Justices strike down Contra Costa fam...

Justices strike down Contra Costa family court rules

There are 85 comments on the East Bay Business Times story from Aug 14, 2007, titled Justices strike down Contra Costa family court rules. In it, East Bay Business Times reports that:

“The oral testimony of witnesses given on direct examination is afforded significant weight at trial in ascertaining their credibility”

Jeffrey Elkins outside of the Peter L. Spinetta Family Law Center in Martinez. View Larger The California Supreme Court sided with a Danville man who sued Contra Costa County Superior Court saying that local ... via East Bay Business Times

Join the discussion below, or Read more at East Bay Business Times.

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Cathie Black

Las Vegas, NV

#1 Aug 21, 2007
Unbelievable! Someone finally exposed the Contra Costa Family courts for their injustice, I need to know how do I tell my story! My 13 year old daughter was taken from meand given to her abusive father and step-mother after the mediator not the judge made the discission of who would be best suited to have custody, me her mother that was a single mother from birth and lived in a Hayward or her abusive father that never paid child support and saw her 2x a month from age 10-13 when he decided he didn't want to pay child support anymore and what better way than to make up a story of abuse that was found to be untrue by CPS!! It's a crime, the judges no longer make the decisions instead they leave it up to the mediator that spends all of 1/2 hour talking to you.Now my daughter 15 and about to start high scholl is left with a father that doesn't even know her or even cares to and a step-mother that is abusive. That is the real crime. The children caught in the red tape with no voice because as the judge told me a child has no right to speak in court system until they are 18! I will never give up and I am still fighting today to get her back.
a difficult woman

Oakland, CA

#2 Sep 11, 2007
contra costa family court is an abhorrent dysfunctional abyss. It does more harm to parents and children than one can possibly imagine. It does not sanction attorneys for fraud, fabrication and misrepresentation. It fails drastically in making decisions on custody or property as the judges are ill-equipped to understand and make decisons in these areas. The court is rampant with abuses, and judges come in and out of family law to serve a short-term stint, or 'do their time.' Such is the level of esteem family law court is held in. Families would be better served resolving issues in a civil court where at least parents and children would be accorded the consisency and fairness of civil court rules and laws. The family law court of Martinez shoud be banished from existence as it does more harm than good, and causes enormouse suffering to parents and children.
Hidden Identity

United States

#3 Sep 14, 2007
I am going through the most horrific custody battle. My two very young children have been taken from me due to a very manipulative ex husband after he sexually molested our then 4 yr old daughter. He gained sole custody of both kids. I ended up somehow, with supervised visits. Our case has just been transfered from another jurisdiction to Contra Costa County. I hope I don't end up with more troubles in this county. My attorney tells me it will be better here and the judges are much more fair and willing to listen. I hope I don't end up having the same problems that you have written in about.
The courts are biased to men suddenly, protective of the abusive yet charming fathers, and hurtful and damaging to the kids and mom's these days. I cannot believe it's almost 2008 and things are like this. You would think things would have changed and be more "pro child".Now it's Pro abusive fathers! More power to you. I hardly think so.Well, bring it on, because I will take my abusive,scamming ex spouse down if it's the last thing I do.He's already lost the house! I will get my kids back next.
One pissed off mama.(Yes, I am angry and in control)
Deadbeat Dad is FL attny

Pinehurst, NC

#4 Sep 15, 2007
My ex is a family law attorney in Contra Costa Co. who owes over $150,000 in back child and spousal support. He was arraigned (after 3 years)
but still practices in front of these very judges.
His clients don't even know. Cost me a fortune to get this far. As an officer of the court, he's in contempt of court and has been for 3 years. The State Bar hasn't suspended him, DCSS can't even get his driver's license suspended--they are so overloaded and understaffed they are almost worthless unless the offender gets a regular paycheck. It IS a woman-hating system.
fj4 Activist - Bay Area

El Cerrito, CA

#5 Sep 19, 2007
Hi Cathy,

I am really sorry to hear that is happening to you. You are one of the few cases that I know where the court favored the father. It is usually the other way around. But, that doesn't mean that i am not sympatetic to you and your case.

