Marin County, California: Family Court Audit


Presiding Judge Requests Audit of Marin Family Court  


AOC Audit About the Alleged Destruction   

of Marin County Mediation Files To Be Complete By Mid-August  

SAN RAFAEL –  History is repeating itself in Marin County. It was recently confirmed that the Superior Court of California in Marin is undergoing an investigation by the Internal Auditing Services of the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). This new audit was requested by Marin Presiding Judge Terence Boren to explore the alleged improper destruction of family court records by mediators there, and a report detailing the internal audit’s findings is due within weeks.  

It is believed that the new AOC investigation stems from the sworn testimony of Marin County Family Court Services mediator Meredith Braden. Braden testified in April 2010 that in the Fall of 2009, Marin Family Court Services mediators were told to destroy mediation custody records while a legislative audit of the Marin Family Court was underway. Braden testified that to the best of her knowledge, Marin Court Executive Officer Kim Turner gave the direction to destroy mediation custody files.  

“We want answers to the relevant questions: who gave the orders, who knew about the orders and who destroyed the records? Exactly which records were destroyed, when and why? Let’s make sure that the AOC obtains and reports truthful answers to these critical questions and then takes appropriate disciplinary action against those involved,” said Marin family law attorney Barbara Kauffman.  

Kauffman obtained an official copy of the transcribed testimony and forwarded it to Chief Justice Ron George, members of the California Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees, and the Marin County Board of Supervisors. She asked elected officials to take action and seek a formal investigation to determine if the destruction of records violated state law, including Family Code section 1819, and Government Code Section 6200. Kauffman noted that mediation custody records often contain important case information that is not a part of the official court file. For example, in one of Kauffman’s cases, a child had reported to a mediator that his father hit him, but the mediator had not included the child’s comment in her mediation report. The child’s report of being hit was discovered by a review of the mediator’s hand-written notes which are kept in the mediation custody files.  

Kim Turner is no stranger to controversy, or to AOC internal audits. From 1999-2005, she was the assistant to former Marin Court Executive Officer John Montgomery, whom she described as her “friend” and “boss extraordinaire.” She became the Marin Court Executive Officer in 2005, after Mr. Montgomery was arrested on 10 felony counts of conflict of interest for funneling over $650,000 in court consulting contracts to his live-in girlfriend, acquiring property with that girlfriend and concealing the acquisitions, and taking out-of-state trips without proper court authorization. Turner knew about many of Mr. Montgomery’s questionable and/or illegal acts, and she reportedly signed off on some of them. She waited until January 2005, right before an impending financial audit of the Marin courts, to report Mr. Montgomery’s improper conduct to the Marin presiding judge. When questioned about her actions, Turner apparently claimed she was acting under either duress or intimidation.  

Notwithstanding the AOC’s criticism of Turner in its “Internal Audit Services Report” (Special Investigation 2005-004) prepared by the Finance Division of the AOC, she was selected by the Marin bench to replace John Montgomery, reportedly over the objections of nearly half of the courthouse staff.  

In June 2009, as the vote was imminent on whether California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee would approve an investigation of the Marin County Family Court, Chief Justice Ron George appointed Kim Turner to the exclusive 27-member California Judicial Council. Court observers and critics were aghast that Turner, herself the subject of scrutiny for covering up court misconduct, was selected to sit on this council, which sets policy for the California Judicial Branch.  

The Center for Judicial Excellence applauds this important inquiry into the destruction of essential court mediation records, but we have concerns about the investigators’ potential for bias, given that the audit is being conducted by the Administrative Office of the Courts, which staffs the Judicial Council, of which Kim Turner is a member.  

“This appears to be a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse” said Jean Taylor, Board President of the Center for Judicial Excellence, “but we will see. How can you defend the destruction of important and relevant custody records, while a state legislative audit that is focused on those records is going on?”  

Relevant Background Information  

Government Code 6200  

6200. Every officer having the custody of any record, map, or book, or of any paper or proceeding of any court, filed or deposited in any public office, or placed in his or her hands for any purpose, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years if, as to the whole or any part of the record, map, book, paper, or proceeding, the officer willfully does or permits any other person to do any of the following:  

(a) Steal, remove, or secrete.  

