Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Whistleblower Email Leak Reveals In-Progress Investigative Reporting Project Seeks Complaints Against California Judges

Commission on Judicial Performance ANTHONY P. CAPOZZI CHAIRPERSON - JUSTICE IGNAZIO J. RUVOLO CJP VICE-CHAIRPERSON Commission on Judicial Performance Chief Counsel Victoria Henley

The production team for the 2014 documentary film Divorce Corp is assisting Court Reform LLC in compiling and cataloging California judge misconduct complaints, according to an email leaked to California Supreme Court Report: 
Are you in California? Have you been the victim of judicial misconduct? If so, please read on.
Court Reform, LLC, an organization based in the San Francisco Bay area, is working to bring increased transparency and accountability to the California government agency responsible for investigating and disciplining misconduct by judges; the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Court Reform is working with investigative reporters at a major news agency and needs cases of documented misconduct in California by judges that were reported to the Commission of Judicial Performance in which no action was taken by the Commission.
If you or someone you know, has a documented case of clear judicial misconduct in California, please contact Joe Sweeney at
Please do not email Divorce Corp. Instead send your information directly to Joe Sweeney at Court Reform using the email address above. Please note that only documented cases reported to the Commission on Judicial Performance, and where no action was taken by the Commission, can be used.
Many thanks, The Divorce Corp Team
The movie catalogued controversy and corruption in divorce and family law courts throughout the United States, and designated Sacramento County as one of the most corrupt in the nation. 

Government whistleblowers have documented that the family law division of the Central Valley jurisdiction essentially operates as a racketeering organization. The allegations involve collusion between judges and local divorce lawyers who also work as ostensible "volunteer" temporary judges in the same court. 

Court reform advocates assert that Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has used her position as chair of the state Judicial Council to shield her former Sacramento colleagues from scrutiny by the CJP, law enforcement, and other oversight agencies. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sacramento Colleagues and Former Coworkers of Chief Justice Swept Up In Dual Court Controversy

California Supreme Court Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, Justice Ming W. Chin, Justice Carol A. Corrigan, Justice Goodwin H. Liu, Justice Mariano Florentino-Cuellar, Justice Leondra R. Kruger Supreme Court of California
Kern County Judge Cory Woodward was punished by the Commission on Judicial Performance for having an improper personal relationship with his courtroom clerk. Sacramento County Judge Matthew Gary reportedly has had a similar relationship with his courtroom clerk, Christina Arcuri, for at least four years. 

"[I]t is time for this charade to end," from the letter to Judge Kevin Culhane.

Sacramento Family Court Corruption, a Facebook watchdog group with over 600 followers, has issued an open letter to Sacramento County Presiding Judge Kevin Culhane regarding an alleged improper relationship between a Sacramento Superior Court judge and his courtroom clerk.

The whistleblower group alleges that Judge Matthew Gary has been in a consensual, personal relationship with his clerk, Christina Arcuri for more than five years. Both Gary and Arcuri also have been involved in a number of controversies involving the alleged mistreatment of indigent, disabled, and financially disadvantaged family court parties who are self-represented.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye worked with both Gary and Arcuri during the latter portion of her tenure on the Sacramento County bench from 1990-2005. 

In the letter to Culhane, the group invoked California Code of Judicial Ethics canon 3D(1), which requires a judge to take "corrective action" if they become aware of misconduct by another judge. In addition, as the designated presiding judge, Culhane is responsible for the supervision of all other judges, according to California Rules of Court rule 10.603.

The group contends that the alleged Gary-Arcuri relationship is similar to the judge-clerk relationship of Kern County Judge Cory Woodward and his clerk. In 2014, Woodward was punished by the state Commission on Judicial Performance because a judge is not allowed to be in a supervisory role over someone with whom the judge has a personal relationship, among other charges. The Woodward CJP decision is embedded at the end of this post.

3rd District Justice Cole Blease Dismisses Appeal Alleging Egregious Trial Court Misconduct by Gary

Justice Louis Mauro, Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch, Justice Jonathan K. Renner Third Appellate Court District Sacramento California Justice Cole Blease 3rd District Court of Appeal Sacramento Justice Vance Raye, Justice Ronald B. Robie, Justice William Murray Jr., Justice George Nicholson, Justice M. Kathleen Butz, Justice Elena J. Duarte, Justice Harry E. Hull Jr.,

As we reported in December, the controversial Third District Court of Appeal deliberately delayed for more than three years an appeal involving allegations of egregious misconduct by Gary, according to court watchdogs. 
"This case represents one of the most unsettling examples we've seen of what we believe is cronyism between the Third District and Sacramento Superior Court," said Ulf Carlsson of the Family Court Accountability Coalition, a court watchdog organization."The trial court judge has personal connections in the appellate court, and the 3rd District is delaying this case in the hopes that the publicity will die down and the issues raised will become moot."
As Carlsson predicted, one of several issues raised in the family court appeal arguably became moot when the daughter of the appellant turned 18-years-old. Ignoring several non-moot issues in the appeal, and legal principles and decisional law that allow for resolution of moot appeals involving issues of public interest, in March Justice Cole Blease used the birthday as an excuse to dismiss the entire appeal. The multiple allegations of misconduct against Gary were effectively swept under the rug.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye maintains a personal and professional relationship with Blease and the other veteran justices at the 3rd District, where she served as an associate justice from 2005-2010. Prior to their court of appeal promotions, several justices also worked with Cantil-Sakauye at Sacramento Superior Court. 

