The #MeToo movement moves from Hollywood to Washington D.C. to CA Court of Appeals. 6th District Court of Appeals Judge Conrad Rushing has retired at a time of alleged sexual harassment as shown in the Judicial Council of CA commissioned report by Sacramento law firm Ellis Buehler Makus. The Commission on Judicial Performance started their own investigation according to The Mercury News article
and came to the same conclusion.
This is not the first time we have seen a judge retire this year amid allegations. Judge Garry T. Ichikawa retired from Solano County where he served 17 years on the bench, most recently in Family Court. His retirement announced
in October came after allegations of wrongdoings in custody cases, including placing children with an abusive parent. Family court activists had served a notice of recall to Judge Ichikawa prior to his announcement. Currently though the Superior Court of Solano
lists Judge Ichikawa as a Supervising Family Law Judge.
Another judge who has been accused of placing a child with an abusive parent is Judge Vincent J. Chiarello. Judge Chiarello was re-elected in 2012 (unopposed and therefore not on the ballet) with his term ending in 2019. Judge Chiarello not only is the judge who replaced Judge Persky (Brock Turner's judge and currently under recall
) in criminal court, but served as the judge in the family matter for Mark Mesiti and Roberta Allen. Judge Chiarello ordered Alycia Mesiti-Allen into the custody of her abusive father, Mesiti, who within a years time, drugged, raped, murdered and buried his own daughter. Mesiti claimed Alycia "ran away" in 2006 and it took three years before a re-investigation led to the discover of her body buried in the Mesiti's previous residence. Currently Mesiti is requesting to withdraw his guilty plea of 47 counts including sexual assault and murder of his daughter. His sentencing is set for January 18, 2018. Note, Chiarello was re-elected after Alycia's body was discovered and video of her sexual assault was found.
Judge Rushing has been involved in family court matters as well when he ruled on a matter which was brought up for appeal. When a parent requested the family court look at a substantiated CPS report that included child sexual abuse, the lower court ruled the parent vexatious, thus enabling the court to refuse to hear the request. As a pro per, the parent filed an appeal, but Judge Rushing refused to hear the case claiming an appeal for the vexatious ruling was not allowed for the parent was named vexatious.
The silencing of abuse continues.
While the Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) has been ordered to be audited in 2016 due to a concern of lack of discipling judges based on valid complaints, it has yet to begin. The CJP has sued the CA State Auditor, claiming their records are confidential and the State Constitution prevents them from sharing these records with the auditor. This lawsuit has delayed the audit for over a year; the judge's decision could come this month. An appeal on this decision is expected even before the ruling is announced, thus it is unclear when the audit will actually occur. Ironically both of these agencies are funded by the CA State Legislature. Advocates for child safety in family courts pushed for this audit, including Center for Judicial Excellence and CPPA.
The lack of transparency over all of these matters is concerning. Family Court matters have been disclosed to the Judicial Council of California (JCC), yet complaints need to go the CPJ. The majority of these complaints go unheard thus leaving many children in the care and custody of their abusers. It is unclear why the JCC would request a report on a judge versus allowing the CJP to handle this matter as it appears to have done so for Judge Rushing.
Also concerning are retiring judges avoiding discipline from the CJP or a recall and receiving their retirement benefits regardless of their past actions which may have been grounds for dismissal. As we see with Judge Ichikawa, continuing to practice, receiving retirement and payment for his role as a supervising judge may just be the strategy for judges with allegations who wish to continue practicing.