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The Kenesha Jackson story: Holding judges accountable in the age of accountability

February 24, 2018

In this country, there may be different degrees of culpability for murder and other crimes. In some instances, a passive or even unwitting participant in a crime may face the same criminal consequences as an active participant. In other circumstances, an active or passive participant in a crime may face a lesser degree of punishment than the actual perpetrator of the crime. In general, anyone who has participated in a crime on any level is typically held accountable for that crime.

Kenesha Jackson and her children

Kenesha Jackson was murdered Nov. 23, 2016, in her apartment while her children were present. Everett Highbaugh, the father of her children, is scheduled to stand trial for her murder. On Aug. 9, 2016, Kenesha asked Judge Garry Ichikawa for a domestic violence restraining order against Mr. Highbaugh. According to Kenesha’s handwritten complaint, Mr. Highbaugh was terrorizing Kenesha. Her haunting, handwritten request for the order of protection can be reviewed at 2018/02/15/say-her-name-kenesha-jackson/.

On Sept. 23, 2016, Judge Ichikawa denied her request, in full. He opined that although Mr. Highbaugh may have “technically” committed domestic violence against her, the court was not mandated to give her a restraining order, as he concluded there was no imminent threat of death. The judge went on to add that perhaps she was responsible for Mr. Highbaugh’s behavior.

Exactly two short months later, Kenesha’s children witnessed the horror of their mother being gunned down, by their father, in their own home. In her request to the court on Aug. 9, 2016, Kenesha was clearly begging Judge Ichikawa for a restraining order; yet, he refused to offer her any protections against her abuser.

In another case before the Honorable Ichikawa, the court awarded custody of two young children to their allegedly abusive father. The father promptly molested the 12-year old daughter. After a Child Protective Services investigation (CPS), the daughter was returned to her mother.

In what appeared to be retaliation, Judge Ichikawa cut off all contact between the mother and her younger son, who was ordered to remain in the full custody of the father. There was evidence that the son was also being molested, but since Judge Ichikawa cut off all contact with the mother, there was no way to prove the additional allegations and now no way for the son to seek the protection of his mother.

In her request to the court on Aug. 9, 2016, Kenesha was clearly begging Judge Ichikawa for a restraining order; yet, he refused to offer her any protections against her abuser.

Who is responsible for the murder of Kenesha Jackson? Most certainly Everett Highbaugh, if he is found guilty of her murder. Who is responsible for the molestation of the 12-year old little girl? Again, the father is responsible for her molestation.

The question remains, would Kenesha Jackson still be alive if Judge Ichikawa had granted her the order of protection that she had requested? One could argue that while the temporary restraining order was in place, there were no further acts of domestic violence against Kenesha. It was only after the court refused to grant Kenesha a permanent restraining order against her abuser that she was killed.

Additionally, there is the disturbing story of the 12-year old daughter. Would her innocence have remained intact had custody not been awarded to an alleged abuser? Most certainly, the mother believes that Judge Ichikawa bears an enormous amount of responsibility for her daughter’s molestation.

The rumors are rampant in Solano County that Judge Garry Ichikawa has a bias against survivors of domestic violence and places children in dangerous situations. Do the cases of Kenesha Jackson and the 12-year old daughter illuminate that bias? The families of those people and the general public will have to come to their personal conclusions about the judge’s culpability in both cases.

The question remains, would Kenesha Jackson still be alive if Judge Ichikawa had granted her the order of protection that she had requested?

If Judge Ichikawa does maintain any degree of responsibility, in either case, does a mechanism exist for holding him accountable for murder or molestation? Ironically, the California State Bar subsequently gave Garry Ichikawa the “Judge of the Year” award in 2017 – the same entity that refused complaints that have been submitted to inform them of his conduct.

Judges in Family Law have wide discretion and almost total immunity when it comes to their rulings on cases. If a Family Law judge were held to the same standard as criminal defendants in a crime, that particular judge would be facing time in prison for his role in the crime.

Judge Ichikawa has never had to answer for his role, if any, in Kenesha’s death. That same judge has not had to explain why he refused to protect a 12-year old girl from an abusive father who molested her.