I am a woman and an activist of the Fathers 4 Justice movement, and what that movement advocates is a 50/50 custody parental plan.

I think regardless of the kind of mothers and fathers that are out there, children should have the rights to spend the same amount of time with both of their parents, except when there is (proven) instances of abuse and violence against the children.

Unfortunately, the system works in a way that makes parents go back to court over and over again. This is what I call the divorce business. Everyone out there is hand out to get money from you and your ex.

So, if you are an advocate of the 50/50 custody arrangement, why don't you join our organization?
We need to be supportive of each other for there to be a change in the law system.

Obviously, you don't have to be a man to join in.

To find more information about what we do, please visit:
http://www.f4j.us

or send me an email at f4j_bay-area@sbcglobal.net

Thank you!

fj4 Activist
WRITEspeakup

Lomita, CA

#6 Sep 21, 2007
I suggest that you write a 1 1/2 page letter with exhibits to several 'persons' who are most interested in the treatment of litigants that are currently being held 'as criminal's' by the system that should protect, in Contra Costa County. Try going to the top and work your way down. Make sure to state that hundreds of people have become a victim of this court, by their judges, commissioners, favortism of court appointed therapists, 730 experts, mediators, even the transcriber, clerks, etc... CC a copy to the judge you are currently seeing, and the Presiding Judge of the two year term...
courtofcriminals

Granite Bay, CA

#8 May 1, 2008
I was in this court for several years. This was mostly because of the impossibly talentless skill-less greed of our then Judge Mrs. Berkow. I saw many cases in my time, most of the time Contra Costa had the Father in poverty and Mom making incredible demand against him. Most were granted by this Berkow broad. I am sorry to see you had problems as a Mother. I believe you are telling the truth. My experience in this court was the law was not being followed and the Father was being attacked by the court.
Deadbeat Mom

Menlo Park, CA

#9 Jul 22, 2008
California women and their advocates from all over the US (and outside the US) are being given a remarkable opportunity to share our stories about how the broken Family Courts have impacted our lives and the lives of our children, and we are writing now to urge you to please join us in submitting written testimony to the California Commission on the Status of Women.
The California Commission on the Status of Women is currently in the process of developing their legislative agenda for the upcoming session and have requested written testimony from the public, including recommendations for legislative and administrative action, to help guide their process.
The Center for Judicial Excellence, California Protective Parents Assn and CA NOW have been working with the California Commission on the Status of Women on the family court audit effort here in CA- and they are true allies in our efforts to fix the problems in the family courts. The Commission staff has also specifically asked us to solicit testimony from all over the US- from anyone who wants to chime in and be heard by a sympathetic governmental body.
A strong showing from our supporters providing written testimony about family court issues will give the Commission added impetus to prioritize their work with us on family court reforms in the coming year.
Testimony can be submitted via email through info@women.ca.gov and should address the most important issues impacting women and girls. Testimony should also include recommendations for action by the State of California. CJE and our colleagues have developed a list of recommendations on how the State of CA might fix the problems that plague our Family Courts, so please let us know if you want to see these recommendations, and we will be happy to share a solution with anyone who is willing to testify. I know that members of this listserv are chock full of great fixes to the family court nightmare, so here's a chance to share your best thinking with a Commission that might actually do something about it!
Again, CJE would be happy to assist anyone who wants help preparing their testimony. To get help preparing your testimony, please contact Steve at Kathleen Russell Agency, San Francisco.
Here are the logistics.
Please submit your written testimony no later than Wednesday, July 23, 2008.
Testimony can be submitted by email to: info@women.ca.gov
or mailed to:
California Commission on the Status of Women
ATTN: Public Testimony
1303 J Street, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95814
deadbeat mom again

Anaheim, CA

#10 Feb 12, 2009
be sure to post your stories at

change.gov/page/s/yourstory

and keep an eye on The Elkins Task Force.