(b) Destroy, mutilate, or deface.  

(c) Alter or falsify.  

Family Code Section 1819  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), upon order of the judge of the family conciliation court, the supervising counselor of conciliation may destroy any record, paper, or document filed or kept in the office of the supervising counselor of conciliation which is more than two years old.  

(b) Records described in subdivision (a) of child custody or visitation mediation may be destroyed when the minor or minors involved are 18 years of age.  

Sworn April 2010 testimony of Marin Family Court Services mediator Meredith Braden (in a case involving a young child)  

“Q. Okay. Well, generally do you have a file for each mediation case?  

A. It’s a little complicated. We do keep files currently, but at one point the directive was that we were no longer keeping files. They were all destroyed.  

Q. They were all destroyed?  

A. Yes.  

Q. Can you tell me who directed you to do that?  

A. It was Kim Turner, to the best of my knowledge, yes.  

Q. What do you mean by to the best of your knowledge?  

A. I mean, we were told, through our supervisor at the time, that that was the policy from above him.  

Q. Who was your supervisor?  

A. Leo Terbeiten. But he has since retired.  

Q. When did he retire?  

A. At the end of 2009.  

Q. End of December?  

A. Yes.  

Q. Okay. So between the period of September 21st, when you interviewed these parties, and the end of December, then were you instructed to throw away your files?  

A. You know, I don’t remember the exact dates. There were — all of the files were destroyed at some point in the Fall. Obviously it was after September 21st. And then the policy was reversed at some point, also in the Fall, prior to December, but I couldn’t tell you exactly when. And so since that time we’ve been maintaining the files again.”  

A copy of the transcript of the mediator’s testimony can be sent to you upon your request.  


Kathleen Russell, Executive DirectorCenter for Judicial Excellence
495 Miller Avenue
Suite 304
 Mill Valley, CA  94941 
 Main 415.388.9600  

5 thoughts on “Marin County, California: Family Court Audit

  1. Same corruption going on on kern county . Impoverishment of woman and children and handing children over to their abusers of women mention possible abuse. Out of control minors counsels Sara Vizzard and Childress making up lies to have women lose custody

  2. Marin Family Court Judges and Commissioners repeatedly fails to follow the laws, local rules and Penal Code. Commissioner Heubach also refused to follow State Auditor’s recommendation regarding Minor Counsel’s fees.

    Please review California State Auditor Report January 2011 Report 2009-109 page 11, “The family court is required to determine whether the parties in a case are able to pay all or a portion of the expenses for minor’s counsel. If the family court ascertains that the parties cannot pay, the county pays the attorney’s compensation and expenses”.

    Please review State Auditor Report on page: 13, 39, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, and 68. “Of the 29 cases we reviewed, we found six cases for which the family court had not determined the party’s ability to pay. The judge left blank the section that specifies how the minor’s counsel fees would be paid”.

    Page 62, “State law requires the family court to determine whether the parties are unable financially to pay all or a portion of the minor’s counsel fees and states that the county is responsible for any remaining minor’s counsel fees”.

    Page 63, “We noted, however, that the order specifically has a category that states, “Minor’s counsel shall be court compensated.” Thus, we question why the family court commissioner would leave the section blank instead of checking off this category to order the superior court to pay the minor’s counsel fee”.

    Page 64, “Further, the payment policy does not require management to review and approve invoices. A secondary review helps to identify and correct any errors promptly. In fact, we found one invoice for roughly $600 that a minor’s counsel submitted twice and accounting paid both times. The accounting supervisor stated that the minor’s counsel realized an error had been made and adjusted a future invoice to correct the error. However, if accounting had performed a secondary review, it may have been able to identify and correct the error and avoid making a duplicate payment”.

    My case FL 995107, on May 10, 2012, Marin County Court Commissioner Heubach failed to determine how the minor’s counsel fees would be paid. I requested C. Heubach to order the father “James Heierle” (Brookside Orchids Owner) who is a self employed millionaire to pay all (or sliding scale) Minor’s counsel fees. Commissioner Heubach failed to follow State Auditor’s recommendation and based on the parties ability to pay all or a portion of the minor counsel’s fee.

