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Sacramento Family Court News


Investigative Reporting, News, Analysis, Opinion & Satire
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19 June 2013

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Victim of Illegal Order Issued by Judge Matthew J. Gary for Divorce


Attorney Timothy Zeff Homeless But Surviving

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT

(58)

Judge Matthew Gary Order for Partner of Judge Pro


Tem Attorney Scott Buchanan Results in
Homelessness for Disabled Mom

ATTORNEY MISCONDUCT

(31)

JUDGE PRO TEM


(44)

MATTHEW J. GARY
(28)
FLEC
(26)
ARTS & CULTURE
(21)
PETER J. McBRIEN
(20)
SCBA
(20)
CHILD CUSTODY
(19)
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(19)
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(18)
EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT

(18)
PRO PERS
(18)
ROBERT SAUNDERS
(17)
DOCUMENTS
(16)
CJP
(15)
DIVORCE CORP
(13)
JAMES M. MIZE
(12)

Larscheid, Buchanan & Zeff family law attorney Timothy Zeff requested and was granted an unlawful $920 child support order byJudge
Matthew J. Gary. Zeff's partner, Scott Buchanan, is a family court judge pro tem. The order financially devastated 52-year-old disabled,
single parent Susan Ferris. Evicted from her Sacramento home and now homeless, she sleeps on the couch of a Bay Area friend.

SACRAMENTO FAMILY COURT NEWS SPECIAL REPORT


The disturbing aftermath of an unconscionable $920 child support order issued by Judge Matthew J. Gary
shows one of the ramifications, and the inexorable human cost of what court watchdogs contend is unchecked
family court corruption and cronyism.The April, 2012 order gutted the monthly disability income of unrepresented,
financially disadvantaged family court litigantSusan Ferris from $1,256 to $336. Gary previously issued an
equally unlawful order prohibiting the 52-year-old single parent from having any contact with her daughter,
Megan.

COLOR OF LAW SERIES

(11)
SATIRE
(11)
CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(10)
JAIME R. ROMAN
(10)
LAURIE M. EARL
(10)
NO CONTACT ORDERS
(10)


The April support order financially devastated Ferris, leaving her with far less income than she needed for food,
utilities, and rent. After several months under the order and behind on her rent, Ferris was evicted from her East
Sacramento home and became homeless.The same court order records that her ex-husband, David Ferris,
earns $8,089 per month. Click here to view Gary's minute order, obtained and posted online exclusively by
Sacramento Family Court News. As a result of the order, Susan Ferris' credit has been thrashed, the repo man
came for her car, and the eviction will now be part of her renter's report, making it virtually impossible for her to rent
a home in the future.

To continue reading, click Read more>> below:


Likeorders issued by the same judge in other cases, both minute orders contain no facts or law justifying the
draconian rulings, making them patently illegal under state law. The comparison to orders in other cases reveals a
consistent pattern that infers a calculated and deliberate intent to conceal from review the judge's misuse of Family
Code statutes for the prohibited purpose of punishing unrepresented parties. Gary, a fervent right-wingideologue,
also detests what he reportedly calls the "entitlement mentality" of family court parties who obtain fee waiver orders
or are on public assistance, according to a court employee. The template-like repetition of the judge's bad faith
tactics and overt socioeconomic bias also evinces an abdication of oversight responsibilities by Court Executive
Officer Chris Volkers, superior court Presiding Judge Laurie Earl, and family court Supervising Judge James
Mize.

