|A mother involved in a child custody case has been forced to publicly criticize Nevada judges and lawyers and the process of a fraudulent child custody case. In April 2013, a federal court judge dismissed Victoria Giampa’s civil rights complaint. She appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court.In its decision, the federal court – using rulings of other judges that deprived Ms. Giampa proper notice – ruled that she was vexatious. She states that the defendants interfered with her seeking redress by obstructing her claims of fraudulent change of custody, which prevent her from obtaining a remedy in state court.
Ms. Giampa complained to numerous Clark County officials from July to November of 2010 that the clerk of the court withheld from scanning and filing her documents in order for the defendants to file a vexatious motion just seconds before filing an order from a June 2010 hearing, depriving her of due process.
Ms. Giampa sent letters to County officials – Steven D. Grierson, administrator of the Eighth Judicial Division and Jeffrey Wells, Assistant County Manager – reporting misconduct and asking for procedural assistance, calling for them to investigate and inquire why an order from a June 2010 hearing was delayed from being filed for 73 days. She also forwarded her concerns to Virginia Valentine, County Manager; Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak; Mary-Anne Miller, District Attorney; and Judge Douglas Herndon’s law clerk.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Las Vegas Tribune, Ms. Giampa states that the county has control over the court system’s budget and has an obligation to protect taxpayers. She further states that that obligation also extends to litigants representing themselves when they file documents with the Clerk of the Court.
“The Eighth Judicial District Court should not have its employees and connected big law firms working in cahoots by manipulating the court rules and procedures and work against the court’s interests and the public’s financial interests. The Master Calendar Clerk wields too much power and should be more closely supervised to prevent these costly delays,” wrote Ms. Giampa.
“Why bother hearing any motion if the determination has been predetermined by Attorney Mariam and the Master Calendar Clerk, especially after ‘In Chambers’ has already been stamped on the Notice of Motion by him.”
The letter also criticized Craig Mariam, attorney for Bryce C. Duckworth and the firm he worked for, Smith Larsen & Wixom, for evading local rules to first obtain an order from the judge granting his vexatious litigant motion to be heard in chambers denying her due process. “These are secret ex parte communications between a judge and an attorney with deep pockets who is controlling how the judge should act,” Ms. Giampa wrote. Ninth Circuit plainly states that the litigant must be provided with reasonable notice and must list all the cases and documents that leads it to conclude that a restrictive order is needed to curb repetitive filings.
The issue was not limited to procedural misconduct. In the same letter, Ms. Giampa told Mr. Grierson that Mr. Craig Mariam, attorney for Mr. Duckworth and Smith Larsen & Wixom, continues to abuse the legal process and consume valuable judicial resources and time requiring the law clerk’s attention and the court’s judicial attention.
She stated, “The court record would reveal that Attorney Mariam failed to communicate with me with regard to a continuance due to the death of my father and forced me to file an ex parte application to continue a hearing scheduled for April 28, 2010.”
Ms. Giampa says that the judges’ response by not stopping fraudulent conduct by the judiciary and the attorneys leads to policies which the County routinely overlooks in numerous other cases in family court with clear evidence of outright fraud.
Clark County has been supporting its employees even when they are involved in wrongdoing because they have some type of immunity.
Late in October, Mr. Grierson finally replied to Ms. Giampa and did not acknowledge the procedural issue. He maneuvered and side-stepped his responsibilities to address her concerns that administrative procedures were not followed when she filed her documents denying her due process. Instead, he shifted the blame and directed her to the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline and to the State Bar of Nevada.
Vexatious, or Simply Tenacious?
The attorneys and the courts have fabricated and distorted the facts against this mother. She wrote, “Not one judge ever followed the Ninth Circuit four-part analysis when declaring me vexatious.”
Ms. Giampa argued that these judicial officials are actively participating in violating the law in an effort to cover up fraud and stop her from exposing fraudulent activity while at the same time assisting lawyers to help protect them from liability.
