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California Family Court Corruption Reported by CNN Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield

San Mateo County Family Court reform advocates report corruption problems like those catalogued in the documentary film Divorce Corp.

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield discusses family court corruption with Dr. Drew
CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield discusses family court corruption with Dr. Drew


Corruption and collusion between family law court judges and lawyers are reported in this video clip from CNN Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield. Banfield and Dr. Drew Pinsky discuss the documentary film Divorce Corp, which "shines a bright light on the appalling waste, and shameless collusive practices seen daily in family courts.”

Divorce Corp catalogs egregious examples of family court corruption throughout the United States, with California courts portrayed as the most corrupt in the country. Within California, Sacramento Family Law Court emerges as the poster child and worst-of-the-worst.

Four cases from the Central Valley jurisdiction get screen time in the movie, and the namesake of the notorious Ulf Carlsson case gets a starring role. Carlsson’s unsettling story, including the near-sociopathic retaliation against him by Judge Peter McBrien is recounted in this startling Divorce Corp video clip, posted at YouTube. Sixth District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Conrad L. Rushing characterized McBrien’s conduct in the case as a “judicial reign of terror.”

The four Sacramento Divorce Corp cases implicate McBrien, along with Judges James Mize, Eugene Balonon, Matthew Gary, Jaime Roman, Thadd Blizzard and several Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Section divorce attorneys who also serve as temporary judges in the same court, all of whom have been involved in the cases profiled in the documentary.

Even before the release of the documentary, Sacramento Family Court News, an online, nonprofit journalism organization published investigative reports and news about the troubled Sacramento court system. Click here to visit the Sacramento Family Court News home page.     

San Mateo County Family Court reform advocates report that the same types of corruption run rampant in the local family court system. Court watchdogs have documented that judges routinely ignore the law, give preferential treatment to litigants represented by local attorneys, and show bias against unrepresented, pro per parties who can’t afford a lawyer.

“A related problem is that in cases with children where both parties have a lawyer, the attorneys will collude with the judge to drag out the case out and churn legal fees,” said a Menlo Park family court watchdog. “With the help of unethical judges, the lawyers will get unnecessary court orders for child custody evaluators, mediators, therapists and special masters to keep the children in play, and the gravy train running at full speed."

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