SHARON A. LUERAS
(10)
WHISTLEBLOWERS
(10)
WOODRUFF O'HAIR
POSNER and SALINGER

(10)
CARLSSON CASE
(9)
RAPTON-KARRES
(9)
CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)
JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)
FERRIS CASE
(7)
JULIE SETZER
(7)
YOUTUBE
(7)
3rd DISTRICT COA
(6)
CHRISTINA ARCURI
(5)
CIVIL RIGHTS
(4)
CONTEMPT
(4)
FAMILY LAW FACILITATOR

(4)
LUAN CASE
(4)
THADD BLIZZARD
(4)
CANTIL-SAKAUYE
(3)
MIKE NEWDOW
(2)

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Family law attorney Timothy Zeff obtained a child support order for his client, David Ferris, who makes $8,089 per month. The order made
his disabled ex-wife, Susan Ferris, homeless. In this exclusive SFCN photo, Susan sleeps with her Yellow Lab "Buddy" on the couch of a
Bay Area friend. Family law attorney J. Scott Buchanan, Zeff's partner, holds the Office of Temporary Judge in Sacramento Superior
Court.

Gary issued the $920 child support order against Susan Ferris at therequest of veteran family law attorney
Timothy Zeff of the Sacramentofamily law firmLarscheid, Buchanan & Zeff. Zeff's partner is attorney and family
courtjudge pro tem J. Scott Buchanan.At a subsequent hearing three weeks later, Zeff requested and Gary
issued an additional illegal order directing Susan Ferris to pay $2,500 to her ex-husband for Zeff's attorney fees.
Click here to view the May attorney fees order, which also is barren of any facts or law justifying the ruling.

The order also is unlawful because it does not record consideration by the judge of the comparative wealth of the
parties as required by FamilyCode 271, the statute Gary used for the order. Click here to view the law
applicableto the comparative wealth assessment requirement. Gary has a documented history of issuing unlawful,
appeal-proof orders in cases where one party is represented by a judge pro tem family law attorney and the
other party is unrepresented and indigent or otherwise financially disadvantaged.

Serial Misuse ofFamilyCode 271 Sanctions Against

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Judge pro tem attorney Paula Salinger requested and was granted this unprecedented sanctions order by Judge Matthew J. Gary against
an indigent, unrepresented litigant. Gary recorded no facts, law or evidence in support of the order, making it virtually appeal-proof.

Sacramento Family Court News audits of other family court case files show that Judge Matthew Gary routinely
issues severe, disproportionate Family Code 271 attorney fee sanction orders against unrepresented, financially
disadvantaged litigants. The statute requires a judge to compare the income, assets and liabilities of both parties
before making a sanction ruling. The law is impossible to misconstrue:
"In making an award pursuant to this section, the court shall take into consideration all
evidence concerning the parties' incomes, assets, and liabilities." reads Family Code271.
Court reporter transcripts, minute orders and other records indicate that Gary - a former family law attorney - does
not consider the income, assets and liabilities of both parties, and in cases where only one party has an attorney
consistently omits the mandatory comparative wealth assessment required by the law.The draconian sanction
orders are unlawful but nonetheless effective against pro per parties with little knowledge of family law, much less
knowledge of the appellate law and procedure required to contest the order.

In one example cataloged by court watchdogs and memorialized by a court reporter's transcript, when directly
asked if he had considered the comparative wealth of the parties before assessing more than $10,759 in attorney
fee sanctions against an indigent, self-represented party, Gary conceded he had not, and appeared to express, or
feign ignorance of the law.The transcript records the judge repeatedly using a verbal diversion to the payment
terms of the sanction, a separate component of the sanction law unrelated to the comparative wealth
consideration. To view thetranscript excerpt,click here. To view the complete transcript, click here.

The separate and distinct comparative wealth assessment is required specificallyto prevent the misuse of Family
Code 271 sanctionsto discourage an economically weaker party from asserting their rights, according to
bothstate lawand the family law legal referenceused by judgesand attorneys,California Practice Guide:
Family Law, published byThe Rutter Group. To view view thePractice Guidereference,click here.To view
comparative wealth decisional law references,click here.

Sanction Payment Terms That Ensure Default

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Knowing the litigant would default on the first payment, Judge Matthew Gary ordered an indigent party without assets or income of any
kind to make sanction payments of $25 per month on a balance of $10,759. If the payments were made, it would take 35 years to pay off
the debt. For the benefit of judge pro tem divorce attorney Paula Salinger, the judge sua sponte - on his own -also made the payment
terms subject to "adjustment at trial."