The open letter to Culhane, with edits for clarity, is reprinted below:     

Dear Judge Culhane,
This letter shall serve as notification pursuant to canon 3D(1) of the California Code of Judicial Ethics regarding misconduct by a judge under your supervision.
As you may know, canon 3D(1) mandates that you take or initiate appropriate corrective action when you are notified that another judge has violated any provision of the Code of Judicial Ethics. Your duty under this provision in not discretionary.
It is common knowledge among many court employees, attorneys, and even some public court users that Judge Matthew Gary is engaged in an improper personal relationship with his court clerk, Christina Arcuri.
As set forth in the 2014 Commission on Judicial Performance decision and order imposing discipline on Kern County Judge Cory Woodward, a consensual judge-clerk relationship violates several provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
The Woodward case is in many respects identical to the situation with Judge Gary. Among other authority, the Woodward disciplinary decision cites the California Judicial Conduct Handbook, by Judge David Rothman.
"Judge Rothman states that 'it is fundamental that a judge not be placed in a supervisory role over someone with whom the judge has a close personal relationship,'" according to the Woodward decision. For your convenience, the Woodward CJP decision is attached. 
It is also common knowledge among coworkers that this improper relationship has been going on for at least four years, and caused or contributed to the judges' divorce in or about 2011-2012.
At least two presiding judges before you, Laurie Earl and Robert Hight, turned a blind eye to this matter, and it is time for this charade to end.
This is very serious matter implicating the integrity of the court. If you do not take corrective action, you will be in violation of canon 3D(1) and will be reported to the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and please advise as to what corrective action will be taken.

Related links:

Monday, April 4, 2016

California Assembly Budget Committee Hearing Reveals Improper Collaboration Between Chief Justice and Commission on Judicial Performance, Other Significant CJP Problems

In this video clip, Commission on Judicial Performance whistleblower and court reform advocate Joe Sweeney testifies at a California Assembly Budget Committee hearing on March 28, 2016. The commission is solely responsible for oversight and accountability of judges in the state. 

Several days before the hearing, Sweeney's court modernization and reform organization, Court Reform LLC, released a 78-page report which raised questions about CJP judicial misconduct statistical data and how the agency spends taxpayer funds. 

The report, Why a Spotlight must be put on the Commission on Judicial Performance, also charged that CJP operations are shielded by an excessive and unprecedented level of secrecy for a government agency. In this four minute video, Sweeney explains to the committee the methodology and results of Court Reform LLC's six month investigation into the policies and practices of the CJP.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Socioeconomic Bias and Two-Track Justice: Whistleblower Leaked Appellate Attorney $650 Per Hour Fee Agreement Affirms Meaningful Appeals Out of Reach for Indigent

Employment agreement for prominent appeal attorney Garrett Dailey, of Elkins v. Superior Court. Dailey bills at $650 per hour, according to this agreement with Olivier Garbe. Garbe is the CEO of Winnov Inc., in Silicon Valley. 

The agreement is for representation in an appeal in a contentious divorce case, Marriage of Dong & Garbe, case number 608-FL-000101, Santa Clara County Superior Court. Controversial Judge Mary Ann Grilli is the trial court judge, and attorney Bradford Baugh represents Garbe in the trial court. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Government Whistleblowers Attribute Statewide Court Corruption Problems to Tani Cantil-Sakauye Judicial Council Leadership

California court watchdog groups charge that the leadership of the state Judicial Council bears primary responsibility for a string of court scandals compiled in this video from the California Courts News YouTube Channel. An ABC News 10 investigation into misuse of the California Highway Patrol by the chief justice as a taxi and shopping service is included. 

Indifference and incompetence by Judicial Council Chair Tani Cantil-Sakauye and senior management at the agency has resulted in an epidemic of court corruption in California, including a Los Angeles County court clerk accused of stealing $6,000 from people filing name changes, a case fixing scheme uncovered by the FBI in Orange County, and a massive, statewide traffic courts scandal

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Supreme Court Controversy: Chief Justice Linked to Sacramento County Judge Misconduct, Delayed Appeal in 3rd District

The pending Ferris v. Ferris appeal alleges misconduct by Sacramento County Judge Matthew Gary and seeks to establish a constitutional right to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs.

An appeal from a high-profile Sacramento Superior Court case has languished in the 3rd District Court of Appeal for more than 39 months. Court watchdogs allege that the appellate court has deliberately delayed resolution of the appeal because it involves egregious and embarrassing misconduct by a prominent Sacramento County Superior Court judge with a history of similar conduct.

"This case represents one of the most unsettling examples we've seen of what we believe is cronyism between the Third District and Sacramento Superior Court," said Ulf Carlsson of the Family Court Accountability Coalition, a court watchdog organization."The trial court judge has personal connections in the appellate court, and the 3rd District is delaying this case in the hopes that the publicity will die down and the issues raised will become moot." 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

1994 San Diego County Superior Court Racketeering Scandal Called Eerily Similar to Alleged Sacramento County Corruption

An alleged racketeering organization composed of judges and local attorneys who work in the family law division of Sacramento County Superior Court bears striking similarities to criminal activity uncovered in San Diego County in 1994.

A recently unearthed editorial from the Los Angles Daily Journal provides a firsthand account of the court corruption that sent San Diego judges James A. Malkus and G. Dennis Adams to federal prison, and put judge Michael Greer on federal probation for three years. The editorial is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Also sent to prison was attorney Patrick Frega. A prominent local attorney, Frega was named "trial lawyer of the year" in 1984 by the San Diego Trial Lawyers Association.

An ongoing investigative news report recently updated by Sacramento Family Court News, an online, nonprofit journalism organization, documents Sacramento Family Court judge-attorney collusion that in many respects is virtually identical to the collusion identified by federal prosecutors in the San Diego criminal case. The SFCN report is available at this link: