June 25, 2002
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
NOW says family court corrupt, harms
By Troy Anderson
The family court system in California is "crippled,
incompetent and corrupt" and enriches judges, attorneys and mental-health
professionals at the expense of children, according to a new report to be
released today by the California branch of the National Organization for
After a three-year inquiry, the report's authors concluded that the state's
family law courts have developed into "full employment programs" for private
court mediators, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, educators and
"What we are seeing is a lack of ethics and proper courtroom codes in the
family law system," said Rachel Allen, public relations director for NOW. "As a
result, judges, attorneys and other personnel are lining each other's pockets
instead of acting in the best interest of the child."
Family courts, part of the Superior Court, are devoted to
cases involving divorce, child custody, paternity and similar issues.
Los Angeles Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said the inquiry was
an interesting project, but the family court judges would like to see the report
before making comments.
"We have some questions about the methodology in terms of how the data was
[sic] developed and to what extent this is randomized data," Parachini
said. "Our position would be that our system does the best job it can, that it
obviously can be improved, but we do not feel we are complicit with ... money
The report was based partly on court files, interviews with
people involved with child-custody cases and data from 300 parents who filled
out an extensive Internet questionnaire. ....
Authors of the report charge that organizations purporting to provide
nonprofit continuing education and support services for family law attorneys are
a form of corporate fraud with an ulterior motive for perpetuating a corrupt
The report follows the April release of an audit by the Los
Angeles Superior Court Judges Association that found judges treated themselves
to golf tournaments, ocean dinner cruises and other outings with money from an
obscure fund, started in 1960, partially supported by child-custody and support
The association found that judges were not improperly
influenced in legal cases by funds contributed by attorneys and clients involved
in child-custody and support cases. ....
NOW will release the report today and, along with the legal watchdog group
Judicial Watch, will hold a press conference in Los Angeles. The conference is
scheduled after a hearing in the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal involving
a Sierra Madre resident who lost custody of her daughter in 1998 after alleging
that the father had abused the girl.
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