    Commissioner Heubach said on the record, “I know that your income probably is not equivalent to Jim’s income. that really is not my problem. I have no comment on that, but the order will be made”. I was terrified.

    Please see the court transcript on May 10, 2012. HEARING RE TENTATIVE RULING.

    MAY 10th, 2012. REPORTER’S TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDING on May 10, 2012, page 5

    Commissioner Heubach: But again, I know what your arguments are and I can understand, and I think perhaps if we were to look back on this, the allocation of the fees might be a little different because I know that your income probably is not equivalent to Jim’s income.

    Mother: Your Honor, I don’t have the sort of income, your Honor. I have attached my bank statement, has been closed. I have no money. How I going to find the money to pay Mr. Lueders? And last time my attorney and I were in court over a year ago, the payment was $100.

    Commissioner Heubach: That is not the question. The question is not how you are going to do Fortunately or unfortunately, that really is not my problem. How it’s going to be done is something that

    Mother: I have no money.

    Commissioner Heubach: I have no comment on that, but the order will be made. And I don’t know, I suppose since everyone wants to make a record here, I should give counsel an opportunity to make a record.

    Mother: Your Honor, the payment supposed to be based upon ability to pay. I have no money. I don’t have checking. It’s been closed and he levy my only checking account. I have to borrow money to pay my rent. I have to borrow money to pay money to child support, DCSS.

    Commissioner Heubach: Maybe you can find a way to cooperate with Mr. Lueders to work out how your are going to pay it.

    “State law requires the family court to determine whether the parties are unable financially to pay all or a portion of the minor’s counsel fees and states that the county is responsible for any remaining minor’s counsel fees”. C. Heubach refused to follow the State Law and State Auditor’s recommendation after State Auditor audited Marin Family Court.

    Marin Family Court Presiding Judge Verna Adams forced me to pay Mr. Scott Lueders on April 9, 2007 $15,220.65 and on July 9, 2008 $17,029.98 when he (barely) met with my son for a total of 3 hours in 3 years from 2005 to July 2008. Another word, Mr. Scott Lueders charged both parents his fees nearly $70,000 for (mainly) reading emails. He supported Petitioner to go against doctors recommendations and put my son’s health in the harm way.

    From 2008 to up to date April 2012, Mr. Scott Lueders met with his minor client 4.3 hours in 4 years 3 months and bills this case another $40,000. Mr. Scott Lueders billed this case over $110,000 when he barely knows my son. He met with my son 7.3 hours in 8 years between 2005 to 2012. Mr. Scott Lueders spent 1.8 hour in 2011 with my son. He continues to treat me like his ATM machine after my attorney and I filed many motions to terminate him from this case. Commissioner Goldfine and Commissioner Heubach reminded Mr. Scott Lueders at the hearings to fulfill his roles.

    On January 23, 2012, Mr. Scott Lueders levied my only checking account without a warning. His action ruined in my credit score. I cannot apply for a credit card or a loan. Bank charged me $125 Levy fee process. My son’s doctor co-pay visit $5 returned with $46 bank fee. Mr. Scott Lueders fees run my financial down to the ground. He charged Levy filing fees $35 twice. Marin County Court fails to monitor Mr. Scott Lueders’s fees. Mr. Scott Lueders bills this case as he pleases. I paid Mr. Scott Lueders $36,250.63 against my will and damaged my ability to provide for my son in every way. Mr. Scott Lueders claims that I still owe him $29,444.27 (interest $168.96) as of January 26, 2015 for reading emails. His fees are breaking my bone. Mr. Scott Lueders also makes threats that he will hunt me down.

    When I asked Mr. Lueders to clarify his itemize bills, he sent me his email and stated, “I’m sorry that you did not keep copies of the billing statements. I don’t have the 20 minutes it would take me to collect what you’ve requested, especially when you don’t pay anything. And if you want me to do a favor for you, you might try keeping the vitriolic ranting to yourself.”

