By Mom In Hatchet Death of Child by Phillip Hernandez
Jessica Rose Hernandez contends that Sacramento Family Court Judge Sharon A. Lueras is responsible for the Feb. 26 hatchet death of her 9-year-old son Matthew by ex-husband Phillip Hernandez, according to media accounts. Jessica went to court last November to request custody of her two children. At a court hearing before Judge Lueras, the mother of two attempted to introduce evidence, including text messages, to support her assertion that her ex-husband was back on drugs, acting irrationally, and posed a threat to their children. Judge Lueras refused to consider the evidence, and denied the custody change request, according to news reports. "I blame her for Matthew's death," Jessica told News10. Jessica did not have an attorney and represented herself in court. Sacramento Family Court watchdogs have long asserted that the court operates a two-track system of justice where members of the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section and their clients receive preferential treatment from judges, court employees and at court hearings, while indigent, unrepresented litigants are treated as second-class citizens and often prohibited from exercising basic rights, such as introducing or objecting to evidence. Roughly 70 percent of family court users do not have a lawyer, according to state statistics.
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"I Had Never Practiced Family Law"
|Judge Sharon A. Lueras refused to consider evidence and denied a custody change request made by Jessica Hernandez, according to a News10 report. Ex-husband Phillip Hernandez (L) later used a hatchet to kill 9-year-old Matthew Hernandez. Source: News10.|
"[I] am sure it is no secret that I did not volunteer for my family law assignment," the judge wrote in the Family Law Counselor, a newsletter written by and for the Family Law Bar. "In fact, when I was first told that my new assignment would be family law, I was a bit stunned. I had never practiced family law, knew nothing about the subject matter, other than the fact that I have been divorced myself - I had never stepped into the family law courthouse...Coming from a primarily criminal law background, I was accustomed to the black letter law where judges are given some discretion. However, I have never seen the broad discretion that is afforded family law judges. To me this was a monumental responsibility. I did not know if I would be up for the task of always making the right decision and doing the right thing."Lueras closed the letter by thanking the lawyers for putting up with her. "Finally, I want to thank all of the individuals I have met in the past two years. You have put up with a new family law judge and presented her with the most challenging issues she has ever faced and because of this have hopefully made her a better judge," she said. Click here to view the letter.
Judge Sharon A. Lueras was appointed to the bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. Before her elevation to the bench, Lueras was lead corporations counsel for the California Department of Corporations (2005-07); deputy district attorney for Yolo County (2001-02); deputy district attorney for Sacramento County (1992-2001), a sole practitioner in Sacramento (1991-92); and an associate at Wilcoxen, Callahan, Montgomery & Harbison in Sacramento (1989-91). Judge Lueras graduated from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 1988, and as a judge is paid $169,289 per year.
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