Sacramento County judges who facilitated criminal child abductions in two family court cases remain unpunished and unaccountable, according to an updated report from Sacramento Family Court Report, a nonprofit news agency.
Controversial Judge Matthew Gary assisted a criminal abduction by a client of divorce attorney and Sacramento Superior Court temporary judge Richard Sokol over two years ago. Judge Thadd Blizzard approved an out-of-state criminal child abduction by a client of divorce lawyer Timothy Zeff more than five years ago. Zeff's partner, attorney Scott Buchanan, also is a part-time judge in the same court.
In both cases, the judges approved the abductions after-the-fact, weeks after they occurred. California child abduction law specifies that post-abduction court authorization does not negate the crime.
The Commission on Judicial Performance, the only state agency responsible for judge oversight and accountability, has not investigated or disciplined either judge, according to family court reform advocate Ulf Carlsson.
"These criminal child abduction incidents show that the rule of law does not apply to certain judges in California. That the CJP has ignored these two judge misconduct cases showing clear violations of the Code of Judicial Ethics is an outrage," Carlsson said. "The CJP apparently has granted these judges immunity from accountability, which sends a message to other judges that anything goes."Government whistleblowers allege and have documented that the family law division of Sacramento County Superior Court operates as what amounts to a criminal racketeering enterprise involving collusion between judges and local divorce attorneys who also volunteer to work as part-time judges.
In the California Judicial Conduct Handbook - published by the California Judges Association - retired Judge David M. Rothman explained the significance of the rule of law and its relationship to the judging function:
" The Code of Judicial Ethics...embodies those principles which our system of justice articulates as essential ingredients to preserve the rule of law...Public confidence in the judicial institution is one of the essential elements of the preservation of the rule of law," Rothman explains.
"We need not be reminded of the fragility of the rule of law when public confidence is shaken, nor of the the degree to which public confidence in public institutions has deteriorated in recent times. The rule of law is the foundation of modern social order, replacing rule by force and despotic whim with law."In 2013, the Judicial Council of California honored Rothman [pdf] with the Bernard E. Witkin Amicus Curiae Award "for his unparalleled leadership in judicial education, particularly his singular contributions to judicial ethics." An excerpt from the California Judicial Conduct Handbook is embedded below: