Judicial Council Ignores Sacramento County Judge-Attorney Collusion, Child Abduction Crimes
|Judicial Branch whistleblowers allege that attorneys and|
judges in Sacramento County operate a racketeering enterprise
that deprives the public of the federally protected right to
honest government services.
Sacramento Family Court News, an online, nonprofit journalism organization has published an investigation into allegations of judge-attorney collusion and child abduction in Sacramento Superior Court.
The report indicates that Sacramento County Judge Thadd Blizzard effectively aided and abetted an out-of-state criminal child abduction by the client of a divorce attorney who also works as a part-time judge in the same court.
The case is the second report of a confirmed child abduction aided and abetted by a judge in the county. Previously, Judge Matthew Gary aided and abetted a client criminal child abduction for the law partner of an attorney who works as a temporary judge.
Judicial Council Chair Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye formerly was a Sacramento Superior Court judge, and court watchdogs charge that she has directed Judicial Council staff to disregard the alleged criminal conduct by her former colleagues.
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"The Judicial Council chair is protecting her former cronies in Sacramento," said Judicial Branch watchdog Ulf Carlsson. "This situation is textbook conflict of interest. She is also protecting the Judicial Branch from the embarrassment of these crimes being prosecuted and becoming public."
Judge Thadd Blizzard Approves Illegal Out-of-State Child Relocation for Temporary Judge Lawyer Richard Sokol - Opposing Attorney Stunned
Tuesday Document Dump
|San Francisco attorney and social justice advocate Archibald Cunningham was shocked when Judge Thadd Blizzard authorized an illegal child abduction for Sacramento Superior Court judge pro tem attorney Richard Sokol.|
A leaked court reporter transcript obtained by Sacramento Family Court News reveals that Judge Thadd Blizzard last November retroactively endorsed an unlawful out-of-state "move away" and child abduction at the request of local judge pro tem attorney Richard Sokol. The unprecedented ruling went against San Francisco attorney Archibald Cunningham, who the transcript reflects was dumbfounded by the decision. The transcript is embedded at the bottom of this post.
The bizarre chain-of-events began after Cunningham's client, Robert Saunders, filed paperwork seeking child visitation under an existing temporary custody order. After the visitation paperwork was lodged, Sokol's client, April Berger, abruptly moved to Hawaii with the parents' twin daughters without the permission of the court.
Under state law, a parent may not take children and relocate out-of-state without court approval before the move, especially under a temporary custody order. A parent seeking to relocate must by law first seek court approval for the move, and "the noncustodial parent still has standing to oppose the relocation" in court, according to California Practice Guide: Family Law, the gold standard family law legal reference used by judges and attorneys.
Without prior court approval, an out-of-state move away is considered criminal child abduction if it maliciously "deprives a person of a right to visitation," according to Penal Code § 278.5(a). The criminal statute also specifies that the retroactive, after-the-fact order issued by Blizzard for Sokol "does not constitute a defense" to the crime.
|State law, including California criminal jury instructions, indicate that Judge Thadd Blizzard and judge pro tem attorney Richard Sokol may have been accessories after the fact to a criminal child abduction.|
Sacramento Family Court "Hometowning" HistoryCunningham's reaction to the outcome was similar to that of Stephen R. Gianelli, another San Francisco attorney who previously was "hometowned" in Sacramento Family Court. Hometowning refers to local judges giving preferential treatment to select, local attorneys. Click here for Gianelli's account of his experience as an "outsider" attorney.
Hometowning is considered unethical and is prohibited by the Code of Judicial Ethics, according to retired judge David Rothman, author of the California Judicial Conduct Handbook. Sacramento Family Court reform advocates have documented that judge pro tem attorneys often receive kickbacks in the form of rubber-stamped orders, and other forms of favorable treatment when representing clients in court in exchange for operating the court's settlement conference program. Click here for SFCN coverage of temporary judge controversies.
The transcript, case records, and a second transcript from a related, previous hearing also indicate that Blizzard manipulated the proceedings through intentional misstatements and omissions of material fact in order to achieve the outcome demanded by Sokol, conduct prohibited by the Code of Judicial Ethics. Family court watchdogs assert that the collusion between full-time judges and judge pro tem attorneys deprives the public of the federally protected right to honest government services, a racketeering crime under 18 USC 1346.
The Robert Saunders-April Berger case is one of four Sacramento County Family Court cases included in the documentary film Divorce Corp, now playing in major U.S cities. The movie "exposes the corrupt and collusive industry of family law in the United States," and portrays the Sacramento court system as the most corrupt in the country. For our continuing coverage of the film, click here.
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