Judge Sharon Lueras and Family Court Indifference To Unrepresented Parents Targeted in Protest Supporting Jessica Hernandez
|Protester at demonstration supporting family court victim Jessica Hernandez and charging Judge Sharon Lueras with aiding and abetting the hatchet murder of Jessica's 9-year-old son, Matthew.|
A group of family court reform advocates yesterday held a demonstration outside the Sacramento County Main Jail courthouse where an arraignment was held for Phillip Hernandez. Hernandez is charged with the Feb. 26 hatchet murder of his 9-year-old son, Matthew. Jessica Hernandez, Phillip's ex-wife, asserts that Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Sharon Lueras bears responsibility for Matthew's death. Last November, Jessica filed papers in family court seeking custody of her son because his father was back on drugs, acting irrationally and posed a threat to their two children. In court, Jessica was self-represented because she couldn't afford an attorney.
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Judge Lueras refused to consider the evidence submitted by Jessica, and summarily denied the custody change request, according to local and international news reports. "I told her they were in danger," Jessica told News10. "She wouldn't even look at [the evidence] or listen." Sacramento Family Court watchdogs have documented that Jessica's nightmare court hearing experience is a common occurrence because the public court is run by and for the financial gain of what they refer to as a "cartel" of divorce lawyers from the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section.
If Jessica had hired a cartel member her custody request would have been granted, but parents without an attorney are treated by judges as second-class citizens, according to the group. Click here to view a list cataloging examples of attorney favoritism and bias by family court judges against parents who can't afford a lawyer.
"This is the most corrupt court in the United States," said one protester who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they have a still-pending case in family court. "The brutal death of little Matthew Hernandez shows the inevitable result of turning over public court operations to for-profit divorce attorneys and essentially shutting out the 70 percent of court users who can't afford a lawyer, including Jessica. It's analogous to blackmail. The unmistakable message is 'if you want to protect your children, hire an attorney or don't come to court.'"
|Demonstration at the murder arraignment of Phillip Hernandez. Protesters assert that Sacramento Family Court is the most corrupt court in the United States, is owned and operated by divorce lawyers from the SCBA Family Law Section, and does not serve the interests of court users who can't afford attorney representation. One veteran family court judge, Peter J. McBrien, has a criminal record yet remains on the bench.|
"[W]hen I was first told 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 had been divorced myself - I had never stepped into the family law courthouse..." Lueras said in a farewell letter published in the SCBA Family Law Section newsletter.Click here for our full report on Judge Lueras' inexperience and close ties to SCBA divorce attorneys.
Judge Sharon A. Lueras was appointed to the bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. Schwarzenegger was named in the 2010 Worst Governors Report by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Among other charges, Schwarzenegger was faulted for providing "state jobs to friends with dubious qualifications." Click here. 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.
Click here for complete SFCN coverage of the Jessica Hernandez case.
To view the exclusive SFCN series Color of Law documenting alleged unlawful conduct by Sacramento Family Court employees and SCBA Family Law Section divorce lawyers, click here.
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