FamilyCode 271(c)provides that:


"An award of attorney's fees and costs as a sanction pursuant to this section is payable only
from the property or income of the party against whom the sanction is imposed, except that
the award may be against the sanctioned party's share of community property."
In addition to ignoring the comparative wealth legal requirement, Gary also ignores this mandatory component of
the law. Knowing an indigent litigant without assets or income will be unable to make a monthly sanction payment,
the judge orders the litigant to do so, ensuring default when the first payment comes due. When the payment is
missed, after 10-days the entire balance is due, as shown in the order above. Click here to view the complete
order.

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And like the minute orders in the Ferris case, the facts and law justifying the unprecedented$10,759 attorney fee
sanction are omitted from Gary's minute order.Published by the Judicial Council, the California Judges
Benchguide Courtroom Control: Contempt and Sanctions instructs judges who issueFamily Code 271
sanctions
"[t]o issue a written order and to avoid stating conclusions in the words of the statute. Give a
factual recital, with reasonable specificity, of the circumstances leading to the order. If
desired, incorporate by reference portions of a party's papers that adequately set forth the
conduct, circumstances and legal arguments providing the bases for the court's
conclusions." Click here to view this section of the Benchguide.

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The Benchguide directions mirror California Rules of Court rule 2.30 - sanctions for rules violations in civil cases
- and the elementary principle of law that "An order imposing sanctions must be in writing and must recite in detail
the conduct or circumstances justifying the order." Click here. Without any factual recital, portions of the party's
papers, or references to the conduct and circumstancesjustifying the ruling, Gary ordered the unrepresented,
indigent litigantto pay a $10,759 sanction for the attorney fees ofjudge pro tem family law attorney Paula
Salinger.

Salinger isan officer of the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Sectionand partner at the
controversial family law firm Woodruff, O'Hair, Posner and Salinger. To view the astonishing, complete hearing
transcript - which SFCN will report on in an upcoming article - click here. Original, court case file records from this
and other cases indicate that Gary routinely uses unlawful sanction orders for the explicitly prohibited purpose of
discouraging economically weaker parties from asserting their rights, and to send the message that returning to
court will result in still more financial punishment.
In addition, to prevent the one-sided, unfair outcomes previously common in family court cases with socioeconomic
imbalances between the parties, the Legislature has explicitly mandated equalizing wealth disparities in a variety of
family court proceedings. For example, in the context of providing financially disadvantaged parties with attorney
representation, to ensure parity between the parties attorney fee awards must be "just and reasonable," and take
into account the "relative circumstances" of each spouse. Click here to view more than 40 court of appeal
decisions emphasizing this critical, long-established principle of family law.

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2011 SACRAMENTO/MARIN
AUDITS
(2)
3rd DISTRICT
To avoid being reversed on appeal, unethical judges will leave out of an order the facts, law and evidence on which an order is based,
according to California Practice Guide: Civil Appeals and Writs, published by The Rutter Group.

Gary also has perfected the use of "appeal-proof" orders, which make appeals attempted by indigent, selfrepresented litigants futile, according to court reform advocates. Court watchdogs have collected minute orders
authored by Gary in cases where one party is unrepresented and financially disadvantaged, and compared them
with the orders of other judges. The orders issued by Gary consistently show that the judge does not memorialize
the facts, law and evidence supporting the ruling(s) issued, which virtually always are against the pro per. Appellate
courts have emphasized that a basic, fundamental duty of a trial court judge is to protect the appeal rights of all
litigants by making and filing in the trial court record findings on all material issues.
"Under our system it is mandatory that the superior court make and file its finding of the
ultimate fact on each material issue created by the pleadings," Herman v. Glasscock. Click
here.