In June 2010, state court Judge Douglas Herndon responded harshly and stepped in to protect the attorneys. According to court minutes, A-09-601199-C, he issued a final blunt warning: “[Ms. Giampa]… has entered the realm of being deemed a vexatious litigant. The court offers plaintiff a final caution as to the possible repercussions of repeatedly abusing the litigation process like she did with the family court system.”
Friends of Ms. Giampa condemn what the court has done as an attempt to chill her right to speak. By labeling her vexatious and sanctioning her again suggests that the court wants to eliminate any risk that the clear evidence of a fraudulent change of custody would be used against Mr. Duckworth and the family court judges at trial, Ms. Giampa said.
Continued sanctions by the judges and the absence of procedural protections by the court or the county raises questions about the legitimacy of the oppositions’ motions to declare her vexatious after filing the original civil rights complaint in state court.
Meanwhile, the repression is continuing in federal court as well
“The legal monopoly of the Nevada courts are using the phony orders that have repeatedly been cited and used as authority by the other judges to justify the imposition of new sanctions against me for standing up to the courts and judges accused of corruption for speaking the truth,” Ms. Giampa said.
Federal court documents show that state court Judge Herndon approved Mr. Mariam filing the vexatious litigant motion without following the Ninth Circuit’s four-part analysis declaring her vexatious and imposing sanctions, which Ms. Giampa interprets as a threat. She alleges that there was a conspiracy to cover up a fraudulent change of custody, which obstructed her efforts to vindicate the change of custody through judicial redress.
The new sanctions imposed on Ms. Giampa by United States District Court Judge Larry R. Hicks, after dismissing her second civil rights complaint, were meant to punish and obstruct her access to the court to seek redress.
The federal judge’s recent warning was another coordinated effort among the judiciary aimed at trying to portray Ms. Giampa as harassing the legal system. The court drew much of the basis for its opinion from a ruling before a family court judge in 2009, which denied her due process and a hearing. Sanctions were imposed to intimidate Ms. Giampa to stop filing papers showing blatant fraud, but they were unsuccessful.
Undeterred, she filed contempt motions that her children’s welfare was at risk and their education in jeopardy while living alone without both parents in the Country Club Towers.
Ms. Giampa further says that the motive for the dismissal of her second civil rights case might be in part because the judiciary wants to avoid scrutiny of the judges involved in corruption, who are candidates preparing to run for re-election in 2014. The courts are determined to stifle Ms. Giampa’s free speech to prevent any public scrutiny that could deter voters in the next election.
Judge Bryce C. Duckworth, appointed as the first attorney to the family court bench by the Nevada Supreme Court, will face his first election campaign in 2014.
But in Ms. Giampa’s mind, further investigation needs to be conducted into questionable conduct involving fraudulent orders issued in family court. The public needs to know whether or not fraud is widespread in Nevada courts.
If these issues are not properly addressed, such practices risk becoming more the rule of law and leaving litigants unprotected from the abuse of power under a culture of complicity of fraud unnoticed by the public. “We understand that there is a greater need for accountability for those responsible for the fraud,” said a lawyer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But there are attorneys who are willing to violate the law to hold onto power and the flow of easy money in family court.”
Now it will be up to the Ninth Circuit to decide the constitutional question on the merits: whether or not lawyers treated her differently than others – who were represented by attorneys and who were therefore afforded preferential treatment – because she was a self-represented litigant.
“The ability of seeking vindication in the courts has been hampered, and I have been punished by speaking out, and unfairly stigmatized as vexatious. I have been subjected to years of lengthy delays, including being prevented from visiting and parenting my children.” Ms. Giampa added that the court’s decisions raise new questions in how far judicial officials will go to hide the full extent of the fraud in family court to protect the lawyers from liability.
Next week: Attorney decides to go rogue before becoming a “made judge”td>
— Perly Viasmensky
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.
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