Contra Costa Family Court needs BIG changes!
deadbeat mom

Palo Alto, CA

#11 Apr 14, 2009
Research the ELKINS TASK FORCE.

Someone is FINALLY addressing the problems within the California Family Court system.

They recently took testimonies in San Francisco.
I raised the kids

Felton, GA

#12 Apr 20, 2009
Contra Costa is most unjust to the children who have the misfortune of being put in the position where courts have to make parents accept the responsibility for supporting their children. It is abhorant that so many parents want to punish each other financially and the children lose out in the process. In 1987 my step-daughters were removed from their mother's home (they were 8 and 10 at the time). In those 21 years, there were only 4 short periods of payments and the judges and courts have not been very helpful. The arrears now sit at almost $125,000. Oh, I made sure that they had a homelife, strong values, integrity, and educations - though Contra Costa gave me no parental rights to either child. So, in essence, the kids were victimized twice - by mom and by the courts. It saddens me that children in Contra Costa don't stand a chance with the family courts and judges who will not inforce the state of federal laws dealing with child support. All children deserve justice and for those who end up in family court, Contra Costa seems like an unlikely place for them to find it.
Justice for ALL

Concord, CA

#13 Sep 28, 2009
The mediation process is a HUGE joke. Most of the mediators can't even transcribe discussion notes correctly or misstate things that were agreed to in the mediation session. Many of the mediators are prejudiced and appear to side with the mother. I have recommended that all mediation sessions be recorded so that NOTHING can be misquoted. In one example, the mediator was trying to reinstate the daughter's visits to her mother who had just kidnapped the child. The judge hard to order the mother to release her back to her father and they were to set up supervised visitation for 3 months for the mother who is mentally ill. After court, the couple was told to go through mediation and the mediator told the father that regular unsupervised visitations were to resume as normal. Obviously the mediator had not read the judge's order. This seems to be the norm with most mediators. I have only heard of one good one. The courts should record all conversations and review and supervise its incompetent mediators. These people have too much say in the outcome of people's lives and no one seems to care. It's a joke. The judges are also a joke. Allowing people to continue to file motion upon motion when they don't get what they want and then making hte other party pay for their court costs when they can't afford to pay their own way although THEY are the one filing the continual motions. California law is a law for the greedy and incompetent. It is unjust and has harmed more than it has done good. I guess this is one way for them to make money.
Victim of CC Fam Coourt

Palo Alto, CA

#14 Jun 23, 2010
<<The mediation process is a HUGE joke.>>

My first contact with anyone in the Contra Costa Family Court was with a "mediator." Neither parent was allowed to go to Orientation before this initial contact. The Court clerks said they were told to have people start the court process BEFORE going to Orientation because the Court was so busy.

Olga Peredes, the woman referred to as "mediator" spoke with both parents and wrote a letter to the judge. She said that the father said that the mother made the child sit on her face, pinched her nipples and grabbed her butt. This had never happened and the father had never said anything like that.

The perverse content was fabricated by Olga Peredes (who I believe now works in Alameda County).

The "mediator" then an employee of Contra Costa Family Court, made it impossible for the parents to work out an agreement. The child was left without one parent. Money was wasted on attorneys and court mandated counseling. As there was no problem except what the mediator had made up, no amount of counseling could fix it.