COA
(6)
AB

(1)

1102
(1)
AB 590

ABA

JOURNAL

ADMINISTRATORS

(1)

(4)

AGGREGATED NEWS

(14)
AL SALMEN
(1)

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION


(1)

ANALYSIS
(32)

FURILLO

(2)

ANDY

AOC

(1)

APPEALS
(9)
ARCHIBALD
CUNNINGHAM
(1)
ARTHUR G.
SCOTLAND
(5)
ARTS &

CULTURE

(21)

ATTORNEY
(4)
ATTORNEY
DISCIPLINE
(4)
ATTORNEY

"It is elementary that a failure to find on all material issues raised by the pleadings is ground
for reversal." Kaiser v. Mansfield. Click here.
By comparison, this order from a different judge in aSacramento Family Court case also involving modification of
a child support order contains seven pages of the facts, evidence and law which the judge relied on in making the
order. Click here to view the order. And this order from another judge involving modification of custody/parenting
time contains 16 pages of facts, evidence and law in support of the order. To view the order, click here. Gary
uses the family law legal reference work California Practice Guide: Family Law to provide monthly "Bench
Tips" for family law attorneys in the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section newsletter, The
Family Law Counselor.

Gary's own preferred legal reference source makes clear that in child support modification proceedings the order
issued by the judge must include a statement of information or reasons. Click here for the Practice Guide

ATTORNEY
MISCONDUCT
(31)

ETHICS
(2)

ATTORNEYS
(11)
BAR
ASSOCIATION
(11)
BARACK
OBAMA
(1)
BARTHOLOMEW
and WASZNICKY
(3)
BUNMI
AWONIYI

(1)

CALIFORNIA

JUDICIAL CONDUCT HANDBOOK

(1)
CALIFORNIA

LAWYER
(1)

CALIFORNIANS AWARE
(2)

CAMILLE HEMMER
(3)

CANTIL-SAKAUYE

(3)


CARLSSON CASE
(9)
CECIL
reference. "Such findings not only will enable the parties to appreciate the basis for the child support order,
they will facilitate judicial review in any future appeal..." according to In re Marriage of Hubner, one of the
decisional law references cited by the Practice Guide. Click here to view the Hubner case.
Although Gary has an legal and ethical obligation to preserve the appeal rights of all litigants, including the poor,
under the doctrine of implied findings any appeal taken from an order authored by the judge is all but futile.
Where a trial court order is barren of facts supporting the order, the doctrine requires a reviewing court to infer that
the trial court judge made all factual findings necessary to support the order. A related legal principle, the
presumption of correctness, requires an appellate court to "indulge all presumptions supporting the judgment or
order" when the order issued by a trial court judge omits the facts, law and evidence on which the ruling is based.

Unethical judges who issue rulings they know could be reversed on appeal will "cloak" the rulings in the
presumption of correctness by leaving an incomplete record for review, according to the legal reference used by
judges and attorneys for appellate court procedure, California Practice Guide: Civil Appeals and Writs,
published by The Rutter Group. The orders issued by Gary also violate the Trial Court Performance Standards
specified in theCalifornia Rules of Court Standards of Judicial Administration, including the following
provisions of Standard 10.17:

(3)(A) Trial court procedures faithfully adhere to relevant laws, procedural rules, and established
policies...

and CIANCI
(2)
CEO
(4)

CHARLOTTE KEELEY

(18)
CHILD CUSTODY

(19)
CHILD SUPPORT
(3)

CHRISTINA ARCURI
(5)

CHRISTINA VOLKERS
(8)

CIVICS
(1)
CIVIL LIABILITY
(1)

CIVIL RIGHTS
(4)
CJA
(2)

CJP
(15)
ClientTickler
(2)

CNN
(1)
CODE OF JUDICIAL
ETHICS
(9)
CODE OF

SILENCE
(2)
COLLEEN
MCDONAGH
(3)
COLOR OF

LAW
SERIES

(11)

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(10)
CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS
(3)
CONTEMPT
(4)

COURT CONDITIONS
(2)

COURT EMPLOYEE
(1)
COURT
EMPLOYEE CODE OF ETHICS
(1)

