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Recalling judges in Contra Costa and San Francisco counties

April 3, 2018

by Michelle Chan

PACC parents fighting CPS to reunite their families call for the impeachment – or recall – of Judge Nancy Davis.

It was September of 2016. I was currently under CPS supervision from an unfortunate case that had been opened due to domestic violence (I was the victim) and substance abuse. Initially, CPS was going to award me full custody but chose to place my son in foster care after I allowed my domestically-abusive husband to see our son on my birthday.

After Maryela Padilla was assigned to our case, things changed for the worst. I would come to understand for the first time the omnipotent power that CPS has. I would come to understand exactly what Sen. Nancy Schaefer meant when she said that the child welfare system “obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so.”

Ms. Padilla loathed me upon first sight and openly favored my abuser almost to the point of admiration. She refused to address my husband’s domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues, even in the face of significant evidence that he is both a substance abuser with a serious documented history and also that he has serious mental health issues that remain untreated till this day. Meanwhile, she targeted me and did everything in her power to make things difficult for me and to throw me into a depression.

In what was tantamount to kidnapping, she colluded with my estranged husband, my court-appointed attorney, Mark Wasacz, and everyone else involved in my case, including the judge, Judge Nancy Davis, to remove my 4-year-old son from my custody. My child was placed in the full custody of my abuser and poorly monitored over the course of the next year.

I would come to understand exactly what Sen. Nancy Schaefer meant when she said that the child welfare system “obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so.”

At least two referrals to the child abuse hotline were made by mandated reporters regarding serious, well-documented incidents in which my son was clearly at risk. Time and time again, Ms. Padilla did absolutely nothing to safeguard my son.

I knew that there was misconduct and sensed that all of the attorneys and CPS supervisors were involved. I worked day and night for weeks to write and prepare a sanctions motion.

On Oct. 4, 2016, my Sanctions Motion was filed, detailing Ms. Padilla’s gross misconduct and dishonesty. The next day, Mark Wasacz, my attorney, set an “Add to Calendar hearing” to appoint a guardian ad litem to me. My estranged husband and abuser informed me of the hearing via text message. When I asked what the hearing was about, both my husband and Mark Wasacz told me it was a private hearing with the judge but did not disclose any further information.

On Oct. 6, 2016, I attended what I believed to be a “private hearing” with Judge Nancy L. Davis to discuss the Sanctions Motion I had written. Just before this hearing, Mark Wasacz had told me that his wife had cancer and that he hoped to set it up so that I had added legal support.

During the hearing, Judge Davis listened to me talk about the departmental misconduct and pretended to be truly bothered by what had transpired. She made this great show about writing down all my concerns.

Then afterwards, she asked me about the guardian ad litem. She and Mark Wasacz presented it to me as a means for added legal support and led me to believe that I could have her removed at any point, should I feel that she was not representing my best interests properly.

At the time, I had no idea what a guardian ad litem was. I now know that a guardian ad litem is intended to give a voice to those who would otherwise have none. Usually an attorney, the guardian ad litem is normally appointed to children or to the incompetent or insane. I am neither insane nor incompetent and there was no evidence to suggest that I did not understand the nature of the proceedings.

In fact, three mental health professionals – a psychiatrist, a psychologist and an MFT – had all cleared me of any serious mental illness or personality disorders and I had tested consistently in the gifted range all throughout my childhood and teens. Moreover, I had taken the most invasive psychological evaluation, the mmpi-2, and the psychologist had been chosen by CPS.

Parents Against CPS Corruption protested outside Superior Court every week for many months.

What soon became apparent was that the guardian ad litem had been appointed to me to serve as a legal gag and to keep me from arguing in court that the removal of my child was unlawful. For the next six months, Judge Nancy Davis, Mark Wsacaz and my guardian ad litem, Ruth Kalnitsky Roth, worked together to deprive me of my right to trial, to deprive me of my Sixth Amendment right to represent myself, and to cover up the ongoing domestic violence, substance abuse, and emotional child abuse and child neglect perpetrated by my abuser.

I was literally being held hostage by my own legal team and by this corrupted judge who had the first, second and last say in everything related to my case, including who represented me. The more evidence I was able to show of criminal misconduct and collusion, the harder everyone involved in my case worked together to bury and discredit me.

With so much at stake, with such insurmountable obstacles, in the face of such apparent evil, and against an enemy that would stop at nothing to win, I knew my only chance at justice for my son was to get Judge Nancy Davis off my case. I did not know how I would succeed in such a fool’s mission, but I believed in my heart that it was possible because what she was doing to me was absolutely illegal and I could prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

What was more significant, though, were the greater implications. If Judge Nancy Davis was so obviously colluding with San Francisco CPS and with my own court-appointed attorney and attorney guardian ad litem, and the City Attorney and minor’s counsel and my husband’s counsel all knew what was going on and did nothing … well, the implications were that the entire system and court was rigged, and I was not the only person being victimized.

I was literally being held hostage by my own legal team and by this corrupted judge who had the first, second and last say in everything related to my case, including who represented me.

Together with a dedicated group of my peers, we formed an activist group. We carried signs demanding the removal of Judge Davis and protested the San Francisco Superior Court over 25 times.

In September of 2017, Judge Nancy L. Davis was forced into retirement. Three months later my case was dismissed and my son came home.

Over the course of the past year through my activist and advocacy efforts, I would come to learn that although the specific circumstances and facts in my case are unique, the entrenched corruption and collusion between the courts and child welfare agencies is widespread in California and beyond.

Commission on Judicial Performance is a toothless watchdog

Nearly absolute power with no oversight, accountability or transparency is a recipe for corruption. This country was built on the fundamentals of justice, equality and fairness. To ensure that no single branch of government becomes too powerful, a system of checks and balances was put in place. This means that our judiciary is supposed to “check” our child welfare system, and our legislature is supposed to “check” our judiciary.

Parents Against CPS Corruption protests outside the Commission on Judicial Performance on Aug. 12, 2017.

The Commission on Judicial Performance, or the CJP, is California’s judge oversight agency. It is the only agency with the authority to discipline or remove judges for misconduct. According to a report published by Joe Sweeney in 2015, the CJP has a poor record for holding judges accountable compared to judge oversight agencies in other states, such as New York and Texas.

Joe Sweeney worked together with the Center for Judicial Excellence and dozens of other advocacy groups to get the legislature to order the first ever audit of the CJP. The impending audit was celebrated by judicial reform advocates throughout California because it represented transparency and accountability. Finally, we believed that the perceived gross lack of oversight of California’s judiciary would be addressed and exposed.

California State Auditor Elaine Howle has an awe-inspiring reputation. During an audit of the University of California in 2017, she discovered that the office of the president, Janet Napolitano, had a hidden fund of $175 million and that her top aides had interfered with the audit. See https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/25/california-auditor-slams-uc-presidents-office-over-175-million-in-hidden-funds/.

However, the CJP was able to evade the natural process of checks and balances by suing the state auditor, claiming that it does not have the authority to audit the CJP based on the CJP’s self-written rules of confidentiality.

According to a report published by Joe Sweeney in 2015, the CJP has a poor record for holding judges accountable compared to judge oversight agencies in other states, such as New York and Texas.

On Dec. 19, 2017, Judge Suzanne Bolanos of the San Francisco Superior Court blocked the audit by ruling that Elaine Howle does not have the legal right to access the CJP’s confidential records.

That the CJP can evade an audit ordered by the Legislature is evidence that the system of checks and balances is flawed and that California’s judiciary has grown too powerful.

Had the CJP provided meaningful oversight, I would never have had to resort to forming an activist group and protesting in order to hold Judge Davis accountable for committing guardian ad litem fraud, violating my Sixth and 14th Amendment rights, and for apparently holding my child and other children hostage in a broken and misguided child welfare system.

That the CJP can evade an audit ordered by the Legislature is evidence that the system of checks and balances is flawed and that California’s judiciary has grown too powerful.

Without meaningful and consistent oversight, there can be no justice. There is too much money at stake in our child welfare, family court and criminal justice systems. There are funding incentives to keep children tied up in the CPS system, to remove children from parental custody in family court and to sentence people to hard time in for-profit prisons. Without meaningful oversight, those with money and power will continue to oppress those that do not.

