A national family rights group, Parents Against CPS (Child Protective Services) Corruption (PACC), is targeting three Contra Costa County Superior Court judges, Rebecca Hardie, Jill Fannin, and Lois Haight, demanding their immediate removal from the bench.
The two judges are accused by PACC of “routinely violating” the civil and constitutional rights of litigants. Case audits show the judges ignored evidence and apparently made pre-determined rulings based on relationships between them and certain local lawyers, according to PACC. According to their website, PACC’s mission is raising awareness about corruption and increasing oversight in the family courts and child welfare agencies.
Specific accusations leveled at each judge by the organization include Fannin’s history of removing children from the loving home of one parent and placing them with parents who are drug dealers, addicts, abusers, and parents slated for criminal prosecution. PACC alleges that Fannin awards custody to those willing to pay the highest child support award. Fannin allegedly has court reporters removed from her courtroom and conducts hearings in private.
Hardie is accused of ignoring the Welfare and Institutions Code, and PACC claims she favors adoption and will not reunify children with their biological families. She is also accused of behaving unprofessionally in the courtroom, including the use of “crass and inappropriate language.”
Haight is singled out for especially serious accusations. PACC says Haight refers parents to lawyers she selects, which often results in tremendous legal fees and the financial ruin of the families in question.
Child Sex Trafficking
It’s no secret that children placed in foster and group homes are sometimes exploited for child sex trafficking. Hardie and Haight were involved in two recent, notorious cases. Hardie ordered an 11-year-old girl placed in a Gilroy group home in May 2017, but she was transferred to Stockton foster home a few months later.
The girl was not fed properly at the foster home, losing approximately 10 percent of her body weight. While that is horrible enough, what she told a doctor during an evaluation is even more shocking. She said her foster parents made her run around in high heels while they watched and photographed her, behavior the young girl characterized as “weird.”
Although there is no evidence that any sex trafficking went on in this situation, this is the kind of grooming behavior child sex traffickers start with their victims. Starving girls into submission is another page in the child sex traffickers’ handbook.
Haight sent a seven-year-old girl to a foster home in August 2017. Her mother was not permitted to see her until the following March, even though the girl constantly begged for her mother. The mother has since been given a weekly visitation and has noticed bruises on her daughter’s body. The girl also says she is given little food by the foster parents.
The girl’s mother was also not initially told that the foster mother’s biological child drowned in an accident. It was also discovered that the foster mother suffered “an additional crisis” in the spring of 2018, although the exact nature of the crisis was not revealed. The girl, however, told her mother that the foster mother left a large group of young girls under the supervision of a male “roommate” every day.
The man is in his 50s. The girl, who sported a large bruise on her back when she went to visit her mother on August 21, 2018, told her there was a lot of fighting in the house and little oversight.
The Recall Notice
Recall notices against the three judges were recently placed in the East Bay Times’ legal notices section. Under California law, recall proponents must file a notice-of-intent-to-recall petition signed by at least 65 voters in start the petition drive process.
The actual petition must include signatures equaling at least 20 percent of the total votes most recently cast for judges. Everyone signing the petition must be a registered voter in the judge’s jurisdiction, and any non-residents or registered voters signing the petition are not counted.
The recall process is currently in the earliest stages for these three judges.
If PACC’s accusations are correct, these judges should not be sitting on the California bench, potentially harming children and families – and certainly not sending children to homes where they are vulnerable to sex trafficking. However, if the allegations are not correct then these judges deserve to be vindicated for the very difficult job they do each day, balancing out the safety of children with possibly unfit parents versus a severely underfunded system of foster care.
Joseph Tully is a certified specialist in criminal law by the California state bar, and has been recognized as a Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney by Attorney and Practice Magazine, one of an elite few having earned that designation. His new book, California: State of Collusion, is now available. Connect with Joseph at [hidden email] and follow Tully & Weiss Law Firm on Facebook.