COURT POLICIES
(1)
COURT
RULES
(4)
COURTS
(1)
CPG

(3)(D) Decisions of the trial court unambiguously address the issues presented to it and make clear how
compliance can be achieved...
(3)(F) Records of all relevant court decisions and actions are accurate and properly preserved.
Click here to view these portions of Standard 10.17.
An example of an attempted appeal of a ruling which Judge Matthew Gary cloaked in the presumption of
correctness is thisunpublished3rd District Court of Appeal decision.The reviewing court noted that the facts,
law and evidence recited in the written trial court order issued by Gary consisted entirely of "insufficient facts/res
judicata." The court of appeal mechanically invoked presumption of correctness and implied findings principles,
writing "we must conclusively presume evidence was presented that is sufficient to support the court's findings,"
and upheld Gary's ruling. Click here to view the court of appeal decision. Click here to view appellate court docket
information verifying Matthew Gary as the trial court judge.

"Entitlement Mentality" of Disabled and Indigent


Witnesses who attended the April and May 2012 Susan Ferris
hearings said that Judge Matthew Gary became embroiled
and appeared to issue the child support and attorney fee
sanction orders to vindictively punish Susan Ferris for
asserting her rights in prior proceedings - including an
unsuccessful attempt to disqualify the judge - and
forassociating with a group of court reform advocates,
including Robert Saunders, whoalso act as court watchers
for the indigent and disabled.

Gary reportedly has been livid at Saunders - also indigent,


unrepresented and disabled - since
Saunderssuccessfullyhad the judge removed from his own
case by a neutral, outside judge from San Joaquin County in
2010. Click here for our exclusive coverage of Gary's
disqualification by Saunders.
Gary and his long time court clerk Christina Arcuriallegedly
are right-wing ideologues who despise what they refer to as
the "entitlement mentality" of indigent, family court litigants
Judge Matthew Gary favors "judicial restraint"
and admires U.S. Supreme Court JusticeAntonin Scalia,
who obtain fee waiver orders, and disabled litigants on public
according to an interview inSacramento Lawyer magazine.
assistance, according to a family courtemployee
whistleblower who provided the information on the condition of
anonymity because they could be subject to retaliation for the disclosure. To view a description of retaliation
against a previous Sacramento County Superior Court employee whistleblower,click here.

Court records indicate that both Gary and Arcuri convey socioeconomic bias in performing their employmentrelated functions and duties. Bias based on socioeconomic status is explicitly prohibited by four separate sections
of the California Code of Judicial Ethics [pdf]. Canon 3B(5) requires judges to perform all judicial duties without
bias or prejudice, including bias or prejudice based on socioeconomic status. Judges must require staff and court

CRIMINAL
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(6)
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FAMILY LAW
(1)

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(3)
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(2)

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(4)
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(1)
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GARY
(2)
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(1)
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(1)
EDWARD
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(2)
EFF
(2)

RICHARDS
(1)

DIANE WASZNICKY
(2)

DISQUALIFICATION
(2)

DIVORCE
(7)
DIVORCE
ATTORNEY
(5)
DIVORCE
CORP
(13)
DIVORCE
LAWYER

(5)

DOCUMENTS
(16)

DONALD TENN
(3)
DONNA

EFFICIENCY

IN

GOVERNMENT

ELAINE VAN
BEVEREN
(10)
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(1)
AWARD
(1)

EMILY

GALLUP

(3)

EMPLOYEE CODE OF ETHICS

(4)

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(18)

EQUAL PROTECTION
(2)

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(1)

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(2)
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(1)
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(4)

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(9)
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(1)
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(2)

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(1)
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(1)

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SACRAMENTO
(2)
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COURTHOUSE
(1)
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(9)

LAW

FAMILY
LAW
COUNSELOR
(4)
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(4)

FATHERS FOR JUSTICE


(1)

FEDERAL LAW
(2)
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LAWSUITS
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(2)
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(7)
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(1)
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GANGNAM STYLE
(1)
GARY E.