Citizen oversight of bad judges

Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, has created a citizen oversight committee to hold bad judges accountable in Contra Costa County, San Francisco County and beyond.

Community response to an article published in the San Francisco Bay View last October, “Disgraced CPS worker ousted: Contra Costa County fails to fix lives she unnecessarily destroyed,” was overwhelming. To address the malfeasance of the Contra Costa Superior Court, we will be launching simultaneous recalls of Judge Rebecca Hardie, Judge Lois Haight and Judge Jill Fannin of the Contra Costa Superior Court in May.

Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, has created a citizen oversight committee to hold bad judges accountable in Contra Costa County, San Francisco County and beyond.

After our Contra Costa County efforts, we will be going back into San Francisco to recall Judge Susan Breall.

If you or someone you know has been victimized by Contra Costa CPS, by a Contra Costa judge or by Judge Susan Breall of the San Francisco Superior Court, or to join our cause and find out about upcoming protests and marches, please call 415-815-9415 or visit parentsagainstcpscorruption.com.

Michelle Chan is founder and president of Parents Against CPS Corruption and can be reached at Protest@parentsagainstcpscorruption.com.

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10 thoughts on “Recalling judges in Contra Costa and San Francisco counties

  1. scottzwartz

    Corruption exists throughout the California judicial system and its spreads to ancillary places like local district attorneys, the State Atty General, the sheriff departments. For example, not only do some Sheriff departments supply DA's with lying jail house informants, but they will also provide personnel to remodel judges homes often charging the tax payers. No one squeals on anyone else because virtually everyone has been implicated in some criminal activity. Family law is particular heinous is that the judges basically hold children hostage while forcing parents to fork over huge amounts of money. Attorneys who object to the judicial corruption are disbarred which is very effective is shutting up other attorneys.

    The scope of the corruption defies imagination. I first heard about it in the 1980's in connection with the corrupt federal district court judge Manny Real (Los Angeles), but as I am learning now, the corruption has infected every part of the judicial system. CityWatch in LA wrote a brief article.
    http://bit.ly/2GlDqN2March 12, 2018, CityWatch, California’s Judicial Cowards: Where ‘Anything Goes’ Behavior Rules the Day

    Reply
  2. George

    Judge Jill Fannin is a trainwreck of a judge. She did a lot of damage in the family law division. She sent children to live with pedophiles, cocaine addicts, and violent abusers. Suggest that you recall this judge ASAP. She is only where she is in terms of being appointed a judge because her dad was a judge in the Contra Costa Superior Court. She has no skills or abilities, and is a figurehead probably doing someone else's dirty work?

    Reply
    1. Candace

      I second that call. Or I should say–recall. She's a cancer on justice itself. She makes sure that her hearings are absent audio, court reporters or journalists, so that she can make sure her odious malfeasance goes unrecorded. She must be gone. Jailed, preferably, but that's doubtless just a fantasy. If there was any justice, it would have happened long ago.

      Reply
  3. Andrea

    Judge Haight has a trophy wall of photos of children that she has forced away from their parents and or adopted out. This is a sadistic judge who has no place on any bench seat in America.

    Reply
    1. Troublezone

      She took my nephew's and his g-friends 3 children. Ages 4. 6. 8. All beautiful, blue-eyed blondes, healthy, happy, intelligent and well-mannered. No matter what he did, it made no difference. He never saw his kids again once CPS got their hands on them.They were all placed with a foster family who "adopted" them right away. He never got to say "I Love You" one last time. Yeah, he made mistakes but he did his best. My Nephew's life started falling apart not long after. His son and daughter were his life. Without them he had no life. This is a heartless judge. I bet my nephew's kids pics are on that wall too.

      Reply
  4. Patricia Serrato

    CPS and all county garbage agencies are not out there to help anyone, They make a profit and steal from the people and the government, or they wouldn't have a job. Please let's get rid of these people's false jobs. These bastards violate everybody even children. There needs to be a riot, a revolution. Get rid of CPS and the Family Law joke court. These Judges are incompetent, the garbage cans in their buildings are honorable in comparison to these clowns.

    Reply
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