The Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) was surprised to hear that just two days after an historic audit of the California Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) was approved by state legislators, Joe Sweeney, the author of the Court Reform LLC report on the CJP, which was widely circulated and reported on as a pivotal factor in securing the audit, is facing a harsh jail sentence in Contra Costa County for allegedly violating a family court order.
CJE does not know all of the facts of Mr. Sweeney’s divorce case, yet our organization is aware that it involves a controversial appellate decision (A 142396) that was made in his case. That decision allows trial courts to characterize a litigant’s dissemination of information as “abuse” which is subject to a domestic violence restraining order that prohibits further use or dissemination of the information without a court order.
CJE is an organization whose mission is to give a voice to children and vulnerable populations in the courts- including family court victims with limited financial means who face extremely wealthy parties. CJE is concerned that the unintended result of the Evilsizor/Sweeney appellate decision will be that judges will use it to silence and punish family court victims – including protective mothers and fathers whose children report physical or sexual abuse and are left unprotected by the court.
Mr. Sweeney has been a valuable ally in helping us achieve our shared goal of auditing the CJP, and we are concerned to learn of what we understand was unusually punitive treatment of him by the Contra Costa Superior Court last Friday, just two days after the high-profile audit was approved.