The Elkins Task Force said that the court problem will only get worse unless more money is thrown at it. In Contra Costa much of the problem lies with Commissioner Josanna Berkow who received a lifetime appointment.
Mathis

Puyallup, WA

#15 Jul 8, 2010
My sister is have a awful time with her child custody battle. Read her story please!
Re: The life of my nephew Noah, PLEASE Help!
This is a matter of life and death for my nephew Noah! Case # F0F01564; 1/6/07
My sister Lea McGruder has been in a custody battle for the last year with her ex-boyfriend, Richard Cheney Jr. in the courts of Contra Costa County in Martinez Municipal Courts. I am Helen Mathis, Lea’s oldest sister. I am asking that an investigation be made for the following reasons.
When Noah is in the care of Richard Cheney Jr. he eats at a soup kitchen; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Richard Cheney Jr.’s resident is not suitable for raising a 3 year old child. The police have also witnessed the living condition of Richard Cheney Jr. while Noah is in his care.
My sister, Lea McGruder had to call the police because her son, Noah was returned to her on her days of custody with welts and what looked like cigarette burns on his body. Lea has taken Noah to the hospital not only for that but also for abrasives on his face and other parts of his little body. The hospital and my sister Lea has taken pictures depicting these abrasions and the mediator and judge both saw the pictures and still gave the father joint custody.
Noah is a victim of child abuse from his father, Richard Cheney Jr.. The courts are allowing Richard Cheney Jr. to slowly torture and kill my nephew Noah. My sister Lea is fighting for her son’s life. Richard Cheney Jr. has physically abused my sister Lea McGruder, she has filed several restraining orders against this man and the court has thrown the restraining orders out!
Something is very, very wrong in Contra Costa County in Martinez Municipal Courts.“Corruption is ramped”, an investigation is very much needed before my nephew Noah is murdered by his father Richard Cheney Jr.. Now the mediator is suggesting that the father Richard Cheney Jr. be given full custody, knowing that Noah has been abused not on one occasion, but on several occasions. My sister Lea McGruder is fighting to the best of her ability, but she is fighting a corrupt system. My sister has been called crazy by the mediator because she is fighting for her young son’s life. My sister Lea McGruder is so afraid that she is going to receive a phone call telling her that her son Noah has been murdered by his father Richard Cheney Jr.. I feel that she will be right because in Contra Costa County in the Martinez Municipal Courts.
Today, 6-29-2010, the judge Patricia M. Scanlon of the Superior Courts of Contra Costa Family Court has given full custody to Richard Cheney Jr. after knowingly being informed that he is physically abusing Noah. This judge, Patricia M. Scanlon violated my sisters’ rights by not listening to what Lea McGruder had to say on the behalf of Noah. Noah should be given a case worker and a family court appointed attorney on his behalf; this is the law, isn’t it? This is the law in any case of reported and documented child abuse! The case number is F0F01564. Please help! I do not want my nephew, Noah to be reported missing and then found dead by his father, Richard Cheney Jr..
Allan

Escanaba, MI

#16 Jul 16, 2010
I firmly believe that Judge Patricia Scanlon has no moral compassion whatsoever or is completely biased against men. I have paid $1620 in spousal support for 10 years. Recently, upon being diagnosed with cancer, I petitioned the court for termination or a drastic reduction in support payments due to my health and the fact that I am nearly 67 years old. The judge reduced the support to only $1100. I am currently unable to work and living on disability insurance payments of $6516 per month, which is only 60% of my salary when I was working. My ex-wife's monthly salary is $5226 per month. So now the judge has decreased my disability payments of $6516 per month to just $5416 to live on, while increasing my ex-wife's from $5226 to $6326. She has her health and is working, while I am fighting cancer and am out of work. Even the CA DissoMaster submitted by my attorney showed that the spousal support payments should be reduced to $259 per month and the judge still came up with the amount of $1100, which I still cannot afford. I find her decision to be totally outrageous and without any compassion for a person fighting cancer!!
Anonymous

Richmond, CA

#17 Nov 12, 2010
Allan - It's simple math. The more child support fathers pay, the more money the state gets for their employees. All the child support goes through Sacramento, and based on the amount they collect, the state allocates the budget. It's all about money! they don't care about you or your children.
mom in WC