    From: yupato
    CC:; yupa
    Subject: Scott’s billing errors continues
    Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2007 23:10:56 -0700


    Scott, I just got all court transcripts last week. I checked the timing records that we spent. I would like you to go over your itemize bills once again. I think you overbilling this case again and agian.

    Thursday August 16, 2007, you over billing court appearance – morning trial 3 hours and afternoon 3 hours.
    Fact, morning trial started at 9:44 AM to 12 PM = 2 hours 16 minutes and afternoon started at 2:15 PM to 4:32 PM = 2 hours 15 minutes.


    Friday August 17, 2007, you over billing court appearance – morning trial 2.50 hours and 3.70 hours.
    Fact, morning trail started at 10:42 AM to 12 PM = 1 hours 18 minutes and afternoon started at 1:30 PM to 4:33 PM = 3 hours.


    Monday August 20, 2007, you over billing court appearance – morning trial 2:50 hours and afternoon 3:50 hours.
    Fact, morning trial started at 10 AM to 12 PM = 2 hours and afternoon started at 1:30 PM to 4:25 PM = 3 hours.


    Tuesday August 21, 2007, you over billing court appearance – morning trial 2.50 hours and afternoon 3.50 hours.
    Fact, morning trial started at 10:18 AM to 12:04 PM = 1 hour 46 minutes and afternoon at 1:31 PM to 4:32 PM = 3 hours.


    Wednesday August 22, 2007, you over billing court appearance – morning trial 2.70 hours and afternoon 3 hours.
    Fact, morning trial started at 9:32 AM to 12 PM = 2 hours 32 minutes and afternoon started at 2:11 PM to 4:43 PM = 2 hours 32 minutes.


    You have a very long reputation over billing in other cases as indicated in Karen Winner’s report. We have no doubt that you are over billing the county and many other cases for years.

    You provided false information regarding my son’s school report cards, PORNOGRAPHY and others to Dr. Wu and the court, then overbilling me $350/hour. I would appreciate if you reimburse me with all your fees. Please remove yourself out of this case.

    Thank you for your attention in this matter.


  3. Marin Court Executive Kim Turner and AOC instructed Marin Court Mediator Supervisor “Leo Terbieten” and all court mediators: Gloria Wu, Meredith Braden and Christine Definbach to destroy the pending cases working files during State Auditor audited Marin Family Court. It was an organized crime.

    Marin Court Mediator “Gloria Wu” PSY 16785 testified under cross examination on August 17 and 20, 2007 admitted she was not aware any local rules, Family Code Section and laws to perform the most basic of her duties. Dr. Gloria Wu had an Ex Parte Communication with the court appointed minor counsel “Scott Lueders” in violation of PC 216 (a)(b). Marin Family Court Presiding Judge Verna Adams commented Dr. Gloria Wu’s malpractice was fair and appropriate in FL 995107 James Heierle and Yupa

    Attorney Barbara Kauffman: are you aware of any rule, or procedure, document issued by Family Court Services that lets the parents who come through your office know that their attorneys are allowed to send documents to you?

    Gloria Wu: I–I don’t know.

    Attorney: Could you tell me what the best interest factors are in Family code section 3011?

    Gloria Wu: I’m unable to do that for you.

    Attorney: How about child sexual abused and domestic violence. Is there any relationship there?

    Gloria Wu: I–I don’t know that so–

    Attorney: You haven’t been trained in that?

    Gloria Wu: I–I am unable to answer that questions.

    Attorney: I’m asking you right now, are you aware that a CLET restraining order was issued in this case?

    Gloria Wu: I don’t-I don’t know.

    Attorney: James’reaction with our son very inappropriate, He plays with our son very roughly, roughly that our son, when he was two and a half years gets bruises and often ends up crying. James got very angry and slapped him on the face. I got very upset at James and told him not to discipline him that way. James then slapped our son twice on the face. Although there was no bruise, you could see finger marks. Does this concern you?

    Gloria Wu: Yes, that concerns me.

