An Ironic Idea: Both Lynn Parents Sue the Court for Loss of Their Family Law File
Lynn v. Lynn had a “double sequestered” case file in the Los Angeles Superior Court, and the file is missing again.
This writer, Laura Lynn, was granted a change of venue to San Diego, twice, both times by Judge Thomas Trent Lewis. The first time, in July of 2014, the file was missing and never made it to San Diego. One of the now adult children of Lynn and Lynn sent a check for the transfer. It sat uncashed. Finally, Laura filed a fee waiver and the check was mailed back. Still, the file was missing.
In December 2014, Department of Child Support Services got a whiff of potential money coming to Laura from what was an unrelated lawsuit. DCSS attorney Roye Randall filed a petition for writ of execution in Los Angeles. The proper venue would have been San Diego. Commissioner Alan Friedenthal, who was ordered a severe public admonishment by the California Supreme Court for appearing biased and embroiled in the case has more influence in Los Angeles. He and his wife, Commissioner Stef Padilla, have been quite outspoken in their distaste for Laura. So, Roye Randall could expect a better outcome for DCSS and Timothy Lynn in Los Angeles than in San Diego.
If DCSS was fair and neutral, they would have filed in San Diego as per CCP 399.
Judge TT Lewis granted the writ of execution, then ordered Laura to hand over any money she won in the heretofore unrelated lawsuit. At the end of the order, he tagged on a sentence that said the case would now transfer to San Diego, gratis. No fee required.
But the file is missing again. It is not to be found in Los Angeles. It is not in San Diego.
Laura would like to file a motion to vacate the child support order, but knows Los Angeles is not the proper venue, and San Diego has not heard of the case. Meanwhile, Laura’s real estate license is suspended, she cannot leave the country, she cannot keep money in a bank account, and she cannot even give money directly to her now adult children; DCSS claims all Laura’s money should go to Timothy, the parent who was favored by the decidedly biased judge.
Laura is considering filing a Federal lawsuit against The Superior Court of the State of California. Civil suits against the court are impossible to win, if it is over a poor decision; even if a judge is caught on tape taking a bribe, there is total immunity from a civil suit. But there is a chink in the armor of immunity. Administrative errors are not covered.
The irony is, Timothy Lynn probably has a valid claim against the court also. If the case file was found, the court could argue there was no damage to Timothy, by the slow collection of child support. The file would show that no money was really owed to Timothy after-all. But with the file missing, Timothy could claim that Laura vacated the child support on a technicality…a missing file is valid reason to vacate an order.
Maybe, as Alan Friedenthal once suggested from the bench, we could all put our weapons down at the door and work together. Contentious exes become co-plaintiffs.
The irony of it all.
Appendix: The following is from the Trial Courts Record Manual for the State of California Administrative Office of the Courts. You would think it would particularly apply to a case, such as Lynn v. Lynn, PD016769, that was the basis for disciplinary action against a judicial officer.
1.2 Purpose of Records Management The provision of a complete, accurate, and accessible court record, created and available in a timely manner, fulfills one of the judiciary’s basic roles. The court record not only provides a record of the court’s decisions but also educates the public and establishes societal norms for behavior governed by the law. The purpose of developing a TCRM is to assist the trial courts in establishing a comprehensive records management program that meets the expectations of the courts and the public regarding this fundamental role. The establishment and continued operation of a comprehensive records management program is the responsibility of the court’s executive officer. The National Association of Court Management (NACM) Core Competency Curriculum Guidelines on Essential Components identifies what court executives should know and be able to do regarding the court record. The key abilities are described as follows: • Manage the court record-keeping function to produce a complete, accurate, and timely record of judicial actions and decisions. • Establish court records management policies and practices, including records preparation, records retention, public access, and privacy protections. A comprehensive records management program covers the creation, maintenance, retention, and destruction of trial court records. Each component may have several elements and objectives. The CREATION of the court record involves two sets of information. One set includes documents and other information provided by the parties to aid the court in making its decisions, for example, pleadings, motions, exhibits, and so forth. The litigants, the appellate courts, and the public must be able to see all the information the court considered in making its decision, except what has been sealed or is subject to rules protecting the confidentiality of the information. The second set is the documentation of what the court did and decided. This includes matters related to calendaring and case management, as well as decisions of the court and juries. For litigants and the public to know what they can, and cannot, do, they need clear information about what the court found the law to be and how it was applied in this case. 4 The MAINTENANCE of the court record addresses the continued existence and accessibility of the record. The record must be kept in a manner that ensures its completeness and availability both during the life of an active case and after it is closed, where the result may still be relevant to the parties and the public. It must also be kept in a manner that allows easy and convenient access to those wanting to see it. The court should be able to find the record easily when the record is needed. Making copies of the record should also be convenient and inexpensive. Finally, the format in which the record is kept should allow ready access over time, despite changes in technology, in particular, obsolescence of equipment and software required to access electronic forms of a record. Another aspect of maintenance is preserving the record’s integrity; the court record should be the whole record and nothing but the record. The system for maintaining court records should minimize the risk of misfiling, loss, or damage of the court record or any of its parts. Finally, good records management involves controlling who has access to the record or its component parts. There may be portions of the record that, by law or judicial decision, are accessible only to certain individuals, parties, or groups of individuals based on their role in the justice system. A good records management program should provide convenient and timely access to those allowed to see information, and prevent access by those not authorized to see it. The RETENTION of the court record relates to how long it must be available to the public. Some court records must be retained indefinitely; others have a limited “shelf life” and need not be retained. The DESTRUCTION of the court record is the final stage of a records management program. When the existence of a court record is no longer required, based on passage of time or a policy decision, the record should be properly destroyed. Whether the record ceases to exist, or becomes accessible only to certain groups, is a policy decision that the records management program must correctly implement. The goal of this TCRM is to provide direction to the court executive and staff on ways to develop and improve their records management system to fulfill the objectives of faithfully executing all custodial responsibilities pertaining to the court record.