Walnut Creek, CA

#18 Nov 20, 2010
I have been in the CCC family court system for 11 years now. It all began when the father of my child filed for full custody when I was 7 months pregnant but denied it was his so he wouldn't have to pay the court ordered child support.
Our 10 year old son was given to his father since August 2010 after our son told his therapist he was being hit by his father and hated his father.
Against our son's will the father went and had the judge sign a restraining order on me in order to have the police get him back. I now have 2 hours supervised vistation. I have been devistated to say the least.
Our son hates his father and hates the fact that he has to be with him and his father's girlfriend who btw came from an abusive family (mother and father murder/suicide).
The father has never gone by the court orders and has medically neglected our son time and time again by rememoving him from therapy, hes been accused of hitting our son and our son has refused to see him or be with him only now to be subjected to the abuse on a full time basis (mental and physical).
We just went through our 7-8 mediation and each time it is a joke. The father lies the entire time but these mediators tend to believe his lies! If you ever get Randi Scalise have her removed immediately she is one reason why the system is messed up!
All I have done was gone to court in order for the father to take our son to therapy and get him the help he needs only to have our son ripped from my arms and given to the abuser.
Something needs to be done regarding these judges,
commissioners, mediators, minor's counsels, etc.....they are not helping the children!
I believe Contra Costa County Family Law needs a wake up call to how they are ruining families and children out there! Now to find an Attorney with big enough balls to take them on is another story!!!!
mom in WC

Walnut Creek, CA

#19 Nov 20, 2010
Mathis wrote:
My sister is have a awful time with her child custody battle. Read her story please!
Re: The life of my nephew Noah, PLEASE Help!
This is a matter of life and death for my nephew Noah! Case # F0F01564; 1/6/07
My sister Lea McGruder has been in a custody battle for the last year with her ex-boyfriend, Richard Cheney Jr. in the courts of Contra Costa County in Martinez Municipal Courts. I am Helen Mathis, Lea’s oldest sister. I am asking that an investigation be made for the following reasons.
When Noah is in the care of Richard Cheney Jr. he eats at a soup kitchen; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Richard Cheney Jr.’s resident is not suitable for raising a 3 year old child. The police have also witnessed the living condition of Richard Cheney Jr. while Noah is in his care.
My sister, Lea McGruder had to call the police because her son, Noah was returned to her on her days of custody with welts and what looked like cigarette burns on his body. Lea has taken Noah to the hospital not only for that but also for abrasives on his face and other parts of his little body. The hospital and my sister Lea has taken pictures depicting these abrasions and the mediator and judge both saw the pictures and still gave the father joint custody.
Noah is a victim of child abuse from his father, Richard Cheney Jr.. The courts are allowing Richard Cheney Jr. to slowly torture and kill my nephew Noah. My sister Lea is fighting for her son’s life. Richard Cheney Jr. has physically abused my sister Lea McGruder, she has filed several restraining orders against this man and the court has thrown the restraining orders out!
Something is very, very wrong in Contra Costa County in Martinez Municipal Courts.“Corruption is ramped”, an investigation is very much needed before my nephew Noah is murdered by his father Richard Cheney Jr.. Now the mediator is suggesting that the father Richard Cheney Jr. be given full custody, knowing that Noah has been abused not on one occasion, but on several occasions. My sister Lea McGruder is fighting to the best of her ability, but she is fighting a corrupt system. My sister has been called crazy by the mediator because she is fighting for her young son’s life. My sister Lea McGruder is so afraid that she is going to receive a phone call telling her that her son Noah has been murdered by his father Richard Cheney Jr.. I feel that she will be right because in Contra Costa County in the Martinez Municipal Courts.
Today, 6-29-2010, the judge Patricia M. Scanlon of the Superior Courts of Contra Costa Family Court has given full custody to Richard Cheney Jr. after knowingly being informed that he is physically abusing Noah. This judge, Patricia M. Scanlon violated my sisters’ rights by not listening to what Lea McGruder had to say on the behalf of Noah. Noah should be given a case worker and a family court appointed attorney on his behalf; this is the law, isn’t it? This is the law in any case of reported and documented child abuse! The case number is F0F01564. Please help! I do not want my nephew, Noah to be reported missing and then found dead by his father, Richard Cheney Jr..
I have been doing this for 11 years in CCC family law system and it has to be the most corrupt and inept court around. they consistantly give the children over to the parent that is either one, abusive or two, not capable of emotionally taking care of a child! We need to get a class action suit against this court system and find an attorney that can do it?
mom in WC

