In LA County, there is no justice system, there is a legal process that is severely broken and no one will take the time or money to fix it
D. Maradei Ugel
The jails are overcrowded, we already know that. Does this mean that judges should refuse to enforce court orders to prosecute and jail deadbeat parents? Apparently so. Does this mean that perjury in our courts is going unpunished; thereby making a mockery out of the court system? It would seem so.
Based upon what I’ve witnessed personally; the judges refuse to enforce “court orders” to the fullest extent of the law, if at all. When a parent who has proven over a 3 to 5 year period that they are not working or paying child support, the judges still wont give them jail time when they should. If the non-paying parent is not working then there is no reason not to sentence them to 48 hours in LA County jail. LA County jail is a terrifying place to be in for most adults and it would curtail the amount of non paying parents.
There are three major issues on the table. Lack of enforcement by the judges in sentencing dead beat non-paying parents and lack of enforcement by the judges when it comes to “proven” perjury. The third issue is that by doing so, the judges themselves are clogging up the courts because they encourage dead beat parents to ignore the system and that it’s a joke, there is no incentive to tell the truth in court if there really is no penalty for perjury as they warn. In reality there is NO consequences to face when a person commits perjury in the family law courts in our county. The judges have created a vicious cycle, a revolving door which back’s up the courts and keeps the same dead beat parents coming back over and over.
There should be a minimum mandate that if dead beat parents have proven not to work consistently or pay their child support for 3 to 5 years; then the judges should be compelled to sentence them to a mandatory minimum of 48 hours (36 to 72 on 2nd offense brought to courts attention.) There should also be mandatory penalties for perjury, which would escalate financially with each abuse. For those who do not have any money to pay fines, then they should be sent to do work on the side of the freeways. We as the people should be insisting that there be accountability in our courts. The “people” must fight for change. We need to let them know if our judges will not enforce the laws, then they will be replaced.
There are ways to deter dead beat non-paying parents, we have given them the tools; yet they refuse to enforce them.
After witnessing Family Law court in LA County up close and personal for over 23 years, I was initially angry at the DA’s office for not prosecuting to the best of their abilities as they don’t even open the case file until a few minutes prior to going before the judge. When they finally did, which happened repeatedly as this went on for over 2 decades; what I witnessed was that in the end game, the failure in our system came down to the judges.
The judges are the ones with the power and discretion, they are the ones who are not using the tools at their disposal or enforcing the law. Repeatedly, I have been told that the jails are just too full. I have a problem with that kind of response. Let’s be clear about this; the judge’s job is to enforce the laws of LA County, period.
The job of a judge is not to worry if there is overcrowding in the jails, that is the County’s concern. There appears to be little or no recourse against judges that refuse to enforce the law and it’s destroying our system. The funds they would raise if they penalized for perjury could also help build more jails if need be.
Somewhere, this has to stop, this has to change. Perhaps there should be investigators to monitor the judges to ensure the laws are enforced and that judges are using the tools provided by the laws. Or perhaps the problem lies with term limits, or the lack thereof. A lifetime position for a person in charge of judging the lives of others seems unethical. They get burned out, dispassionate, moody, I could go on.
The bottom line is that they have peoples lives in their hands and you get a deep sense that they have lost sight of that as well as justice itself.
You cannot fix the LA County family law courts without everyone being willing, or forced to if necessary, to step up to the plate, making laws or whatever is needed to mandate that the judges enforce penalties for perjury automatically. If it is proven in court that a person has lied, regardless of the size of the lie, there must be penalties and those penalties must be enforced. Monetary sanctions are always a strong deterrent, so I would suggest 1) a fine of $1,000 for the first perjury offense; 2) the second time a person perjures themselves, with proven intent, a fine of $3,000; and 3) for the third offense, $5,000. Some type of penalty, even if it’s cleaning up the highway three weeks a month for three months, must be enforced consistently if a plan is to work.
If you do nothing, which is the current situation, it does nothing except make a joke of the laws and destroy the hope and faith of the people they are supposed to be representing (especially if they were voted into their position as a judge). To sit by and do nothing, takes away justice from the people and leaves them with no real recourse when judges fail them. When is someone finally going to take a stand and fix the situation instead of making excuses about it? Judges are too concerned with the fact that the jails are overcrowded, instead of being concerned with simply enforcing the laws in an attempt to curtail the revolving door of the dead beat parent who refuses to pay support as ordered.
