Although Ichikawa is no longer a judge, the legacy of his unethical and biased rulings still haunts many of the families he harmed while on the bench. Some victims of violence and sexual assault will face a lifetime of healing from trauma that could have been prevented, some victims paid the price with their lives.
Ichikawa being overturned on appeal, through the diligent work of the Family Violence Appellate Project, is believed to be the catalyst for an increase in unethical behavior on the bench. We’ll deconstruct an article from the Daily Republic to highlight why this appellate ruling was monumentally significant.
The Court of Appeal ruling disagreed with Ichikawa on a separate point: The ruling states that appellate court’s review of the evidence revealed nothing to support Banks’ claims that his ex-wife had made false accusations to get full custody.
In many cases, Ichikawa notably claimed the female victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault made false accusations to use as leverage in a custody case. Judges Carringer and Unger also habitually used this practice. This led to several cases where children were placed in the full custody of (often) violent criminal offenders while the mothers were placed on supervised visitation for making allegations of abuse.
Yes, you read that correctly, criminally violent offenders (some with active criminal cases pending) were often given full/sole custody of very young children (some of whom were too young to effectively communicate), while the mothers (who were often also victims of abuse at the hands of the father) were placed on supervised visitation. Supervised visits often cost $200-800 a month, or more, burdening many litigants who were already socio-economically disadvantaged.
In one notable case (the litigant wishes to remain anonymous), Ichikawa lied and stated the female litigant made false claims of abuse. When a motion was filed, the Judge reviewing the case agreed that Ichikawa made statements, in writing, that were not based on evidence (a more sophisticated way of agreeing that he lied), but refused to remedy the wrongdoing.
Many people with knowledge of the Judicial abuses in Solano County Family Court mistakenly believe the system works and appeals, motions and objections are all effective remedies to fix bad rulings, but that’s far from the case. Judges protect the rulings of other Judges because they don’t want to be on the outside of a judicial clique.
What the Solano County Family Law judges routinely started to do was make “findings of credibility” against the female litigants. Basically, on the record, the judge claimed the female litigant (almost always the female litigant) was not credible, branding her a liar and impeding her ability to appeal (as findings are made at the trial court level). Litigants, advocates and local Domestic Violence agencies believe this was done to prevent another embarrassing overturn on appeal.
Keep in mind, Ichikawa is the same judge who was praised for spearheading the non-existent Integrated Domestic Violence Court, which received over $300,000 in Federal grants from the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women.