Sunshine-drippingAudit spotlight proves Family Court is harming children, getting paid for it, and burying complaints.

On January 20, 2010, the long-awaited report from the California State Auditor was released.  The data supports years of family complaints alleging incompetence and wrong-doing in California's Marin and Sacramento family courts, especially in cases of "contested custody" and domestic violence. 

The audit - which was commissioned in 2009 - issued 13 recommendations.  The courts have indicated that they intend to follow.  This "intention" should be closely monitored because Marin County Superior Court officials did not hold their employees accountable in 2009 for shredding evidence that would have further proven the complaints against the courts. Court officials stated that "family mediator files are NOT official court records".  The Administrative Office of the Court rationalized that they needed to "preserve storage space"; however, the timing is suspicious, to say the least. The reason why this evidence destruction is so damning is because the Judges delegate their decision-making to these para-professionals; the same "professionals" that are now shown to be lacking even the "minimum qualifications" or "satisfy the qualifications required by law".

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the Bureau of State Audits, reviewed cases from April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2010. 

Key Findings are as follows:

  • The courts could not show that their staff met the minimum qualifications and training requirements to perform meditations and evaluations, or that they satisfied qualifications required by law.
  • The courts did not log complaints about private mediators and evaluators, and was inconsistent about following up on complaints.

This is extremely relevant to Hawaii's family courts because identical complaints have been raised for years.  Court appointed Guardian ad Litems, therapists, and custody evaluators are essentially given full authority to determine custody when the sitting judges "adopt" their findings and refuse to hear conflicting evidence.  Allegations of cronyism, public corruption and racketeering swirl around Hawaii's para-professionals.  Most of these allegations have been largely substantiated in front of an informal Joint Legislative Task Force that was created at the end of the 2009/2010 by Senator Chun Oakland, Senator Mike Gabbard and Representative John Mizuno.

Additionally, Hawaii lacks any effective protocol for lodging a complaint against these professionals.  Parents who have been wronged by the system are thrown into a loop where every office tosses the ball to another office.  There is no accountability and the "cash cow" family court system continues to trample innocent children in order to maintain its secrecy.  Hawaii's Judiciary earned an "F" in "Transparency" on the 2008 Judicial Accountability Report Card released by H.A.L.T (the nation's largest legal reform organization).

The California family court audit is a step in the right direction.  Even though the Marin and Sacramento courts did not cooperate fully, there remains a very significant "pin prick" in the dark cloth of their brand of justice. It is hoped that Hawaii will pick up the baton and continue to spread sunshine throughout the 9th Circuit.  Let's see what the 2010/2011 legislative session offers us.

As Center for Judicial Excellence's Kathleen Russel told the San Francisco Weekly (SF Weekly):

"We finally have credible government data to back up the many years of horrific complaints we've received from parents and children whose lives are being destroyed by a family court system run amok."

Read the full Report 2009-109Review proposed 2010/2011 Legislation

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