There are ways to raise the funds needed to ease the overcrowded jail situation. By requiring that judges enforce the perjury laws, including fines, community service and/or jail time, an avenue is created to raise funds to help with the problem so that those that refuse to pay support can be appropriately punished. These deterrents would have beneficial ramifications beyond simply forcing a deadbeat parent to take care of their responsibilities, responsibilities that are mandated under the law. Enforcing fines would raise substantial revenue for the County. Case loads would also drop significantly in the family law courts, as well as for the case workers, freeing up additional funding for the program. But it cannot work when criminals know that there is no recourse for perjury or failure to pay. When there is no motivation to care about the penalty for perjury because there are no consequences being enforced for it, the problem will continue, take up more of the court’s time, and allow the attorneys to drag things out, lining their own pockets in the process. The FBI Most Wanted list is a joke, worthless when no one enforces the warrants. Taking someone’s license is meaningless if they don’t care.
To ignore the situation is insanity. You’re teaching the public that it’s ok to totally disregard the law and there is no substantial or worthy penalty for doing so on a repeated basis. You need more jail space, empty out a mall, I don’t care, do whatever you have to for the future of this county. I’ve watched our legal system turn into the ultimate joke. The public has been taught that laws don’t have to be obeyed because judges will not rule any penalty for perjury, even when proven with a federal document. Do whatever you want because we are too full at the inn…and too tired.
I’m ashamed of our legal system and of our judges in family law in the LA County court system. Over the past 23 years, I have seen judges fail the public time and time again and we have no recourse. It is a disgrace to sit by and watch as a judge will ignore proof of perjury and the person goes unpunished, only to repeat it time and again because they realize there will be no consequences. They have turned the justice system into a joke, in effect, a system of great injustice. We can change the laws but what good does it do if the judges won’t enforce them?
I witnessed a case where there were several counts of perjury proven and not one penalty was issued by Commissioner Patricia Ito, even though there was documented physical evidence the person perjured themselves intentionally on the witness stand and in a written declaration. This teaches the public there is no need to be honest if it does not benefit them to do so and there is no penalty if they lie with intent to mislead a judge with false information.
I am part of a case that has lasted 18 years so far and still continues. The deadbeat father rarely if ever pays support, is self employed and has lived at the beach in San Diego County for almost 18 years. He represents thousands of men and families affected by this failure in our judicial system. This man was initially in arrears by $30,000 when the case first came to the courts, and it has now grown to $120,000. 18 years later and he has still not served one day of jail time. The judges issue continuance after continuance, then when the man fails to appear, warrants are issued that police ignore and refuse to enforce. After a year or two, the man surrenders himself to the court, only to be forgiven and new arrangements made that he would each and every time break immediately. Not once over the 18 years has any judge ordered him to LA County jail. They continue to claim that if you jail the man, he cannot work. Reality check – when a person refuses to work or pay support for a period of several years consistently, then it’s clear they have plenty of time to spare a few days in LA County jail and there isn’t much danger it will keep them from finding employment.
This is the best deterrent; enforce the laws; someone has to force these judges to start enforcing the laws regardless of the overcrowding in our jail system. Something has to be done, the system does not work to the benefit of the majority (the public) and it severally needs an overhaul.
If you want to raise revenue for LA County, make it mandatory that judges in family law enforce a financial penalty for perjury when proven; if financial fines are impossible then freeway work time. That will pay for more jails so that the deadbeat parents can be sentenced to at least 48 to 72 hours. Let me tell you, nothing could be more terrifying to the average American person than being tossed in LA County jail for a few days.
If you don’t make it mandatory, the judges will not enforce it. I can think of no other way to gain control of these judges or to get rid of them. There you go. Raise revenue and teach the public that there is a penalty for lying in court.
I’ve been angry at the DA’s office and rightfully so, however, I can honestly say without hesitation that the bottom line still falls with the judges each and every case that I have witnessed. It is the judges in our family law courts in LA County that are failing what was initially designed to be our “justice system” and they are failing the people of Los Angeles.