San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Judicial Threat Unit threatens to jail CCFC Members
Today, August 26, 2013, California Coalition for Families and Children (CCFC) members received a threat of jail by San Diego County Court Counsel Kristine Nesthus, county judges Trentacosta, Alksne, Schall, and Wohlfeil, and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, “Judicial Threat Unit” claiming that CCFC has violated the California Public Records Act for filing last week in federal district court a case naming judges Trentacosta, Alksne, Schall, and Wohlfeil as defendants in the case. The Court Counsel and Sheriff’s Department claim that by filing the RICO Complaint in federal court, which is published on the Internet by the District Court’s PACER online filing system, CCFC has “threatened the safety of judicial officers and their families.” Sheriff’s Deputies have approached several website operators with demands to take down the complaint, and claim to be in process of obtaining search and seizure warrants against CCFC members.
The San Diego County Superior Court and the Sheriff’s department assert that CCFC has violated Cal. Government Code § 6254.21, which prohibits posting government officials’ personal information on the Internet.
CCFC’s President, Cole Stuart, has filed an emergency restraining order to prohibit further interference with the federal RICO filing, stating that identifying a defendant’s residence is required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “It’s standard practice and required to identify the defendants’ place of residence to establish personal jurisdiction and venue in federal court.” says Stuart. “In other words, if we filed the lawsuit without providing the name/addresses of the parties being sued then the lawsuit would be deficient, and go nowhere in the court.” In so doing, CCFC claims it properly filed the Federal RICO, and the Court has received, accepted, time-stamped, distributed, published, and filed it, all according to law.
CCFC has taken down its original Complaint, redacted the addresses of the judges covered by the statute, and re-posted here. “We feel strongly that San Diego County Superior Court Counsel is incorrect in her claims, and will proceed to seek relief from the District Court. In the meantime, we’ve redacted the address information as a courtesy and out of respect for the county’s judges as well as the director of the CJC and AOC, who is also a judge. In doing so, we by no means concede that the demand was legal—it was not, and we will bring this issue before the District Court at the appropriate time.”
“We’re puzzled by the demand” says Stuart. “Address information is not a private government record. In fact it’s easily accessible public information. Any member of the public can walk into the court now and get copies of the filings.” The statute only criminalizes posting the publically-available address on the Internet.
So why is the Sheriff’s department harassing and threatening CCFC and it’s Members with committing a crime?
Stuart has sought an emergency restraining order to protect members of CCFC from harassment and threats by the parties named in the lawsuit.
Since the threat to CCFC members has been made by the Sheriff’s Department, the appropriate redactions have been made. Will the San Diego County courts and Sheriff’s Department persist in harassing and threatening members of CCFC? Stay tuned…