Walnut Creek, CA

#20 Nov 20, 2010
Anonymous wrote:
Allan - It's simple math. The more child support fathers pay, the more money the state gets for their employees. All the child support goes through Sacramento, and based on the amount they collect, the state allocates the budget. It's all about money! they don't care about you or your children.
That is ridiculous! I paid the father of my child support while I had proved he had 2 million in the bank and 5 cars and numerous amounts of property that btw, lied under oath about having them. I worked as a clerk at PG&E!!! The system is fucked up and the person that lies the most seems to win!!!!
mom in WC

Walnut Creek, CA

#21 Nov 20, 2010
fj4 Activist - Bay Area wrote:
Hi Cathy,
I am really sorry to hear that is happening to you. You are one of the few cases that I know where the court favored the father. It is usually the other way around. But, that doesn't mean that i am not sympatetic to you and your case.
I am a woman and an activist of the Fathers 4 Justice movement, and what that movement advocates is a 50/50 custody parental plan.
I think regardless of the kind of mothers and fathers that are out there, children should have the rights to spend the same amount of time with both of their parents, except when there is (proven) instances of abuse and violence against the children.
Unfortunately, the system works in a way that makes parents go back to court over and over again. This is what I call the divorce business. Everyone out there is hand out to get money from you and your ex.
So, if you are an advocate of the 50/50 custody arrangement, why don't you join our organization?
We need to be supportive of each other for there to be a change in the law system.
Obviously, you don't have to be a man to join in.
To find more information about what we do, please visit:
http://www.f4j.us
or send me an email at f4j_bay-area@sbcglobal.net
Thank you!
fj4 Activist
I have been in the CCC family court system for 11 years now. It all began when the father of my child filed for full custody when I was 7 months pregnant but denied it was his so he wouldn't have to pay the court ordered child support.
Our 10 year old son was given to his father since August 2010 after our son told his therapist he was being hit by his father and hated his father.
Against our son's will the father went and had the judge sign a restraining order on me in order to have the police get him back. I now have 2 hours supervised vistation. I have been devistated to say the least.
Our son hates his father and hates the fact that he has to be with him and his father's girlfriend who btw came from an abusive family (mother and father murder/suicide).
The father has never gone by the court orders and has medically neglected our son time and time again by rememoving him from therapy, hes been accused of hitting our son and our son has refused to see him or be with him only now to be subjected to the abuse on a full time basis (mental and physical).
We just went through our 7-8 mediation and each time it is a joke. The father lies the entire time but these mediators tend to believe his lies! If you ever get Randi Scalise have her removed immediately she is one reason why the system is messed up!
All I have done was gone to court in order for the father to take our son to therapy and get him the help he needs only to have our son ripped from my arms and given to the abuser.
Something needs to be done regarding these judges,
commissioners, mediators, minor's counsels, etc.....they are not helping the children!
I believe Contra Costa County Family Law needs a wake up call to how they are ruining families and children out there! Now to find an Attorney with big enough balls to take them on is another story!!!!

I think this group is a joke and in it for the money!! Contra Costa Court in my opinion sides with men and has been doing this for the past 11 years since I have been there!!
There needs to be advocates for the children NOT for the father's!!!! The father's have the money though don't they!!!

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