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Woman sues to expose family court shortcomings

A mediator for Family Court Services has decided to sue the Nevada County Superior Court, alleging that she suffered from wrongful termination when she blew the whistle on unethical practices within the state's legal administration. The woman is seeking compensation for lost wages and emotional distress, according to legal documents.

Still, the woman says the suit is not only for her benefit. She claims that state administrators blatantly ignored legal requirements when handling custody cases, putting both parents and children in dangerous situations. The woman says that when she brought the topic up to her supervisors, they began retaliating against her.

The woman hopes that her case can bring to light the convoluted system that allows state courts to regulate their own behavior. When the woman approached the Administrative Office of the Courts, she was turned away because leaders refused to hear her claim. According to the AOC, each court is supposed to police itself.

The woman says that she saw workers fail to properly review criminal and civil information in connection with family services actions. They also failed to implement the standard domestic violence protocols, she says, which endangered countless children and adults. On several occasions, the woman claims that she heard a judge tell parents that their children might commit suicide if they could not reach a mediated custody agreement.

Legal documents show that the woman was fired from her job in late December 2010. Her employment was terminated because she failed to abide by the department's code of ethics, according to statements made by administrators. She also allegedly released confidential information and acted in an unprofessional manner.

The case was approved to proceed to trial in June 2012. Advocates for family services and other nonprofit organizations are rallying behind the woman in an attempt to expose what they see as marked injustice in the Californian legal system.

As citizens of California, we trust that our courts will operate to the same ethical standards that they themselves expect in the citizens they judge. We also expect that whistleblowers will be protected from the retaliation of their employers. Blowing the whistle on injustices protects the rest of the population from corruption and fraud- a practice that should be rewarded, not punished.

Source: Yubanet.com, "Gallup's wrongful termination case exposes court's lack of compliance with state laws," Emily Gallup, Sept. 17, 2012.

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