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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2006

 

Better Letter, Little Girl

My name is Bonnie Russell, and normally I'm in media relations for attorneys. However, as founder of www.FamilyLawcourts.com I'm responding to media's ongoing hand-wring for additional security for judges, which underscores the time-honored pattern of judicial concern at the expense of victims. Reno's Judge Weller is alive. Charla Mack is not. Biased reporting, which began almost immediately, is demonstrated on the home page, www.FamilyLawcourts.com.
You may remember television cameras trailed a Chicago judge to Congress, documenting her plea for judicial safety before a sea of grave faces. Much editorial ink in support. Litigant victims? Not so much. Most recently, Chief Justice Ronald George awarded the Benjamin Arana Access to Justice award to LA Judge Aviva Bobb. I wondered why. Bobb refused to allow a little girl access to her courtroom when the little girl wanted to communicate her fears of her father. Her mother suggested she write a letter to the Judge Bobb instead, which she did. After the father killed the little girl, the court spokesperson angrily responded to reporter's questions with a statement that the letter seemed "contrived." Yes the blame was placed squarely on the now dead little girl for not writing a better letter.

In cases of courthouse shootings of litigants, historically the court holds itself not responsible. California's Zelig vs. County of Los Angeles, being like most. Surviving family members of violence inside courthouses can't sue counties and sheriff's departments charged with security.

California's Chief Justice Ronald George wrote public entities are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime, unanimously overturning an appeals court decision. George said such lawsuits could expose government agencies to liability on many court properties. The case began in 1995 after Eileen Zelig repeatedly called court bailiffs warning her doctor ex was going to kill her. She was shot dead in the court hallway in front of her six year old daughter.

In 1997, Robert Mullally, a government consultant disregarded a court order and leaked documents that showed the Los Angeles Police Department had been shielding its officers from arrest and prosecution for domestic violence.

The leaked documents featured 79 police officers not prosecuted for beating their wives, girlfriends or children. LA PD prosecuted and Mullally went to jail for leaking the document, becoming the first person in the country to be jailed for violating a protective order in a civil case. (more at www.FamilyLawCourts.com/badcop.html)

The original order? It was imposed in a suit stemming from a 1992 incident in which an officer shot and killed his estranged wife and her boyfriend, then turned his gun on himself.

In 2005, Castle Rock vs. Gonzales, our US Supreme Court reaffirmed the judicial lack of regard to three little girls who were taken (in violation of a restraining order), by their father. The police did not respond to Mother's six, increasingly panicked calls to the police to enforce the restraining order. He shot-gunned all three girls to death. She sued. The US Supreme Court ruled local police were not responsible for enforcing a judge's order.

This begs the question, why bother? Federal funding. Although restraining orders often trigger a final, fatal attack, few realize the financial gains realized by police departments pushing women to obtain the very same orders they can subsequently, legally refuse to enforce.

It began with the original, Family Justice Center; now franchised throughout the nation, birthed in San Diego and (promoted) as a "one stop shop" for various social and police services. A woman could walk into a non-descript building, dictate a report of abuse to a waiting police officer, who would respond (there was no 'investigation'), by creating a police report and faxing a request for a temporary restraining order over to a friendly judge. The executed TRO was promptly faxed back and the woman left the building, having never set foot in court, knowing the police would serve it later.

No one seemed to mind the denial of due process as two separate branches of government merged.

With the deck thus stacked, at a later hearing the suspect might be ordered to attend a state sponsored "anger management" program... in spite of them being proved ineffective. The point being to create the appearance of solving "domestic violence." The reality? Securing funds for the police. Misogny for profit. Details at www.FamilyLawCourts.com/domestic.html

The Office on Violence Against Women, http://www.usdoj.gov/ovw/pfjci.htm distributes grants nationally, supposedly to benefit women. Reviews show the grants do not benefit women, who are often in dire need of shelter, counseling, and an education to make them self-supporting. The lion's share of funding goes to the police. In San Diego, three quarters of nearly five million dollars was funneled to police and Border Patrol for bullet proof vests.

The cry for judicial safety, after judges hold the courts not liable for the death of women begging for help, rings hollow. Their demonstrated lack of regard for litigants, except as a grant generating source for the police, should end. I'll close with this mention.

If the number of women and children killed by husbands and fathers were represented as bird flu victims, we would be in a full on media frenzy. Words like "epidemic" would be tossed around. Many would meet, on "Meet the Press."

Bonnie Russell
www.FamilyLawCourts.com
Exposing the divorce indutry-one county at a time.




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