10 January 2014

Sacramento Superior Court Judge & Attorney Misconduct: New York Times Reviews Divorce Corp Documentary Featuring Four Sacramento Court Cases

New York Times Calls Family Court "A Land of Diabolical Lawyers" in Divorce Corp Review
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, 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 -Judge Kevin R. Culhane – Hon. Kevin R Culhane – Judge Kevin Culhane -
In a review of Divorce Corp, the New York Times observed that "Protracted divorces sap couples' resources even in amicable separations and, as in other areas of legal practice, the lawyers seem to have an incentive to draw out the conflict." Four family court cases from Sacramento County are featured in the movie.
Divorce Corp, a documentary film featuring four Sacramento Family Court cases opens nationwide in select cities today. The movie "exposes the corrupt and collusive industry of family law in the United States," and is expected to follow the release trajectory typical for a documentary: A short theatrical run in major cities followed by DVD release, Redbox, Netflix, and screenings on network and cable TV. The production's nationwide search for the most egregious examples of family court corruption and collusion resulted in Sacramento court cases dominating the film. Local litigants Ulf Carlsson, Andrew Karres, Robert Saunders, Mike Newdow - and the nearby Nevada County Elena Haskins case - are featured in the film, with a special emphasis on the notorious Carlsson case. Sixth District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad L. Rushing described Sacramento Judge Peter McBrien's conduct in the Carlsson divorce as a "judicial reign of terror.

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All four Sacramento cases profiled in the film involve allegedly egregious misconduct by Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section attorneys who also serve as sworn temporary judges of the court, including Charlotte Keeley, Richard Sokol, Elaine Van Beveren and Dianne Fetzer. The non-fiction movie, narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky has received mixed reviews from the New York Times, Village Voice, Minneapolis Star Tribune, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orange County Register and RogerEbert.comMinneapolis Star Tribune movie critic Colin Colvert gave the film three-out-of-four stars: 
"[Director Joe] Sorge somewhat overplays his hand as he presents sordid examples of misconduct by judges, attorneys and custody evaluators. Shocking as those episodes are, the problem isn't the most flagrant outliers, but the day-to-day machinations of a flawed, adversarial system. Any divorce survivor will see rueful reminders of a destructive process. Any engaged couple should see it, period," Colvert said. 
Reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com awarded the film two stars:
"Adding incompetence to corruption, the family court system is a steaming mess. Its various sections aren't governed by constitutional edicts that other institutions must follow. Power-tripping judges can indulge God complexes by lashing out against plaintiffs who protest their decisions. At one point, the film tells of a man who wrote about his experiences in family court online and was ordered to delete his blog by the judge overseeing his divorce. This is but one of many examples the film gives of judges behaving like old-time ward bosses or petty gangsters," Seitz wrote.
  • To view trailers and excerpts of the film at the official Divorce Corp YouTube Channel, click here
  • To visit the official Divorce Corp web page, click here.
  • To view the list of theaters where the film will be shown this week, click here
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Elena Haskins' family court case is in Nevada County. 

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