Judges in Family Law have wide discretion and almost total immunity when it comes to their rulings on cases.

The criminal justice system is designed to punish and rehabilitate. The goal is for a criminal defendant never to repeat his crimes again. Because judges in Family Law are given such wide discretion, there appears to be no system in place to prevent judges from placing women and children in dangerous situations.

One can only speculate that if judges had to be held accountable for their alleged role in a crime, survivors of domestic violence would be protected from their abusers. And maybe, just maybe, Kenesha Jackson would be alive and that 12-year-old girl would have remained untouched.

To learn more, contact Solano Families United, whose mission is to fight bias in the Solano County Family Court system, at

10 thoughts on “The Kenesha Jackson story: Holding judges accountable in the age of accountability

  1. Yolunda Brown

    Lisa, go get a job. You have no idea the hurt this judge has caused. It’s disrespectful for you to keep commenting on here.

  2. Cindy H.

    That you would feel so pressed to come onto an article about a Judge, for whom bias is substantiated across dozens of cases (if not hundreds), and even add lies to your comments to make your story more salacious, speaks VOLUMES about your character.

    That you're doing this to enact a personal vendetta against a woman, because of your relationship with a man, speaks VOLUMES about your relationship.

    I have reviewed the court documents of many documents from women who were brutalized, manipulated and emotionally abused by men, and one of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how many have a FEMALE ACCOMPLICE assisting them with their devious actions. Whether it's a mother, sibling, good friend, former lover or current lover, these men always have another woman doing their dirty work.

    Women who are in emotionally healthy relationships don't behave the way you do.

    Take that as a sign of caution for your benefit.

    But you won't see the red flags. Women like you never do, until it hits too hard and they're in too deep.

    Because when the tables turn on you, and they eventually will, I can only hope that you are able to receive the allyship of other women when your actions have been so wretched as to betray many, many, many women (and not just the author), in the pursuit of approval from your lover.

    You behave like the women derailing the #metoo movement by questioning the women who speak out about sexual assault.

    To what end? Because surely what you are receiving from that one man can't be worth throwing dozens, if not hundreds, of other women (and not JUST the author) under the bus by lying to derail the advocacy efforts.

    Ichikawa was overturned on appeal for giving custody of minor children to an adult with an established history of violence.
    Ichikawa repeatedly refused to grant protective orders, in substantiated cases, even after receiving over $300,000 in grants from the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women to do so.
    Ichikawa issued court orders to destroy evidence.
    Ichikawa routinely dismissed witnesses and photographic evidence of domestic violence and child abuse.

    Don't drag Kenesha Jackson's family into your personal grudge with your lies. She was brutally murdered shortly after Ichikawa's refusal to issue a protective order, substantiated by ample evidence that he was a threat to her safety and well-being. Her children are left without a mother.

    This is NOT a judge with exceptionally good character.

    Keep your personal vendetta against the author out of this because there are real women and children who were harmed by the gross negligence and bias of this judge and they deserve a remedy for their plight.

    If I were the author I would sue your for defamation. When you post online, you leave digital footprints and the exact device or computer you used to create your comment is trackable and obtainable under subpoena. When combined with ISP records, your identity can be confirmed. Falsely claiming that charges are being pressed against the author is legally actionable.

  3. Evette

    Shame on you Lisa! Do you have anything to say about how the law failed the innocent deceased woman addressed in this article? Do you understand that this woman was murdered in cold blood leaving two children behind? What kind of person, especially a woman, uses the horrific untimely death and alleged murder of a woman and mother as a forum for a personal axe to grind? This type of slander is grossly disrespectful to the victim's family and is utterly appalling, especially to those of us who continue to be victim's of this judge and Solano county's department 14. Ms. Jackson was a survivor of domestic violence and now she is not simply because the judge failed to do his sworn job and protect her! This is a gut wrenching story about a beautiful woman, mother, daughter, and a grieving family. It has nothing to do with you, Ms. Dudley, or your personal vendetta. The fact remains that had the judge done his job and protected Ms. Jackson against a proven and repeated perpetrator of domestic violence, her children would still have a mother and a father. Now they have neither. Why don't you use the link and read Ms. Jackson's pleadings for her life before this judge? She was allegedly murdered after she literally begged this judge for a restraining order of protection. My heart bleeds for the family…especially the motherless children left in the wake of this preventable disaster. I say to you, "Go get a life and channel the spirit of compassion into it!"

