What is Marin County, California Family Court hiding? After many years of complaints by family court victims, an audit has been ordered focusing on the use and potential misuse of court-appointed specialists, such as mediators, investigators and therapists, in family-law disputes. Members of the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted unanimously last year to approve the audit with the encouragement of state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.
“Despite the fact that our statutes clearly give our office access to the individuals and records we are now seeking and make it a misdemeanor for the courts to fail or refuse to grant us access, it is now March 2010 and the courts are still refusing to cooperate,” Sharon Reilly, chief legal counsel to California State Auditor Elaine Howle, wrote in a March 18 letter to Robert Buckley, managing attorney of the Judicial Council of California. The state auditor’s office has notified superior courts in Marin and Sacramento counties it will seek a court order to gain access to information needed to conduct an audit of the family court system – unless the courts guarantee by Monday that they will comply.
Kathleen Russell of the Center for Judicial Excellence, a Marin watchdog organization, said, “This is indicative of the lack of transparency at the Marin County courthouse. In our four years of attempting to get basic information from the court and meet with them and collaborate with them they have always had a stonewall and been very territorial about information that is not confidential. That is why there is such a need for this audit.”