Family court is a highly emotional, highly contested, space where people work out incredibly person issues that not only impact their lives, but often impact the lives of innocent children. It has not been customary for the DA to prosecute perjury in family law cases, but we plead that you reconsider this.
Over the years, we’ve worked with dozens of litigants negatively impacted by perjury. Most self-represented litigants in family court are economically disadvantaged. Litigants who are financially well-off often retain attorneys, keeping most of their issues out of court hearings and trials. Sit in family court for just one day and you’ll see the litigants with attorneys handled with speed, while the self-represented litigants try to wade their way through a complex system, with a short amount of time do to so, in a very biased system in Solano County.
Often, when a litigant senses bias in the judge (as is the well-documented case with Judges Unger and Carringer) and understands that they can “get away” with lying, the situation becomes exacerbated. Disproving the perjury is financially burdensome to litigants because:
- First, you’ll need transcripts of the hearing or trial. Costs can rage from over $100 to well over $400. Court reporters have also been extremely slow when providing transcripts for Judges Unger and Carringer (a recurring pattern).
- Filing fees for new motions can be cost prohibitive and even requesting a fee waiver requires a hearing, which means more court appearances (time off work, etc.).
- The cost to properly subpoena documents costs in excess of $400 for each document request.
- The cost to subpoena witnesses is often prohibitive for most self-represented litigants.
- For litigants represented by attorneys, they’re paying $250+ per hour in attorney’s fees, with each issue requiring a minimum of 4 hours of attorney time, start to finish.
Thus, the cost to disprove each incident of perjury can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. As such, many litigants can’t bear the financial burden of disproving perjury.
But what happens when they do? A biased judge will ignore evidence that doesn’t align with their intended ruling. Father accuses mother of child abuse, mother bears the expense of disproving the abuse, Judges Unger and Carringer ignore the EVIDENCE because they will rule in favor of father despite evidence. Man abuses woman, man says it didn’t happen. Woman proves abuse. Judges Unger and Carringer ignore the EVIDENCE and rule solely on man’s statement that no violence took place. Restraining order denied.
The family court system already provides precedent for handling perjury (marriage of Davenport), but biased judges will not sanction a perjurious party, because it doesn’t fit their pattern of ruling (and would make them “look bad” for ruling in favor of litigants on the basis of lies).
Litigants are left without recourse.
You can do something about this. You can fix this. For cases where the litigants are willing to go through the motions if disproving the perjurious testimony, you can impose sanctions. You can take the issue outside of the already biased family court, where the judges hear ALL testimony and may have already formed biases and opinions of litigants based on their interaction at hearings and trials, and bring it to a neutral place where neither party is already known, and judge the perjury accusations strictly on merit and fact.
The family court system needs checks and balances. Right now, it has none. There’s a battle brewing with the Commission on Judicial Performance, which is working overtime to hide it’s bad behavior.
Please help bring justice to the family court system. There are literally lives at stake. Children are not being sheltered from abuse, women are not being sheltered from domestic violence.