California Appellate Court Judge Vance Raye Implicated in Alleged Federal Racketeering Scheme
This article was originally posted by Legal News on CNN i report ( link below)
A Sacramento Superior Court watchdog group has posted online court records and other documents which they allege detail a racketeering enterprise operating in the local court system. Using court filings, court reporter transcripts, public records and other documentary evidence, members of the group say they have reverse engineered the structure and players of the scheme.
“This package of evidence was compiled over four years, and includes records dating back ten years,” said Ulf Carlsson, the spokesperson for the group. “Judges, court employees and lawyers involved in this criminal enterprise have been able to conceal it for a long time.”
The group asserts that the documents show the scheme began in 1991 when two judges, Peter McBrien and Vance Raye, restructured the family court system with attorneys from the Sacramento Bar Association Family Law Section. The conspiracy has expanded and been ongoing since that time, according to the whistleblowers. Judge Vance Raye has since been elevated to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, and continues to assist the organization when cases involving the enterprise reach the appellate court level.
The goal of the judge-attorney partnership is to significantly reduce the caseload and administrative duties of full-time judges by effectively privatizing the Sacramento Family Court settlement conference program, according to the whistleblowers. The attorneys agreed to take over and run the program in exchange for kickbacks in the form of preferential treatment from judges when they appear in court representing clients.
“The attorneys ostensibly act as volunteers,” said Carlsson. “But we have documented that the lawyers are in fact compensated with illegal kickbacks in the form of ‘rubber-stamped’ rulings and court orders for their clients, in addition to other perks.”
In order to run the settlement conference program, the attorneys are designated as “judge pro tems,” or temporary judges. In operating the settlement program, the lawyers reportedly use heavy-handed, unethical tactics to coerce couples going through a divorce to reach a settlement. When they do, the case is terminated and no further court hearings are required, significantly reducing the workload of full-time, state employed judges.
“The coerced settlements often result in an unequal division of community property, one-sided child custody arrangements, and unfair child and spousal support payment terms that don’t comply with state law,” Carlsson explained.
“In many cases, only one side has an attorney – who is a member of what we refer to as the ‘cartel’ – while the other side can’t afford a lawyer and is self-represented. These cases are where the one-sided outcomes are the most severe,” Carlsson said. “You have someone going through a traumatic divorce without a lawyer facing off against a spouse represented by a veteran family law attorney. On top of that, the party without a lawyer is forced into a settlement conference run by a judge pro tem lawyer who often is a personal friend of the other attorney. As we’ve now documented, the outcome of these rigged settlement conferences is not fair, ethical, or legal. The conflicts of interest are required by state law to be disclosed, but never are.”
The alleged criminal enterprise deprives the public of the federally protected right to honest government services, a crime under 18 USC 1346, includes predicate acts of mail and wire fraud, and thereby constitutes a RICO racketeering enterprise under federal criminal law (18 USC 1962), according to the watchdog group.
Carlsson said the judge-attorney collusion also violates a number of state laws as well. “The scheme results in unjust enrichment for the judge pro tem attorneys, constitutes unfair business practices, and implicates antitrust laws,” Carlsson asserted. “Due to their consistent, virtually perfect success rate in obtaining favorable outcomes in court proceedings, the temporary judge lawyers have achieved a significant monopoly on the family law and divorce business in the greater-Sacramento area.”
The 43-page set of documents compiled by the group is posted online at Scribd, and can be viewed at this URL: http://www.scribd.com/doc/251282897/Justice-Vance-W-Raye-Charged-in-Color-of-Law-Conspiracy-RICO-Racketeering-Scheme-in-3rd-District-Court-of-Appeal-Sacramento-Superior-Court-Sacramen