Gallup's wrongful termination case exposes court's lack of compliance with state laws

Sacramento, CA September 17, 2012 – Beginning today at 9AM, The Nevada County Superior Court will be on trial. Family Court Services mediator, Emily Gallup, has alleged that she was wrongfully terminated after blowing the whistle on the court's failure to follow state laws. Gallup's case will be heard by Judge Richard Sueyoshi in Department 25 of the Sacramento County Superior Court, located at 720 9th St. The trial is estimated to take two to four weeks to complete. Gallup is represented by M. Catherine Jones and George Allen.

Gallup is seeking compensation for lost wages and emotional distress, but she hopes the lawsuit will also serve a second purpose. "I want to call attention to the inner workings of the family court," Gallup says. "My department ignored the law and put children and parents in unsafe situations. When I tried to address these compliance issues internally, I became the target of retaliation. I finally asked the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) for help. I was turned away. I learned that the AOC has no authority over individual family court departments. Each court is supposed to police itself. I hope my lawsuit will draw attention to the consequences of allowing family court departments to operate without oversight."

Gallup's concerns about the court's compliance issues included failure to review legal and criminal files and failure to follow violated domestic violence protocol. Gallup also contends that the court used undue influence to coerce parents into making agreements: for example, the family court judge routinely told parents that if they couldn't reach a mediated agreement, their kids might commit suicide. The judge kept a framed picture of the suicide victim in her courtroom as a warning. She inherited the picture from her judicial predecessors.

Gallup was terminated from her job on December 21, 2010. The court fired Gallup based on alleged "disclosure of confidential information, violation of the Code of Ethics, and engaging in unprofessional conduct." Gallup believes that she was fired in a final act of reprisal. On July 27, 2012, Judge Sueyoshi denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment and ruled that Gallup's case should proceed to trial.

Gallup has joined forces with The Center for Judicial Excellence and the California Protective Parents Association to advocate for greater oversight of the family court system. Gallup expects that problems in the family court system will persist until judges and other court officials are held accountable for following the law.

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