personnel to do the same under Canon 3C(2). A judge must also perform administrative duties - which includes
the ministerial duty of accurately drafting and filing court orders - without bias or prejudice based on socioeconomic
status, according toCanon 3C(5).
Judge Matthew J. Garyis paid $169,289 per year, and was
appointed to the bench byGov. Arnold Schwarzeneggerin
2007. Schwarzenegger was named in the 2010Worst
Governors Reportby the government watchdog
groupCitizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington.Among other charges, Schwarzeneggerwas
faulted forproviding "state jobs to friends with dubious
qualifications."Click here.In a 2007 interview with
Sacramento Lawyer magazine, Gary characterized his legal
philosophy as "favoring judicial restraint," and said he
admired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Judge Gary was found guilty in 2010 by San Joaquin


County Superior Court Judge Xapuri B. Villapudua of not
following proper contempt procedures when he had a
disabled litigant arrested and forcibly removed from his
courtroom. As SFCN reported in 2011, Gary's wife, Donna
Gary provides law firm administrative services and sells a
client management software program to family law attorneys.
Click here for our exclusive report. In 2011 a controversial
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
ruling issued by Gary was reversed in full by the 3rd District
Court of Appeal. In 2012 Gary was involuntarily demoted from his position as the supervising family court judge.
Gary is a graduate ofEl Camino High Schoolin Sacramento and previously worked at his fathers law firm,Gary,
Till & Burlingham. His father,Richard Gary,is a family law attorney. Links on the firm'sresources pageinclude
theChristian Legal Societyand theChristian Counseling & Educational Foundation.

Nonexistent Oversight and Accountability by Court


Administrators
Court watchdogs and whistleblowers point out that the flagrant lawlessness of
Judge Matthew Gary's series of orders in the Ferris case, and conduct in
other casesis additional evidence that accountability and oversight by court
administrators, including Court Executive Officer Christina Volkers, Presiding
Judge Laurie Earl, and family court Supervising Judge James Mizeis
nonexistent in Sacramento County Superior Court. Sacramento Family
Court News has reported on multiple instances of misconduct by family court
judgesandclerks and employees, egregious violations of conflict of interest
laws and the preferential treatment of attorneys who also act as temporary
judges in family court.

RANSOM
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(1)

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(1)

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(1)
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(2)
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(2)
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ROMAN

(10)
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MIZE
(12)
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(6)
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(1)

(1)

JERRY

GUTHRIE

(1)

JESSICA HERNANDEZ
(8)

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(1)
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(3)

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(58)
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(1)
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(7)
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(2)

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(10)
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(1)
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(5)
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(1)
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(7)
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(1)
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(1)

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(1)

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(5)
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(1)

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(4)

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(4)
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(1)
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(7)

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(28)
MCGEORGE

Court administrators and oversight officials have repeatedlydeclined to provide


information about what corrective measures, if any, have been initiated to
address the problems. As state court judges, Mize and Earl are required by state law to take appropriate
corrective action when another judge violates state law, court rules, and the state Code of Judicial Ethics. The
obligation is a critical self-policing component of judicial ethics standards and ensures that the rule oflaw is
maintained. To view a Judicial Council directive about the duty to take corrective action, and the types of
corrective action required, click here. In addition, Judge Gary's unlawful conduct has been witnessed by several
court employees, including clerk Christina Arcuri, and bailiff J. Strong. As government employees, each has a
legal and ethical duty to report the misconduct.
Supervising Family Court
JudgeJames M. Mize.

MEDIA
(1)
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2014 UPDATE: Judge Matthew Gary's outrageous treatment of Susan Ferris resulted in a team of attorneys - led
by prominent San Francisco trial attorney James Brosnahan of Morrison & Foerster - taking over her case after
she filed an appeal in the 3rd District Appellate Court. The Sacramento Bee published a front page story about
the appeal on March 26, 2014:
"This is at the point where a lot of us think it's a disgrace," Brosnahan said. "You can't take
someone's child and that person doesn't have an attorney when you do...It's an outrage,"
Brosnahan explained to Sacramento Bee reporter Brad Branan.

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