  4. Melinda

    That’s so averted, Michele is doing an amazing job at helping ALL the women who went before this judge! He took my granddaughter away from her mother and gave her to an abusive person! If I could show you the pictures of what was done to my daughter and this man said that she basically made it up even with a police report charging him with DV! So like the Evette said, take your personal vendettas against her n put it where it should be! Wait, you think you’re protected from you becoming a Domestic Violence Victim, wait til it happens to you and you’re going to wish this amazing lady was there to help you!

  5. Michelle with Two Ls

    WHEN things go left with you and your guy, the only reason you'll have a chance at getting reasonable and fair treatment in Solano County is because of the work Ms. Dudley and the other women are doing.

    You are disgusting. Take your gutter snipe behavior somewhere else.

    Thank you Michele for all the hard work that you do, and all of the HOURS you have put into helping domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, for FREE and out of the kindness of your heart. Many lives will be improved because of the work you've put into the cause.

  6. Brianna Gibson

    Oh my God. The story of Kenesha Jackson is so sad. Those poor children growing up with no mommy. I hope they know, she tried to protect them. She tried to save herself. That Judge knew she was a victim of domestic violence. He wouldn’t protect her, now she’s gone. I read Lisa comment I was appalled, she is clearly in an abusive relationship. There is obviously a restraining order against him. Lisa I pray that you have the courage to leave him. Kenesha had the courage to leave. Do you? I hope you ask for a restraining order if you need one and I hope the Judge gives you one against your abuser. Judge Garry Ichikawa failed Kenesha and her children. I hope he has no more victims. Lisa if you are a victim of domestic violence, get some help. To the family of Kenesha Jackson my prayers are with you

  7. Ayonna Highbaugh

    I am the daughter that claims to be 12 years old, I was 14 years old when this happened. To say that my father had molested me, and my brothers is false. If I was molested something would have been done a long time ago, my mother would not let that happen and also wouldn’t drop her kids off to a man that molest us so he can take us to school everyday, let us stay at his house on his days, and also let me live over there in the summer of 2016, or try to work things out, and move back in with each other year of 2015. My mother was the type of person who did not play about her kids, she would have fought for us in any type of way.

    1. LoveJustice

      Our hearts go out to you, Ayonna, for all you have gone through that none of us could ever imagine. I believe the purpose of this article was to highlight your mother's heroic efforts in seeking protected, and trying to remedy a court system that has been failing hundreds of other women and children. This article highlights two separate stories, the other one is a case of another mom that tried to protect her young daughter from sexual abuse. Thankfully, that wasn't part of your story, but know that there are so many of us out here that care about the tragedy that has happened in your family, and want to try to help bring justice so we can try to prevent this from ever happening again. Thank you for bravely and boldly commenting on this article, and I hope it brings some sense of healing to your heart to know that this community is not going to forget what you have endured. I hope this story is healing for you in some way, in knowing that people want to keep your mother's memory alive and celebrate her courage and strength. And, we don't want you to feel alone in the pain and trauma we can only imagine you have had to deal with. You are loved by this community, and please let us know if there is any way we can support you.

  8. Christi

    Hi Ayonna,

    We can only imagine what your family is going through at the moment, and our prayers are with you and your family during this time. The molestation refers to another case that was in Ichikawa's court. As noted in the article (emphasis mine):

    –IN ANOTHER CASE before the Honorable Ichikawa, the court awarded custody of two young children to their allegedly abusive father. The father promptly molested the 12-year old daughter. After a Child Protective Services investigation (CPS), the daughter was returned to her mother.–

  9. Karen

    It sickens me that the judge wouldn't grant a permanent order of protection. Kenesha was a very dear friend/sister of mine. I miss her every day.


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