by Julia Fletcher
Is Emily Gallup the only one? Is Emily really the only one working in that family court system who knows “… mediators were given insufficient time for mediation appointments and were allowed inadequate review of records and gathering of facts.” ?
Is Emily the only one who knows “…mediators failed to consider criminal history” ?
Is she the only one who knows mediators were “not allowed to consider such backgrounds while making recommendations in custody cases.”?
Or is Emily the only one who has the courage to speak up?
We’ve all been there. School. Work. You have to go along with whatever everyone else is doing. Whatever it is can’t be so bad if everyone else is doing it. It can’t be so bad if it’s been happening for so long. You don’t want to make waves and you want to fit in. You want to keep your job. You notice a few things that don’t seem quite right. So what do you do?
If you’re Emily Gallup, you do the right thing. In a nation of family courts with almost no oversight and no accountability, we could use a few thousand more people like Emily Gallup.
This is from The Union.com :
Two weeks after an arbitrator ordered an audit of the Nevada County Department of Family Court Services, court officials continue to review the ruling and prepare a response to it.
As part of his Feb. 6 ruling in a grievance filed by Emily Gallup, a former family court mediator who alleged the court had violated state statutes and its own rules governing the mediation process, arbitrator Christopher Burdick ordered a review of the court’s family law mediation programs and processes by an independent entity.
Gallup, who said she was terminated by the court during the ongoing arbitration case, was also awarded back pay and attorney fees by Burdick.
“Our attorneys are reviewing the award to determine how best to respond to it,” Superior Court CEO Sean Metroka said Friday morning.
“There are several elements in the award that have to be sorted out,” Metroka continued. “Among those, of course, are who to engage to perform the audit that the arbitrator ordered. Also, there’s negotiations ongoing about the attorney fees. So, we’re working through those things and I expect we’ll know more next week.”
Metroka also noted he could not speak to specific allegations of the case as “it’s a pending legal matter.”
Both sides must agree on an entity to perform the audit “(such as the Administrative Office of the Courts, the California State Auditor, or other professionals) to be retained by the court, solely at the court’s expense,” Burdick wrote in the award section of the arbitration ruling.
In her grievance, Gallup claimed mediators were given insufficient time for mediation appointments and were allowed inadequate review of records and gathering of facts. She also claimed mediators failed to consider criminal history, alleging they were not allowed to consider such backgrounds while making recommendations in custody cases.
Gallup claimed the Family Court Services also failed to offer separate mediation to domestic violence victims and placed undue influence to pressure parents into mediated agreements, according to court documents.
Once Gallup raised these concerns to her supervisors, she said, she received reprisals and retaliations from the court and its officials.
The court argued all it did was “counsel her in good faith not for her complaint but for her actions (e.g. taking too long on her cases; violating directives and inconveniencing others by allowing mediation sessions to run past business hours; by not achieving as many agreements as her coworkers; failing to observe mediator restrictions on ex parte communication; and being insubordinate to her supervisor, as well as Family Law Judge (Julie) McManus).”
The court also contended that “Gallup’s refusal to follow the (court’s model for mediation) as a bad faith reaction to her disappointment at not being selected as director (upon her supervisor’s retirement), manifested in the immediate decline of her performance and acting disrespectfully to Interim Director (Carmella) Smith, challenging her authority and complaining about the (model).”
Most of Burdick’s ruling, however, went in favor of Gallup’s contentions.
“Emily Gallup had reasonable cause to believe that (the) court’s Family Court Services department had violated or not complied with state statutes and rules of court in regards to mediations required by the Family Law Code and the California Rules of Court,” Burdick wrote. “That the court took reprisal actions against Gallup for repeatedly raising and discussing these issues, but (Gallup) failed to prove, in the technical and legal sense, that she had ‘blown the whistle’ to a law enforcement agency or other outside party with enforcement powers.”
Burdick also ruled Gallup had failed to prove the court violated its “Policy Against Harassment,” as she had claimed, but did have reasonable cause to believe information disclosed a violation of state or federal statute or a violation or noncompliance with state or federal rule or regulation.
In Gallup’s favor, Burdick found the court had violated its own “open door policy” of the personnel manual, “by taking reprisal actions against (Gallup) when she complained to the Court’s Facilitator and (to) the Administrative Office of the Courts that the Superior Court had violated or not complied with state statutes and rules of court in regards to mediations.”
Burdick also ruled Gallup “at all times acted within the ‘Code of Ethics for Court Employees of California’” and “at all times acted within the parameters of the duties and responsibilities set forth in the Court’s Job Description for ‘Family Court Mediator.’”
Contact City Editor Brian Hamilton via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4249.
Thank you so much Emily for being among those who have taken a stand first so that others might have the courage to also speak up.
Public pressure will definately help make our family courts the place they were meant to be.
I’m planning for Washington, D.C. and hope many others will be in D.C., California and other states as well.
Yikes. All these protests. I wish we could just press a button and have everything fixed already. Kind of like that commercial for the Staples “EASY” button. Something like that would be nice to have right now. 🙂
I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated what you wrote about me. I do think there are other mediators out there who see the same problems I see, and who support family court reform. I agree with you that part of the reason no one else has come forward is that there is tremendous social pressure to keep quiet and do what everyone else is doing. People are afraid to experience the kind of retaliation I endured, and they are afraid of losing their jobs. I do believe, however, that there are ethical mediators in the family court system. There were two mediators who testified on my behalf at the grievance hearing. I am not the only one who believes that family court clients deserve better treatment. I hope that other mediators will be empowered to speak out as public pressure on the family court system builds.
I hope I’ll get to meet you in person on May 9th.