CCCBA Board Statement Regarding Unjust Attacks on Contra Costa County Superior Court Judges
The Contra Costa County Bar Association (“CCCBA”) has become aware of an ongoing campaign to disparage a number of the Contra Costa County Superior Court judges. These efforts are predicated upon a set of false allegations that these judges financially profit from the removal of children from their families in family court cases and that they are complicit in a larger system of child sex trafficking.
An unsuccessful recall effort in 2018 based on these claims did not mark the end of these efforts to unjustly criticize Contra Costa judges. The rhetoric, appearing online and in public demonstrations, continues to the present time and includes accusations that the judges are corrupt, accept bribes, are complicit in selling children into sex slavery, and are a cancer to American society, among other inflammatory allegations.
These claims, grounded in falsehoods and internet conspiracy theories, have created a combustible climate in which judges are left feeling unsafe. There has even been an alleged threat online against a judge resulting in criminal charges.
The CCCBA recognizes the importance of a free and open exchange of ideas, opinions, and, at times, even criticism of our legal system and those who are part of it. Fair criticism of the judiciary and its officers can be a part of healthy public expression and dissent; disagreement with a judicial ruling can demonstrate the strength of our democracy. Yet, intimidation of judges and unjust criticism that is not grounded in fact crosses a bright line that we, as attorneys, must stand against and condemn. The CCCBA has an obligation to uphold the image of the legal profession and the judiciary in the eyes of the public and to speak out against unjust criticism of the judiciary that exceeds the bounds of proper criticism.
The aforementioned attacks on the County’s judges, even when not rising to criminal threats, are serious, and have real world consequences in that they seek to undermine public confidence in our judicial system and threaten judicial independence.
The concept of judicial independence – that judges should decide cases based on the applicable law, without fear or favor, and free from external pressures or intimidation – remains one of the cornerstones of our legal system. This independence is not established for the benefit of the judges, but for the citizenry who benefit from fair and impartial administration of justice consistent with the rule of law. These principles date back to the founding of our nation and are reflected in the U.S. Constitution.
Judges are constrained by the Canons of Judicial Ethics from fully defending themselves from false aspersions in ways that political officers in the other two branches of government are not. It is incumbent upon the legal profession to protect the judicial branch from unjust and unwarranted criticism.
The ongoing efforts that seek to malign and delegitimize the judges of Contra Costa County Superior Court are unacceptable. We can no longer remain silent in the face of attacks that impugn the integrity of these judges and the legitimacy of the judicial system as a whole.
The Contra Costa County Bar Association condemns these unwarranted and baseless attacks on the judges and stands firm in its commitment to judicial independence.
– Contra Costa County Bar Association Board of Directors