    Attorney: It’s document called 2005 rules of court excerpts, 2006 trial excerpts of Dr. Wu filed on March 9, 2007. Did you ever read that?

    Gloria Wu: NO.

    Attorney: So this is a new fact for you, Jonathan telling that his dad hit him?

    Gloria Wu: Yes.

    Attorney: Do you know whether a police report made?

    Gloria Wu: No, I don’t know.

    Attorney: Did you read the doctor’s reports attached Exhibit O?

    Gloria Wu: No, I did not read this.

    Attorney: Did you talk to his doctors?

    Gloria Wu: No, I did not.

    Attorney: Did you talk to his teacher?

    Gloria Wu: NO, I did not.

    Attorney: Did you talk to child therapist?

    Gloria Wu: No, I did not.

    Attorney: Now, do you know-do you have any idea of how frequently Mr. Heierle has used gone on PORNOGRAPHY websites?

    Gloria Wu: I don’t know.

    Attorney: Now, Do you see he changed his testimony from two or three times a month to possibly 20 times per month?

    Gloria Wu: Well, he’s saying that that’s possible, that-that he doesn’t keep track of the times.

    Attorney: Have you review the files?

    Gloria Wu: No.

    Attorney: Are you have no doubt that this child is very, very connected to his mother, do you?

    Gloria Wu: Sure

    Attorney: And he loves his mother a lot?

    Gloria Wu: Yes.

    Marin Family Court Presiding Judge Verna Adams, Court Mediator Gloria Wu and Court appointed Minor Counsel “Scott Lueders” gave the sole custody to the batterer pervert father “James Heierle” after Court mediator Gloria Wu admitted she did not read a single of working files and my pleading.

    Brookside Orchids Owner “James Heierle’s deposition in 2011″ furnished alcohol to minors and taught our minor son (age 15) to use violence against women to solve problem in his watch.

    Attorney Barbara Kauffman: Do you think it was appropriate for him to slap her back?

    James Heierle: On the leg. First of all she slapped him because he wouldn’t take the alcohol. And then she felt bad and asked him to slap her back. And he wouldn’t do it. She kept badgering him until he slapped her to stop the whole process.

    Attorney: Do you think that was appropriate?

    James Heierle. Yeah. To wrap it up and conclude it, yes.

    Attorney: Okay.

    Attorney Barbara Kauffman: Have you call her a chink?

    James Heierle: Yes

    Kauffman: Do you say your mother’s crazy?

    James Heierle: When it’s appropriate, yes.

    Kauffman: Have you told him that his mother is crazy when Yupa is not there?

    James Heierle: A couple of time when it’s really escalated into craziness, Yes.

    Kauffman: Have you told him that his mother is a nut?

    James Heierle: I probably said that at one point, too.

    Kauffman: Did you ever tell Yupa that a little girl tried to touch your genitals when you were teaching her gymnastics?

    James Heierle: Oh, yeah. Yes.

    Kauffman: In 1992, Jim had sexual intercourse with my brother’s teenaged girlfriend.” Now, that would be Matthew’s girlfriend?.

    James Heierle: Yes.

    Kauffman: Did he view you as a father figure?.

    James Heierle: Yes.

    Kauffman: Did you, how old was the girl?.

    James Heierle: 20 something.

    Brookside Orchids Owner James Heierle’s deposition, “Yupa chose clothing that made him look like a foreign national. They were the worst clothes I ever saw. They were groupie clothes. They look like he was right out of Asia somewhere. No offense to Asia, but the clothing selection was preposterous”.

  4. _______________________________________________________________________________
    To: yupato;
    Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 17:26:41 -0800
    Subject: RE: Where is Jonathan today?

    I read it all, and the “Audit” was a joke. The fact that you hate Gloria Wu, Meredith Braden and Kristin Diefenbach doesn’t make your statements about them right.
    To: yupa
    Date: Fri, 10 May 2013 09:27:53 -0700
    Subject: RE: Heierle

    I never said I gave you everything you wanted. I said I gave Michelle everything she wanted.

    And I read the Audit, too. I know exactly what it said. A big waste of taxpayers money. You can tell them that if you want. I don’t care

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